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Aftershocks

If you want to know a few facts about me, here they are: I'm a teenage girl living in Tokyo with my parents, in a two-story house next to a graveyard. My dad's Japanese and my mom's American, from California. He's a mystery writer and she’s an editor. They met on the old streetcar that goes to Waseda when they were each on their way to a dinner date, exchanged numbers, and a year later I was born at my grandparents' house in western Japan. I want to be an architect, I make amazing miso soup, and yes, we were here for the big one on March 11th. I think we survived it, though I can't say for sure.

March is never a good month in Tokyo. It's cold and rainy and long. The cherry blossoms are pretty nice when they start blooming at the end of the month, but it's usually, you know, still cold and rainy. And anyway, this year people aren’t having their usual hanami cherry blossom parties in the neighborhood park. No one really wants to after the earthquake and all.

I heard my parents arguing over our hanami one evening about a week after the disaster, when school was closed and I was lying on the landing in the dark with our dachshund Momo. I’d considered going for a run in case the track meet that got canceled because of the quake was rescheduled, but didn’t feel like it. I didn’t even feel like checking Facebook—I was sick of all the stuff about the earthquake, everyone here posting about how they’re taking off for a while to Singapore or Hawaii because of the radiation, my relatives in the States asking fifty times a day what’s happening, how dangerous are the aftershocks, aren’t we thinking about leaving. So I was just lying there with Momo, listening to my parents’ voices float up from the kitchen...