A Memory from Okinawa, Japan: One Last Wake This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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As the five minutes of the one o’clock showers dwindles into their usual mist of a June born on the back of dead coral, I followed my bicycle as the hill pedaled us back to the cul-de-sac at the bottom. I rode my momentum into the doorway and pulled my lead feet up the stairs, past the dehumidifiers whose song seemed assumed and forgotten, and to the box-fort that remained of my room. I pulled my wetsuit from an un-taped box, threw my clothes onto the sheet-less bed to dry, then found myself crawling back up the hill. On the other side hung the remnants of the fifties that barely managed to support those who crossed over the red stream below.

Three bicycles and four riders with boogie boards strapped to their backs managed to curve their way along the dirt road down below the city where we would peel-back the fence, rest our tired bikes against the other side, and continue the rest of the way on our own, allowing the sand to fill between our bare feet or through our sandals. The four of us, the most likely of an unlikely quartet to be found out by the wake, made a home somewhere along the sand, and put our wetsuits to use.

Cupping the white foam softly for perhaps the last time as I marinated in every paddle that brought me back to the wake to say hello one last time, to say goodbye for the only time. Three voices of shouts and laughter drifted with the tide and back to the shore, away from my ears; I had time for one last of everything, one last round of shouts which ended in each of us falling off our boards one last time. I wiped my eyes clean as my head emerged from beneath the turquoise offset of where the sea met the sky, rested my chin and arms on my board, licked the salt from my lips, and smelt the crisp collection of seabird-songs and the exploring scent of the bamboo that roped itself together and sailed along the air currents and beyond where the world drops all of its selfish tears.

As the sun began to dip into the blue and the moon came to raise the tide in their nightly ritual, we carried ourselves back to the shore, unzipped our wetsuits and risked the exposure of our chests as we let the day fade away. I had been here, of course, several times before, for it was something of a tradition amongst us, to let the island say goodbye, for we all knew that the wake said it best. White foam hissed on the yellow sand and through our toes alike clean of realizing what was ahead of us. While we took ourselves back to the fence and beyond, the waves played-out the night in fading notes of leaving three years of your life like a floating candle on the dark wake.





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