Chapter three, 2016, beginnings

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Midsummer's eve,2040, coffee is served


"What is that?"

"That?" Ulf pointed at a bottle with yellow liquid inside.

Noriko nodded.

"Punsch. Sweet liquor. It's a Swedish speciality." At least I'm not making a fool of myself this time. Yeah, that party was awful, really awful. Ulf grinned at the memory.

"You should wait for the coffee though," Christina added from the left. She played around with the flower decorations on the table.

Noriko nodded again and hesitantly agreed to have a small amount poured into her glass. "We don't have this at home," she said. "Swedish speciality and all."

"Well, we don't have umeshu at home neither," Christina countered. "Japanese speciality and all." And with that she placed another bottle on the table.

The two women eyed each other as if sizing each other up. Tall, blond beauty versus the Wakayama midget. "I guess," Noriko broke the silence first, "that it could serve as this punsch of yours?"

"Yes, it's definitely one of the things I like with Japan," Christina agreed, and the tension between them vanished as if it had never been there. They laughed and drunkenly high-fived each other.

So it was all an act after all. Ulf sighed in relief. "You bring to home what you take from home," he said in a rather lame attempt at making a joke.

On the other side of the table Ryu lit a cigarette and smiled. "Coffee is served," he announced. "Umeshu or Punsch? Take your pick from home." Flashing his more childish side he stuck his tongue out at Ulf. "Last time it would have been illegal, but sorely needed."



Chapter three,2016, beginnings


Home is the place where you happen to live.

That was always the case for Christina. Wherever she lived, and living was being alone. It was, for lack of a better word, practical. Home was clean, because home never stayed the same for very long. For as long as she could remember she had been on the move. First with her parents moving from job to job like a grazing herd, and then she on her own.

From seventeen to fifty. Three years behind the same door was the longest she could recall being in one place. This small room in a different world was maybe less grand than most of the places she had called home, but it was really no better or worse than most of them.



***



Home is where you grow up.

She was born here. Literally. In the bathroom. Kyoko hadn't know any other place than this one. Within walking distance from both school and cram school. Within walking distance from her old middle school, grade school and elementary school. Within walking distance from her entire life.

Home is where you learn to behave as is proper. Where your parents live proper lives. Home is furnished according to your family's status, is of the proper size for a public servant family and is situated where other families of equal status are likely to be found. Home is – proper.



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