29 July, Takashi Yabe

文字数 3,046文字

Artificial Flowers, Sundial, Plastic Clock


Mr. Robber.
  When I looked up, Tic was standing in the doorway. After a breath, she met my eyes and came over.
  What’s up?
  I can’t sleep.
  Yeah, it’s so hot tonight. The air conditioning’s effect was lackluster.
  Can I sleep in here? Tic was carrying her National F-C302A fan. She had told me its name was Tac and that she got it for her birthday from her parents the previous year. Tell me a story.
  How about we read a book? I grabbed one off the shelf and plugged the F-C302A into the pig-nose outlet.
  Tic laid down in her parents’ bed and took off her slippers. What book is that?
  Artificial Flowers, Sundial, Plastic Clock.
  What’s it about?
  It’s a love story. The eldest of three sisters dies in a fire, but her body returns to their house, and a book found with the corpse has the title Artificial Flowers, Sundial, Plastic Clock. Whoever has the book keeps burning to death, so the two younger sisters start investigating the book and their sister’s death.
  If you read the book, you die in a fire?
  When they try to figure that out, they learn that their sister actually wrote it, and that it was a collaboration. Do you know what a private edition is? All of the people who had killed themselves by fire were contributors. Why did the writers die with the book? It’s only a love story. The sisters learn that there is one remaining author alive, so they try to find that person.
  How come?
  They have lots of questions.
  Do you like this book, Mr. Robber?
  I liked it when I read it, although the middle was pretty disappointing. I liked the scene where the sister’s body comes back, and the end.
  What happens at the end?
  The sisters meet a horrible fate in a sewer.
  That’s a cool story, sighed Tic. It’s fun to read a book once in a while.
  What part did you like?
  The end, I guess. What did the title mean?
  It never gets explained. It’s just the title of the book in the story.
  Tic yawned, so I went to turn off the fan; after unplugging the cord, I laid Tac down next to Tic. Tic hugged the F-C302A with a smile, so I tucked them in and turned out the light.
  You can use my room.
  I think I’ll sleep downstairs tonight.
  Can you check on Mommy and Daddy for me?
  I think they’re probably feeling cooler than any of us.
  Downstairs I opened the freezer and picked out a pretty piece of ice. The two groups of red ribbons were like artificial flowers. Wondering to which one of them the book had belonged, I chilled some tap water in a glass.


Translated by Emily Balistrieri/Arranged by TranNet KK

Takashi Yabe
Born in 1986. Made his literary debut in 2006 with

Saori-chan

no

ie

(Saori’s house), for which he won the Japan Horror Novel Award for Long Story. Works include

Hokenshitsu

tōkō

(Attendance in the school infirmary),

Majo

no

kodomo

wa

yattekonai

(The witch’s child doesn’t come), and

Shōjo

teikoku

(Young girls’ school domain).

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