Titles: Making Lemonade
Theme: Lemons (Michiru)
She always associated this drink with summer. Summer was when she visited her grandmother in Kyoto; they would drive up the winding drive, she would drag out her small rucksack and knock on the door. Her grandmother would open the door, smiling gently.
"Who's this big girl, knocking at my door?"
"Me, obaa-san!" she would say, hugging the old woman with glee.
"My, I didn't recognise you, you're so tall now. Come in, come in." Grandmother would step aside to let her walk in and take off her shoes. The house was always cool and dark, smelling of lavender and pot pourri. Michiru would hurry into the living room and sink into the armchair, letting out a long sigh, half real, half pretend. Then she would gaze around the room, taking in every detail, making sure nothing had changed. The bowl of fruit on the side cabinet; the long low coffee table inlaid with jade; the two china dragons guarding the fire place.
"Would you like some lemonade?"
These were the magic words. The smile would reappear on her lips and she'd almost wriggle with happiness. "Yes, please. I only get proper lemonade when I'm with you, obaa-san."
"I know, you're such a deprived child. Well, come and tell me how much sugar you want."
She would follow the old lady into the kitchen, where the jug waited. Just the sight of it made her mouth water, but she would wait patiently as it splashed into a slim glass. Then obaa-san would take a long spoon and start to put sugar in; Michiru usually had three spoonfuls. She liked the number three. Sometimes, if she was feeling hot or grumpy, she'd have four, but that was rare. She always tried to be happy when she arrived here.
After the ceremonial stirring, she'd take the glass and slowly sip it, hold the liquid in her mouth for a few glorious moments, and swallow, feeling her mouth tingle from the combination of sweet and sour. Then her eyes would open and she'd smile again.
"Best yet, obaa-san."
Nobody else in the family knew how to make lemonade. Not even her mother. The recipe was closely guarded. Grandmother often said that it would only be known after her death. Michiru didn't like to think about that. Death was the great devourer, a black hole which took people without warning. Grandmother should not die. Grandmother should stay here, in Kyoto, making lemonade.
Child's wishes. Powerless against the great forces in life. She wept when she was told the news, silent cold tears in the privacy of her bedroom. She was given an envelope; apparently her grandmother had written her a letter. She did not open it until she was quite grown up, living with two other women and a child of her own.
The envelope contained no letter. Just a recipe. As she read it, she smiled a soft smile.
The next day, Hotaru walked into the kitchen and saw her Michiru-mama standing by the table, slicing bright yellow fruit into halves.
"What are you making, Michiru-mama?"
She looked up, the sea dancing in her eyes. "Do you want some lemonade, Hotaru? Real, proper lemonade?" When the little girl nodded, Michiru picked her up and stood her upon a chair. "This is my obaa-san's recipe. When you're older, I'll teach it to you."
The smell of lemons rose thick in the air and they smiled at each other.
DISCLAIMER: I do not own Kaioh Michiru. She belongs to Naoko Takeuchi (and Haruka).