I stood a numbered ten steps away from the thick of the Sakura tree, yet it towered over me like that first day, fifteen years ago. In all the glory of its full bloom. Though, it was missing a piece…

The first time I saw her, she was perched atop a thick, sturdy branch. Staring off into the distance.

“It overlooks the sunset,” she had cooed.

I remembered that day. Though, mostly as a collection of images. The jagged scar that marred her face, the hand she had offered, and the receding reds along the horizon. Time had rendered the memories motionless, punctuated by fickle details.

It was a different time, then.

Today, I held a bouquet of fresh pink roses, her favorite flower, dressed in her favorite t-shirt. A full sleeved plain white thing, god knew what made it special. “Those creases,” she would say in her Kyoto city tongue, clearing one after the other, laughing at the futility of the task “so stubborn.” The shirt had been dirtied by time, like most everything. It sagged at the shoulders, too.

I inched forward, closing the distance between myself and the tree. The water on the stems of the bouquet was frozen cold. I knew what waited on the other side. Who.

I saw her outline and paused, hesitating for half a second. She had donned her marriage day lilac yukata. Befitting. Each faltering footfall in her direction filled my lungs with the scent of pink roses and my mind with a melange of memories.

“I shouldn’t see her like this,” I thought. After all she was once my wife.

Echo of reason died as she turned around. There she stood. Breathing, pulsing, all flesh and bones. So visceral, it scared me.

The scar had remained.

“It’s been five years for god’s sake, how am I still so hung up on you?” I mused through a sporadic laughter. “Things have changed.” I looked up at the cloudy sky.

There would be no sunset today.

When I looked down she was gone, emptiness replacing her. I placed the bouquet on the gravestone as my eyes lingered on the etched markings.

Sonohara Yuki

“Happy marriage anniversary, Yuki.”

Stories. Sometimes of words, sometimes of people.

Stories. Sometimes of words, sometimes of people.