Summary: Chapter 2
Doc Hata describes his immaculately preserved two-story Tudor house as one of the most special properties in his neighborhood, and he explains that an ambitious local real estate agent named Liv Crawford frequently pesters him about selling now that he’s retired. Though he doesn’t feel ready to sell, Doc Hata admires Liv’s “wishful pluck” and “the joyous vibrancy of commerce” in her voice.
Doc Hata can’t imagine where he would go if he left his home, and he reflects that the typical retirement lifestyle doesn’t appeal to him. He’s only ever played golf on business trips, but even then, it was the camaraderie rather than the game that he felt drawn to. He recalls several business trips that he enjoyed. He also remembers one time at a conference in San Francisco when he met another Japanese gentleman. He notes that despite sharing a race and an occupation, the two men found little to talk about. Doc Hata wonders if this awkward interaction captures the reality of his business trips better than his other more positive memories.
Doc Hata confesses that, despite telling Liv he’s not ready to sell, he feels like the time will soon come for him to leave Bedley Run. The deep sense of belonging that he has cultivated in this town has begun to feel strangely disturbing, as if he has become so familiar to others that he is now transparent to them.
After speaking with Liv earlier in the day, Doc Hata went out to his pool to swim his usual morning laps. Doc Hata’s pool appears not to reflect light since he painted the bottom and sides a dark gray to match the surrounding flagstones. Imagining that he would be invisible in the dark water if seen from above, Doc Hata thinks of himself as “a secret swimmer who, if he could choose, might always go silent and unseen.”
Now, in the evening, Doc Hata starts a fire in the hearth and burns old insurance records from his store. He thinks about the photos from the box Anne found and recalls one image of Sunny at the piano. His mind reaches back to those early days, soon after he adopted the seven-year-old orphan. Doc Hata spent all of his spare time restoring every inch of the old house, which Sunny hated for its disarray.
Doc Hata recalls how Sunny used to practice Chopin nocturnes as he worked. Though Sunny played these pieces well enough at home, her performances for competition always included odd blunders. Sunny’s inability to reach perfection led to disenchantment with the piano. This, in turn, sparked arguments with her father and gradually created emotional distance between them.