Snow on Spirit Bridge is an urban fantasy set in modern day Tokyo. Finni is an exchange student having trouble adjusting to the new culture and how people react to him. Mamoru took him in when Finni’s host family had to move. Both of them hold secrets close to the chest, and both of them are alone in the world: One of their own choosing, the other of their one making. Together they learn about acceptance, love, and family.
Alone in Japan, Finni is struggling against the constant distrust, avoidance, and xenophobia he experiences every day. He misses home. He misses his family. Nightmares come all too frequently because of the stress, and well, Christmas is just not Christmas in Japan. Not how he understands it.
Distressed by how miserable Finni is, his roommate, Mamoru, offers to be Finni’s family for Christmas. Little does he know how much one agreement would change everything between them, because both of them kept secrets neither ever dreamed were true.
No matter the direction he looked in, Finni only saw white. The snow beat down on him as he cried out. Torrents of wind spiraled all around him, the weather mimicking his heart.
Why hadn’t anyone come? The sky was dark. Someone should have found them by now. He trembled in the cold and felt so tired. He just wanted to sleep.
But he couldn’t. Not yet.
Finni tried to call out, but his voice had given out long before the sun went down.
He clutched Gunder to him. Realization had finally sunk in, but as he sniffed, Finni knew he’d never let Gunder go. No matter what.
He should’ve kept up with him. Kept Gunder in his sights, but his brother ran so much faster than he did. His legs were so long and big compared to Finni’s scrawny ones. Someday, he’d be bigger than Gunder, though, he just knew it. Then he’d be able to outrun his brother.
When they were grown up, three years wouldn’t be that big of a difference in age.
“Hear that, Gunder?” Finni asked in a whisper, pressing his face against his brother’s. “I’m going to be bigger than you someday. Be able to run faster. So…so…so…”
He broke down, sobs torn from his chest. How did they get home? Finni just wanted Mom and Dad. He just wanted to go home with Gunder.
“Mom!” His voice barely made it out, but he had to try. “Dad! Somebody!”
Nothing. He was alone. All alone.
Mom. Dad. I don’t want to be alone.
He screamed and the wind picked up, whipped around him in a cyclone. The temperature dropped farther.
Who was that?
“Finni! Where are you boys?”
“Gr-gr-grandpa?” Guilt warred with hope. He should hide. Everyone was gonna be mad. So, so mad. They’d never like him again.
The wind’s moaning stopped. The snowflakes stirred no more. Grandpa’s huge, hulking figure appeared.
“Grandpa,” Finni cried out. The hiccups came as he tried to get it all out. “G-G-Gunder fell through the ice… I-I-couldn’t reach him. Gunder…he… I-I-tried to g-g-get us home.”
“Oh, oh. Oh, Finni,” his grandpa said quietly. Tears ran down his cheeks.
Oh no. Grandpa was mad.
“My little boy.” Grandpa wrapped his big arms around them and kissed his forehead. “My poor boys.”
Finni wailed, and the snow picked back up.
A chime woke Finni. He gasped, his right hand against his aching chest while the other pushed against the door. Gods, how did he fall asleep standing up?
“Ow!” He bumped into the door as people pushed in. An elbow or two reached his kidneys, and shit, did they hurt.
No one offered him an apology. One look at him and they backed off, creating a bubble around him, like he carried the plague or cooties or bad breath.
Christmas was the season of caring and giving, kindness toward your fellow man. At the moment, Finni felt none of those things, only loneliness and the deep longing for home, where things made sense and he could verify with his own eyes that everyone was alive and well.
The train continued down the tracks, gliding to a halt and jerking to a start at each of the different stations. A flood of people got on and off as they neared his stop. The ever-present bubble surrounded him, leaving Finni in a sour mood worse than the September day when his host family informed him the father had received a transfer with his company—permanently—and they needed to find him alternative living arrangements.
Maybe that day sucked worse. The family had been kind, treated him with genuine care, making sure Finni didn’t miss home so much.
A chime, followed by the announcement of his stop, had Finni turning around. The people moved in an eerie dance—not a single person lifting their gazes but able to move in such a way a path opened up for him to reach the doors on the other side of the car. A gulf of only a few steps, and a chasm of pain settled in his gut.
Finni ignored the sharp twist in his stomach, waiting for the doors to open as the train slid to a stop. The familiar hiss had Finni dropping his head so he could quickly step through the doors. He hustled out, aware of the sudden burst of movement as the other passengers raced to exit before the doors closed again.
If they would get closer to him, they wouldn’t have to be so panicked about getting off the train. But it was the same as always. People shouted and cursed him for being there and making their commute difficult.
Way to make a guy feel loved.
Only when Finni made it to the street corner opposite the station did he relax. No one cared about him or even acknowledged him once he made it that far.
He breathed in deep and rolled his neck, grunting when it cracked. The tension would get to him someday. Well, it already had, but he’d need more than a quick stretch to relieve it. Maybe he could find a massage parlor. A real one.
Hashimoto might know where he could go. If he didn’t, he would be more than happy to help Finni figure it out.
Oh. Oh no. Crap. The moment his roommate popped into his head, Finni remembered it was his turn to get groceries and cook dinner. He took off up the street toward the family grocers, hoping that the old grandpa wasn’t sitting watch. The man never sold him jack.
Once he got to the corner by the store, Finni peeked around the corner and cursed. Of course the old grandpa was there. Depressed more than before, Finni turned down a side street and headed toward the convenience store. Looked like it would be noodles again tonight.
Finni hoped Hashi wouldn’t be too upset. Though, if Finni had remembered earlier, he would have shopped closer to the university where they didn’t snub so obviously.
Trudging through the convenience store, Finni picked up some basics—toothpaste, a new aftershave since Hashi sneezed constantly with the other one, a couple of frozen meals he could nuke if he had to, a few different flavored ramen, and some pretzel Pocky—along with what food items he could restock. The clerk offered to heat up one of his meals, but Finni declined, needing to get home. The worker smiled at him as he paid, offering a good night. Finni dipped his head, tired but happy at the small gesture, even a token one.
With bags in tow, Finni set off for the condo again trying to figure out if Hashi would be home yet. Maybe. Maybe not. If he cut through the park, he might beat Hashi home. Finni turned, picking up his pace as he headed to his building. As he cut through the playground, a familiar voice called out to him.
He searched the benches until he saw Koizumi. Finni smiled, his first honest-to-goodness smile in hours. He loved the little old grandma. She never ceased to remind him of his grandmother, with her steel-gray hair always pulled up into a neat bun and soft, gentle hands. He diverted toward her, noting the bags she had next to her on the bench.
She smiled and answered him back, one of the few people who would speak Japanese to him. Everyone else seemed to assume he couldn’t speak Japanese, which was silly. How else would he be able to join a study-abroad program if he didn’t?
He leaned down and gave her a kiss on the check, earning him a sly smile. Koizumi batted him away, pointed to the bench, and ordered him to sit.
“You look tired, Clausen-kun.”
“You boys haven’t been eating properly.” Koizumi eyed his bags and frowned. “Yamaguchi-san tonight?”
She got no argument from Finni, but he wished the old grandpa didn’t hate him so much.
“Here, for you.” Koizumi stood, then lifted a pair of bags from the ground, putting them in his lap.
“Take them, and ignore that senseless old fool. You’re a good boy, Clausen-kun.”
He held the bags close, managing to get his emotions under control before speaking. “Arigatou, Koizumi-san.”
She patted his cheek, then turned toward the condos. “Hashimoto-kun isn’t home yet. If you hurry, you can hide the packaged noodles before he gets back.”
Mischief Corner Books: http://mischiefcornerbooks.weebly.com/store/p70/Snow_on_Spirit_Bridge.html
I grew up and went to college in the Midwest where I currently reside with my family. I spend most of my time playing sports and running around outside. And honestly, that much has not changed since I was little, except who is included my activities. I also have a healthy geocaching addiction. It’s so much fun! I enjoy spending my time traveling when I can, and I hold the view that a person should continually to learn about new things and people whenever possible.
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