10 August, Hirokage Asakura

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The cicada’s life was almost at an end. It flew in erratic orbits in the darkness, sometimes heading straight for us. I let out a desperate cry and clutched my boyfriend’s arm. Right in front of me the cicada spun suddenly, emitting its piercing whirr, and struck the streetlight’s glass cover.
  But you’re really sure? I mean, it’s the day before the match, I asked, trying to cover for my embarrassment. When our sweaty flesh separated, it left a sticky sucking sensation on the skin.
  Don’t worry, we’ll head right back, he said. And the match isn’t till afternoon.
  It was eight in the evening. We had walked almost to the edge of the Tama River. The glow of streetlights reflected in the black water.
  There are no houses around here, so maybe the noise won’t disturb people. I pulled my trumpet from its case. Pushing my mask down around my chin, I put my mouth to the mouthpiece. The metal felt chill against my flushed skin. I drew in a lungful of air through my nose, and my pursed lips thrust it out through the trumpet. The darkness was rent with a piercing note.
  He was the baseball club’s captain at my high school, and their big final match was the following day. But no matter how many wins they had, the way to his dream of being in the summer Kōshien tournament was now barred.
  With a fervor to rival the piercing cicada song, I began to play the main melody of Summer Festival, the tune we would have played as he stepped up to the plate. Then I performed the special theme we played when the home team put a runner in scoring position, followed by the high school victory song. My playing was like a prayer. This would be a spectator-less match, so I wouldn’t be going to cheer him on. There would be no playing the trumpet at the baseball stadium. Worse, everything was now cancelled until the wind ensemble club’s concert.
  The trumpet’s melody was sucked away into the depth of the night’s silence. I tugged my mask back up to cover my face.
  Thanks. That’s given me some spirit again, he said.
  Do your best! I answered.
  Every single day during our morning wind ensemble practice, we heard the energetic cries of the baseball team, also out for early morning drill. But those days, too, belonged to the past now.
  Let’s meet here again tomorrow.
  I’ll come back with a win.
  We can meet today. We can meet tomorrow. And the next day and the one after, too, if we choose to. Natural though this seems, we know now that it’s actually no such thing.
  And so we walk on. Suddenly, I imagined the body of a trumpet proudly flashing back the glittering sunshine under the brilliant blue midsummer sky of Kōshien. I wanted to cry. But because I’d sworn not to, instead behind my mask my mouth curved upwards in a little smile.


Translated by Meredith McKinney/Arranged by TranNet KK

Hirokage Asakura
Born in Tokyo, 1984. Played a great deal of baseball in high school, mainly in the second baseman position. Won honourable mention at the 7th Shōsetsu Gendai New Face Award in 2012 for

Hakkyū

afuro

(White ball afro), and the Shimase Romantic Literature Prize in 2018 for

Kaze

ga

fuitari,

hana

ga

chittari

(The wind blows and the flowers scatter). His works include

Yakyūbu

hitori

(Alone in the baseball club),

Tsuyoku

musube,

ponītēru

(Tie the ponytail tightly),

Boku

no

haha

ga

rūzusokkusu

o

(My mother wears loose socks),

Kūdō

densha

(Hollow train), among others. His most recent work is

Ametsuchi

no

uta

(The song of heaven and earth), which tells the story of Hanshin Engei, the company that is famously in charge of maintenance of the Koshien Stadium is undertaken.

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文字サイズ
  • 特大
背景色
  • 生成り
  • 水色
フォント
  • 明朝
  • ゴシック
組み方向
  • 横組み
  • 縦組み