I always carry a few of Yuuka’s disarming smiles with me. Even though I don’t inhabit a community with particularly contentious or caustic folks, sometimes enmity flares up unexpectedly. You never know when you might need such a smile, and these are my keepsakes of Yuuka, reminders of her and the moments we shared, especially the last one.
It was already, surprisingly autumn after a summer of delicious tomatoes, too much music and a colorful mixture of banal and lofty goals. Long since abandoned by boats and their passengers, the pier we stood upon was enshrouded by fading echoes muting the sun.
“Until you have some of your own,” she said, giving me one more of those unmistakable, mollifying smiles of hers as a parting gift.
It warmed my heart as I placed it together with all the important memories I keep.
“I’d give you conflict-defusing words too,” she then said. “But it’s better for you to develop your own because the more personal they are, the more universal they can become.”
I nodded and handed her one of the only things I could at that point offer in return.
“I hope this is the only weapon beside your voice that you will ever need,” I told her, looking into her eyes, the irises seeming to match the sky behind her not in hue but in brilliance.
“You know this might be a very dangerous thing to give me,” she said, taking the tissue-paper-wrapped fountain pen.
“Because it increases the range over which you can strike with your never-depleted ammunition of ideas and emotions?”
“No, that could never be dangerous! Only unfortunate for the hubris of others,” she quipped with a grin. “But there is always the temptation of becoming engrossed in weaving lyrical dreams into fantastic stories when we need words to shape reality.”
“The two pursuits aren’t mutually exclusive,” I said as Yuuka put the gift into her jacket pocket.
“Is that a challenge to do both, together?”
“Just a reminder. But I don’t mind if you take it as a challenge.”
“Okay, then this will help me keep your reminder in mind and respond to the challenge I’ve made of it,” Yuuka concluded, patting her jacket pocket.
Today, as with so many days since then, I want to share her smiles with everyone around me, because they are radiant, soothing and delightful. But I continue to hold on to them, safeguards against our own follies and encouragement to continue striving to cultivate my own as I wait for her words to help forge a new reality.