You would know by her languid airs that she had all the time and money in the world, well. Not so much of either, anymore.
Grown up in Tokyo, daughter to a wealthy merchant father and an heiress mother, Keiko had never know hunger, nor desire, nor anything that moved her to want. Living a perfect sheltered existence through childhood, attending an exclusive playschool at the age of six and graduating from a ladies’ university at nineteen, the world awaited her with cradling arms. Beckoning her so close to their hearts to become human.
Her looks couldn't be bought, only cultivated like a true pearl, through the harsh revolving grit and grind of a careful, possessive shell.
In her formative years she felt no stress, hands flocked around her to take care of that. Keiko knew how to dress with understated glamour, not an eyelash out of place, lips the shade of roses that flowered and whithered with each season.
Men would tap her on the shoulder as she swanked down Ginza Bouleavrd, as she kept friends in lockets who’d grab any hot-blooded male’s attention: Miss Arashi being one, a JAL air stewardess being another. The 1960’s. Her hair, her make-up, her wider than usual almond eyes that sloped off in to a distinguished smile.
‘Are you free to have tea with me?’
‘May I take you for a dance?’
‘Would you and your friend escort us to a private member’s club?’
She never had to cook a meal for herself, never. Always a new man vying for her attentions. Youth, money, beauty, song, gourmet, dance, evokes the memories of an old lady.
Seventy-six is old by any standard, and yet, as if it were yesterday the melody of the American band and the sequined nightgown of the maitre’d float by, leading you coaxingly, deferentially away to a table.
Handsome face, aquiline bridge, light green eyes, a pilot from Egypt with the manners of a prince. ‘I thought, I would never be so happy again.’
Married at twenty-one to a man, a nuclear scientist of all things, who had won her heart with sweet devil talk. Her simple softness seduced by his slick tongue, it was all a complicated dance and she felt lied to. He died at forty-six leaving her a home that only accrued escalating taxes with age.
But by the sea, everything so green and turquoise blue, it never got cold so the fruit always grew so plump. The spiders were hideous and hairy beasts, butterflies with wingspans she’d never believe. Fruit flies the size of horse flies.
The very tanned surfers, with sculpted bodies would ride the waves each morning, forgetting the storms and Keiko liked to imagine mustering that kind of resolve one day. To approach relentless crashing with forethought and courage, mixed with a thrill of the fun.
Those two years of freedom, working as an elevator girl at the Department Store had finished her. She had been too attractive to not be taken off the shelf, wrapped in one of those sharp-cornered bags strangled in frilly ribbon.
She had never bought a cigarette in her life, yet had always been offered foreign silk cuts out of silk pockets, handkerchief, necktie, studs.
Wondering whether the fish danced with the surge of the wave or got swallowed whole in to a vortex –
Keiko alone liked to watch the setting sun, rise, then set again.
It was called the Land of the Rising Sun, perhaps this was the reason why, purely for her to amount to being at this windowsill.
That was her routine, never lonely looking out to shore.
She would never be sure of herself again in her life.