11 April, Rikako Akiyoshi

文字数 3,660文字

Princess


“Mama, did you stop being a princess?”
  My eight-year-old son asked me this recently.
  Up until now, when I went to work, my hair was in a loose, wavy partial up-do, and lace and chiffon dresses with nice accessories were standard. These days I wear a blue helmet, a tight-fitting cycling jersey, elbow and knee pads, and a big red box on my back.
  My son likes drawing, so he often drew me as a princess, but he must’ve suddenly realized that I haven’t been a princess for a while now.
  Again today, I’ll get on my bike and hurry to restaurants that have had a request. I’ll take the food, fresh out of the pan, and I’ll deliver it to the specified house—that’s my job now.
  Wedding and banquet hosting jobs had been declining since February and had dropped to zero by mid-March. Last year I was able to decide to get divorced because my work was going so well, and I didn’t have to reduce my work hours, I had more money on hand. And my son was even happy, and said, “Without daddy, mama can be a princess lots and lots.”
  But now I had no income and my savings were depressing to think about. There were fewer jobs available by the day, and what I finally found was a job as a delivery person for restaurants. I could start by registering online and they’d send me an insulated delivery box with the logo of the company on it. I was worried about my son having to stay home all day long, so only being able to work during lunch and dinner was a draw for me.
  It was rough when I first started. Since I had to ride my bicycle for a long time, my legs cramped, I lost my way, I was yelled at for delivering food late, and my bicycle slid and fell on a rainy day, getting me muddy. Once, when my destination was the house of a fellow mom who I don’t particularly care for, she snorted and said, “Wow, times must be tough, huh.” Eat shit, I thought, and mentally stuck up my middle finger. I think I’ve become stronger.
  Now I really enjoy my work. But I don’t know quite what my son makes of it—what does he think of his mama, getting a little more suntanned, a little more muscular every day? Maybe he still wants me to return to being a princess.
  Today I worked until night fell and I came home dripping with sweat.
  “Welcome back.” He greeted me with a smile. He was sitting at the dining-room table as always, drawing with crayons.
  “What are you drawing now?”
  “You, mama.”
  “Ooh, show me, show me.”
  I took one look—and caught my breath.
  He’d drawn a brave figure with a gleaming blue helmet, a rocket suit, and a red box-shaped missile device on her back.
  “Mama, you turned into a superhero princess, right?” he laughed.
  It was a proud smile, straight from the heart.


Translated by Morgan Giles/Arranged by TranNet KK

Rikako Akiyoshi
Graduated from Waseda University’s First Department of Literature (Present-day School of Humanities and Social Sciences, and School of Culture, Media, and Society), and received a Master’s in Film and TV Production from Loyola Marymount University. Her debut work “

Yuki

no

hana

” (Snow flower) won the 3rd Yahoo! JAPAN Literature Prize in 2008. She made her novel debut with a collection of short stories including her debut work, eponymously titled Yuki no hana. She received critical acclaim in 2013 for her novel

The

Dark

Maidens

, which was later adapted into film. Her other works include

Hōkago

ni

shisha

wa

modoru

(The deceased will return after school),

Seibo

(The holy mother),

Konkatsu

chūdoku

(“Marry me” addicts),

Garasu

no

satsui

(A glass intent to kill), and

Zettai

seigi

(Absolute justice).

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