23 June, Ichi Sawamura

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My life didn’t change much when I started holing up at home. I just wrote in my house instead of at my office or a local diner.
  Luckily, there wasn’t a single publisher who scrapped my projects for a likely reason such as, Horror’s a bit much these days. . . . or We’ll keep an eye on the state of the world and get back to you.
  I bought all my daily necessities online, and my entire family refrained from going out. Our ward had a high rate of spread, even for Tokyo Prefecture, so we couldn’t let our guard down.
  Still, there were no cases in our housing complex at that point—even though it had so many buildings they could call it Mammoth Danchi, and tons of people lived there.
  This wasn’t just luck. It was due to the residents making sanitation a high priority, the fruit of our advanced solidarity. Dad friends, Mom friends, people who lived on the same floor—everyone united to battle the virus, and we won. It wouldn’t do to let all our efforts go to waste.
  So of course when, a few weeks ago, I couldn’t smell or taste my food at all, it had to be because my wife’s cooking skills had deteriorated.
  And the reason my throat started to hurt had to be that I had strained my voice in all the remote meetings I wasn’t used to.
  And the fever that wouldn’t go down had to be just a cold. The coughing fits that made me feel like I would suffocate had to be a mental issue. Sometimes it’s all in your head, you know?
  I hadn’t caught the virus. My family hadn’t caught the virus. We were just like everyone else.
  My wife coughed for three days straight, and a week ago one night I noticed she’d gone cold. No more worries about infection.
  My two-year-old daughter, perhaps suffering from a fever, kept crying and crying, so I disciplined her hard in the head this week, and she stopped moving. No more worries about infection.
  Throughout elementary, middle, and high school, my whole class maintained perfect attendance. It didn’t matter if we had stomach aches or the flu, we hung in there and showed up anyway. Boy, did it feel good the day the principal gave us that award in front of the entire school. What solidarity I felt as we were celebrated with thunderous applause. And how satisfying it was to gang up and cheer on any classmates who seemed liable to fall out of step. Just imagining falling out of step made me unbearably anxious and terrified.
  And this was the same. Let’s all maintain healthy lifestyles. Today is June 23, my wife’s birthday. Maybe I’ll be bold and try making a cake from scratch.
  My mind hazy, I continued banging the keys.

* * *

This is fiction, right? my editor asked over the phone.
  Of course, I replied. Maybe the big, famous authors can get away with old anecdotes or essays about their cats, but a newb like me has to compete with fiction, no?
  Ha-ha-ha. Riiiight.
  My editor hung up.
  I leaned back in my chair and used the lucky lull in coughing to inhale a deep breath of oxygen. Even my completely numb nose couldn’t withstand the stench of death filling the room.

Translated by Emily Balistrieri/Arranged by TranNet KK

Ichi Sawamura
Born in Osaka, 1979. Made his literary debut in 2015 with




(Bogiwan is coming), for which he won Grand Prize at the Japan Horror Novel Awards. Also received the 72nd Mystery Writers of Japan Award for Best Short Story in 2019 for Gakkō wa shi no nioi(The school has a smell of death). His recent works include






(Someone’s house: The collected short stories of Ichi Sawamura),




(Island of prophecy), and



(Family land). His most recent work






(Beautiful and ugly: Your friend), is slated for publication in August 2020.




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