bowed again slightly, but my robe was already fixed.

”No no, not like that. Bow like you did last time. I think I have a few thousand yen on me. ”

I was speechless, was this man really asking me to flash him again in exchange for a donation to the shrine? I looked around, the shrine grounds were empty except for the two of us. I don know why, but I slowly loosened my kosode, letting it hang loosely off of me like it did while I was cleaning, possibly more so. I bowed again for the man, this time it was obvious that my robe was loose and coming undone. My white bra was a little lacy and I started feeling self conscious about a man seeing me in them. I thought back to dressing in front of the mirror, wondering if the man could see my nipples through the fabric. After a minute of being bent over, I finally stood up straight again and fixed my robe. The man smiled and thanked me, turning to the donation box behind him and reaching for his wallet. I could clearly see the notes he had pulled out, I think partly to show that he was actually donating, but I could see nearly five notes of two thousand each. Ten thousand yen, that was incredible.

”It feels good to donate, I rarely get a chance to when I visit other shrines, so it is good for me to donate when I can. Have a wonderful evening, miss. ” The man gave another little bow before turning to leave. With nothing for me to say, I simply bowed back, not caring if my robe was proper or not as he walked away.

My fathers voice broke the evening silence. It had been an hour since the stranger had come and gone and my chores were nearly finished anyways. Heading back down the stairway path to the entrance, I met my father halfway. He smiled up at me as he saw me, though it caused a shudder through my body. The thought of the strange businessman smiling at me was still flooding my mind. ”Im glad to see that you are taking your duties seriously, Im proud of you. Did we have any visitors today? ” my father asked me.

”Yes, just one though. ” I could barely get the words out, but I did my best to try and keep a measured response. Dad and I walked back to the house in silence, the smell of dinner being ready seeping out of the open windows. I told my family to go ahead and start eating while I changed, I desperately wanted to be out of my shrine clothes. Once I was in a more comfortable shirt and shorts, I joined my family at the table.

”Thank you for helping out today Shizu, hopefully it went alright up there? ” my mother looked at me as I nodded through a glass of water. I didn want to speak, I was sure my voice would crack. When my parents started speaking between themselves, I practiced holding my breath again, using the focus of my concentration to put the days events behind me.

As my heart began to beat faster from the lack of air, my mind began to clear and the other parts of the day caught up to me. ”Mom, ” I cracked out, but did my best to push on in a normal tone, ”my last swim meet for the season is in Okayama on Saturday morning. Will you be able to drive me or should I take the train with the other students? ”

My mother thought for a moment, ”Well, with the shrine needing to be taken care of, it would be easier if you took the train. Is that alright? ”

”Of course. Would it be alright if I stayed in the city into the afternoon? Im sure Echiko will tag along for the meet, and we both know she isn going to be happy until she does some shopping. ”

”Thats fine, we should be able to give you some money so you can at least go out for lunch with her. ” Mom did her best to keep a smile, though I knew it was difficult to bring up money. My mind wandered back to the man, the donation that he put into the box. I wondered if I should mention something, obviously not about how I got the donation, but that it was in there at all. Ten thousand yen could go a long way to ease her mind about a trip into the city for me, and maybe even mean a little shopping allowance. It took me a second to realize mom was talking to me again. ”Shizu, did you ever decide what you wanted to do for your birthday? ”

My birthday was on Sunday, not that I cared too much. ”Oh, maybe just the usual katsu for dinner. I was thinking of going to karaoke with Echiko and Ami. ” Kodama Ami was another friend of mine, she also lived outside of town, on a small rice farm.

Dad seemed relieved when I suggested something so simple, ”Sounds like a good plan. Any thoughts on what you might like for a birthday present this year? ”

I shook my head, I never really wanted anything on my birthdays. Mom and I liked to shop at thrift stores or second hand stores, so almost nothing I owned was new except things like underwear or school supplies. After dinner I took a long shower, or at least longer than normal. I usually showered at the school locker rooms to save on water at the house, but after cleaning today I really needed it. As I finally turned off the faucet, I closed my eyes and listened to the dripping of water as it ran down my body. The air was full of steam, almost like a sauna. Opening my eyes, I looked at the girl in the mirror through the haze. Thin and slightly athletic, C cup breasts with small pink nipples, long dark hair swept behind my back, soft pale skin. I wondered, was I really that desirable to look at?

When I finally got to my room for the evening and didn have any more obligations, I pulled my notebooks from my school bag and sat on the bed. I had less than an hour left for a little more studying before I needed to get to sleep. As I opened my math notebook a small piece of paper fell out of it. It startled me at first, but once I realized that it was just paper I picked it up to examine it. It was the love letter that Echiko had gotten today, she must have slipped it into my notebook at some point during the day. The mysterious boys phone number was written on it. I rolled my eyes, Echiko knew I didn have a phone. Besides, the love letter was for her, not me. I threw the note into my nightstand drawer and got back to my notebook. I wasn looking forward to the math final, the teacher always threw in questions that she never covered over the term, but that she swears are in our book. This semester I wasn going to let her get the best of me.

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