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Flying for change
Silence creeps through my ears into my heart where it pounds on the pink fist-like organ. This makes an echo go through my body and into my brain, giving me a dull headache. I am shocked at just being informed by my commander, who I have only known for a week, telling me that I am going to die for my country as a member of the 'Kamikaze'.
'Saku!' a shorthaired girl shouts to me in the memory of a day in 2009.
'Where've you been!? You don't even know how much I was looking for you!' I think her name was Miyabi. A few days ago I asked her, as she walked past me, if she wanted to hang out with me for a day, but now she is always around me. I didn't know her and just wanted to hang out with someone. I was planning to stay with her for a night or two, but now she is following me like a lost puppy.
Feeling a little annoyed I ask, 'Yeah? Well good job for that.'
This would make a normal person mad but Miyabi just nodded her head happily, making her moon shaped earrings move up and down. While I think of how these earrings might haunt me in my dreams tonight, I feel a hand tap me on the back. This time it is Risako, one of the five girlfriends I've had from high school.
She looks at me, with her big and brown eyes, and said, with sobs in between, 'Who's' this girl? Why? How could' you do this to' me?'
I know I could get around this because Risako would trust any lie I make up, but now I don't feel like Risako or Miyabi really matter to me. So I choose to tell her that it's what it looks like and I walk off leaving the two girls to cope with this.
As I peek into my wallet I notice that I don't have any money left. Feeling hungry I think of Takako, a thirty five year-old rich woman, who always buys me things. I know she likes me, but all she looks like to me is a dog with a purse full of money on its collar. I remember that Takako was in Hokkaido with her husband, so my only choice is to go home and eat. Since it's a Sunday my father would be home. Praying that he has gone to play golf, I open the door. Unfortunately I find my dad sitting at the table reading the newspaper.
'Saku?' my mom asks peering over at me from the kitchen. At this my dad looks up and glares at me. At this I can feel the whole room tense up. My mom looks away and Dad keeps glaring at me. I know that my sister must be in her room listening to music rather than going to school. I feel like the time I scuba dived, with pressure all around me.
'What do you want?' my dad asks me. I ignore him and walk into the kitchen to look for some food. There is always a pack of raisin bread at the corner of the table, which my mother buys for me. I tell her that there's no reason to buy them anymore because I won't be coming home as much.
'Your favorite kind of bread's on the table, you know?' my mom says. I grunt, take the whole pack and walk toward the door to leave before my dad gets on me. Last time I came he asked me what I was doing for a living, because he knows that I rarely go to classes at college. I answered honestly that there are many 'kind' girls that are more than happy to 'support' my budget and life. At this he jumped on me and we ended up fighting. Today he doesn't seem to care about asking any questions, so feeling relieved I walk out of the emotionally tense room.
As I walk on the road I used to use everyday to get to school, I look into my phone for other girls that will make this open time at least a little better. While I think of whom to choose I notice white stripes on the pavement underneath me, and in that same moment hear a brain-pinching horn and find myself facing a silver Toyota mark welcoming me into total darkness.
I feel cold liquid trickle down my face. Assuming the liquid is gasoline from the Toyota, I sit up immediately and look around. I am looking into a worried face of a guy my age with a shaved head and hair a centimeter in length. I try to look around but feel a dull pain in my shoulders and neck.
'What the hell is going on?' I ask. As I try to look around, I feel like vomiting from the pain in my neck. I notice an enormous blue sky surrounding me. I realize that this isn't Tokyo.
'That stupid Toyota! It probably hit me so hard that I flew to a forest or something.' I wonder out loud.
Looking around I see big ponderous green trees. They tower over me, creating an open space with me at the center. My nose catches a peculiar scent. The smell makes me think of he color green and something pure. Thinking of Tokyo, I never remember smelling such sensation. This sensation is soon sucked away with my sweat by the hot air surrounding me.
Next I hear a different tough, angry, and loud voice, 'Get your a** off the ground Shiratori, you're never going to be able to serve your country like that!'
As the shouting man pulls me up, I drop onto my feet, making me feel like vomiting again. I say, 'Can't stand, dude. I have like this weird pain in my neck. Feel sick, too. I'm thinking I should like sit down or something.'
After complaining how my neck feels, I suddenly feel a rock-like fist of the shouting man grind my cheekbone, making my eyeballs and brain shake.
'I don't care how you feel after being thrown by Fukuyama,' he says, pointing towards to a worried looking guy, 'and I certainly don't mind beating the crap out of you right here on the spot. Now if you want to die in one piece it'd be better to get back in line.'
After a few hours of tiring training, I sit on a chair in front of the guy called Fukuyama, who was the one who threw me in practicing judo for 'combat fighting.' On the table in front of us is a shallow bowl of miso soup, a little bit of rice, and a scarce amount of mountain vegetables. This is the first time I have ever seen such a small amount of food on my plate.
Still confused about what is going on, I ask Fukuyama, 'Why are we here? What's up with that man bossing us around?'
'Did that throw at training warp your memory or something? We're at war, remember? Training to fight and die for our country.'
'Ha! What the hell are you saying man! That was like 60 years ago. Oh wait wait! Let me guess. Now you're going to tell me that Americans are devils or something, right?' I say this with a smile on my face, but Fukuyama looks at me as if I am crazy. Feeling awkward I decide to say, 'Just tell me how to get out of this place. I hate being surrounded by all these guys.'
'Hey listen,' Fukuyama says after a few seconds of more awkward silence, 'I'm sorry for throwing you but it's not like I had a choice. I mean that's what we're here for, right?' he says looking at me for forgiveness. 'So quit acting stupid. Remember how we were sent off by our families and neighbors? There's no way to get home unless you don't mind being thought as a betrayer!'
Having no clue what is going on I open my mouth to says something but Fukuyama keeps talking, 'Oh yeah, before I forget - we all don't like it without girls but we're here to die for our emperor. So I'd get that messed up thought out of your head.'
Although I still have no clue why I am here, I somehow understand Fukuyama.
After drifting into the memories of the past week, I come back to the reality of becoming a member of the Kamikaze. Here in Okinawa, everything is hot and extremely humid, but I feel a cold drop of sweat slide down my back.
'Yes sir!' we shout.
Our commander hears this and looks into our eyes one-by-one. His eyes have always been serious since the time he first shouted at me in the woods, but now it is different. When he looks into my eyes, I understand what he is trying to tell us. We are about to die for our emperor. As an eighteen year old who has always taken the easy path, I think that this is stupid. On the other hand after living and training with Fukuyama and this team, I know now I cannot give up. It is the last chance to change myself. As I find my answers to these problems, the commander looks into the next warrior's eye.
Fukuyama is now calling his parents with the camp phone. Our commander told us, before he left the room, that we have tonight to call our parents and talk to them for the last time. Since I don't have anyone to call, I think of how I have treated my family as a toilet to vomit out my bad feelings. I remember the worried face of my mom and ashamed face of my dad, as they both looked at me. A warm tear moves down my cheek, and into my clenched fist. Looking at my fist I remember that it was this fist that I once punched my teacher. I also remember how he said that he would wait as long as it takes for me to open up this tightly clenched fist. Now, feeling my tears smear between my fingers, I open my hand and feel another fist-like object in me open with it. As it opens I think of the one only thing I can do - to change myself by flying as a warrior.
Looking at my fuel gauge, I see that there is no gas for the way back to base. I look up and see a pure blue sky, making me feel like this is the most peaceful place in the world. Looking down, I see the dark metal slug-like ships with occasional flashes of orange on it. These small orange bulges, doing almost nothing to the ship, are my friend's lives being wasted. Before getting into our planes, we all got into a circle and drank sake in total silence. All of us had faces full of determination and pride. Ironically, they looked the most alive at this point than any other time. Gripping tightly to the handle to control my coffin, I start to plunge down. Instead of seeing the black slug getting bigger, I see the people who have always supported me throughout my life. This time I feel how lucky I am to have such people. Then the slug sucks me into its blackness.
Feeling a drop of rain on my face I wake up thinking that it must rain in heaven, but the drop is my mother's tear. My sister sits next to Mom, with Dad right behind my sister. I am laying on a bed in a white room. Seeing my family, the memory of how I felt about them the night before crashing into the ship fills my mind. This, together with a sharp pain in my leg, tells me that I am still alive and have a chance to live again, in a new life.
Every night Miyabi sits next to my bed and stays with me. I know that if she would have done this for me a week ago, I would have been very annoyed. Now I feel a bright and warm sensation spread across when she is next to me.
I still think of Fukuyama and my friends from Kamikaze, and know that they will always be with me as the ladder that helped me redeem myself. Although I am in a time when there is no war in Japan, and no people training to die, I still see people suffering. Seeing this I understand that although I am in a different time period, there are still many things to do for me as a warrior of the 'Kamikaze'.
Great Falls, Virginia
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