This it the 11th 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. 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 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).
This chapter assumes some understanding of the traditional Japanese festival called tanabata (七夕). If you are not familiar with it, I suggest this page for a good summary.
Past, Present, You
by Yuki Hoshizaki
Translated by J.D. Wisgo
Chapter 11: July 7 (twilight)
When the last three fireworks are launched and explode simultaneously into dazzling displays of light, signalling the end of the show, a roaring round of applause rises from the audience. It’s already past midnight, but there’s no sign of rain, and the wind is calm.
“Can you stay out any longer?”
Sora checks her wristwatch and gives me a slight nod.
“You want to do a few fireworks in the park?”
While this might be a bit pushy, I want to talk a little more with Sora. We hurry out the congested event grounds and come to my bike parked in an empty lot on the riverside. I sit on the seat and motion for her to get on behind me.
“Hold on tight!”
The hilly streets tend to make travel by bike difficult. The route from the riverside towards home is mostly uphill, so I’m required to put in enough effort to compensate for the potential energy with my own kinetic energy.
“You want to get off and walk?”
“I! Am! Fine!”
We reach the top of the hill just as I’m out of breath, barely enough energy to keep pedaling, and I stop the bike at the convenience store right before the road makes a sharp turn.
The park we always go to is behind the store. Plastic bag in hand containing fireworks and plastic drink bottles, we head towards the sandy play area. Surrounded by a housing complex, the park is quiet, a stark contrast to the event grounds. From here the houses block the view, so the sky above the river and any fireworks that soar through it are not visible. That’s why on the night of Tanabata, very few people come here.
“Oh, is that rain…”
The moment I try to light one of the fireworks large raindrops begin to fall, immediately disappearing when they reach the sandy ground. The weight of a raindrop smacking against my cheek foretells the oncoming of a sudden rainstorm.
As expected the rain picks up, and I realize there is nowhere in this park to get shelter from the rain. We rush out of the park, our hands raised up towards the merciless barrage of raindrops.
Amidst rolling thunder we push the bicycle down a narrow road heading to the elementary school’s shrine. Passing through the shrine’s muddy main road, by the time we get under the eaves of the worship hall we’re both drenched.
“I’m so sorry. It’s all because I said we should do some fireworks…”
“It’s OK. Don’t worry about it.”
I remove my handkerchief from my pocket and wipe Sora’s bangs, plastered to her forehead with rain. We should have at least brought a folding umbrella.
“Mizuki…I have something to tell you…”
The rain doesn’t let up, it only intensifies. Obstructed by the sound of raindrops striking the ground and frequent thunder claps shaking the air, Sora’s voice is distant. A world with sound is lonely. What she said earlier, which seemed paradoxical at the time, now somehow makes sense.
“I’m not from this world.”
I think I already knew this all along. But I was afraid to believe it. Doing so would be a clear denial of Sora Itono’s very existence. After staring at me for a long time, unable to say even a single word in response, Sora continues speaking in a soft voice.
“In my world, you died.”
So I’m dead––at least in “her world”.
A world where everything is cut and shaped by one’s personal interests, therein lies a myriad of perspectives. If a plurality of viewpoints exists, each in accord with the location of an observer, then perhaps even a plurality of worlds cannot be refuted. However, this seems to be nothing but a wild delusion.
“In that train crash, in that accident, you died.”
A world that is not real but could have been––such a thing should be, at best, nothing more than a possible world with no real meaning.
“But I’m definitely alive. Thanks to you, that is…”
“Yes, that was my wish. I wished to see you one more time.”
A warm, rain-laden wind blows hard through the shrine grounds, shaking the strips of paper tied to the trees where people have written their wishes during Tanabata. As if a dam has broken in the river that is the Milky Way, countless raindrops flow towards us, and the color I had finally begun to see is completely washed away.
“What exactly does that…”
“My wish came true, so we can no longer see one another. If we ever meet again, it surely will not lead to anyone’s happiness. That’s why…that’s why I’m saying goodbye.”
With that, Sora presses a cloth purse into my hand and turns around, disappearing into the downpour.
“Hey, wait a minute!”
I try to take a step forward but my body refuses to move. It feels just like that day when I crossed paths with Sora on the shrine’s stone staircase.
Maybe this is what it’s like for time to stop.
Our fates are decided in advance, and the balance cannot be disturbed, no matter what––I have the feeling that someone is telling me this, and for the first time I feel real fear.
Standing below the roof of the worship hall where Sora had just been, I open my hands slowly to reveal a tiny purse of soft pink.
“I’m alive. I know I’m alive!”
My voice is drowned out, rendered useless by the sound of the wind and rain. It’s just like Sora said: A world with sound is lonely. A definitive boundary line has been drawn between us. Resisting this established dividing line is not permitted, I can only pass time in accordance with my fate. I can do nothing else.
[end of chapter]
(English Translation Copyright © 2019 by J.D. Wisgo)