One says that a man’s most important event in his entire life is when he meets the woman he will share his grave with.
It can happen at all ages. Some will meet their grave partner during childhood. Others will meet them in high school, university or during work after bachelor life. Some even after a divorce or two.
But it doesn’t matter during which period of one’s life this event occurs. In my eternal service as Cupid, I can tell you; each and every single one of those moments is special. Each beautiful in their own right.
Yet there will be ugly and difficult times.
And such a story, Sven too will go through.
“I’m heading out!” Sven shouted into the house as he stepped the door.
His mother popped her out of the kitchen.
“Where are you headed?”
Sven’s mother was starting to get worried. Her son has been going out after school almost every day for the past week. She suspected that he had a girlfriend, but none of his shirts ever had traces of perfume on them.
And to a certain extent she was right.
Sven wasn’t going outside to play baseball like he had been saying. In fact, his team hasn’t played ever since Sven smashed that window. Far from it.
He has been going out to meet a girl.
A girl who could not come to him, because she was tied to her bed.
Sven has been visiting Ai nearly every day ever since he masterfully shot a baseball through her window.
Fortunately for him, her mother didn’t want any sort of payback.
She made him promise to visit Ai every once in a while. Ai was chained to the bed, and hence had few friends. And even if she did meet people, she was somewhat socially awkward. She rarely interacted with people her age, and hence had difficulties connecting with them.
Until she met Sven.
He was the first person she could talk to without suddenly running out of things to talk about. The first person besides her mother whom she felt at ease with alone.
Now that Sven really thought about it, deciding to go apologize really was the best thing to do.
Maybe that is what had ultimately won their trust.
Sven walked through the park and across the field where he played baseball with his friends.
Moments later, he was at Ai’s door and rang her doorbell.
Sometimes Sven fantasized that instead of her mother, Ai would open the door and give him the bright smile that she had whenever he came to visit.
But he knew that it was impossible. Ai would not be able to stand on her own two legs for the rests of her life.
A minute later, Ai’s mother opened the door and welcomed him inside. She told him he could go straight up to Ai’s room, and that Ai was really looking forward to seeing him again.
“But of course she denies it with all her might.” Ai‘s mother chuckled.
Sven blushed and let out an awkward laugh.
What his visits would result into, he did not know.
All he knew was that he enjoyed spending time together with Ai. Even though she was chained to the bed, she was a very energetic girl.
There were so many things she wanted to do, but couldn’t. For all of those things required two standing legs.
Sven walked upstairs and knocked Ai’s door. Some moments later, he entered her room. And it is moments like these that make me feel that I’ve done a great job as Cupid. That I have truly become a master at what I do best.
Ai’s eyes lit up like a candle.
“What are you doing?” asked Sven. Ai pointed towards the TV.
“I really want to try this one day!”
On the television screen, a girl band was playing. It any band that Sven recognized, he didn’t pay any attention to these sort of bands. He was more into Western music.
“Playing in a band? That would be possible actually. People often play guitars in their beds and sing at the same time.”
“No, no, no!” Ai shook her head and pointed at the lead singer. “Look at what she is doing! She’s walking around, jumping, kneeling down to their audience. She is ROCKING the stage!
“There look! She has so much energy. She is walking across the stage, playing the rhythm guitar AND singing with everything’s she’s got! I want to do that too!”
Sven couldn’t help but grin as he watched Ai’s eyes gleam with ambition and fascination. None of the walking girls he knew had the energy Ai radiated. Most of the girls he knew would be following idol pop-stars, fashion and drama TV shows. None of them had the wild ambitions Ai had.
Perhaps it was because Ai was so tightly restricted that she has the desire to do all those things.
Sven considered buying her a guitar for her birthday. It would be quite costly, but it would be no problem. He had been cutting down on video games, and he had already sold some of his games back to the shop. With that money it should be enough to buy a guitar for Ai.
Maybe another book..maybe there is a “Guitars for Dummies”, Sven thought as he stared at the TV. I should ask her mother for her birthday. If I ask Ai then she would know I’m planning to buy her something and refuse to tell me and forbid her mother from telling me.
“Sven! Are you listening?” Ai tried to poke Sven’s cheek, but she couldn’t reach far enough. Nevertheless it was enough to get his attention.
“Why?” asked Sven, but he moved his chair closer anyway.
With full force Ai poked Sven in in the cheek.
“Au! What was that for?”
Ai snickered. “For not listening”
Sven smiled and let out a breath.
Sometimes he thought Ai was a little strange. He imagined if he was bound to the bed for the rest of his life, he’d lose all will to live. Looking at Ai, he could occasionally see a deep sorrow in her eyes, but then she’d be always be brimming with energy.
In his eyes, she was nothing short of amazing.
“Oh look!” Ai pointed out the window. “Some kids are playing baseball again. Though I doubt they can hit it as far as you did.”
“Ah, that was just luck.”
In silence, the two watched the kids play baseball from the window.
“Say...when was the last time you went outside?” asked Sven.
Ai thought for a moment.
“I think last week. A few days before you hit that ball into my room.”
Ai stared vacantly out of the window.
“I told you already didn’t I? I can’t walk, I can’t stand up on my own. Without anyone to help me, I can’t even drag myself into the wheelchair. With only mother and me, it is very difficult to bring me outside and back into bed.”
Suddenly, the gleam in her eyes vanished. All those ambitions she had disappeared and were replaced by one desire: to walk.
Wishing that he could so something, Sven sat there, looking at Ai.
Then a thought came to his mind.
“Ai...where is the wheelchair?”
Sven thought for a moment.
I guess she is around 150cm tall...probably not too heavy...I could carry her downstairs...
“Hey, you want to go outside?”
Surprised, Ai turned to Sven. “Yes. But-”
Before Ai could say a third word, Sven quickly walked out of her room and downstairs into the kitchen to find Ai’s mother.
“Would it be alright if I took Ai out for a walk?”
“Yes sure,” Ai’s mother answered, startled. “But how...”
As fast as he came, Sven rushed back upstairs and back into Ai’s room.
“You said you wanted to go outside? Let’s go!”
As startled as her mother, Ai wasn’t sure of what to say.
Without waiting for her answer, Sven walked over to her bed and picked her up like a bride. When Ai began to protest, Sven laughed.
“Don’t worry, your mother already said ‘yes’”
And as if she misunderstood the ‘yes’, Ai turned red from head to toe.
Carefully he walked down the stairs and put Ai into the wheelchair.
“Will you two be alright?” Ai’s mother asked, but she wasn’t really worried. Sven was far stronger than she was, and hence could control the wheelchair far better than her.
“Yes, we will be alright.” Sven and Ai answered at the same time.
The three of them had a small laugh. Ai’s mother quickly got out Ai’s slippers, and off the two went.
She watched the two vanish around the corner and smiled.
She was glad her daughter had finally found someone her age to spend time with.
“Faster, faster!” Ai laughed as Sven pushed her along. Sven grinned. “Alright, alright!”
With all his might, Sven tried to obey that command and pushed as hard as he could. His arms began to feel heavier, his legs exhausted.
After a few minutes, Sven slowed down and eventually came to a complete stop. He couldn’t go on anymore.
“Are you alright?” asked Ai. She glanced behind to see what Sven was doing.
Bending over, with his hands on his thighs, Sven was panting hard, completely out of breath. Running on your own was one thing, running while pushing another person was hard. Plus, he was pushing a person on two wheels, it felt dangerous.
If we crash...it will be my fault, Sven thought nervously.
When he somewhat regained his breath, Sven pushed Ai into a nearby park and dropped himself down on a bench next to her.
“Whew!” he let out a deep breath. “It’s been a while since I’ve sprinted like that.”
Ai gave him a wide smile. “And it’s been a while since I’ve felt the wind in my face like that.” Sven raised an eyebrow.
“What do you mean?”
Ai’s eyes became somewhat vacant again, and for a moment, Sven was afraid that he’d asked the wrong question again. But just when he was about to speak, Ai began to explain.
“Whenever mother would push me, because she is getting older, she can’t go as fast as I would like to. I don’t mean to speak badly of her, but sometimes I wish just to go ahead with all my might, to ignore everything and just go straight with everything I’ve got.
“But I can’t. Just my arms and hands can’t move the wheelchair fast enough, and I can’t ask mother to run until her breath runs out. I know I sound selfish, she has been so kind to me, but...sometimes I just really want to feel the speed, the wind, the thrill of going fast. But my legs are paralyzed...so...”
Looking at the vacant gaze in her eyes, Sven began to understand pain.
Those eyes perhaps showed only a fraction of Ai’s pain, but that was already enough to make Sven understand.
Without a word, he stood up and walked over to a nearby vending machine.
Surprised at his abrupt reaction, Ai watched Sven throw some coins into the machine and selecting the drinks.
Maybe I said the wrong thing, she thought with regret and felt as if she needed to apologize . When Sven came back, Ai was about to open her mouth to apologize, but Sven stopped her by pressing a cold coffee against her cheek. “Well then, whenever you want to feel the wind, just call me and I’ll push you as hard as I can!” Sven grinned.
Ai smiled despite the coffee can in her face.
They both opened their cans and took a long gulp.
Sven leaned back and spread his arms across the bench. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath.
To be in a park, with a girl. That was something he hardly ever did.
Maybe one day she will understand, one day she might realize...without any words, he thought and chuckled.
“What’s so funny Sven?” asked Ai.
To her, Sven was lost in thought for a moment. But in that single moment, he seemed so melancholic, as if he was a different person. And in that one moment, he looked incredibly handsome.
Maybe one day he will understand, one day he might realize...without any words, she thought and smiled a little.
It is moments like these that make me feel that I have the greatest job in the universe as Cupid. Perhaps it is the harmony of it, or perhaps the simplicity.
Or perhaps both.
Sven turned his head to look at Ai, and in that moment, just as that one thought was in her mind, the wind blew through her hair.
And in that one moment, when her beauty was beyond perfection, it was that moment that Sven’s heart leaped above and beyond its boundaries.
Sven couldn’t help but laugh slightly.
“What’s so funny Sven?” Ai asked again. “Hm? Oh, nothing, nothing.” Sven waved her off.
Ai pouted and drilled her stare into him. “Tell me!”
Seeing Ai’s pout, without thinking, Sven reached over and poked her cheek.
“Hey, what was that for?”
“That was for how you poked me earlier.”
“Not fair! Sven come over here.”
“I’m not going to fall for that again.”
Laughing and sighing, Sven decided to obey her and let Ai poke him in the cheek long and hard.
If I don’t, who knows how long she might be sore at me for this.
Staring off into the distance, Sven gazed at the nearby mountains.
“Say...” Sven began and paused for moment. “What else is there that you want to do?”
“Hmm...” Ai thought. At first she didn’t answer. There were many things she wanted to do, but it was obvious that Sven was asking what else she wanted to do while outside in the wheelchair.
“I want to see the sunrise and sunset.”
Surprised, Sven raised both eyebrows at that simple request.
“I mean at the mountains over there,” Ai pointed at the nearby hills. “I’ve always wanted to go up there but...well...mother isn’t strong enough to push the wheelchair that far...”
“Then let’s do that sometime.” Sven offered.
“But can you push me that far?”
“We won’t know until we try.”
Ai grinned back.
“Just don’t count me in for the sunrise,” Sven added. “I’ll never be able to wake up early enough for that.”
“Me neither.” Ai laughed.
“Anything else you want to do?”
Ai thought again for a minute.
“I want to run in the rain!” she eventually said.
“What do you mean...” asked Sven, a little confused.
“I mean when it is pouring outside, you know? When it’s raining like a shower, I want to be out on the streets, going as fast as I can without losing control. I want to feel the raindrops come against my face while I race full speed into them.”
Sven looked up at the dark clouds and held out his hand. For a moment, he tried to feel it. The rain.
“I think you’ll be getting wish...right...around...now.”
And as soon as that word escaped her mouth, a thunder roared above them.
Sven let out a small, nervous laugh.
And before they could even leave the park, it was as if they had suddenly stepped into a shower.
“Wah! Amazing!” shouted Ai as the heavy raindrops hit her head, completely soaking her from top to bottom.
Sven spat out some of the water that has gotten into his mouth. That was how strong the storm was.
“Which way?” asked Sven, the wind was blowing so strong, it became hard for him to keep track of his surroundings.
Damn it, he thought. I should’ve paid more attention to the weather reports. I didn’t know there was a hurricane coming! These things just come out of nowhere. “I think left!” Ai replied who was still amazed by freshness of the feeling of the cold water constantly coming from above.
“Just turn left!”
After a few wrong turns, the pair finally managed to find their way back home. The rain and wind were so strong, it was hard for them to move.
Panting and completely drenched, they stood at Ai’s doorsteps.
“Wow” Ai simply said.
“Wow” Sven agreed.
When Ai’s mother opened the door, she blinked a couple of times. Such a sight surprised her, but she was expecting Sven and Ai to end up like this.
Then, she laughed.
Seeing the two of them like that, soaked to the bone and panting from the storm was simply a sight she wouldn’t get more than once.
“Come in, come in!” she said while still laughing.
Ai and Sven gratefully accepted the towels Ai’s mother brought them.
“You two can wait in Ai’s room while I get the bath ready.” Ai’s mother told them, and so the two went back to where they’ve started.
Sven put Ai into the chair by her desk, he didn’t want to get her bed soaked.
He took a breath and dropped to the ground.
He glanced around her room. And it was then when he saw it. The baseball Ai wanted to keep.
It was there, on a shelf, on top of a neatly folded white handkerchief.
“From all the things you want to do, did you ever want to play baseball?” asked Sven.
Ai nodded. “I want to try many different sports, baseball is among them...”
“If you played baseball, even just once, what would you like to do the most?”
“Hit a home-run of course!” Ai instantly answered, her eyes blazing.
“Then let’s do that sometime.” Sven smiled.
Minutes layer, Ai’s mother came into the room to tell Sven that the bath was ready. Sven said that it was fine and that Ai could take a bath first, but then Ai told him that if she was in a bath, she would enjoy it until the water was ice-cold.
Quickly, Sven decided to jump into the bath first.
Sitting in the tub, he stared up at the ceiling, thinking.
He knew what he wanted to do next with Ai.
To see the sunset with her.