Table of Contents
A Father’s Tale Part II
A Mother's Tale
An Orphan's Tale
A Tinker's Tale
A (Different) Mother's Tale
A Daughter's Tale
A Ward's Tale
A Guardian's Tale
Another Mother's Tale
A Chess Player's Tale
A Protector's Tale
A Child's Tale Part II
A Shopper's Tale
A Gazer's Tale
The Father's Tale
A Father’s Tale
I parked the car outside of the garage attached to the Western style summer home Hanako and I had bought years ago. Turning off the engine, I sighed and glanced at the empty seat next to me. It was a warm summer Thursday in Hokkaido, with the bright afternoon sky just on the verge of changing into evening. It had been a long, long drive, and if it weren’t for my wife’s choice in hobbies, I would much rather have taken the train.
Shaking my head to get the cobwebs out, I grinned and looked behind me, “We’re here.”
“That took longer than I remember.”
Refia, our youngest daughter, started fidgeting as she tried to open the back door despite the safety lock, her brown hair catching the light from the windows. Satomi, our oldest daughter, watched Refia with a mild smirk as her amethyst hair rippled in the window light, while Akio, our oldest child and only son, held his door, patiently waiting for me to leave first.
Looking out the window and blinking against the light as it shined on his brown hair, Akio announced, “Aunt Miya and Uncle Kenji are here, too.”
“They were right behind us,” Satomi remarked.
“Daddy!” Refia chirped, and fiddled with the door lock.
I grinned and opened my own door, “Just a moment.”
I stepped out of the car and walked around the hood to open Refia’s door. When I had she practically leapt out of the car and wandered over towards the other car near the garage. The Setous had already started getting out –Kenji was watching his son Hisato hop out of the vehicle while Soon-hee and Miya unloaded luggage.
Akio, meanwhile, opened his own door and carefully stepped out. Turning back, he offered a hand to Satomi to help her out as well. She took it with a muttered thanks before hefting herself onto the packed gravel.
Once everyone was out of the car I popped the trunk and started taking some of the smaller bags. Akio glanced at the two large suitcases Soon-hee was holding and grabbed the biggest piece of luggage in our trunk. Satomi rolled her eyes and grabbed her and Refia’s toiletry bags. There were still a few bags remaining, so I’d have to come back to the car. Leaving the trunk open, I watched Akio dart off toward the still locked front door, while Satomi smirked and followed after. Looking over at the other car, I noticed that in addition to the bulky luggage, Soon-hee also had Refia on her back.
Apparently even Refia could get wound up just sitting in a car for nearly ten hours.
Refia grinned and waved at me, “Hi Daddy!”
“Hi,” I called back, “Hey Soon-hee, are you sure you can carry all that?”
Soon-hee turned toward me and nodded. A short girl in blue jeans, a dark green shirt, and a pair of thick black sunglasses, with dark skin and short black hair, Soon-hee reminded me a bit of a rabbit that had seen you and was deciding if you were going to try and catch it or just keep walking. Refia was holding still for the piggyback ride, although her eyes never focused on anything for more than a moment or two.
“I’m fine,” Soon-hee stated.
“Will Mommy be here soon?” Refia asked.
I shrugged, “She gets here when she gets here.”
Refia sighed and snuggled into Soon-hee. Miya, bags in hand, stepped next to the two and smiled.
“She shouldn’t be long now,” she stated.
Kenji, one hand holding a bag and the other his son’s hand, wandered over to me and grinned, “Which one did she bring this time?”
I shrugged, “Who knows. You guys need a hand with your bags?”
“I can get them,” Soon-hee declared.
Kenji turned to the sound of her voice, “I can get the rest –Hisao should give you a quick tour of the house so you know where everything is.”
Soon-hee glanced at me, nodded, then turned her head towards the road so fast I’m surprised she didn’t sprain something.
“Aunt Hana’s coming.”
I turned toward the road and listened as the rumbling of a motorcycle motor tore through the air. Soon-hee grimaced at the noise as it invaded her sensitive ears.
Down the dusty dirt road appeared my wife, her chopper roaring as it sped ever closer. As she approached I noticed someone sitting behind her. As she neared she slowed her speed, the roaring engine becoming a loud mewling. She stopped entirely a few yards in front of us, and the image of my wife astride her steed made my heart thump in a non life threatening and not altogether unwelcome manner.
Killing the rumbling engine –which caused Soon-hee to sigh in audible relief- Hanako popped out the kickstand and planted her boots firmly on the ground. Lifting the visor of her helmet, Hanako grinned at us before lifting the helmet off her head, her purple hair dancing in the afternoon light as it tumbled down her back. A few stubborn strands clung to her facial scars, but she reflexively brushed them away.
“Hello, everyone,” she greeted.
From behind Hanako I saw the other person hop off the bike. I could tell from her height and lanky frame it was Akira. She hefted off her own helmet, her blond hair a matted mess as she grinned at us.
Miya pouted, “Aw, how come you get to ride first?”
Akira shrugged, “I got bored waiting for Lils and Georgie. Besides, now I can meet the kid before everyone else.”
I glanced at Soon-hee and saw her stiffen slightly as Akira ambled over to us and extended her right hand. Perhaps because I was the only one who knew the whole story behind her besides Kenji, I tended to keep an eye on her as much as on my own kids.
Grinning at the shorter girl, Akira greeted, “Hey, I’m Akira Hashimoto, nice to meetcha.”
“Hi Aunty Akira!” Refia chirped.
Soon-hee stared at Akira for a moment, lowered the bag in her right hand, and shook Akira’s hand.
“Hello Mrs. Hashimoto, my name is Soon-hee Kim. Please just call me Soon-hee.”
Soon-hee’s unusual formality seemed to amuse Akira. Miya and Kenji exchanged a small smirk, so it probably amused them, too.
Akira grinned and lowered her hand, “Just call me Aunt Akira like everyone else- you’re family, after all! Right Kenji?”
Kenji grinned , lowered the bag in his hand, and patted soon-hee on the head, “That’s right.”
Soon-hee smiled and looked down at the ground. She was still getting used to the circus, especially now that she had to meet a few more of its clowns.
Satomi, having abandoned her luggage on the porch, pelted toward Akira. Akira grinned and grabbed the girl in a hug.
“Hey Satomi! How’re you doin’?”
“I’m getting by,” Satomi stated.
Akira chuckled and patted her head. When Satomi let go of Akira she went back to the porch to wait, while Akira waved to Akio, who waved back. Miya and Kenji greeted her next, shaking her hand while Hisato stayed close to his father. It always struck me how quiet their son was, considering his parents were an energetic almost airhead and whatever the hell Kenji was.
Shaking Akira’s hand, Miya grinned and said, “You just wanted to ride Hana’s bike.”
Akira chuckled and lowered her hand, “Well I can’t let Lilly have all the fun. Hey Four Eyes, how’re things?”
Kenji grabbed Akira’s hand and grinned, “We’re doin’ fine. Keeping the fridge stocked can be a challenge on these breaks, but it’s better than Miya tryin’ to cook.”
Soon-hee opened her mouth, probably to apologize, but Miya waved her off before she could start.
“That reminds me,” Hanako said from the motorcycle, “Lilly and George are going grocery shopping, so they might be a bit late. Lilly wanted to know where we were eating dinner and who was cooking.”
“You and I can cook,” Kenji said, “and we’ll eat here.”
Hanako looked over at the house, her eyes looking thoughtful, “…Do we have enough room?”
Miya grinned, “We can handle it.”
Hanako sighed, tucked her hair into her helmet, and put it back on her head, “We’ve done it before, after all.”
“Besides,” Kenji grinned and ruffled Soon-hee’s hair with the hand that had been holding Hisato’s, “she doesn’t take up a lotta room anyway.”
Soon-hee smirked and nodded.
Akira chuckled and went back over to the bike, “We’ll figure it out somehow. See you in a bit!”
Sticking the other helmet onto her head, Akira settled herself in behind Hanako. Hanako flipped her visor down, lifted the kickstand with her foot, kicked the engine to life, revved it, slowly turned the bike around, and then blasted off into the metaphorical sunset.