Floor Cushion Awaits the Sky Ayano Usamura

by 半空文学賞

When it comes to sadness, I can just write about it on the screen right there with small letters. All I have to do is rant about it within the tiny 140-letter window frame. I wonder why, then, there are days I cannot do just that. This world exists only in the shadow created by the westering sun penetrating the white curtains in the classroom on a day without any sadness whatsoever.

From underneath the platform, a cluster of winds blew up my uniform skirt. The Koto-chan mascot attached to my bag swayed when I re-crossed my standing legs. The places where there were no boundaries between this world and myself, like my thighs, back of the knees, calves, etc., became tingling and sensitive. Although my heart was not supposed to be touched by the world, the feeling was the same.

My train wasn't coming yet, and my legs were getting tired. I sat down on the platform bench, where floor cushions were laid out. They were all in different patterns and colors, and I thought to myself they looked like the cover pages of school textbooks and notebooks.

The smell of a withered field, mixed with the smoke from burning yard waste, reached deep inside my nose. I didn't turn around. I knew where the smell was coming from. It had become suddenly cold since the day before, so I put a cardigan on underneath my school uniform. The jacket felt a little bunched up. I was still not used to the stiffness of the sleeves and shoulders. Autumn and winter had yet to come, so I had no choice but to slowly get used to it.

Yesterday after school, I had to deal with something unpleasant. My guidance counselor told me to turn in the career path report, which was still left blank, as soon as possible. I had been worried about it since the summer. I had worried so much that my “worries” might have become “troubles.”

I was born in this town and four of us, my grandparents, mother and myself, lived together for a long time. My father hasn’t been in my life since childhood. I have no memories of him, either. I had never been away from my family. I grew up watching my grandparents slowly age and my mother work hard, and I did not understand what I should grow up to be. If my grandparents’ health were to deteriorate, my mother would no longer be able to work. Should something happen to my mother, would I be able to take care of my grandparents?

To me, the kind of “future” my classmates talked about meant no more than the size of my family. The feeling of this future “someone” I was supposed to become always existed outside of my family, and I felt as though I wasn’t supposed to have that feeling. Why? I asked myself. I always had a small guilty conscience inside of my heart, the size of a small stone. It was not heavy, but never went away, either. I didn’t know if everyone carried the same stone inside, but to call it “uneasiness” would not be quite right.

My train arrived, but I could not get up. The doors opened right in front of my eyes, and people got off and on the train. After a little blank time, the doors closed, making a hissing noise. The voice of the train conductor resounded throughout the platform, and the yellow train disappeared right in front of my eyes to the left. I wish my future came as orderly as the train, and lined up as clearly as they did in the station.

School does not allow me to be “nobody.” They do not give me the answer as to whom I should become. It would not be suitable to name this feeling sadness. We all carry this nameless feeling that we could not identify. Tomorrow again at this platform, I would surely be feeling the same way and troubled by this “someone” I could not catch up to. It cannot be helped. It just can’t any more.

Today is about to end. The sun is being swallowed up by a short mountain. It is going to shine on the other side of the world. The sun shines equally on both the “no one” I am and those who have become “someone.” This world is kind to me, who is “no one.”

Another train came. It was almost the same yellow one as the previous, as if to say there wasn’t too much difference between today and tomorrow, or so I felt. I got on the train. The doors closed and I turned around. Through the rounded train door window I saw the floor cushion I had been sitting on just now. That floor cushion couldn’t see the sky until I stood up. Now that I am here the floor cushion was able to meet the sky.

For the sake of the floor cushion, I will move forward just a little.