16 July, Fuminori Onodera

文字数 3,789文字

Masks don’t seem to work very well for protecting yourself.
  But my mom tells me to wear one when I go out because they stop you from passing the virus on to other people. So that’s what I do.
  I don’t wear one at home. My mom doesn’t, either. We’re family, so it’s ok. But then, even though we’re family, we could still give it to each other.
  School’s been closed for ages, so I stay home every day.
  I was happy at first, but not anymore. I heard that if school starts, they’re gonna shorten our summer vacation, which is crazy! There’s no way! Elementary school in the middle of summer. It’s too hot. We just can’t.
  

Ding-dong

, chimed the intercom to the porch. This will kill some time. I grabbed the receiver and spoke.
  Yes?
  Good afternoon! Delivery! It’s registered mail, so please bring your personal seal.
  Oh, ok. I’m coming now.
  Our personal seal. That would be our

hanko

, our name stamp.
  I took it from the cabinet and walked towards the door.

Wait,

what

about

a

mask?


  The postman on the intercom screen was wearing one. Well, duh. All the workers are wearing them, like at the supermarkets and convenience stores.
  But am I supposed to?
  I’m at home, and if I go to the door with a mask on, the postman might look at me weird. He might think I just put on a mask because I didn’t want to catch the virus from him. But then, I should wear a mask in case I have it, so I don’t give it to him.
  No more goofing around. I needed to answer the postman.
  Just in case, I put on my mask and went to the door. Then, with my mask still on, I pulled it out in front of me with my left hand and opened the door with my right.
  The postman was standing there. I wasn’t sure what to do, so I asked him.
  Um, what should I do?
  Sorry?
  The mask. Should I wear it? Or should I take it off?
  Oh, said the postman, who smiled and continued. Keep it on. It wouldn’t be good if I passed anything on to you, Nagano-kun.
  That was that and my left hand let go. The bands that were hooked around my ears bounced back, and the mask went back over my nose and mouth.
  Then I said, without thinking, How do you know my family name’s Nagano?
  Because I’m from the post office, you see? I have an item addressed to Mrs. Nagano.
  Oh, yeah. Duh.
  I was a little embarrassed. I wondered if I was stupid.
  Urgh.
  I guess I’m brainless already, so maybe I have to back to school after all. It’s gonna be so hot. I’ll just have to put up with it. My friends will be there, too, so I guess it’ll be ok.
  I signed using the

hanko

stamp and took what was addressed to my mom.
  Thank you for being considerate.
  With that, the postman left.
  I thought he looked like some celebrity or other.


Translated by Lauren Barrett/Arranged by TranNet KK

Fuminori Onodera
Born in Chiba Prefecture, 1968. Won the 86th All Yomimono Mystery Prize for New Writers in 2006 for Ura e hashiri kerikome (Run to the back and kick it in). Made his literary debut in 2008 with

ROCKER

, for which he won the outstanding performance award at 3rd Poplar Publishing Literary Prize. His works include

Rikabarī

(Recovery),

Hiritsuku

yoru

no

oto

(The sound of an aching night),

Tarō

to

Sakura

(Taro and Sakura),

Sono

ai

no

teido

(That degree of love),

Chikai

hazu

no

hito

(A person who should be close),

Sore

jitai

ga

kiseki

(A miracle in itself),

Sen

(Line),

Hito

(Person),

Raifu

(Life),

Machi

(City),

Kyō

mo

machi

no

sumi

de

(What goes on at the corner of this town), and the Mitsuba no yūbinya-san (Mitsuba’s postman) series, among others. His most recent work is

Kuccha

nete

kaite

(Eat, sleep, and write).

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