Chapter 1 Calm before the Storm
It was a wonderful September day in Miami, Florida. On the wide white beach along the coast of Key Biscayne the sun was hot on the sand.
A slim young woman in her early twenties was lying alone down by the sea. She was beautiful, but her face was sad. Her long black hair fell over the book she was reading. From time to time she looked up from her book and along the beach. Then she put her book away in a bag and sat up. She looked unhappily along the beach again.
“I can’t tell him! I just can’t tell him!” she whispered to herself.
The sea was flat, calm, and clear. And the weather was hot. It was too hot to work, too hot to play, too hot to drive into Miami to meet up with friends, and it was
too hot to stay at home. The wide green streets of Key Biscayne and the parking lots of the tall white buildings were almost empty in the burning sun.
Everybody was at the beach. Groups of friends lay on the sand, talking, laughing and listening to music. Some were playing ball games, others ran into the water to swim. Families with fat babies and sunburned children lay under the palm trees that grew along the beach. Mothers watched carefully as their children ran down to the sea to play in the warm shallow water. And at the far end of the beach, across the water, the tall white buildings of Miami stood out against the clear blue sky.
At the far side of the beach a narrow path ran between the tall white apartment buildings. It joined the green streets of Key Biscayne with the wide white beaches. A tall good-looking man about the same age as the woman was coming down the path. He was wearing a T-shirt and jeans and his arms and face were brown from the sun. At the end of the path he stopped under the palm trees and looked out across the beach.
“Ikemi!” he shouted.
“Max!’ the woman stood up and waved. “I’m here! Over here!”
He saw her, smiled, waved back, took off his shoes, and came running towards her over the sand. He sat down beside her and moved over to kiss her.
“Don’t? Don’t kiss you? Why not? What’s the matter?” he asked.
Ikemi looked away from Max. “I’m sorry, Max, I’m so sorry, but we have to talk. There’s something I have to say to you... I wish I didn’t... I really wish...”
“Ikemi! What’s the matter? What’s going on? Tell me!”
Ikemi reached down and picked up a small stone. “It’s my father,” she said slowly. “He doesn’t want... you and I... he says we’re getting too serious. He says...” Ikemi did not finish what she was saying. Max took hold of her shoulders and looked into her eyes.
“Ikemi! Tell me! What does your father say?”
“Oh Max! He says I have to stop seeing you. I can’t see you anymore.”
“Stop seeing me? But he can’t do that!” Max looked at Ikemi in surprise. But she looked at the stone, turning it over and over in her hands.
“Ikemi! Look at me! What’s going on? Why does your father want you to stop seeing me? What’s the matterwith me? What have I done?”
Ikemi threw the stone into the beautiful clear water.
She turned and looked at Max. “It’s not what you’ve done, Max. It’s who you are.”
“Who I am? What do you mean?”
“You’re American, Max. I know it’s difficult for you to understand, but my father does not want me to date American men. He says there are too many differences between us, between Japanese and American people, between the way we live and the way we think.”
“What? You can’t be serious!”said Max. “How on earth can your father say that? Your mother was American! He married her, didn’t he? He married an American! How can it be all right for him to marry an American but not for you? It’s crazy!”
Ikemi looked away.