The game is to guess things about each other. The audience laughs whether you know the things or not, but of course you are expected to know them. Frank’s father is there,in a tuxedo Frank rented for him at the Daiei down the street, and Frank’s mother is there too in a green dress. They don’t know about the game because there’s no English translation. Shoko’s parents know what’s going on though, and Frank can see them shake their heads each time Frank gets a question wrong. This is bad, because he gets many of them wrong. Shoko puts her hand on his, to steady him. She’s changed out of her wedding dress and now she’s wearing green, like his mother. This is all part of the schedule. After the game is over and before the waiters come out with the dessert she’s supposed to change into a midnight blue dress with silver sequins.
Years later, Frank will think of this as the moment when he first understood what it is like to marry across borders, to become a permanent expat. He will remember the glare of the lights and the closeness of the questioner, one of Shoko’s old high school friends, breathing into the mic. He will remember Shoko being kind, whispering the answers at him except she’s trying not to move her lips and the words come across all mangled. He’s not sure whether she’s saying Maki or Maggie. The question is about a band she likes and either of them could be it. Frank opens his mouth helplessly. He wants to tell Shoko to speak up, that he can’t understand, but instead he looks away to where the audience sits in the shadows, watching him sweat.
Gen Del Raye was born and raised in Kyoto, Japan and first left the country for California when he was eighteen. Currently he is writing and studying marine biology in Honolulu, Hawaii. He has been selected as a finalist for the Glimmer Train New Writer’s Award.