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Yukiko tossed and turned as the strange dream continued. She stirred restlessly, the covers twisting around her parted thighs, her bare skin hot against the cold night air. The feelings rushed over her like a wave as she moved against the bedclothes. Oh, so nice, so very nice…her dream lover whispered encouragement in her ear. She leaned against his strong shoulder while he played gently, softly, teasingly between her legs. She swallowed, hard, and the small sound was enough to make his fingers more insistent, bringing her closer, closer…As her body trembled with the coming orgasm, Yukiko saw his eyes watching her. His eyes were blue, blue as indigo. She looked deep into his eyes as she came.
Morning dawned early, and even though she was still sleepy, Yukiko was up and dressed before her mother had to call her. What a strange dream, she thought as she folded away the futon, stripping the messy bedcovers to wash. Blue eyes—who ever heard of a lover with blue eyes? Maybe it was time to let her grandfather arrange another marriage—he was always offering to– But Yukiko liked being free. A housewife’s life was busy, to be sure, but lonely. Her husband, Kiyoshi, had been shot down just three weeks after their wedding, before Yukiko even really felt like a wife. His parents hadn’t needed any more mouths to feed, and so Yukiko had come back to live with her mother and grandfather, in this big old house behind the sake shop. She considered herself lucky that she wasn’t pressured to remarry. Her grandfather dutifully offered to set up meetings with prospective grooms, but Yukiko knew that he liked having her around to talk to. Her mother would be all alone if she left, and since they did the housework together, it took up hardly any time. All in all, Yukiko thought, not much reason to get married again—except for those silly dreams.
She’d heard that unmarried women went queer in the head—maybe that was what was happening to her…Lack of sex….Yukiko smiled to herself. She hadn’t even known Kiyoshi when they got married, and he had looked so shy and serious all through the wedding festivities that she’d expected he would make a stern husband, but in the end he was just a boy, a boy who was having to grow up too fast in wartime. A boy who had never had time to giggle or play…
As she climbed the stairs to the second floor balcony, Yukiko blushed to herself, remembering how they had played. Kiyoshi, in spite of his quiet manner, had adored looking at her body—inspecting certain places in great detail, and then finding new ways to please her, to get her wet, to make her come. Yes, Yukiko decided, if she could find another lovely boy like Kiyoshi, a new husband might definitely be in order.
After hanging the futon out in the winter sunshine, Yukiko headed downstairs to breakfast. Her mother heard her footsteps on the stairs and called, “Yuki-chan? Is that you? Would you take these persimmons to the new neighbor on your way to class?”
“Yes, mother,” Yukiko replied, “Who moved into that big, drafty house anyway?” Yukiko leaned around the kitchen doorway and inhaled the steam coming from the miso soup keçiören escort her mother was stirring. It was a crisp, chilly morning, and she moved in closer to the woodstove, careful not to singe her sleeve.
“I don’t really know…Abe-san was telling me that they’ve had all kinds of workmen in to clean and repair inside, so perhaps the new people are planning to stay awhile,” Yukiko’s mother said. “Go and call Grandfather for breakfast, would you?”
Yukiko headed down the hallway to her grandfather’s room. This was his house, but she had been born there and it felt like home to her. Her grandmother had died when she was a baby, and her father was stationed overseas, so it was just the three of them in the big house now. “Grandfather, breakfast is ready!” Yukiko called out, “The kitchen is nice and warm, too.”
Yukiko’s grandfather opened the sliding door and stepped out into the hall. “Good morning! I don’t remember another December this cold, but maybe I’m just feeling my age more,” he said as he followed her into the kitchen.
“Grandfather, do you know who moved into the old Sato house?” Yukiko asked. “No, but whoever they are, they certainly do have a lot of luggage. All day yesterday there were cartloads and cartloads of boxes,” Grandfather told her.
After breakfast, Yukiko wrapped the bright orange persimmons in a pretty cloth, gathered her notebooks and headed out the door. She had already graduated from high school and was taking calligraphy classes at the local temple. The priest said that she had a lot of talent for a girl, and this year her grandfather had asked for her help re-making the signs in his store and writing the New Year’s postcards that he sent to family friends and longtime customers…it was good practice, but Yukiko thought that she would never be finished writing them all. As she headed down the path next to the house, she looked forward to New Year’s Day, when bundles of postcards would arrive from all of the people she was writing to…she loved reading them and looking at the different writing styles and designs.
Lost in thought, Yukiko almost jumped out of her skin when she heard a man’s voice behind her…and she turned in surprise to see a tall man with black hair and, shockingly, BLUE eyes! It was a foreign person!! Yukiko’s heart beat fast as her brain skipped back to the English lessons the priest had given her…but all she could remember was the song about the star…not much use in this case! The tall man smiled and greeted her in Japanese. His accent was a bit unusual, but Yukiko had no trouble understanding him: “Are you my new next-door neighbor?” he asked, “It’s nice to meet you! I’m Matthew Hopkins.”
Yukiko stood staring for a moment…his eyes…she had never seen anything like them…dark, but unmistakably, as blue as indigo. It was startling. She caught herself and remembered her manners, “Oh, yes! Hopkins-san…it is nice to meet you. I am Yukiko, the daughter of the Ishiyama family next door…we have the sake shop.”
“Call me Matthew…you’re the first neighbor I’ve met so far, except for Abe-san, of course,” he smiled. kızılay escort Abe-san was the neighborhood busybody…she was doubtless already headed over to Yukiko’s house to gossip about the new neighbor.
“I am just on my way to calligraphy class, but my mother asked me to stop and give you these…just persimmons, our tree produces too many for us to eat by ourselves, and if you could take some, we’d be very pleased,” Yukiko said.
“Lovely, perfect for an afternoon snack,” said Matthew. “Would you like to come by after your class? I need your advice.”
“MY advice?” Yukiko asked in surprise, “about what?”
“I think it’s something you might be able to help with,” Matthew said, “It involves…cats. Drop by later this afternoon if you could…I’ll be home all day, and I’ll tell you the entire story.” CATS? Yukiko thought…what an odd request! By now, though, she was in danger of making her teacher wait, so she assured Matthew that she would be by later, said her goodbyes, and headed off to the temple.
Class passed swiftly, with the old priest joking and his wife pressing her to have more tea and sweets. On her way home Yukiko thought about her new neighbor, Matthew. Where was he from? It was intriguing to have such a mysterious stranger living right next door, but no doubt Abe-san would have the full story soon.
As Yukiko took off her sandals in the entryway, her mother came to welcome her home. “Yuki-chan,” her mother said as they sipped tea, “Abe-san said that it’s a foreign person who moved in next door—can you imagine? I hope that you remember those English lessons!”
“It’s all right, mother, he speaks Japanese. I met him on the way to school when I took the persimmons,” Yukiko said.
“Oh, that’s all right, then,” her mother said, relieved, “Abe-san was going on and on about how on Earth we would be able to explain neighborhood patrol duties and garbage day. I thought maybe he had a Japanese wife, but no, it seems that he’s single. You should take over a bottle of that French wine your grandfather insisted on ordering. It tastes like sugared vinegar and no one is going to buy it anyway, so maybe he’ll help us drink it before it all goes bad. If you want to go now, you could be back to help with dinner.”
Yukiko’s mother brought the bottle of wine and wrapped it in some red tissue paper, twisted at the top to look like a spiky flower. Yukiko put her coat back on. “Back soon, then,” she called over her shoulder as she headed down the path. When she knocked softly at Matthew’s door, there was no answer, so she called out “anybody home?” and opened the door to step into the entryway and check for him. If he wasn’t there, she thought, she would leave the wine and go home. The house was much nicer than it looked on the outside, and warm! Yukiko heard a noise, then a mock-gruff voice.
“Dammit, cat!” said Matthew as he stumbled in from the hallway, a small, spotted kitten clinging to his pantleg “Yukiko! Hello!! You see my problem? It seems that the Satos left their cat when they moved, and it had kittens, so now I have five of these little monsters who think ankara escort that this is THEIR home and that I’m some kind of alien intruder.” Yukiko laughed as he pried the kitten off and handed it to her, but all that she could think about was how tall he was, and how he looked directly into her eyes.
Matthew led Yukiko into the formal dining room, and when she explained about the wine he said “Spendid! Then we’ll share a Christmas toast!” and began unpacking boxes, looking for some glasses. The wrapping, he said, was nearly too fancy to open, but he quickly stripped it off and used a twisted wire opener to pull the cork. “Spendid!” Matthew said again as he checked the label and poured a glass for each of them. “Do you like wine, Yukiko?”
“I’ve never tried any,” Yukiko said, “My mother says that it has the taste of sugared vinegar, but she doesn’t like new things very much.”
“How about you?” Matthew asked, smiling into her eyes.
“Well, of course sometimes new things turn out to be quite pleasing indeed,” Yukiko answered.
“What a sensible attitude, ” Matthew said. He clinked his glass against hers and said “Merry Christmas!” He watched Yukiko’s face closely as she sipped from her glass. “Well?” Matthew asked, “What’s the verdict?”
Yukiko pursed her lips in thought, then took another sip. “I like it!” she decided. Her eyes sparkled as she listened to Matthew’s delighted laugh and watched the kitten pounce on and then wrestle with the red wrapping paper. “Matthew-san? You said we were having a Christmas toast…?”
“Oh, yes! I completely forgot!” Matthew said, unfolding his long legs and jumping to his feet, “The cake!” He slid the door open and went out into the hallway, sliding the door shut behind him.
As Yukiko waited, she sipped her wine and let her mind wander. So strange that she felt so at home with Matthew. The warm house, the taste of the wine, the kind, knowing look in his dark blue eyes were all swirling together, making Yukiko feel like she had fallen into a dream, instead of having just walked down the path from her familiar world.
Through the tingly fog of her thoughts, Yukiko felt rather than imagined her blue-eyed dream lover bending over her shoulder, his breath warm on her neck, his hands pressing insistently through her clothes. She sighed and shifted to lean her weight against him, inhaling his scent, her eyes closing as she surrendered to her desires.
BAM! Yukiko jumped as Matthew’s foot slid open the door, making it slam loudly against the frame—his hands were full with a cake, plates, forks and a knife on a laquered tray. “Here we are!” Matthew said cheerfully, “Christmas cake!” Yukiko smiled uncertainly, still feeling the shock. Matthew took no notice, but began sliding the knife through the cake. He gave her a piece with a whole strawberry on it and handed her a fork.
“Matthew-san—Christmas is Jesus Christ’s birthday, isn’t it?” Yukiko asked, “Is that why we have cake? My family never celebrated Christmas, so….”
“Well,” Matthew said, “that must be why Christmas cake in Japan is just like a birthday cake, then! In other places it’s a heavier cake, but here, yes, you are right—Jesus’s birthday cake. That must be why we give presents on Christmas, too. So, Yukiko-san, have you decided what you want for Christmas?”
Yes, Yukiko thought to herself suddenly, Yes, I do believe I have.
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