Ruth cursed as she rushed to get dressed. She had an appointment this morning and of course her alarm clock did not go off. She dressed in a pair of jeans and a long shirt, a tunic. She had a strange taste for older clothes. She pulled back her brunette hair and quickly threw it into a pony tail. Then she put on her boots. Her hiker boots seemed odd with her choice of clothing, but she didn’t care. She wore them for practical reasons. They were waterproof. She didn’t own a vehicle and so walking or taking the city bus was the only options left to her. She looked at herself in the mirror, straightened her glasses. Her hazel eyes staring back at her. She checked her phone. Good thing the bus stop was close. She ran and got there as soon as the bus pulled up. She showed the driver her pass and took a seat. She nodded in greeting to the other passengers and settled back to wait. Once the bus stopped in front of the entrance to the doctor’s office, she got off the bus. And stepped right into a rain puddle. She sighed and walked into the office, checked in and sat to wait. She hated doctor’s. But at the age of 43, her body seemed to be rebelling against her. She had been diagnosed with hypothyroidism. While not a life threatening condition, its annoyances more than made up for it. Weight gain, tiredness, she felt like nothing she did changed anything. Then if she overdid anything it would affect her negatively. So if she exercised and overdid it in her attempt to lose weight, she gained more. It was a vicious cycle. So she was forced to go to the doctor every three months for blood work and to refill the necessary prescriptions. As she sat there and played solitaire on her phone, she listened for her name to be called. She was led back then and asked the usual questions and sent for her blood draw. After being given refills for her scripts, and scheduling her next appt, she was sent on her way.
Ruth arrived at the bus stop just in time to see the bus she needed pull away. She sighed and sat down. It would be a thirty minute wait until the next one. Thankfully, despite the rain yesterday, the sun shone bright today. She enjoyed the sunshine as it warmed her. The bus pulled up and once again she climbed aboard, this time asking for a transfer. She sat down and watched as the bus pulled away. As the bus went along, she went back to her game on her phone. She could hear people having conversations, moms trying to keep their energetic children from escaping from their seats. She was a mother, so she couldn’t help smiling, remembering the challenge of keeping small children entertained for the seemingly long bus ride. Ruth’s kids were grown. They still lived in town, but she only saw them every once in a while. She didn’t mind at first, but after a while, the peace and quiet would get to her. There were times she would wake up in the middle of the night thinking her kids were calling her. She would sigh, sometimes having to wipe a tear from her eye. This was not what she imagined her life would be like. She had never imagined she would become a single mom at the age of twenty-six. Her boys’ father had decided that being responsible was not something he had any interest in. During their nine years of marriage, he had abused her boys physically and emotionally. The financial abuse was constant as well. He had more than thirty jobs in ten years. And of course there was the infidelity. He ended up abandoning his family. Then in her desperation to have a daughter after three boys, she met a man online. After three years of abuse and infidelity that ended with her only daughter being kidnapped by the state of Missouri and sold to the highest bidder. Her ex having successfully used the family court system to gain permanent custody. Six years later, he lost the child to the state when he was found to be in possession of methamphetamine’s’ while she was with him. Rather than her daughter being returned to her mother, the court proceeded to make false claims without any evidence to back it up and succeeded in terminating Ruth’s parental rights. Now this was all that was left. Living alone and only leaving the house a few times a month. She still had her boys, but the pain of losing her only daughter caused her serious anxiety. Despite all of this she always had a smile to share and went out of her way to help others. Deep down she still held out hope that one day she would finally get to experience what it meant to be truly loved and cared for. But what man would want someone broken? She also had the most boring personality. She never drank, did drugs, smoked etc. Ruth was a writer, a poet and still a foolish hopeless romantic. And yet the men that existed today either thought with only one organ on their body. And it wasn’t brain matter. Men no longer asked women out on dates. They preferred meeting online and simply hooking up. It sickened her. She didn’t have looks going for her either. After four children and a hard life, her body was so much more proud of its scars and signs of disrepair, than she was. Guys wanted skinny women. And women with any ounce of intelligence scared the crap out of them. Ruth sighed.
The bus pulled into the downtown stop and Ruth got off. She took a deep breath. She needed to relax. To enjoy the weather. She adjusted her purse and crossed the street. Maybe she should get some lunch. It was about noon and she was in no hurry to get home. She knew once she got there, she wouldn’t feel like going anywhere. She felt a breeze pick up and sighed again. She decided on Aimee’s Coffee House. It was clear on the other end of the thoroughfare, but she loved their coffee. As she got closer to her cafe of choice, a gust of wind blew. When she looked down, she saw a folder trying to escape. She quickly put her toe on it, stopping it from going anywhere. She picked it up and as she stood up, she took a step back. A tall gentleman stood there. His long white hair pulled back not unlike her own. His silver eyes glinted and his smile made her heart flutter. She held onto the folder tighter without realizing it. “May I?” He asked, his voice smooth as silk. Ruth blushed. “I’m sorry, sir.” She says dusting off non existent debris before she hands it to him. He smiled. “Thank you.” He looked around for a moment before returning his gaze to her. “Would you like to join me inside? This is where you were heading, correct.” “Yes, sir.” Ruth stammered. He opened the door for her and motioned that she go first. Ruth did so. He followed her to the counter. Ruth pretended not to notice. “What would you like?” The barista asked her. Ruth thought for a moment. “I’d like a house coffee with an order of biscuits and gravy, please.” She says. The barista nodded. Ruth found her way to her favorite table in the back right corner and took a seat. Before she could pull out her phone, a shadow fell across her table. “Madam,” A familiar voice says, “May I join you?” Ruth looked up and blushed. This only made him smile. She nodded and he pulled out a chair to sit down. Ruth looked at his yakata. The gray seemed to only make his hair stand out. She managed a smile, not sure what she was supposed to do. She waited for him. He nodded then and said, “My name is Samuke, Hirozaki. May I know yours?” Ruth paused for a moment. He was traditional Japanese then. Not someone in cosplay as she was thinking. She began by nodding as he did and answered, “Ruth.” He waited for a moment. She was not going to just give someone her last name. If this was considered as a rude gesture, he didn’t say anything. “It’s nice to meet you, Ruth. Thank you for saving my folder. I’m in your debt.” Ruth nodded. “You’re welcome, sir.” Thankfully her food was served then. “Excuse me, please.” She says as she stands up leaving to retrieve her coffee and poison it to her liking. She returned and sat down. She cut her food more carefully than usual, not used to be watched so closely. He took a sip of his green tea, set it down again. He seemed to sense her nervousness. “Please,” He says gently. “Eat your meal. I can sit elsewhere if it makes you more comfortable.” “That’s not necessary.” Ruth says begins to eat her meal. “May I ask what part of Japan you are from? You certainly don’t dress as though you’re from Tokyo.” She says after finishing a bite. Hirozaki smiled. “I’m from Aogashima,” He tells her. Ruth loved Japan and studied it whenever she had a chance. She nodded then. That would also explain his attire. “What brings you to Lawrence?” He chuckled then, it made her heart flutter. “I traveled here at the request of an old friend.” “There you are, Hirozaki.” Another man stood beside him with a smile on his face. He looked to be about the same age. His hair was gray and cut short. He had dark eyes Unlike his white haired friend, he was dressed in dress pants and a long sleeve shirt. “It took me a moment to find a parking place.” He bowed to Ruth. “May I?” Ruth nodded. Boy she was popular today. Two good looking men requesting to sit with her. “This young woman did me great service and kept my paperwork from getting blown away.” He tells his friend, smiling in her direction. “Sir, please.” Ruth murmurs. “Please address me as Samuke.” He tells her then, a bit stern. “Yes, s-, Samuke.” Ruth was doing her best to stay calm, but this much attention, despite it being positive was making her nervous. “I’m so glad to have met you and that I was able to be of help. Good day.” With that she nearly ran out the door. Hirozaki looked at Ikuro with a smirk. “Guess we found a shy one.” He started to stand up. Ikuro saw that Ruth in her haste had forgotten her purse. “Hirozaki, we may have an errand to run.” Hirozaki shook his head. “I wasn’t expecting to get that kind of reaction.” He blushed only slightly. But enough that Ikuro saw it. He chose to keep it to himself for now. His friend had never reacted to women like that in all the years he had known him. This would prove interesting. Something about her affected him.