Kagome knew exactly how many steps it was from the stream to where she had her laundry tub sitting in the shade of the old oak tree. One hundred and forty-three steps. She stopped at step seventy-four, and rested the buckets on the ground, relieving the weight in her hands and the pressure of the rope handles cutting into her hands. The day was sunny and hot, and perfect for doing laundry. Taking a deep breath, she then blew out a puff of air at a stray piece of hair tickling her nose. This was her third trip from the stream. Not for the first time, she wished she had gotten InuYasha to clear a place where she could wash at the stream side, but the ground there wasn’t good for it. If InuYasha had been home, he would have filled the tub for her but he was out with Miroku, and she didn’t expect him home until the next day. The laundry, though, was piling up and she couldn’t wait any longer to get this nasty chore out of the way.
Resolutely, she picked up the buckets again, and started counting steps. “Eighty-one,” she muttered. “Eighty-two . . . ” The path rounded the corner around a huge, ancient cherry tree. “Eighty-nine, ninety . . . ”
Just as she turned the bend, suddenly there was a flash of red and white dropping from the tree onto the ground right immediately in front of her.
“Ack!” she cried, as she stepped back, trying to keep her toes from being stepped on, but as she moved, her ankle turned on a rock. She lost her balance and the water buckets splashed all over her.
“Kagome!” InuYasha said, rushing to her side. He bent over her and lifted her back to her feet. “I’m so sorry, Koibito. We just got back, and I wanted to surprise you. Are you ok?”
She hugged him, then took a step. “Maybe. Way to make an entrance, husband.”
Looking down at the state of her clothes, she sighed at the dirt and water all over her. She kissed him quickly on the chin and tried to smile. “I’m really glad you’re back. Finish filling up the laundry tub for me, will you? I can see I just have a few more things to add to the wash basket.”
And with that, she walked gingerly back into the house.