cerpen bahasa inggris: Stardust of Memory

 I’ve always thought that a person’s memory can be compared to a star. The reason? I don’t know, I just know that. Every night when I look up at the stars in the sky from my room, I am always reminded of the good old memories. It’s as if each star holds a memory that we want to remember forever.

An old folk tale in the village where I used to live says, when someone dies, the star that holds their memory will break into sparkling powder. This powder will fly in the wind and spread to all corners of the world, then just disappear. That’s why most people can’t not remember their memories in their previous life. Also the reason why people can feel de javu when someone else’s lost stardust accidentally lands on the wrong person. Then how do you keep the powder from being scattered everywhere?

People say Historian kept it. There are only a few humans in the world who can possess a Historian. When the human dies, the Historian will store the stardust containing the human memory in their bottle-shaped pendant necklace. No one knows who a Historian really is or why there are so few humans in the world who have one, or how to have a Historian.

I nearly jumped off the piano chair when my already rickety door swung open. A girl with slender stature, reddish-brown hair, and a pair of green-brown iris eyes entered with a tray in her hand. I hastily stopped my piano playing nervously.

“Sorry, am I being too loud?” I asked feeling guilty.

She smiled sweetly as she tucked her waist-length hair behind her ear. “No, I just wanted to bring you a snack,” he said in a voice that was sweeter than this old piano. I can’t help but be mesmerized by it.

But my attention was also distracted by the smell of bread that had just come out of the oven on the tray. “Is there sausage in it?” I sniffed a piece of bread. The bread felt soft in my hand.

“Yeah, but how do you know?”

I responded with a wide grin. “My nose is very sharp, especially when it comes to food.”

He laughed, showing a row of neat and white teeth with a pair of naturally pink lips. “Eat this to stuff your stomach. I haven’t cooked anything for lunch.”

“With pleasure,” I chewed the soft white bread voraciously.

“When will grandpa and grandma come back, Marien?”

“Jeez, I told you not to call them that!” Marien—that beautiful girl—kissed my head gently. “Get in the habit of calling them Papa and Mama.”

I pursed my lips. “Sorry, Mari. Don’t be mad, okay?”

He took a short breath. “I’m not angry, but respect them. It’s thanks to them that you can live here. If it weren’t for them, you might still be living under that bridge.”

“Okay, I won’t repeat,” I lowered my head. “Then rest, Marien, let me cook the food for you.”

“Eh? No, it’s okay, you’re playing the piano,” he said.

“I’m done, okay? Take it easy. After eating later, let me also take care of the shop. You can’t be tired anymore,” I held her smooth hands.

When Marien finally agreed, I quickly finished the bread I had bitten off and headed down the attic stairs to the kitchen. To be honest, I don’t know how to cook the mashed potatoes and grilled chicken that are usually my daily meal here, but I do know how to cook canned tuna. I think I could make a tuna sandwich with mayonnaise.

Marien had a weak heart since she was born. He couldn’t run, jump, be too nervous, too excited, too angry, too nervous, anything that made his heart beat faster than usual. Even so, Marien can still make bread or cakes, one of her favorite activities. Everything made by his hands was so delicious that his parents agreed to make Marien a small bakery run by the three of them. The shop was always quiet at lunchtime like this, but it would always be full of people in the mornings and evenings. Usually, I’m in charge of making dough because I can’t operate a cash register.

Ah, if only I could make poppy seed buns. I remember Marien always liked it. She also loves to put rose jam in her poppy buns. I like the smell, but not the taste—too bland for me.

After I finished my sandwich, I didn’t forget to heat the water to make tea before heading to the dining room at the back of the shop. Marien was waiting there with a book with a light blue cover in her hand. I unconsciously smiled. Light blue is Marien’s favorite color. I placed the tray I was carrying in front of Marien carefully.

“Thank you, Skyler,” her soft, sweet voice replied. I really like the way he says my name. I remember him giving me that name when he was looking up at the starry night sky all those years ago.

I nodded in response, then took a seat next to him. No matter how much time has passed, Marien’s scent remains the same. Roses, gardenias, lilies, mint leaves, chamomile, the smell of earth after the rain… nothing has changed, I think this is what made me so calm in the first place. I used to hate being around other people.

“Wow, this is delicious, Skyler,” said Marien in a surprised tone. “Where did you learn to cook?”

“Eh… dunno…?” I grimaced. I never learned to cook.

Marien showed an expression of astonishment. “Then how do you know it will taste good?”

“If it smells good, it tastes good,” I smirked. I’m not lying, really. That’s how I know if a food is worth eating or not.

“Well… I guess that makes sense,” Marien laughed amusedly. He went back to eating his lunch, while I admired everything he had.

I know I shouldn’t love Marien who is 4 years older than me. Always 4 years above me. Always, but not for long. I can’t explain how my love for Marien is, but I know my love for her is not the same as love for friends, siblings, parents, or partners. Like love to the Creator? I don’t think so either. After all, I’m not sure I trust Him as much as others around me.

Soon, Marien will be turning 18. I know I have very little time in this period. I know, and I don’t want to rush things. In the past, I was always complacent with my time. 18 years is a very short time when we just squander it. Back then, 18 years was such a long time for me that I wasted it. This time, I promise to enjoy every second carefully.

“Skyler, could you please play a song for me?” Marien’s voice said weakly. Tomorrow is her birthday, and she’s lying helpless on my bed. He said he was lonely in his room. He said this old, dusty room I lived in was much more comfortable than his spacious, warm and clean room.

I have prepared in front of my piano. “What do you want to hear this time?” I asked as gently as possible. I was determined to do whatever he wanted. I’ll make sure she leaves feeling loved and loved, especially by me.

“Whatever you want to play,” he replied. As simple as that.

I began to move my fingers, singing melodious classical songs. I knew Marien had always liked him.

“Skyler,” he called in a half-whispered voice. “Do you think I will recover?”

My finger just stopped in midair, even though I used to answer the question, “Of course” so gracefully. This time, I walked over to him and held his hand to my chest. “What’s the matter, Marian?” those words that slide on my tongue.

It hurts to see her beautiful face force a smile when she actually wants to cry. “I… I just feel like I’ll be leaving in no time…”

Yes, Marien, you’ll be leaving tomorrow, just like you’ve been doing all this time, I mumbled to myself.

“I don’t want to leave Papa and Mama, Skyler… I want to learn about bread and cakes in France, I want to know what it’s like to run, I want to feel so happy my chest is about to explode, I…” Her smile slowly faded from that pretty face, replaced with a smile. trembling voice and teardrops.

Even though my heart feels so broken when I see the person I love cry, I can only put on a tough face and a winning smile. “What more do you want, Marien?”

“…I want to fall in love… I want to meet someone who loves me, get married, build a small warm family, and live happily with my family,” a small sob appeared in between his words which tore my peace of mind.

Falling in love… he said? Marry? Building a family? Was that what Marien wanted all along? But I love him! Ever since he picked up a helpless cat in that dark rainstorm, he had met someone who loved him so much!

My anger was almost burning when Marien’s hand suddenly touched my face gently. “And especially you, Skyler, I don’t want to part with you. Even though you may be a stranger, you are already like my own family… I can’t imagine what it’s like to be separated from you,” her sobs turned into tears that were so heartbreaking.

In the end, I had to stop. This jerk of mine is just torturing him. Limiting his life, making him die many times, holding him from dreaming, and restraining him only for myself. I guess I’ve been the one suffering all this time. I always wait until my dear master is reborn, no matter if I have to wait for 100 years. Yes, I have to stop.

I went back to the old piano and wiggled my fingers, playing an ancient song about the Historian. About myself.

“Historian, Historian, will your pendant be enough for my memory?”

I let go of the memories that I have been keeping like my own life. Memories of me and Marien for 1320 years. The memory begins with a beautiful girl bringing home a kitten with dull white fur and sky-blue eyes.

“They are as beautiful as stardust, which flies beyond life without stopping,” My

days with them were the happiest times of my life. I was born on the street so hunger is not uncommon. I was so small, my fur wasn’t warm enough for a rainy autumn season, and I had no safe place to hide. But Marien gave me everything: food, water, shelter, and love.

“They are immortal yet fragile as glass. Vague to one, clingy to another,”

Marien named me “Skyler” as she gazed at the beautiful starry night sky. He said, my eyes are as beautiful as the starry sky. He said, no matter how bad the storm will surely pass, and the beautiful sky will replace it.

“They are timeless but timeless. Like stardust, the wind carried them away without a trace.” My

happiness was snatched away when Marien was dying in her bed. I think the plague that plagued the land had reached her village, and it didn’t take long for my dear Marien to finally catch the plague.

“Historian, Historian, keep my memory in silence. Protect your new life, give it when I return.”

Marien’s reluctance to go turned me into a Historian. Our memory and the rest of his life after the age of 18 became the source of my life, as well as my human body. I had to return it when Marien was reborn 20 years later, but greed led me to stay with her and make new memories. I lived as a parasite that robbed me of her life span, limiting her life at the age of 18, because before that she died at that age.

But now, I have given up everything. A wonderful 1320 year memory of myself and Marien. Memories that I think only tell my love for him.

Marien was asleep, probably dreaming of her old lives with me. I smiled and jumped down from the piano chair which now looked very big. I struggled to climb the edge of my bed which was quite high. I curled up beside him. It feels so comfortable. I slowly closed my eyes, getting ready for bed after living a very, very long life for a stray cat.

“Goodbye, my dear Marien,” I whispered, not wanting to wake him. “I love you. Even if my selfishness lasts for another 1000 years, I live it because I love you. But for now, live, if it makes you happier.”

I hope, when Marien wakes up, she can see me and caress me again. But of course I knew it was impossible. I hope he’ll at least get to see my shards glistening in the moonlight, before the wind takes me away.

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