By: Gotham Mamik
here aren’t too many people who’d wait to pay their bill in a restaurant ... in the middle of an earthquake. Mr. Murakami was one of those kinds of people.
On September 1, 1923, Mr. Murakami, along with the millions of other residents of Tokyo, witnessed, or rather, experienced what would be in later years referred to as The Great Kanto Earthquake.
The earthquake measured in at 7.9 on the Richter scale; a record at the time. Whether Mr. Murakami found himself among the 142,000 plus dead from the event remains unclear. Though his trousers were certainly left wet at the onset of the calamity. But he also found himself in an extremely anxious predicament at the time, not on account of the soiling of his pants, nor so much even by the devastation: towering buildings were flattened, reduced to soil, and dead hands reached out from under the hard, broken till: like branches - nature’s cultivation of man.
Of course these realities were unpleasant, no doubt. But what concerned Mr. Murakami most during the chaos, was his uncertain effort, at impressing a girl. The earthquake’s epicenter was the Izu Ōshima Island and by the time it began to assault Tokyo 100 miles away, Mr. Murakami was just about getting done with his ‘date’.
He had met Naomi, about twenty minutes before the earthquake had travelled to right beneath the floor where he was seated in the Izakaya in a bustling neighborhood just south of the Ginza district. The Izakaya, a casual bar, doubled up as an unpopular, though affordable lunch spot, before evening set in, and brought with it, hordes of alcohol thirsty office going men, reveling in each other’s company. The office men would complain about how hard life was, having to work all day, just to be considered worthy of existing, much less appreciated in the world. The slave noose around their neck - their silk ties, would loosen with each swig of beer, every shot of sake, that they would down with kamikaze precision; a term, that still belonged to it’s formal translation of divine wind. Within twenty years, and nearly forever from then on, the world would infer from the word, the suicidal crash attacks by Japanese fighter pilots upon Allied warships during World War 2. Mr. Murakami obviously did not know this at the time, but he liked to preoccupy himself with the new, or more aptly, how the new could replace the old.
But at the time Mr. Murakami was sitting in a corner of the Izakaya, waiting for Naomi, there were no office going men to be seen. The place was nearly empty, as the aforementioned popular patrons were still very much, at work. Mr. Murakami was, in a sense, unusual to be sitting in the Izakaya at that hour, right around mid-day. Unlike most 35 year old males his age. He didn’t have to work in an office and report to anyone; Mr. Murakami was a writer. Though he did have to seek approval from his editor from time to time before a piece was published, he certainly didn’t regard the editor as his superior. And hence, Mr. Murakami could afford to sip on a cool green tea, and ponder about the rest, who fanned themselves next to mountains of files on their desks. But also unlike most men his age; Mr. Murakami didn’t have a family. Both his parents had perished in the Meiji-Sanriku earthquake (22000 dead), and before that, his grandfather too, Mr. Murakami had been told, died during the Mino-Owari earthquake (7273 dead) in 1891, just a year after he was born. In a country like Japan, such disasters were near common occurrence, but for two subsequent generations from the same family to suffer so similarly, could conveniently be attributed to fate. That’s what well-wishers too would say, even Mr. Murakami’s uncle, who raised him after his parents died, voiced to him when he was old enough, ‘Your turn too, will come. The ground has it’s eyes on you.’
Mr. Murakami’s uncle wasn’t sinister by any means; just stupid. Like most people of that time; at the advent of real change in the 20th century, he preferred holding onto older explanations, because they were familiar. Even many of Mr. Murakami’s friends and acquaintances conformed to this thinking; and that was primarily the reason why he was still unmarried. Nobody wanted to have their sister or daughter lie on a bed next to a man who was destined to be swallowed by the earth, unawares. ‘You want to be collateral damage?’ any young woman who exhibited interest in him would be threatened with rhetoric.
Mr. Murakami, through his determined education, resolved to discredit such ridiculousness. At first he aimed to discredit such old tales by dwelling into the past; his own family history, that of generations before his grandfather’s to illustrate that the two immediately preceding fatalities in the family tree, were nothing more than random coincidence. But records of his ancestors had been destroyed with his grandfather. ‘Even your great grandmother from your mother’s side was from Honshu, where the Hietsu earthquake took place and she disappeared too,’ Mr. Murakami’s uncle boasted. Only 300 people were supposed to have died in that earthquake.
‘She could have also just starved to death more likely,’ Mr. Murakami retorted, citing the more common ailment of famines at the time.
‘How dare you make such wicked speculations about your own ancestors,’ his uncle admonished. ‘Have you no shame?’
Realizing that lack of records and common sense were against him, Mr. Murakami abandoned his search in the past, and decided to look toward the future instead. If he couldn’t change the mindsets of those around him, the only way to escape, was to rise over the premonitions; to replace them. That’s why Mr. Murakami thought about flying so much. The wright brothers had nearly two decades earlier, contorted necks upwards with their first manned flight. And just recently in World War 1, battles had expanded behind clouds. Mr. Murakami subscribed to aviation journals from the west, studying the progress of the variations and applications of these new inventions. Planes and Zeppelins filled his days; brought him peace and hope. He learnt about the first commercial flight; a 23 minute journey from St. Petersburg to Tampa, Florida in the United States. The average earthquake in any given area lasts just over a few seconds, at worst, a couple of minutes. Mr. Murakami fantasized that even if the silly curse did come true by accident, all he needed to do, was be up in the air when it happened to escape it. And so he became obsessed with flying; studied engineering in school which led to a job in the locomotive industry. But he didn’t want to be bolted by tracks to the ground, and so gave that up and studied further about flying contraptions. He became an affiliate writer for a quarterly journal with it’s head office in the UK, whose articles informed readers about many branches of modern technology, aviation being one of them.
Alas, no matter how much he stuffed engines and propellers in his mind, it did nothing to fill his heart. In this regard, he was like other men. Even if he were to confine himself to brothels for the rest of his life, such short lived pursuits had to be balanced by a permanent romantic presence; one cannot be too futuristic when it comes to relationships at least.
Also, his own uncle, now old and widowed, needed looking after. Mr. Murakami could just about provide financially, but domestic nurturing was still a woman’s forte.After many years of his own proposals rejected, and others initial interests towards him dismissed for the same reason: that is, the knowledge of his accursed stature, Mr. Murakami’s uncle finally managed to find a (prospective) alliance: Naomi was supposed to be a pleasant enough looking girl; fortunate enough to be married well, misfortunate enough to do so twice, and despised enough to have lost both her husbands before she turned thirty.
Now, she was Mr. Murakami’s age, but with both her parents still alive, and old, wanting to die in peace. And the only way they could achieve that, was by finding a new husband for their daughter.
Her predicament was similar to Mr. Murakami’s; no one wanted to be married to a woman who was destined to lose her mate. And so, through chit-chat and sighs, it came to be that the two should meet. At worst; they would both be responsible for each other’s deaths, and dying together could be construed as a blessing in itself. Or at best; they would cancel out each other’s precarious fates; be reborn as individuals through their union.
Mr. Murakami’s contemporary sensibilities obviously didn’t conform to these assessments, but he had no option other than to meet her; no one else was willing to meet him.
The afternoon sun was turning stronger, flooding through the windows into the izakaya. The bar was typical of so many like it; constructed of wood inside and out, with a few rising stools placed alongside a tall rustic plank. On the opposite side of the plank, the proprietor, a burly man in his fifties, made small talk with customers, served even smaller drinks, and turned his neck every once in a while to bark a customers order to his wife in the kitchen. ‘Miso Ramen,’ he would scream most often, always sounding angry. Mr. Murakami deduced that the dish was the most popular as three other more frequenting looking customers had ordered it in the short while that he had been there. He still hadn’t seen the owner’s wife’s face, or heard her voice. Whenever an order was ready, an extended arm would hold out the dish through a thick beige cotton curtain, and the owner would grab and serve it to the customer. It was definitely a woman’s arm and hand; thin, hairless and the nails were painted in a garish maroon that appeared to be a lighter tone of the creaky wooden floor. A significant patch of the woman’s kimono sleeve, fell forward, just past her elbow. The instant the owner would grab the dish, the arm would retread back and disappear through the curtain at a gliding angle. The brief sight reminded Mr. Murakami of the Koolhoven F.K.30, a small Dutch sport aircraft that he had written about a year earlier. The woman never shouted back at her husband’s rough bullying. Maybe years of married life had tired her out, and she didn’t have the energy or inclination to even acknowledge him anymore. Mr. Murakami observed all this from one corner of the bar, sitting on a floor mat beside a square table for two people. He was surprised to find himself introspecting over such mundane happenings, to the extent that these new familial thoughts were merging space with his constant daydreaming about planes.
They had decided to meet at mid-day. There was no wall clock in the izakaya, and Mr. Murakami, though somewhat able to afford a watch, had never purchased one, on account of the fact that he didn’t venture out of his home much to meet people for work or socializing. But before he had walked over here, he had observed the grand clock overhead the main entrance of Tokyo Station which had shown that he would comfortably make it to the izakaya, which was a 10 minute walk away, with 5 minutes to spare. Mr. Murakami didn’t claim to be the best estimator of elapsed time, but adjudged that Naomi was at least 30 minutes late by now. He knew this because this was his third cup of green tea. At home, while working, he would never drink more than a cup within a half hour interval. Then again, maybe he was just thirstier today because he was nervous.
Besides himself, there were only two other customers in the izakaya now; both men, much older than Mr. Murakami but still very much in employ based on their demeanor and appearance. They appeared to be salesmen of sorts, but were at the moment discussing the death of Katō Tomosaburō, the Prime Minister who had just a week ago succumbed to colon cancer. He had been prime minister for less than a year and the country was presently without a successor.
A woman in a muted salmon colored kimono with delicate embroidery of branches and leaves appeared before him. ‘Konnichiwa,’ Mr. Murakmai got up and greeted her, immediately deducing it was Naomi.
They sat opposite from each other, exchanging pleasantries. Mr. Murakami tried not to show that he was nervous, but couldn’t help speaking faster than he normally would have.
‘My parent’s tell me you are a writ...’‘Yes,’ Mr. Murakami’s mouth rushed, ‘I write about planes. For a journal.’‘Planes?’
His heart sank. She didn’t know what the word meant. It wasn’t a surprising fact; Japan, despite it’s recent military exploits, was still very cut off with the going ons of the world, and Naomi, like many normal females, wasn’t interested in anything other than being a good wife.
‘Flying machines,’ Mr. Murakami spread both his arms out and made roaring noises from his mouth.
‘Ha ha,’ she laughed and then, immediately covered her mouth with both hands, bowed forward, obviously ashamed with her disrespectful behavior.
‘You have a nice laugh,’ Mr. Murakami appeased.
He poured some tea into her cup and the owner came round to take their order. ‘The miso ramen is supposed to be good here,’ Mr. Murakami suggested his new found knowledge to impress her. ‘We’re all out of Ramen and won’t have a fresh supply of noodles till this evening,’ the owner declared apologetically. The two old salesmen by the bar had apparently ordered from the last remaining batch. ‘Would you like some eel instead?,’ the owner suggested. Mr. Murakami glanced at his date for her to decide; he was a new man; chauvinism belonged in the past.
‘Is it fresh?’ Naomi inquired directly with the owner. ‘Because the last time I ate eel near about this neighborhood, I fell very ill.’
‘I assure you, madam, it is indeed. Just caught this morning.’
Naomi nodded and the owner left them to their company. ‘Odd,’ Mr. Murakami thought to himself. Naomi had been so apologetic for innocently laughing at his joke a few moments ago, but had not exhibited anywhere near the same coyness in interrogating the owner about his produce.
‘Eel for two!’ the owner shouted at his wife through the thick curtains upon returning behind the bar. His own tone too had been much softer while taking the order from the couple. Mr. Murakami deduced that people just interacted differently with one another. He admitted to himself that he was no expert on social skills and left it at that. By his own reasoning of breaking norms, Mr. Murakami assessed that he should be happy about Naomi’s unexpected confidence.
They continued to sip on their teas in their first awkward silence since she had arrived, which trailed Mr. Murakami to another thought: Naomi had not apologized at all for being late. Had not even offered an explanation. Maybe she wasn’t late. But she was. The evidence was there. Mr. Murakami had been consuming his third cup of green tea when she had shown up. Even if he had miscalculated the speed of his own intake, there had been three other customers prior to her arrival in the bar, all of whom had ordered the miso ramen and had already paid and left. Surely, ordering, eating and paying for a whole bowl of steaming noodles in a hot broth took longer than an interval of five minutes. And then there were the two old salesmen in the corner, who were just about getting done with the last bowls of ramen, still discussing the Prime Minister’s premature death. No. Naomi was definitely late. No question about it.
‘What a beautiful day it is outside, no?’ Naomi broke the silence.
‘Yes. Still very warm, though.’
‘Do you prefer winters?’ she inquired.
‘No,’ Mr. Murakami paused before stating further, ‘It’s difficult for planes to take off in harsher climates.’
‘Have you ever been in one?’ she fidgeted with the sleeves of her kimono, probably unsure if the question even made sense.
‘Uh...no,’ Mr. Murakami declared, embarrassed. ‘But hopefully next year at the air show. The magazine I work for has promised to get me an invitation.’
‘Oh, so you intend on doing a lot of traveling?’
‘No. No,’ Mr. Murakami gauged that she was possibly concerned about being left alone. ‘I’m quite a home-body. I don’t even have an office to go to.’
‘I see.’ Another awkward silence passed.
While Naomi tugged at a loose thread on an embroidered branch on her outfit, Mr. Murakami massaged his left heel discreetly with his right hand. At precise intervals that lasted just over a flash of a second, while the other wasn’t looking, each of them would sneak a studied stare; scrutinize the potential life partner.
This is what Mr. Murakami saw: Naomi in a pink kimono that lent a hint of color to her otherwise pale complexion. Or perhaps she had powdered too much for the meeting. Her lips were small for her face, which though not large by any means, exhibited some bloating, especially around the cheeks and under the chin. Oddly, this made her look younger than she was. Her hair was tied up in a bun, safely between typical and fashionable. Her eyes were a dark brown, but glowed amidst the darker wooden floor and walls of the izakaya. She had used (or been made to use by her parents) an abundant amount of mascara as well, but unlike the powder on her skin, this had a positive, illuminating effect. She was by no means, not pretty; but certainly well past her prime. Her feet were hidden; she was sitting with her knees closed together, her buttocks resting on her retracted feet. Her back was upright, without even the slightest hunch. Mr. Murakami had always admired the gracefulness of this posture of Japanese women, whether in person or in an advertisement in the newspaper or whenever he frequented a brothel; his respect even for those women who sold their flesh never wavered, because of the way they sat. At that moment; Naomi in her stilled perfection, reminded him of a grounded AeroA.11 Czech Army air force plane.
What Naomi saw in him; Mr. Murakami didn’t even bother to speculate. He was a man who had grown up without siblings, without many friends and peers, and hence, hadn’t developed the habit of comparing himself to others. He hardly ever looked into the mirror. That is not to say, he was unkempt. He always maintained a clean, reasonably turned out appearance; one that could easily blend into society; be average.
The food arrived; to Mr. Murakami’s surprise, it was a woman ... a very young woman, young enough to still be called a girl. She set the plates of eel on their table. He recognized her to be the same person behind the curtain, always stretching her hand out with the dishes; her faded maroon nail polish now inches from his face.
Even though her Kimono was un-pressed, her cheeks sweaty, and her hair hidden in a tightly tied scarf as she had been slogging away in the kitchen; the girl radiated youthfulness. Compared to Naomi, even though she was elegantly turned out, the server was indisputably much more attractive, and Mr. Murakami made the mistake of staring at her for a second longer. He wasn’t smitten by her, rather, inexplicably intrigued; this young girl couldn’t possibly have been the stoic, middle aged bar owner’s wife, or could she? Perhaps she was his daughter? Or maybe she had run away from home and he had taken pity on her and hired her as a cook?
‘This eel doesn’t look very fresh to me,’ Naomi announced.
The young server was caught off guard by her remark, and just hung her head low, apologetically, afraid to answer back. ‘I’m sure it tastes alright,’ Mr. Murakami said. The girl retreaded back to the other side of the counter and disappeared behind the curtain, as if she had never existed. The owner was still sitting behind the counter and may or may not have heard Naomi’s rebuke. He didn’t react and neither did he even acknowledge the young girl as she passed him on her way to the kitchen.
Mr. Murakami played with a piece of eel, turning it over with his chopstick, pretending to inspect it. He knew Naomi was staring at him, almost angrily for having defended the young server. He didn’t want the meeting to turn into a disaster, and so avoided any confrontation.
The set up was unusual enough; normally, a single man and woman wouldn’t meet like this in a public space on the pretense of getting married, without adult intermediaries. But Mr. Murakami’s and Naomi’s caretakers were now care receivers; and neither of them had close friends who would accompany them on the meeting. Naomi and Mr. Murakami were older, and had to play the part of young people simultaneously, so that they wouldn’t be alone when they were really old.
Thankfully, Naomi softened her stare and began to eat. ‘It’s not bad,’ she admitted. A truce to move forward.
Apart from the flow of bicycles and the occasional motorcar on a wide road a few meters away; the bar remained empty and quiet. The couple didn’t have to worry about strangers eyes judging them. If someone had been observing, it would be easy to suspect by their formal, uncomfortable behavior that the two were having an affair, cheating on their respective spouses. But not even the owner, the only other person in vicinity, bothered. In fact, he was now asleep with his back leaned up on a shelf displaying Saki bottles.
This indifference toward them, though welcome, posed an altogether different problem; the pressure of being the only two people in the world, and with it, the need to impress one another, to validate their individual existence for the other. At least that’s how Mr. Murakami approached it. It made him lose his appetite. He played longer with the food before taking the next bite.
‘Do you have any hobbies?’ Naomi asked, who was by now, halfway through her own meal.
‘You mean, besides planes?’
‘Isn’t that your work?’ Naomi gave a confused look.
Mr. Murakami had never thought about planes as work. They were a passion. And if necessary; they would be his rescue from the perceived curse of perishing. But she was right, at the most practical level; he earned a living by studying and writing about them.
‘No, not really,’ Mr. Murakami admitted. ‘Planes and looking after my uncle take up most of my time. What about you?’
‘Before I got married for the first time, I used to collect stamps. But my husband found it wasteful, so I stopped. But after he died. I began to collect them again. That is until I got married again.’
‘What did your first husband do if I may ask?’
‘He was a junior postmaster at the post office. He died while working late one evening when the mailroom caught fire.’
Mr. Murakami imagined Naomi’s first husband was a practical sort; dissuading her from collecting stamps when they should be used only for mailing letters. Mr. Murakami also estimated that Naomi kept the memory of her first husband alive by collecting stamps again until her second marriage. He didn’t know what it must feel like to give up something in life, twice.
‘It’s sad whenever I think about it,’ Naomi went on. ‘All the mail that got destroyed in the fire; birthday greetings, death notices, familial gossip, confessions of love ... all the communication that makes up lives.’
Mr. Murakami smiled. Didn’t say anything. Naomi obviously must have grieved the loss of her first husband for a long time. And after that, the grief must have been so overwhelming to remain in one place; it had extended to the letters that had incinerated along with her husband.
‘And what about your second husband?’ Mr. Murakami changed the subject without really changing it.
Naomi placed her chopsticks on her plate and rested her hands on her knees as if becoming a different person to speak about her second life partner.
‘He was actually younger than my first husband. Worked for the railways as an engineer. After our second anniversary, he received a promotion. His boss took him out for dinner to a nice restaurant where they serve Fugu, the puffer fish. Unfortunately, the chef made a mistake and didn’t remove the poisonous part carefully. Both my husband and his boss ate the fish, but only my husband was unlucky enough to consume the poison.’
Mr. Murakami stared at his mostly uneaten eel; and in a whiff of solidarity, began eating it, taking in piece after piece, to show that he cared.
‘It’s not bad, isn’t it?’ Naomi observed him eating. His gesture was obviously lost upon her.
‘Yes,’ Mr. Murakami agreed. ‘I’m sure you won’t fall ill this time.’
‘What do you mean?’ Naomi was perplexed.
‘Didn’t you say you fell ill the last time you ate eel near abut this area?’
‘No,’ Naomi stated casually. ‘Actually, I have a very strong stomach.’
Naomi hadn’t recalled what she had said to the young girl serving. Mr. Murakami was certain about this much at least. Even if she wasn’t late (which he was still sure that she was), she was most definitely lying now. And badly at that. How could he spend the rest of his life with a woman, who lied about something so insignificant as a food ailment on their first meeting. That also, to spite a woman much younger ... and much more attractive than herself. Mr. Murakami was disgusted.
‘Would you like anything else?’ he signaled for the check.
Naomi’s brown eyes lit up, shocked at her date’s abrupt action.
‘No,’ she declared while Mr. Murakami waved his hand incessantly, unsuccessfully trying to wake the sleeping owner behind the bar.
‘Excuse me,’ Mr. Murakami yelled out, which simultaneously awakened the owner and made the young girl reappear through the curtains again. Mr. Murakami smiled at the girl and gestured with his hands for the check at her instead of the owner. The young girl looked at the owner, who screamed ‘hurry up,’ back at her.
Naomi folded her arms defiantly and looked out past the window at nothing in particular on the near empty street outside. Mr. Murakami didn’t care. In the 20 odd minutes that he had spent next to Naomi, he knew he didn’t want to extend them to a lifetime. In hindsight, he was thankful that she had come late. He didn’t want to be her new husband; didn’t want to give up on his old self. Not with her.
And then he shuddered immediately. Because he was still staring at the curtain; Mr. Murakami thought it was Naomi, with her already exhibited bout of temper, who had poured the green tea from her cup onto his lap, drenching his pants in the most conspicuous of places at that. He immediately pulled out a handkerchief from his pocket and gave Naomi an accusatory look while patting the stain dry. But Naomi wasn’t angry anymore. She didn’t even make eye contact; just stared at his crotch, astounded by what had happened.
Only when the still half full jug of green tea on the table turned completely over to the side, like a person fainting suddenly, was it clear: it was the start of an earthquake. The liquid instantly covered the table like a cloak and spilled over on Mr. Murakami’s side, completely drenching his pants and the handkerchief he was using to dry the earlier spot.
‘Ahhh!’ Naomi arose from her seated position; the last and only thing Mr. Murakami could have still admired about her.
‘Quick. Let’s get out of here!’
But aside from shifting brought on by evading still dripping tea from the table, Mr. Murakami didn’t rise up to his feet.
‘I have to pay the bill.’
‘Are you crazy?’ Naomi barked. ‘Even the owner’s fled.’
Mr. Murakami turned his eyes to where the owner had done his napping and screaming. She was right. He was gone. He must have lived through one of these before, and knew that a decrepit, wooden old bar with low ceilings wasn’t the ideal place to hide in an earthquake. The fact was obvious enough not to bother his only customers at the time to pay up before they left, or even need to inform them that it would be alright if they just ran for their lives. But Mr. Murakami stayed put.
‘Hurry up!’ Naomi had already made it to the front entrance; a doorway that was covered by a curtain to keep the suns hot rays out at that hour.
‘But the girl from the kitchen might still bring the bill ...’ Mr. Murakami spoke loudly on account of the sounds that began filling the room: gas lamps, sake bottles, framed pictures of the emperor, all crashed onto the floor. The soaked cushion Mr. Murakami was sitting on, began levitating, as if he were on a flying carpet.
Naomi gave him a final look of scorn and bewilderment. Maybe she herself couldn’t decide which was more appropriate, and rushed out, where the sounds were becoming louder. Screams of people running, falling from bicycles, colliding with each other, with other falling objects much heavier than themselves. Screams: thunders of fear. Sawdust began to drizzle from the wooden arches on the ceiling onto Mr. Murakami’s shirt. Creaks of the volatile restaurant were growing louder, matching up to the wails of babies outside. The two old salesmen, the ones who ate the last of the ramen batch, would be back at work, debating the consequences of what could happen when a country experiences the void of a prime minister: the ground takes his place.
Mr. Murakami fell over in trying to keep his balance as the cushion from underneath him too tried to escape. He sat back down again, and remained still as best as he could. He broke free from the shaking, the noises outside by staring at the cheap curtain behind the counter. Despite it’s thickness and weight, it too was flapping erratically, shedding itself off dust that had pierced it over the years. Mr. Murakami hadn’t seen the young girl come out of the kitchen. But he hadn’t seen the owner flee either. Maybe there was an exit from behind the kitchen and the girl and owner had already escaped from there. But he thought: she was a girl from a small town, the kind of girl who didn’t answer back to a boss’s non stop yelling, the kind of girl who dared not to even correct an unreasonable customer like Naomi, the kind of girl who didn’t need well manicured nails to hang onto her femininity. That kind of girl, would surely, no matter what the circumstances, would eventually bring out the bill for the customer to pay. And she would be impressed, by Mr. Murakami, a true gentleman. She would ask him his name. He would get to hear her still unheard voice; be lucky enough to do so. And one day, high above the clouds, he would finally be inside a plane, with her by his side. She would be the new in his empty life, become a part of him. Just like Tokyo would too, rebuild, apply a new face of itself in the near future. Hopefully. The lines on the wooden floor beneath Mr. Murakami began to disappear, cracking, shards of wooden planks started to rise up. Mr. Murakami held onto his wallet, waiting ... unable to act; to choose between life and death, between old and new.BW
Gotham Mamik's short stories have appeared in a variety of literary journals.
He is currently based in New York.