Sakura Rice Ball
fiction, Mar. 2019
“No, I won’t go.”
Whenever I asked my daddy to see the cherry blossoms, he never said yes. He usually said yes to my suggestions, so it was a rare for him to say no when it comes to cherry blossoms.
I asked him this because it seemed that everyone in my class went to see cherry blossoms with their families during spring vacation.
Even though my dad refused to take me, I still insisted on going, by asking him “why don’t you wanna go?”
He said: “all petals would be fallen now”, or “people never see cherry blossoms–they just get drunk”, or “you like eating delicious food more than seeing flowers, right?” etc..
I never got the exact reason why he didn’t want to see cherry blossoms. All I knew was that he just didn’t like them.
Yes, my daddy was the kind of a person who didn’t talk much, especially about himself.
He also never talked about my mommy. I had no memory of my mommy, so I kept asking him, “where is she?” But I never knew where she was, even whether she was alive or not.
The other day at school, during lunch, I heard the cheerful voices of girls behind me: “wow, so beautiful”, “what’s this?”, “this is a rice ball with cherry blossom petals on it.” etc.
It was Ms. Takeuchi, my classmate and her friends, talking about her lunch box. I was surprised that cherry blossom petals were edible.
That night, after I ate dinner, took a bath, and was ready to sleep, I went downstairs and turned on the kitchen light.
I opened the door under the sink and took out a bowl.
I took out the rice from the rice cooker and two cherry blossom petals from my jacket pocket. The petals shrank in the pocket, so I carefully spread them not to tear apart.
Unlike Ms.Takeuchi’s rice balls with cherry blossom petals on the top, I put the petai in the middle of the rice ball.
I added rice to the ball one after another, so the petals could not be seen from the outside. This made the shape of the rice ball a bit distorted.
I made another one the exact same way.
I knocked my daddy’s office door in our house. He seemed so busy that he kept his eyes on the monitor and didn’t look at me.
I said “Daddy, I made them”, and he just said “Oh, thank you”.
I turned back, went out of the room and tried to close the door.
Then, he finally saw the rice balls, turned back to me and said, “Wow, you made these? Thank you, Takeru. Have a good night.”
I pretended that I went back to my room, but actually I kept watching my daddy from the slight gap of the door that I didn’t close completely, because I wanted to see him eating my rice balls.
However, he was so focused on his work that he never even reached for them.
Gradually, I felt slightly guilty, since I made the rice balls for a little revenge to spite him for not taking me to see the cherry blossoms.
As I kept watching my daddy, his appearance became blurred. My eyes were almost closing, so I gave up watching him and went back to my room. I fell asleep as soon as I climbed into bed…
…In my dream, I was under a withered tree by myself in the garden. I never knew what kind of tree it was, but suddenly I recognized that it was a cherry blossom tree.
I remembered a legend that there was a corpse buried under the cherry blossom tree and that was why cherry blossom flowers were so beautiful.
I never believed the story, but I took out a yellow plastic scoop, which I always used in the sandbox when I was small, and began to dig the soil at the base of the tree.
As I digged deeper, somehow the cherry blossom petals were overflowing from inside one after another, as if I would be drawn in pale pink petals.
So, I quickly closed the hole and restored the soil. The pale pink color of the petals now mixed with soils and turned brown…
When I went into the kitchen the next morning, my dad was already awake. Or maybe, he didn’t sleep last night.
“Thank you, Takeru, for the rice balls,” my dad said. He mentioned nothing about the cherry blossom petals inside of the balls.
But, I never asked him about that, nor about the tree in the garden, whether it was truly a cherry blossom tree. I never told him about the dream I had last night. There were things that we wanted to keep inside ourselves.
Maybe my dad noticed the cherry blossom petals inside the rice balls and ate them. Maybe he didn’t notice them and just gobbled the rice balls down. Maybe he gently buried them in the garden in the middle of the night.
I’ll never know the truth, but I now somehow forgave him for not taking me to see the cherry blossoms. I just caught a glimpse of the tree in the garden, told my dad “I’m going now”, and headed for school.
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