70 : Places to Be, Americans to Drown


A note from drac

  Lan holds his phone up against the back of Saya's, both vibrate as the contacts transfer to Lan's phone. He lowers it into his lap and thumbs the confirmation, looking in his contacts to find Saya Travis, and Home (2). He presses the new Home one, an American number.
He scrolls up and edits it to “Saya's Parents – Robert and Mary” so his phone isn't confused with his own original contact of the landline to here, to Hiroshima.
“Are you sure?” He looks at his watch, trying to remember the conversion from GMT +9 to GMT -3 or -5.. but Saya nods. “They'll be in bed,” she replies, “but awake. At least Dad will be. He stays up for the late night shows.”
Lan pulls his arms behind him as his breastbone cracks, tilting his head from side to side as if he's readying for a race. Breathing in through his nose, and out his mouth as he touches their contact info, hovering over the Call icon.
Finally, he presses it, the phone going into call mode as he also presses the speaker button, holding it flat in between them as it starts to ring – three notes as it connects, followed by the waiting brrr.
It's only when they hear the fourth one that Lan looks over at Saya, who leans back, rolling her eyes. “They screen their calls. I don't know what shows up for them when I call, but a generic international number..”
After six rings, a man's voice comes on the line: “You have reached Mary and Robert Travis, we aren't home right now, please leave your name and number after the tone.”
Lan was ready to hang up as he recognizes it as a recording, but Saya grips his wrist and tilts the phone towards her, until it beeps.
“Dad, pick up the phone.” There was still a delay between what she said and what they heard, she remembers, pausing before droning out. “Daaaaaaad, it's me, pick up the--”
They both hear a fumbling of a phone as it is turned on, and a muffled “Mary, Mary, it's..” - more fabric against the microphone until Saya's father gets it in place.
“Saya! How are you? Where are you?” He asks after a second or two delay.
“Hey, Dad, I'm good, I'm.. in Hiroshima. A ways south of Tokyo? Remember, I told you I was coming here?”
“Yes!” He was almost yelling into the phone, as if that made him sound clearer and lessened the delay. “You said you were going with a boy? A..” Her father covers the mic, but not enough, as he asks Saya's mother. “What did she say? Alcoholic..” the microphone cut off as he releases it. “Your neighbor?”
“Um.. about that.. ah.. Dad, we're on speakerphone, this is Lan.. my neighbor's number, and he's right here.”
Another cover-up, but enough to catch a 'Shit!' from her father who turns on the speaker on their end. “Right! Right, L.. Lan? Satako? Is that who he is? Hi, Satako, it. is. a. pleasure.” Her father sounds out, which makes Saya roll her eyes and sigh, shaking her head at the phone.
“He speaks English, Dad. You don't have to do that,” she rests her chin in her hand, looking between Lan and the phone, though Lan was trying to hold back a grin.
Meanwhile, a rustled woman was groaning and slowly waking up, making muffled curses at her partner at waking her up. It wasn't until Saya's father hisses at her with a 'shh – it's Saya!' does she clear her throat and take interest.
“Saya! How are things?” The two can hear shifting sheets. “How is Hiroshima? You haven't sprouted new fingers, have you?”
That gets Lan, who turns and tries laughing as quiet as he can, still holding the phone up between them, and even Saya smiles at the recall of Lan's joke from the museum.
“I'm fine, no extra appendages, no cancer, I'm fine. I just thought I'd..” She glances at Lan. “I thought I'd check in with you guys, and Lan wanted to talk to you.”
More whispers, barely covered - “Lan who? Lan?” “The neighbor, the al--..” Static, dead air, until they finally come back on the line.
“Lan.. Satake, was it?” Her mother asks, while her father whispers. “Satake? Is that it?”
Taking a deep breath, Lan sits back up on the bench. “Right, Satake Lan, Lan Satake, however you want to say it. I'm--”
(the strange alcoholic neighbor)
“Saya's neighbor, and I thought she would be interested in seeing Hiroshima. It's a pleasure to talk to both of you,” he says in perfect English.
More of a pause, actually, which makes Saya and Lan look at each other before her father finally speaks.
“Well, Lan, it is great to hear from both of you. What time is it there?” “Nearly 1pm,” Saya chimes in, the two of them speaking at the phone between them.
“So you're okay and.. safe?” Her mother asks, hesitating at the last word. “Of course, mom,” Saya replies, “Lan and his family have been very accommodating. Hotel and all.”
“Good!” they both echo, her father continuing, “Do watch out for her, if you would, Lan, she likes to.. wander.”
“I..” he mouths at Saya, wander?, she shrugs and shakes her head again, “She's in good hands at the Sheraton downtown, we're just doing the tourism thing here today, sir.”
'Sir!' they hear from Saya's father as the phone's moved away from her parents, Lan chuckles, rubbing his forehead with the back of his free hand – manners transitioned language.
Saya leans up above Lan's shoulder, whispering to him: “This will never end, hand me your phone.”
Doing so, Saya taps the speaker icon and holds it up to her ear. “Hey, it's just me. Yes, he is nice. Yes, I'm okay.”
“Hot?” She looks up, holding her hand between her at the sun as she looks up, then to Lan. “Hotter than Easton, yeah. More humid.”
“I have to go, this is an expensive call,” Saya says, who bends over and nods while listening. “I will. I will. I got it. I love you too, I'll call you later. I..” She glances over at Lan, who was watching her, turning away from him as she murmurs into the phone.
“Yeah, there's more to it than that. Sleep well, yeah?” She waits and nods, lowering the phone and tapping the end button, turning to look at Lan.
“They have.. questions..” She hands over his phone, but seeing it blank, Lan looks back at her. “But they know I'm okay. That you're.. okay.”
Lan cradles his phone in both hands in his lap, nodding at her, then towards the phone, turning it over idly in his hands. “That's all I wanted.”
He taps the back of his phone against his other hand, squinting up at her as she didn't quite block out the sun behind her. “Thank you.”
Standing up, Lan slides his phone into his pocket, exhaling as the problem was solved, for now. “So, can we start off towards the shrine? I have an American girl to drown in the low tide.”
Saya frowns until she gets the joke, smiling and prodding two fingers into Lan's ribs, causing him to laugh as they finally make their way towards the train's exit to the street.


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About the author


Bio: apologies for everything about me, it might get better.

updates will be once a day for the next seventy days since i am migrating from another platform and have those chapters - and more - ready to go. (from 8/9)

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