Flash fiction: “Circadian”



            [Kyoto, Japan. Mid-Fall, 2007. Leather jacket, jeans, black t-shirt. Dusk, that time of day when there’s enough sunset left to appreciate, but not so much as to dissuade folk from turning on their lanterns.]

            I’m lying by the river when somewhere, far off and faint, a violin begins to play. It takes me longer than it should to realize it’s an old Ella Fitzgerald tune, but my brain gets there when the progression gets to the D minor [the one right before the chorus]. It’s an odd thing, the chemical reaction that occurs when a well-arpeggiated minor chord rings out against the harshly crisp air that always seems to accompany autumn; something about minor thirds and fallen leaves, I suppose.

            I’ve been counting sheep and counting shots, tallying up missed hours of sleep and ingested cubic millilitres of saki. It’s little wonder why life feels more manageable from a horizontal position; Japanese businessmen can put them away, and jet lag is a bitch. Chords warble along the breeze, A-flat into F minor into G7.  Dream a Little Dream of Me, that’s the song. She sings it with Louis Armstrong, Ella does. The violinist has finished now, and he/she has either packed it up or wandered off, since there’s no more music to be had. In its place there’s only the gentle hum of the city and the delicate chatter of the two young travellers splayed out on a picnic blanket to my right, just within earshot. She’s talking about a band she likes; yeah, but they’re no Zeppelin, he says.

            The houses, set on stilts, glow brightly in the evening fog, and with so much texture to the air it’s as though you could reach out and touch the part of the universe where the neon lights rub up against the dark. The lanterns that hang from the eaves of the buildings are pleasantly old-fashioned, and something in their flickering helps with my sense of calm.

            The grass beneath me is wet between my fingers, and I try and think of the last time it rained. Kyoto is beautiful in the rain, on those days when the damp and the chill slow the normally mad city down just enough to remind you how ancient it really is. Some dream of history, others drink it in. Me, I just want to fall into the heartbeat of the place, let the old circadian cadence put to rest most all of the unsavory distractions that pester the soul on the daily.

            The violin begins again, but this time I don’t recognize the melody. 

words, “Circadian,” by Josh Elyea

colour, “Blue Sheep,” by Mi Ju

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