His fingers trace the lines of her collarbones by memory, coming around to her shoulder, down the smooth skin of her arm. Her fingers twitch when he glosses over them. “Hm.”
“I am now.” She turns over to face him, and his fingers never leave their spot; they trail her naked wrist, her lower back, around her hips. He moves to rest on her upper thigh. She moves closer.
“Tell me again,” he says. “About home.”
“You woke me up for this—”
“Please.” There had been no irritation in her voice. At his plea, she sighs into him. Breath leaves her nostrils every time his chest sinks. “Just one more time. Just the things we’ve gone over before.”
“You say that every time,” she says, but she begins anyways. In the dead of night over the sound of quiet traffic, her tired voice recounts all the delicacies of a small village town that once resided by the full-moon lake. The shrine, a key part of the village’s culture, kept the population aware of the concepts within lore: the braided cords, handmade thread, the ritual of sake for the wine god
“and musubi. Connectedness.” A pause. “Matchmaking, in extreme cases.”
She breathes a few times, moving to speak of the lush forestry and the path she had taken to visit the shrine god, sweaty after each visit. She spoke of her sister with her hair in mismatched hair elastics and her grandmother with small spectacles. This was where she had expected to grow up for the rest of her life, she says, again and again. She brings up the two bridges he knows of that cross the river and streams, and of the café
“although it was only ever one vending machine. And a bench and table. Someone had made it over the course of one night—”
“—but you’re unsure who,” he completes. She never tells the stories in the same order as the last, but he knows them all by heart anyways. Sometimes, he feels as though he’s there with her, experiencing everything she had experienced, all the way up until the world splits between the earth and sky and the birds change their migration patterns for the better.
[ . . . ]
She is half asleep when she mutters: “Do you still dream?”
He always dreams; he never stops dreaming. She’s talking about the ones where he visualizes—he doesn’t draw as much anymore, but every so often he will sketch something from a dream. It’ll be four in the morning and she’ll wake up from the click of the beside lamp to watch him scribbling madly on the first bit of paper he can find with the first writing utensil he can grab. He’ll sketch it, he’ll slide it across air and into her lap. She’ll name the exact location and a memory she had with it as a child.
“Sometimes,” he finally answers. Into the silence, he adds, “The longer I dream about them, the fewer questions I have.”
Somewhere, a comet splits. Somewhere, the fragmented self finds its way back. They collide and the impact is so colossal, so deafening, that it passes unnoticed over a small bedroom in the heart of Tokyo.
Header image taken from the movie Kimi no na wa (Your Name) (2016), directed by Makoto Shinkai