１ Ｊｕｌｙ， Ｒｙō Ａｓａｉ
Like a Good Luck Charm
“Um, uh . . . it’s okay.”
I’m standing behind her in the convenience store and can see that she’s wavering. Having finished paying, she asks for her receipt and begins walking toward the exit as I glimpse her profile, her eyebrows lowered like she’s uncertain about something. Piling one purchase on top of another in her frail arms, she looks unsteady and attracts not only my attention but the attention of the clerk behind the counter as well.
“Who’s next in line?”
I step forward and put the items I’ve settled on in front of the clerk. What I wanted was a pork shabu-shabu salad and burrito with double cheese, but these
wouldhave to be the two items that were sold out. I fought with my boyfriend yesterday, as we’ve both been spending more time at home, and it just seems that I’ve been down on my luck these days. My forecast was terrible in the daily horoscope they feature on the TV news program that I was watching this morning. Go figure.
A resurging number of infections, the gubernatorial election in Tokyo, the cloudy weather that doesn’t look like it’ll ever start to clear up—and as if to put the finishing touch on all of these things that have been happening, the day’s horoscope for Cancer today would have to be the worst among the twelve signs. It’s the day after a fight with my boyfriend, the first time in quite a while to go back to the office. I wanted it to be a lucky day today and as a consolation, I told myself to remember my lucky number, six. Yes, six.
I say “no thanks” when the clerk asks if I want my casserole heated, and pull myself together as I brace myself for the afternoon. Today, we start working on our quarterly results. It’s one of the busy periods for us in finance that happens four times a year. One, four . . . oh, no, my lucky number doesn’t show up anywhere. I let out a sigh.
Come to think of it, Cancer always seems to have the worst luck of all the signs. Maybe it just seems that way because I’m a Cancer, but still—
The clerk’s voice brings me out of my musings.
“Would you like a bag?”
Ah, yes. I look down at my empty hands. As of today, stores are scheduled to start charging a fee for plastic bags—when, according to the Internet, some countries are calling for restraint on using reusable bags from a sanitary perspective due to the COVID-19 situation.
Our daily lives are constantly changing. I’m getting sick and tired of moves by the government that I don’t agree with, and interpersonal relationships that aren’t going well, and I’m scared to look at the figures in our quarterly results. I know it’s only fortune-telling, but there are days when I feel like putting my faith into the horoscope segment on TV.
Holding my purchases in the plastic bag I got for three yen, I leave the convenience store and see the woman who had been in line in front of me walking very slowly up ahead. She’s walking pretty unsteadily.
That’s when she drops something and lets out a cry. I rush up to her and pick it up.
“No problem,” I say while checking what it is that I’ve picked up.
It’s a receipt.
It shows the total amount at 666 yen.
“Thank you so much.”
I stand up and see the woman, cradling several items in her frail arms, her brow lowered apologetically.
I look at her and it hits me.
Now I know why she was asking for a receipt at the cash register. Now I know why she said “no thanks” to something the clerk asked, after a little wavering. She wouldn’t have had these lucky numbers if she paid three more yen for a plastic bag.
There are days when we want to believe our horoscope, even if we know it’s just fortune-telling for fun. Even if the things we buy will be easier to carry around in a plastic bag, there are days when we want to cling to something that might serve as a good luck charm.
“Let’s both of us have a good rest of the day,” I say.
having, I think to myself. That’s when she raised her eyebrows in a beautiful arch.
Translated by Eriko Sugita/Arranged by TranNet KK
Born in Gifu Prefecture, May 1989. Made his literary debut in 2009 with
yamerutteyo(Kirishima says he’s leaving the club), for which he won the 22nd Shōsetsu Subaru Award for New Writer. Also received the 148th Naoki Prize in 2013 for
Nanimono(Who) and the 29th Tsubota Jōji Literary Prize that same year for
shitagaki(A draft of a world map). Works include
kimi-monogatari(Your tales of the unusual),
ikiteiruno(I live to find a reason to die),
ikiteru(Living no matter what), among others. His most recent work is
itadakimashita!(We received the order!).