1. The Cherry Blossom tree
Hana means flower in Japanese… it was the first word that I learned and the one I can always depend on. As I reflect on things, I was sure that I couldn’t survive without those flowers… but I was mistaken… greatly mistaken.
- Sakura no ki -
He didn´t remember, he was on an airplane and the a classroom filled with strangers who made strange noises and he was all alone in the new world.
He´d forgotten what his father had told him and how to get home; he was completely and utterly alone.
His eyes danced around the room, they couldn’t find any rest, ever searching for something to look at.
The ticking of the clock repeatedly kept hitting him like a sledgehammer and he had given up trying to count it.
After fixating on the whiteboard for some time he found a new target, from a corner he saw a big tree crown with thousands of pink petals falling from it. The gentle breeze embraced it only to move it out of view again.
He sighed and removed focus only to find a flowerpot on his desk.
“Hana” a voice had somehow unmingled itself out of the crowd “it is meaning flower”
The voice almost scared him but as he gazed on the pot once more he relaxed “thanks” , his English was fluent but it sounded flawed compared to the other voices “that was nice of you” there were no response so he took the chance and looked up.
A pair of brown eyes met him; they looked partly confused but just intrigued.
He let out another sigh and tried again “it…was…nice” he took word by word and it seemed that the message was made much more clear.
There was a laugh “thank you” the voice that came out was rather raspy unlike the others he had heard that day and it was refreshing.
A bell caught their conversation short and the raspy voices owner disappeared in the chaos that morning when first period started.
Time moved on its own, first, second and third period came and then recess finally made its arrival. Like a wave he was pressed out the classroom, down the hallway and out in the field, right under the pink tree.
“it is sakura” the same voice from before came to his rescue and for the first time he saw its owner in full body. A girl around his own age, with black hair and eyes brown as the branches of the tree “sakura mean cherry”
“It is a beautiful word” he said “I wondered how to say it, that and everything else. My name I Christopher, but I´m just called Chris. I´m from New York and my dad divorced my mom so he could take me with him to Japan”
The girl tilted her head; she had clearly not understood anything he just said.
He laughed a little “can you English?”
“Bad” she said “I can it bad” she returned the grin “you are funny” she then took her hand in his
“I am Hana, you are?”
He smiled “Chris is my name, will you be my friend?”
“Nakama” she replied “it mean friend” she then smiled even bigger “you are nakama”
~Three years later~
“You failed the exam” said Hana as he learned up against the sakura tree.
“Why is Japanese so damn hard” he growled “like I should have a clue how to speak the language”
“I am sorry” Hana started “I fail too”
He looked up “oh” his anger slowly subsided “can´t you just try again, take a sophomore”
“There is not money enough” Hana sighed “I have to work”
“That shouldn’t be so hard, you are smart and have a pretty face”
Hana turned away, she hated when he flattered her, especially when he tried to cheer her up. “Shut up” another sigh escaped her “with no English, no one want me” … “you know that”
It was the sad reality, without all exams passed no one wanted you, not even a clerk cloud get a proper job without the right grades.
For a moment both dwelled in their pity… Hana was quick to change the direction.
“Do yo remember gardening class?”
He looked at her with a confused look on his face “that week with all the plants, yearh… what about it?”
“We can start our own gardening team” … “we can work in the garden Chris”
Chris let out a laugh “of all the things we could do, you want me to stick my hands in the mud” he stopped his grinning as he felt the situation tensing up “it´s not like were gonna find gold by digging”
“But we can plant sakura trees” Hana protested, gung-ho on the idea “you can learn Japanese flower names and get money”
If he had to be honest, it was by far the dumbest idea Hana had ever brewed up, but she did have a point, in a few weeks summer would be over them and then second year of High school, and for them a year in hell, the first of many.
“But I scored only a C for the project” Chris justified his point “I would not bring anything good to the table, you can do it, but I will just be deadweight”
“But you are nakama” most of the ways Hana tried to end a discussion was to bring their friendship into it “I can not do it without you” her voice was full of sadness, a fake overplayed sadness, another of Hana´s weapons.
“Don´t give me that crap” Chris was surprisingly rude in his speech “we failed, and our only shoot is to work our asses out with something we know something about, everyone can stick a shovel in the ground and call themselves a garden keeper”
The statement stroke Hana and her lightly tearing eyes made full contact with his, somehow it hurt her more than he had though and he was quick to make an excuse”
“That came out wrong” he knew all too well that it wasn´t enough “what I meant was…”
Hana took her hand in his and looked to the ground “no” she started “it is not your fault”
He tightened his grip on her hand “but really… I was a jerk”
Hana did not answer…
Chris let out a sigh “but if anyone can do it… maybe a C will be enough” he looked up at the tree that swayed in the wind “besides, I have to repay my behavior somehow right?”
Hana giggled but did still not look at him “then let´s be garden keepers” … “nakama”