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Ishmael and Hatsue, both 14, are digging for geoducks, or clams, along the beach. He has known her for 6 years; yet there was a detached part of her that she kept to herself and which deeply interested him. Lately, he was unhappy when he thought about her but could not find a way to tell her about this unhappiness. Finally, Ishmael confesses that he likes her, and he then kisses her. She says nothing. And as soon as they are no longer touching, she grabs her pail and runs away. Ishmael decides that he will “love her forever no matter what came to pass.” To him, their love was inevitable and had started the day they’d kissed in his glass-bottom boat. He was certain Hatsue felt the same way.
For 10 days, Ishmael didn’t see Hatsue. For 5 nights, he crouched at the edge of the Imada’s farm hoping to catch a glimpse of Hatsue. Finally, he got to talk to her as they walked to the Nitta's farm to pick strawberries. They did not mention the kiss. When the rain begins, the picking ends, and Hatsue leaves. Instinctively, Ishmael followed Hatsue into the woods to the hollow tree they used to play in as children. He finds out that Hatsue often comes to the tree to think.
He apologizes for kissing her and suggests they forget that it happened. She is silent at first. Then, she says she is not sorry it happened. He confesses that he isn’t sorry either. They talk about how their parents and friends would think it was wrong for them to be together. He is not Japanese. But it doesn’t matter to him. They talk and kiss. Ishmael has never felt so happy. But, he also feels as if this will never happen again in the same way.
Though Ishmael and Hatsue recognize that others might view their relationship as wrong, they can’t help but act on the feelings they have for each other.