January 1, 2017
The Casio watch on his wrist beeped twice, signalling the hour. Paul pressed the button on its side, and the numbers glowed. He didn’t need to. He knew what time it would be. 0:00. Midnight.
Looking out across the bright lights of the city, somewhere he could hear temple bells being rung, the sound carrying on the swirling air that was biting at his ears.
“Seize the day,” he muttered, before pushing forward.
January 1, 2016
“I’m going to seize the day,” Paul said, raising his glass.
“That’s such a clichéd resolution,” Adrian said, wiping the froth from his own top lip. “You might as well have said ‘I’m going to lose weight’.”
“What about you then?”
“I’m going to explore as much of Japan as I can, do loads of camping.”
“Well, me too. But that’s part of the bigger picture. Last year I did nothing, bugger all, spent all my time on the sofa, with her. A total waste. This year I’m going to put myself out there, I’m going to meet new people. 2016 is going to be my year.”
April 3, 2016
“You should go talk to her, mate.”
Paul shook his head. “Nah, there’s no way she’d be interested. Look at her, she’s amazing.”
“Come on, what about your resolution? Get off your arse and get over there.”
Paul sighed, raised himself from the blue tarpaulin and brushed away the cherry blossom petals that had fallen into his hair. He picked his way through the groups of people sat on the ground, drinking, sharing food, enjoying the hanami season, until finally he came to where she was sitting.
“Excuse me, do you mind if I join you?”
She looked up and smiled. It was a beautiful smile, open, cheerful, not a hint of the cynicism of last year.
“Sure,” she said, the slightest hint of an American accent amongst the Japanese. Clearing away a couple of empty chu-hai cans and a bag of potato chips she shuffled across to make room, and Paul gratefully accepted a happoshu from one of her friends.
“My name’s Paul,” he said. “What’s yours?”
“I’m Sakura,” she said, as if it were the most ordinary thing in he world. “Where are you from?”
July 27, 2016
“Come on, let’s swim!”
Sakura shook her head, the curls of her hair dancing on her bare shoulders. “It’ll be cold!”
“Cold?” Adrian laughed, “It’s gotta be 35 degrees today!”
“You can’t go to the beach and not swim,” Paul argued, standing up, the hot sand burning between his toes. “It’s the law, or something. Come on,” he repeated, holding out his hands to her, outstretched, beckoning. “Seize the day!”
Sakura again shook her head, but this time laughing. “That resolution of yours will be the death of me,” she said, and she reached up to take his hands.
September 14, 2016
“Fuck, Aidy, what are we going to do? We have to call the police, call an ambulance.”
Adrian looked inside the tent.
“Shit, no reception.” Paul raised his phone higher into the air, but still, no bars.
“Paul, listen to me. There is no way we can call the police. You want to get arrested? You want them to find the speed? We’ll get locked up, and I’m telling you, neither of us will survive a Japanese prison.”
“But we have to tell someone.”
Again Adrian looked into the tent and then went into the boot of his car, pulling out a small shovel. “Let me sort this out. You just clear up the campsite. Clear everything away, make sure there’s no trace of us ever having been here.”
“What are you going to do?”
Adrian pulled the small bag of powder from his pocket, poured a large amount onto the back of his hand and inhaled it through a nostril, wincing as he did so. With the back of his brain exploding he held up the shovel. “What do you think?”
“We have to.”
December 29, 2016
The phone rang for what seemed like an eternity, Paul cramming the receiver to his ear, willing a reply. Three times the answering machine, then finally Aiden picked up.
“Have you seen the news?”
There was a deep sigh on the other end. “Yeah.”
“They’ve found her. What are we going to do?”
Again Adrian sighed deeply. Amongst the silence Paul could hear the television babbling in Japanese on the end of the line, the same channel he was watching. Next came the sound of a can being opened and a cigarette being lit. “I don’t know mate, I really don’t know.”
December 31, 2016
The sound of the knocking on the front door spurred Paul into action. Though it was expected, still it caught him by surprise. He finished his beer and put it down, finding space amongst the other cans and empty plastic trays of conbini ready-meals.
The hammering on the door grew, but he shut it out by closing the balcony door behind him.
It was cold outside, windy too, but the crispness of the air gave the city lights an almost ethereal glow. As he pulled himself up and onto the balcony wall, swinging his legs over the other side, a somewhat perverse thought crossed his mind, making him giggle as he started to hum ‘Auld Lang Syne’.
The Casio watch on his wrist beeped twice, signalling the hour.
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