5 May, Kiyoshi Shigematsu

文字数 3,725文字

Measuring Up in 2020

Takeshi, let’s see how tall you are, Dad said as he came into the living room. He’d been upstairs just a minute ago.
  Get a marker, one with a really fine tip.
  Not only did he want to measure me, but he wanted to mark it on the living room wall, too, just like the kids’ song about checking your height.
  Mom was immediately opposed.
  What do you think you’re doing, graffitiing in your own home?
  I thought the same thing. The house was only two years old. And Mom treated this still-new house with such pride, always keeping it clean and tidy. Especially the last month—since we weren’t able to leave the house much, it was like spring cleaning every day.
  So Mom must’ve been in utter dismay at Dad’s idea. And I didn’t blame her at all.
  And worse, Dad was a little drunk. Today was Children’s Day, a national holiday, so he and his friends had been drinking together online since the afternoon.
  But today’s the only Children’s Day that Takeshi will be 11 for, Dad said. It was the kind of reasoning that was so obvious, you couldn’t even respond.
  Mom was shocked again despite herself. I think you should sleep on it, she laughed.
  But Dad kept on. This Children’s Day. . . this start to the school year. . . it’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing. Never want this to happen again for kids.
  Mom had to agree, nodding with a solemn look on her face.
  I haven’t been to school even once since school started in April. It’s because of this invisible virus. I don’t even get to be in a new class; I just see all the same people from last year on my screen during online classes. I can’t go outside to play, and I heard rumors that if you do go outside without a mask, then one scary old guy yells at you to stop spreading the virus.
  This is the most boring spring of my life. I wanna know whose fault this is. What went wrong. Did I do something I shouldn’t have done? No, couldn’t be. . . .
  Takeshi, how tall are you?
  Dunno, but in January I was 134 centimeters.
  So you must be taller now.
  Yeah. . . I guess.
  You’re really going to take off next year, Dad said. That’s why I wanna see how you measure up against your old dad now. ‘Cause next year when you look back at how tall you were today, you’ll think, ‘I was so puny then. . . .’ ‘Wow, I grew that much in a year,’ you’ll think, and you’ll be happy we took your height now, he continued, forcefully, then laughed. To hell with this spring anyway!
  Mom gave the OK. As long as we swapped the marker for a pencil.
  I put my back to the wall and my dad made me stand up straight to measure me.
  I measured 135.5 centimeters. So I had grown since January after all.
  They grow up so quick, Dad said.
  And they’re stronger than you think, Mom said.
  They were both smiling, but they had tears in their eyes.
  That was strange, but suddenly, I felt happy too, and I hugged my mom. I hugged my dad, too. We got a super-spreader! Dad said with embarrassment, as his face crumpled into tears and laughter.

Translated by Morgan Giles/Arranged by TranNet KK

Kiyoshi Shigematsu
Born in 1963. Graduated from Waseda University’s School of Education. Worked at a publishing company before leaving to write full-time. Writing in a wide variety of genres, made his literary debut in 1991 with



(Before run). Won the Tsubota Jōji Literary Prize in 1999 for


(Knife), the Yamamoto Shūgorō Prize in the same year for


(Eiji), the Naoki Prize in 2001 for



(Vitamin F), the Yoshikawa Literature Prize for Literature in 2010 for


(Cross), and the Mainichi Publication Culture Award in 2014 for



(Extinction boy).




  • 特大
  • 生成り
  • 水色
  • 明朝
  • ゴシック
  • 横組み
  • 縦組み