1 To My Sweet Pea

"...I'm glad to see our yellow flowers... blooming."

The old man who lay weakly on the bed retracted his hazy old eyes from the open window to his wife. Through his blurred vision due to his old age, he saw her biting her lips, trying not to cry.

"My sweet pea... Don't cry, please..."

The old man forced himself to lift up his bony hand. He wanted to gently caress her head but, his strength was quickly lost.

The little old lady rubbed her teary eyes. She quickly held her husband's hand with both of hers. Their wrinkly and papery skins touched one another.

"Darling... I'll take care of the flowers... and of myself," Her trembling lips curved into a smile. A new drop of tear rolled down her face, "So, don't worry about me, en?"

She didn't want to face reality but, she knew his time was nearly approaching.

If she didn't give him her smile and said whatever her heart yearned for, she understood an endless regret would swallow her whole.


The old man slowly brushed his thumb on the back of her right hand. He didn't move his gaze away from his beloved little old lady. With an affectionate voice, he whispered.

"...you've brought the light for me. I'm so... so grateful... for everything. Without you... my life might not have... a happy journey... a happy ending."

On the first day they moved into this tiny little house with an annex, he planted daffodils all over the yard. The yellow flowers symbolized the new beginnings in their lives. For over two decades, the flowers bloomed brightly around their home.

From childhood to his youth, he suffered injustices. His thirst for revenge landed him in prison. After a decade, he was released and vowed to not walk on the same dark path again.

As for her, she had her own share of misfortunes. During their first meeting, he never thought he would be allowed to taste happiness with someone who accepted him with her whole heart.

Her tears burst in the wake of his words.

Although Hisaki wanted to send him off with a smile, she couldn't control her feelings. Her fragile shoulders shook as she tried hard to stop crying.

"You silly... old man... Heisuke, I wish... I wish we can have a happier life path... a happier ending..."

Hisaki gently spread her husband's palm and placed it against her face.

His touch wasn't as warm as usual.

Heisuke let out a low laugh. His eyes twinkled, "...what else... do you wish for?"

"I wish we'll... meet earlier," Hisaki choked on her sob. She struggled to finish her words, "I wish... to have more time... with you... I love you... I love you..."

Heisuke's eyelids trembled. Hisaki's heart jumped to her throat.


Since last week, her husband often drifted in and out of his consciousness. Whenever she saw him falling asleep, Hisaki was frightened at the thought of him not waking up again.

What if, this time...

A smile was carved on Heisuke's face.

With the last of his strength, he whispered, "...even though we met later... we still brought each other happiness... My sweet pea, I love you... forever..."

He closed his eyes.

This time, he never woke up.


Hisaki struggled to not cry out loud. Her beloved husband didn't want her to be so sad. They could do nothing to avoid the end of a life cycle.

"I hope our wish would be fulfilled," Hisaki murmured mournfully.

She still held his hand as she bent over to kiss his forehead for the last time. A crystal fell on a faded scar above his right eyebrow.

'Until we meet again, my dear old man.'

Throughout the funeral, Hisaki wasn't alone. The neighbors came and offered various help to the little old lady.

Everyone knew the couple who lived in the tiny house at the end of the village street.

While Mr. Saeki was a local of this place, Mrs. Saeki hailed from a faraway prefecture. They met here and got married when both were in their 40s.

For the people of that era, marrying after the 30s could be considered already late, moreover after the 40s.

Despite not having children to accompany them to their old age nor having a considerable fortune, the husband and wife lived contentedly. Everyone respected and adored them.

Their beautiful garden of yellow daffodils often attracted the children to play in their yard.


Hisaki snapped out of her daze. She moved her gaze away from her husband's tombstone to the owner of the voice.

An old man who was a few years older than her stood next to her. Concern lay underneath his eyes.

"Hisaki, even though Heisuke has gone, don't ever hesitate to reach out for us," The old man said in earnest. He added jokingly, "Heisuke is like my own brother. He'd beat me later if he knew I didn't take care of you."

Hisaki chuckled softly. She nodded. The amber and ruby colors of the setting sun were reflected in her eyes.

"You're really a good brother for him, Shuuya. He might rarely show it but, he always said he was indebted to you."

Shuuya helplessly shook his head. A sad smile hung on his lips. His gaze fell on the tombstone.

"Really, that old man... we'll greatly miss him."

Hisaki just smiled.

Even though she didn't rest much for three days because of handling the funeral, Hisaki couldn't sleep that night. The bed felt so vast and so empty with only her lying on it.

Shuuya's wife, Aino offered to stay the night with her but, Hisaki gently refused. She told the couple that she wanted some time alone.

Aino didn't persist yet, she reminded Hisaki that she could contact them even in the middle of the night if she ever needed them. Hisaki was so grateful for their concerns.

Shuuya was Heisuke's childhood friend.

During the decade the latter was imprisoned under the charges of almost killing someone, Shuuya steadfastly stood behind Heisuke to back him up. He didn't allow anyone to say bad things to his friend.

Shuuya also was the one who helped Heisuke to get back to his feet once he was freed.

"I wonder... what are you doing right now over there?"

Hisaki threw her gaze to the starry sky outside. The night view of the port city, especially in their village was as beautiful as ever.

On the first night when she arrived here almost two decades ago, Hisaki was mesmerized by the stunning view.

The beautiful scenery of this place eased the difficulties she had to face as she lived in a city thousands of miles away from her hometown.

Hisaki blinked a few times before her eyes felt warm with tears.

She really, really missed him.

Hisaki slowly got off of the bed. She switched on the lights, brightening the entire room. Her feet brought her to the closet at the corner of the room.

Her old man's clothes were hung beside hers. Hisaki ran her fingers from one clothing to the other until she stopped at a worn-out-looking flannel shirt.

This was his favorite shirt. Hisaki gifted it to Heisuke after their marriage. He often wore it even on the days he needed help to move around.

Hisaki removed the shirt from the hanger. She brought the shirt close to her face. Her shoulders began to tremble as she sniffled.

His scent was deeply embedded in this piece of clothing.

Hisaki put the shirt over her shoulders. She sat on the floor opposite the closet. A few boxes were stacked together, holding their essential belongings.


Hisaki bit her lips. Her right wrist was terribly injured before she came to this place.

Although her wrist remained intact, it was difficult for her to do strenuous tasks. Even the act of lifting a mug needed her using both hands.

Inside the boxes, she found various kinds of items. The New Year cards that they playfully exchanged, the movie ticket stubs from every outing they went together, the seashells they collected at the beach...

Everything held dear memories to both of them.

In one box, various colors and types of yarns were stored inside. Most of them belonged to Heisuke.


Hisaki noticed a brand new envelope inside the yarn box. Her hands shivered the moment she saw the familiar handwriting.

'To My Sweet Pea'

This was Heisuke's handwriting! When did he write this?

Hisaki could hear her heart pounding heavily in her chest. She took a couple of deep breaths. With anticipation, she carefully opened the sealed envelope.

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