from The Handymen of Mahoro

Translated by: 
Asuka Minamoto

Old Lady Soneda Makes a Prediction


‘You’re going to be busy next year,’ declared old lady Soneda. It was a fine evening in late December. They were in the hospital lounge, which was very quiet. Outside the windows, a threadbare lawn and withered trees with naked branches could be seen. The two large-screen TVs in the room were turned on, but barely audible. One was showing a drama rerun; the other, a live broadcast of a horse race. The elderly people gathered in the lounge naturally parted into two groups, and sat absorbed in their respective programmes. Occasionally, the creaking of a wheelchair was heard, or a rustling of someone digging into a bag of buckwheat crackers brought from their room. ‘Really? Am I going to be rich?’ asked Tada Keisuke, cutting the sponge cake he had brought into bite-size pieces. Old lady Soneda’s eyes were glued to the sponge cake. On a paper plate Tada placed two slices; the rest he put in a plastic container, saying, ‘Now, don’t eat it all at once, you hear? Save it till snack time, and share with your roommates.’ He poured some hot tea from the vending machine into a paper cup and handed it to her. The old woman soaked her sponge cake in the tea, and began nibbling. ‘Your business will stay the same,’ she said. ‘It’s your personal life that’s going to make you busy. Maybe you’ll end up divorcing that wife of yours.’ Wife? Long gone, Tada thought, as he listened in silence. ‘And you’ll travel, and cry, and laugh – things like that.’

‘Travel? Where am I going?’

‘Somewhere far, far away. A place as far as the inside of your mind.’


To read the rest of this story and everything else in Issue 33, visit our eShop to take out a subscription or buy a print or digital copy.

Already a subscriber? Then please sign in!


More Fiction

Please Register or Login

Register now for full access to News and Events, Web Exclusives, Blogs and Comments.

If you've already registered, please login.