Banana Yoshimoto

At that moment I had a thrilling sharp intuition. I knew it as if I held it in my hands: In the gloom of death that surrounded the two of us, we were just at the point of approaching and negotiating a gentle curve. If we bypassed it, we would split off into different directions. In that case, we would forever remain just friends.

For ten years I had been protected, wrapped up in something like a blanket that had been stitched together from all kinds of different things. But people never notice that warmth until after they’ve emerged. You don’t even notice that you’ve been inside until it’s too late for you ever to go back– that’s how perfect the temperature of that blanket is.

In places where a loved one has died, time stops for eternity. If I stand on the very spot, one says to oneself, like a prayer, might I feel the pain he felt? They say that on a visit to an old castle or whatever, the history of the place, the presence of people who walked there many years ago, can be felt in the body. Before, when I heard things like that, I would think, what are they talking about? But i felt I understood it now.

To the extent that I had come to understand that despair does not necessarily result in annihilation, that one can go on as usual in spite of it, I had become hardened. Was this what it means to be an adult, to live with ugly ambiguities? I didn’t like it, but it made it easier to go on.

People who are going to get along really well know it almost as soon as they meet. You spend a little while talking and everyone starts to feel this conviction, you’re all equally sure that you’re at the beginning of something good. That’s how it is when you meet people you’re going to be with for a long time.

So, have you been enjoying yourself these days, Kazami?’ I’m having lots of fun.’ It was true. That made the sense of regret even keener, that this time in my life would soon be a thing of the past. I felt as if I could understand a little of what my mother had been through, and the feelings she may have had at different times. I wasn’t a child anymore, and this made me feel awfully lonesome, and utterly alone.