The night sky was filled with glittering stars, not a single cloud covered the one-of-a-kind view. A bright glow from the moon lit up the entire area. Lamp posts illuminated the pathways. The silence was deep, she could hear the whizzing of flies as they played with each other while they circled the lights. Sat on the grass, meters away from the path, a woman who wore a pink dress that perfectly contrasted her flowing reddish-brown hair and light blue jacket under the starlight was accompanied by a dark-haired man. The glare in his glasses covered his eyes, his dark jeans and the blue long-sleeved top was perfect for a chilly night such as this. They sat with their backs to each other and looked up to the stars.
“This was the same view back then, when you promised me you’d marry me someday.” The woman smilingly said as she was still fixated on the thousands of stars in the night sky.
“Yeah, I did.” The man lowered his head from the view of the stars, his voice grew colder as he finished that sentence with a chuckle, an effort to hide his dejection. His heart was screaming, but his expression was the opposite.
“Did you know that this would be how it ended when you promised me?” Tears were flowing from her eyes, her forehead wrinkled as she struggled to ask the question. There was no immediate response. The flies were gone, and the breeze as it blew leaves and rustled bushes and trees around the trees was the only sound that filled the air around the two. The woman wept silently as she waited for the man’s response.
Moments passed, the man looked back up to the sky. A shooting star had passed and a smile appeared on his face. The white gleam of the moon could be seen on the man’s eyes as he responded,
The scorching heat made the sand in the playground feel like charcoal being burned in a grill. Few children were around, which was unusual as summer had just begun and the beaches were worse than the public train during rush hour. Still, that did not stop the little girl Mei from playing ‘Skip’ in the sandbox with her friend Isaac.
“The goal of this game is to get to the other side of the sandbox without falling in the sand! If you lose, you DIE! It’s true, I tried putting a leaf there yesterday and it DEFINITELY turned into ash!” Directed Mei to Isaac as the little boy straightened his glasses and felt scared as he imagined himself catching on fire the moment he steps on the sand.
“Plus I heard some bugs started nesting in the sands, that's why all those toys were left there,” added Mei.
“Isn’t this too dangerous Mei? We could play on the swing sets instead. They are right under the tree so they wouldn’t be as hot as the sand!” Nervously said Isaac as he locked both of his hands together, he wanted her to agree with him but he knew Mei was the type of person that would not back out of things like this.
“Ho-ho! What are you saying, Isaac? This sandbox here is a challenge for us, and we must face it! Plus, we always play on the swingsets and you end up crying by the end, saying you would have rather stayed at home and made drawings because I pushed you a little higher than usual.” Mei tilted her head at Isaac.
“Ok! You don’t have to say it out loud!” said Isaac. “Why? No one else is here! So we must take this chance and claim the other end of the sandbox for ourselves!” shouted Mei.
“Why can’t we just walk over to the other side.” Isaac raised his eyebrow as he pointed to the other side of the sandbox. Mei ignored his remark and started hopping over the toys and sandstones.
“Mei! Hey wait up!” the jittering Isaac called as he was hesitant to take his first leap.
“Come on Isaac!” Mei who was almost at the other side turned to cheer Isaac on who had yet to try. The boy seemed to be on the verge of tears, but the thought of crying in front of his best friend, even though he has done so in the past.
“Isaaaaaaac! If you don’t finish in time, I’ll be eating all your Mom’s homemade cheesecake back at your place!” She said without turning, fully focused on hopping and skipping. After many failed attempts, Isaac still struggled and seemed as though he was about to give up.
“Geez, I don’t even think it’s that hot.” Mei appeared in front of Isaac, she stood on a toy truck that was mostly buried in the sand while stretching out her hand to Isaac.
“Come on, let’s do it together.” Isaac looked at her then looked at the hand, he reached out and the two found themselves standing on the same structure. Mei’s face turned red because of how close Isaac was. Isaac on the other hand was too busy concentrating on not falling.
“Okay, let’s do this slowly.” Mei guided Isaac as they went from one platform to another. It was a scene from a video game, where Isaac was the main character and Mei served as the guide for novices. After much difficulty, they were moments away from the end.
“Hey Mei, we’re pretty close now, you could slow down a bit.” Mei seemed too focused to hear Isaac’s concerns. As the two were inches away from the end Mei lost her footing, mainly due to her carelessness.
“Mei! Watch out!” Mei closes her eyes as she did not expect the fall, she opens them, wondering why the impact was not as hard as she thought it would be. Dust from the impact obscured her view as Mei attempted to lever herself upwards with her left arm but felt that the sand had a different feel to it.
“That’s weird, this sand kind of feels like marshmallows.” She heard a groan every time she would increase the pressure on the ‘sand.’
“Very sad marshmallows.” The dust started to dissipate as Mei made out what she landed on exactly.
“I-Isaac?! Why are you there?!” The girl alarmingly said as her face turned red again.
“Before that, do you mind?” Isaac struggled to say as he pointed at Mei’s hand pressing against a particular area of his body. The girl’s face turned from a light blush to beet red as smoke seemed to come out from her head. She launched herself away from Isaac and outside of the sandbox causing the displacement of a portion of the sand which all found their way onto Isaac.
“I’m sorry! Are you okay? Did the sand get in your eyes? Oh no, your mother is gonna be so angry with me.” She blurted out words in quick succession which could be interpreted as gibberish if heard by any other person but Isaac has heard Mei speak in different languages and gibberish was often her forté. This would commonly happen when Mei was flustered and couldn’t think of a response on the fly.
“It’s okay, argh, I’m fine.” The boy tried to stand up but the sand that gathered on his lower body seemed to weigh him down. As he continued to struggle, Mei started to chuckle and then throw a laughing fit because of the whole situation then Isaac joined in on the laughter.
After much laughter, Isaac began to feel a crawling sensation on his skin. “Isaac! Something’s crawling up your body!” The boy tossed and turned which scattered sand dust everywhere, he was able to get out of the sandbox with numerous insect bites. Mei laughed once again as Isaac counted the number of bites he had from head to toe.
“Man, your Mom is gonna be angry at me for sure.” Mei laughingly added.
Isaac had finally calmed down and the two sat on a nearby bench. Mei watched the sunset through the leaves of the tree obscuring her view. They both shared a moment of silence to appreciate the colorful event that took place.
“Hey, Isaac, why do you think people get married?” Isaac was not prepared for this question, given that his face turned red as he was about to mumble his own chorus of gibberish. He then noticed Mei’s hands were trembling though she lowered her head, no doubt to hide her expression.
“Well, I think people get married because they like each other. So much that they would spend the rest of their lives together.” Responded the boy while looking at the stars.
“Mom and Dad seem to like each other at times. But mostly they would fight and argue and people would get hurt. I don’t ever wanna get married if it’s gonna be like that.” Mei quiveringly said. She lifted her legs on the bench and buried her face between her thighs as she broke down in tears.
The cold began to set in and there was no one else there. The playground was filled with the sound of sobs and sniffles of the little girl who could not contain her emotions anymore. Isaac who sat beside her covered her with the sweater he had just dusted off from falling in the sand. Mei looked up with bright eyes and stared at Isaac.
“It’s… still filled with sand, Isaac.” Isaac’s face lit up as he tried to come up with a response but ended up flailing his arms in front of Mei who laughed at this sight.
“I honestly don’t know what to say in these situations but Mei, if things ever get crazy at your place, just come play with me, okay?” Isaac smilingly assured Mei. Her eyes grew brighter as the wind blew through the leaves that had been gathered the past day.
“And what if we get married, right? We never argue and I’m sure we’d have fun every day!” Isaac casually said as Mei’s face grew bright red, as did Isaac’s after realizing what he had just said.
“You promise?” Mei softly asked Isaac while hiding her face. Isaac hesitated to answer but realized how much this meant to Mei. He clenched his fists and thought of responding in the coolest way possible.
“Yes! I am… Urgh… If that’s what you want. Uhmm… I mean… uh.” Steam started coming out of Isaac’s ears as he grew flustered and blushed even more than before.
Mei leaned on Isaac who was busy piecing together what to say and kissed him lightly on the cheek. “Then it’s a promise!” Mei stood up and started walking towards the road and covering herself further in Isaac’s sweater.
“And you have to also promise to serve me cheesecake every day! Because I don’t think your mom is gonna be happy with how dirty we both are.” She added. Isaac placed his hand on the spot where he was kissed, still processing what just happened.
“Hey c’mon Isaac! Your Mom is gonna get angry at me if we don’t get home soon!” Isaac turned and saw Mei calling out to her in the middle of the street. The stars were shining in the background and the moon was full. Though to Isaac, what shined more was the girl in front of him who was only a moment ago bawling her eyes out, and now smiled the sweetest and warmest smile. Isaac’s heart ached, he promised to give this girl the whole world and he would see it through. But at the back of his mind, his conviction already started to waver.
“Hey, what took you so long?” Mei asked Isaac who finally came over.
“N-nothing! C’mon, let’s go home, I’ll walk you!” Isaac awkwardly said.
“Oh yeah! I forgot something.” Mei ruffled her pockets and took out a set of glasses.
“You dropped this earlier when you fell and I forgot to give it to you right away.” Mei had positioned herself in front of Isaac and leaned forward to put the glasses on him.
“Hey, even though we made that promise, I don’t want things getting weird with us, okay?” Isaac took a deep breath and replied,
“Okay, no weirdness. I promise.” He smirked while taking Mei’s hand and leading the way as they walked back home. Mei grew flustered again as he looked at Isaac but could not see his face.
“Oh, so you’re acting all cool now huh Isaac?” Isaac could not respond, as he did his best not to completely melt away over what he just did and just how much courage it took him.
Both saw this as the start of a big change in the course of their life. Mei who was scared to go back home to her family finally saw that things might be going her way for once. And Isaac was filled with determination, of working hard and giving Mei incredible happiness. He decided to put his concerns aside as that was far in the future and wanted to focus on one thing. Isaac turned around and saw that Mei was looking outward at the evening sky as they were holding hands. It was an image that he wanted to be preserved forever and he made that his goal.