Before I knew it, flowers and a roaring wave of people were all that I could see. When the wave passed, it seemed to have washed away my only ride home. My friend Anne was gone. And she was the only one who could speak Japanese.
At this point, you may think that panic consumed me like fire. But no. I just stood there, wondering how the hell I got myself into this situation. Trapped in a foreign country, knowing absolutely nobody, with the inability to even speak the damn language. All I can do is sigh, clutching onto my thick, authentic fox-fur winter jacket and souvenir purse with all my belongings like it's the only thing keeping me afloat in a sea of strangers.
My breath turns into a fog as I draw ragged breaths from the freezing environment. I twist and turn my head in all directions, still desperate to find that one familiar face in an ocean of thousands of people. I happened to search for a rough five minutes, which felt like twenty before I decided to give up.
I take a seat on a nearby bench, watching as the ongoing winter festival passes me by. I weigh my options. At least I have some money on hand with me, I thought to myself. I double-check my purse to be sure and– two dollars?!
Now, I am officially screwed.
I throw my hands in the air, hysterically. Because that is all I can do. I am in the middle of Japan, with two dollars, and I’m a middle-aged woman. What a time, am I right?
I look at the black night sky of Japan, little white specks falling from the sky. When I was young, I used to think that snowflakes were stars falling from the sky. To my disappointment, my fourth-grade science teacher had to crush my dream and imagination.
Suddenly, I feel something buzz inside one of the pockets of my jacket. I gasp at the realization that I still have my phone with me. Instantly, I take it out of the safety of my jacket and find that I’m at… four percent.
“What even–” I scowl at my inanimate phone.
How is this even possible?
Exasperatedly annoyed, I bury my face in the warm fur of my jacket, and scream.
“大丈夫ですか、ミス?” I hear a man say.
“What? I’m sorry, I don’t speak Japanese,” I reply, my face once again hit with a wave of cold breeze.
“Oh, apologies. I couldn’t tell if you’re a native or a foreigner because your head was inside your jacket,” he chuckles, his Japanese accent apparent. My eyes find his face and at first glance, he’s surprisingly handsome. His thin eyes, defined eyebrows, and charming white smile makes me feel like I’ve been placed in the middle of a heatwave instead of a blazing winter.
“I… Ah…” I stutter. I snap myself out of it and silently curse Anne for bringing me here. She knows that I have a soft spot for Asians. “I mean, yeah. I’m American.”
“That explains it,” he says as he adjusts the scarlet-red scarf around his broad neck.
“You’re lost aren’t you?”
I try to play it off like I’m not stranded in a foreign country, alone. “I’m not lost. I have a map right here on my phone.” I display my phone proudly.
“You are… at four percent,” he comments.
A wave of heat rushes from nowhere and it’s not helping me become more red than I already am. I briskly shove my phone back in my pocket and look away, trying to hide my hot, tomato face.
“Do you know where you stay?” he asks.
“No. My friend Anne planned everything. She made the reservations, the itinerary, everything. And she left me. You know, she’s the reason why I’m in this mess in the first place!” I rant out. “She made me come here for this vacation, peer pressuring me into buying this–” I held out the souvenir purse. “–leaving me no money left to get anywhere!”
“Well, do you remember her number? Maybe you could call her on my phone,” he suggests.
“Oh. That’s very kind. Thank you,” I say as he hands me his phone. “I’m Stephanie, by the way.” I hold out my hand.
He shakes it. “Kenji,” he says. “My father’s Japanese but my mother is American. But I was born here.”
“Both my parents are American, but my father passed away when I was young.”
“I’m sorry,” Kenji says.
“It’s alright,” I shrug it off. “My mom eventually remarried.”
I open his phone, only to hold back a little chuckle. Kenji immediately realizes.
“Is this you?” I showed him his lock screen cover with a picture of him when he was young, maybe prom night. His face was covered in an entire village of freckles and acne. He wore a clean white and blue suit with a black tie. An old woman stood next to him.
“Ah, yeah,” he realizes. “How could I forget.” He takes his phone back and inputs the password. He hands it back to me, smiling. “Here.”
“Who was that woman standing beside you in the picture?” I ask.
Kenji’s face falls into a small frown. “That was my grandmother. She passed away last year.”
“I’m so sorry. Were you two close?”
Kenji chuckles, my question bringing him back memories. “Yeah. She dressed me up that night. I thought it looked ridiculous, but every girl went straight to me because of how I looked.”
“She must have had a great sense of fashion then.”
“She did,” Kenji says, a tear almost breaking from his eye. “Anyway, do you remember your friend Anne’s number?”
“Oh, yeah. I do,” I blurt out, almost forgetting about the crisis at hand. This man is definitely my type. Kind, sensitive, compassionate, handsome, and Asain.
Perhaps this isn’t so bad, after all.
“Her number is +1-202-555-01–”
“BAH!” someone screams and grabs my shoulder from behind me. It scared my heart out of my chest and me out of my seat on the bench.
“AH!” I scream, fearing that I could’ve been kidnapped. To my shock, I find Kenji giggling. “What’s so funny?” I scowl.
Then I spot Anne rolling on the ground, laughing and slapping her knee. My mind instantly connects the dots.
“You know Anne?” I demanded at Kenji.
“Anne and I know each other, yeah,” he shrugs, still snickering endlessly. But not as hard as Anne. I strut behind the bench where my friend covers herself in snow, caught in a frenzy of laughter.
“Was this your plan all along?”
“Yes, My Queen,” Anne makes a lousy curtsy in front of me. “This was hard to plan, you know. To get Kenji here all the way from Tokyo to Nagoya was hard stuff.” Anne brushes herself off from the pile of snow she rolled on.
“So… do you like him?” Anne prods as she places an arm around my shoulder.
“Mmm, maybe,” I mutter, soft enough for Kenji not to eavesdrop. Anne wiggles her eyebrows like a maniac. I push myself away from her, laughing.
“Do you guys want to go to dinner? My treat,” Kenji asks.
“Well, when you have two dollars in your pocket…” Anne says for me.
My jaw drops wide enough for the falling snow to enter. “You took my money too?”
She does nothing but smile. “At least I found someone for you,” she says as she wraps her arm around me once more while we walk with Kenji.
I roll my eyes, but deep down, I can’t help but let my mouth drool for what dinner Kenji has in store for us. And what he’ll mean in my life.