[Translated by James Au]
Rie was sexually compatible with Fumihiko, too. Considering the age of Fumihiko, he had devoured the delight with a passion great enough for him to pride himself. While having sex, Rie also laughed a lot. It was a peal of low, jubilant laughter with which she burst from deep inside her throat, and Fumihiko could not but laugh at last whenever he heard it. From Rie he learnt both that laughter can be welled up in his overflow of happiness, and that, in this world, another half, with whom he could laugh and get along so well, does exist.
He bathes after taking off his clothes.
Only with Rie, Fumihiko thought, could he be his genuine self.
Even though they met at most thrice a week, wherever Rie is – be it pharmacy or be it her apartment –, wherever Fumihiko would feel like he spiritually belonged to, but not this home where both his wife and his daughter reside.
The bath water feels a bit too hot. He slowly immerses his whole body completely into the tub, as slowly as an old man, and holds his breath…
Why on earth Rie could treat him like this, Fumihiko wonders, while stretching his limbs.
“You are gorgeous.”
Fumihiko always gave him such a compliment in a sweet voice that made him at a loss for response. Indeed never has he heard from Rie any unpleasant words. Is it not an evidence to prove that she was satisfied with him?
“There’s nothing sinister about you.”
He was not trying to be conceited, but what she said did hit the nail on the head.
“You are really well-learnt.”
“You are such an upright man. Working at a flashy place, you seemed to me a playboy at first glance, but actually it’s entirely different. I’ve never met anyone so honest like you.”
Rie never ended her praises to him. Because she was never a woman good at insincere flatteries, she must have said what she really thought. If so, why could she have said she had decided not to see him again?
“I shall be glad if you can tell me about my shortcomings too.”
Amused by the words of Fumihiko, Rie burst into laughter and said, “Haven’t I told you just before?”
Having wiped all his sweats from his whole body, Fumihiko came out of the bathtub and is now standing below the shower head. First he washes his hair, and his face, then his body, and all over at last, using the soap and the shampoo chosen and bought by his wife. Emptiness spreads from his heart to his other organs, and soon, he feels, such a hollowness stretches across his arms and legs. Is it not meaningless to keep himself clean, if he can never see Rie again?
He often took a bath with Rie. Some women prefer to bathe with their partners, while others do not. Rie belonged to the former. Especially during their travels and in broad daylight.
They had travelled a lot together. Since Fumihiko frequently goes on business trips, journeying with Rie is not difficult. All travel expenses of Rie had been borne by Fumihiko, and as if Rie and Fumihiko are one flesh, she followed wherever he went – from Hokkaido to Okinawa.
“I’ve missed you so much,” once she finished her words, the couple were in passionate embrace.
Things had very much been the same, even though even though there were times that they did not travel together. Over the past five years, they repeatedly had secret rendezvous twice a week. They had meals and sex, watched movies, and drank.
“I’ve missed you so much,” it was always in that occasion she said so, as if they had parted with one another for many years.
Due to the nature of Fumihiko’s work, their dating normally began at either nine or eleven at night. Rie never minded those details. She came to him at whatever time and wherever she had been told.
“Because I’m off work at a fixed time, and you’re my only precious apart from work.”
“Just take it easy,” said Rie before she put her arms around his neck, or pressed her cheek against his. At that moment however displeasing it might be, Fumihiko’s sight would stop at Rie’s curled hair. Her every gesture, every touch, and even one single thought can wring his heart easily.
His thoughts never cease to pause when it comes to everything about Rie: Only a golden ring is worn in one of her bony fingers; despite her taking to drink, her eyes are about to get moistened after finishing two cups of Japanese wine, she detests panty hoses and hairdresser, and loves suggestive jokes; whenever she has new purchases, she will exultantly show them to him; she considers shoes above clothes; she always wears contact lenses; whenever his lips are pressed against her neck, she will say “that’s itchy” and burst out laughing.
Having wiped his body with a towel, he heaves a sigh.
She has been, Fumihiko has once believed, her lover, her close friend, and her comrade with whom he had striven to live in this solitary, destitute world. Until tonight.
“You are kidding, aren’t you?”
Those were the words he could first utter. On the table of the ill-lighted restaurant was a big dish of raw fish.
“I’m so sorry, but no I am not.”
Though in earnest, Rie did not show any sorrow on her face.
“That’s impossible. I just can’t accept it,” he responded in a furious tone, while desperately hiding his tremor.
Rie then smiled and asked, “Are you shocked to death?”
Unaware that Rie was trying to comfort him, he simply affirmed by saying “yes”. Rie tilted her head and looked at Fumihiko as if she was investigating him. Then she took a bite of a piece of raw fish, and said,
Fumihiko was confused.
“I’m going to divorce my wife,” he tried in a last ditch effort to keep her. Rie, however, looked wretched.
“I’m not kidding. I’m going to divorce my wife.”
Those words were as though, once emitted from above the table, lingering in the air forever, with nowhere to go to.
[To be continued]
[Featured image taken by James on 25th December, 2015]