1st Ghost Story
It was hot. He looked down at her as he moved forward and backwards, swaying quickly over her motionless body. Her high school uniform was still on, minus underwear, and as he continued toward a yet distant finish he began to focus on small drops of sweat that were striking and spreading on her still-buttoned shirt. The sweat was making its way into his eyes and he could taste it enter his gasping mouth as he continued.
He watched her lay there, taking it, eyes clenched shut, sucking on a knuckle of her ring finger. It must hurt, he thought.
He flung his head up and to the side, eyes closed, to get the sweat off his forehead and cheeks. As he opened his eyes, the heavy stagnant air suddenly moved, and the replacing cool air that first coursing through the trees above and around him struck his sweat covered, half-naked body with a chilling, frost-like touch. He stopped.
After a second, he looked down at her through his arms and she was propped up under him on her elbows, looking out into the black abyss that he now too stared into. They looked off, still corporally connected, from a foot hill of Mt. Atago toward the root of the mountain itself, over a valley of cedar and pine that was now invisibly swinging and flailing under this new wind. The wind softened, as did the sound of the moving forest, and he found her face below him still turned to the forest – mouth agape, eyes wide open, in some sort of expectation.
His vision and hearing was then destroyed in a blinding array of pulsating blue, white, yellow, accompanied with a brutal crackling that descended into an explosive booming. For three long seconds, he thought he was dead.
Then he thought he had just been struck by lighting. He looked around him, and saw that he had instinctually jumped away from her, or she had pulled back from him and they were apart now. He looked at her – her legs still lie open, exposed, in front of him. He looked up from her legs at her tightly-drawn mouth – her eyes were glistening and she looked like she was deciding whether or not to cry. Over the hill from the trail, he saw two tall cedars with tops alight in small flames. He forced out a small laugh as one of the flames went out in a now growing burst of cool wind.
He looked back and watched her, she seated and pulling her underwear back up past her thighs, up over her hips, and then pulling her skirt back down over her. He was about to go back to her in protest, when he now heard the softly rushing wind add a roar that became louder and closer and quickly manifested itself in torrents of heavy rain. They both quickly stood and he wiped the blood and fluid off and pulled up his boxers, jeans, put on his helmet and grabbed the full-faced spare helmet and handed it to her. His clothes had become cold and heavy with the rain by the time they both mounted his motorcycle and started down the mountain path towards the first light of the town, and toward Kiyotaki.
He squinted as his motorcycle charged through the downpour, she tightly clutching him, as they travelled down the narrow asphalt trail that he could only see as a glimmering trail of rain under the increasingly frequent butterscotch-colored streetlamps. As he slowed and turned she would squeeze him so hard her fingernails dug in through the wet cotton surrounding his body; he grit his teeth and started taking the curves slower.
Finally, the chaos of the wooded mountain trail slowly began to reveal small houses as the trail widened and began to level off into the town of Kiyotaki itself. The rain also had begun to slow, and as they now were surrounded by brighter streetlights and empty homes with black faces of sliding doors and windows, each facing and surrounding them as they went on, they winded though the town with the changing echo of the motorcycle’s roar the only sound. The rain has slowed to a light wafting mist as he pulled the motorcycle beside the a group of ivory white vending machines next to a large house opposite the Kiyotaki bus stop. He revved the engine a couple of times as if to reassure her and she lessened her grasp on him and he got out his wallet for some change.
He sat there fumbling, fingers, wallet wet, still nervous from the lightning and the surprise of the summer storm. He began to relax as he searched through a zipper- opened pouch of little, light aluminum 1 yen pieces for a heavier 100 yen piece. He found it and a couple of copper 10 yens and then dropped one as he heard her murmur under the full-face helmet something indecipherable. He stooped over, one hand holding the sputtering motorcycle by the handlebar and the other searching down for the change that lie on the damp street. She was mumbling louder, and tapping his shoulder. He finally found the flat face of the hundred yen piece with his fingers and sat back up. She was now pounding on his shoulder with her fist and screaming an echoed, muffled “GO! GO!” at him. He looked over at the figure next to the vending machine.
He saw something standing in a white t-shirt – ghastly white in the reflected glow of the vending machine - with wooden clogs, drunk red-faced, nose contorted in a look of disgust. He watched in shock at the apparition, as it raised a plastic clear umbrella, half-opened, and brought down swiftly on the back of the girl who was now thrashing behind him.
The old man in white stepped back almost surprised at his own attack, slumped, and loudly huffed, “Damn you loud kids!”
He accelerated away, the girl suddenly clinging again to him, her helmet now digging into his back. The old man behind him was screaming drunkenly now, fading into the wail of the motorcycle’s roar.
They passed under the red light into the tunnel that lead to Arashiyama and Kyoto.
He could feel her loosening her grip and turning to look back at the scene that had shocked them – some old man, aroused by the sudden storm had come outside, had stumbled over while he looked for cash for a drink, and for no reason, had hit her. He smirked at how stupid it all was.
As his mind snapped from recollection to the road ahead, he noticed lights and then a large transport truck barreling around the corner at him. He quickly turned the bike towards the wall of the tunnel. The bike jolted, and again, he thought he was dead. He had closed his eyes as he swerved away, and on opening them, found the motorbike below him rolling down the slowly curving tunnel ahead.
A one-lane tunnel, and he had rushed into oncoming traffic, and survived.
“Are you ok?” He yelled back to her and heard his voice echo in the tunnel.
“Go back, I forgot something,” he heard her voice say softly and clearly, almost as if it had come from inside his head.
He turned the bike around, and slowly accelerated around the curve. He slowed as he found her helmet still slowly spinning there near the side of the tunnel where the truck had done its work, softly spinning in a pool of crimson and blood-covered hair and flesh.
Her grip around him tightened, as if she was trying to keep from falling, and then suddenly lightened to nothing, as her limp body slumped to the tunnel pavement.