19 August, Natsu Miyashita

文字数 3,516文字

My Scrubbing Brush


Just as I noticed that Taro, my pet Shiba Inu, had gotten into the kitchen, he seemed to have found something. He scampered back to his cage with it in his mouth. It was a scrubbing brush. He must’ve been thinking,

Dang,

thats

not

what

I

wanted

, but he tried playing around with it anyway.
  Yeah, I feel you, Taro. I completely feel your pain. You didn’t want a scrubbing brush. You took it thinking it was something way better. You’re just like me.
  I realized that I was good at school soon after I started elementary school. I could read a textbook once and understand all of it. Perfect 100’s on my tests. It was all a big yawn. Once you score a hundred, you can never see what’s beyond that. I wanted to see 101’s and 102’s. I yearned to know more, and to think more.
  I took the entrance exams for a junior high school where the smart kids went. It was kind of a big deal in my country town. My friends got weirded out by my ambition and kept me at distance, and even my homeroom teacher asked me why I was taking the exams. There’s always something you can do regardless of where you find yourself, the teacher said. That may be true. On the other hand, it may not. I took the entrance exams because I thought the latter.
  The junior high school that I got in to cancelled the entrance ceremony. And after a period of online classes, we started going to school on a staggered schedule, wearing masks. During lunch period, we all faced forward and ate our bentos in silence. We didn’t have any opportunities to get to know anyone. No chances to talk or discuss anything. I don’t know what my classmates look like, even now.
  With the start of summer vacation, an indescribable emptiness came over me. I didn’t have any friends, and I was all alone. Did I pick a scrubbing brush? I thought. Was the school I chose a scrubbing brush?
  Taro poked his head out from inside the cage. Then, with his front leg, he kicked the scrubbing brush he’d stolen from the kitchen my way.
  Try a bite, Taro said.
  I picked up the brush, which had rolled to a stop at my feet.
  It’s not half bad.
  No, I couldn’t possibly. You must have it mixed up with hamburg steak. But I couldn’t bring myself to say what I was thinking because of the serious look Taro was giving me.
  Not half bad, huh?
  As soon as I’d said it, I thought, Wait a minute. Maybe a scouring brush isn’t all that bad. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but maybe I should give it a try. It’s not hamburg steak, but it could be something worth working your teeth over. If there’s always something you can do no matter where you find yourself, then there has to be something I can do at the junior high school.
  Okay, I’ll give it a try, I said.
  Taro gave me an affirming wag of his tail.


Translated by Takami Nieda/Arranged by TranNet KK

Natsu Miyashita
Born in Fukui Prefecture, 1967. Writer. Made her literary debut in 2004 with Shizuka na ame (Quiet rain), for which she won Honorable Mention at the Bungakukai New Face Award in 2004. Achieved the first triple crown of the Grand Prize at King’s Brunch Book Award in 2015, the Japan Booksellers’ Award in 2016, and fist place on Kinokuniya Best Books 2016 for

The

Forest

of

Wool

and

Steel

. Her works include

Sukōre

No.4

(Schole no. 4),

Yorokobi

no

uta

(Song of joy),

Kamisama-tachi

no

asobu

niwa

(The garden where the gods play), and

Tsubomi

(Flower bud), among others.

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