The bellman opened the door to the room in the ryokan and carried her bag into a closet hidden behind the paneled walls, and silently left the room. In the corner a little octagonal area surrounded by windows beckoned her into the cushions peeking out of the low wooden table with a tea setting perfectly centered on the round top.
She poured herself a cup of tea and gazed out the window to the snow covered persimmon trees that lined the property beyond the hot springs where the steam from the water headed towards the heavens through the dense growth- mirroring the steam from the pot in front of her.
She heard the door click behind her as a maid slipped silently out- her presence unnoticed by a woman who was lost in her thoughts and the spectacular view from her room.
She saw that the maid had somehow managed to pull out her futon mattress and prepared it for a nap before diner. The air was very still and there was a faint scent of the persimmon tress and incense perfuming the room.
She stood up and undressed slowing grabbing the cotton yukata and slippers from the low shelf near the futon. She wrapped it around herself trying to remember if it was left over right or right over left. She knew that one of those was meant only for a corpse and she snapped back into the present with a start at that horrid thought.
She had arrived at the Ryokan in mid day as part of a group of tourists who boarded the bullet train that morning in Tokyo and who were to share the next 10 days in each others company.
She had wandered around Tokyo for the first two nights on her own- unable to sleep after the long flight, and although she had showered at least 4 times since arriving- the faint smell of cigarettes from the plane still remained.
She walked into a whiskey bar, and found it full of men- all ages and sizes- and she spotted an elderly man in the corner who had been on the same plane sitting alone with a bottle of whiskey in front of him a metal label around its neck that said “McCarthy”. No one turned around or looked at her as she approached his table. He was lost in thought with an air of sadness that filled his entire body.
©2010 Sharon J Corrigan