The Perfect Place To Die - Part Three
She could hear Mamoru moving around the house quietly, trying not to disturb her. Tamiko entered the bathroom to brush her teeth. She was a woman of thirty-five, narrow waist, almond eyes, fair skin with high cheek bones framed by luxurious shiny black hair. She smiled to herself in the mirror and her perfectly even white teeth twinkled between her parted lips.
Andrew always complimented her on her smile.
He was an English teacher at The Language School Tamiko attended. When he had had come across her after class in the almost empty parking looking forlornly at a flat tire on her car, she had welcomed his help. "Thank you so much Andrew-san" she murmured shyly and turned to get into the car, but something made her turn around. He was still standing there, watching her. He was smiling. Then she heard herself saying, “Perhaps you would like some tea? There is very good teahouse near here. I go...we go there.” “My friends and me.” He had laughed softly and accepted her invitation.
It had all started so innocently, but soon it was like a raging forest fire between them. Their emotions had taken them both by surprise. Things were now coming to a logical conclusion.
She rinsed her mouth, put the toothbrush back in its holder and went out to the kitchen.
Mamoru had laid the breakfast table with great care. Gleaming porcelain bowls and sparkling silverware were nestled on a snowy white damask tablecloth. In pride of place stood the large white teapot with the bamboo handle, a present from his parents. Near Miko's plate he had remembered to place the jar of English marmalade that she had suddenly started having with her toast.
Miko greeted her husband and took her place at the table. "What is the occasion?" "Have you been offered a new job?"
"Not yet...I thought I would surprise you with breakfast and a little holiday." "We could take a trip up to Mount Fuji and then there’s the Aokigahara forest." "There are many beautiful and rare trees."
Tamiko looked up, "The Aokigahara Forest?" "Isn’t that the place where people go to die?"
"Yes, I’ve heard the stories; it sounds like an interesting place."
"How morbid", she shuddered.
"I remember we almost took a trip there once, but I was called away on business and we couldn’t go…well, now we can make up for that."
"That was a long time ago Mamoru." She whispered.
Tamiko quickly added "What about my English classes?" "Mr. Andrew is preparing us for the exam in two weeks time."
"We could leave tomorrow afternoon and return next Saturday." "You'd be back in plenty of time for your exams!"
She gazed out at the terrace where the weeping cherry he'd planted to mark her thirtieth birthday was smothered in a froth of pale pink flowers.
She sighed heavily and tried one last lame excuse. "It will be very crowded; it always is at blossom time."
"It will be crowded with gaijin." "Come on Miko." pleaded Mamoru. "We need a little holiday." "We need to spend some time together." "I thought we would see each other more since I have been at home, but I hardly ever see you." "You are always out."
She lowered her head guiltily over her teacup. Then she raised her eyes level with his.
"Mamoru, I have great respect and admiration for you." "You've worked so hard to give me everything, but surely you can see that our lives have changed."
He looked at her keenly, "What do you mean…changed?"
"Surely you didn’t think I actually liked being left alone in the house after preparing your Bento box and seeing you off day in day out."
"I thought we......"
"Did you think that we would have children to occupy me?" "But we didn’t..." her voice trembled, hovering on the edge of tears. She shook her head slightly. "I have my own friends, hobbies and interests now Mamoru." She stopped abruptly. He looked hurt and confused.
Mamoru reached across the table and took her hand. "I’m sorry Miko..." "I thought it was a good idea." His eyes rested kindly on her face.
She gave his hand a little squeeze. This was not the time to get into a more protracted explanation. "Alright, when I come back from my English class I'll pack some things." "As you pointed out, there'll be lots of gaijin to practice my English with."
He smiled widely at her like a trusting child. "That's settled then."