This it the eighth chapter of a novel I am translating and publishing on this blog. See this post for the first chapter and more details about the novel.
I want to thank the author, Yuki Hoshizaki (星崎ゆうき) for giving me permission to translate and publish this chapter here, as well as Yeti san (from the site Shousetsu Ninja) for performing a quality check on this chapter. You can find the original Japanese text of this chapter here.
Because of the large amount of time it takes to translate a chapter, as well as my desire to focus on content that my readers enjoy, I consider this translation to be in a provisional state––in other words, if I don’t get enough positive feedback, I may stop translating this story. So if you enjoy it, please consider liking or commenting here, or rating/commenting on novelupdates.com (see this story’s page here, which has links to all the other chapters).
Past, Present, You
by Yuki Hoshizaki
Translated by J.D. Wisgo
Chapter 8: July 6 (morning)
“So from what you are saying…she must be, basically, a ghost…”
After hearing my brief summary of the events so far, Daiki frowns and lets out a small sigh.
A warm, humid breeze gusts in from the classroom’s wide-open windows, swaying the light blue curtains. Even though the day has just begun it’s already hot and sticky. The tiny fan in the classroom only blows around the warm air, with no chance of actually cooling things down.
“I don’t think we’re talking about a ghost here.”
Each day we are exposed to a massive amount of information and our lives consist of ignoring or forgetting a majority of it. But I don’t think those things disappear, they are merely forgotten.
I’m somehow more comfortable with believing that events and facts are reconstructed interpretively through the process of recall as opposed to objectively existing. Rather than asking whether a ghost exists or not, I think what is more important is how intimate, how real my experience of it is.
“Then what exactly was it?”
I can’t help but laugh when I see Daiki staring at me with a serious expression.
“Don’t give me that serious look. I don’t know what is going on either, but I do know that when I met Sora she was able to predict the future, and that, in reality, she had died three years ago. Finally, I know that she gradually faded out before my very eyes.”
“That’s what I am calling a ghost!”
Indeed, anyone who seriously accepts such events should have their head examined. I’m fully aware of this, and had the situation been reversed I would have, like Daiki, surely just written her off as a ghost. But I have a theory: the reality that we can perceive with our senses is not irrefutable, with perception itself limited and uncertain, like our imagination or daydreams.
“Well…I don’t know the right way to say this, but she wasn’t like that at all. Even when we talked in the park, we exchanged phone numbers like everything was normal.”
It’s true that my important message to her has stayed marked unread no matter how much time passes, but I just can’t believe everything about Sora––her overflowing tears, her deeply mournful expression, her tiny yet somehow powerful voice––was all a hallucination.
“So did you ever get a reply?”
“No, the message was never even…wait, now it says it’s been read.”
I stare in shock at the screen of my cell phone that I just pulled out of my pocket. The brief message I sent the other day, “Which first grade class?”, is now marked as read.
“Hey man, who the hell are you chatting with? Horror and supernatural movies are really not my thing. You’re giving me the chills.”
There wasn’t any response, but the message has been read. This means that the message I sent was read on Sora’s phone by Sora herself––the same Sora that isn’t supposed to exist in this world. Yet, at the present time, I have a strong confirmation of Sora and her phone existing somewhere in this world.
Perhaps, as Daiki says, this should be a supernatural or terrifying experience. However, rather than fear, this ultra-realistic experience inspires in me feelings more like anticipation.
“What’s wrong with you? Weren’t you the one who said, ‘This world is abound with mysterious occurrences’ ?”
But am I really anticipating anyway?
“Yeah, that’s true, but this is all a little too realistic.”
Being able to see her once again?
“I told you, it’s not like you think.”
Perhaps things only become strange when we think they are. Of course, thinking something is strange can be important. If we never doubt our assumptions, we are likely to overlook the best choice.
However, there is no right or wrong to feelings of doubt. Such feelings only have a level of accuracy, or what you could call a depth. How those feelings are received, and how they are judged, is up to the individual.
“Well, then why don’t you try asking her out on a date?”
“What? Ask her out all of a sudden?”
“Aquarium, movie theater…the place doesn’t matter, right? Or maybe you should try inviting her to the fireworks event near your house tomorrow.”
By the way, tomorrow is tanabata, the Star Festival. Every year on July 7 there is a large fireworks event near where I live. Personally, I’d rather gaze at the Milky Way than fireworks, but the bright city lights of Tokyo drown out the dazzling river of stars in the distance.
During an afternoon class I sneak out my phone and send a brief message to Sora: “Are you free today?” Against my expectations, the message immediately becomes read, and a reply soon follows. “I’ll be waiting at the park from the other day.”
My messages that before had remained unread for so long are getting through today like nothing ever happened. I don’t think it’s about having a good signal or anything like that. Whenever I think about Sora I have nothing but questions, and the answers don’t come easy. But it’s not that I’m totally clueless; it’s more like the answers are always dancing tentatively at the edge of my comprehension…
But each answer only leads to more questions.
[end of chapter]
(English Translation Copyright © 2019 by J.D. Wisgo)