The Perfect Place To Die - Part Four
The Perfect Place To Die
Tamiko was a bundle of nerves as they pulled up in front of the hotel. She sat on in the vehicle for a moment enjoying the spring sunshine, glad that the sunglasses at least shielded her eyes from Mamoru. She watched as he leapt from the car and hurried around to the passanger door, offering his hand to help her out. Managing a weak smile, she got out of the car.
“Isn’t it beautiful Miko?” She followed his gaze and took in the beauty of Mount Fuji rising grandly above the clouds. “We’ve finally made it!” He took up their suitcases and offered her his arm. She smiled and took his arm as they climbed the steps to the hotel foyer. Mamoru, so sweet and considerate, always a gentleman…Andrew. A wave of nausea and apprehension came over her causing her to stumble. Mamoru strengthened his hold of her arm. “Are you okay?”
“Yes, it’s just that I’ve got a small headache.” It was true. As she thought of her last meeting with Andrew the inside of her head felt like a sponge with waves of pain seeping through the holes.
While Mamoru checked them in at reception Miko sat on an elegant sofa watching the arrival of guests coming in through the revolving doors with her Japanese-English dictionary on her lap. Most of the guests were arriving for the Cherry Blossom festivals which were just beginning. The hotel was busy with tourists from all over the world. Her mind kept wandering back to Andrew. He had been so angry.
“Are you ready?” Mamoru’s voice startled her back to the present.
Mamoru slipped the card into the slot and pushed open the door of their room. Tamiko let out a little gasp of surprise. The door opened onto a large, airy room with two enormous picture windows looking out over the forest to the snow capped Mount Fuji. Bright mid- morning sunlight splashed onto the cream linen sofas with chocolate cushions artfully arranged. The gleaming wooden floors were covered in strategic places with thick beige rugs. A heavy oak coffee table stood between the sofas.
Miko walked over to the huge picture window and gazed out over the tops of the trees to the lake, shimmering in the sunlight. In the distance she could see Mount Fuji, starkly white against a dazzling blue sky; Shining and omnipotent. A group of pink flowering cherry trees coming into blossom provided a natural arch on the terrace outside the sliding glass doors.
“Mamoru, this is so very lovely!” she breathed.
”You like it?” “I’m so glad” Mamoru murmured. His expression of relief was hardly concealed as he gave her a warm smile. She had not expected such splendor, such beauty. “This is wonderful, it's more beautiful than I could have ever imagined” She wandered into the bedroom and noted the large single bed. Mamoru came up behind her and tried to kiss her neck affectionately. She moved abruptly towards the bathroom. “After that long drive a warm bath sounds inviting.” He tried to stifle his disappointment with a grin. “That’s fine, after your shower we could go down and have lunch.” Miko tilted her head to one side coyly; her sleek black hair fell over one eye. “Sounds like a good idea.” The door closed gently against all further communication. Mamoru stood looking at the door for a moment longer then with a sigh, he turned to unpacking the suitcase.
Tamiko sat gazing through the restaurant’s window, her food hardly touched. Wracked with guilt she had dressed to please him in a simple red silk dress which accentuated her hips. ”You look so wonderful” he breathed. She turned to him “Mamoru, you’ve already complimented me several times.” “Well, it’s true.” “It’s that dress...the color, it's...well, it’s so sensual” he murmured shyly.
She blushed. "I wasn't sure…I haven’t worn it for years.”
“You don't think it's too young for me?”
“No, of course not!”
"You know Miko; you still look as beautiful as when we first married.”
He gazed into her eyes, but she couldn’t maintain eye contact with him and quickly turned to look out the window again.
“You’re very quiet tonight, you seem preoccupied.”
“No, it’s just…we haven’t spent time alone like this in a long time.”
“I know I haven’t been an attentive husband.” “I let my work come between us.” “I thought it was for the best at the time, that we would be better off, but now we have a second chance.”
She couldn’t stop the tears from welling up in her eyes. “Mamoru…”
She wanted so badly to tell him, but he was so sensitive and he didn’t even suspect anything. At first she had believed their marriage would endure forever. Then the stark reality of boredom and routine set in. Loneliness and isolation quickly followed. Then she met Andrew.
He reached across the table and took her hand. “I love you.”
She gripped his hand tightly and smiled at him as the tears rolled down her eyes.
“After lunch maybe we can take a walk through the forest…”
“Yes.” She said, suddenly wanting to please him, wanting to make him feel good.
“First I’ve got to go to the ladies room and clean myself up though.” She laughed and excused herself from the table, quickly making her way to the restrooms.
He poured himself a generous glass of wine and took a large drink. His eyes glittered with a feverish hope that Miko was about to cross the barrier that had divided them for so long. Perhaps she was coming back to him. He glanced back towards the rear of the restaurant, eager for her to return. It was then that he noticed a slip of paper on the ground by her seat. It must have fallen out of that dictionary that she carried around. She was always eager to practice her English. When they had entered the restaurant she had struck up a conversation with two Americans while waiting for their table. He merely watched on in proud amazement as the Americans, glad to speak in their own language, patiently babbled on with her. He fondly recalled that she had only referred to her book once. He bent down and picked up the piece of paper. Tamiko had certainly come a long way from the shy young girl he had married.
Mamoru unfolded the paper. “Perhaps there will be some words or phrases that she has translated.” He thought to himself. “I will surprise her with one when she comes back to the table.”
“Where has he gone to?” Tamiko stopped at the table and started looking around. “There he is.” She noticed him leaning over the sushi counter. “Mamoru...” He slowly turned toward her. He looked ill, his face was pale and he seemed to be sweating. She hurriedly made her way over to him. “Are you all right?” “You look sick.”
He gave her a gruesome smile. “Oh...seems something I ate didn’t agree with me.”
Putting her arm around him she started guiding him towards the door. “Let’s get you back to the room Mamoru…”
“No, I think I’ll take that walk...the fresh mountain air will do me good.” He said breaking away from her.
“Okay...” She reached for his hand and after a moments hesitation he took it.
“Looks like he had a little too much wine.” The waiter winked to the hostess who was watching them. They walked towards the entrance of the forest holding hands like two happy lovers. She smiling contentedly and he walking a little stiffly with his other hand thrust deeply into his pocket.
That was the last time they were seen together alive.