21 August, Bunkei

文字数 4,879文字

The Radio Calisthenics Ghost


That

girls

not

sweating.


  Takuto watched the girl exercising at the edge of the group as he jumped in time to the music.
  When the song ended, all the sweaty kids ran for the drinks.
  Takuto, do you have your card? The lady from the neighborhood association brought him back to himself, and he held out his stamp card.
  Meanwhile, the girl just stood there, aloof.
  Long black hair that plummeted straight down, a white dress with a style that would make anyone wonder where she’d bought it, and pale, thin skin that seemed to reject the sun.

* * *

The one-week-only Radio Calisthenics for Kids Too! program put on by the shrine over summer vacation was a major event. It was early in the morning, and there were lots of bugs, but if you participated, you got a free drink, and anyone who did the entire week got an assortment of snacks as a perfect attendance prize. It was more candy and cookies than you could buy with two weeks of allowance.
  The whole reason it was such a major event was that you could earn those snacks, but this girl had only started on day four.
  Takuto remembered what his grandmother had told him the previous day.

Obon

is

when

our

ancestors

come

back

to

visit.



  The next morning, the girl was there again.
  She was sitting holding her knees on asphalt so hot you’d think it would burn, waiting for the radio calisthenics session to start.
  No one spoke to her. And she just stared at the other kids as they raced around the grounds of the shrine. She seemed envious, and like she was remembering back when she used to do that, too.
  She didn’t move a muscle.
  It was almost like time had stopped.
  Like she had looked that same way for years of stopped time. . . .
  Yes, she was just like a ghost.
  Takuto’s sweat ran cold.
  He didn’t remember much after that. He had the feeling he managed to get through the calisthenics, receive his stamp, and down his participation drink. He would have at least liked to remember drinking his prize.
  That girl had left this world carrying regrets related to radio calisthenics and returned for Obon.
  Did she get her drink for participating? Could she even drink?
  He decided that he would give the next day’s drink as an offering so she would have at least one more good memory.

* * *

On the sixth day, there were slightly fewer participants. Maybe since the last day was nearing, people had gotten lax and slept in. The girl wasn’t there, either.
  At seven a.m., the music started and everyone began moving their bodies in time.
  There was no way a ghost could sleep in. Maybe she had crossed over? Takuto wished he had asked his grandmother how long Obon lasted.
  After radio calisthenics, he grabbed an orange juice out of the bucket of icy water and waited for everyone else to leave. Once no one was around, he left the juice by the shrine’s sacred tree as an offering.
  That’s when it happened.
  He sensed a presence behind him. He was nervous, but when he quietly turned around. . . .
  There she was.
  Her smooth black hair, her white dress, the one with the style that would make anyone wonder where she’d bought it. Takuto pretended to be calm, took a deep breath, and said, This is for you, if you like!
  Maybe the ghost was surprised? Her eyes went wide. Then she hung her head and only spoke after quite a bit of time had passed.
  

Vreen-vreen-vreen.


  The cry of a large brown cicada on the sacred tree overlapped with the ghost’s voice.
  

Who

.

.

.

are

you

.

.

.

?



* * *

Vacation ended, and the second trimester began.
  Takuto trudged to school thinking back on his summer.
  All the ghost had said over the whine of the cicada was,

See

you.


But the day after he made the offering, the girl was nowhere to be found. Had the orange juice allowed her soul rest to in peace?
  He was bored just looking at the school building gleaming in the sunlight. A ghost had appeared in his town, but life was just going to go on like normal?
  The bell rang, jolting him back to reality. His teacher started homeroom. Come on in.
  Someone entered through the door at the front of the classroom.
  When he saw her face, Takuto froze.
  She was smiling at him.


Translated by Emily Balistrieri/Arranged by TranNet KK

Bunkei
Born in Hyogo Prefecture, 1994. Began uploading dance videos to Japanese video-sharing website Niconico in 2011 under the moniker Odorite (Dancer). Assembled the mixed-gender content-production team Pao Pao Channel in 2017, and began uploading to Youtube. The team went on hiatus in 2019 after the channel recorded 1,300,000 subscribers. Currently works in planning and filming various projects as a content-creator. His most recent work is

Haraguro

no

jirenma

(The dilemma of wickedness).

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