Part V: The Kotobukis
This time I do go to the door to greet the last arrivals. I’ve met Emi Kotobuki before, but haven’t met her kids or her husband. Her daughter is closer to my age than any of the other kids, so maybe we’ll have more in common. And if I’m honest, I want to meet her husband because I’ve never met anyone else of Korean descent in Japan before.
Mrs. Kotobuki is the first one through, her blue coat over one arm as she saunters into the room and declares, “Hey guys, we made it!”
Kenji, who at some point walked up to my left, snorts and says, “Clearly.”
Mrs. Kotobuki rolls her eyes, “Missed you too, Four Eyes.”
Kenji smirks, “Same here, Shorty. You remember Soon-hee, right?”
Mrs. Kotobuki looks at me, smiles and nods, “Yeah, good to see you again. Lookin’ good.”
“Thanks,” I say, and giving a brief bow I add, “Merry Christmas.”
Mrs. Kotobuki grins as she says, “You, too.”
“Emi?” someone says behind Mrs. Kotobuki, “You’re blocking the door.”
Mrs. Kotobuki grimaces and steps away from the door towards me and Kenji. Akiyama and Uncle Hisao have wandered over at some point, standing on the other side of the door as they wait. Mrs. Kotobuki turns to greet them as the rest of her family walks in.
It’s not often there’s an adult around shorter than me.
Although Miya is slightly shorter than me now, I’m about a centimeter and a half taller than the physical therapist turned Olympic athlete.
Anyway, with the way into the room open, the rest of the Kotobukis can enter. The first in after Mrs. Kotobuki is her husband, who looks like some sort of rock star, with long black hair trailing behind him as he walks.
His hair might be longer than his wife’s.
Mr. Kotobuki looks around before walking over to Kenji and shaking his hand, “Hey man.”
Kenji grins and greets, “Been too long, man. How you been?”
Kwan smiles and shrugs as the two end their handshake, “Can’t complain.”
“Good, good,” Kenji nods his head, “you haven’t met her yet, but this is Soon-hee Kim.”
Kenji gestures to me, and I bow and greet, “Pleasure to meet you, sir. Merry Christmas.”
Kwan smiles and pats the air, “Just call me Uncle Kwan like everyone else.”
I blink at his informality, though Kenji had told me Kwan was very chill –his words, “…Sure.”
“Is this her?”
From behind Kwan appears a lanky teenager not much taller than me, with shoulder length purple hair ending in red highlights. Her eyes are a bright green like her mother’s, and when our eyes meet she steps forward and shakes my hand before I can react.
“Nice to meet you,” she greets, “I’m Ruka.”
Returning her handshake as best I can, I greet her more fluid Korean with my own, somewhat shaky, “Soon-hee Kim, nice to meet you. Please just call me Soon-hee, and Merry Christmas.”
Ruka grins and releases her grip on my hand, “Thanks,” she whirls around, apparently looking for someone. That someone must be Satomi, because when she spots her, the older girl darts off with a brief wave to Kenji and Hisao, who is walking over to greet Mr. Ko… Uncle Kwan.
The family tree for these guys must be a mess.
I turn back to Kwan just as he starts walking over to meet Hisao, and it’s only then I notice the young man who must have standing behind Kwan and Ruka to avoid being seen until now. He has short brown hair and a slightly darker skin tone, though lighter than his father’s and much lighter than mine. If I recall, Kenji said his name was Jin-ho.
He turns to me and nods, “Hello, I’m Jin-ho. Merry Christmas.”
“Merry Christmas,” I return.
Guess he’s the man of few words type.
Kenji grins and starts talking to the young man, while Mrs. Kotobuki is chatting with Akiyama and Aunt Hana, and Lilly and Akira are chatting by the tables while George has joined Uncle Kwan and Uncle Hisao.
Everyone’s found their little pocket of people to chat with, leaving me to look for someone to stand awkwardly next to.
Suppose I could talk to Ruka some more.
Or I could keep an eye on the Little Albatross.
I look down at Refia, who has Karen and Hisato in tow, both of them looking a little weary –probably from coping with Refia’s wandering.
“Hey,” I greet, “You wanna say hi to Aunty Emi?”
Refia nods, “I can wait, though. Do you think dinner’ll be soon?”
I nod, “It should be.”
“Yay!” Refia cheers and scrambles over to Mrs. Kotobuki, who pauses her conversation to heft up the girl onto her shoulders.
I look down at Hisato and Karen, who blink up at me. I smile and kneel down to their level.
“You two having fun?” I ask, “You seemed tired earlier, Hisato.”
“I’m fine now,” he states, “Hope dinner’s soon.”
“Hungry,” Karen adds.
I smiles and pat the girl’s head, “Me, too. Wanna piggyback ride? They always make Refia feel better.”
Karen gives a sheepish nod, so I gently help her clamber onto my back. Hisato, meanwhile, wanders over to Miya, who seems to have broken off from the various chatting groups to check up on me.
Giving Hisato a reassuring pat, she grins at me and says, “A bit crowded, isn’t it?”
I nod, “Yeah, but I’m fine,” I glance at Karen, “You okay up there?”
Karen nods, “Thanks for the ride.”
I smile at her, “No problem.”
Karen smiles at me, then looks to Miya, “Is dinner soon?”
Miya grins and nods, “It’s on the way, so you and the Little Lamb don’t have much longer to wait.”
“She means me,” I remark, “Bah.”
“Bah, bah, bah,” Hisato bleats.
Miya chuckles and I smile. The various groups of conversation have started meandering toward the tables, and Akiyama seems to have left the room to help with dinner. Ruka, meanwhile, is walking over to me.
When she’s close enough for conversation, Ruka smiles at Miya, “Hi, Aunt Miya. Merry Christmas.”
“And a Happy New Year,” catching my eye briefly, Miya says, “I should say hi to your mother –I wanna hear about your latest trip.”
And in a move not unlike the Little Albatross, Miya flitters off toward Mrs. Kotobuki, who is chatting with Akira and Lilly.
When she’s gone Ruka faces me and says, “Hey, I heard you’re going to the same high school Mom went to, is that true?”
The direct approach, I see.
“…That’s correct. Why do you ask?”
“I was curious how they treated you there,” she replies, “Even Jin-ho and I get our share of shit, and we’re only a fourth Korean.
Speaking of, my own Korean isn’t quite good enough for me to reply, so I have to switch back to Japanese to answer her.
“It’s fine,” I reply, “a few students might grumble about it, but there isn’t much they can do.”
Although we almost went to war with the archery club after that fiasco before finals.
Ruka sighs and smiles, “Good to hear.”
“What’re you talking about?” Karen asks.
“School,” I reply, “and how lucky I am to be going to the same place your Mom and her friends went to.”
“Speaking of,” Ruka interjects, “We should probably head over to the tables –looks like dinner’ll be here soon.”
I smile at the little girl on my back as best I can, “Me, too, Karen.”
“Well then let’s go,” Ruka declares, and heads for the tables.
I sigh and shake my head; I seem to be surrounded by Type A personalities. Still, it has its benefits, so, Karen in tow, I follow after the younger girl to join the fun.
This is what happens when I don’t write novellas folks; I write them anyway.
Merry Christmas, everyone! See you at New Year’s for lesbian shenanigans.
Last edited by Hoitash
on Sun Jun 16, 2019 11:32 am, edited 1 time in total.