I know it’s getting late but I have a right to say goodnight to him. So much has happened today and I think we ended up at a good place. I just wanted to make sure. This should be his room.
I knock and wait. The door opens swiftly and I take a step back. He surprised me and…he’s shirtless.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t mean-”
“No, I’m sorry. I thought you were my brother.”
He goes back inside and put on a robe. That’s one of our family’s robes. It looks good on him.
Should I tell him that.
“Come in,” he tells me.
I step in cautiously. He reaches behind me and closes the door.
“I didn’t mean to interrupt. I just wanted to say “goodnight” to you.”
“I was hoping to see you to do the same.”
“Uh…so you’re leaving tomorrow.”
“Will you visit me again?”
He sits down on his bed and signals me over. I walk over to him. The last time we were alone in a room he hugged me. I want another one.
“Of course I will. I’ll probably have a lot of press once the announcement is made but I’ll see you, don’t worry.”
He touches my head. His hand lingers and touches my ribbon.
“I thought you might undo it. It’s against the rules.”
“A man cannot see a royal lady outside of her robe or with her hair down.”
“So the moment you wake up you put your hair up and put on your royal robes.”
He keeps his hand there. It’s a tradition I’ve had my whole life. Only married men may see the woman with her hair down.
“Remember when I said there’s allowed to be secrets between us.”
He pulls my ribbon and my hair falls down. He’s not supposed to see. I reach for my ribbon and he pushes my hands away. He’s able to grab both my wrists in one hand.
He pushes me back to the bed and I close my eyes. If I can’t see him then it’s like it never happened. I peek and see him sitting with a stand in his hand.
“Your hair is so long.”
He looks so much bigger than me. He looks back at me and I close my eyes again. I feel his hand touch my face.
“I always wondered if you were doing okay,” he says to me. “You were so sad in your letters. Do you still feel trapped her?”
“Today has been the best day of my life. I’ve never smiled this much.”
I’m starting to cry.
I reach up and hug him. I don’t care about traditions. I just want to hug him. He wraps his arms around me and puts his fingers through my hair. I feel so free in his arms.
“The day will come when you’ll have to leave your family behind. You may never see them again.”
“Yumi-chan? But I-”
“I’m just trying to prepare you.”
“But can’t Yumi-chan come?”
“If I let you save anyone, you would want it to be her?”
“Fine. You can have Yumiko-san.”
I can’t imagine not seeing her again. I dry my tears on my sleeve.
“I may not see you for a long time,” I say to him. “I’m afraid to let you go.”
“You’re too young to be saying things like that.”
“But it’s true.”
“You can stay here with me tonight if you want.”
“Hmph, you don’t even hesitate.”
“What reason is there to hesitate?”
“I see none. I was about to take a shower. Just rest here.”
He releases me and walks away. This has been the best day. I was nervous he wouldn’t accept me but I think he likes me. He really is a nice boyfriend. I crawl underneath the blanket. I didn’t sleep the night before; I’m ready to go to sleep. I want to wait until he comes back but I don’t think I’ll make it.