Minako stood erect, her slender frame showing nothing outside of a polished family. Her features were tender and her complexion pale, but something radiated a life long and well-lived. Her clothes were aged just a bit, but they had a shine to them like those new. She had an air of sophistication about her that seemed to offset her from everyone else, but there also existed the feeling of normality.
She sipped on her Earl Grey tea silently in the café. It never received much business most days so she found it pleasurable to sit and sip tea while munching on a snack cake or something lite. She curled a bit of dark hair around the index finger of her right hand and cracked a smile as an old melody, one that would probably be unknown to most her age or anywhere near from about ten years' worth of difference, played on the radio. The owner of the place enjoyed older music; he said once that he found it soothing and she remembered that from her childhood. The man was near his late fifties, but he still had an air of youth surrounding him, mainly being in the way he conducted business with a youthful sharpness.
Her eyes narrowed and created very thin lines at the sides. Her lips curled as if she smelled something very unpleasant. “Himura-san,” the old man peeped from behind the counter near her table. “It’s about time for you to go home, isn’t it? I mean, you’ve been here a while. Besides, isn’t—Satoshi was it?—he waiting for you?”
Her eyes began to hold a look of contempt for the old man’s ignorant words. “Satoshi Honda waits for no one,” she growled, anger engraved in her delicate features. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “Forgive me, Hanada-san, but I’m a little on edge from all this. Arrangement is quite the troublesome matter.”
The old man, Tohru Hanada, looked at her questioningly. “I thought families pushed aside that old thing decades, no, centuries ago.” He picked up a spotted glass and wiped it down from the inside out.
She sipped on her tea. “I see…So, you’re not the only one who believes that. Anyway, no; the ‘tradition’ still exists. It’s quite the hassle to deal with honestly, which is why I don’t plan on hanging around. I’m leaving Shibuya for Nakano Ward.”
“Quite the distance,” he mused. “Are you certain? It’s not something so easily taken back.”
“I’m certain. Times like these give me a heavier yearning to be in sync with the birds.”
“Yes, birds. See, I admire them. They can fly as they wish and breed as they wish with their mate of choice. I envy birds for that.” Her eyes held a distant shimmer, a hopeful glaze over her natural chestnut shade. The old man kept his eyes upon her, examining her for something. “You see, I wish to be a bird. Free as a bird if I can’t sprout wings in my arms or in their place.”
Hanada gnawed on his bottom lip and nodded. “I see…Well then, I do so wish the best to you. I will say nothing so you have no need in asking it of me.”
She beamed at him sincerely. Her smile held no visible flaw. Her air, however, appeared plagued by deeper observation. She bowed to him respectfully, folded up a bit of snack cake in a napkin, took a final sip of her tea, and left the café. He said nothing as he watched her, his thoughts filled with wonder of her in relation to her mentality and motif. He understood her yearning of freedom, yet something about her he could not understand.
Immediately after stepping outside, she stopped her steps—she made certain to be out of the way for anyone wishing to move past or enter the shop—and looked out at a small flock of birds. What kind she didn’t know, but they were birds. She giggled into the back of her tiny hand and tugged at the dress cuff with the hand at her side. “Why can’t I be a bird?” she asked herself. A sense of hopelessness enveloped her. A melancholic attitude then ran over her, washing her, bathing her in its sense, taming the happiness and burying it within her, a means of which she knew nothing of and cared nothing about to understand. She wanted it gone but it would persist relentlessly at her heart and mind.
“Minako,” a woman’s voice rang out. The voice resonated with the tone of one well-educated in discipline and with the finer manners embedded in only the aristocratic minds. “Your fiancé is awaiting you. Come home, won’t you? And ready yourself?” She turned to see an older woman with still as much grace and poise as a young lady dressed in her best formals and with the finest makeup applied to cover any signs of aging no matter how subtle.
“Mother, I will come home when I so wish,” she said authoritatively. She crossed her thin arms before she then, after realizing that she probably shouldn’t considering her mother’s stiff ways, rest them back at her sides aimed straight down, fingers outstretched.
“Quite disobedient, aren’t you?” She sounded nothing short of frustrated with her daughter. “You will come home and meet Mr. Honda as he is awaiting your arrival. Come now; it’s no proper for a lady to make her future husband wait.”
“I have no true concern for the proper and improper,” she told her. “I see no reason to mind so much. Besides, I’m certain he shall be less than prompt in his arrival as always.”
“One way of speaking I suppose.” The two kept quiet a while. “Either way, whether he is punctual or not, you will come. Now, move along; we haven’t all day.”
“Without me,” Minako answered. “I will be home very shortly. So, please, give me just a bit of time to sort out my words. Would you grant me that grace?”
Again, silence. The woman hesitantly nodded with a flashing of her long, thick lashes. “All right; but don’t get used to this leniency. We will be expecting you shortly.”
The woman walked away, her steps slow, light, and graceful. A wave of relief washed over Minako, but it was quickly shoved aside by the realization of her destination and of who awaited her. Ridiculousness, she groaned and turned on her heel, cautious of their lift, and took her first step towards the place she was forced to call home. As she walked, the thoughts of what she would do, the things she would say if anything, flooded her mind and blurred her sense to anything else. She, however, managed to keep a bit of organization about her in it. No use in getting herself in a tizzy about it before she had to.
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