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Firefly Waltz

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Music Hyperlink: Chantey, by AKMU.


 

 

As Yena walked back home, a skip in her step, she heard the soft tinkling of wind-chimes. Turning, she noticed a variety of them hanging in front of a shop that sold all things old and rustic. She saw old license plates, hubcaps, vintage outfits, and a neat pile of old books for her perusal. Beelining for the shop, she skimmed through the racks of clothes and plucked out a dusty navy peacoat. She brushed the dust off and held it against herself, admiring it in the mirror next to the racks. “Not bad,” she murmured. Tucking it under her arm, she moved on.

 

The books were calling her. Now, Yena wasn’t really one for reading. Not that she didn’t like reading, she was just really too busy to read and was always too tired whenever she had free time. Yes, that was it. It wasn’t that she’d rather play games on her phone or computer, nope. But today, for reasons unknown, the books called her.

 

Her eyes were drawn to a book in the bottom third section of the pile, a pitch-black book with a pitch-black spine. Despite the brilliant light of the shop it lived in midnight. Yena wondered whether she too would burn black if she touched it. She stretched out a tentative hand and pulled it out, neatly displacing all the books above it, but like a well thought-out move in Jenga, all they did were wobble and settle back into place. Turning the book over, she could barely read the title, the gold font nearly all but scratched out. She ran her fingers over the words, tracing out the bumps that made up the title. Beneath them a silhouette of a lone man walked. Yena stared at the cover for a beat longer before taking it over to the payment counter, where an old man stood, reading his newspaper.

 

“Excuse me, sir, how much for the coat and the book?”

 

The old man closed his newspaper with a flick of his wrists. Tilting his thick spectacles down, he squinted up at the items in her hands. “Twenty dollars.”

 

As Yena was about to pay, a strong gale burst through the open doors of the store, stirring up the wind-chimes outside. She was taken by surprise and stared at the bells chiming outside, metal resonating to form both light and low sounds. Placing her purchases down, she walked out and observed the wind-chimes as they swayed in the wind, intrigued.

 

“Five for any of them,” the old man added. “They’ll bring you good luck, they will.”

 

“Good luck?” Yena repeated. She could use some of that. She took her time examining each one before picking a simple bell-shaped one with a red string attached to it. “I’ll take this one, sir.”

 

The old man nodded thoughtfully. “A wise choice. Simple, yet refined.” He took the money Yena offered and bowed. “May it bring you lots of good luck, girl.”

 

Gathering her things in her arms, Yena bowed in return. While she walked home, she turned the wind-chime around and around in her hand. A plan began to formulate in her head - a good plan, she hoped, and dangled the bell from her fingers, listening to it chime.

 

#

 

“Yuri?” Yena leaned over the railing of her balcony as soon as she heard the first strum of a guitar. “Yuri, are you there?”

 

“Hey, Yena! What’s up?”

 

“I bought something for you. Or, well, for us,” Yena said, scratching the nape of her neck. It sounded more embarrassing now that she said it out loud, but she couldn’t take it back now.

 

“What did you buy?” Yuri asked, her voice tinged with curiosity.

 

Yena pulled out the wind-chime she had bought earlier in the day. She tied one end of the string around her balcony railing, tightening it in a double-knot so it would be snatched away by the breeze, then dropped the wind-chime. It swung from her balcony, a gentle sound that echoed through the night. 

 

“Oh! It’s a wind-chime!” Yena heard Yuri say. The bell started to chime incessantly. Yuri must be playing with it - just like a cat, Yena thought, amused.

 

“Yeah, see, I was thinking that instead of me wondering whether you’re here - or vice versa - not that you’d ever wonder whether I was here, honestly - but I was thinking that we could use this bell instead. You can ring it when you’re here, and I’ll ring it when I’m here. So if we’re both here, the wind-chime will sound twice. What do you think?”

 

“Yena, it’s a wind-chime in the middle of autumn.”

 

“Oh.” Yena had completely forgotten about the formidable winds that howled through the season, and would no doubt cause the wind-chime to peal even if they weren’t there. “That’s right, the autumn wind…”

 

“I think it’s a brilliant idea.”

 

Yena perked up immediately. “You do?”

 

“Of course I do. Look, first of all, it’s a great way for us to check whether the other is here. It’s not a very noisy, irritating object, so even when winds blow it accidentally our neighbours won’t think much of it. Besides, if the winds are blowing and the wind-chime goes mad, then wouldn’t us suddenly stopping the wind-chime mean that we’re here?”

 

“That makes sense!” Yena marvelled at Yuri’s thought process. Her head was only ever filled with worries - worries about whether Yuri would be there tonight, whether they could hear the other, whether her ideas were too silly and impractical. Then Yuri would come along and fix everything, make everything right again.

 

“Besides,” Yuri interjected, “I do start finding myself wondering whether you’re here, especially on nights like this, you know?”

 

“Nights like this?”

 

“Yeah. On these tranquil nights, where the lights from the city dim for the few milliseconds, and we can see the stars as they dance above us. And sometimes the moon will come up - and such a beautiful moon it is, doing its best to bestow its luminance upon us, with its changing appearance in cycles. A constant inconsistency, like all life on this planet we call ours.”

 

Yena glanced up at Yuri’s words, gazing at the sky the colour of the book she had bought that day. It was true, she thought. Only yesterday the moon was a perfectly-formed crescent, a seat for night-sky fishermen, and today it was barely there, a bleak glow hanging on by a thread, thinner than the red string tied to her balcony. Despite the near-invisibility of the moon, Yena could feel its struggle to remove itself from the darkness, and that made it shine all the brighter. 

 

The wind-chime tinkled quietly. 

 

“The moon is beautiful tonight,” Yena murmured, awestruck.

 

“It really is, isn’t it?” Yuri agreed as they basked in the serenity of the night, in the glow of the fading moon.

 

“Will I ever see you, Yuri?" Yena suddenly asked. "Will I ever know the face behind the voice?”

 

“Maybe one day, Yena. Maybe one day. But for now, this is enough.”

 

“Yeah,” Yena sighed, lying down on her balcony, framing the sliver of light in the sky with a hand. “This is enough. For now.”

 

#

 

“Wow, Yena, you’re reading ,” an inquisitive voice commented. Yena looked up to see one of her variety show colleagues standing over her, a male idol with silvery hair and a silly grin on his face, peering at the book in her hand.

 

“Seungkwan, unlike you, I am a person of great education,” Yena sniped at him, sticking her tongue out.

 

Seungkwan nodded thoughtfully. “I’m sure you are, that’s why I’ve only ever seen you play games or eat or sleep. Must be tiring having such a big, hard-working brain.” Cackling, he danced out of the way before Yena could kick him. 

 

“Shut up and let me read in peace, won’t you?”

 

“But there’s no one to do dumb stuff with me now,” Seungwan complained, sulking. He plopped himself on the floor next to Yena and stared blankly at the hubbub around them. Staff of various positions were running around, cameras were being towed through the corridors, and cheap snacks were being handed out. He grabbed a bag of jellies and stuffed his face with the candy, then offered it to Yena. “I don’t see our seniors.”

 

“They must be smoking outside somewhere,” she replied absentmindedly, turning over the page. 

 

Seungkwan blew a raspberry and poked her in the arm. “Dude, I’m seriously bored. Read a line out to me.”

 

Yena huffed, but complied. “Everything,” Yena started, “everything she says is beautiful. Her lips are a fountain with words brimming; I, with my hands cupped, wait for them to overflow.”

 

Seungkwan hummed, his face set in unusually earnest lines. “That’s poetry, isn’t? Poetry in two sentences, and it carves a picture into your head.”

 

Perhaps it did for Seungkwan, but in Yena’s mind there was only the blank space of her balcony, the echo of their night. The sound of a bell chiming in the dark, the musicality of Yuri’s voice as she spoke of the moon not as an object too far for them to touch, but merely as an abstraction of the human. 

 

Like the author, Yena waited every night for Yuri to speak, to sing, patiently anticipating the waterfall of words and music to come crashing down and drag her to the very depths of the ocean. And by God, Yena would willingly drown night after night if it meant she could listen to Yuri sing one more time.