Noriko poured some more coffee for herself. For once she didn’t care to ask if anyone else wanted some. The taste was nothing like what James had spoiled her with, but it still offered the kick that tea simply couldn’t deliver.

I’m becoming less Japanese for every year, she thought. Still she held no regrets. At least not concerning that part. It wasn’t as if she didn’t care about Japan; that was still home, but a home that grew more and more distant. In a way she suspected the Japan she knew no longer existed, but for a dream and memories mixed together.

With another gulp she corrected that thought. It’s still there. It hasn’t been that many years.

Noriko smirked and basked in the weak sun the people here called summer. If she was to be honest with herself the reason she was here right now could be traced back almost another two years before the nightmare she had in mind.

She poured down some more of the traditional, weak coffee Swedes drank in stupendous volumes. Slightly bitter, with a tinge of sour, and too cool for her taste. Coffee should be creamy and thick, and hot, just shy of burning.

When did things start to break down? she thought. Ah, after Nao. Noriko recalled the tall model. A year older than her. She had been so very much in love with him, but then he betrayed her, and she hadn’t even been the one to chase after him in the beginning.

But we were breaking apart before that, she remembered. I just didn’t see it, and to be honest, neither did he.

Being cheated on, in the end wasn’t the worst. Watching a wedge being driven in between her friends had been. Kareyoshi, I hope you burn in whatever hell they found for you!

In the end she came to respect and adapt the Swedish way of holding a grudge and exact revenge. A never ending grudge, the absolute refusal to forgive until your opponent had been utterly destroyed, and most often not even then.

Cool, like their coffee.

Urufu, was it you who helped me, or was it me who helped you? It didn’t matter. The result would have been the same anyway.

Noriko grimaced, looked at the sea broken by islets and gulped down the last of her coffee.


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