by Ellen Oh
Ren stared at the red of his plum wine, wishing it was sake.
“You’re a virgin?” Taro asked.
“We gotta do something about it...”
“This is your last night...”
“Shut up!” Ren screamed.
Long silence. Tense. Uncomfortable. How could a bar run out of sake?
“I don’t want to die.” Ren said finally.
His older cousin recoiled, furious.
“It isn’t right…” Ren explained.
“Hold your tongue!”
“No I won’t! If I am going to die then I’m allowed to speak.”
“You talk treason!”
“We can’t win this war...”
Taro punched Ren in the mouth. “What’re you a coward? So selfish you’d dishonor your family?”
Ren washed down his blood with a sip of wine. “No. I will face my destiny same as you. But the Emperor asks us to die for him. Not to fight – simply to die. Is it right?”
His cousin stared. “Of course it’s right. It has to be. Don’t you understand? What we do must be right or all our sacrifices become meaningless. Whether we win this war or not, the Tokkoutai pilots are all heroes.” His voice grew stern. “Never say otherwise!”
Taro ruffled Ren’s hair and smiled. “Tomorrow we make history. We will circle Mt. Kaimondake before heading for Okinawa. Tomorrow will be a glorious day to die.”
Ren stared into the depths of his plum wine wishing it was sake – wishing tomorrow would never come.