“Bye, Mommy!”, said Yumiko in her perfect, unaccented English, smiling brightly as she skipped down the sidewalk toward the school shuttle.
“Soreja, Yumi”, replied Rin. She once again shook her head at the futility of getting the eight year old girl to speak her native language. Teaching was in Japanese only at the company school, and Akio refused to use English when he was home, but her daughter and all of her friends chattered in the local language when they were together.
With a last wave at the smiling little girl, Rin walked back into the lobby of the apartment block. Samuel was at the security desk again, leering at her as she walked by. Only a few more weeks until Akio gets the promotion and we can move out of this hovel and into a company building, thought the young woman. She was used to admiring glances from men, but the gaijin security guard was downright creepy.
Returning to the apartment, Rin checked on Katsumi, but the toddler was still playing race cars with the CyberNanny™. She set about tidying up the breakfast dishes, checking on the cleaning drone, and reviewing the pantry contents to decide on lunch. Akio wouldn’t be home from work for a few more hours, and she needed a few more groceries anyway. Reclining on the couch, she logged into the local store node and browsed the specials before selecting a few staples and placing the order.
She was well into the latest episode of Extreme Survivor: Hubble, when the door alert chimed softly. Kawaisö! Just when they were going to vote the next criminal out the airlock!, she thought as she rose to answer the door. At least the Carry&Save delivery boy was cute, so she always looked forward to getting her shopping done.
She was swinging open the door as it occurred to her that she had only placed the order 20 minutes ago, not enough time for the delivery to arrive. She stood perplexed for a moment, staring at the older Japanese man standing there.
“Ohayo Gozaimasu, Yoshido-san”, said the newcomer, gracefully sidestepping her uncomfortably confused silence.
“Saito-sama! What a pleasant surprise! Please come in”, Rin mumbled, trying to recover from the shock. The last person she had expected to see at the door was Akio’s department supervisor. She felt her heart rate climb and her bowels twist. If he’s been gambling on the secretary’s computer again, I’ll kill him!, she thought. He’ll lose his job for sure this time, and who knows what kind of gaijin scum we’ll have to put up with then.
Struggling to keep her voice steady, she led the company man into the sitting room and gestured to the sofa. “You grace our humble home with your visit, Saito-sama. Please make yourself comfortable. May I offer you some tea?”, she said, hoping to get a chance to compose herself before hearing what he had to say.
“Thank you, no, Yoshido-san. Please sit down. I have something difficult to discuss with you.”
Rin sank to the seat, feeling herself go pale. That bastard!, she thought, He did get caught again. Selfish, inconsiderate, useless, lazy uso! I’ll strangle him! Swallowing hard, she nodded, unable to trust herself to speak.
“There was an incident at one of our facilities this morning”, began Akio’s boss, “A break-in. Several heavily armed men attacked the building in which your husband works. There were several employees injured. I’m afraid that Akio’s injuries were beyond assistance.”
Rin’s fury evaporated as Saito-sama spoke, replaced by a horrific emptiness. Angry thoughts about Akio’s inadequacies morphed into mindless denial and confusion. “But… but… no… he can’t… we need… but Yumiko… Katsumi…”, she stammered as the shock dissolved into tears.
“We looks after our own, Rin-san”, continued the older man, a look of genuine concern on his face. “Especially those who serve the corporation so loyally. The children and you will have his full pension and a permanent place in our family.”
Rin heard none of the words he spoke. The phrase “beyond assistance” kept ringing in her head, over and over. Numbness began to creep up from her stomach as she started to feel lightheaded. She was vaguely aware of Saito-san saying something else, something about counseling, but she couldn’t focus on the words through the roaring sound in her ears. Why was the world getting so dark?
“Haha?”, came a small voice across the room, as Katsumi stood in the doorway, clutching his favorite stuffed dragon, Ryumyo.
Rin’s insides convulsed. She had a distant feeling of distress at the mess she had just made on the carpet, but somehow she couldn’t seem to focus on it. I hope Katsumi doesn’t touch that before the drone cleans it up…, she thought, as the blackness overwhelmed her.