Thank-Yous and Goodbyes

“Words are magical things, don’t you think?”

Floating in the dark, the words hung on around in her memory, suspended in the murky remnants of her mind, as if she were falling through the hollows of her imagination, through some recess that’s broken open beneath her.

Those words — why do they seem so familiar?

“The words we speak are but random sounds.”

A scene gathered together in her mind, forming up from the specks and clouds of some intangible glow.

It was her sister…

“They’re just random sounds we made up,” she added, looking out the window at the moon, floating there, alone in the starless sky.

Then, as if she were lost in a sweet reverie, she smiled, her gaze out there still, looking at something distant, something beyond this material world…

“We are the ones who give them meaning…”

She turned to her, her eyes with a dreamy glow in them, as she then said,

“Just like life.”

Her sister’s words went over her head back then. Besides, she had only been around three or four.

But the memory stayed with her.

Somehow, it’s this one memory that survived time. It’s the only one she remembered full; and for some reason, even as a child who didn’t know the words, she could remember it all clear.

As if it were only yesterday. Truly.

Even though it didn’t come up in her mind for years in her life, it stayed; tucked there in the corner of her memory as everything else comes and goes.

Staying there. Until her sister died.

Just then, the cloud of light seemed to form a sort of mirror in front of her, a sort of pane, some window.

And, slowly, as the image came to clear…

It’s her sister on the other side.

“Hha-…”

All strength left her body, leaving her limp, as if she were a child falling apart in their parent’s arms.

And just then, another memory resurfaced.

Returning for this one instant…

“I’ll miss you.”

Her sister said that, but then seemed to sink into thought for a moment.

Her sister shook her head.

Just then, she asked, “Hey, you remember when I said that words are just random sounds?”

“Why?” She replied, seven by then, not knowing what her sister meant.

“What about… ‘ika’?”

She furrowed her brows, questioning: why does sis want to create a new word?

“What do you think?”

“What does it mean?”

“I miss you, I love you.”

“Do you have to?”

“Why not?” Her sister smiled, a warm look in her eyes. “This is our word, okay?”

“Yeah… okay.”

“Ika!”

“Yeah… ika.”

That word…

Ika…

Her sister had gotten a scholarship to study overseas in England, and that night was the night she was to head to the airport for her flight there.

Though she never made it there.

“S-Sis…”

Her sister smiled beyond the pane and placed her hand on the glass.

Quietly, she placed her hand against hers, feeling only the cold pane.

And just then, her sister said something, but she couldn’t hear her.

But reading her lips…

She knew…

She smiled, as tears ran down her cheeks.

The pane started glowing bright, growing in its intensity.

And as the white blinded her vision, washing away all sight…

She said it, hearing in her mind her sister’s voice once more…

“Ika.”

Beep-beep

Just then, she woke up, her alarm beeping beside her: it’s eight a.m.

Her heart was racing, and for a moment she didn’t know what was going on.

Until she felt her tears running down her cheers…

And she remembered — remembering everything.

“The words we speak are but random sounds,” she whispered to herself.

“We are the ones who give them meaning… just like life…”

Looking out the window at the morning city, the sun glowing warm in the sky, she smiled, a broken one, as she whispered, hoping she could hear:

“Thank you, and goodbye.”

With that, she got out of bed and walked into the bathroom.

It’s time to return to life.

ika

/ ˈiːka /

noun

a statement of one’s love and longing for another.

“… ika…”

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Adam Wan

Adam Wan

Fiction writer. Literary author. Japan lover.