Strolling through the city, I notice that I feel uncharacteristically calm. Takuya’s appearance and message are questionable. And yet… I have the feeling that this could be real.
I grab a bottle of water from my bag and take a few sips. I put the cap back on and look around. On my left I see a beautiful little church. The flower beds around the old church are gorgeous. It’s the beginning of autumn and the weather is lovely. I tie my denim jacket around my waist and sit down on a small wall, surrounding the church. There are quite a few people walking around.
“This one is for you,” says a girl’s voice.
I startle and turn around. Next to me there is a little Asian girl. Her black hair reaches just over her shoulders. She is wearing a cute yellow dress and a green bag. Her brown eyes observe me calmly.
“Don’t you like it?” she asks, her voice revealing a slight disappointment.
I look in surprise at her outstretched hand. In it she holds a small bracelet made of yellow and pink flowers.
“Oh! Is that for me?” I ask, touched by the sweet gesture.
The girl nods to me and I take the fragile bracelet from her hand. She has carefully strung the flowers together with the stems. I admire her craftsmanship and gently put the flower bracelet around my wrist.
The girl smiles contentedly and takes a seat next to me on the wall.
“What’s your name?” I ask her.
“I am Mai,” she says. “And you are Mackenzie.”
For a moment I am dumbfounded. Is this one of the people Takuya was talking about? She might be very young and small, but I am curious what Mai has to tell me.
“That’s right. Nice to meet you, Mai,” I smile at her. “How do you know who I am?”
“We were sisters in a past life,” she says firmly.
“Oh…” I am not sure how to respond.
“Do not you remember? We lived in Vietnam. We were very poor.”
I shake my head gently.
“Sorry, I don’t remember.”
The girl shrugs.
“When you return home after you die, you will remember it all.”
“Yes, probably,” I quickly respond.
“We often made flower bracelets together by the river. You taught me how. Mama always thought the bracelets were very beautiful. She wore them until the flowers had faded. Then we quickly made new ones. Our brother didn’t like them. He preferred playing with the big boys next door.”
“We must have had a lot of fun picking flowers,” I say to the girl.
A broad smile appears on her face.
“Yes, I enjoyed playing with you so much. Mum often gave us a treat to eat by the river.”
“No, this,” she says and reaches into the green bag. She pulls out two lychees and hands me one.
“Are you hungry?” she asks.
“Actually, I had breakfast not that long ago,” I admit. “But fruit is always good! Thank you.”
“That’s a shame, food always tastes the best when you are hungry,” she informs me. She picks open the shell of the fruit and takes a small bite.
“Hmm! These were our favorite fruits.”
I smile watching the little Vietnamese girl enjoy the lychee. The sun is shining on her face and she looks completely happy.
“What makes you happy, Mackenzie?” she asks between bites.
“That’s a very good question,” I sigh. “I’m not sure about that. I haven’t been very happy in a while… I used to love traveling and spending my vacations on a luxury cruise ship. I also really like concerts and shopping.”
“Those things sound expensive and complicated,” says Mai. “Making bracelets makes me happy. So does eating sweet fruit. And watching the orange sunset together with you and mommy.”
I look at her and once again a feeling of shame creeps over me. What a spoiled brat I am. All my interests cost a lot of money, time and energy. This girl is grateful for the little pleasures in life, many of which are free. I can definitely learn something from her.
“That’s why Takuya asked me,” she says.
I burst out laughing. So she can read minds as well.
“Mommy, look how pretty!”
For a moment I thought that Mai was talking to me, but the girl is silently eating her lychee. I turn to see a blonde girl pulling her mother’s arm and frantically pointing towards the sky.
“Look, that looks like a dolphin, mama!”
I follow her gaze and notice a large cloud which, with a little imagination, looks indeed like a dolphin.
I smile and turn to Mai to point out the special cloud. But the girl is nowhere to be seen. There is a lychee on the wall next to me. Like a small souvenir of our meeting.
Scroll down and click on page 3 for the next chapter.