I’m somewhere over the ocean next to a boy named Yuki. I don’t know which ocean it is. It’s hard to know these things when you’re 39,000 feet in the air. You’re not there, but Yuki is. He’s a scientist and his wife is a scientist. He’s returning from America, where he stayed for ten days, for science. His wife stayed behind in Japan.
Yuki is kind, says my Japanese is good. He says this in English, because I say wakarimasen when he speaks too quickly in Japanese, shake my head. I don’t understand. I’m sorry. Yuki takes off his glasses from time to time, rubs his eyes.
Where are you from, he says, names a city.
Montana, I say.
He doesn’t know where that is. Japanese people never do.
It doesn’t matter.
Yuki smiles. He has a round face, a nice smile. His wife must love him so deeply. Must send him love texts while he’s gone, make whispered phone calls: I miss you unbearably.
Yuki blinks and blinks, closes his eyes. He sleeps, and I listen to music. I am embarrassed by how old my mp3 player is, don’t want Yuki to see. Hide it under the palm of my hand. I am listening to what I think are love songs, but are really about broken hearts. All the love songs, I think, are really about broken hearts.
I am nearly asleep; I am nearly thinking of you, or dreaming of you. This is something I have been trying not to do: think of you, dream of you. Because you are better, I imagine, at not thinking of me.
The plane rocks in the sky. The captain’s voice comes over the speaker, says something in rapid Japanese.
Wakarimasen, I whisper to Yuki.
Turbulence, he says. Just turbulence.
The plane shakes and shakes. The seat belt sign is like an angry face. Yuki and I clutch hands. It’s nothing personal. He thinks of his wife, whispers her name. It could be Sakura or Kyoka or Ai. She could be so beautiful.
Yuki’s hand is small and my hand is small. We hold small hands together. He whispers his wife’s name, again, again, again.
I could pretend his hand belongs to you, though we have never touched. I could pretend that this is what touching you would be like. That the way Yuki smells, of airplane-dinner teriyaki and sage, is your scent. That these songs are only songs. That maybe it is hard for you, too, not to think of me.
Song: Do You Think About Me by NVDES
Art by Sandra de la Cruz
Sandra de la Cruz studied telecommunication engineering, but has always had a passion for drawing and the arts. Three years ago, she started to take her passion seriously as a way of making a living. Her other passion, poetry, brought her in contact with contemporary writers, for whom she made various covers and illustrations. In 2017, she published her first poetry book illustrated and written by her: Obsidiana. In the last few years, she has made exhibitions, collectively and also individually, in different showrooms and ‘concept stores’, always revealing a personal and intimate style to her work. She has never put aside either the experimental side of her art with new techniques and themes, or her own personal project, with full dedication.
Cathy Ulrich is a writer from Montana. Her work has been published in a variety of journals, including Split Lip, Jellyfish Review and Menacing Hedge.