１７ Ａｕｇｕｓｔ， Ｍａｒｉｋｏ Ｙａｍａｕｃｈｉ
You could see the whole roof of Aki’s house from the balcony of our apartment. During the summer we’d put a plastic pool up there and play in the water together. We were what you’d call childhood friends.
Partway through elementary school, Aki stopped coming to class. She didn’t come to graduation either. But at the entrance ceremony for middle school, she was there in her uniform lined up in the gym with everyone else. Soon after that, she was gone again; the first trimester ended, the second trimester ended, and then it was the third.
And then the coronavirus went on a worldwide rampage.
I saw her.
On a night with a full moon, Aki was up on her roof whirling around in a dance.
After that, she started going out on the roof more often. And she spent her time how she liked, seeming so liberated. Before long, a tent appeared. Had she fallen asleep? Only her feet poked out. Sometimes there was the sound of a guitar. I heard Aimyon’s “Marigold” and thought,
The number of things on the roof of Aki’s house kept growing. A parasol, a deck chair. Aki leisurely playing her Nintendo Switch. Was it
Crossing?On hot days, she took out that plastic pool. I stayed hidden and watched their family dog play in the water for the longest time.
One day as Aki was playing “Marigold” on her guitar, I sang along during the bridge.
Aki’s hands froze. “Who did that?!” She glanced around nervously, alone on the rooftop.
“Me!” I shouted from the balcony, and quickly hid.
How many years had it been since I’d talked to Aki? But the vibe was the same as before. We loved to joke around. And we were both shy.
Mask on, I was back to normal life all too soon. I kept wondering if Aki would show up, but even after school reopened, Aki didn’t come.
The tent, deck chair, and pool that had appeared so often during the closure, I didn’t see anymore. Maybe she was “exercising self-restraint.” If so, I felt kind of bad for her.
That March night under the navy blue sky with the round moon hanging in it, Aki was so happy, body and soul; she looked as mystical as if she were performing an ancient ritual, and very beautiful.
Translated by Emily Balistrieri/Arranged by TranNet KK
Born 1980. Made her literary debut in 2012 with
kite(I’m bored here, come and pick me up). Her main works include
kodoku(The loneliness I chose is a good loneliness), published by Kawade Shobo Shinsha,
yatteru(We’re doing good), published by Gentosha, among others. The film adaptation of
kizoku(That child is a noble), published by Shueisha, and “Isshin dōtai datta” (We were one flesh), a collection of her stories published in
CLASSY. magazine are slated for release in the near future.