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"Departure Day" Takako Ota

by 半空文学賞

“For an occasion like this, rice balls should be the norm, shouldn’t they,” I murmured.

As I sat deeply into my seat and opened the wrapped package given to me, large sandwiches appeared. The bread was overflowing with ham. My vision blurred.

The doors closed, and I looked up towards the sky. In that moment, the train came alive.

“I don’t need any lunch!” I pushed back the wrapped package to my father.

“Take it!” he said, however, and forcibly jammed it into my backpack.

“Say good-bye to your mom, too, before you go,” saying he pointed at the ancestors’ alter.

I wished we had such a father-son relationship as to be able to have a conversation like if I said “I’m leaving,” he would simply reply, “Right on. Do your best.”

“I’m leaving.”

“Hey, you know? Is it snowing in Edo* today?” (*old name of Tokyo)

“Huh?” I replied looking dumbfounded. I understood, however, better than anyone else could that it was the best “good-bye” my father could muster.

“See ya.” I said to my dad.

Today, I start on my journey to Tokyo.

As my train left Yakuri Station, I recalled my New Year shrine visit with my old man. It was Katamoto Station where I tried to look cool by offering my seat to an “old” woman and got glared at in return. At Matsushima 2-chome Station, I was caught in the act of meeting my date. I had told my father that I was meeting a “buddy” there and he insisted on offering me a ride, though I declined. “Hey, Dummy! Where is this ‘buddy’ of yours!” Calling me out he got out of his micro pickup truck, dusted off his work clothes, and bowed to the girl embarrassingly.

I turned my eyes to the window. I had thought that my hometown was uncool and annoying, but for some reason, today I was able to see how it shined.

At the bottom of the plastic sandwich container was a yellow slip.

“Health comes first” was written in my father’s handwriting. The slip was doubly taped to the container so that it would only appear when I had finished eating everything. I found it funny, heartbreaking and so typical of my father.

The train arrived at Kawaramachi Station, and as I was waiting for my transfer train, a passenger started talking to one of the station attendants.

“It’s cold today, ain’t it?” said the passenger.

“Yes, it is. There seems to be heavy snow is Tokyo,” replied the station attendant.

My train will soon be arriving at Platform 3.

Apparently, there is heavy snow in Tokyo.

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