27 April, Takimi Akikawa

文字数 3,945文字

A Phone Call


He got an incoming call on his phone at 6:02pm, when he’d turned his computer off. The name on the screen was one of his friends from work who’d started working there at the same time. Worried that maybe something had happened, he answered, only to hear a very chilled-out voice on the other end.
  Hey, it’s been a while. How’re you doing?
  You know, all right. Packing on the pounds since we can’t really go outside much.
  Nah, bro. I’m working out everyday. You gotta get on it, too.
  Yeah, yeah, I will. So, what’s up?
  Oh, nothing really, just wondered what was up with you.
  Why, bro? Denji answered, heading toward the refrigerator. He took out a can of beer and cracked it open; Takashima’s voice got louder. Maybe he heard the pfwikch of the can being opened.
  What did you just open? Is that sake?
  It’s a beer, man. What’s wrong with that? Crack one open as soon as you log off—that’s what working from home is all about.
  But like, you’re on the phone! Fuck it, I’m gonna have a drink too. Time for a trendy, tasty, high-alcohol-content lemon

chūhai

!
  Yeah, man, it’s time, it’s time. Oh, listen, do you wanna do a video call?
  Ever since they’d asked people not to go out, drinking over video calls had gotten popular. He’d suggested it thinking that it might be cool with just the two of them, but Takashima shot it down.
  Fuck no!
  God, you’re antisocial. We haven’t seen each other in so long.
  We’re not kids, man; I’m fine with just the phone. I don’t need to see your double chin.
  Yeah, I could do without seeing your combover, too.
  They laughed at the same time. Because they knew that other people might raise their eyebrows at the way they talked to each other they also understood that neither had any ill intent.
  They kept rambling on at each other, drinks in hand. After about fifteen minutes, Takashima suddenly sounded delighted.
  Did you see the news? The number of infections has gone down. In Tokyo it’s been in the double digits for two days now.
  Today’s number is people who were infected two weeks ago. The weather was bad so fewer people went out, I guess.
  I guess that’s proof that the more people go out, the more people get infected! All right, this is time for endurance; let’s get this over with so we can go for a drink. I don’t wanna see it on a screen, but when I’m allowed to see you in person, I’ll put up with your double chin, Takashima said, with infectious joy.
  This turmoil has made it tough for friends, colleagues, and even family who are living apart and can’t easily meet. These days of living alone and not seeing anybody had taught Denji that there are people he wants to see, people who he needs to see, and people who he doesn’t. But at the same time, he’d become afraid that no one wanted to see him, that he wasn’t needed.
  Takashima’s nothing really phone call and his invitation to go for a drink had chased away Denji’s anxieties. At least he wants to see me, he thought.
  To see the people he wanted to see freely—he couldn’t wait for that day to come.


Translated by Morgan Giles/Arranged by TranNet KK

Takimi Akikawa
Made her online literary debut in April 2012, publishing her first novel,

Īkagen

na

yashoku

(Irresponsible midnight snack), in December of that year. Her other works include

Arifureta

chokorēto

(Commonplace chocolate),

Izakaya

bottakuri

(Rip-off izakaya),

Kōfuku

na

hyakkaten

(The happy stomach department store),

Machi

no

okiraku

ryōri

kyōshitsu

(Machi’s laidback cooking class),

Hōkago

no

chūbō

danshi

(Afterschool kitchen boys),

Himawari

no

aru

daidokoro

(A kitchen with sunflowers), and

Hitori

tabi

biyori

(Weather on solitary travels). Her most recent work,

Yukemuri

shokujidokoro

hisoppu

tei

(Hissop: Restaurant behind the steam), is now on sale.

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