Stranger at the BarMature

Quick. It was a word that could sum up Samantha's life. Everything in her world was fast and it was this speed that kept her career sound in the past months in the strange and foreign country.

Yes, everything was different in Japan. The language, the culture, the people. But Samantha quickly found a way to break most of these barriers. It certainly made her bosses back New York happy. It certainly made her happy. But like anything in Samantha's life, that happiness was a quick one too.

She arranged everything she used for the presentation back into the brown suitcase she brought to the conference room and trotted back into her glass encased office. It was sparsely decorated, almost spartan, containing only the things she needs to do her work in the most efficient of ways. No decorations, no ornaments. Nothing to remind her of anybody or any place. It was devoid of any feeling, any warmth, any memory.

Izumi Koridana, her assistant and one of the few people in the building who can speak English without sounding alien, had gone home, leaving Samantha with a few paperwork and some messages. Nothing was important nor pressing, but Samantha finished everything by seven. She left her bulky maple desk and looked out the window and into the Tokyo night.

Neon lights dotted the city, advertising names of various bars, restaurants and night spots. Samantha had received more than a few invitations to business parties before, and she knew that the Japanese took their after-office parties seriously. Yet she declined all of them, in the most respectful manner she could of course, knowing that such merriment deserves no place in her career-driven schedule.

But she just aced a major presentation and no more work was left for her to do until next week. It was still early, and as much as she wanted to get home, she knew her body would just scream out of boredom if she left for her company paid apartment.

Samantha hated those times, when no work was left for her to do. It was when she wasn't buried in under paperwork or distressed by calls that she found herself thinking about things other than her career. It was in those times that she felt the certain longing she stifles with her job. It was in those times she felt alone.

A different Samantha exited the building that night: a Samantha who was determined to have a little fun for the first time since she landed on this island. She navigated the crowded streets of Tokyo, looking for a place to get a drink.

There were many bars to chose from, but she shied many that were too crowded and too lively. She wanted a quite place where she could sit and relax on her own, without interruptions from lewd old business men looking for a quick screw or tone-deaf women hogging the karaoke.

Kekkon. Samantha has yet to master the Nihongo, yet she had rudimentary knowledge of simple Kana. She didn't need it though; the name of the bar was flaming in large neon lights of romanji. Kekkon.

It sat beside a cafe and a cellular phone repair shop, its concrete facade decorated only by the signage that bore a single kanji and roman letters that spelled its name. Inside the undecorated front was a contrasting picture, and Samantha's eyes were slow to adjust as she pushed her way through the metal doors.

The dimly lit place glowed a tint of blue, a soothing shade that made Samantha more comfortable. The design was clearly contemporary and foreign and the only Japanese element were the several dozen natives seated among the glass tables strewn throughout the area. There was a balcony, where more patrons sat and chatted as the sound of smooth jazz flowed through the air, but Samantha decided to head to the bar.

She ordered a cognac and the bartender handed her the drink with a smile that showcased the hospitality of the Japanese so rarely seen. The first two sips relaxed her body and she found herself swaying a little to the tune of the music.

Her peripheral vision told her she was being watched and she titled her head just in time to catch a young man at the end of the bar studying her.

He looked native, yet there was a hint of foreign ancestry in his face, as though he was born from another land. Yet there was something in him that seemed too strange, a little too different. Something too ethereal.

Suddenly, he was walking towards Samantha, looking at her eyes. She felt something stir within her. A connection. A tingle. A strange sensation alien to her. But she cannot look away. She was entranced by the man, now smiling at her.

A soothing voice entered Samantha's ear, begging her to listen intently to every word spoken. "Ishin Denshin."

The End

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