Silence was something Izumi had ever gotten used to. Noise had always been around him, but today, for the first time in many, many years, there was a silence that could not be fixed.
It had started only yesterday, only last night, only fifteen hours and thirty minutes ago. Izumi never believed him when he told him that heart failure ran through his family. That few in his family had lived past the age of forty. He hadn’t believed him until last night, until that glass fell and there was water all over the floor, and Takamiya was on the ground, his pants soaked in the ice and a different kind of liquid. He didn’t believe him when Takamiya wasn’t breathing, when his pulse couldn’t be found. 999 and CPR. It was supposed to work. There was a pulse, faint, just enough for the paramedics to take him to the hospital. Just enough for the doctors to try and help, but the pulse did not last. He did not believe him until the doctor came in, her hands crossed and her eyes solemn. He did not believe him until those words slid off her tongue, “I’m sorry for your loss.” He did not believe him, he did not believe him.
There was silence. Unending and uncomfortable. But Izumi sat through it, silently sipping his tea and eating the remains of the carrot cake Takamiya cooked three days ago. That same cake where the batter was smeared across Izumi’s face. That batter where the tongue ran across the length of his body causing red to flush his cheeks and their lips to meet, both covered in slimy, chunky, carrot cake batter that was so sweet pressed up against their taste buds. There would never be another carrot cake batter battle or two tongues dancing together with the sweet substance running between them. He did not believe him when he said heart failure ran through his family. But he was gone. And there was no more carrot cake.
And when his remains were handed to him in that sterling silver urn, and his ashes ran through his fingers, he still did not believe him. When his parents came to help him pack, Izumi stayed locked away in that closet he had collapsed in the night he had come home from the hospital. His only comfort was the white shirt Takamiya always looked so damn good in. It still had his scent in it, that musty scent and the faint trace of the cologne Izumi bought him for Christmas. And he would sit there, the shirt running through his fingers; the faint call of his brother Katsumi sometimes reaching him, and silent tears would caress his face.
Silence still lingered in his apartment back in his home country of Japan. But the occasional siren or giggling schoolgirls or the drunken college students who lived next door sometimes drowned that silence out. It was this noise that had been missed in England. But it was this noise that was not needed because there was no noise in his home now and other sound annoyed his ears.
Izumi soon realized he was becoming a hermit. He never cared to take walks but remained skinny because he never ate. When the voluptuous woman from next door would try to talk to him, he would pretend as if his phone was vibrating and say “Hello” to somebody named Naoya. And when this “Naoya” would call to hear the torn sound of his friend’s voice, he would be cut off by the instant click and then the consistent beeping of the cutoff tone. But Izumi didn’t mind being alone; it was nice. In a way.
Then, when Naoya called again and Izumi didn’t hang up; they went grocery shopping together. Izumi learned to eat. At least a little. He learned to shop again, how talk again. Somewhat. And at this grocery store, there was this man who kept smiling at him. Then, one day, as Izumi chose what sauce would be best for his spaghetti that night. There was this man who told him that the red sauce that had the picture of the Italian with the handlebar mustache was the best and he should buy it, but only if he was buying wheat spaghetti. If he was buying white spaghetti he should buy the Alfredo sauce with the little pink and smiling sausage on it. There was this man who said, “Better yet, why not just let me buy it and you come to eat it at my place.” Izumi lost all words but in some mumbling, this man knew he was saying yes.
And that was how it started. Red spaghetti sauce all over his brand new white shirt he bought for work and strands of wheat spaghetti slowly trailing down his buttons and pants. The shirt was gone and then the pants. And then there was another set of clothing joining Izumi’s. The spaghetti got cold. It was never eaten, but the ice cream in the freezer made a great midnight snack.
He sat at the table, his brown eyes staring at the corner of the kitchen, his fingers running around the top of the teacup, its steam drawing sweat from his hand. Izumi sat, stared, an overwhelming silence surrounding him. Silence was something he had ever gotten used to. It had started only yesterday, only last night, only fifteen hours and thirty minutes ago. There was this man that took off his clothes and drenched him with a feeling he had long forgotten. And there was this number now placed in his phone that had this insistent nagging of “call me.” Izumi smiled, gently; the first smile he had showed in the past five years of hermitness.
Carrot cake was sounding awful good.
999 is the emergency number in England. Sorry if that caused any confusion.