When Cherry Blossoms Bloom

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Cultures Coalesce

“Yes, this will do nicely,” Ono tells her. The woman placed a pair of shoes on the floor and Ruth slipped into them. “Come dear,” She said then, “He’s waiting for you.” Ruth nodded. She followed the woman out to a waiting vehicle the fabric rustling as she walked. She felt like a princess. The woman opened the car door for her and helped her in making sure to protect the kimono as she shut the door. The car pulled away. Ruth was surprised when they had driven to Kansas City and pulled into the driveway of a home. It was a beautiful home built in an authentic Japanese style. The woman turned off the car and walked around to help her out. Ruth then followed her inside. She watched the woman remove her shoes and then motioned to Ruth to do the same. After doing so, she was led into a small room. There sat Hirozaki, dressed in a black yakata and seated on the floor, his knees below the table. He motioned for her to join him. She struggled some not used to the weight of the kimono, but finally sat down similar to how he did. He nodded to the woman and she brought in multiple dishes and set them on the table in front of them. Hirozaki grinned as Ruth looked around for silverware. “Ruth,” He says quietly and points at the chopsticks that lay within reach of her. Ruth blushed. The woman served them before bowing and leaving them alone. Even closing the screen as she backed out. Ruth watched him then, waiting. He picked up his chopsticks and took a bite and then waited for her. She picked up the chopsticks and after a clumsy start, she managed to get the hang of it. They ate in silence. She didn’t mind. She wouldn’t have been able to think of anything to say anyway. The woman only returned to refill their cups of tea before bowing again and leaving. When Ruth had finished, she lay her chopsticks across the empty bowl and waited. Hirozaki got to his feet with no effort. Ruth looked at him then, and then looked at the floor. He only smiled and offered her his hand before helping her to her feet. She followed him to another room and he had her sit down. Beside her was another package. He had a similar one. “Now,” He said with a smile. “We change and then its my turn.” Ruth smiled but seem confused. Ono came into the room and beckoned Ruth to follow her. Once they entered another room, she shut the door, took the box from Ruth, and set it down. It took nearly the same amount of time to get out of the kimono as it did to getting into it. This time as she was undressed, the kimono and all that came with it, was folded up neatly and placed into a beautiful wooden box. She also took Ruth’s hair down and brushed it out before braiding it for her. Ono motioned to the box next to her. “Please change into these clothes.” She tells her with a smile. When Ruth opened the box, she found a pair of jeans and a new tunic along with a pair of slip on tennis shoes. She dressed quickly and followed her back out to the entry way. Hirozaki was there waiting for her. He was dressed in a pair of nice dark jeans and a white polo shirt. He also wore a pair of tennis shoes. His hair was pulled back into a braid like hers. She smiled. “You look amazing.” Was all she could manage. “And you,” He said as he kissed her hand. “Still look beautiful.” When they left this time, they took an Uber. When they pulled into the parking lot at IHOP, she looked at Hirozaki and smiled. “Are you serious?” He nodded smiling back and motioned for her to stay. He climbed out of the car and walked around before opening her door and taking her hand again. She followed him inside. When the waitress saw him she smiled. Blushing some. Ruth knew how she felt. “How many?” “Two, please.” He answered. They followed the hostess and sat at a booth. The waitress was there a moment later. “What would you like to drink?” She asks. Ruth was still somewhat full from the wonderful lunch they had just eaten, but “I’d like a chocolate shake, please.” She tells her. She looked at Hirozaki. “The same.” Was all he answered. The waitress nodded. “I’ll have it right out.” With that she left. Ruth shook her head. “What?” He asked, “Thank you.” Was all Ruth could say. He nodded. The waitress brought out their shakes and they spent the next hour talking while enjoying their shakes. When they were finished, he picked up the ticket and left behind a generous tip. After paying the bill they left. When he saw Ruth eyeing the stores, he smiled. “Would you like to go shopping?” Ruth shook her head. “Please, I really don’t want anything. You’ve done so much already.” He took her hand. “Then we’ll just look.” With that they spent nearly three hours walking around all the department stores that were within a reasonable distance. Before long, it was getting dark. Hirozaki called an Uber and they sat outside Walmart on a bench to watch for it. Ruth stifled a yawn. She jumped when Hirosaki put his arm around her. He looked down at her with a reassuring smile as she lay on his shoulder. He sighed. This was more fun than he could have imagined. The Uber pulled up and they both climbed in the car. Before long, they pulled into Ruth’s apartment. She waited for her door to open and then stepped out holding his hand again. He walked her to her door. “I had a wonderful time, Ruth. Thank you for humoring me.” He tells her. “Thank you,” Ruth says, “I really enjoyed all of it.” She blushed then when Hirozaki leaned in and kissed her on the cheek. He had a blush of his own. He kissed her hand. “Goodnight.” He said as he let go. Ruth watched him leave. Her heart pounding out of her chest. She took a deep breath and unlocked her door before going inside. She undressed and decided to soak in the tub. After that she went to bed and was asleep before her head hit the pillow.

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