For the few of you that may not know, I lost Holly, my wife of 14 years, last November after a month long battle with sepsis that the doctors now tell me was caused by (they believe) pneumonia. I know there wasn't an autopsy and they hadn't told me that before, but the news doesn't surprise me. Either way, she's still gone.
However, I am returning to as normal a life as I can. I recently rejoined the work force as a part time associate at Walmart. That, plus a survivor's benefit I'm receiving from Holly's SS disability will enable me to live comfortably while I work on my career as an author.
That is beginning to get back on track, too. What I thought was a grief-induced writer's block I have discovered was also partially due to trying to force an unnatural structure on Darius and Ayano's story. When I gave that up and decided to roll with the punches, the story began flowing again. Now, the only thing that is slowing me down is fatigue from work. My body is growing stronger and I am regaining my desire and ability to write. That will be evident by the following snippet. This snippet takes place on the day in January, 1992 when Darius and Ayano first meet.
Disclaimer: This is an unedited first draft and may not make it into the final draft in this form.
As Ayano approached the main entrance on the north side of the building, the doors opened and a group of men walked in. They were all tall, muscular and had the look of military men. It was hard for her to tell who was in charge since they all wore coats and jeans. One man had a leather case slung over his shoulder. He spotted her and broke off from the group, heading for her. She started to greet him but he smiled and spoke first. “Ohayō gozaimasu,” he said in a deep baritone.
She stopped, mesmerized by his voice. She felt like she had just heard the traditional Japanese greeting for the first time. He frowned and asked her in Japanese, “Did I not pronounce it correctly?”
Startled, she replied in English, “No,it was… Perfect.” He chuckled at that then said, “So you speak English. Which way would you like to go?”
His question confused her. “Which way?”
“English or Japanese?” His smile broadened.
“Ah. Hai—I mean, yes,” Ayano replied, suddenly nervous. “Could we speak English, onegai… I mean, please?” Her cheeks began to burn.
“That’s fine—if I can practice my Nihongo with you later,” he said. He held out his hand. “My name is Darius Becker. I’m pleased to meet you, Miss…”
“Kimura Ayano,” she said, placing her hand in his. He gently shook her hand. “I am pleased to meet you, Darius-san.”
“As I am to meet you, Miss Ayano.” His use of her first name surprised her. She let go of his hand as she felt her blush deepen. A look of concern spread across his face as he asked, “Are you feeling well?” You look flushed.”
“I’m… It’s just… I’m not used to a man using my given name,” she said, looking down at the floor.
“I’m… I’m sorry,” he said, “I didn’t mean to offend you.”
Ayano shook her head, though she still looked at the floor. “I’m not offended, just…” Her voice trailed off as she wracked her brain for the proper word. “It took me by surprise.”