This story, published here for the first time, won the 2007 Bank of New Zealand Katherine Mansfield Award for best short story.
It is obvious to you that the chairs should be facing the ocean. You are standing on the crest of the last dune before the beach, looking out at the sand and the waves and the grey/blue Pacific. It is cold and you can see your breath in the air. You watch as a woman in a dark dress-suit and coat methodically places the chairs on to the sand.
She looks up the beach and sees you. She is probably wondering if you are the first to arrive. But no, your faded jeans and hoody belong to someone out for an early-morning walk. The invited guests will be dressed formally, especially the Japanese ...
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