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.

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.

With a cold”–she spoke evenly, lowering her eyes a little–“now is the hardest time. Maybe even harder than dying. But this is probably as bad as it can get. You might come to fear the next time you get a cold; it will be as bad as this, but if you just hold steady, it won’t be. For the rest of your life. That’s how it works. You could take the negative view and live in fear: Will it happen again? But it won’t hurt so much if you just accept it as a part of life.” With that she looked up at me, smiling.