16 August, Kei Ichiki

文字数 4,977文字


The Boy

As your mother, I think that I have been making a real effort. I’ve been helping you with your school work, blowing my whistle and jumping through hoops for you, making your meals, and taking care of you otherwise. I am glad that at least I didn’t have to worry about my PTA duties and the usual administrative hassle during this period.
  It was raining, but it was the day that Mom and I had been waiting for. I was finally going back to school.

  I don’t feel like going, I said.
  But you’ll get to see the girl you have a crush on.
  I don’t have a crush on any girl.


this girl that I kept stealing looks at—no, not me. It’s just my eyes that keep going ahead and stealing looks at the face.

  What is that song called?
  It was last fall that she approached me at the drinking fountain.
  I told her the name of the song that I had been humming to myself, and she kept repeating the title as if to memorize it.
  It’s cool, the way the melody goes lower and lower on the scale.
  It was the dimple on her left cheek that made an impression on me.
  My heart began beating like mad.

  There she is.
  She just walked into the classroom.
  Wow, seriously? We’re in the same class this semester?
  I reached under my desk and slapped my thigh in jubilation.
  But I turned around and saw what was written on the blackboard:















  So, they didn’t want us to make friends in class?

  She sat in the front row. The teacher told us to keep our faces turned to the front.
  It’s tough to hear when half my face is covered with a facial mask, and I can’t see her dimple.
  Still, I was looking forward to coming back to school tomorrow.
  Or so I thought.

  That night, there was news of people in our city getting infected, and school was closed again.
  Don’t forget to do your homework.
  School is closed tomorrow, and it will continue to be closed the next day. When the heck is this ever going to end?
  I pushed the pile of homework to the side and reached for a CD.


The Girl

Tears rolled down my cheeks, seeped into my ears underneath the earphones, and got mixed up with the music. I heard the sound of something breaking between the songs. My parents were exchanging insults over the money we received from the government and something about wasting it on pachinko pinball. I guess Mom had had plans for using that money, and Dad had gone ahead and spent it at a pinball parlor.

  Our day back at school last week had seemed like a dream. The boy who told me the title of this song had grown. I could not stop myself from doing a double-take.
  God, I’m hungry.
  Maybe our house is located in the middle of nowhere, somewhere out in the deep sea. It’s cold and dark, and we have very little food. I hold my breath and dive into my music again.

  Where are you going? my mother asked from her bed, then went right back to sleep.
  We were finally going back to school again on this bright, sunny morning.
  I took a step outside. My body seemed to inflate—pop, pop—like a crushed plastic bottle scavenged from the bottom of the sea that gradually sucks in air.
  I have come to the surface.

  Our eyes met the moment I walked into the classroom. He looked annoyed and quickly turned away.
  It was during extracurricular activities that the teacher told us to introduce ourselves to each other.
  We went in the order of our student ID numbers, and I was first. I said my name and offered the name of my favorite band. I was about to sit down when the teacher said something I hadn’t expected to hear:
  Now, let me see your pretty face.
  Did she think I was a little kid? She went on and told everyone to show her their pretty faces, and as we all started booing, someone murmured, Way to go, teach.
  Then it was quiet again, and I carefully removed my face mask.
  My eyes met his again. This time, he did not look away.
  For maybe a fraction of a second, it felt like the whole world was filled with bright lights, and there was a burst of energy inside me that oozed to the tips of my fingers.

Translated by Eriko Sugita/Arranged by TranNet KK

Kei Ichiki
Born in Fukuoka Prefecture, 1979. Graduated from Tokyo Metropolitan University. Won Reader’s Prize at the 15th R-18 Literature for Women By Women Award in 2016 for Nishikoku shissō shōjo (The girl running through Nishi-Kokubunji ). Made her literary debut in 2018 with










(There is no way you don’t feel even a milligram of regret), published by Shinchosha, which contained the award-winning work. Her most recent work is




(It would be good if you could just forgive all of it).




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