Humaling

In response to Word High July the snippet below is inspired by the Filipino word ‘humaling’ or ‘extreme fondness’. It’s part of a series charting the impact of the discovery of intelligent life in space on five ordinary people over the course of a month. Enjoy!

Image taken from Buzzfeed: “36 Of The Most Beautiful Words In The Philippine Language”. All credits goes to them.

***

“You must try Kitahara-san’s umeshu, Sato-san,” Shima said, presenting Yuna with short earthenware cup.

“Please, I keep asking you to call me Yuna,” she replied, sipping delicately at the plum liquor. It was delicious, cold and sweet with a slight after burn. “Delicious!”

A reddened flush spread across Shima’s cheeks and he ducked his head. Yuna felt a twinge of pleasure at the sight and feigned interest in fish on her plate, toying with her chopsticks. This was their second date in almost as many days and Yuna, for the first time in her life, was already having to bite back the suggestion of a third.

Shima Takahashi was nothing like the men Yuna usually dated, he’d been raised in a little town between Kobe and Osaka and sometimes slipped into Kansai dialect. He was tall, and still somewhat awkward despite the deliberate and thoughtful way he moved; he dressed for comfort rather than fashion and wore the most terrible shoes. But he was also witty and intelligent rather than charming, the force of his personality transforming the relative plainness of his features until Yuna found she couldn’t look away.

“I am still a little surprised you agreed to see me again…Yuna,” Shima admitted, the flush in his cheeks growing a little darker.

An involuntary smile twitched the edges of Yuna’s lips and for once she let it grow, the skin of her cheeks stretched. She couldn’t have predicted when she attended the news event that she might be successful in meeting a few of the scientists presenting afterwards, and she would never have dreamed that someone like Shima would be amongst them. The lesson on planning and procrastination had been well learned and Shima might well be her reward.

“I confess, I was a little interested in the prospect of meeting some of the scientists involved in such a momentous occasion,” she explained, refusing to disguise her manipulations. It was important Shima did not mistake her intentions or how they had changed. “Life in outer space; it will change the nature of the world that we know. But I find you to be…an unexpected benefit.”

Shima stared at her a moment, dark eyes searching her face, and Yuna felt a quiver of uncertainty before he gave a sudden snort of laughter and smiled.

“I think you must be a very interesting woman, Yuna.”

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