Love’s Sweet Hatred
Disclaimer: The following is a work of fiction; any characters, institutions, locations, etc. that are real are completely coincidental.
The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong.
- Mohandas Gandhi
“Kou-nii, Kou-nii,” five-year old Naomi chanted, following after Kou Yukihara on chubby legs.
“What do you want, Naomi?” Kou snapped. At eight years old, Kou was the only child of the heir to the prominent Yukihara Corporation, a multi-trillion dollar company centered in Japan that had invented the revolutionary diet pill that crushed obesity around the world.
Naomi ignored Kou’s harsh tone, oblivious in her innocence of his obvious annoyance, “Kou-nii, wanna play Batman wit me? You can be Batman, and I’ll be Cat Woman, and da oter kids at da playground can be da bad guys, and…”
“I don’t have time to play some stupid game with you, Naomi!” Kou interrupted. “Now leave me alone and go play with someone else!” Kou stalked away, irritated that he was forced to spend time with commoners just because his grandfather doted upon Naomi’s mother, Iris.
Naomi watched Kou walk away, wondering why he did not want to play with her. Then she turned around and wandered over to the playground to play Batman.
Naomi watched her mother enviously as she flitted about the room, pulling dresses, scarves, and jewelry from a multitude of drawers and cabinets before throwing them on the bed, rejected. If only she’d been born with her mother’s effortless grace and beauty! She said as much, and her mother paused, looking at her sternly.
“My little Amazon, you are beautiful, you just don’t know it yet.” Iris turned and gave a little gleeful whoop as she apparently found the gown she wanted. “besides,” she added, “Beauty is completely overrated. People look at you and see the outside, not what’s inside. It makes for a very lonely life. I was lucky to have found your father. He was one of the only people who saw the real me, not some pretty bimbo.” Her face softened and looked wistful, as it always did whenever she thought about my father, who died before I was born. She had told me the story of how they met many times as I grew up. When she was sixteen, a beautiful buxom blonde in Greece, my father, and eighteen-year old Japanese man, visited on a business trip for the Yukihara Corporation. They fell in love at first sight and eloped to get married. Three years later my mom got pregnant, and my dad died in a car accident just a few months after that, and she met Kou’s grandfather at the funeral. Taru Yukihara was very kind Mom, providing a house and weekly allowance for her to live on, but Mom still cried on her and Dad’s wedding anniversary every year.
“Well, if you’re really that worried about impressing Kou tonight, I guess I’ll help you see just how beautiful you are,” Mom continued, grinning impishly.
“Mom!” I shrieked, but I sat obediently as she did my hair and makeup.
“There, all done,” Iris said, stepping back to admire her handiwork. “Yup,” she said, “I was right, you’re beautiful.”
I remained silent, stunned, and she began getting ready herself. I could not believe it; Mom was right, I did look beautiful. Although I did not have my mother’s radiant, sunny beauty, I was beautiful in a cooler, more elegant way, like the moon… My straight black hair, which I had always though drab compared to my mother’s golden waves, were twisted up in some elaborate design that made my neck look long and slender, and each dark strand glistened in the light. My makeup was simple, but emphasized my features. A bit of black kohl and mascara made my green eyes seem more vibrant than usual, and a soft pink tinted my lips the color of Sakura blossoms. Peach blush warmed up my otherwise flawless white skin, and around my neck hung a single emerald on a delicate sliver chain, with matching gems on my ears. I wore a wispy pale green and silver dress, with modest silver heels. I looked like one of the Greek nymphs I so often read about, or maybe an Irish fey.
My mother had dressed and now stood beside me in a dark cerulean gown and sapphires, her hair caught up in pearl combs. The blue made her eyes, usually the same shade as mine, an unworldly mix of blue and green, and for a moment I wondered if perhaps she was descended from some ocean nymph after all.
“Well, come on, my little Amazon,” Iris beckoned with one slender tanned limb, and I wrapped myself in a silver shawl before following her out the door.
“Iris Tsubasa!” Kou’s grandfather gretted us, “as always, you live up to you name. ‘Rainbow,’ indeed! You look far more beautiful than any rainbow I have ever seen, my dear.”
“Thank you, Taru. You look very fine this evening as well,” my mother smiled fondly at the dear old man who had given her so much.
“And little Naomi,” Taru turned to me, “Thirteen already? Soon you’ll be old enough to marry my Kou.” Kou’s parents had died in a plane crash three years ago, and Taru had taken the boy in. Now he was more of a father than a grandfather to Kou.
Trying my best to seem unaffected and, most importantly, to not blush, I smiled and asked, “where is Kou, might I ask? I thought I’d wish the birthday boy congratulations. It is his sixteenth, after all.”
“Oh yes, of course,” Taru smiled knowingly —maybe I hadn’t succeeded in not blushing after all? “He’s right over there, speaking with Director Tamayaka.”
“Thank you,” I said, wandering off in the direction he had pointed. After spotting Kou, I wasted time pretending to pour my drink while I waited for him to finish his conversation and mentally prepared myself. It’ll be fine, I told myself. You’ve spent the last eight years working to become Kou’s ideal woman, a perfect lady. Cooking, cleaning, sewing, dancing, acceptable social behavior, literature, music,art, politics, history, a spotless reputation… you’ve mastered them all. You can carry on a conversation about any topic, easily manage a household or company, or even run a marathon at a moment’s notice. You can easily wish Kou “Happy Birthday”! I took one last deep breath and turned around. Kou had finished with the director and was now walking towards the buffet table. Trying to seem polite but not overly eager, I smiled and said, “Happy Birthday, Kou! I understand one’s sixteenth birthday is very important.”
“Hmm?” he said, turning to look at me as if he had not even noticed I was there. “Oh, it’s just you, Naomi. Did my grandfather give you and your mother those dresses? Such a shame to waste such riches on dirty commoners like you.” With that, he turned on his heel and walked away.
I stood, speechless. Dirty commoners? How dare he! I wanted to hate him, and in a way I did, but I still remembered the slight boy from three years ago who had a world of pain in his eyes but refused to cry after his parents’ death. At least, in public; after the funeral I accidently found him crying alone in his room, but I slipped away before he noticed my presence.
“Fine,” I whispered. I had done everything I could to become his ideal woman, and he had barely even noticed me. So I would become the kind of woman he hated. “Let’s see if you ignore me then,” I muttered, and began to socialize.
“You were very social today, my little Amazon. Much more than usual. Is everything okay?” my mother asked, looking worried.
“Everything’s fine,” I smiled reassuringly, “I just thought I’d use the opportunity to meet new people. Do you mind if I go to Lavitica’s next Sunday? She’s having some girls over for tea, and I was invited.”
“Lavitica Ozerov, the Russian ambassador’s daughter?” my mother arched a brow. “Since when do you have such powerful ‘friends’?”
“Don’t worry, Mom,” I grinned, “I promise I’m not just trying to get some rich friends I can mooch off of. I honestly like Lavitica.”
That night I cried, long and hard, sitting in the steaming bathwater. As soon as I sank into the solitude of the water, the sorrow had coursed through my body and the tears had welled in my eyes, overflowing down my cheeks. That was the only time I ever cried over Kou. I let myself cry for hours that night, but in the morning I hid the traces of tears with makeup and moved on, vowing never to let him make me cry again.
© Copyright 2016 Kitsa. All rights reserved.
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