May 1st, 1946
June Miraby was fifteen when she began living alone with her elder sister, Lisa. At June’s new school, there were no other kids who had parents that were divorced. But there was a girl, who, like June, lived in a house with no parents, her name was Tracy and she lived with her grandfather. June and Tracy sat together at lunch one day, and June went home to tell Lisa that she had made a friend.
Heading home, June looked behind her, at the red brick school building surrounded by the school yard brimming with trees, the place where it was a secret to everyone that she was half Japanese. On the forms they put her mother’s maiden name as Margaret Keith instead of Mariko Kobayashi, and because of June’s bright blue eyes that were like her father’s, no one could tell of her heritage. Or at least she and Lisa thought.
June fumbled with her keys in front of their dark blue apartment door until she saw a mouse, grey and spongy, run along the baseboard. “Eek!” she screeched as it ran under the chair that was displayed outside her neighbor’s door, where the neighbor lady sat. The woman had hundreds of wrinkles on her face, a black shawl running down her arms as she glared at June with silvery eyes that showed no sign of any thought behind them.
June went into her apartment quickly and shut the door. Against the door, she stood in her yellow blouse and blue skirt, her now fluffy black hair falling in front of her eyes. The neighbor looked as scary as a witch, June thought, perhaps she is a witch, I’ve seen twigs and pendants hung outside on her door.
Inside the living room June turned on the lamp and let its yellow light bleed through the darkness. She always left this light on for Lisa for when she got home, as Lisa did not like coming home to darkness. On the stiff green couch, June’s stuffed animal mouse sat there, with black buttoned eyes and thread features, it looked friendly in the unfriendly home.
“Have you been here all day?” June picked it up and fumbled it over in her thin white hands. “How lonely it must be, sitting in this room all the time.”
They could not afford a radio, so June ate her canned soup in silence. Before, her mother would whip up dinner, and when her dad still lived with them there would be dessert too. And they always listened to the radio together. Even after dad moved out, June would visit him and they’d listen to the baseball games together. But after he moved to San Diego for business, she never saw him, “I’ve got to get the means to pay for your education,” she overheard her father saying to Lisa. “I thinks that its better this way.”
June closed her eyes for a moment, and then opened them. The room before her blurred at the corners of her eyes, like a painting immersed in water. There was a knock on the door.
“Hello,” the woman June opened the door to see smiled an open mouth smile. She clasped her white gloves and looked ahead with shining blue eyes. “Oh, June? Is it really you?!” she threw her arms around June, “Oh, you probably don’t remember.” She said almost teasingly, “It’s me, your Aunt Clarissa!”
Aunt Clarissa… June had brief and flashy memories of her, like car rides and birthday parties and faces from long ago.
“Oh,” Auntie!” June gripped her skirt and grinned. “Of course I remember you, I just didn’t recognize you.”
“Well it’s been so long!” she recalled the fact in her shrill voice, looking around with beaming eyes and swift turns. “Oh, how I missed you June. How terrible is must have been, after that horrible evacuation.” She groaned with her hand on her heart.
“Well, we’ve managed,” June said maturely.
“Have you, dear?” her aunt sat down. Aunt Clarissa stayed for about an hour, she and June spoke about many things, and both of them seemed happy for the company. Aunt Clarissa drank the drugstore tea from the less than dainty cup, but she expressed no complaint.
“I’ll come by again, dear,” she said. “But I’d like to come round when you’re sister is home.”
“She’s home all day Sunday,” June announced.
“Then be expecting me Sunday,” her aunt smiled, like a streak of sunlight across her face. And then she left.
Lisa came home that night, June got out of bed at the sound of the door.
“You’re late,” June saw her sister’s shoulder’s slouching.
Lisa sighed through her faded red lipstick, “The hospital was insanely busy.”
“Someone came over,” June said with big eyes as she sat down in her silky short sleeved pajamas. “Do you remember Aunt Clarissa? She found out where we lived and visited while you were at work.”
“Oh, what a bother,” Lisa sighed.
The next day was Saturday, and Lisa did not have to work long that day. She helped give several children shots. Lisa smiled at the round headed child as the doctor raised his eyebrows and said to the little boy, “Now, don’t worry, Son,” he took the boys arm in his large hand, “This won’t hurt one bit.”
Lisa held her smile like she would hold a rubber band on two fingers.