Alex Vergie. He was the first boy I liked. It doesn't matter even if he's far from the criteria I want as a man of choice. There's nothing strange even though my ears are in line with his ears. I didn't even mind how five years' salary wouldn't be enough to buy a car. His green eyes are the main intrigue that always manages to hypnotize me to always look at him.
The beginning of our meeting was when I was studying in Japan. He plays the role of a good neighbor by offering Hamo cuisine in the summer. He accompanied me through Nishiki Market to try out Japanese specialties that are a shame. I have tasted heavy dishes like Sashimi to small meals like Taiyaki. Four years with Alex was too short even though I almost memorized every inch of Kyoto's streets because of it.
I cast a glance at Shimogamo-Jinja Shrine. I still remember when my friends and I visited the red building to witness the Yabusame Shinji celebration. At first I was serious and amazed to see the participants in old aristocratic clothes riding fast horses while shooting at the target for thirty-five meters. I have never seen such an amazing show in my life. Let alone the Yabusame festival with its heroic archery performances, I've never seen a bow before. I don't know if archery is the most impressive thing as far as I'm concerned.
However, there was something that caught my attention more than the eye-popping arrow show. I saw Alex in the distance and he was looking at me like I was a show of interest in his eyes. Realizing that he had been caught, he smiled shyly and approached me. I liked the expression on his face at that time. Especially when the Dutch-blooded man said with a soft intonation.
"You are beautiful. Makes me can't stop looking at you. I want you to stay by my side. Lock you in the retina of my eyes."
I sighed with a smile. I touched my own chest trying to feel the warm heart. Just missing her is so beautiful, there is absolutely no pain. If I didn't return to Indonesia after my studies were over, maybe we would have been in Osaka and settled in that city with a Kansai accent together. That was the wish he expressed to me two months before my return to Indonesia.
It has now been six years since the Yabusame festival. Is he still waiting for me? If I were to continue my master's degree at Kyoto University—instead of going home to seek a scholarship in France—maybe we are currently hand in hand while aligning our footsteps in Nakanoshima Park, Osaka. Too many wishes and dreams that I knit with him. I still want to meet him and claim the promise of being my bride one day. However, I'm not sure that will actually happen. All sweet sentences are often accompanied by doubt.
I glanced at the clock that was wrapped around my wrist. If he was still working at the Bank of Kyoto, he should be home soon. My arrival in Japan may not be long. I just meant to take a vacation to cool off my tired brain after a long journey to pursue scholarships and graduate from ENS Paris. I need to meet him too. There's something I want to tell him. He must know.
I made sure I had an hour down the trails of Motoyama. If Alex had really come to me by the river like he used to, maybe I wouldn't mind waiting another hour for him to actually come out of his office. I made sure that the gift I prepared for him was in the bag. When I was at the hotel, the first thing I put in my bag was the parcel.
"Erina! Where are you going?"
My movement through the contents of the bag while walking suddenly stopped. I looked back and found Roy striding after me.
"Where are you going?" Roy repeated after being beside me.
"Take a little walk," I answered simply.
"Let me accompany you. I don't want you to get lost in this city."
“Roy, I was in Kyoto for 4 years, did you forget?” I asked in a sulky tone.
The slightly long-haired man laughed out loud while flicking my nose.
We continued walking down the street. I busied myself taking pictures of Shimogamo-Jinja and Kamigamo-Jinja shrines. I have lots of photos of these two old temples but I never get bored. Everything in Kyoto is a memory. Just like the memory of being together with Alex when participating in various Japanese cultural festivals that will never fade from my mind. For me, he is the best memory. One thing we haven't been through together is just watching the Hanami celebration—the celebration of the blooming of cherry blossoms—spring in Osaka.
I smiled while aiming at the few people who were walking back and forth rapidly. Most people in Japan always walk fast as if they are pressed for time. Just as the camera was aiming at a small child who was dragging his little dog, the camera suddenly turned off. I groaned in annoyance at this while Roy laughed amusedly.
"I think it would be more accurate to say that your lover is the camera," Roy said as I shuffled back into his arms.
"You should have brought your camera too," I grumbled spoiled.
"The memory is full."
"We can buy it," I said quickly.
Roy laughed while ruffling my hair. I knew he wanted to make fun of the ridiculous request but didn't have the heart to say it. The guy my age knew how much I liked Japan so much that he prepared two memory cards at once for his now fully charged high-tech camera.
Unintentionally, my eyes fell into a clothing store. There was a man with a European face among the slanted eyes. There's no need to tell the man to turn around because I know him very well. Alex Vergie. He really is the man I left a few years ago. He's the man who calls me Ms. Vergie though I know he's never serious. I knew he wasn't that serious with me but I never cared. For me, I love him. Just that.
"You want to buy clothes?" Roy scolded seeing me just dumbfounded in front of the shop window.
I can't answer. I should have gone into the shop to say hello and put the parcel in the bag. Unfortunately it can't. Just like this my knees feel weak. I can't stand to meet his green eyes. Especially when he saw him kissing a very beautiful Japanese girl. That girl… Fumizhu Ayane.
"Erina," said Roy with a lower intonation than before.
“Roy, I want to see the cherry blossoms. Can we go to Osaka now?” I asked turning to face Roy.
"Yes. Yes. Of course. You don't have to cry like this just so I can take you to Osaka," Roy said softly as he wiped the tears from my cheeks.
"I know," I said, taking Roy's hand and pulling him away.
“You don't want to see cherry blossoms at Daigo-ji Temple instead? It's not far, it's in the Fushimi District,” Roy suggested.
“I want to forget about Kyoto. I've been in this city too long. I should have erased the memory of this city from my memory. I also have to delete all photos from your camera," I replied without lifting my head.
"Hey, Erina, stop," Roy pleaded softly holding my hand. I followed his request to stop walking. He bent slightly and cupped my face. "Look at me. Do you also want to erase our togetherness in this city?”
"You're still my most annoying classmate," I said.
"Yes. And this annoying classmate of yours has become your current fiancé. Don't ever erase the memory of us or I will rain new memories so you only remember me," Roy said then kissed my forehead briefly. “The past remains a part of you. You don't have to erase old memories just because you hate them. The grudge that is in your heart will continue to overshadow you, and affect your personality."
I nodded. I looked down at Roy's shoes. It feels sad, even though the decision has been made. I once caught Alex and Ayane hugging at Alex's house. At that time it was just anger that I thought to just cut off Alex without hearing the reason. I open my heart to Roy, a fellow student from Indonesia during his studies in Japan and France.
"You're really good at making me enamored with you," I said.
"Very nice. I need it to hold your hand like this. You know what that means?” Roy asked showing my right hand which was already in his grip.
"I have to align my steps with you," I said, which was immediately greeted by Roy.
"Throughout the course of our lives," we said in unison.
Roy kissed my hand. I made a smile of Roy's favorite while wiping away the tears on my cheeks. My fiancé smiled back while signaling to turn around. Alex was standing four meters from us. His green eyes were fixed on me.
"You can give your parcel now if you want," Roy said pointing to my open bag. "I understand how close you two were. I don't mind you giving it to him. Remember, you can only give that gift, not including a kiss on the cheek,” Roy whispered making me hold back an amused smile. This guy is so cute when he's jealous.
"I really can't hate the past, can I?" I said as I took the parcel out of my bag and handed it to Roy along with an invitation card. "I know you want to tell him something."
“Oh! Of course!" said Roy agilely accepting both of them from my hand. “It will be even more impressive when I invite him to our wedding. After all, this gift is for our engagement celebration. It doesn't make any difference if you or I give it," he continued making me smile.
I let Roy take my place over to Alex. I really can't stand standing in front of this Dutch-blooded man. I don't want to be caught in her dazzling green eyes. Roy knew better what to say to Alex. He knew I wouldn't have the guts to tell Alex that I invited him to our wedding.
Roy wasn't just patient watching me get caught up in uncertainty with the guy I liked. He chased me even as far as France. He didn't want to miss a second in the blink of my eye. He kept me in the retina of his eyes. He chose me without any sweet promises or conditions. I know I didn't choose Roy. I love her. Alex and Kyoto City will always be my favorite memory.