24 July, Mio Nukaga

文字数 3,980文字

Run Online

You know, I feel like I owe you an apology.
  These apologetic words from Mayumi -sensei came the moment I pressed my feet to the starting blocks. Reflexively, I looked up at him, asking, Huh? Why now?
  I’d been thinking how nice it would be if we could have a great big online meet with other middle schoolers across the country—that it would be a good memory for you, after you’ve worked so hard these past three years, Yūji . . . but. . . .
  But, the whole world ended up involved, and somehow it turned into a huge ordeal. Those unsaid words were written in the crinkle of Mayumi-sensei’s brow.
  Shortly after it was decided that the final meet of my middle school career would be called off, Sensei had posted to the scant few followers on his social media, Let’s have an online track meet! Somehow or other, it ended up shared around by a number of famous runners, even some Olympians. The idea spread worldwide, growing into a huge event, involving competitors from many countries.
  This was far too heavy a burden for a track and field club from a school in the middle of nowhere, with only a single member. Mayumi-sensei and I toiled tirelessly in service of this day. It was laborious setting up Zoom meetings with Bill from Honolulu, and Chris from Belgium, to decide on the rules of the meet. Mayumi-sensei’s English did not get across at all, and he was only able to communicate with Bill, who insisted he could speak Japanese, via the names of Pokémon.
  It’s about time, isn’t it, Sensei?
  It was 4 in the afternoon in Japan. 9 at night in Honolulu. 9 in the morning in Belgium. They weren’t the only ones. Children our age from all over Japan, all over the world, were going to compete for the best time, all running a 100-meter dash simultaneously.
  My results would probably be terrible. At the very least, I would be happy to record a new personal best at my final middle school meet, I thought. I had intended to retire from competing. My own skill level was just far too low compared to the regulars at the national meets, never mind other children who were running with their eyes set on the world stage.
  Are you ready?
  Mayumi-sensei’s voice was tense. Perhaps he thought it inexcusable to be throwing a regular kid like me into this veritable carnival of budding athletes.
  Mayumi-sensei readied the starting pistol. I stared down the white lines that stretched along the parched track. Beyond the familiar smell of the dirt, at this very moment, there were countless numbers of my fellow runners, all focused on the same goal.
  The pistol rang out. I was off to a flying start. Despite not being able to practice in so long, my body felt light. My own speed carrying me, I raced down the 100-meter course, which I had run so many times in three years, all alone—all the while knowing that my own time might be dead last amongst the athletes participating in the meet.
  Still, I also knew that right now, I was running alongside athletes from all over the world. That wasn’t a bad feeling at all.

Translated by Diana Taylor/Arranged by TranNet KK

Mio Mukaga
Born in Ibaraki Prefecture, 1990. Graduated from Nihon University College of Art’s Faculty of Literary Arts. Made her literary debut in 2015 with Uindo nōtsu, later published as





(Wind notes on the roof), for which she won the 22nd Matsumoto Seichō Award, and


(Alone), for which she won the 16th Shogakukan Bunko Literary Prize .


(Passing on the baton through a meal) was selected for the 62nd Assigned Book for The High School Section of The National Book Report Writing Contest . Her works include




(Goodbye cream soda),




(Falling in love with the wind), and



(Full package), among others. Her most recent work is



(The man who can’t).




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