29 August, Shinobu Suga

文字数 4,289文字


Can I have some dirt from your flowerbed? Please, Mizuki?
  I heard someone ask me this out of the blue, as I was tending to the flowerbed at school. I stopped what I was doing and looked up to find my childhood friend Aki giving me a pleading look with her hands palmed together.
  You want the dirt? Not the flowers?
  Sometimes people came around the junior high school’s Gardening Club asking for flowers. But asking for dirt was a first.
  Before I could ask why, Aki crouched down next to me and started talking.
  Yeah. You know Takami-san in ninth grade, right?
  On the baseball team?
  Yeah, although he’s retired from the team now. His dream is to go to the same high school as my big brother and compete in the national high school baseball tournament at Koshien Stadium. So, I gave him the dirt from Koshien.
  Oh . . . wait, you mean the dirt your brother Yoh brought back as a souvenir when he competed in the tournament?*
  I couldn’t believe my ears. It was a precious thing that Aki gave away.
  That’s right. You know how the ninth graders finished their season this year without a single tournament, so I wanted to cheer Takami-san on somehow. In return, he promised to go to Koshien when he got up to high school and bring me back the dirt he collected himself. Isn’t he the greatest?
  The marigolds waved, as if in response to the skip in her voice. Giant, double-flowered blooms like the sun.
  But that dirt belongs to Yoh. That’s not cool.
  Oh, he took his with him when he moved to Tokyo. I took my mom’s stash at home.
   . . . that’s even worse.
  The way Aki’s mom raised Yoh and Aki all by herself was amazing. But she was only ever proud of Yoh. That was what Aki said one time, crying.
  That’s why I’m going to replace the dirt with a fake. I did some research and the dirt at Koshien is actually a mix of black soil and sand. So if I mix this stuff with some sand, it’ll look like the real thing, don’t you think? My mom’s more interested in how things look than what’s inside, so she won’t even know the difference.
  Aki stared at the bright yellow flowers at the height of their glory and put her hands on the newly fertilized soil. Flowers went bad if you gave them too much water and nutrients, and withered if you didn’t give them enough. It was pretty hard to make them grow.
  I don’t approve of this switcheroo you’re pulling . . . but if Yoh has the real stuff, I guess it’s all right.
  Hearing this, Aki’s face brightened into a big smile. A full blossom.
  I knew you’d say so, Mizuki!
  Aki could’ve gotten the dirt from anywhere, but she probably came here wanting to talk. So now I was an accessory to a fraud. Not that I minded, really.
  I cut a couple of flowers and handed them to her. Here. Aki’s eyes went wide.
  For me? Are you sure you won’t get in trouble?
  It’s only a couple of flowers. Besides, as the head of the Gardening Club, I hate to send you off with just some dirt.
  Giant, double-flowered marigolds.
  In the language of flowers, they represent, overcoming adversity.

(*Note: It is tradition for high school players to collect dirt from Hanshin Koshien Stadium as a memento of having competed in the national tournament.)

Translated by Takami Nieda/Arranged by TranNet KK

Shinobu Suga
Born in Saitama Prefecture, 1972. Graduated from Sophia University’s Department of History. Won Reader’s Prize at the 1994 Novel Award (formerly known as the Cobalt Novel Award) for Wakusei dōwa (Galactic fairy-tale), which was published as her literary debut in 1995. Her 2010 work




(The thorn of god) placed highly on many mystery rankings, leading to widespread interest. Won Grand Prize at the 12th Sense of Gender Awards in 2013 for her three-part series Fuyō senri (Furong’s thousand miles), the 18th Haruhiko Oyabu Award in 2016 for



(On the eve of revolution), and the 4th Highs-chooler Naoki prize in 2017 for






(Again, in the kingdom of cherry blossoms). Her most recent work is



(Summer sky, white flower).




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