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The Stars Are Beautiful Tonight

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“Haven’t you ever loved anyone?!” Rin yells. It sounds like an accusation.

Sen stares at her daughter, dumbstruck. Hasn’t she ever loved anyone? Hasn’t she ever loved anyone? She searches for words, wracks her brain for the appropriate response to this question. Hasn’t she ever loved anyone…

In her mind’s eye, she sees them. The two loves of her life. Their eyes reflecting the same depth of feeling she felt, still feels, for them both. A feeling that will never fade, never falter, no matter how long she lives. Every morning when she wakes up, she remembers. Feels the ghost of her husband next to her on the bed, sees her love’s eyes reflected in the pale light of the fading stars that make way for the sun each morning. Oh, how she has loved. And she loves still.

Genta.

Her husband. Her rock. Her sweet, kind, loving Genta, with his big heart and his generous soul, gently giving her that push towards Kinosuke. How could she ever forget him. How can she ever forget the man who gave her everything, and accepted that while he had given her his entire heart, she could not give him all of hers.

Kinosuke.

The man she had loved since childhood, with that joyful, clever sparkle in his eye that could bring her joy even in her darkest hours. How can she forget his voice, singing softly to her of the stars in the sky, of his hopes and dreams. How can she forget that she cannot stop loving him, no matter what he has done to them both.

Too young. Rin was too young to remember them. To remember her father. Sen feels the press of tears against her eyes, takes a breath to keep them from falling. She has always been strong for her children, and it must remain that way. She had thought, for the longest while, that it was good, that Rin didn’t remember. Didn’t remember the pain of losing her father, the horror. But perhaps…

She looks at her daughter, and for the first time sees herself through Rin’s eyes. Pale, firm, unyielding… made of glass. Crystalline but brittle. And she has been, hasn’t she? Since they left her. She cannot bring herself to allow in the pain off their loss every day of her life or it will consume her.

Has she been cold, with her daughter? She doesn’t think she has… but here is Rin, crying, not understanding her mother’s worry. Sen gentles, takes her daughter’s hand in hers. Of course she has loved. She still loves. Loves her children more than anything in this world. And hence, cannot let her youngest throw her life away on this good-for-nothing boy she’s met, who will only bring her grief. It’s no good, falling for a noble. He could not marry her if he wanted to. She cannot let Rin repeat her own mistakes. Cannot let history repeat itself once more. Rin sobs into her shoulder, futilely hitting her until she has no energy left, until she can only cry softly over the boy that stole her heart. Sen understands.

There is nothing Sen understands more in the entire world.

They sink to the floor, and Sen rocks her little girl in her arms as though she was five once more. She doesn’t know what to do, not really. Heartbreak is a feeling she understands all too well. She has already told her daughter her reasons for this answer, the reason she cannot be the with boy she loves so much. What else is there to do now, but let the tears flow? She isn’t sure how long they sit there, tangled together on the dirt floor, while she strokes her daughters hair. She doesn’t know what compels her to start singing, but the words to Kinosuke’s song come unbidden to her lips:

When you look upon the stars, their light is tender

One will glitter, another will fall

And they will melt your sadness away

In her mother’s arms, Rin goes still, a sob stopped dead in her throat. She looks up at in wonder, recognising the song her mother used to sing to them sometimes, when she and her siblings were very little.

Beyond that forest, over that mountain,

Are there unknown stars, glittering, waiting for us?

A soft breath leaves her as she finally gives in, letting herself sag against her mother’s strong frame, holding her close and safe from the cold hard world. She is angry, and sad, and hurt. The one thing she wanted in the world, and her mother won’t allow it. But deep in her heart, she knows her mother is right. For a moment, she feels five again, and her father’s kind eyes shine at her from a memory. She remembers that other man - not her father - who offered her an umbrella that time in the rain, before everything changed. Before her mother went pale and grey. She remembers the pain in her mother’s eyes watching him. Watching her father. She knows her mother has loved. She knows her mother knows the pain she is going through.

The words bubble up from deep inside of her, as does the memory of her parents, staring up at the stars from the window of their home. The beautiful stars. Always keeping watch. Softly, she sings:  

The stars we don’t yet know

I wonder if they’re waiting, shining?

 

 

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