Lit Mag Short Fiction

The Cherry Blossom

“At a certain age, the world will try to cast off your childhood blanket in the pursuit of reality, but heed now that its softness envelops your character, that if you tear it away the fibers will scar your soul. My little egg, dream, and wrap your blanket tightly around yourself.” That day, my mother made the rounds to all of her closest relatives and friends, the terminal illness clearly present in her speech. As the voices began to muffle, I began reminiscing about her bedtime stories. Before I knew it, my surroundings shook, borders in time blurred, and I was transported to a different era in my life. My brother had already scaffolded our basement into a makeshift bunker. Outside, the sirens wailed like howling street dogs and the walls reverberated violently.


I am swept to a new era, sometime in the future after the war. I travel where the sun rises, a listless wanderer in a gray wasteland, pondering when the gears of my dad’s old XR750 will unscrew, what day my kettle will be and remain dry. My dad retold the history behind this bike a few days into our bunkering, before he and my brother disappeared into the foggy wilderness. He told me how he wanted to be a racer, that he rode himself until his gas ran out, and that dreams were for the “young hatchlin’s who spend their time ghost-hunt’n”, whose “innocence has yet to be festered by reality”.


Eventually the road leads me to a precariously standing bridge that looms over an expansive bay. Weaving through the holes and scattered concrete rubble, I reach the end of the bridge and enter into an eerily empty beach town. I am the lonely motor in the solitary streets, dust kicking up under my wheels. Colorfully painted rubble scatters along the black pavement with white pebbles and crushed shells. My eyes scan, hawk-like, with their sole mission of locating food. As I scour the fallen buildings, traffic lights pass over my head, blinking as if their wretched commanders never gave them orders to stop. I ride past a shattered sign with its comic letters sprawled out: Chkn or eg. Through blown in windows, the inside looks like a family style restaurant.


I soon reach the town’s southern point, and I notice the trembling fuel gauge meter. My bike sputters out its last breaths to a halt in front of a defiantly standing house. Its small stature is the first I’ve seen unwavering on my journey. Planted beside the path to the front door are little, green baby cacti. I enter looking to scavenge, but the house is empty except for a small mattress sitting in the corner lying atop freshly sheened hardwood floors.


Exiting through the back, I am amazed. Sand with few ripples and glistening, cerulean tides extending into a ceaseless plane. In the distance, by the edge of the water, stands a grand cherry blossom tree with a swing, and on the swing sits a little boy — no older than 6 years old — swaying gently to the rhythm of the tides. I sprint through the pristine dunes, my footprints leaving gashes in the soft, rolling sand.


When I reach the boy, my first intuition is to open my mouth, but his glassy eyes, characteristically youthful, stop me. Surrounded by a world of bodies and rubble, how do his eyes gleam so? This world I enter, one of pristine beaches, brilliant tides, and cherry blossoms: where has this world been? What right do I have to taint this dream with my ugly countenance of reality? The boy embodies an essence of fantasy and interrupting this state would be a crime equal to lighting Banff ablaze with a Marlboro.


I swallowed my superego.


“Kid, what’re you doing here?”

“I’m whale watching,” his voice squeaks.

“Well it ain’t safe.” I offer my hand, “let me take you somewhere to call your parents.”

“I don’t know where they are.” He grins, “Whale watch with me. They’ll come soon enough.”

“We gotta go. I don’t know how many of us there are left. I’m sure there’ll be people in what’s left of New York.”
“What’s New York?”

“You gotta be kiddin’ me.”

“I like it here.”

“Alright then, but there’s a house back there. I can give you a little bit of food if you want, but to be honest there ain’t much out here for me either.”

“My dad built that house.”

“Oh is your dad around?” The silence that follows is loud.

“Oh your Dad is prolly out fishing. C’mon, there’s definitely radiation everywhere. You don’t want to grow a third eye, do ya?” I smile, but he remains in his pacific state, quiet. The sun is behind us, and through the pink shade the shallow water begins to glow warmly. I begin to think again how this tree rooted so deeply into sand can still grow; how this house surrounded by society’s collapse can still stand; how this kid abused by circumstance can still defy Maslow. How these dreams can still persist. How–

“The whale will come eventually. I’m sure of it,” the boy declares.


By now the sun’s setting reflection torches the cherry blossom petals. I wonder when I had exited this innocent state, when the world withered into a desolate wasteland, when reality starved my youthful contentment. Perhaps it was inevitable. Perhaps the egg’s shell always cracks and out comes the bird. Perhaps everybody loses their blanket at some point or another. And what of it? Shall I abandon the child? Shall I forever live a life of toil and hunger to no end? Shall I care for only myself as I pursue adulthood? No. I refuse. Reality can wait. The whale will come. I will stay with this child. And as I sway gently, mirroring the tide’s rhythm, feeling the sun’s warmth come back to me once more, settling back into my dream, I can feel my blanket enveloping my body.

Write A Comment