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A story about a little girl and the blossoms she loves
Never Let Go of Hope by Marina V, the theme song for Sakura Petals.
When Akari finished scooping up all the fallen cherry blossoms around her, she raised her head and asked, “Mommy, Daddy, do you have glue?”
Akari sat on the sidewalk, legs crossed, in front of Grand Tree shopping mall, a brown, four-story building shaped like an ice cream scoop, five blocks from her apartment in Kawasaki, Japan. She wore a blue and white striped dress and pink shoes.
Her dress, filled with the pile of sakura she had gathered, tented between her legs. The flowers shimmered like undersea coral.
Grand Tree usually buzzed with life on Saturdays in April, with both shoppers and families thronging the mall’s fourth-floor activity center. The sidewalk in front of Grand Tree, where seven-year-old Akari sat, was usually bustling.
But today, Akari and her parents were the only people outside. Everyone else in Kawasaki, all of Japan, and the rest of the world chose to wait for the end of the world at home.
When the last sakura blossom fell, the planet would break in two, ejecting one half of the Earth toward the sun, and the other into the cold of space. The Earth would expel its atmosphere, and those who didn’t die from asphyxiation would perish when they tumbled into the chasm that separated the two halves.
For three weeks since the first blossoms left their trees, the Earth had been growling like an angry bear woken from its deep slumber. The foreboding, sibylline sound was everywhere, penetrating hospital operating rooms, bank vaults, and even the deepest submarines.
Lightning exploded all over the globe, across cloudless skies, and the air tasted like bitter metal.
The earth wobbled every which way as if it was a top on its final rotation.
Most trees lost their petals a week after blooming. A few held on for another week, and now Japan’s only flowered sakura tree stood in front of Grand Tree shopping mall.
“There are nine blossoms left,” her mother, Mika, whispered. “How long do you think we have?”
Haruto raised his hand to test the wind. A slight breeze tinged his flesh. “Maybe fifteen minutes. The wind’s picking up. I don’t think these sakura will last much longer. They will join the others on the ground, and then—” He wiped tears from his eyes. “It’s over. But you know what, my love? Akari is oblivious to what’s coming.”
“Look at her. She’s smiling. She’s having fun collecting the flowers, unaware that they are the instrument of the world’s destruction.”
“She does this every spring. Even before she could walk, she sat on the sidewalk and gathered the blossoms. It makes her happy.”
“That makes me happy, too,” Mika said. “It’s not terrible to die happy.”
Akari asked her question again, “Do you have any glue? I need glue!”
Haruto shook his head.
Mika shrugged and fished through her bag, expecting to find random objects—a brush, tissues, lip cream, keys, wallet, and a small penlight—but her fingers also found a plastic cylinder, which she took out. Mika squinted, wrinkled her nose, and said, “I have a glue stick?” She narrowed her eyes at Haruto and then turned to Akari. “Would you like a glue stick?”
“Yes! That’s perfect.” Slowly and carefully, Akari stood. She held the lower part of her dress horizontal to keep the blossoms from spilling, took the glue stick from her mother, and waddled over to the cherry blossom tree. Akari touched the tip of the glue stick to one of the blossoms and pressed it to the tree’s stem. Satisfied that the blossom stuck, she glued another to the tree, and then another and another.
The growling quieted. Fewer lightning bolts crisscrossed the sky, and the planet’s wobble steadied.
Haruto slipped a yellow glue stick out of his left pocket, then another out of his right, and passed one to Mika. They collected blossoms from the sidewalk, gluing them to the tree as fast as possible.
Neighbors, who had been watching Akari, Mika, and Haruto from their windows, flooded into the street, glue sticks in hand. Hundreds, then thousands of people, scooped petals from the sidewalks and streets. Within minutes, all the trees blossomed, a sea of pink everywhere.
A tintinnabulation, like wind chimes from a distant temple, filled the air. Mika heard the Earth sigh and when Akari looked at her with a broad smile, she knew Akari heard it, too.
If you enjoyed Sakura Petals, I think you’ll also like my story, New Memories.
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