East of the Sun...


San Francisco, California…sometime in the future…

“Yoshi? Why the long face?” The woman stood at the sink, washing carrots, bok choy, and a stalk of celery. The sunlight from the kitchen covered her like a warm blanket; belying the cold if very rare snow falling outside. The boy looked up from his homework and smiled weakly.

“Nothing, Mom.” She normally might press him, since his expression didn’t seem to match his answer, but the loud familiar beep interrupted her.

“Honey? Do you mind? I’d like to have Andy and his daughter over for dinner. Is it too much trouble?” After so many years in California and a lifetime out there somewhere still failed to take the brogue out of her husband’s voice. She smiled. With Molly off doing her thing for the whole month, it would be nice to have another girl in the house.

“That’s just fine, Miles. I had planned on making extra for leftovers, so the more the merrier.” She might be a woman of her century, but there still was part of her that almost bowed at his request; not subservient as some might expect, but a deep respect and love for her husband. And he loved her in every which way possible, as her mother would say.

“Well, child of mine. It looks like we’re going to have some company. I have it…why don’t you let the schoolwork go until tomorrow. I’m sure your teacher won’t mind.” She giggled only a bit at her suggestion since she was teaching him at home. He had some creative art class work with a large group of budding artists, and he took lessons on the sakura and the koto from a kindly old grandfather three doors down. Mandolin seemed to elude him only a tiny bit but he was improving. And he was getting very good at the harp as well; his ‘ear’ seemed to be attuned to both his parent’s musical tastes.

The ojiiisan even offered to teach him how to riff on the keyboard; an old recording moved him to tears with a husky-voiced woman singing while playing piano. But the music was only part of the reason for his tears; the player herself spoke in a way that made his heart ache and his secret was almost too much to bear, even in this day and age.

That evening…

“Oh, Andy, you’re so sweet.” Keiko took the proffered bouquet.

“I’m glad you like them; Gina loves tending the garden. It’s one more thing Lisa loved that she passed onto her before she died.” Only a slight tinge of sorrow in a life that still drew strength from his late wife; Andy was a good father and rejoiced in his daughter’s talents.

“Every time I smell a rose, I think about her,” Gina said, looking at Keiko with a broad smile.

“You look so much like your mother, Gina.” Miles said with a smile. He turned and noticed Yoshi’s gaze at the girl. His heart filled with the pride that most fathers might feel over the attention his son paid the girl, but he kept that to himself. There’s a time to speak, and saying something in front of a girl his son’s age wasn’t one of them.

“Dinner should be ready shortly. Yosh…why don’t you show Gina the song you’ve been working on…that old jazz piece?” Keiko looked at her son and saw a bit of uncertainty on his face; odd, since Gina and he were friends from the creative arts group and Gina had visited dozens of times.

“Su…sure, mom.” He turned to the girl and smiled weakly as they walked down the hallway to his room.

“Did you tell them yet?” She practically shouted it; at least from her perspective. Her voice sounded gentle even when raised, and it only embarrassed the boy a wee bit.

“Did you bring it?”

“Right here!” She pointed to the backpack as she took it off her shoulders. He cringed and looked away.

“Come on. It’s going to be okay.”

She reached over and touched his chin gently. He had teared up. Even in this day and age, it was still very odd to find a child quite like her friend. Some folks had taken to planning the whole life of their children, even before birth. His parents had decided that whatever the gods had chosen for him was just fine with them, and made no move to intervene; even to the point of telling their doctor back before he was born that they didn’t want to know anything before hand. And of course his birth was odd since someone had done all of them a huge favor.

* * *

“Dinner’s ready, you two!” Keiko called from the dining room. A moment later Miles and Andy were sitting at the table. Miles was just pouring the wine when two figures emerged from the hallway. Gina stood in front of Yoshi and waved her hands; a gesture that caused the boy’s face to redden, as if calling attention to the obvious would be more embarrassing. All eyes focused on the figure behind the girl as Yoshi stepped sideways and out of Gina’s shadow.

“Jesus, Mary and Joseph,” Miles practically shouted. Keiko stared with a blank expression on her face; almost completely out of surprise and almost no hint of disappointment. She was his mother, after all. Andy smiled and nodded at his daughter; he had no knowledge beforehand, but nothing surprised him about his daughter since she was as spontaneous and adventurous as her mother. Gina nodded back as if to say thank you. She stepped forward only a bit and swept her arm back toward Yoshi in a broad, introductory gesture.

The boy swallowed hard and looked down at his body. Instead of the familiar pants and shirt, all eyes followed his gaze at the bright green jumper and the darker forest green top. He cast his view further down; not at the sandals he wore, but at the floor. If any moment in his life might have caused his parents to lose face, he was convinced that this was it, despite the great strides of understanding and tolerance in all the lifetimes immediately preceding his. Parents, even enlightened ones who are loving and caring, sometimes have expectations and hopes and dreams for their children. He lifted his face only high enough to gain eye contact with Gina.

“I told you it wouldn’t work.” He gasped and ran back down the hall toward his room.

* * *

“ Yosh…Yoshi?” The boy looked up from his pillow to see his father standing at the doorway. He feared the worst, but a moment later the man was sitting on the bed next to him.

“I’m sorry.” Miles spoke softly, which surprised the boy, since he had expected a rebuke. Even enlightened and well-educated fathers can be expected to display their disappointment, so when the voice was almost soothing, it jolted Yoshi enough to evoke a gasp. That his father was apologizing? What for? If anyone needed to beg for forgiveness is was Yoshi, not his dad.

“Your mother and I decided long ago to take whatever came to us.” The words almost painted a harsh picture of punishment for the couple; as if having a son ‘like’ him was some karmic payback. But the look on his father’s face seemed to soften even more.

“I’m sorry if I haven’t told you more often, but I do love you. You know that, don’t you?” Of course he knew that, but there seemed to be much more than simple fatherly acceptance.

“I love the person you are, Yoshi… of course I am proud of the things you do. Your academics, of course, and your music? But it’s you I love; not what you are, but who you are. We knew you’d be a special child the moment we laid eyes on you.” The boy looked down and away from Miles and began to cry.

“No, Yosh…no… not that way.” It seemed almost sad that the boy felt pain from an adjective, but it needed explanation anyway.

“You’re special …unique because you’re you… not someone or something else. So when I saw you, I was taken aback. Not because I was ashamed of you…I’d never be ashamed of you. I was just surprised at one more way in which you are you, do you understand?”

“What about this, Dad.” Yoshi used his hand to sweep over his body, indicating the clothing. Some ideas, no matter how well-intended but foolish, can pervade even the brightest minds and the greatest cultures.

“Well….” Miles looked at the boy with as solemn a face as he could muster. The boy began to frown before his father smiled broadly and spoke.

“Green is my favorite color.”

Some weeks later…

The girl sat on the bench looking very nervous; not at all an oddity for a teenager playing before an auditorium packed with people. It wasn’t the music at all, nor even the crowd that brought her to tears, but the wonderful thought of finally being who she was born to be, even if her birth took a circuitous route and her own self took a wide and adventurous berth around what folks might mistakenly say is normal as well. She peered into the audience. While all of the people seemed welcoming and appreciative, the center of the left front row gained her attention. Her father and mother and sister sat on the edges of their seats. Three others flanked her family. On one side an older grandfatherly man sat with a look of proud admiration on his face. On the other side, a nice man sat; someone who was a good friend and the father to the girl to his left.

The girl had the biggest smile of all, since she was excited about seeing her best friend…her girl friend, in fact, performing. Kirayoshi O’Brien placed her hands tentatively on the keyboard. She took a deep breath and her eyelids fluttered closed while the first few notes practically flew around the auditorium as she began to sing.

East of the sun and west of the moon
We'll build a dream house of love dear
Near to the sun in the day
Near to the moon at night

We'll live in a lovely way dear
Living our love and pale moonlight
Just you and I, forever and a day
Love will not die, we'll keep it that way

Up among the stars we'll find
A harmony of life to a lovely tune
East of the sun and west of the moon, dear
East of the sun and west of the moon

* * *

My apologies to the Star Trek Universe; it’s not my intent to paste twenty-first century shortcomings and misgivings onto the future so much as recognize that children and parents will be facing choices and decisions about life and such even in a time of expected enlightenment and tolerance. Hope you enjoyed my efforts. Thanks!

Characters based on the creative minds of the talented writers for Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and of course, Gene Roddenberry.

East of the Sun (and West of the Moon)
Words and Music by
Brooks Bowman
As performed by
Miss Diana Krall


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This story is 1934 words long.