After the bill is paid, your brother storms out of the restaurant. You see his eyes wander and get watery as he passes, and they become rippling spheric globs of black and white, floating in suspended animation inside his head. He doesn’t let a single tear drop. Not till he’s left the establishment.
‘What a cry baby.’ You think you say this not out loud as you down your last shot of sake, but your sister is glaring at you with her I-heard-you face.
Your parents are saying their goodbyes to the owner of your family’s favorite restaurant. They’re closing their doors for good. Your family’s favorite restaurant. He’s tall, the owner, gangly but in that charming Chewbacca kind of way. He’s a soft-spoken man. Korean, you thought you heard him tell your ex during an anniversary dinner. Your dad shakes the owner’s hand. Your mom breathes in heavy, lungs weighted, and she scans the room, taking in the sleepy Japanese fishing village decor of the restaurant one last time. Your folks finish their goodbye and slowly walk towards the door and out forever.
Your sister hugs the owner tight. She tells him that she wishes the best for him, and her saying that reminds you of the time you had to put your childhood dog to sleep. Even the order in which your family said goodbye to the dog’s corpse. You were the last one in the room with her, your dog, but unlike that day, you’re not tearful or nauseous. Instead, you’re stuffed and drunk, and you see how all these things aren’t so dissimilar. You want it over with, the goodbye. You’re not good at them, but rather than a handshake, the owner gives you a bottle of sake.
“My favorite,” he tells you, and puts the bottle in your hand. You’re so moved, you can’t even lift your head for fear of weeping. He doesn’t say goodbye or even expect a thank you. He waits for you to look up, to make sure you see that you were thought of, then bows his head and you leave.
A few months later, in your car, you’re at a red light, unknowingly, in front of said shut-down restaurant. All of the geishas and ornaments that once hung in the window are gone and cast shadows of themselves inwards no longer. You think you spot people dancing all about in the empty dark places. And waiting for the light, you understand that what’s moving around are the ghosts of your memories. You see that places, like beloved dead pets and people, can haunt you deeply, too.