2 July, Sōji Shimada

文字数 3,659文字

Dream Island Expo, 2020


Despite his having no symptoms at all, my husband’s coronavirus test came back positive. It was time to initiate a new socially-distant lifestyle. My husband, a registered architect, holed himself up at his Osaka office. He slept there, and spent every waking hour teleworking.
  “How are you feeling?” I’d ask him, calling from our 56th floor condominium in Toyosu, Tokyo.
  “The world’s at peace. Everything’s fine.” He always spoke like this. “Japan’s future looks bright—we’re extremely competitive in the field of science, our GDP is on the increase. And the marble of the World Expo promenade gleams like the surface of a mirror.”
  “Oh, really? I hadn’t realized you’d made that much progress.”
  I’d heard that because of the coronavirus, major adjustments had been made to the plans for the Dream Island Expo site.
  “I can’t believe how much our life has changed because of Covid-19,” I said. “It feels like we’re both stuck at the office with no option to commute home. I know we weren’t always together all day, but now we we’re doing everything apart—eating, sleeping, drinking tea, working. . . . I only ever see your face on Skype. It’s become a virtual marriage.”
  That evil virus had killed off physical contact for our whole species.
  I wondered if all marriages would be like this from now on. . . . If someone wanted a baby, would sperm have to be delivered by a parcel delivery service? I’d never imagined the twenty-first century would turn out this way.
  After that, there must have been some problem with the connection, because it sounded as if my husband were repeating the exact same phrases over and over. I decided we’d better meet offline, so I headed to Osaka.
  I made my way to the address of my husband’s office—Yumeshima naka 1-chome in Konohana Ward. But when I arrived, there was nothing there. Yumeshima—Dream Island—was a polluted patch of wasteland with mountains of old tires. Nothing had been built yet. The gleaming marble promenade and buildings of the future were nowhere to be seen. Even the weeds grew sparse on the exposed landfill.
  I walked down to the edge of the water. There was a narrow embankment and then a marshy area, where heaps of old electrical appliances had been dumped. Out in the marsh I caught a glimpse of something that looked like the sleeve of my husband’s jacket. Shoving junk out of the way, I struggled my way out there—to discover the skeletonized remains of my husband, his bony right hand still clutching his cell phone.
  Oh . . . so, he was dead, I thought. But then again, with this kind of married life, it doesn’t really matter if you’re dead or alive.


Translated by Louise Heal Kawai/Arranged by TranNet KK

Sōji Shimada
Born in Fukuyama City, Hiroshima Prefecture, 1948. Graduated from Musashino Art University. Made his resounding literary debut in 1981 with

The

Tokyo

Zodiac

Murders

. In the following decades, he has drawn critical acclaim for his Detective Mitarai Kiyoshi series which spans over 50 novels, as well as the Detective Yoshiki Takeshi series which includes works such as

Hikaru

tsuru

(Shining crane). Received the Japan Mystery Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2009. In addition to his writing, he has pursued the discovery and development of new talent through the Shimada Sōji selection—Bara no Machi Fukuyama Mystery Prize for New Writers and being a part of the selection committee for the Kodansha ‘Veteran Newcomer’ Discovery Project , among other efforts. He is also active in the translation and introduction of Japanese orthodox mystery literature to countries outside of Japan.

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