５ Ｊｕｌｙ， Ｍｅｌｏｎ Ｕｍｉｎｅｋｏｚａｗａ
After the chirring of the cicadas, which seemed to go on forever, finally stopped, my younger brother and I took our butterfly nets to the green bamboo forest to catch the summer husks that floated there.
In the morning, I wet my brother’s head with water, smoothing out his bedhead as usual, and after we slurped the lunch of
sōmennoodles down our gullets, and put on our sandals, we cut a path between the rice fields in front of the house, took the shortcut through the shrine grounds, crossed the stone bridge, and went up the mountain. Summer had seeped into the cool fallen leaves, tree bark, candles, and burnt-out fireworks scattered on the damp dirt, which squished beneath our feet when we stepped on them, almost causing us to slip.
As we approached the bamboo forest behind the cemetery, we crept quietly on our toes like cats and held the butterfly nets at the ready with both hands. Gigantic thunderclouds moved in beneath the overpowering sun, and in the shadows that blacked out the forest, the husks of summer appeared.
They were see-through like faintly colored gelatin, each one floating like jellyfish about our knees. My little brother tried to catch them with the butterfly net, but they disappeared in a blink. As I watched him swiping at the air with the net, from out of nowhere, a chorus of cicadas began to sing, and my surroundings went dark.
How much time had passed?
In the dark, which seemed to last forever, someone poured cold water on my head. The cicadas stopped singing, and when it became light again, the smell of incense and sweet offerings drifted in from somewhere.
When I opened my eyes, there was a white-haired old man in front of me, holding his hands together in prayer. A small child who might have been his granddaughter had an arm stretched out, trying to fix the old man’s bedhead, but as soon as she caught sight of me, she grabbed the butterfly net nearby.
In the next moment, I had become one of the summer husks, and was captured by the child, and disappeared.
Translated by Takami Nieda/Arranged by TranNet KK
Born in Osaka, 1975, and raised in Hyōgo Prefecture. After graduating high school, worked as a designer and bar host before working as a writer. Won the 59th Kumanichi Literary Award for
komu(Kid’s fire dot com). His other works include the novels
rizōto(Foolish last resort),
fyūchā!!!(Annihilation brain future!!!),
en(Smiling hourly wage 800 yen),
kanji(The feeling of love), and
hakobune(Ark of summer), and the essays
ressun(7 things I wanted to talk about with you now that you are gone: A lesson in loneliness and freedom),
kagaku(Tomorrow, machines will become people: Reporting on the latest science), and
meron(Papaya, melon), among others.