Their light comes a long way, unbridled, piercing through loneliness in the vast and empty universe.

5.43 pm.

I gaze through the air surrounding me when a gentle breeze sways my hair lightly. The steps I take to the inter-lane bridge is steady, harmonious with the beat of gentle music I am currently hearing. People come and go to wherever they are supposed to be. My eyes find many people staring at their phone as they walk along the lane, as if the maps of their path are there. Several teenagers hurdle near as they gossip rather loudly, about the confession one of them should make to their senior. I take a little turn to find another group of people, seemingly in their twenty, chatting among themselves and laugh together to one another's joke. A couple with entwined hands comes out from patisserie while smiling to each other, a white paper box on the hand of the female. A child drags her father impatiently to enter the same patisserie, and a woman who seems to be the mother smiles amusedly.

Is it just me, or the world seems so happy right now?

I exhale, deliberately trying to calm down the unsurmountable uneasiness in my head.

You're getting older, my superior said.

The gentle song comes to its stop and instantly goes back to its beginning. This is my habit. A habit of finding one song and play the very same song all the way to days, weeks, or several months. This time is a melody from my memory thirteen years ago. It's a lighthearted song, composed purely of strings. It's the one that always helps me to calm down when days are rough, or when tiredness is inescapable.

Right, my superior said I am getting older.

Sighing silently, I slow down my steps and look up to the sky. The sky is getting darker by minutes. The blue hue is tinted by the spark of red, giving the purplish look of the sky. Something sparkling is quite visible, albeit faintly, at the sky to the north. As I take more steps ahead, its sparkle gets swallowed by the artificial lights from my Earth.


Nah… not that. It is not exactly north, I say to myself.

And then quietly laugh to myself.

How I always end up staring at the sky is sometimes a mystery. Well… not a complete mystery, since many people know about my distinctive enthusiasm regarding the outer space. The other secret is that because I had a history of disregarding separation since no matter what happen, I believed that we're all still under the same sky.

Under the same sky.

Sometimes, right now, when I gaze to the sky, all I feel is regret.

It's true, that people will definitely come and go from our life. Some of them left nothing, while some of them left carvings in our life, like an art that stays for eternity. What I didn't know when I was younger is that the carving does not ensure that the carver will come back to finish the artwork. Sometimes, not that they do not want to go back, but they are bound by something that makes them unable to do anything else but to let go.

Separation is scary.

Having experienced it first-hand, gives me courage to put up special protection for myself, so that not anyone can make a carving. But still, as a human, I continuously make a bet with myself as I get closer to people around me.

In the end, many carvings lie unused, unfinished.

Among them is the biggest carving, the most majestic, the most beautiful, the most radiant, work of art. It is the only one carving that I want to see it finished.

But I know that it won't be finished.

No, maybe I am just too afraid to bet whether it will be finished or not.

Because it is better if we don't hope, than having our hopes being scattered like nothing.

I stand between people at the edge of the road, waiting for the traffic light to give us permission to cross. Cars pass in front of me as my eyes follow them absentmindedly. My consciousness provides me with a thought that there, inside each car, is individual with their own complexity. They might be someone I can understand easily. And they might be someone out of reach from me.

The traffic light beeps, gives us permission to cross. I take step by step with fake determination, perfectly concealing my rumbling mind with steady and calm appearance. Almost in autopilot, since this is the path I always take when I go home, I turn right after I reach the other lane. Shops stand proudly on my left, but my eyes do not even want to wander there.

Between the peaks of high building, the previously blue-purplish sky turns darker.

After the last shop, I turn left and walk slightly faster.

The air of the last day of May is surprisingly cooling when it grazes my cheek. I keep walking forward until finally I reach a wide area, or rather, this city's widest park, with big canal leading to the sea on its side.

My steps slow down as I reach the edge of the waterbed, my hand stretches to grab the bridge-like structure, separating the land from the fast-flowing water.

There, the waterbed stretches far in front of me. The sound of its wave reaches my ear, slightly hindered by the earphones. Calmly, I pluck off both from my ears and fold it neatly, before going back to observe the sky.

The purplish hue got wider. I slowly and steadily record the instance in my mind, then I close my eyes, letting my other senses flow with the breeze and the sound of water before me.

—or so I thought.

"You're here, huh?"

As if electrified, I spin around in surprise. It is as if my hair strands stand up in sudden recognition of the voice from the other end. My eardrums tremble at the voice I know so well. The one and only voice I want to hear at days like this, from the one that has left the biggest, most beautiful, radiant and majestic carving in my mind.

A voice that never fails to give me tranquility.

As I turn my head, my eyes unmistakably catch the figure that produces the voice. Someone stands there, carrying a simple semi-plastic bag from convenient store. The silent breeze sways the person's slightly ruffled hair and the hem of his casual shirt. My breath slightly loses its pattern when I find a pair of eyes behind transparent glasses looking at me.

I pull off a smile, not the best smile I have, but still a smile nonetheless, "Leisure evening I see,"

"Exactly," he chuckles, then strides closer to the waterbed, before sighing contently, "The view from here is always the best, isn't it?"

He calmly gazes far to the sky, as if trying to find the stars hidden by earth's artificial light sources. His eyes exude nostalgic gaze as the purplish-blue tint is reflected on his orbs. I catch the very slight smile emerges from the corner of his lips.

Seven years ago, the waves of the sea brought him away, effectively severed all the hopes and wishes he once had for his future.

That separation is one of the most severe separation I've been through.

My eyes start to get moist as the remembrance of that day comes to play in the back of my mind. The dark hue starts to engulf more and more of the purplish sky, and the air of melancholy seeps into my skin. Hastily, I rub both of my arms and inhale, unconsciously shuddering. I bitterly admit that even now, seven years after he was forcefully 'taken away' from my life, the after effect still has its influence on me. Not a big influence, but surely not something I can ignore easily.

But… having and not having him with me have shaped my personality. I know exactly that I wouldn't be the way I am right now if I never lost him.

And then he's here.

I deliberately let out a long, steady breathe. Though I am now a lot calmer than I was several minutes ago, my mind starts to get disturbed by something else, something I don't really like to think about. Though, it always finds its way back to me.

I catch a sparkle from the corner of my eyes. Venus makes its appearance, now that the hindering clouds start to dissipate and the sky turn darker. As the day grow older, destiny changes the universe.

Me included.

Though I have him with me, I don't fully have him back with me.

That last thought prickles something deep inside me as I gaze to the now-getting-clearer Venus on the sky. Twilight approaches us two as we stand there in silence, seemingly busy with our own thoughts. I close my eyes when another breeze graces my skin, determinedly trying to carve this moment into my memory. Like what I always do when I am with him.

"Niichan…" I open my mouth to speak to him, without opening my eyes.

"Hm?" the man by my side hums calmly. No rustling sound is made, so there is a high probability that he also does not turn around to see me. But his response gives me confidence that he pays attention to whatever I want to say. Just the way he always does.

"What are you thinking right now?" I open my eyes and set my gaze to the waterbed.

"Nothing much," he answers almost flatly, before letting out a breath and turns his head to me, "How about you? Did something happen?"

I don't answer immediately. Well, I actually am very tired after being bombarded with a load of overtime tasks today. Also, I start to remember something about my past. And, the person that was once very important to me but then snatched away from me is back here with me.

As if I will tell him all that.

"Ah wait, let me guess, something related to love?" the man teases me.

I turn to him, effectively meet his eyes. A spark of playfulness is evident in his orbs. I smile and fake a dramatic sigh, "As if I'd be bothered by something like that,"

"Right," he smiles at me knowingly.

I frown a bit seeing his smile and give him the most factual answer, "Just a difficult day at work,"

"Seems like a 'very difficult' day for me?"

I sigh for real this time, "For starter, why do I need to work overtime in this kind of day? It's Sunday, isn't it? Tomorrow we are also coming to work,"

He listens to me intently.

"Also, this project is not something I really want to do, so—"

"It's very hard for you to concentrate and utilize your full ability," he calmly finishes my sentence. I almost bit my tongue. He chuckles amusedly, "You are particularly a force to be reckoned with, since you are very capable in many things, but first of all, we need to get you interested on something we want you to do if we want you to help us out,"

I stare at him, unable to decide whether that is an insult or not.

But he never ever has any intention to hurt me. That is one thing I know for sure. He deliberately said that words because he knows me for so many years. And what he said is not wrong at all. I laugh bitterly, "I won't say that the project is not interesting but… I do have something else in my mind,"

He smiles at my words, "Then, why don't you tell the Chief?"

Because… "I don't know… I just cannot say anything confronting to him,"

"Do you love him?"

"He is the fiancé of my best friend," I say flatly.

Despite of my deadly glare, he laughs comfortably, "Yeah, then it's because you're too kind to say no to him,"

"You know the best that I am not kind at all,"

He shakes his head disapprovingly, "I know the best that you are kind. It is just that sometimes you show it in a roundabout way,"

I laugh, "Why do I feel like it is not a compliment?"

"It is not a compliment, it is a fact," he tilts his head a bit. His forehead scrunches and a slight pout comes to his face. An unconscious gesture he always shows when he is trying to explain something difficult. Why difficult?

He knows exactly that I am going to retort. And he tries to prepare a good counterattack.

The fact that I know what he is thinking through his gesture and that he anticipates my response is another sign of how close we are actually paying attention to each other. It starts naturally ever since we met, about thirteen years ago, and through all of those interaction, we learn to read each other.

Yes, even though I occasionally call him Niichan, this man has no blood relation to me. He is purely someone out of my family tree. But the way he stayed by my side during my younger days closely resembled older sibling to me, and I ended up calling him Niichan. At first, he didn't accept that nickname, but then he grew familiar with it, and responded naturally when I called him that.

My eyes find his and I smile at his serious gaze. I can always hold myself from retorting, but then again, it is my character to give a retort. Especially because it is him I am talking to, then I don't have to hold back from being my own character.

Because, even though he was once snatched away from me, he already knows me. Almost all the good and the bad of me.

I clear my throat and catch his eyes, "If it is a fact, I won't feel like I am not a kind person,"

"Because—" he answers almost immediately, "—you're so bad at expressing your feeling,". He smiles warmly at me, "But I've known you for years. That's why I can see the real you, even when you put a hard and thick mask on the outer layer,"

I blink when I see pure concern in his eyes, then turn my eyes back to the waterbed. You're exaggerating, is what I want to say, but I hold it inside, knowing that he will continue trying to explain it to me.

Basically, it was my fault to let my personality laid bare in front of him.

But I couldn't help it. Only the God knows why I always ended up being the real me around him. Maybe because he was a kind person himself. Maybe because he was a kind of person who listened carefully to people around him. Maybe because… we were once in love with each other.


At this time, he is still staring at me, absorbing all expression I show him. I turn a bit to catch his eyes and force myself to laugh, "I never see myself as someone kind enough," I start with a gentle tone. His eyes are widened a bit when he hears this, and I believe he catches my intention that I want him to hear me out.

"I see myself as stubborn, talks to much, has patience as wide as hair shaft, and… heartless," I laugh when I say the last word, "Many people respect me, but I doubt they want to spend their life with me,"

Silence envelopes us for several minutes as cold breeze comes to my skin. I feel my hair dances with the wind.

"You're stubborn because you have idealism. You know what is right and what is wrong. You know what you should do, what people should do. You talk too much because you know about so many things, and those are things you need to share. You're impatient because you have so many insights running over in your head. Your ideas flow like crazy in a speed of light," he retorts enthusiastically. Then laughs, "But yeah, I admit that you're heartless sometimes,"

I stare at him amusedly, then laugh with him, "I wish people know me like you do,"

"Then meeting me will be so boring," he says between his laugh, "You don't hate meeting me because I am a rare species that understands you to this point, right?"

I laugh harder at his remark, "Does it happen backward too?"

He sighs playfully, "Yeah…"

I swear I blush a bit when I hear this, but I manage to let out a content answer, "I'm glad to hear that,"

He smiles at my words.

Yeah… this is the best for us. This kind of friendship is one that lets us understand each other, support each other and be there for each other, without a fear of being broken away. But… even though I can say that calmly, I cannot deny the minuscule feeling of broken heart inside me. But just like now, I naturally let that minuscule thing being swallowed by reality, albeit temporarily.

"Anyway, you are now the senior in your dept, aren't you? I think it is normal for them to put more responsibility to you," he says lightly.

I chuckle, "You mean I am now an old person,"

He stares dumbfoundedly, then gasps in realization, "W-Well, I had no ill intention when saying that," and then he laughs as if to dissolve the situation.

I smile wide, "No, it's alright. I am actually older than almost everyone there. It is a fact that I don't deny,"

He scratches the back of his head. An absolute sign of nervousness.

I exhale calmly and look at his slightly embarrassed form, "I am not afraid to get older," I pause momentarily, "I just don't like it if people assume I have to do things as quickly as I can while I get older,"

He blinks in understanding, "… the marriage thing?"

I laugh at his bluntness, then turn around, leaning on the bridge-like structure separating the land and waterbed. I gaze at the people around us, walking around with their own businesses in their minds. A smile never escapes my face. "I might have spent too many times for nothingness, but I am proud of who I am right now,"

He calls my name slowly. When I turn to meet his eyes, the troubled expression deeply adorns his face.

Well, it is not a secret to us that we once hoped to be together forever. A painful prick. I naturally struggle to subside it, "You're still hanging over it?"

"I think it's me who's not a kind person," he says honestly.

His words make something in my head scattered.

Seven years ago, he decided to leave me, ended up the vague relationship we had. Not particularly because he didn't want to see me anymore, but…

My mistake is that I wasted my time to confess anything. I had so many times, so many chances, so many support back then, but every time those words were on the tip of my lip, I backed down of nervousness, despite the apparent affection he never stopped to show me.

His mistake is basically the same.

Thus, our mirroring mistake is that we wasted our time.

And let someone intervened.

He believed that I left him to be with someone else. Thus, he left the city to escape the deep pain in his heart. His next mistake is that he didn't rush to find me and confirm it until it was way too late.

My next mistake is that I never tried to really explain to him, expecting him to understand me as well as he used to be.

And thus, our path together was broken unceremoniously. He married someone else while in the false understanding that I betrayed him.

It takes one year for him to realize that his wife was the one that ended up betraying him, not me.

Did we re-connect with each other after that? No.

I spent my days crying my eyes out for one whole year, or maybe more, ever since I got the news that he was getting married to someone else. That year was my biggest turning point. That year was the most difficult time in my life. Because my brightest light was snatched away from me. And my universe turned dark. My 'time' was frozen at that moment. Cold. Lonely. I was all alone to hate my own faults. I left my beloved hometown and everything behind to study abroad. Then I come to this city, slightly far from my hometown, years after that day.

We lost contact since the day he got married. I did hear that his marriage ended up not more than a year and a half, but I managed to fully restrain myself from finding him back.

He decided to leave me.

I also needed to make my own universe without him. I learned to move on.

Or so I thought.

It took us six years and seven months to finally found each other again, when he 'accidentally' transferred to the office I am currently working. The very first thing he did at that time is to bow down his head, apologizing profusely to me.

And the frozen 'time' starts to move again.

It was a bit awkward at first, but we are back to our 'previous state' rather quickly. Before I know it, he is already a fixed part of my life again. We chat together again. We annoy each other again. We help each other again. We hear out each other again.

Until he confessed to me not more than a month after we reunited. His first ever official love confession to me.

An action I immediately turned down.

That day was a night full of stars. The kind of night when bonds were meant to be strengthened. But I didn't have enough courage to accept him fully back. As much as I was happy to find him back, I considered my current relationship with him is very fragile. And I couldn't say it out loud.

I don't want to break this 'ship' anymore. I don't want to lose him again.

And so, having him as a friend is enough.

I said it all to him wholeheartedly.

To my surprise, he accepted my decision well by stating that amongst everyone I have ever been romantically involved with, he considered himself to be the one who understands me best. Whatever my decision was, he respected it.

Since after, we are still by each other side and help each other out. He is currently one of my closest friend.

Don't get me wrong. I do still love him. But we are friends right now. And that is… enough for me. Because it means that I have him beside me. We won't end up hurting each other like we did in the past anymore.

He knew he hurt me the most.

That's why he wholeheartedly accepted my refusal.


I have spent my six years trying to find my soulmate, but I always ended up getting hurt. And then he came back to my life. I cannot help but thinking that maybe… just maybe… it never worked out because I was meant to meet him back.

Because maybe, just maybe, he is indeed my soulmate.

But the fear of having my hope crushed like nothing is still so fresh in my mind that I cannot bring myself to accept my own feeling. That, and I am not so good at handling my own feeling anyway.

"Niichan," I call him carefully, "It is because you're so kind of a person so I cannot hate you,"

He glances at me.

I smile back, "Besides, if I never lost you, I would still be the dependent, weak-hearted person who couldn't find the way on her own. I love my current self, more than I love my past self," I pause a bit to study his expression then continue, "We have decided to love our life right now, haven't we?"

He chuckles, "Yeah… you're right. It's what we decided when you turned me down," he turns around and mimic my position, leaning on the bridge-like structure, "It's been five months since then,"

I nod.

"Have you…" he starts slowly. An apparent hesitation is laced in his voice. I turn to him questioningly.

He clears his throat and turn to me, effectively finds my eyes, "Have you… considered of changing your answer back then?"

"Huh?" my eyes are widened quickly.

He averts his gaze from me, letting the slightly unbearable silence hangs over us. I wait for him to say something but he closes his eyes tightly.

Did I just hear him saying …?

Am I imagining things? He never once discussed the matter with me again ever since I turned him down. We're together as friends, and I never once voice my feeling to anyone.

Then he chuckles, "Honestly, we're both so unkind to ourselves," he opens his eyes and turn his whole body to my direction. Instinctively, I also do the same thing. I whisper his name as he pries into my eyes with determined yet gentle gaze.

Then he asks me a question he never ever asked before.

"Do you love me?"

Almost instantly, my whole body went rigid.

"And I mean, romantically. Please answer this one question. This is a yes or no question with no in-betweens," he smiles slightly, "And no buts after the answer, please. I just want to hear yes or no," I hear the slight hesitation in his voice.

I stare at him incredulously. It is visible that I am so confused of this development. But I know that after every little thing that happened between us, I cannot lie to him. There is a very high probability that he already realizes that I secretly still love him.

With that, I counter his gaze with mutual determination, "Yes,"

His eyes turn wider, and somehow, I feel unbearable hotness on my cheeks.

"Or rather…" I start slowly, "… I always love you. Even when you're not with me. I mean, well, okay, maybe I don't always love you but… but… you never really leave my mind. I don't know, maybe it's like you always has a place in my mind. Ah… it's not like I am trying to say that I never forget you, okay? I forget about you from time to time but it's not like… um…" I struggle to find more words but my own mind becomes more and more incomprehensible under his gaze.

He doesn't say anything, but his lips curve into a smile. The very same content smile I like so much. The one that was engraved so deep within my mind. The one that shines brightly.

After what feels like an eternity, he breaks the silence, "Could it be that you turned me down because… you're afraid that I will leave you again?

That is my turn to avert my gaze from him. As I thought, he can sense that perfectly. Oh, how I wish he could sense things this good seven years ago.

He calls my name softly.

But I am lack of courage to meet his eyes again.

After several minutes of more silence, he takes a little step closer to me. "At times like this, I know that everything I say will be an excuse. I hurt you once, and I don't blame you for this. I… deserve this…"

Slowly, I meet his gaze.

He still pierces my eyes with the same gaze, "But I love you. All these years, I love you while regretting that I left you. I should've believed you. I know a ton of apology won't repair it. But…" he shakes his head a bit, his voice turns lower, "… but I cannot let you go again. I don't want to,"

My eyes suddenly feel hotter than I anticipated when I see emotions dancing on his face.

"That's why, I will win your heart again," he smiles in the end, "I don't know how long it will take, but I will win your heart again,"

"But... I have basically said… that you have my heart, right?" I ask dumbfoundedly.

He shakes his head in disapproval, "But, you are still afraid of me,"


He smiles, "I will erase that fear,"

I blink.

"But right now, let's get chocolate ice cream!" he says in sudden cheerfulness.

"Hah? Eh?" I gape with further dumbfounded expression.

"The chocolate will make you smile again. I want to see your smile,"

I choke my breath, "Since when do you become flirty?!"

"Since now," he says calmly.

I shake my brain to find something to say but I just cannot find any. He laughs at my speechlessness and takes my hand on his, before runs to the nearest ice cream shop.

"Wait! Don't run!" I shriek.

But he only laughs merrier when he hears that.

Before we know it, all of the lamppost around us are lit. The purplish sky has turned a lot darker, with a flare of magenta on the far far horizon. Stars are starting to show themselves, sparkling beautifully at us who laugh together contently. Venus shines steadily from the corner of my eyes, as we get close to the ice cream shop faster than I predicted.

Behind us who are absorbed with our banter are people coming and going to all direction, all with hopes, wishes, determination, and all other thought adorning their mind. As we chat animatedly, the life this universe is still going to expand. The stars are still shining until the last hydrogen is burned out. Their light will keep on piercing through the nothingness to reach our eyes.

We get older by seconds, and we may end up leaving each other again. But even so, I know we both have special places for each other in our own hearts. Because he is like a star to me, and I know exactly that he sees me the same way. We both shine in each other's eyes, and we provide light when our universe gets dark.


Maybe this time, I should gather my courage to accept him back wholeheartedly.