3 May, Asako Hiruta

文字数 4,025文字

In A World of Partitions


Three days to go. One evening halfway through the week of consecutive national holidays, I was checking the number of days on the Japanese Red Cross Society website, Love Blood. The number of days until I can make my next blood donation. Written on their website were things like, “Even in a declared state of emergency, blood donations are essential,” and “Going to give blood is considered essential and urgent travel.” With permission from these words, every two weeks I put on my make-up (I only do my face powder, eyebrows and eyeshadow, since the lower half of my face is hidden by a mask), and I walk over to the nearby blood center where I come into close contact with the blood donation staff.
  This is the only place where I can talk to people outside of my family without any vinyl partition screens. When I go there in three days’ time, partitions will be everywhere except the corner for blood donations. I wonder whether or not it’s morally acceptable to have such contact with others, and, my heart pounding with guilt, I check in at the reception, have a medical consultation with the doctor, do a blood test, and donate blood.
  I don’t meet the requirements to make a 400 ml donation, they disapprove of taking 200 ml, and I’m rejected as a platelet donor because I have thin blood. So, through process of elimination, I make a plasma donation. It kind of looks like the light pork-bone broth in a

tonkotsu

ramen. Half way through, the sensation of blood flowing out from the veins in my arm changes to the sensation of blood flowing in. The red blood cells are being returned to my body.
  The physical sensation of this simple sacrifice brings me comfort. Restaurant owners with financial troubles, the owners of inns that have been closed for business, and the residents of internet cafés who have been kicked out are all on TV, complaining of their predicaments to the news. The slight pain and dizziness and the possibility that I may be of use to someone momentarily eases the guilt I feel about not being affected as much. It would be nice if I had the financial means to make a significant donation, but as a minor novelist, the most I have to offer is my blood.
  I began making regular blood donations around the beginning of March, after reports that supplies were running low due to the novel coronavirus. The time before that was when I was in high school. My friends and I had gone there instead of the playground. “Have there been any changes since 1996?” the doctor asked, and I felt overwhelmed by how much I, and the world, had changed since then. In 1996, one year after the sarin gas attack on the Tokyo subway system, I was a seventeen-year-old virgin.
  Anyway, there are three days to go until I next have close contact with others.
  I closed the Love Blood website, opened up the Amazon wish list of a friend I couldn’t meet even if I wanted to, and I ordered them a nonessential and non-urgent beauty drink as a gift.
  Aside from when I make blood donations, my husband and cat are pretty much the only ones I have contact with. I don’t join any online drinking parties, and I rely solely on the internet for communication. I always have social distancing in mind.


Translated by Lauren Barrett/Arranged by TranNet KK

Asako Hiruta
Born in 1979 in Sapporo, Hokkaido, where she currently resides. Won the 7th R-18 Literature for Women By Women Award in 2008 for “

Jijōjibaku

no

nijō

” (Self-bondage squared). Made her literary debut in 2010 with the publication of the previous work, which was retitled

Jijōjibaku

no

watashi

(Self-bondage and me). This was later adapted into a film directed by Naoto Takenaka in 2013. Her other works include

Hoshi

to

monosashi

(Star and ruler),

Hitohada

shokorarikyūru

(Skin and chocolat liqueur),

Ai

o

furikomu

(Transferring love),

Fittā

X

no

ijōna

aijō

(Strange love of Mr. X the fitter), and

Endingu

doresu

(Ending dress).

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