Life is full of choices and consequently `what ifs '. You can spend your whole life pondering about them or just choose one, as I did. Searching for a CD, I bumped into an enchanting stranger from Japan at a music store. Immediately captivated by his charismatic aura I did something out of the ordinary for me and accepted his invitation to have a drink; following him across Seattle to a little Italian restaurant. I could've said `no' and walked away, but I chose not to. Looking back now, I wonder if he knew how his simple offer would change my life forever. If he had the slightest idea that he would shatter and challenge my ideas of love, relationships and intimacy to their very core.
“You’re not from here, are you?” I asked, taking a sip of my coke. The dog under the table suddenly barked a couple of times. Curiously I looked over to him, but he was still deep asleep, his paw twitching. Probably a bad dream, I thought and giggled. “I’m originally from Germany, but after my divorce I moved from LA to Seattle.” Kei’s face lit up with recognition. “Aw, Germany, Doitsu. Vivi’s from Germany. That’s very nice.” He finished his beer and cigarette, and flicked the butt into the cypress. “I’m from Japan,” he said, and as if to back up his statement, he took off his sunglasses and rubbed his eyes while yawning. Indeed. I looked into a pair of gentle, brown Asian eyes. That’s the accent I’ve been hearing the whole time and I didn’t make the connection. Way to go, ‘Vivi’! Before I could take another quick look at his eyes, he had slipped the shades back on his face. The waitress came back outside, carrying a tray with pizza to the older couple’s table. As she made her way back in Kei whistled, catching her attention. “Another beer please,” he said, waving his empty glass at her. She gave a smile in response and disappeared inside. Turning his heavy gaze back to me, he pulled out another cigarette. In a flash it was lit and between his lips. “Doitsu wa totemo suteki,” he said dreamily, taking a long drag on his cigarette. “Uh . . . I’m sorry, but I don’t speak Japanese,” I said, smiling apologetically. Inside, I was frantic. What did this gorgeous man just say? Dammit, why didn’t anybody ever teach me Japanese? “Germany is . . . beautiful,” Kei translated in his thick accent. He leaned over in his chair and flicked the ashes into the pot of the poor cypress tree. I nodded, not sure whether I was agreeing with his statement or the sound of his voice. I drained my soda in the hopes that it would cool me down. I was burning up; either from the scorching late afternoon sun or Kei’s unearthly charismatic aura. He glanced at my empty glass. “Another one?” I shook my head. “No, thanks. Not right now, maybe later.” Truth was, I longed for another ice cold drink to combat the effects of his flaring charm and the sizzling sun, but I didn’t want to risk having to go to the restroom. I literally feared that I would come back and Kei would be gone, so I settled back and watched him sip his cold beer with growing envy. He must have noticed my unwavering gaze at his drink because he suddenly let out a little laugh and got out of his chair. “Wait,” he grinned at me. My heart did cartwheels. I watched him disappear into the restaurant and then glanced to the older couple. The dog was now standing beside the woman’s chair, his tail wagging in anticipation of the pizza crust she was about to feed him. I was beginning to wonder if Kei had snuck out of the back to leave me with the tab when he came back into sight. Hands in his pockets and a cigarette between his lips, he casually walked to our table and sat down in his chair. Assuming that he had to use the restroom, I just smiled at him, content that he didn’t disappear as quickly as he had entered my life. He didn’t say a word and let numerous things catch his attention as he leaned back, smoking, and drinking his beer. Another minute of comfortable silence passed. The waitress came back out to clear the couple’s dishes from the table behind us. She smiled into our direction while she placed their plates on a tray, asking if they wanted some dessert to which they politely declined, paid, and left. Another server came out of the restaurant, carrying two big glasses of beer. She set one down in front of Kei and the other one in front of me. “Enjoy,” she said cheerfully, picking up my empty soda glass and whisking it away. That’s why he had gotten up . . . to get me a beer . . . and of course another one for himself. I smiled my sweetest appreciative smile and thanked him. “Do itashimashite,” was his response. I figured it meant something like you’re welcome or no problem. Problem was, I didn’t actually like, and therefore never drank beer. But not wanting to seem impolite, I took a few sips. To my surprise, I found it rather refreshing. The coldness of the beer overshadowed its slight bitter taste and since it was so hot, I welcomed it. In fact I welcomed it so much, I finished my glass faster than Kei did his. He nodded at me with an approving smile. From there on, I decided I liked making him smile, even if it meant I had to drink a glass of beer.
Vivian Murakami currently resides in Seattle, Washington. She is an Author and President/CEO of Neon Promotions, Inc
In collaboration with Thai Artist 'The Sw Eden' she has written the children's book "Tuskty and Solitary Cat", published exclusively for children's charities in Thailand.
Her fans will be happy to hear that she recently finished "重力" Juryoku - Gravity, the sequel to "永遠の愛" Eien No Ai - Eternal Love, due to be published in fall/winter 2013.
Besides writing, she is passionate about exploring different cultures, photography, Visual Kei and Japanese Rock/Pop/Punk music.
She welcomes feedback and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org