Tohko is typing the keyboard of the computer before her.
This was a sort of memorial written about a trip Tohko had gone on with Sumire, who was one of her best friends. They got to know each other in their highschool days and their friendship had continued so far.
It was when Tohko ended up sleeping almost all day long after having been laid off from a job. Tohko had been working at a publishing company in Tokyo until coming back to her own hometown lately. In those days, she was living in her parental house without working and most of her life was getting to be occupied by sleeping like a coma.
Thinking back to those days, Tohko supposed that such her own long sleep might have been a kind of self-protection. In other words, she didn’t need to think about any her own problems deeply because the long sleep prevented her from doing it.
Tohko didn’t know the reason for her own long sleep, but she had surely been sleeping soundly for a long time. She was simply surprised that human beings could sleep for such a long time.Â On top of that, strange to say, she felt as if it was other people’s affairs.
That was because the next sleep had caught her before she began to be worried why she was often sleeping too much like this. She had no time to think about anything as almost all her life was spent in sleeping.
âAlmost every day, I was chronically fast asleep all day long.â Therefore, Tohko feels like that this trip was one of her dreams she sometimes had in her long sleep, just like a bookmarker that a reader slipped into a thick book of a long story.Â She tells herself, âOn the contrary, now, I cannot help but wonder if this world always surrounding me is real or not. Especially, the memories about the relationship between âThat man’ and me is so obscure. Well, ‘That man’ was my ex-boyfriend. OK, I’ll organize my old memories related to him and add it to this memorial,â and starts typing again.
Well, I found a really intriguing blog while I did web-surfing one day. It was the blog written by âThat man.â
I would know later who was managing this blog, but I was reading it just enjoyably at first. Little by little, I was getting to be reading his blog frequently forgetting myself.Â On that blog, there were a lot of essays he’d written, and they were so intellectual, but also had a lot of poetic phrases. It must have fascinated me. As a result, I was getting to hope to talk with him and did post an entry linking my own blog to his in order to let him notice my presence at last. I was blogging in those days, too.
I got to know ‘That man’ through the Internet like this. We started talking with each other online; we left the comments on the blogs each other at first and we next exchanged emails to talk about more private matters. Moreover, we met offline actually after having exchanged online for a while. I fell in love with him and he was the same besides. Our relationship continued for 2 years, but ended when some circumstances changed.
I supposed these things surely happened between him and me.
Still, everything related to our relationship is like a dream, I sometimes feel.
It is just like a story I have forged. I cannot prove these memories are true. Of course, I cannot define what the truth is. In addition, I cannot conceive a way to persuade even myself. I cannot assert that theyâre true with confident.
Still, Tohko had continued to write something as if she was doing it for “That man” even after they stopped contacting each other. âAnyway, he is the crucial person of my memories, but is he existing in reality?â Tohko whispered. Even if “That man” didn’t exist actually, she would not be surprised.
“There is a possibility he is not a real person,â she thought, âEverything might be a dream like a story I fabricated. Still, I have no choice but to write. To write is the only thing I can do now. Am I doing it for him? Or for myself? I cannot say for sure, but I will write.â
Then, Tohko is still writing the memory related to the trip.
One day, Sumire invited Tohko to take a trip together and Tohko agreed with it.
Every arrangement for the trip was made by Sumire, who was good at such things because she was working at an airline company.
On their departure day, Tohko barely left her parental house, in where she was living that time, as if dragging her own suitcase with great difficulty, with her head heavy and dizzy because of her excessive sleepiness.
To begin with, she had to board an aeroplane bound for Haneda airport in Tokyo from a small local airport in her hometown.
She was being relieved that she had not forgotten to put on a coat the colour of which was not black when she was waiting for her flight in front of the boarding gate of the local airport. A few days ago, Sumire telephoned Tohko and told her, âWe will be in the same photo together taken by somebody we will ask to take it while travelling many times. So it will be too funny if we’re wearing the same coloured coat at the same time in the same pictures.â
Sumire added, âIt is something like a costume play by animation fans, don’t you think?”
When Tohko heard it from Sumire, Tohko said to herself, âI doubt if it is worth the effort.â However afterwards, Tohko noticed that something like photographs was surely seen again and again by a lot of people and thought that what Sumire had said might not be wrong.
Since any international airlines were rarely in service at Haneda airport and the local airport in Tohko’s hometown didn’t have any airlines directly bound for Narita airport, Tohko had to move to Narita airport from Haneda airport next as soon as arriving there. Haneda airport was near the central city of Tokyo but was for domestic transfer mainly. Meanwhile, Narita was a little bit far from central Tokyo but was for international flights mostly.
Before departing from Japan, Tohko got tired, feeling like she had already travelled for a long time.Â She had been almost sleeping as if dreaming in both of the aeroplane and the train until arriving at Narita airport also on that day.Â The scenery from the windows of the train heading for Narita airport station didn’t throw any deep emotions on her any longer despite the fact it was what she had often seen until leaving Tokyo. Then, it was already dark when Tohko arrived at Narita airport station.
In stark contrast to her hometown located at the area facing the Sea of Japan where it was almost always raining or snowing during the winter, it was usually very dry in Tokyo that was in the area facing the Pacific Ocean.
But being apathetic toward anything in those days, she was not concerned about such a difference between her hometown and Tokyo. On the both sides of the long skinny island called Honshu, which was the main land of Japan, their climates were utterly different, especially in the winter.Â Tohko was living as if she was seeing and hearing nothing like that in those days. Her mind appeared to be somewhere far away, not being at just where she was. Tohko got a taxi and went to a hotel that was one of the chains Sumire’s airline company was running. Sumire had booked this hotel located near Narita airport for them to stay this night since it was next morning when Tohko and Sumire would depart oversea. Tohko again felt as if she had already arrived at neighbour Asian countries or somewhere when she arrived at the hotel.
She was exhausted by going out after a long time absence, wondering âHow was I able to be working properly a little while ago though I am now in a miserable condition like this?” Meanwhile, Sumire seemed to have come directly from her work place and was already at the lounge of the hotel, sitting on a big sofa and waiting for Tohko.
âHey, Tohko. Whatâs wrong? You look so tired and your skin condition also looks so bad with puffiness. Besides, why are you wearing such lame glasses? Are you OK?â
Sumire seemed appalled and said.
âI’m going to go to a bar of this hotel’s top floor with you from now on. But I would not like to go there with such a sorry-looking girl! Of course, you are going to dress yourself up in our room after checking in, aren’t you? What’s going on? Please don’t tell me you don’t have any better dresses in your suitcase.â
Tohko could softly elude Sumire’s abusive remarks because Tohko had known Sumire, who was a classmate in her highschool days, for a long time. Tohko was accustomed to such her behaviour.
However, as Tohko didn’t preen herself at all after having entered their room, Sumire started to blame Tohko again.
âWhy aren’t you doing anything? You must change your miserable clothes in a hurry!â Ultimately, Sumire compelled Tohko to get undressed and sit down before a dresser. Tohko gradually realized what Sumire had been feeling.
âAre you all right? Only a few time has passed since you left Tokyo! How terrible you look now.â Wearing contact lenses and giving herself a facial massage with a moisturizer Sumire had handed to Tohko, Tohko’s looks on her face were getting to return to the level she had used to be. Sumire almost shouted, âIt’s awful to live in such an out-of-the-way place like our hometown. I cannot believe you’ve become such a yokel for such a short period. Which reinforced my belief that I must never go back there!â
Tohko can recall even the tone of Sumire’s voice Tohko was hearing at that time. Tohko has often ruminated the remarks said by her old friends who were born and raised in the same hometown as Tohko since Tohko escaped from Tokyo because she was worried about the radiation exposure after the nuclear power plant disaster.
Most of them are the people enjoying their life in Tokyo.
They were also often grumbling, âI would never like to go back to my hometown!â
One of them insisted, âIt’s completely unthinkable for me to leave Tokyo, no matter how dangerous the situation is due to the radiation exposure! My son has just succeeded in the entrance exam of a top-level private school in reward for our efforts to win the fiercely competitive exam.â
Tohko remembered some of such her friends had been spending a lot of money on private cram schools providing the strategies for passing entrance exams.
The big earthquake and the nuclear power plant accident happened in March. In Japan, many students took entrance examinations a little before March and they usually received the notifications of success from the schools they had desired to enter if they passed it in March. They must have been looking forward to entering their new school in April that was when a new year for Japanese school would start. March was such a kind of season in Japan that students were bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, expecting their next stage.
These reminiscences brought back the memories of her own school days to Tohko. She wondered, âIf the disaster had happened when I was 18 years old just after having passed the exam of the university I hoped to enter, could I have gone to Tokyo metropolitan area to enter the university? If I had been a student who had just graduated from highschool and had just gotten a notification of success from the university but had heard about the radioactive contamination in Tokyo due to the nuclear power plant accident, in what way could I have decided my course?â
Many of Tohko’s friends had graduated from the same highschool as Tohko that many students of which could pass the exam to enter elite universities.
And most of them tended to get married to a kind of males who held high positions in social, financial, or professional status.Â They were usually living in first-class residential districts in the centre area of Tokyo, spending a lot of money for their children’s education. Tohko remembered that she had sometimes talked with such her friends in a self-deprecating manner while she was still living in Tokyo. âWe were studying so hard in our highschool days, werenât we? Of course, it was that elite high-level school we were in. In case of the boys, they were studying to get jobs that were as better as possible in the future. But we girls cannot keep doing jobs for a long time at any rate. So, we must have been studying hard in order to get chances to meet and hook eligible bachelors whose requirement for us was as better as possible, don’t you think?â However, it was give-and-take relationship, wasnât it? Tohko’s or somebody’s husband might have said, âI’m going to keep doing my job, so you must give birth to our baby. Care for our child and I’ll ensure you for well-to-do life as a quid pro quo.â
âI might have only been carrying out such a life based on such a tacit agreement like a business contract?â Tohko felt. But, the nuclear power plant accident happened on that day and the world altogether changed.
âYou mean that youâre going to escape from Tokyo with our kid without me? Are you kidding me? Or you’ve gone mad? I want to think that we didn’t have any relationship at all from the beginning. I’ll forget everything related to our marriage. So, our contract has just terminated.â Of course, Tohko’s ex-husband might not have said such serifs actually. But, it must have been what he was thinking when he wanted to divorce Tohko.
âKeep pretending not to see anything and living as if nothing has happened, or you will not be able to receive any privilege from this city. Only those who are doing like that can enjoy the wealth the city is making.
To keep silence and ignore everything that has happened due to the disaster is a qualification to live in this city, Tokyo. If you think that it is impossible to live in this city any longer, please go anyplace to live as long as possible in the provinces.â
Such a thought squirted like a black mist and was about to occupy Tohko’s head.
âNo, No,â Tohko tried to shake off her wretched memories.
âI have to write about the memory of the day when I started the trip to the place ‘That man’ was living in.”
Then, Tohko guessed herself up, putting on her make-up and wearing high-heels up to the level Sumire would admit.
The two of them went to the bar on the highest floor.
The more they drunk, the more vigorous their conversation became.
âWhat? What do you mean?â
Having heard the story Tohko had told, Sumire suddenly showed pleasure with her eyes gleaming. Just a while ago, Sumire said to Tohko, while being worried about Tohko’s ruined appearance, âStop living in such a rustic place, or you will rust away there miserably. And you cannot find any guys to date with and at last you will never get married to someone throughout your life!â As a result, Tohko ended up talking to Sumire about âThat manâ because Tohko felt she had to explain to Sumire that she still had a chance to get love affair even in her countryside life.
“I know you’re always doing the Internet, though I cannot understand what is so interesting about it. Anyway, you got a thing for a guy online recently, but it isnât an interactive relationship for now. And you haven’t met him ever. No, worse than that, you haven’t talked with him yet and you’re only reading his blog without any greetings. But that guy is living in the very city we are going to depart for next morning, isn’t he? Why haven’t you told me such an important matter before now?â Sumire talked on and on. âWhy didn’t you at least e-mail to him? For example, ‘I have a plan to visit your city for sightseeing soon. So, would you mind if I asked you to guide your city?’ How about like this? â
âNo, I didn’t e-mail. I’ve only been reading his blog. I would have sometimes liked to leave comments on his blog. But I havenât been able to do it ever.â Tohko replied. âAre you stupid? Why didn’t you tell him that you would go to the city he is just living in? Do you know his e-mail address?”
Sumire said with disgust.
âYes, I saw it written on his blog.â
âCome on! Send an e-mail right now! You can write and send it to your cell-phone. Write it just now and here!â
Sumire was so excited vicariously. She had been the type like this: She was a kind person surely and was not malevolent at all, but also seemed to be just an interfering person who just wanted to poke her nose into other people’s love affair. However, it could be said that was even more difficult because she didn’t intend to harm anything. Sumire’s old friends, who had experienced some nuisances caused by Sumire’s meddling, took precaution against Sumire somewhat. Especially in those days, as Sumire didn’t have any stimulus or fun on her own life she seemed to have invited Tohko to go on a trip together.
Sumire appeared to be dying to meddle in Tohko’s matter as usual.
However, Tohko refused Sumireâs suggestion unusually and adamantly.
âI don’t want to e-mail to him at this stage. He is very important for me. So, I’d like to start a relationship with him carefully if possible,â Tohko said to Sumire.
âWhy? You are not in a position to choose how to start! Send an e-mail now, or you’ll be too late. The guy is living in the foreign country we cannot go to easily. But fortunately, you are going to go to the very place he’s living in now. If you lose this chance, you will never meet him actually. Far from starting a relationship, you will not be able to see him forever!â
Sumire uttered in a loud voice.
Tohko is thinking of the night view she could look out over from the bar having a wide-glass window that night.
The inside of the bar looked greenish because of its slightly dark lighting.
Tohko had not gotten drunk till that moment though she had swilled a lot.
Both Sumire and Tohko had a high tolerance for alcohol and they often shared the time to carouse together like this evening.
Rather than that day, present Tohko, who is writing this as a memorial right now, is excited as if she felt some sort of intoxication a little. But she has to get back on track to write old memories.
Tohko was still on the quite happier stage in where she could recognize that everything she saw was beautiful, regarding with the level of intoxication. Since people felt too good at this point, they ended up drinking too much without restraint and feeling sick. But now, Sumire and Tohko had no way of knowing that they might become like that at this point yet.
“I am just writing my memories. But is it worth doing? I don’t know.
Moreover, I feel like I have some important memories I’ve utterly forgotten.Â Am I writing this memorialÂ to look for them?”Â Tohko stops her hands typing the keyboard and thinks.
Again, this is the memory of the trip Tohko took with Sumire a long time ago.