The skies of Westport are always changing.
October was a little over half gone when Minako came to this small fishing village in southwest Washington State for a five-day stay. Ever since the giant expanse of the Pacific Ocean captivated her some years earlier, she and husband Shigeo had spent two weeks here each July. What drew her to the area this time, though, was an unquenchable desire to see the deserted autumn shoreline, which must be very different from its look in summer. Shigeo had said there was no way he could take off from work, so she decided to leave him at home and take her first solo trip, a prospect she found both daunting and liberating. The low off-season rent was another attraction. Nearly 34 years had gone by since Minako and Shigeo immigrated to America. Now 65, Shigeo ran a restaurant in Seattle. Minako at 53 was a full twelve-year cycle younger than Shigeo by the traditional calendar. She had been a high school student in Yokohama when he first spotted her and began ardently pressing his suit. They married as soon as she graduated despite the unified opposition of her friends and family. Minako had a complicated family background. Her mother was a fairly famous model who, instead of a husband, had a steady stream of boyfriends. Minako did not know her father. She was raised by her mother's mother. She was one-eighth white, enough to endow her with nearly transparent white skin and naturally curly chestnut hair. These attracted the interest and envy of her teachers and classmates, some of whom proceeded to bully her. By the time Shigeo came along, Minako felt ready to escape. Shigeo was earning a good salary then as head chef in one of Yokohama's top hotel restaurants, but he had always wanted to go independent, and his determination only increased when he married Minako. Sushi and sashimi were just beginning to gain popularity in America in those days, so when a major food company moved to open a chain of authentic restaurants there, Shigeo leaped at the chance to join them. He assumed it would be easy to start his own business after several years' work in America, and Minako of course had no objection to going there right away. During their first three years in America, Shigeo established a reputation as one of the city's best sushi chefs while Minako stayed at home with first one and then another baby boy. Finally Shigeo was able to open his own restaurant, Hama-Sushi, in the center of the city, and bring Minako in as its hostess. Her exotic looks and slim figure helped attract customers. Not all the patrons of Hama Sushi were there to see Minako, of course, but it was clear to everyone that her warm welcome and attention to detail contributed greatly to the restaurant's success. Shigeo was pleasantly surprised to discover that Minako possessed a sharp business sense as well. With her talent for instituting one fresh idea after another and Shigeo's dependable skill in the kitchen, the success of the team was all but guaranteed. Hama-Sushi expanded in scale year after year until it had become one of Seattle's top three Japanese restaurants. Now that their eldest son was de facto manager, Minako had long since stopped working at the restaurant and was concentrating her energy on photography, which was now much more than a hobby to her. Shigeo, meanwhile, could take off anytime he liked, but getting him to actually do so was next to impossible. He insisted that work was still everything to him. Minako wondered how true this could be. He had been out of the house so often for "work" these past several months that she had begun to suspect there might be a woman involved. She felt ashamed of herself for not being able to bring herself to ask him about it directly. All passion, all love eventually fades with time: it was the theme of a million movies and novels, but she prided herself on the fact--and wanted to...
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