Under the influence of Meiko

The light is bad in the room. Without a chance to change it, I still write, with my Uniball Vision Elite on blue Complete B5 6mm-ruled notebook bought at Sunny near the Watanabedori station.

Tonight the moon showed her crescent toward Venus, and between them, fainter, Jupiter shone like a ghost.

We went to the restaurant. It was good. I ate a lot of rice. We wasted a lot of food. They would not let us take the pizza to go, something about food poisoning. We sang for my son's 10th birthday. He beamed.

We walked back, saw the aforementioned moon. My wife's mother, holding my arm, exclaimed "Ah! Kirei!"

Later, bus, home, computer, son on Android playing games. Now, I begin to drift. Twitter speaks, I respond. Sharin, Naomi, Laura, Lara. They are the people on this side of the world: Spain, South Africa, India, Australia. They too see the moon and her sharp crescent and slender invitation.

I listen to Meiko Kaji's album Zenkyoku Shu while writing, and her voice and melody soothe me and I open the portal to the place within me that none see but me.

There is no story tonight, no dragon, no knight, no princess or killer in the shadows. There is only me, her, and the pen. She tells me not her name, for nothing passes her delicately pressed lips. She does not smile, and the eyes on her face watch me from slits in her pale skin, releasing me not to my familiar silliness but holding mine in her dark and inescapable spell.

She continues to look at me, and I am acutely aware of every movement of her body, from the slow rise of her chest with each measured breath to the faster yet infinitely memorable blink of her eyes.

I am certain I would bore you if I described her further, and would hardly do her justice. High heels, molded jeans, and a cream vest from Uniqlo over a navy t-shirt. She wears no jewelry, no earrings, no rings, necklace or watch. Her hair is long, and she lets it fall to each side of her face past her shoulders. Without a trace of makeup her face entices me. Small freckles near her ear bid me to her, but I dare not, for we stand in the street and passers-by on bikes snake around us. The night is warm, a touch humid, and the lights from stores and cars compete with the moonlight.

Then, she turns, her heels barely touching the ground, and her profile points the way. We walk in silence, ten centimeters apart, yet materially too close for familiarity.

The moment comes then passes, and I no longer expect her to hold my hand. Instead, she lifts a slender cigarette from a golden case engraved with intricate designs and brings it to her lips. Next she hands me a disposable lighter. I cup the flame against the wind and I feel the warmth as she leans towards me to draw the fire with her breath. I return the lighter to her. She takes it delicately and places it in her tiny purse, back in its proper place.

Again we walk without speaking. Our feet find themselves walking in unison, speaking an old language, one I listen to avidly, but, having lost the key, only hear the beating of my heart pacing the passing pavement below.

I look to the right. I see her face, her nose, her lips, the cigarette, the fiery tip in the darkness. She does not turn to look at me.

We stop at a crosswalk. A black Lucky taxi slithers silently past, its Prius body adorned with blue lights. We wait for the white man in the green square of light. Cyclists in skirts wait with us, but I glance not, intent on her only and the slow burn of her cigarette.

I catch a whiff of the smoke that mingles with my new memories and instantly redefine the scent with the moment.

Again, we walk, silently following the outline of tall buildings that block the sky.

At last, down to the filter, she snubs the fire and hides the remains of her selfishness in a tiny metal case she carries. She does not litter.

After more steps, perhaps a hundred, she parts her lips and with unpracticed school English speaks with smokey assurance.

"You're leaving me tomorrow."

I stop walking. She continues about ten steps. She turns, three quarters of the way, then tilts her eyes to mine.

"I will come back."

My voice sounds hollow and seems to fall flat on the pavement, avoiding even the yellow tiles with raised paths for the blind.

Her eyes, black as raven, fix me with unbearable intensity. I would proffer inane excuses if I thought she would not deride me. Instead I simply revel one last time in the shape of her unsmiling face, and then I realize I ought to turn away, because she does not want me to let my eyes linger on her form much longer.

Detaching from her gaze my eyes aim left, desperate for something to latch on.

Out of a Lawson a slender beauty in white pants and heeled sandals saunters after her friend only to nuzzle him and laugh. Further left, an older lady in impeccable dress sports an immaculate bob to, I imagine, meet her long-time friend in a restaurant for talk, drink, food, and memories.

A white and green bus passes by, blocking my view, drawing me back to the woman with black eyes.

She has not moved. She looks at me with the same intensity, and I imagine an imperceptible quiver in her lower lip, to the left of her face.

With unfamiliar resolve, I turn, facing away, then walk, away to my suitcase, to my plane, to my life far away in California, though I know the smell of her smoke will linger for twenty years, or more.

Written in Fukuoka, Japan, June 22, 2015.