Tsuneo knows before closing the door because nothing’s out of place. Her keys are on the hook; the ones with the big ruby lobster claws holding ‘Yui’. Slipping his next to his mother’s, he remembers when they bought them. The snow had come early and he’d nearly frozen on the drive home. ‘I know it’s cold but keep the window down a little, I don’t want you to be short. The smoke might stunt your growth.’ He’d said nothing and kept his hands and feet close to the car’s heater as the feeling of October mixed with the smell of too hot plastic and tobacco.
He takes off his shoes and puts them where they go. Right next to the sneakers, he’s not allowed to wear to school.
She hears him.
“I’m in the kitchen angel.”
Tsuneo didn’t have a doubt before, but if he had, it’d be gone now – they were moving again.
Something mumbles its way out of Tsuneo as he walks past the archway to the kitchen. The yearly lines marking his march upward are scratched into the brown wood framing and the steam from something boiling on the stove is making the yellow of the wood look moist. Inside, his mother is a blur of motion – pans, pots, bowls, spoons, knives and things he doesn’t have a name for but it’s the smells that keep following Tsuneo down the hallway to his room.
The bed’s made, which isn’t how he left it this morning and tossing his book-bag on top of it he prays for magic.
Five minutes – nothing happens, so he gives up and takes his math book out. Tsuneo sits at his desk and tries to drown in numbers but all he can do is smell onions.