I met Juriko and Haruka in Christmas of �45. We were all eleven at the time. I still have that day sketched out in my mind down to last detail. Christmas was one of those rare times that mother didn�t work on ikebana so intently. She actually acted normal. I barely saw her smile, but when she does, I have to wonder if the world is ending for us. Okay, so she does act normal on my birthday too.
Now, I told you that to set the scene up for when I first met the twins on that Christmas Day.
I found my mother sitting in living room next to our Christmas tree. Again, I blinked to see if this was a dream or not. She gave me a genuine warm smile.
�Merry Christmas,� she said. I blinked like I normally do every year. No, this was the right house. That was my mother sitting before me. She was sitting before me, smiling. Christmas was simple for us. She bought me prayer books and the standard gifts that any eleven-year-old boy would like. I smiled and thanked her for the presents. We ate breakfast in the living room: pickled plums and dumplings that she made by hand just like last year. I happened to look out the window that morning and notice that it was snowing. I couldn�t help but smile.
�Mother, can I go out in the snow today?� I asked. My mother gave me a gracious smile.
�Don�t stay out too long,� she said. �I�m going to make you a special dinner today.�
�Alright,� I said. After I got dressed in my coat, hat, and boots, I was out the door. The snow lightly dusted the stairs to our door. The dying grass mingled with the white before me. The outside looked like a painting in the making. The snow hadn�t gotten up to playing levels yet, but it screamed to be outside in it. I closed my eyes and took in a soft breath. I pictured how much better this would be when this neighborhood turned into a winter paradise. Early snow clears my head during the winter time. I held out my arms.
I�m here! I heard a soft shuffle in front of me. I opened my eyes and looked up. Two girls stared at me from the broken fence across street. No matter how hard I tried, I couldn�t pull my eyes away from them. They had beautiful fox like faces to them. Their eyes looked at me as if they wanted hunt me down and eat me. Their smirks on their faces made my spine freeze up like glass in the freezer. Their red and black coats swallowed their little bodies but yet drew attention to them. I looked at them as if my head was glued into place. Who were these girls? Where did they come from? How long have they been watching me? Are they from around here? If so, where?
Before I knew it, I walked across the street to those fox twins. They still looked at me with no emotions and smirks on their faces. Pretty soon, I was within inches of them.
�Hi,� I mumbled. When they didn�t say a word, I stood stronger and drew in a mouthful of air.
�I live in that house over there,� I said as I pointed behind me. Their faces didn�t even change. I bit on my lower lip. As an eleven-year-old boy, I didn�t really know how to talk to girls. There is talking to them and then there is talking to them. I wasn�t prepared to �talk� to them yet. I dug into my eleven-year-old mind for something to say. One of the fox like twins smiled at me. I felt my body break in an invisible sweat. I wanted to fly into her mind and see what she was thinking right now. Her sister stared at me. Nothing urged her to say a word. She didn�t even seem all too impressed with me. I couldn�t be too sure, but I think time stopped at that moment. Even the snow stopped falling around me. The smiling fox twin tried to hold back a laugh.
�Oh really?� she asked. I nodded at her in a quick motion.
�Yes!� I said. She and her sister didn�t speak at first. The smiling fox pushed some of her long midnight blue hair behind her right ear.
�What�s your name?� she asked.
�Iwao! Kato Iwao!� I said with a quick bow. The smiling fox giggled at me.
�Cute,� she said. Her sister sighed and rolled her eyes. I noticed her face as I stood up straight. She looked away from me in the snow. I turned to the smiling fox.
�What�s with her?� I asked. She just shrugged.
�My sister�s always like that,� the smiling fox said. �She�s just a bitter soul.� Her sister rolled her eyes again.
�You sure?� I asked.
�Yes, yes,� the smiling fox told me. �Haruka�s always been like this. She won�t tell me why though.� Haruka sneered at that comment. I couldn�t help but to feel some pity for her.
�Okay, she�s Haruka,� I said. �But who are you?� The smiling fox�s face looked rather full of herself.
�Juriko,� she said. �Eda Haruka and Juriko.� I smiled at them both.
�Nice to meet you both,� I said. �You live around here?�
�We sure do,� Juriko replied. �We live down the street, in fact.� Her voice sounded so sweet and airy to my ears, almost like music to be exact. The etenraku couldn�t match up to it. I could listen to her talk all day. I was convinced that she must have been created by the gods and a nice little gift for me on Christmas to boot. I felt my cheeks redden at that very thought. I came back to reality when I heard someone clear their throat at us. Juriko and I looked up to see Haruka glaring at us.
�I�m sorry, Haruka-chan, did you want something?� she asked. Haruka held up her bag and pointed at it. Juriko nodded.
�Oh! That�s right� she said. That smiling fox turned back to me.
�Sorry, but we have to go,� she said. �Haruka and I have to go pick up some things for dinner tonight.� I turned and watched them walk away.
�Wait!� I cried. Both girls stopped and looked back. I shuffled my feet.
�Will I get to see you again?� I asked. Juriko gave me a little smirk.
�Maybe,� she answered. The fox
twins were gone and I was left standing there, blinking. What
just happened�? I didn�t really do much after that. Those twins had invaded
my mind and prevented me from doing much else that day. The snow looked very
nice though, it started to pile up on the ground, in fact. I might even get my
winter paradise after all this year.
I made it back in my house by dinner time. My mother sat in the living room with a little smile on her face.
�I�m home!� I said as I took off my black boots at the doorway.
�Welcome home,� she said. �How was the snow?�
�Good,� I replied. �I met a couple of cute girls today.�
�Did you?� she asked.
�Yeah,� I said. �They were pretty. They looked like a pair of kitsune girls in the snow. One of them looked rather angry, though. But her sister was really beautiful�� I paused when I noticed my mother�s face. All of the color had drained into a corpse white. That was the first time that she had shown any intense emotion on her face. I will never forget that Christmas evening. I had never seen her with so much fear in her eyes before in my life. She even tried to avoid me for the rest of the year.