20 August, Kozue Ōsaki

文字数 3,497文字

The Detour


It was in mid-May, when the azaleas were in full bloom, that she came upon the toy poodle in the yard of that house.
  Hello, cutie, what’s your name?
  As Ami befriended the dog, a girl appeared from the house. Startled, Ami tried to run off, but then noticed that the girl had a white cane, and that she was wearing tinted glasses.
  What is it, Mi-chan? she said to the dog, Is someone there?
  I didn’t mean to bother you, sorry. Your dog is cute.
  Thanks! That makes me happy. Do you live around here?
  Yes, but I’d never come to this street before.
  Ami didn’t say out loud that she was there because she couldn’t take the usual path.
  You sound like you’re in elementary school. I’m in fifth grade.
  Me, too. I’m in fifth grade.
  Ami had never seen the girl before. She must go to a different school, she thought. The girl gave her a warm smile, and Ami smiled back. But when the girl, guided by her white cane, approached her, Ami flinched. The girl wasn’t wearing a mask.
  A mask.
  Ami wanted to get away as quickly as possible, but she had no idea what to say. She couldn’t just leave without saying anything. The girl would think it strange. As Ami pondered her next move, the girl came even closer. Is something wrong?
  Ami pointed to her own mouth in vain.
  I’m wearing a mask. I thought that you should wear one, too.
  This seemed to surprise the girl, and she let go of her cane. Alarmed, the dog began to bark. Someone came out of the house.
  Mom! My mask!
  Oh, yes. I should’ve thought of that, her mother said, and turned to Ami. Hello, there. I’m sorry about that.
  Ami shook her head.
  I didn’t mean it like that. My mother works at a hospital, so I was worried that I could pass on the virus.
  So far, no one in her family had developed symptoms. They’d always been careful in preventing infection. But, as if they were carriers of the virus, the neighbors and friends at school feared them. Just a moment ago, she was on her way to the shops, but had to quickly hide after seeing a few of her classmates. She’s not even allowed to go the convenience store or the drug store.
  Ami looked down, holding back her tears.
  Stroking the dog, the girl’s mother said, We’ve always been looked after by doctors and nurses and pharmacists. Maybe we’ve met your mother before, too. Please let her know that we are very grateful for her work.
  Ami looked up; her eyes filled with tears.
  No one else has said anything like that before.
  The truth is, lots of people are grateful. One day, your friends will realize, too. I couldn’t have said what I just said when I was a little girl.

  Since then, the street has become one of Ami’s usual paths. She’s now best friends with the toy poodle named Michael, a.k.a. Mi-chan. And with his owner, who gave him that name.
  The azaleas were now gone, but marigolds and sunflowers filled the season.


Translated by Yuka Maeno/Arranged by TranNet KK

Kozue Ōsaki
Born in Tokyo. Formerly worked at a bookstore. Made her literary debut in 2006 with

Haitatsu

akazukin

(Little red riding hood delivery), depicting a small mystery set in a bookstore. Her recent works include

Hon

basu

megurin

(Megurin the story bus),

Yokohama

etoranze

(Yokohama stranger),

Doa

o

aketara

(If you open the door),

Kanata

no

gōrudo

(Gold in the distance), among others. Her most recent work is

Sayonara

negaigoto

(Goodbye my wish).

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