I hear the familiar sound of Natsuki-tan pull up outside and, for no reason other than wanting to get away from my own miserable flashbacks, go out to chat to her as she unloads the delivery for our neighbours. She looks up as I step out and smiles. She’s sweating over a hefty box of I don’t know what, and I hurry to help her heft it off the back of her truck. It surprises me that a girl’s managed to get this far in the business of shipping. She’s a real girls girl – nothing manly about her. The muscles of her arms are prominent enough to notice and her palms are tough – we shook hands when we met – but the rest of her – that which is on public display, anyway – is soft and pretty. Her curves are subtle but this might be a by-product of the jumpsuit more than anything.

  “None for you today Sempai,” she says, re-rolling her sleeves up her arms wiping her forehead with the back of her hand.

  “I know, I know,” I say, an unexpected determination bubbling somewhere within me. It might be due to the fact that Natsuki is pushing all my buttons with the whole sweaty Asian delivery girl look – or it might be due to the birthday present I received this morning, but I go for it. “I was just going to ask if you wanted to come to Karaoke with me and Dalton sometime this week?”  

  I’m pretty sure there were only a couple of words she caught in the entire sentence, but karaoke must have been one of them because she seemed to get the gist of what I was saying. She laughs a little before simply replying “Karaoke,” and makes a heart shape with her fingers and thumbs.

  “Great,” I say, already regretting what I’d done. I’d used Dalton’s joke of a plan and now I was going to have to tell him I’d used it because he was invited. “I’ll talk to Dalton and we’ll arrange a date.”

  “Date?” Natsuki asks, smiling an embarrassed smile.

  “Sure,” I say. It was an unintentional mistake but it’s about time the language barrier started working in my favour anyway.

  “Can I bring friend?” Natsuki asks. Great. A final phrase that I’m sure is going to have me agonizing over it all day. I decide to skip it and continue as the direct person Natsuki mistook me for.

  “Boyfriend?” I ask in Japanese.

  “Iie iie,” Natsuki says, waving her hands in front of her chest, “For Dalton-kun,”

  “Yeah great,” I say, nodding, and tell her I’ll talk to her about it tomorrow. This is turning out to be an alright birthday.

~ by Joseph Blame on November 24, 2010.

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