First time I met consul Niishima, I was preparing tea for the European diplomats. I had that part of the embassy, the guest wing, and the lower common kitchen to myself, so I din’t bother to close any of the doors. The meeting was scheduled that early afternoon.

A tall handsome man manifested in the doorway. I nearly dropped the tray with the cups and napkins. Back then, I didn’t know who he was. I threatened to call security on him. He smirked and said he was going to steal some cakes. 

He laughed and all tension dropped. I couldn’t help but giggle. I remembered it was lunchtime, maybe he forgot his lunch at home, so I offered my onigiri instead. At least he wouldn’t steal any tea cakes, not on my watch. He took it, thanked me and went, munching the rice ball.

Second time I only caught a glimpse of him, as the door of his bureau closed. He sat at his heavy table, shoulders slumped, surrounded by important documents. The red stamps on the white thin of the official papers looked like blood drops on a snakeskin. He seemed desperate, his hands digging into his black hair. I brought him tea, but he didn’t look up.

Third time I saw him, he was bleeding. Uniforms ran up the street, chasing after protesters. His back was pressed against the fence of the embassy. Tires squealed, car engines howled. Sirens approached. His hands pressed against his wet left side. There was smoke. His sad smile lit up, as he saw me running towards him. Between his fingers bright red oozed. I tore off my scarf and pressed it down hard on his wound. He sighed. “Don’t ruin your beautiful scarf.”

They didn’t give me my scarf back, not even after the funeral.

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