Kyle Hemmings is the author of three chapbooks of poems: Avenue C (Scars Publications), Fuzzy Logic (Punkin Press), and Amsterdam & Other Broken Love Songs (Flutter Press). He has been published at Gold Wake Press, Thunderclap Press, Blue Fifth Review, Step Away, and The Other Room. He is obsessed with 60s and early 70s garage and psychedelic music. He idolizes Arthur Lee and Jeff Beck. He blogs at upatberggasse19.blogspot.com.
Tokyo Girls in Science Fiction
I never bought a handful of Busta Rhymes from a girl with colorless eyes, the curve of a laughing cartoon wave that keeps coming closer to shore, or to the edge. We’re shooting the breeze outside the Omotesando Hills Mall. I ask her how does she get around without a dog or a futuristic robot that gives good GPS. She says her dogs are faithful but imaginary; she’s mobilized by touch and router-less recall. It begins to rain. We both turn crack and putty.
In an apartment that she claims she owns, we listen to Shonen Knife and some club remix by Kill the Freak. She does the Cha Cha Slide in bare feet, choreographing some moves like she’s surfing on air. I tell her I’m a Unix programmer from Amerikamura, The American Village in Osaka, just here shopping for some brand jeans at the Candy Striper in Tokyo. Hers are faded, torn. “Oh, really,” she says and I can see from the whimsical thrust of her head that she doesn’t buy it.
Actually, I had just broken up with a girl named Hotaru– addicted to Ash Ketchum and cosplaying pop divas—just for the sheer dare of hurting someone. I was always that powerless nerd. She didn’t cry or ask for a reason. Instead, Hotaru buried herself in Euro-Trance and TV without the sound on. So, I sometimes come to Shibuya to reconnect with the eyes of strangers. I punish myself with distance. I also suffer from bad migraines. Sometimes I have to shut off the lights and hand myself over.
After a tumble of sightless making-out, all chapped lips and smooth acrobat tongue, she still insists that her name is MamiMami. Then she asks If I would like to die with her. “What?” I say. She says she dies each day a thousand ways: the darkness she caused, a pill, a syringe, homemade mustard gas—there’s no preferred method. She shakes her head, as if freeing it from someone else’s fingers. “Don’t mind me,” she says, “I’m crazy. Koo-koo.” We sit on the edge of the bed, sharing a can of flat Coke. I can tell all her dogs have stopped barking.
In the silence, we are reduced to being each other’s victims of a false amnesia—on the street, we’d pretend we never met. I sense a rumble in Shinjuku, a panic below that will soon spread to our little island of a room. Perhaps a war has been declared on some new form of Godzilla. And she and I are step-down children of the Great Ghost War because somebody wanted what wasn’t his. The front door swings open. A boy with sarin-hate in his eyes, the color of subway-dark and aftermath, stands before us, eclipsing everything. He mumbles something. “She’s not well,” is the part I understand. The rain has stopped its undecipherable code in raw bits. And as if giving myself up to a mushroom cloud, it is now I who must disappear.
As a child, walking home from school in the Shibuya ward of Tokyo, Yami winked at the white bird that followed her home each day. She never told anyone, not even her best friend, Rin-Rin–who was in love with rain and the early Bob Dylan –that White Bird confided in her. Like how to glide in her sleep. Or how to navigate her personal dream wards, full of cityscapes, low and high risers. The adults complained that Yami never said very much or that she was too withdrawn, that someday her personal spiders would eat her. And it was true that after her first period, which coincided with a heavy storm, Yami often thought about suicide, even of hanging herself from the Harajuku Bridge. She believed she stayed alive because that White Bird stole all her weapons of self-destruction, took them to a nest too far north or outh, depending on one’s definition of the weather.
Then, close to twenty, Yami fell in love with a punk rocker named Akiho. To his friends, he was known as Soul Surfer. At night, Akiho remarked that after making love to Yami, he saw a white flash in her eyes. She said that it was just him looking too hard inside of her. He said that maybe it was him looking out from inside of her. She giggled, but knew White Bird had never left her.
One day, several months after Yami and Akiho married, a tsunami swept over the village where they settled. People were found drifting miles out at sea, faces down. Cars and trucks were overturned. Buildings were demolished. The house where Yami and Akiho lived was destroyed.
Years later, a house was rebuilt in the same spot where the two once lived. And on its roof, three white birds–mother, father, and baby–perched. They always spoke to each other about the girl who once lived below, who had really wished for a set of wings, but kept asking for a noose. One of the white birds explained she did all she could for this girl; after all, birds of a feather flock together. The other two chirped a hearty laugh. It’s not funny, not funny at all, said the mama bird. The three of them took off in a triangular pattern.