Yusi landed softly, his feet barely making an imprint on the thick carpet of pink petals. No one else had arrived yet. The only sound was the whisper of the wind through the tree branches.
He stood still, eyes shut, breathing in the sweet scent of the cherry blossom trees around him and enjoying the sun on his face. He had been away far too long. Almost unconsciously, he touched the small black tattoo that was branded on the back of his hand.
There was the change in the air. Yusi opened his eyes. A swirl of blossoms rose up in a gust of wind, and a figure appeared in the midst of the clouds of pink. As the petals settled back on the ground, a girl with long black hair materialized.
“Yusi!” she cried, and ran forward to embrace him.
“Mayu,” he said, smiling as he hugged her tight. They broke apart, Mayu still beaming and holding onto his hands.
“You’re finally home – and just in time for the festival! Obaachan will be so happy!”
“Mayu,” Yusi said, half laughing. “You shouldn’t -”
“I know, I know,” Mayu rolled her eyes. “I meant Kami will be so pleased. It’s strange to think that grandma is in charge now – I keep remembering how she used to chase us out of the orchard with her broom. Anyway, now you’re back, everyone’s convinced that the signs point to -”
She stopped as she noticed Yusi’s hand.
“Yusi,” she gasped. “Your tattoo – it’s still black. What -”
“I know,” Yusi said withdrawing his hand quickly. “Don’t worry imouto, I will talk to Kami about it tonight.”
Mayu frowned, but before she could speak again there was a great gust of wind. Cherry blossoms flew all around them. Tiny tree sprites exploded into being in the branches above, their laughter and chatter filling the spring air. In the middle of the clearing, a deluge of blossoms fell back to the ground, revealing a stout woman of indeterminate age, with twinkling brown eyes.
Yusi’s heart soared. Kami had arrived.
He was finally home.