26 May, Maha Harada

文字数 4,026文字

A Flower Blooms


With an elbow propped against the desk, Aoi thumbed through her smartphone, then casually shifted her gaze outside the window. The irises that had been planted in the tiny garden stuck out of the ground like lines of spears, cloaked in green, pointy leaves. The tips were faintly tinged with purple, hinting at their imminent bloom.
  Having started junior high school in the spring, Aoi had only gone to the entrance ceremony when, before she’d learned her classmates’ faces and names, school had to be closed. Since the need for remote learning wasn’t something anyone had anticipated, students were left with reading the textbook and doing printed exercises. Aoi found it to be a drag, but now that the emergency declaration was lifted and school was set to re-open next week, she dreaded going back.
  Her father had been continuing to go into the city for work. Yesterday he complained that the empty commuter trains would go back to being crowded as usual. Aoi’s mother, working from home, sat at the living-room table in the middle of an online meeting. No, as I said, as I said, that’s . . . , she ranted at the computer screen. Silently, Aoi opened the patio door and went out into the garden.
  

Have

these

flowers

always

been

here?

Aoi wondered, gazing down at the green javelins, when she heard her mother’s voice at her back.
  Something the matter?
  These flowers . . . have they always been here? Aoi asked, without turning around, and her mother answered, Oh, those are Japanese irises. Your grandfather bought and planted them because he said they come into bloom the month you were born.
  After being told something she never knew, suddenly Aoi took an interest in the green javelins. She came back with a pair of kitchen shears and snipped one budded stem near the base. She put the stem in a cup of water and set it on top of the table.
  Where did this come from? Aoi’s father, exhausted after returning on an overcrowded train, asked upon noticing the cup on the table. Aoi didn’t answer. She’s bored, said her mother with a chuckle.
  Aoi ate her meals—breakfast, lunch, and dinner—in a staring match with the unbloomed bud. There on the table sat the flower, a single bud yet to bloom. That alone seemed to change the scenery of the dining table. Will it be today, or tomorrow? Aoi waited secretly for the flower to blossom. Gradually the bud grew more purple in hue, more swollen. But just as it looked like it might finally open, it seemed to give up. The tip of the flower was just beginning to peek out. Did it simply give out?
  I wonder if it’s dead.
  Aoi’s mother, who was at the kitchen counter washing dishes, heard her and answered, It’ll bloom, just wait.
  How can you be so sure? All it looks to me is dead.
  A flower requires the most energy when it blooms. It stores up energy, and then it opens. That’s just the power of nature, don’t worry.
  How do you know that? You’re not a flower.
  Her mother chuckled at Aoi’s question.
  Because I gave birth to you, that’s how. It’s probably just like that.
  The following week, Aoi’s life in junior high school began. That morning, the hard shell of a bud unfurled its petals. It wouldn’t be long before Aoi came home and discovered the fresh purple flower.


Translated by Takami Nieda/Arranged by TranNet KK

Maha Harada
Born in Tokyo, 1962. Made her debut in 2005 with Kafū o machiwabite (Waiting for good fortune), for which she won the Japan Love Story Grand Prize. Won the Yamamoto Shūgorō Prize in 2012 for

Rakuen

no

kanvasu

(Canvas of paradise), and the Nitta Jirō Literature Prize in 2017 for Rīchi sensei (The teacher Leach). Her other works include

Anmaku

no

Gerunika

(Guernica undercover),

Tayutaedomo

shizumazu

(It wavers but does not sink),

Utsukushiki

orokamonotachi

no

taburō

(A tableau of beautiful fools). Her most recent work is

Ano

e

no

mae

de

(In front of ‹that picture›).

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