"Thank goodness it's finally a bit cooler. It's only June, for goodness' sake."
Emerging from the back of the shop, Satoko began re-arranging the packets of rice crackers on the shelves.
"You just got out of the hospital, Grandma. You shouldn't be running around so much. Dad will give me a hard time if he sees you carrying on like this." Naho frowned.
"It's okay, really. I'm better now. That's why the hospital let me come home. It's back to business as usual. You know that old saying about how people who don't work have no right to eat? It won't be long before you'll have to stand on your own two feet."
"Oh God, not that again." Naho crammed a piece of mayonnaise-flavored rice cracker into her mouth.
Satoko peered into her granddaughter's face.
"But my, you do love your rice crackers. I know it's the family business and all that, but you've been eating those things since the day you were born. How you don't get sick of them I'll never know."
"This is a new flavor."
"New or not, a rice cracker's still just a rice cracker. I can't bear the things myself. They play havoc with my teeth."
"Then why did you spend fifty years running a rice cracker store?"
"Like I've told you before, Naho, we only started selling rice crackers thirty years ago. We used to sell Japanese sweets until your father decided to switch to rice crackers. Gosh, I still miss those sweet bean jellies."
"Miss them?" said Naho, pursing her lips. "How? You're always eating the things."
Just then, a plump man in a gray suit opened the glass door and entered the store.
"Hello, all," he sang out cheerfully, giving a little bow.
"Oh, Mr. Takura, thanks for dropping by," said Satoko.
"I feel terrible making you go out of your way in this heat."
"That's not a problem. This is my job, after all. Besides, it's already cooled down a lot this afternoon. At noon, it was unbearable."
"You must be exhausted. Come in and I'll fix you a nice cool drink." Satoko motioned him toward the room behind the store. It was the family living room.
"Thank you, but I've just come to pick up that...you know." Using the tips of two fingers, Takura sketched a square in the air.
"My medical certificate, you mean? No problem. Naho and I went to the hospital today. I told her I'd be fine by myself, but she insisted on coming along."
Satoko kicked off her sandals.
"It's all right, Grandma. I'll get it." Naho gently edged her grandmother aside and disappeared into the back room.
"You know where it is?" Satoko called out.
"Of course. I'm the one who put it there. You're the one with no idea where anything is."
Her grandmother must have made some sort of comment as Naho heard the sound of laughter behind her.
"Don't forget the tea while you're at it," Satoko yelled.
"Yes, I know."
Naho clucked her tongue. What a nag her grandma was. She poured out a glass of cold oolong tea, put it on a tray, and went back to the shop. Her grandmother and Mr. Takura were happily chatting away.
"I'm delighted to see you looking so well. When was I last here? Four days ago? You look so much better already." Takura shook his head in amazement.
"Being back home has helped. I feel much better. I get to be up and doing even though Naho's always telling me to take it easy. Such a pest."
"That's only because she's worried about you." Takura reached out and plucked the glass of oolong tea off the tray. "Ah, thank you. It looks delicious."