MOTHERHOOD/ Juichi Kanno

There was no air. At the bottom of the sea, the blue water with a stale flow was cold and heavy. Bruna Montes became obsessed more and more with the sound of her heartbeat. She understood that her time left was fast approaching the end. In her fading mind, she sensed the urge and panic as she felt undone from life. At the same time, Bruna was mesmerized by the ungodly sensation of giving in to death. Life no longer obliged her to cling to it, and death no longer had a surreptitious allure for her. It was an indescribably fascinating and beautifully transcendent feeling. She felt as if she were in the most flaming, irresistible, and addictive philandering. She opened her eyes and realized the entire underwater world of blue was infinite and beautiful. It glared blue and radiated a mysterious mood. To Bruna, the rippling surface seemed to protect untainted beauty. Before she fell asleep without feeling warmth on the bottom of the sea, she exhaled a couple of bubbles at last. The sunlight looked as if a phoenix was flying down to the earth with its wings spread.

When Ronald woke up from this dream, sweat was running down from his forehead to neck to his T-shirt. He felt uncomfortable because he had never had as vivid a dream as this. His mother, Bruna Montes, was drowned to death in the sea when he was fifteen. Although Ronald was abandoned by Bruna, he knew she was not the one for him to hate. He had loved her and was still loving and longing for her. In his memory, Bruna Montes had fully blossomed and made him love everything about her.

Although hours passed since Ronald woke up, the dream still lingered. His body moved heavily. His bulky muscles and firm leg bones became a mere burden to every movement. Ronald felt dizzy and sick. When he was about to get out of the bed, his iPhone rang. It was his friend, Patricia Cardoso.

He answered, “Hi. What’s up?”

“You completely forgot about today?” Patricia nonchalantly said.

“What?”

“We were supposed to have lunch at the new Japanese place!”

“Ahh… Sorry,” Ronald said.

“Is everything okay with you?” Patricia worried.

“I had a dream about Bruna last night. I saw the very moment when she died. It felt real. I could feel her breathing,” he said.

“Wow. Intense.”

“Yeah”

“Maybe, deep down, you’re really missing Bruna. And, unconsciously, you’re looking for something to connect with her, even the pain that you imagine she went through,” she said.

“Maybe.”

“Everyone has their destiny regardless of their will, you know. I feel sorry for her, but I believe that she wasn’t chosen for salvation despite her goodness and effort. But, I believe she will always guard you from heaven,” Patricia said.

“That’s the hope,” Ronald replied and asked, “Shall we meet in an hour?”

“Okay,” Patricia breezily answered.

Ronald hung up and stood up in front of the tall mirror on the wall. He noticed his eyes looked weary. He couldn’t feel any strength inside. He grinned because he imagined the cheeky smile Patricia often made. Her round green eyes always looked innocently mischievous. He liked her showing off her skill to read his mind. Picturing her puffy cheeks and watery eyes in his mind, he headed to the shower to wash off sweat.

Patricia Cardoso was his best friend. When they first met at the party, she wore a black leather rider’s jacket over a black dress, skinny green boots, and an expensive gold watch. She had five piercings in her right ear and one in the left tragus. She looked phenomenal with her boyish short grey hair that he couldn’t see the moment as the truth. Her candidness and mysteriousness made him stutter when she had first come to talk to him. The sweetness of her gaze was euphoric. Patricia was the most handsome woman he had ever seen. She played jazz with the most delicate yet soul-trembling melodies. Nonetheless, Patricia had led a tough life and had always learned things in hard ways. It made her learn how to be sensitive, strong, sympathetic, and confident, simultaneously. When Ronald was aghast at memories, Patricia gave him warmth to rid him of his loneliness. When he loathed the unpredictability of life, Patricia told him that his life could be saved from sins by his efforts. Patricia was always with him, even when she wasn’t standing right next to him.

 

Bruna Montes’ tattoo of an angel’s wings at her waist was as if they were writhing in the blood-red sky of the sunset since the sun was painfully burning her skin. The sunlight reflected both from the ivory sand and the sea. The vast field of clear blue sapphire with sprinkles of diamonds was breathtaking. But, Bruna knew none of it was real since she often had a break with reality and was lost in reveries. The water touched her feet and the pleasant flow washed them. She felt shame at being delusional. The familiar voice came from behind.

“Hey”

“Hey, Ronaldo. What are you doing here?”

“Getting fresh air. You?” he said.

“Enjoying peace.”

“Under the sun?” Ronaldo said, and she nodded.

“What are you thinking?” he asked.

“Dunno. But, it’s really beautiful out there.”

Bruna realized she was longing for such a place; the sky like a vast canvas meticulously painted in blue; the sea like blue sapphire with diamonds; the ineloquent border between them; and, the butterflies playing around above the water.

“Why are you looking so serious?” Ronald asked.

“Your father. He was one of the reasons I couldn’t sleep at night, and I constantly feel meaninglessness in my life. I loathe fathers, me, and everyone. Everything except you, though.”

“They tried to own you and filled you with pain and anger?” Ronald softly asked.

“The feeling of complete depravity. The squeamishness made me believe happiness and salvation are given only to the chosen ones. In the world, happiness and goodness were scarce. So, why not fill yourself with evil darkness?”

“I know everyone is hiding an evil side. But, with the pain of abuse and abandonment in the past, darkness can be too powerful a drive that, in the end, overwhelms you, no?”

“No. The dark void in my heart had to contain all my despair and pain. Those squeamish cowards deprived me of innocence and devalued my life. The outside world means nothing but suffering because of them.”

“So, the darkness in your heart helped you when they tormented you relentlessly?” Ronald asked.

“Yes”

“I wish I could heal all your pain altogether,” Ronald said with kind smile.

“Hmm…so sweet.”

“Maybe, my love is not enough for you?”

“Of course, it is! It’s more than enough. You’re the only love in this world, and we’re the only truth in the place where no truth exists,” Bruna sniggered.

She loved looking through Ronald’s eyes and scrutinizing every corner of his mind. Her own amber eyes were hauntingly alluring to him. An afternoon breeze pleasantly combed through her long hair and dried her tears. The shining stars pleased the mellow night. They were equally beautiful yet unequally dazzling. Their cruel destiny differed so as to create the perfect beauty. The moon aloft was as thin and smooth as the tip of a schoolgirl’s nails. It was looming high in the sky. Its weak light flirtatiously meandered onto the affable waves and the quiet beach. The waves sang lullaby sounds to her chilled soft ears. The gentle breeze with sand amorously washed her smooth legs. At the end of June, the unfairly predestined world had soothed and pleased her. Bruna took Ronald to the beach at night.

“It’s lovely, isn’t it?” Bruna asked.

“Yeah.”

“Doesn’t it calm you down?”

“I can relax, completely.”

He didn’t know why Bruna loved the sea at night. But, the only thing that mattered to him was that there was only him and her in the world, and they had each other. He imagined that they did nothing but hold each other forever, shutting out the world.

“I like being here with you,” he said.

“Me too,” said Bruna. “I love you.”

“I love you, too,” said Ronald.

Bruna held his hand. She felt loved, wanted, longed, cherished, and protected as much as he did. When she was with the wondrous wildness of the sea, it appeased her and filled her exhausted emptiness. The dolce unsullied smell of her hair and skin was mesmerizing to everything that night.

It was six o’clock on a Saturday evening in late September. It was gloaming and very humid in São Paulo. The damp air was going into his room on the 20th floor. Standing on the balcony, he looked back at his bedroom. Bruna Montes, with a dreamy smile, was lying on the bed. On the wrinkled sheets, her dark hair was of perfect beauty, floating on a sea of white clouds. It was more soul-enthralling than it had ever been. Bruna demurely pouted and fizzled. Facing down, she put her left cheek on the pillow. Her back swelled and flattened with smooth repetition. The warm light of sunset came and touched her body, and it looked soft and sensitive. From her smooth neck to her pale skinny thigh, she had modest curves and silky skin. The zephyr caressed her dark hair, tenderly. He wanted to see her more, but there was nothing and nobody, indeed.

 

Patricia Cardoso was wearing his shirt. Ronald’s attention was instantly drawn to her look. She walked toward him to the balcony.

“Hey, what are you doing there?” Patricia asked, “You look pale. Are you okay?”

“I think I saw Bruna.”

“Well, anything can be truth and lies at the same time. It depends on your perspective. I think the truth, the real one, is that she loved you from the bottom of her heart, no matter what. You can enjoy your life to the fullest and be happy for her.” Patricia continued, “There’s nothing in the world truer than the love from a woman who really loves you.”

“True. But, it’s more complicated than that.”

“How so?” Patricia asked.

“Because I still have a deep dark void in my heart, and I feel like this darkness is the only truth,” Ronald said.

“Why?” Patricia asked.

“I feel furious because I couldn’t protect Bruna, but she was killed with no mercy. She was abused, tortured, exploited, and humiliated. I know that she was hurt by my father and her father. Those pathetic cowards besmirched her with this ill darkness.”

“I didn’t know that. I wish I could have helped her,” Patricia said.

“From what I think, Bruna was made to end her innocent life. They lied and betrayed her. I won’t forgive them.”

“I wouldn’t, too, at all.” Patricia grinned.

“You too?”

“Yeah. How could they be more cowardly and miserable? As long as there’s darkness and pain, the unfortunate ones like Bruna have to fight for happiness. They don’t deserve to rest in peace,” Patricia said.

“Yes. Nobody would even care if they died or not. Besides, I hope anything good will be stripped out of them. I hope they will suffer and be left alone until death tears them apart,” Ronald sounded angry.

“I can feel pain for her pain and your pain,” Patricia said.

“You’re so sweet.”

“Like always,” Patricia grinned, “You’re sweet, too. You’ve always taken care of me.”

“I’ve never felt this connected with anybody before,” Ronald said, “’cuz you’re always with me.”

“Yes. I’m with you,” Patricia said, fondly.

From the heaven to the sky to Patricia’s small nose, the coldness quietly descended. The sweet night had never darkened her true glamour. Her eyes being unclosed, the stars were radiant and amorous. When Ronald looked at his bedroom over Patricia’s hair, only the breeze passed over the empty bed. Solace was his content discontentment that, in her sepulture, she will be forever loved, and that, only in his heart, she’d be eternally protected. The beauty of darling Bruna would forever last without abandonment. Love, affection, charm, and the dolce-heartedness of beautiful Bruna became the zest for his life. Melancholy, meekness, and darkness of handsome Bruna was his proof of her life. No longer was he haunted by disgust nor anger. Her mortal love was, after all, immortal and ardor. So, he’d moved on, feeling her. Finally, the stars and warmth melted his heart.

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