ii. neither sacred nor profane
I won't forget.
Abandoned with warm clothes and a little food, Daisuke shivers as he endures his 18th hour under a relentless (and yet seemingly impotent) sun. The sun does not rise. It does not set. All it does is wander aimlessly in the sky, seeming to stalk Daisuke as it traces a wide ellipse.
Daisuke sits on a shelf of snow-covered ice, not far from a fetch of penguins who are looking at him curiously. He moves like a beached seal, seeming to bask in the sun, content and well-fed, outwardly carefree.
Inside he is full of agonies.
A girl with long hair in striking braids waves. She is one of two girls in the village who are of an age with Daisuke, and he hopes to marry her someday.
Her name is Hikari, and she is exquisite.
"Don't bother him. He's thinking, and you know how that pains him," advises another girl. This one is sassy and rarely obedient to the elders, but much petted nonetheless. Jun.
"Bother me!" Daisuke commands indignantly, and is rewarded by Hikari's fond presence as she skips to stand in front of him, pink ribbons in her braids. She looks so demure.
"Are you busy?" she asks with becoming consideration.
"Never too busy for you," he says shyly, hoping that Jun doesn't overhear. Fortunately, Jun has gone off to flirt with her fiancé, one of the older boys who is busy mending nets. Yamato. Daisuke is spared his sister's teasing.
"Let me help, then." Daisuke hands Hikari a knife and she sits down next to him in front of a pile of freshly caught fish. Both are experts: they barely feel the slimy cold as they behead and filet the fish, readying them for salting and storage.
"This is a good catch, Daisuke. I'm proud of you."
Daisuke smiles and nods clumsily. He's not so good with the conversation, not like his sister's boyfriend or that infuriatingly perfect brother that Yamato seemed to dote on so much. Takeru. Daisuke is extremely thankful that the younger blond had set his sights on the only other girl their age who was available for marriage: Miyako. If Takeru had wanted Hikari, he could probably have had her in an instant. Takeru always got everything he wanted. Always.
After a long interval of quietly pleasing work, Hikari speaks for a third time.
"So… what were you thinking about so intently?"
Hikari smiles knowingly. "YOU know. Before Jun and I interrupted you."
"Um. Nothing, really."
Daisuke shrugs, trying to look totally comfortable and thought-free. It does not work.
"I don't buy that, Motomiya." Hikari furrows her eyebrows in concern. "Is it something about me?"
"No." Strangely, it is not. Most of Daisuke's life is invested in his ongoing Hikari fantasies, but today he feels different. Pensive.
"I… well. Do you ever wonder about what life is like for other people?"
"What other people?"
"The ones who don't live here."
"Like the Chileans?"
"Yes, them, but other people too. Africans. Europeans. Australians. Asians. Even… Americans…"
Hikari nods, her eyes a little wide. There are two radios in the village, and whenever they could, the two would listen to the shortwaves. An entire world, round, and filled with millions of people. It seemed like a fantasy.
"I think they would think our lives are meaningless," Daisuke says carefully.
"They are silly, then. What could be better then the life we have here?"
"I don't know. I just wonder what it would like to be… new."
Daisuke knows he is going to die soon. Without fresh water, he will sicken. The only thing that preoccupies his mind is a silly thing, nothing like the philosophies which condemn him to this fate. He is thirsty, and yet…
He fantasizes about what it would have been like to be kissed.
He wants to kiss her now, and touch her winter-brown hair, and see her naked body, and smell her fresh skin, and taste…
I am dumb. I am so, so dumb.
Daisuke thinks about Yamato suddenly, and is stabbed with guilt. The boy was to have been his brother-in-law, for fuck's sake. Remembering this, imagining the pain that he has inflicted upon his sister, he feels small for dwelling on his feelings for Hikari.
It was all done in a moment, and now he's gone. Gone.
Picking up a handful of snow, Daisuke begins to suck on it absently.
All for a fucking whale.
He is not even thinking. The flakes of ice melt on his tongue without the flavour of salt.
"It's not RIGHT?"
Even without gloves, Daisuke scrapes for more snow.
What a joke.
A splash in the water, and Daisuke jumps. It is only a penguin though. He looks down at his hands and comes to notice that he is holding snow. The slightly metallic aftertaste in his mouth informs him that he's been eating it. It's… fresh.
Daisuke moans in despair. He had hoped for a quick death, dying of thirst. The next possibility is exposure, freezing in the cold… but how can that happen, unless he strips? The sun isn't going anywhere.
No morals. That's me. Fuck at Naught Daisuke. Can't even fucking die with dignity.
Daisuke stands by his father's house and concentrates. About fifty paces distant is a menacing line of utilitarian snowmen. Harpoon fodder.
With practiced precision, Daisuke beheads one snowman. Then another, then another. They all fall before his uncanny might.
When he is done, Daisuke doesn't even have to turn to look at his father to know that he is smiling.
"I'm just a natural born killer and you know it." Daisuke swaggers but none of the men assembled to watch the show begrudge him his pride. It had been a tremendous display of skill.
In this tribe, skill means success. Skill would always be praised unniggardly.
"That's MY son."
Success is infectious. All wanted to claim a piece of the prodigy boy, the unflinching hunter who would bless them with food and prosperity. Soon he was being patted on the back and was even generously promised many pints of beer.
The only one not immediately enthralled is the clan chief. The chief is also the head fisherman. Watching Daisuke carefully, he shows no emotion.
"You are very young. Untested."
"Test me, then." Daisuke bubbles over with innate confidence.
"It is not as easy as you think, to hunt the whale. The whale is a tricky beast. He eats the smallest of life, and yet his appetite is enormous. He eats cocky young boys for breakfast."
The older men laugh appreciatively over this. It is a bittersweet.
"He can't beat me, OR eat me. I'll wrestle with him where he lives."
The chief smiles. A touch of pity. "The Christians have a story for that."
"Jonah and the whale? Come on, that's kids stuff." Daisuke grins with confidence, and then picks off another snowman head.
"I was thinking more along the lines of Jacob and the Angel of the Lord."
"Don't know that one." Daisuke sidles up to the chief and hugs him like a crazy tramp. "So… am I in?"
"You're in." The chief relents. No-one can resist the charm of Daisuke when it is at its zenith.
Daisuke wonders what happened to the man who wrestled with the Angel. This dying thing is very boring, and he wants stories to distract him from the incapacitating guilt. For a few minutes Daisuke pretends that he is a man who fights with immortals.
There was a time when he couldn't imagine losing such a fight. Now, he cannot imagine winning.
"I wish there was an angel here… to put me out of my misery…" Daisuke murmurs pathetically.
The quiet is shattered as a droning buzz fills the air. Daisuke squints, trying to find the source, and practically falls over when he does.
It looks like an angel. But why is the angel…. green?