“Darling, I’m coming home at last.” A sheet of lavender paper unexpectedly appears on the dining room table one morning. Her handwriting. Her little swirl of a signature. Her scent. Claire. Claire?? The miracle I’ve prayed for all these months. I lift the paper and hold it to my cheek, wet with tears. I trace the words and imagine her beautifully tapered fingers holding the pen, forming each letter. How? Does it even matter? I don’t question. I just rejoice. Claire. My love, my heart.

I look in the mirror, at the reflection staring back at me. Does he look old and haggard? Are those dark circles under his eyes? No, no, it’s just a trick of the light. He’s in the springtime of his life, as carefree as an April afternoon.

That night, I dream of our midnight adventure, the two of us laughing, running to the lake’s edge. “Race you to the middle!” We head toward the floating platform, cherry blossoms falling behind us like pale pink tears. The full moon is frozen in horror, watching the scene unfold. He cannot reach her, the current is too strong. She’s going under, going under. No, no, a misremembering! The cherry blossoms drift through the air like music, the moon has the face of a friend. She’s coming home, coming home!

When Hannah comes the next day to fix my lunch, I can’t wait to tell her the news.

“You’ll soon be cooking for two again!” Hannah smiles with anticipation. She’s been playing matchmaker for a year now, and probably thinks one of her suggestions has taken root. “Claire is coming home at last!” I don’t understand the sudden terror in Hannah’s eyes, followed by a bottomless sorrow. “But sir ..” “Now, now, Hannah, don’t spoil it.”

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Marianna Pieterse
Marianna Pieterse(@marianna-pieterse)
1 year ago

Juma, this story is so captivating, from the first line! There is such a beautiful contrast between the terrible sadness in the beginning to the hopefulness in the end. Your story leaves so many questions and set my imagination on a course of its own! This is a beautiful story. Well done.

Carrie OLeary
Carrie OLeary(@carrie-oleary)
1 year ago

A very bittersweet story. It’s sometimes easier and more pleasant to live with the make believe world that you wish for than living with the reality of life. Nicely done.

Linda Rock
Linda Rock(@linda-rock)
1 year ago

Loss is such a terrible thing to deal with. Does anyone really come to terms with it? Your story is heart wrenching Juma. He has watched Claire die but his mind will find any way of keeping her alive. Some might say this is unhealthy but who are they to judge. Everyone has their own way of dealing with grief and who would deny him a moment of relief from the torment he feels. Such an emotionally charged story and one that stays with you. Very well written.

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Dipayan Chakrabarti
Dipayan Chakrabarti(@dipayan-chakrabarti)
1 year ago

This is a poignant, fascinating, well-written story.

Susan Giles
Susan Giles(@susan-giles)
1 year ago

The poignancy of this story touched me. I love your descriptions, especially “the moon has the face of a friend”. Thank you for your story.

Susan Dawson
Susan Dawson(@susan-dawson)
1 year ago

I love the imagery of the moon watching in horror, Juma, though it gives me a cold shiver down my spine.

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Sandra James
Sandra James(@sandra-james)
1 year ago

Sad, very sad, and yet your protagonist has found a way to be happy! Perhaps we should be happy, too 🙂

Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof(@christer-norrlof)
1 year ago

The language in your story is beautiful, Juma, and makes it a pleasure to read this story of loss and tragedy, mixed up with confusion, dreams and hopes. Minds play tricks and hopes and memories get mixed up. It’s a very powerful story.

Lydia E Atzemian
Lydia E Atzemian(@lydia-e-atzemian)
1 year ago

I find this super unique, definitely not what your average person would think of when given the word “Sakura”. Isn’t that the whole point?

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Eric Radcliffe
Eric Radcliffe(@eric-radcliffe)
1 year ago

I have to agree with Susan, Juma, a cold shiver ran through me. Well written, a happier one next time please!

Santina Forlenza
Santina Forlenza(@santina-forlenza)
1 year ago

I love the interior dialog with the reflection in the mirror. It caught my attention, besides the story as a whole, Juma.

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
1 year ago

What a very sad story it was. It touches my heart. So captivating. The sadness of your protagonist turns into hopefulness in the end. I love it.

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