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224 pages, Kindle Edition
First published April 1, 2005
’When Takeo said the word ‘scare’ the fear that I had been feeling this whole week blew up inside of me all at once. That’s because it is scary. I’m scary. Takeo is scary. Waiting is scary. Tadokoro, Mr. Nakano, Sakiko, Masayo, and even Mr. Crane — they were all scary. Even more frightening was my own self.’
‘I hate cellphones...there has been no greater evil for love affairs—those that are going well as much as those that are going badly—due to the greatly increased ability to receive phone calls no matter where you are, no matter what the situation.’
“I thought about how what I felt for him now and what he felt for me at that moment must be totally and completely out of sync. Trying to imagine it made me dizzy.”
“Ours was a strange world, in which whatever was new and neat and tidy diminished in value.”
“It was as if everyone doled themselves out in such small portions. Never completely open, not all at once.”
“This conversation was becoming less and less comprehensible.”
“Whether your voice betrays you, or becomes deliberately calm, in the end it amounts to the same thing, I thought in a corner of my mind.”
“This was what made love so difficult. Or rather, the difficult thing was first determining whether or not love was what I wanted.”
Mechanically I nodded. Mechanically I took the croissants out of the bag, mechanically I made some black tea, mechanically I brought the croissants to my lips, mechanically I chewed and swallowed. Takeo must have really been angry, I murmured into the air. But why—what was he angry about? I could keep muttering, there would be no answer. Without my noticing, Mr. Nakano and Masayo had disappeared. A customer came in and I called out a greeting. Mechanically the sun went down. When I checked the record on the register, it said the total for the day had been 53,750 yen. I had no memory of ringing up that much in sales. Cold air blew in from the entrance to the shop. I went to close the glass door, mechanically moving towards the front.
Could Takeo have died on the side of a road?
That would serve him right! I thought at the idea of such a thing. But my smugness was soon dampened by the realization of how troublesome it was, just to feel that way—how troublesome it was, really, just to be alive. I wanted nothing to do with love! I wanted the stiffness in my shoulders to go away. I could probably put a bit of money into savings this month. These thoughts drifted by one by one, like tiny bubbles.
The flowers I had put in the vase looked as though they were artificial. And yet the ones in the mayonnaise jar looked like normal, real flowers.
I put the sketch back, under the envelope. I wondered if a computer-related company would have more computers around. Computers are rectangular. Microwaves are rectangular too. And the gas heater that we had been using when I left the Nakano shop was rectangular too, wasn’t it? These incoherent thoughts went through my mind as I took off my stockings and crumpled them into a ball.