Keystone Trigger

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Chapter 49

The rain had tapered off that morning, which made for a sweet-smelling afternoon festooned with hyacinth, deigo blossoms, and silky, spry orchids of yellow. The wedding transpired at the utaki south of Naha, in the middle of the forest with more than five hundred people: relatives, friends, and otherwise, with Dana and Haruki serving as some combination of the three. Hidari and Nayu Wasayama faced each other at the prayer block, hands clasped before white, dignified kimonos that the summer wind thumbed with relief. June 2015.

Hours of reeling motion, of toasts, eisa dancing, and theater and games that always involved a shot of sake or a fortifying swallow of awamori. Like the brides, it was all reckless yet serene and beautiful.

Afterwards, Nayu took her wife's face in her hands and described the wrinkles that lined each side, along her forehead, up and down her proud cheekbones, all around her amber, snub chin. She kissed each place that had aged, and cried.

“I suppose I grew too reflective,” said Hidari in their honeymoon cabin, which sat in an isolated town to the north, near the great yanbara jungle that teemed with monkeys and green thorns.

“I admit I was not reflective enough,” Nayu said in her high-pitched voice. She looked at her dress, blue and orange in a pale pastel, and pushed her tough thumbs together until the pads filled up with blood.

The room was bare except for a bed, a single window giving onto a garden, and a small cedar table and chair. The floor and walls were all made of smooth, solid pine that smelled of sweet tea and turmeric, which was strange because they had eaten a full dinner of squid, yet not even a hint of salty aftertaste lingered on the air. The sun was setting in a fierce, unbridled display of incarnadine rays.

With slow and careful grace Hidari reached out to tug Nayu's drooping earlobe. Her wife smiled involuntarily.

“I see you still don't mind that.”

Nayu looked away again, shy, as if something weighed upon her heart. She giggled.

Hidari pushed herself to her feet and stood at the window for a moment, taking in the acrobatic roil of color. Then she turned to the bed and clasped her hands in front of her dress. Her pearl-wreathed earrings rang like the far-off caprice of a bush warbler.

That night she dreamed of nothing but a wave, bearing her across the sea into heaven.

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