Li Shin thought about how she wanted them to find her. She would rest her head to the side. Her grey hair, which she twisted into a bun every morning, and held together with six small black pins and no more, would face them as they entered the kitchen.
At the doorway they would see her bun and the strawberries laid out on the table. Skin washed and leaves cut off, ready for them to eat. That morning she was the only customer at the fruit stall. The Japanese seller and she did not say a word as she pointed to the strawberries and he signalled the cost.
In Tokyo she did not interact with the Japanese outside of their stores, though she had once been in a ballroom filled with Americans, British and a few other Chinese. Her son, in his uniform, had taken her hand and told her how beautiful she looked as she followed his lead, in a bright green dress, around the room.
Since her daughter in law arrived from Shanghai, Li Shin spent almost all her time inside. She cleaned and prepared meals and listened to their talk.
When the war ended, Li Shin ran out onto the streets with her neighbours and cried and laughed and screamed. It had been years since she stepped outside without rubbing her face with dirt or excrement. When she died, she left her face clean, untouched, in Japan. She thought of her son’s life here.