Return to Japan 2303AD Index

Chapter 2 - And a Departure

Copyright © 2001, 2003 Edward Lipsett


Chapter 1

Just as he walked into his office and dumped his briefcase on the desk, the phone chirped at him, announcing "You have a call from Sachiko Kitazawa."

William Carlisle punched the Receive button with one hand while picking up a handful of folders that had appeared on his chair sometime since yesterday, and setting them on the floor.

"Sachiko? Is that you?"

Even before the screen cleared he started talking. "I hope everything's all right?"

As the image colored in, he knew it was a lost cause; she had obviously been up all night crying.

Kitazawa Sachiko shook her head, tears still heavy on her lashes.

"Gra... Ancestress passed away last night," she said quietly, then moved out of the camera for a moment.

He heard the sound of a nose blowing, and then she was back again.

"I'm sorry, Sachiko. I know you loved her very much," he responded, searching for something intelligent to say. He wasn't good at this sort of thing. "If there's anything I can do..."

"No, really, it's all right. Thank you." Obviously Sachiko wasn't much better. "I called to tell you the funeral will be today, at our home. I spoke to Grandfather and he said you and other grads would all be welcome."

"Thank you. I would be honored," he nodded, wondering what in the world one did at a Japanese funeral. "Would you like me to tell the others?"

She gave a wan smile.

"Yes, could you? I'm a bit tired... last night was the otsuya, and we were up all night. Now we have to get ready for the funeral."

"What's an osuya?" blurted Dr. Carlisle, before he could stop himself.

The smile was a bit bigger this time as she explained.

"Not osuya, oTSUya," she said, stressing the syllable. "The family gathers and stays up all night, nothing special. It's just a sign of respect. The children slept, of course..."

"What time should we come?"

"It starts at two," replied Sachiko. "Oh. Do you have a rosary?"

"A rosary?" Silly thing to echo. What do you say to someone who's invited you to a funeral, he wondered. "No, I don't think so..."

She held up her own rosary; it looked like it was made of rose quartz. A bracelet, each stone was about a centimeter in diameter. "It's OK, we have some spares."

"Uh, thanks. I'll tell the others," he said, wondering if he sounded as much of an idiot as he felt.

"Thank you, Dr. Carlisle," she replied, and cut the call.

- - - - -

"Well, that was one of my more scintillating conversations, I must say," he mulled, staring at the blank screen as the swirling motes began to fade away. "I think I had better find out what I've gotten myself into..."

He cleared his throat self-consciously, and enunciated.

"Phone. Phonebook. Shungen Mercantiles. List."

The tinny voice of the telephone replied at once.

"Two listings. One: Tanaka, Shinzaburo, Mr, Instrumentation Sales Division. Two: Agbayani, Shimpei, Mr., Field Maintenance Division. End."

"Phone. Dial. List. Two."

The phone chirped back and he heard the ringing tone.

The Shungen logo appeared on the screen, and a mellow voice asked "Shungen Mercantiles, 'We Serve the Universe.' Mr. Agbayani is unable to come to the phone right now. May I ask who's calling?"

"Ah, yes. This is William Carlisle of IXRI. Would you ask Mr. Agbayani to contact me as soon as convenient? A personal matter."

"Yes sir. Your number is listed. I will have him call yo... urk.."

The logo clicked, vanished and Agbayani's hairy face appeared; his beard looked even thicker than usual, if that could be possible.

"Dr. Carlisle, sorry. I just got in," he said, straightening his tie as he sat down in front of the camera. "What can I help you with?"

"Good morning, Mr. Agbayani. Thank you for the help with the scintillation counter the other day; it's been working fine since."

"No problem, Dr. Carlisle. That's what I'm here for!" he replied, disgustingly cheerful.

"I wanted to ask your advice, seeing as how you work for Shungen," said Dr. Carlisle. He watched Agbayani's eyebrows slowly rise, fuzzy caterpillars inching up his forehead. "You may know that Kitazawa Sachiko is one of my students? Last night her grandmother passed away..."

"Ah, Taguchi Haruna. Yes, she was a wonderful woman. The whole Shungen community will be visiting the house this evening to pay its respects; I believe the factor is there now."

"You already know?"

"The Japanese community is very close, especially on colony worlds where it is still small," explained Agbayani. "We heard about it within an hour of the time she passed away, and General Affairs issued a notice to all employees. First thing on my aniki this morning when I woke up."

"Oh... I had no idea..."

Dr. Carlisle thought about that a moment, then noticed Agbayani waiting, a polished smile on his face.

"I wanted your advice; I've been asked to attend the funeral this afternoon, and I have no idea of what to expect."

"The funeral? Really? Very, very unusual for someone outside the family to be invited. Sachiko must think quite a lot of you."

"Oh, not just me! She invited her classmates as well; all three of them," added Dr. Carlisle hurriedly.

"Ah, I see. Well, you will need to wear a black suit, or a black dress for the women. Or at least a dark color; dark gray or navy would be acceptable, too. Dark tie, and nothing red or orange at all. Women should wear quiet and minimal jewelry if at all. Stop by the Japanese community store, Mikado... you know it?"

Dr. Carlisle nodded.

"Ask for an envelope for okoden. It's a small, white envelope with a black cord around it. Ask the clerk to write your name on the back, and then put some money in. You say you're Sachiko's teacher?"

"Yes, she's getting a master's here."

"I'd guess maybe one or two hundred Livre should be reasonable, then. You'll have to drop by the bank and get some real bills before you go. The clerk will show you how to do it."

"A couple hundred bucks!?"

Agbayani smiled; white teeth like that must have cost a lot more than a couple hundred bucks, Dr. Carlisle thought to himself.

"Sorry, that's how they do it in Japan. If you decide not to go, you should send the okoden-bukuro by carrier, and maybe only put in about half as much."

"And if I go, what happens?"

"Basically just sit and be quiet. Don't raise your voice, bow a lot. Later they'll offer you a meal, and that'll mark the end of the funeral, pretty much. Take up the whole day, but it's not a big deal," advised Agbayani.

"I should have a black suit, I think... thank you, Mr. Agbayani. I appreciate your advice."

"No problem, Dr. Carlisle. Feel free to give me a call anytime. I'll be dropping by next week; you can tell me how you liked it then," he said, apparently getting ready to cut the call.

"Yes, thank you. Good bye," he replied, and pressed the off key as the other bobbed his head and clicked off.

He briefly recorded a voicemail message to Don, Carol and Ponder, advising them of what he had learned, and suggested they meet at the Mikado at 1:00 that afternoon. Within 20 minutes Don and Carol had confirmed, but Ponder said he was too busy at the library and would contact Sachiko later himself. Cold fish.

- - - - -

Don climbed into Dr. Carlisle's rather dusty car, and the door clicked shut behind him.

"Thanks for the lift, Dr. Carlisle," he smiled. "I'd really rather not get my only suit all dirty riding my bike out there..."

Dr. Carlisle glanced down at his own suit, brushing off a few specks of dirt that had somehow already adhered to it. Damn, his wrists were showing, too... he'd really have to get a better suit. One of these days. Considering he only wore a suit maybe once or twice a year, seemed a royal waste of money, though...

"No problem, Don," he replied, dropping the go-bar to Drive. The car's electric motors, one in each wheel, quietly buzzed and hummed, pushing the 4-door out of the university parking lot. "I'm glad you're coming, actually... I don't have the vaguest idea of what I'm supposed to be doing today, and company's welcome!"

"Ha!.. as if I do?"

Don laughed, then suddenly recalled where they were headed. "Too bad about Sachiko's grandmother. I met her a few times, and she always struck me as such an intelligent and, well, vital woman. Sachiko's pretty upset."

Dr. Carlisle was silent, concentrating on the road, but slowly nodded his head in agreement.

An electronic chirp broke the short quiet, and then a soft, computer voice announced "Incoming call from Carol Manning."

Dr. Carlisle reached over and pressed the Receive button.

"Hi, Carol."

"Hi, Dr. Carlisle. I'm all ready; are you sure it's OK to ride in your car?"

"No problem, Carol. We're on the way to your place already."

"We? Oh, Don's with you, too? So all three of us are off to the Mikado, then."

"I'm here, Carol," rumbled Don, leaning forward toward the microphone. For some reason, terminals had a tough time picking up his deep bass clearly. "Dr. Carlisle was just telling me he's relying on us to tell him what to do at the funeral. I sure hope you know what's going on, because I'm way out of my depth!"

Carol laughed. "Sorry, much as I love Sachi, I don't know diddly about Japanese funeral custom... well, momma always said university was an educational experience, right?"

They both chuckled, and Dr. Carlisle advised her they should be there in another two or three minutes.

When they pulled up in front of her home - a simple hemispherical design, half-buried in the earth - she was waiting out front already, in a knee-length, pitch black dress. With a string of what looked like pearls around her neck, silver earrings and a small, black handbag, she looked like a fashion model.

Don whistled out the window.

"Whooee! You sure know how to dress up, Carol! Never would have thought it from the way you always run around in jeans."

"Hello, Carol. You look very nice," added Dr. Carlisle. "Climb in."

"Thank you, both," she smiled, and popped open the rear door. "Back in my wasted youth I actually had a reputation for never being seen in jeans, you know."

"You!?"

"Yes, Don. Me. Just because I spend all my time puttering about in the lab and planting flowers these days doesn't mean I always did, you know."

They talked about inconsequential things on the way, skirting around the issue of just where they were headed.

About 15 minutes later, Dr. Carlisle stopped the car in front of the Mikado and they all got out.

As he walked through the front door, Don noticed that a bell was jangling, apparently notifying the proprietress that someone had come. Sure enough, even as he held the door open for Carol, a pudgy little women came bustling out of the back room, wiping her hands on an indeterminantly-colored apron.

"Hai, hai... chotto matte..."

Suddenly, she noticed them, and switched to English.

"Come in, come in. What can I help you with?"

As they stepped inside and she could see them clearly without the brilliant backlighting, she began bobbing her head.

"Ah... Taguchi-san's funeral. What do you need? Juzu? Okoden-bukuro? Osenko?"

Dr. Carlisle glanced at Don and Carol, but their blank looks revealed they really weren't going to be much help.

"I was told to pick up an envelope for koden... Does the whole planet know about this funeral?"

"Hai, hai...," she answered, moving off to a low cabinet and extracting a sheaf of white envelopes. "No, not the whole planet, but I'd be surprised if there were any Japanese within a couple light years who didn't know. No, I take that back. Sennin Yamamoto probably doesn't know; he's off prospecting on Prince Albert's Land again, and probably has his communicator turned off as always, darn fool that he is."

Don smiled. This was just like home.

"Obachan, I'll need one of those, too," he said, reaching out a hand.

"Ara, ma! So you know a little Japanese, too? Ii ko ya ne!" she replied, breaking into a toothy smile handing each of them one of the envelopes.

"These are okoden-bukuro, envelopes for gifts at the funeral," she explained. Now each of you give me your name, and tell me how much you are going to put in, and I'll write them for you."

She sat down at the counter, and balanced her frameless eyeglasses on her nose as she rummaged in the drawer for a broad felt-tip. Finding a satisfactory one, she tilted her head back to look at Dr. Carlisle, apparently recognizing him as the head of the party.

"Well?"

"Uh... I'm William Carlisle, from IXRI. I'm the head of the program where Sachiko's studying..."

"That would be karairu," she drawled, twirling the felt-tip over the envelope. Shaped like a normal letter envelope, it opened on the narrow side, and had a "belt" around the middle of a twisted black-and-silver cord, tied into a fancy loop. She was writing blocky Japanese characters under the belt, vertically.

"And how much will you put in?" she asked, pulling out a flimsy tissue-paper inner envelope. "You did bring bills, right?"

"Yes, of course. Mr. Agbayani of Shungen suggested one or two hundred Livre... What do you think is appropriate?"

She looked at him over the top of her eyeglasses.

"Appropriate, Mr. Carlisle? I think two hundred would be appropriate, but you should realize that this, in a way, defines the ties between you. There is no absolute number, it reflects the respect you have for her as a human being. And as a student, of course."

Don stared. This was no little auntie running a shop; she was sharp as a pin!

"I see... uh, I'd like to put in two hundred, then. Thank you," said Dr. Carlisle, handing her the money.

She looked at it and sniffed.

"It's old. You cannot use old bills," she admonished him, and exchanged them for crisp bills from her register. "As soon as I heard poor Haruna had passed away, I got a whole sheaf of brand-new hundreds from the bank..."

She carefully folded the tissue paper around the bills, wrote something small in the lower-left corner of the folded tissue paper, and reassembled the envelope.

"I wrote the amount on the back of the tissue-paper for you, Dr. Carlisle," she explained, handing it over. "Watch how the other people lay the money on the altar, and just do the same thing. You don't have to say anything, don't worry. And I'll see you there, I'm sure. That'll be three Livre, please."

There wasn't even a pause between her friendly advice and the bill.

Don laughed out loud.

"Obachan, I like you. You remind me so much of a old woman back home..."

"Old, am I?" she said, rearing up straight and staring at him with a back like a fire poker. "I'm certainly older than certain youngsters who come in here and insult harmless grandmothers!"

"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, grandmother. Here, one hundred Livre. Write one up for me, too, please," he apologized, still grinning. "The name is Laughing Water, Don Laughing Water."

"raffin'gu ua-ta-..." she mumbled, squiggling more characters on the envelope, then inserting the cash, reassembling it, and straightening the cord.

As she looked up, Don already had the three Livre fee out, waiting for her. As he dropped it into her outstretched palm he asked, "May I ask your name? I'd like to drop by some time and talk to you..."

"You already know it... obachan is what everyone calls me, youngster," but the crinkles around her eyes showed she wasn't angry at all.

Carol was more direct.

"And one hundred for me, too, Kazama-san," she said, handing over a crisp one-hundred Livre note, and then adding three singles. "The name is Carol Manning."

Kazama-san - apparently that was indeed her name - crinkled her face a bit more, and quickly wrote out Carol's name in phonetic Japanese characters.

Don tapped Carol on the shoulder.

"Uh, Carol? How come you know her name?"

"It's written on the sign outside, dope. It says Mikado in big letters, and 'Kazuo Kazama, proprietor' in smaller letters at the bottom."

Don sighed.

"I guess that one of those things you learn with age, huh?"

"Don, go away or I'll smack you!" threatened Carol, lifting her little black bag a bit.

She turned back to the counter, and accepted her completed envelope, placing it securely inside her bag for safe-keeping.

"Thank you, Kazama-san," she said, and pushed Don out of the store ahead of her, ignoring his confused look.

Dr. Carlisle followed, bobbing in her wake like a leaf in the current. As the door shut behind them, Don had to ask.

"Carol, what's the hurry? We've still got plenty of time to get there."

"Oh, you men are so insensitive!" she said, tapping her foot impatiently at the car door. "Didn't you hear Kazama-san? She has to get ready to go, too!"

Chastened, Don got into the car without a word. Still, he thought to himself as Dr. Carlisle started it up, that old woman had been the closest thing to the Flathead reservation he encountered in a long, long time. It felt like home.

- - - - -

As they approached Sachiko's home, they saw a sign tied to a tree, black letters on white, reading "Taguchi" with an arrow. They followed the signs and arrows until the last one pointed to an empty lot where a variety of other vehicles were already parked, and few black clumps of people were walking toward the house.

Dr. Carlisle noticed that everyone was in black, head to toe -- not a single brown suit or red tie in sight. Even the women's cosmetics were subdued, with dark lipstick instead of the crimson he occasionally encountered at the university. Voices were low.

As they stepped around the street corner, they stopped suddenly at the sight of enormous stands of flowers lining the wall on both sides on the front door. Over two meters tall, each circular arrangement had a sign hanging under it. Most of the writing was in Japanese, but he recognized a few of the ones in English: there was one from the University, and that one was from the governor of the colony himself!

Just to the right of the gate was a table with -- he blinked -- Japanese Imperial Space Force troops in full dress standing behind it! He turned to look at Carol, and their eyes met. Her mouth was open, on the verge of asking him what was going on, when a pleasant baritone broke in from his left.

"Excuse me... ?"

It was a young man, dressed in an immaculate dark blue Space Force uniform with boots you could have used for mirrors. The face didn't look especially Japanese, though, Dr. Carlisle thought to himself.

"Ah... I'm William Carlisle, of IXRI," he responded, then introduced his companions. "Ms. Carol Manning, and Mr. Don Laughing Water. We were invited to the funeral."

The officer -- at least, he assumed he was an officer, judging from the gold patches on his arms and the mass of colored confetti on his chest -- nodded gravely, and replied "Of course; you're expected."

He bowed slightly, rigidly, and ushered them to the table, where two more uniformed but oh-so-very Japanese men awaited.

"It is Japanese custom to write your name here, sir," the one of the left said, indicating a blank sheet of apparently hand-made paper in the booklet on the table. "You may write in your native language, or I can assist you in writing your name in Japanese if you prefer."

He blinked. Well, no reason to be embarrassed of my own name, is there? he asked himself, as he picked up the floppy brush-like felttip, rotated the book ninety degrees, and signed his name in a more-legible-than-usual hand. Noticing that other people had written their addresses as well, he printed 'IXRI' underneath, then turned to hand the marker to Don.

"I'd like to write it in Japanese," said Don, looking up at the waiting man. "Donald Laughing Water is the name."

"Of course, sir. Allow me?" He stepped forward, turned the book to face himself, and began to write out the phonetic representation of Don's name. It was quite long...

He noticed that the officer's nametag read 'Makiatia,' and stepped over to ask "Excuse me, but how is it that Japanese Space Forces are helping out?"

Makiatia smiled, revealing startlingly white teeth.

"Yes, sir. Our ship happened to be in orbit, and the Captain detailed a party to assist. In the colonies it's pretty common for the Japanese to help each other out for this type of traditional event, good or bad. Second time for me to handle such a detail."

"Was Taguchi-san that famous a person? I didn't know..."

"Oh, no, sir, not at all," Makiatia replied. "Just another Japanese far away from home."

"Pardon me for asking, but you don't look Japanese, and your name certainly isn't..."

"I'm from Micronesia, sir. One of the few in the Space Force."

"And proud of it?"

Makiatia smiled again, showing even more teeth.

"Yes sir. Darn proud of it!"

He noticed Don and Carol listening, all done with their signing.

Together, they stepped through the gate and toward the house. The door was open, revealing a stone-paved space. Another Space Force man was here, standing at ease on the raised floor at the other side of the paving. Beyond him was the house itself, all wood and shadows. The walls were covered in hangings, all grey and black, hiding what was obviously a very beautiful wooden structure.

"Please remove your shoes here, sirs, madam, and use these slippers," instructed the soldier mechanically. "I will put your footwear in the shelf here until you return."

They stepped out of their shoes, and into flexible, open-heeled slippers. A uniformed woman escorted them into the depths of the house. They stepped down the short hallway and entered the living room.

It was enormous, and must have accounted for at least two-thirds of the first floor. Apparently sliding doors had been removed to combine several smaller rooms, but all were floored in reed mats -- this must be the tatami matting Sachiko has mentioned, he thought.

And there she was, kneeling in the front row of about 20 people, dressed in a black kimono and looking like a totally different, and very serious, person. In front of her was obviously the coffin, absolutely buried in flowers of all kinds. He recognized most of the native flowers, and was astonished to see lilies -- Terran lilies, almost impossible to obtain here, at this funeral!

Near the coffin was an altar of very dark wood, carved beautifully with dragons, some kind of bird, and Buddhas. The tall double doors on the altar were open, revealing a golden statue of Buddha, surrounded by more flowers, fruit and various indistinct objects. In front of it was a low table with an incense stand, two burning candles and a few other objects.

Their Space Force guide whispered that they should sit on an empty cushion. She advised them not to kneel like the Japanese were doing. "It's an acquired skill, and your knees will hurt considerably in a few minutes. Sit cross-legged; they'll understand. Keep the juzu beads draped around your right hand, and you'll be fine."

He and Carol took her advice, but for some reason Don insisted on sitting on his legs, Japanese style, in spite of his weight. Dr. Carlisle was sure he'd regret it, but Don was an adult, after all...

Just as they were settling down, a small, plump man strode in from a side door. He was dressed in what looked like a black wrap over the kimono.

He knelt down in front of the altar, and opened the small valise he had brought in with him. Removing his wrap, he carefully folded it, and placed it beside him, removing a purple and gold embroidered sash-like thing from the valise. He slipped the sash over his head, adjusted the folds of his kimono, and then leaned forward to pick up a stick of incense from the tray in front of the altar.

The room was silent except for breathing and someone rearranging his feet.

The monk held two sticks of incense in the candle flame for a moment, then carefully waved the flame out and stood the smoking sticks into a small metal vessel.

He bowed to the altar, and then suddenly smacked the bronze bell with a small bat-like rod that had been lying on the table. The bell reverberated throughout the room, and the monk bowed to the altar, and began to chant in a surprisingly penetrating, nasal voice.

"Myo Ho Renge Kyo..."

After about 20 minutes, even sitting cross-legged, his legs hurt like the devil. Don was quietly rocking back and forth, trying unsuccessfully to hide the fact that his own legs hurt as much, while Carol was now sitting braced on one elbow, both legs curled up at her side.

A continuous bustle of noise behind him alerted him to the fact that more people were arriving continuously. Unable to find seats, most of them were now standing at the back of the room, each alone and silent in spite of the crowding.

They all snapped their attention to the front of the room as a succession of bell strikes reverberated.

"Namu Amida Butsu... Namu Amida Butsu... Namu, Namu... Namu Amida Butsu..."

After the echoes died away, the monk bowed again to the altar, then swiveled on his cushion and bowed to them. The Japanese all returned his bow, and the three of them hurriedly followed suit.

The monk took off his ceremonial sash, and carefully folded it back into the valise before donning his black wrap again, then stood and left the room as silently as he had entered it.

An elderly Japanese who Dr. Carlisle recognized as Mr. Taguchi, was being helped to his feet by several other members of the family. He took a folded sheet of paper from inside the volumnous sleeve of his kimono and cleared his throat. He began to read, looking at the paper and never at the audience.

It was in Japanese, and Taguchi's voice was dry and whispery... When he stopped, he slowly, carefully, folded the paper back up and replaced it in his sleeve, then raised his face to look out at them all.

"Thank you all for coming to pay your respects to my wife. The family is in your debt."

He bowed again, his back almost parallel to the floor, and was joined by the rest of the family, all facing out toward the waiting guests, and then shuffled to the altar and knelt. As the monk had done earlier, he picked up a stick on incense and held it in the candle flame until it lit. His hand was shaking.

He waved his left hand at the flaming incense, extinguishing the flame, then gently planted it into the holder, on end.

With his juzu wrapped around his hands, he bowed his head and prayed to the altar, murmuring words only he could hear.

When he stood, the others of his family followed his example, one at a time. Several of them were weeping, quietly, and as they rose from the altar they all passed near the coffin, usually just bowing, but a few touched it gently.

After the young children had finished, the first of the waiting guests stood, and followed suit. He noticed that in addition to the incense, each guest also laid the envelope full of money - the okoden - on the table. There were only about a dozen guests seated, most of whom Dr. Carlisle already knew. He saw Mrs. Kazama, the shopkeeper from the Mikado, and several managers from Shungen. The craggy man in the Space Force uniform must be the ship's captain, he decided, and then it was his turn. Behind the cushions on the floor, though, was a host of standing guests, perhaps 40 or 50 people from throughout the community.

The incense was a thin rod, and looked like it was made of clay. It was cool and brittle, and he lit it, then carefully waved it out as he had seen the others do. Why not just blow it oiut, he wondered? But this was not the time to ask. He stood it up in the holder, which was a bronze bowl full of ashes, already a forest of burning incense sticks.

He tapped the bell, which was also a bowl-shaped work of bronze, with the rod and was once again surprised at the clear, penetrating sound. As it echoed through the room, he bowed, the juzu around his hands, and then placed his own okoden on the rising stack.

Stepping toward the back of the room, he noticed Sachiko's eyes on him. She bowed, perhaps as if to hide hear tear-streaked face, and he automatically bowed in return, feeling a sadness welling up inside himself in spite of the unfamiliarity of the event.

Each guest had left the room after praying, and they were standing in small, quiet groups in the yard as Dr. Carlisle emerged. He stood, alone, enjoying the sensation of life returning to his legs as he stretched the muscles. How in the world had Sachiko managed to kneel for all that time? He couldn't have withstood it, he was sure. Although Don had...

In a few minutes Don and Carol rejoined him, and they waited, talking quietly.

Sachiko approach, seeming calmer and more composed than before.

"Thank you for coming today," she said, bowing gracefully and precisely. "I was very glad you were all willing to attend."

"Of course, Sachiko," said Carol, starting to reach out to hug the girl, and halting her extending arm just in the nick of time. "I... We all care for you very much."

"If there's anything we can do, just ask," Don rumbled, looking unusually solemn.

"Thank you," Sachiko replied. "We will be having the private family funeral now, and I would be honored if you would be willing to accompany me. Don't worry, though," she suddenly grinned, "No more sitting!"

Dr. Carlisle spoke up for the first time.

"Of course, Sachiko. We'd be honored."

- - - - -

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