Blue Light Yokohama

 

Blue Light Yokohama
by Melanie Brown
Copyright  © 2018 Melanie Brown

An entry for the September 2018 contest..

 


 

“Whatcha doin’ Grandpa?”

I turned and smiled at my granddaughter, Sarah. She and her mother, my daughter Janet, had come down for an extended visit this weekend.

I put down the slide I had been squinting at through my desk lamp. I said, “I’m trying to clean out some junk when I found this box of stuff from my Air Force days. I haven’t seen this box since your mother was born.”

Sarah’s face brightened as she exclaimed, “Wow! That’s a really old box!”

I chuckled. “Yes it is.”

Sarah peered into the box. She pulled out a plastic yellow box and opened it. Several slides fell out onto the desk. She picked one up. “What are these? Looks like a tiny picture.”

I smiled again at Sarah as I took the slide from her hand before she smudged her fingers all over it. “It’s called a ‘slide’, honey. You have to use a special projector to see them.”

Picking up another slide from the desk, Sarah asked, “Do you have a special projector, Grandpa?”

I shrugged. “I think it’s out in the garage.”

Sarah’s face lit up again. “Can we look at the slides, Grandpa? Can we? Can we?”

I laughed. “We’ll see, sugar. It has to be dark to look at them. I’m not sure where the screen is.” I picked up the loose slides and put them back into the plastic box.

I started rummaging through the large box which was filled with boxes of slides, small Super8 reels of film, old letters, Japanese magazines and lots of printed pictures. Towards the bottom of the box was a loose print, face down. I picked it up, turned it over and froze.

I shook my head. I haven’t thought of this person literally in decades as I studied the old photo of me and a girl with her arm on my shoulder. I suddenly felt choked up as memories started flooding my mind.

“You okay, Grandpa?”

*          *          *

“Well Sanderson. You’ve been here a week. How do you like Misawa so far?” Several guys in the shop laughed as I dusted the snow from my parka.

I exclaimed, “It’s just too damned cold!” And it was.

I had just made rank of sergeant in the U.S. Air Force as a munitions specialist and had just been transferred to work in the bomb dump at Misawa AFB in Japan. The weather was definitely different from the tech school in Florida.

At first I was excited to be sent to Japan. But I wasn’t expecting such bone chilling cold. It was 1968 and as soon as I had received my draft notice several months earlier, I hurried down to my Air Force recruiter. Since I had just lost a friend from high school in Viet Nam, I wanted to try to avoid the war. That lasted until after I was transferred to Ubon Thailand when that base came under attack by Thai communists. But that’s another story.

“What are you talking about, Sanderson?” asked Slovenski. “It’s an absolutely beautiful day outside.” He looked out the shop’s window at the swirling snow.

Staff Sgt Fuller slipped out of the chair he was sitting in. “Nothing is taking off in this weather. But it’s supposed to clear tonight so we’ll have a lot to do tomorrow. Right now this shop looks like your room back home Slovenski.”

“You’ve never seen my room!” complained Slovenski.

Staff Sgt Fuller laughed. “I can smell it from here. Did you ever wash your socks? Let’s get this place squared away.”

After sweeping for about half an hour, I sat down at the desk to take a quick break. There were several Japanese movie and celebrity magazines lying on the desk. They were strange magazines that you had to look at from back to front, some great color pictures on slick pages mixed with black and white pictures on different colored regular paper. And they all had racy comics in the middle.

I was thumbing through one of the new ones someone had brought in when I stopped at a full page picture of an absolutely gorgeous girl.

“Wow,” I exclaimed. “This is one pretty girl. I wonder who she is?”

Slovenski and one of the other guys looked over my shoulder. They both laughed.

“What’s so funny?” I asked, still looking at the picture.

Chuckling, Slovenski said, “That’s Peter. That’s a guy. He sings with a deep voice.”

“That’s horse shit!” I shouted. “That’s definitely a girl!”

The other guy, Johnson, shook his head. “Sorry, man. But that’s a guy. We’ve seen him on TV. Don’t feel bad. He fooled us too at first.”

I stared at the picture. She had a cute hair style. She was all made up and wearing cute girl’s clothes. How could this be a guy? But emblazoned across the full page picture was the word ‘Peter’.” Holy cats. Japan was one weird country.

*          *          *

The inclement weather lasted two days. Finally we were able to prep the thousand pound bombs waiting to be loaded. We were rushed for time, so the whole team was attaching fins and spinning the fuses in and moving the bombs to the trucks to be driven out to the flight-line. It was a long, hard day and we were beat when we took the last truck out.

Wiping his hands with a rag, Staff Sgt Fuller said, “Okay guys. Once we get the shop squared away, I say we head over to Hohryo for a beer and something to eat.” There was a general agreement all around.

Hohryo is a restaurant just across the street from the base entrance and within walking distance from the gate. The food is good and plenty of sake. The staff that works there are all cute girls.

Most, but not all of us were able to pile into Slovenski’s car. So Johnson and I took my car. I had bought a cheap used little Honda truck that would just barely hold two Americans. I had bought it my second day in Misawa from another G.I. who was heading back home and needed to part with it fast. We then drove across the base to Hohryo’s. I don’t think I’ll every fully get used to the steering wheel being on the wrong side.

I’m sure it was due to the proximity to the base, but the menus were in both English and Japanese. There’s a McDonald’s in town and I suggested going there, but was voted down. The fish is caught by local fishermen so I was taking a serious look at that.

I looked around the restaurant, watching the girls who worked there. I was struck by one in particular. From her cute face to the way she wore her hair, I was instantly attracted to her. I definitely wanted to know more about her. She saw me looking at her and she smiled shyly and then turned away.

I nudged Johnson and pointed at the girl. “Do you know anything about that chick?”

Johnson looked to where I was pointing. “Akane?” He and Slovenski both laughed and Johnson continued. “Man. You’re batting a thousand aren’t you Sanderson?”

Frowning, I asked, “What do you mean?”

Grinning, Johnson said, “Akane’s a boy. What do you call them? A transvestite?”

I leaned roughly back in my chair and exclaimed, “You’re shitting me! There’s no way that’s a boy.”

Slovenski laughed. “Ask him. He’ll tell you.”

Staff Sgt Fuller took a swig from the bottle of American beer and said, “She… or he, was almost beat up last year by an American. A tourist. Can’t say I completely blame him, though. He was fooled by her, so now she tries to let every American know.”

I continued looking at Akane. “Well crap, man. Is every pretty girl in Japan a guy?”

Johnson shook his head. “That’s the only one I know of.”

Throughout the meal, I found myself staring at Akane. How could anything so attractive, so feminine, be a guy? It just didn’t seem possible. She caught me staring at her one too many times and she came over to me.

Scowling, she scolded me. “American. Stop staring. I’m a boy.”

I smiled at her. “Stop being so beautiful!”

She laughed and turned away.

Pointing with his thumb, Slovenski said, “Now that mama-san Fumiko over there is a real woman. You might ask her.”

The woman he indicated looked to be in her late fifties with her hair pulled back in a short ponytail and had a couple missing teeth. She was washing dishes.

I don’t know if she could hear us, but I wasn’t going to be an “ugly American” and insult her. I shrugged and said, “I’m sure she’s a nice lady, but she’s not my type.”

Johnson laughed. “Yeah. She’s more Fuller’s type.” Everyone laughed.

As we got up to leave, I noticed Akane giving me a curious look. I shook my head as I turned to head back to my truck. Japan was definitely nothing like Texas.

*          *          *

The next week was pretty busy. We had to prep a lot of bombs. We were pretty tired at the end of the day so no one felt like going anywhere. We usually just ate at the PX. I found I liked Japanese food, but I just can’t take a steady diet of it.

After eating for an hour or so the crew and I would watch Japanese TV. Talk about a hoot. We had no idea what was being said, but we watched anyway. Apparently there’s more to Japanese culture than just Godzilla movies.

One evening I was at the desk writing a letter to my parents when Johnson called my name. “Sanderson! Take a look! You’re girlfriend’s on TV!”

I walked over to the TV and on the screen was Peter, singing in a voice that didn’t match his appearance. Everyone laughed. I shook my head. “Hardee-har-har, guys. Knock it off, okay? That’s hardly my girlfriend.”

Slovenski laughed. “Yeah. Akane is.”

I stiffened. “That’s not funny, man. Anybody coulda been fooled. You said you were yourself.”

Johnson tossed a pair of underwear at me. “We’re just ribbing you, man.”

I tossed it back at him. “Well, you can just knock it off.”

Saturday came around and while it was still cold, the sun was out and as I had the day off, I decided to drive around the country side. Nobody wanted to go with me, so I headed out by myself. To be honest, I only asked to be polite. I kind of wanted to get away from everyone for a while.

I enjoyed the drive. The roads were clear, mostly. I was listening to a Japanese radio station. It was a nice break from the daily routine to drive through the hills and farmlands in the surrounding area.

It was getting late in the afternoon and I hadn’t stopped anywhere to eat. Instead of entering the base and eating a burger at the PX, I decided to stop at Hohryo. It looked empty which was good. I still wasn’t in the mood to deal with the rest of the crew.

When I entered, the woman named Fumiko grinned at me as I sat down. I set my Canon 35mm on the table. I never go anywhere without it. “Welcome back.” She pointed at Akane and nodded in my direction.

Akane hesitated and looked embarrassed. She walked over to me and asked, “How may I help you Sander-san?”

I was surprised she knew my name. “It’s just SanderSON. And how did you know my name?”

Looking shyly away, Akane said, “I remember what the other Americans called you. And it’s on your uniform.” I smiled sheepishly at her and started studying the menu quickly.

Glancing up from the menu, I said, “I’ll have the fish, Akane-chan.”

She smiled an embarrassed smile. “Right away, Sander-san.” I watched her walk back towards the kitchen area. I still think the guys are ribbing me. She’s just too pretty to be a guy.

When she brought my order to me, I asked, “Can you sit with me for a minute? The place is empty and I didn’t want to eat by myself.”

Akane looked over at Fumiko who nodded at her. Looking a bit scared actually, she sat across from me.

Suddenly struggling to have something to say, I asked, “So. Are you from here?”

Akane nodded. “Yes. I was born in Misawa. I live with my family and take a bus to come work here.”

Curious, I asked, “You couldn’t find something closer to your home?”

Akane suddenly looked both hurt and embarrassed. “My father is ashamed of me. He wants me to stay away as much as possible.”

I shook my head and frowned. “Ashamed? He should be happy to have such a pretty daughter.”

Akane looked away and then at the floor. “I know your friends have told you I’m not a girl.”

I chuckled. “Yes. And I don’t care what they say. All I see is a very pretty girl.” For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out myself why I so attracted to her. By her own admission she wasn’t a female. But she was. There wasn’t one masculine thing about her. Maybe it was the novelty of it that attracted me to her. Honestly, she was just a sweet, pretty girl.

She smiled at me. “You’re just saying that.”

I shook my head. “No. It’s the truth. I think you’re very pretty.” Maybe just call me shallow I guess. I was taken in by her beauty and I really didn’t think much deeper than that.

Her eyes brightened and she laughed. “I think you’re one crazy American, Sander-san.”

I laughed as well. “No argument there.”

I picked up my camera. “Is it okay if I take your picture?”

Akane’s expression changed immediately. Furrowing her brows she asked, “Why would you want a picture of me? Everyone avoids me. You shouldn’t like me. I’m a boy.”

I frowned. “For the millionth time, Akane-chan. I sure as hell don’t see a boy here. If you don’t want me to, fine. But I’m not going to be here too much longer and I’d like to keep a memory of you.” For some reason, the Air Force decided they needed me more in Ubon Thailand than here in Misawa. I still had a few weeks though.

Still seeming to be unsure, Akane said, “Okay, Sander-san. You can take a picture.” She smiled weakly as I focused my camera. I took a couple of pictures.

“Can I have a bigger smile?” I asked as I looked around the camera at her. She gave me a bigger smile that almost exposed her teeth. I took that. I then looked around the camera and made a face at her. She laughed and I got a shot of that.

I looked over at Fumiko. “Can you take a picture of both of us?”

Fumiko grinned broadly. “Sure thing.”

I handed her my camera. “Do you know how to work it?” She frowned and looked at me like I was an idiot.

I pulled a chair up next to Akane and leaned in close for the picture. I heard the camera click. I put my arm around her shoulder. Instead of shrinking away, she laughed. I heard the camera click again. That picture became my favorite.

I took my camera back. Not sure if it was appropriate or not, I bowed slightly to Fumiko and said, “Doumo arigatou.”

Fumiko smiled at me and then at Akane. “You are most welcome, Sander-san.”

I looked at Akane. “Well, sad to say, I need to get going. Thanks again.”

I paid my bill and turned to leave. I saw Akane watch me as I left.

*          *          *

Johnson angrily snatched one of the prints of Akane from my hand while I was looking at it. “You took pictures of that fruitcake? What are you, a faggot?”

Slovenski grabbed the picture from Johnson. “Yeah man. What’s the deal? We don’t need any homos around here.”

I quietly and quickly put my other pictures away. “Hey man. It’s just a souvenir. We don’t have those things in Texas.” I did feel a twinge of shame for not standing up for Akane, but I didn’t feel like getting beat up either.

Another guy grabbed the picture from Slovenski. “That’s really perverted, man. You don’t really like that, do you?”

Staff Sgt Fuller walked up and took the picture. “Knock it off. Leave the kid alone. It’s his first time away from home and he’s overwhelmed by the exotic.” He tore the picture up into several pieces and tossed them into the trash.

Slovenski punched my arm. “We were starting to worry about you, Sanderson. Maybe you shouldn’t go back to Hohryo anymore.”

I just shrugged and looked over at the trashcan. I’m glad I still had the negatives.

*          *          *

I was free for the weekend. I really wanted to head to Tokyo and see the Ginza. But I was just too short of money. But I wanted to get away. Away from the bomb dump and away from the crew who were starting to really annoy me. Ribbing me for thinking Akane was cute was getting tiresome, but hey everybody got ribbed for something. But they just wouldn’t stop. Even after the Staff Sgt told them to knock it off.

I just needed to get away, even if that getting away was just a hotel a few miles from the base. My plans were to mostly sleep, but I also wanted to explore around that part of Japan. It was doubtful that I’d ever return to the country once I got out of the service.

Saturday morning I woke up at the hotel and looked out the window. It was snowing. Not like a blizzard. The roads didn’t look bad or anything so I got dressed and went down to my truck. To help with traction, I had put a few sandbags in the bed.

I headed off north around Lake Ogawara and then down the twisty country roads and traveled to Aomori where I found a McDonald’s and had an early lunch. Then south to Kazuno. And finally back north to return to Misawa. It wasn’t a great distance, but I stopped a lot to take pictures and relax. Later in the afternoon, the sun did finally come out. It was dark when I returned to my hotel in Misawa.

After about half an hour of watching TV, though I had no idea what was happening in them, it finally dawned on me that I was hungry. It was getting late, and I wasn’t feeling particularly experimental. I thought about going to Hohryo despite my friends suggesting I avoid it. But it was late and if those guys were off base, they’d be in some bar. To hell with them. I wanted something good to eat and … and… I wanted to see Akane.

I parked my car on a darkened street behind Hohryo so my car wasn’t likely to be seen. I walked a short distance to the restaurant and peered around the corner. I couldn’t see Slovenski’s car or anything else that looked familiar. So I straightened my shoulders and walked inside.

The place was hopping. It’s rare to see it so busy, even for a restaurant so close to the base. I looked around trying to find a place to sit. Fumiko saw me and smiled. She waved towards a small table in a corner. I nodded and started to walk to it. I heard Fumiko shout, “Akane!”

As I sat down, Akane hurried up to the table, breathless. Her hair was disheveled and she looked tired. She bowed slightly and smiled weakly to me. “Konnichiwa. Good to see you again, Sander-san. I’m very sorry that I can’t chat.”

I smiled at her. “You look tired. I’ve never seen this place so busy. I’ll just have the fish.”

Akane glanced over the crowd. “It might take a little longer.”

I chuckled. “I’ve got all night.”

I watched her leave with my order. I was still amazed at her grace and feminine motions as she walked.

I looked around the room. It was a mixed crowd. Some locals, a tourist or two and a few G.I.’s. Almost all men. I wondered who besides me knew of her secret. I noticed several ogling her as well as the other girls. The customers would call out to the girls with what sounded like lewd comments. They got their butts slapped and all the men laughed. There didn’t seem to be much respect to women here.

Looking completely tired, after things had slowed down, and the last customer finally left, Akane came over and sat down at my table. She shook the hair out of her face and breathed a heavy sigh. Looking at the floor, she said, “This has been one rough night.” She glanced over at me. “Why are you still here, Sander-san? You finished eating like two hours ago.”

I leaned back in my chair and smiled at her. “I’m off for the weekend. I have no place else to go.”

Akane shook her head at me. “You should be out having fun, Sander-san. There are plenty of girls down the street. That’s where your friends go.”

I shook my head and leaned forward. “I’d rather talk to you instead.”

Akane laughed. It was almost musical. “You are one crazy American.”

Over the sound of a diesel engine rumbling outside, I said, “You’re probably right.”

Fumiko came running up and shouted, “Akane! Akane! That was the last bus for the night! You were supposed to leave an hour ago.”

Akane slapped her palm to her forehead. “Chikushō!” She started to cry. “It was so busy I forgot.”

“What’s wrong, Akane?” I asked feeling worried.

Wiping a finger under her eye, Akane said, “I just missed the last bus going downtown. I have no way to get home now.”

I shrugged. “I can take you home.”

Akane shook her head vigorously. “No. I couldn’t ask you to do that.”

I stood up. “Hey. I insist. It’s not like you can walk home.” I noticed Fumiko smiling as she started washing dishes.

Akane pointed at me as she stood up. “No funny business, Sander-san.”

I raised my hands defensively. “Hey. I’m just trying to help.”

She smiled slightly as she glanced to the floor. “Azasu.”

“If you’re ready, I’m parked around the corner.” I extended my hand in a gesture suggesting that we leave.

“Why are you parked in the dark?” Akane asked as I unlocked the truck’s passenger door.

I shrugged in the darkness. “I didn’t want the guys from the bomb dump to think I was still in town.”

After I had started the engine, I turned to Akane. “I have no idea where you live, so you’ll have to give me directions as we go.”

Akane nodded. “To start, just drive up the coast past the port. I’ll tell you where to turn.” She grinned when I turned on the truck’s radio. “I listen to this station too.”

I drove the truck out into the street and turned left in front of Hohryo and drove past the base’s gates towards the ports.

I drove with a death grip on the steering wheel. I so wanted to put my arm across her shoulder, but I still didn’t know her that well and I didn’t know if she’d be offended or not. And would most people find that a weird thing to do. And do I even care? Probably not at this point.

As we came around a turn, I had to stop the truck. The view was beautiful at night. The moon reflecting on the snow and the ocean along with the harbor lights; it was just too good to pass up.

“Do you mind if I stop here for a minute?” I asked Akane. “I want to try to get a picture of this.”

“I was wondering why you stopped.” She looked worried for a moment. I left the ignition on “accessory” so she could listen to the radio.

I took my camera along with a cable release so I wouldn’t have to hold the shutter with my finger out of the camera bag. I set the camera up on the roof of the truck since I didn’t have my tripod to steady the camera. I took several shots using different shutter delays. After a couple minutes, I put everything back in the bag and tossed the bag behind my seat.

As I slid back into the driver’s seat, I said, “I hope one of those come out okay. It’s a beautiful shot.”

As I reached for the ignition key, Akane touched my hand. “Oh wait. This is my favorite song.” The song just starting to play was “Blue Light Yokohama” sung by Ayumi Ishida, another favorite of us “round eyes.” Akane listened with her eyes closed.

“What’s this song about?” I liked the song, but not understanding Japanese, I never knew what the song was about.

Her eyes still closed, Akane said, “It’s a love song. Being held, protected in your arms like the small boats in Yokohama. Give me one more tender kiss…” Her voice drifted off as she snuggled close to me and looked up into my eyes.

I looked down at Akane’s pretty face. Her slightly parted lips looked so inviting. So kissable. A voice in the back of my head said to not do it. I bent my head down close to Akane’s face.

After a moment’s hesitation, my lips touched hers. Her lips were soft and wonderful. She sighed slightly as she closed her eyes as I pressed my lips against hers. No tongue, no wild passion. Just a long, deep pleasantly soft kiss. I slid an arm around her shoulder and held her close as we kissed. I could have held her in my arms all night long.

Akane slowly pulled away from me. “My father is probably wondering where I am.”

I nodded as I pulled back from her. “I’d worry about my beautiful daughter too.”

Akane frowned deeply as she moved away. “My father hates me. I disappoint him. But he insists I return home prompt so I’m not tempted to be a prostitute. Which I’m not of course.”

I raised my eyebrows. “Holy crap. You’re a sweet, lovely girl. You’re old enough. You should try to move out on your own.”

She nodded. “My sister lives in Tokyo. She keeps asking me to come there.”

I wiped a tear away that was rolling down her cheek. “I think that’d be a great idea.” I turned the key and started the engine.

She nodded as she looked down at her feet. “I’ve been thinking about it.”

We drove on in mostly silence, broken by Akane’s directions to turn here and then there until she told me to stop the truck.

I looked at the darkened house near the street where I had stopped. “Is this your house? I’ll walk you to your door.”

Akane shook her head. “No. It’s a few houses down. I don’t want to take the chance that my father will see you.”

I frowned slightly. “What’s the big deal. I’m just bringing you home.”

Smiling, Akane said, “I’m supposed to take the bus, remember? Besides, my father hates Americans. Many people his age and older are still upset about the war.”

I shook my head. “That’s a long time to hold a grudge. Well, have a good night. I’ll try to come by at least once next week. I’m being transferred.” I shivered from the cold. I don’t think it snows much in Thailand.

Looking a little crestfallen, Akane asked, “You mean I won’t get to see you anymore?”

Nodding, I said, “It’s unlikely I’ll return to Misawa.”

She nodded sadly. She then reached behind her and unclasped the necklace she was wearing. It was a necklace she always wore.

“Here, Sander-san. I want you to have this. To remember me by,” she said, her voice heavy with sadness.

“I can’t take your necklace,” I said starting to choke up myself.

She smiled weakly as she forced the necklace into my hand. “I insist.”

She looked at me for a moment and then took me completely off guard when she threw her arms around my neck and kissed me. Those same, soft kissable lips pressed hard against mine with a depth of passion that surprised me. I held her close to me and we kissed as if there was no tomorrow.

We were both breathless when she pulled away. Looking away from me, Akane said, “I need to go.” She gave me one last quick kiss before quickly exiting the truck. I just sat there watching her run to her house. I sat there for several minutes after I saw her go inside.

*          *          *

The sun was going down as I got out of my truck parked outside Hohryo. Actually it wasn’t mine any more as I had sold it to the new guy that afternoon. But he let me use it one last time. I picked up the flowers I had bought for Akane. The next morning a C-130 was leaving for Thailand at oh-five hundred with me and the rest of the cargo.

As I walked inside, all the girls that worked there turned and looked at me and then at Fumiko with worried expressions. Fumiko turned towards me and dropped a plate of food on the floor and rushed around the counter towards me.

“Sander-san!” she half whispered.

“Where’s Akane?” I asked, holding up the flowers.

Fumiko bowed slightly at me. “Sander-san! I am so sorry! I have bad news for you.” She started to cry.

Feeling a sudden bolt of cold flash down my spine, I looked worriedly at Fumiko. “What? Is Akane okay?”

Fumiko looked up at me. She forced herself to speak. “Akane is dead, Sander-san. I’m so very sorry. This morning, the bus she was riding in was hit by a car and the bus rolled over into a ditch. She was one of several that did not survive. I’m so sorry, Sander-san.”

Suddenly numb, I dropped the flowers I was holding and dropped to the floor on my knees. “Akane’s dead? Are you sure?” Fumiko simply nodded. The girls working at Hohryo were crying as well. I had heard there had been an accident in town, but I didn’t think anything about it. Oh my God! How could she be gone? She was so beautiful! Dear God why her?

I leaned forward pressing my clenched fists to the floor and cried.

Fumiko touched my arm. “Sander-san? Sander-san…?

*          *          *

“Dad? Dad? You okay?”

I turned around to see my daughter Janet. I smiled weakly. “I’m fine.”

“Mom said to come tell you that dinner’s ready.” She looked at me with a worried expression. “Are you sure you’re okay?”

I cleared my throat. “Yeah, I’m fine. I was going through some old stuff I hadn’t seen in years and got lost in thought.”

Janet looked at the picture I was holding. “Wow, Dad. She’s beautiful.” She grinned knowingly at me. “Old girlfriend?”

I shrugged. “Sorta. She’s a girl I met in Japan.”

She then looked into the box where I was keeping all my Air Force pictures and other stuff. She pulled something from the bottom of the box.

She held up a necklace. Akane’s necklace. “This is pretty, Dad. Oh! It’s the same necklace you’re old girlfriend is wearing.”

I filled with emotion as I looked at the necklace that Akane wore so many years ago. “Since you like it, Janet, why don’t you take it?”

Janet shook her head. “Oh no, Dad. This is your keepsake. You should hang on to it.”

I smiled. “It’s not doing anyone any good at the bottom of that box. It belongs on the neck of a beautiful woman; like my beautiful daughter.”

She hesitated a moment. She smiled at me. “Well, if you insist. Can you help me put it on?” She turned around and flipped her hair off her neck. I took the delicate chain and clasped it around her neck.

“It looks beautiful on you,” I said, fighting back a tear.

Janet turned to face me, her face bright as she smiled. “Thanks, Dad. It really is beautiful.”

Frowning slightly, I said, “Just don’t lose it!”

Janet laughed. “Don’t worry. Oh. Sarah said you were going to show your Air Force slides tonight after dinner.”

I chuckled. “If the projector still works.”

Janet nodded her head in the direction of the kitchen. “Let’s go eat before it gets cold.”

“I’ll be right there,” I said as she turned to leave.

When Janet was gone, I looked at the picture one more time. I gently kissed the image of Akane in the picture. I carefully put the picture back in the box and walked slowly to the dining room to join my family.

*          *          *

The End

For the curious: https://youtu.be/pkQ9EJ7rk2E



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