Hey everyone! It’s time for another short story. This one is set in Tokyo, Japan (mostly), so I included pictures of the places mentioned in case you didn’t know them. There are also a couple of Japanese words/expressions included, but those are easy:
- moshi moshi is what they say when picking up the phone.
- oyasuminasai is good night.
Oh, and the words in italics are written, not spoken.
And now that you know that, you’re ready to read!
Charlotte looked around. The woman sitting next to her on the plane had nodded off, which meant she couldn’t leave her seat. The clouds on the other side of the window had become somewhat monotonous after watching them for an hour or so. She grabbed her bag from under the seat in front of her and took out her travel journal. Spreading all the pamphlets and ticket stubs from the last month on front of her, she began to organize. Even though she’d only been there for a couple of weeks, Charlotte found she missed Tokyo already. Once she finished sorting the colorful pieces of paper into piles, she selected two pink ones, glued them to the first blank page of the little notebook and began to write.
‘The first day’ she recorded, in neat calligraphy ‘I woke up early and went to Urayasu Heliport. I’d booked a place in the Excel Air Service Tokyo Sky Cruise. I sat down and lost myself in the view from moment one. The view of the Tokyo Tower, Tokyo Disney and Tokyo itself was breathtaking. I was so caught up in it, I failed to realize that the boy sitting opposite me had barely looked out the window in the whole tip, choosing instead to look at me. When we got off the plane, he told me that his name was Ryota Kohaku, and offered, in broken English, to show me a good place to eat in Ginza, the city’s fashion center. I quickly explained that, although I had been born and raised in London, I was of Japanese descent, and could speak his tongue fluently. And I accepted his offer of course’. Charlotte smiled softly, remembering what had happened then. They’d gone to the golf school on the roof of the Matsuya Ginza building and played for almost three hours. Then, they’d eaten the best dim-sum she ever remembered having while watching a Japanese chef decorate an extremely elaborate cake, after which Kohaku bought her an Issey Miyake bag that looked like a Rubik’s cube. ‘I loved it, of course. How could I not? And after seeing my inner geek come out, he led me to Akihabara, Tokyo’s anime and electronics district. We walked along Chuo Dori boulevard and visited the Akihabara Radio Center, where the area known as “electric town” got its start after WWII, all while marveling at random people just cosplaying while hanging out. They told us to go to Mandrake, and I’m glad we did. We started at the very top and made our way down eight floors of anime, TV superheroes, characters, mascots and comics, new and used. Then we continued our crusade at Akihabara Crossfield and Anime Center.’ She chuckled softly to herself, remembering how tired she and Kohaku had been after that. They’d chosen a café and had eaten dinner while watching the endless streams of people going in and out of the Kanda Myojin Shrine. ‘I went back to the hotel after that, but we agreed to meet the next morning at Tsukiji, Japan’s largest wholesale market. A man called Shinji Nohara led us around the sprawling collection of stalls and then through the specialty shops of the outer market, where we enjoyed a breakfast of tamagoyaki.’
‘Seem like you had a nice time’ Charlotte started. The napping lady had woken up, and had apparently been reading over her shoulder while she wrote. ‘What did Kohaku say when you told him you were leaving?’ Charlotte looked at the ground ad said nothing ‘You didn’t tell him?’ The woman’s eyes widened when Charlotte shook her head. ‘Well you should at least let him know you’re gone. How would you feel if it were the other way around?’
‘I’ll think about it’ Charlotte said, and went back to her writing.
A few hours later, while waiting for her suitcase at the baggage claim, Charlotte was still thinking about Tokyo, Kohaku and the lady on the plane. She had decided that she did need to tell Kohaku something, for she wanted to remain in touch with him, but what? ‘
‘What do you say when you need to tell someone that you live halfway across the world and don’t know if you’ll ever see him again?’ She wondered aloud.
And then, her phone rang.
She stared at the screen, where the words Ryota Kohaku insistently blinked. The lilting tune carried on for a few moments, earning Charlotte a couple of dirty looks, until she picked it up.
‘Moshi moshi’ She breathed softly.
‘Hi’ He answered in cheerful Japanese ‘What are we doing today?’
‘Hey Ryo,’ She called him by his nickname, as if that would soften what she was about to say ‘Um, I don’t think I can meet with you today…’
‘What? Why not? I wanted to take you to the–’
‘Ryo, I’m at the airport. In London.’ She interrupted, all in one breath. On the other side of the line there was silence. She mustered up all the courage she could and carried on ‘I… I live in London. I was only in Tokyo on vacation, but I was having such a good time with you, and you seemed so happy, I didn’t want to think about going back. And then I was already on the plane and I didn’t know what to tell you, but the lady next to me told me to call you and then you called, and I…’ She spilled everything out in a jumbled mess.
‘What time is it over there?’ He asked
‘It’s almost one in the morning’ she said
‘It’s nine am over here. Go sleep and we’ll talk in the morning, okay? Oyasuminasai’ Kohaku hung up.
Charlotte gathered her things and hailed a cab to take her home, where she thankfully settled into her bed. While waiting for sleep to overcome her, she thought back on the two weeks she’d spent in Tokyo. Had she really met Kohaku only a couple of weeks before? She sighed. One way or another, she didn’t want to lose him. He hadn’t sounded angry on the phone, but they always talked for hours on end, and today he’d hung up so quickly! He had every right to be mad though…
The next morning, she waited for him to call, but he never did. She still had a couple of weeks before work started up again, so she busied herself with short outings to visit different locations around the British Isles, and wrote all of them down in her journal. Nearer ones at first, like Bath and Stonehenge, and then further away, like Edinburgh, Glasgow and Loch Ness. She’d just gotten off the Edinburgh–London train when she got a message:
‘Heathrow terminal 5. Trust me. –Ryo’ She stared at her phone confused. It had been nearly two weeks since he’d promised to call. She had nothing else to do though, and the airport was on her way home, so she took the tube to Heathrow.
After arriving, she wondered around for a while until settling down at Carluccio’s with a cup of coffee. She and Ryo had often talked about English tea and coffee shops, and she’d promised to take him to Carluccio’s, her favorite one.
‘I’m here. Carluccio’s.’ she sent to Kohaku, then she settled down and waited.
About ten minutes later, a girl approached her.
‘Excuse me, are you Charlotte Bishop?’
‘I am’ Charlotte answered.
‘You must go to the south arrivals area, next to Costa and to an orange staircase’ Charlotte thanked her and set off, feeling a bit uneasy. What was Ryo thinking?
She was so lost in her thoughts that she got to Costa and sat down, barely acknowledging her surroundings, but rather mulling over what had and was happening. However, no sooner had she sat down, a hand tapped her shoulder, and a voice from behind her said.
‘I believe you owe me an apology, although I might settle for a tour guide around London.’
Charlotte turned around so fast that she nearly upset her second cup of coffee of the day, but she didn’t care as she launched herself towards Ryo, latching her arms around his neck and holding on as if for dear life. He hugged her back. And all was well.