"I cannot believe that you chose to wear black today. I am not sure how I am going to explain that," her father said.
She lifted her head to look at the man from whom she received half of her genes – and some of her attitude. His once pure blond hair was now streaked with silver and his eyes did not dance as much as they used to. Yet, in many ways, he hadn't changed much from the father she'd known for the eleven years that encompassed her entire life.
And he still didn't understand the religious holidays she held so dear, which wasn't that surprising. After all, he had been raised in a Buddhist temple. Her mother had been the Christian.
On a sigh, as she pushed memories of her mother out of her head for the moment, she replied, "You know what today is, Daddy. What else would I wear?"
Her answer frustrated him. And, after running his hand through his hair, he looked down at the piece of metal she continued to turn over in her hands. After realizing what it was, he sputtered, "And from where did you get the nail? There is no way that you carried that on the plane."
"Of course not. I found it in the hotel room."
"In the hotel – Imani Shinobu MacDuff, tell me you did not break anything to get the nail."
Imani Shinobu MacDuff. She really didn't know what her parents were thinking when they bestowed that name on her. Her father had taken her mother's last name when they married – that explained the MacDuff, her mother Armenta's inheritance from her absent white father. Armenta Ross MacDuff, in tribute to her own mother, had given her only daughter an African name, which explained Imani…barely.
Her middle name had come from her father. Apparently he had named her after someone that meant a lot to him. That was the justification behind the Shinobu. Imani had never really had the guts to ask her father if Shinobu was even a female name. He had rarely talked about his life in Japan.
Then, without any warning, just three months after her mother's death, Imani's father dragged her Japan, this country so foreign to her. He had said something about meeting old friends and spending some time with his adoptive family. People he had barely even spoken of before this point.
"Daddy…" Imani began as she stopped playing with the nail for the moment. "Since we are staying in…in…"
"A temple, Imani. We are staying in a temple. You do not need to act as if I had exiled you to somewhere undesirable."
"Okay, a temple. Will there be a church nearby? I mean, for Sunday."
"Now, Imani – "
"But we have to go to church on Sunday! We have to go!" she interrupted her father. Yes she realized it was disrespectful and normally she wouldn't do it, but this was important. "Sunday is Easter! I have to be in church on Easter Sunday!"
Her father made a noise of frustration. "Imani, will you at least try to compromise?"
"But I am compromising, Daddy! It's Good Friday. Good Friday and I'm not fasting and I'm not in church. No, I'm halfway around the world with my father. This is the first Good Friday, the first Easter Sunday without Momma and I – I – "
Imani wasn't proud of the fact that she burst into tears at that point. She had even dropped the nail into her lap so that she could cry into her hands.
Her father reacted, well, like her father. There were the awkward, yet comforting, pats on the head. To which he added – although she couldn't see him through her hands to be sure – the self-conscious glancing around the train car. She was probably embarrassing him. She really hated it when she did that.
As the train slowed to its next stop, her father leaned down to her and said, "Imani, we are here."
She took his hand, grabbed her nail, and followed him off the train almost on auto-pilot. She didn't even wipe her eyes until they were leaving the train station. Blinking a few times, she felt totally confused. This was a massively big city that her father hadn't been in for just over a decade. How did he know where he was going?
She held his hand as he led her across the street to stop in front of "A McDonalds? You're meeting your friends at a McDonalds?"
Her father didn't answer, he just pulled her inside. He looked around for a minute, started walking toward the seating section, and then he suddenly stopped. (So suddenly that Imani almost ran into him.) Following her father's gaze, she saw four people sitting at a table.
They were all about her father's age and all Japanese. Given where they were, that should not have been a surprise, but given the multicultural group of family friends they had left at home, Imani found it surprising. The first one she noticed was obviously important. He wore an expensive suit and his hair seemed a silver-like purple in the lights of the fast food place. Next to him sat a bubbly female. At least Imani thought she was a female, although she was wearing a man's suit. The hair color had to be some unfortunate accident with hair dye. It couldn't be natural.
Across from then sat a red-headed man and a woman who must be his wife. The red-head seemed flustered and upset about something. Imani stared at him for a few seconds. She didn't know that Japanese people could have red hair. She hadn't known they could be blond either, but her father seemed to prove that last point.
The woman looked pretty in a way. She looked like she could have beaten you up when she was younger, but that time…and maybe a child or two, had calmed her down. Imani wasn't sure who the woman reminded her of, but she would have to think about it.
Were these her father's friends? They weren't what she expected. Well, at least maybe she could finally ask about her middle name. If her father ever started moving toward the table, that is.