Wednesday, spring 2009.
I was so anxious about dinning at Leighton’s that I started getting ready almost two hours earlier. I prepared myself a delightful shower – since bathtubs are still a luxury I can’t afford – by lighting candles all over my room and premiering a brand new passion fruit soap. I wanted my skin to smell as natural and sweet as possible to impress Leighton’s family and irreversibly seduce my Japanese soulmate. Then, I tried out all my dresses until coming to what I considered as the ultimate – yet viable within my belongings – fashion for an special evening like that.
I pulled all my hair together in a diva’s hairstyle, grabbed a trench coat just to protect my nude back from the evening’s breeze and got into a cab to Leighton’s house. I was in front of his door at 7pm sharp as we had agreed, but it seemed I was still too early for dinner. I had to rang the bell twice before someone answered the door and, differently from what I had expected, it wasn’t Leighton the one to open it.
The teenage who opened the door introduced himself as Sam. Plain Sam. That said, he went back in again. I followed him in disbelief. To be polite, I asked if I could assist with anything in the kitchen and to that he replied it would be inappropriate to ask a guest to prepare the meal. I smiled – but it was too soon. He added, since he didn’t have any cooking skills, my interference in the dinner’s menu would not only be allowed but most welcomed. I blinked. What was happening? Where was the family? Where was Leighton? Where was everybody?
I knew Leighton’s father was deceased. He had once told me that the man perished during the Kobe Earthquake, in 1995. He had also told me that they kept little contact after his moving to Simnation. Leighton would prefer not to talk about his childhood – what I could mostly imagine why – and since I couldn’t reveal much about my own past, I didn’t bother him asking this kind of questions. What I knew, what he had spontaneously told me, was that his parents were divorced when he was a toddler. His mother, Yumi, was ashamed and heartbroken and didn’t want to live in Japan anymore. So she left to Simnation with small Leighton – who had just learned how to walk and talk.
I can only imagine what caused his mother an embarrassment so great that she needed to flee from her homeland. But I can be almost sure it wasn’t her fault. Leighton seemed to love her and every time he had mentioned her name was with a deep and respectful caring. It might have been the so called cosmopolitanism by which Kobe is worldwide known. Frequently people tend to exchange honor for fake promises and, nowadays, free love is still a well-advertised trend. You see, diary, such mixture can only end with broken hearts.
But if the woman who raised Leighton to be who he is was so family-oriented, where was she now? Why didn’t she answer the door or prepare the dinner? Could she be ill? I had many questions but it didn’t seem I would get to the answers easily. While I prepared a salad, Sam just stood at the kitchen’s entrance watching me with a reproachful look in his face. He didn’t say a word and kept holding his silence when I served the meal. It seemed like I was inadvertently hired as a supporting actress for a Luis Buñuel movie.
Trying to break the ice between us, I asked if he was enjoying the food. He just wiggled his head. So I tried talking about the weather and if he thought it would rain later. This time, his shoulder moved to indicate he did not know or did not care. I couldn’t talk about rock bands or horror movies that teenagers hold near their hearts: I’m a classical music fan and I’m much more into Spanish cinema! I was loosing my hope when Leighton finally arrived home.
He apologized – again – for letting work interfere in our family schedule and sat with us for eating. He did said family – for my most joy. I understood his word’s choice as an sign of how strong our commitment were and it gave me courage to post the questions that have been bothering me since the evening’s beginning: Where was Yumi? Wasn’t I supposed to meet the family for a formal wedding proposal?
Sam stood abruptly. He left the room without saying a word – still. Leighton, then, explained Yumi had passed away on Monday’s afternoon. He didn’t have time to warn me since he was himself mourning and also had the whole match preparation going on. I was desolate. I wished I had met her! I offered Leighton my condolences but I also rebuked him: he should have found the time to call me, warn me about such sad news. I would help him with the funeral ceremony and we would have reschedule the dinner for another time.
He said everything was OK. He missed his mother, but she was very old and it was time for her to rest and join her friends in the after life. Her duty had already been fulfilled since the Sekemoto’s family was all grown up and was just about to begin a new dynasty. He insisted we married soon, but we both agreed it would be better due the circumstances to have a private wedding.
I tried to ask about Sam… the poor kid seemed lost, and now I did understand why. Leighton said he would be OK and that after the wedding we should discuss whether he was moving in to my house or I was moving in to his. This statement shocked me; I had been working so hard to build my dream house… I wasn’t sure if I would like to leave everything away and move to his place. The house was sure nice – but far too near the city center for my taste. But before I could discuss my worries with him, Sam showed up again and said it was too late for guests to stay.
I kissed Leighton goodbye and left, holding myself not to slap his brother. OK, the boy was a teenager and had just lost his grandmother. But he could be more subtle and polite, couldn’t he? I was going to be his sister-in-law soon – and he might have even to live with us for a while. At least, until he finished high school and left to lead his life the way he wanted. Oh Gosh, for sure the night hadn’t gone the way I anticipated… What have I done wrong to face so many difficulties before conquering my state and my dynasty tradition?