Fears and Mysteries
No Longer Normal
"Do you really think they will bomb our city?" I asked, a quaver to my voice.
"Anything is possible in war." As Papa said this my stomach swarmed with butterflies. I ran to him and welcomed his embrace.
"Papa, are we all going to be all right?" I squeezed tighter. I swear all one hundred million hearts from the radio slogan were beating in my chest. Will fire be raining down on us soon? Maybe we should just live in the bomb shelters? But how is that really living?
He hugged me close and then stepped back. He looked at me and said, "I will keep you safe."
Akira-san added, "Our family's safety is our main concern." He glanced at Papa. "But now you should get ready for bed. It is late."
I nodded and gave him a hug as well. When I got to the door, I turned and asked, "Papa, do you think we will have school tomorrow?"
I noticed that both he and Akira-san looked up to answer. I did not know what made me feel worse--the fear that this new firebomb could be dropped on Hiroshima next or the tugging of my heart as both men responded to "Papa." (p. 133-4)
Once we were all seated, Papa raises his glass and said, "Cherry blossoms are like life itself--so beautiful, yet so fragile that they bloom only a short time. A toast to my family and to enjoying our time together. Kanpai!" (p. 146)Sadly, a few months later, the atomic bomb destroys Yuriko's world.
After the bomb is dropped and Hiroshima is devastated, Yuriko faces one loss after another. Overwhelmed by sadness, she is close to giving up her own life. The sight of cherry blossoms falling off a tree help Yuriko choose a path out of despair and into a new life with a new family. As Kathleen Burkinshaw notes in the afterword, "Originally, scientists said nothing would grow again in Hiroshima soil for many years after the bomb was dropped. Yet the cherry blossoms bloomed the following spring." (p. 219)
If random.org doesn't choose your name, you'll have another chance to win The Last Cherry Blossom in September. Joyce Hostetter and I will be giving away a copy through our next issue of Talking Story on "Radiation: Friend or Foe". And if all else fails, of course you can buy one here!