ShutUp30.12: A Matter of Perspective

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Denny’s, Sunday. Suzuki-san, Hiromi-chan and the kids. Daddy is nowhere to be seen.

The kids hardly see their dad these days. Most mornings I’m unsure whether he’s even been home. If he does warm his side of the bed for a few hours, it’s cooled again by the time the sun comes up. How easily we slipped into being mum and dad.

“Mama! Mamaaaa!” Mi-chan shouts, at exactly the pitch and volume that somehow plugs straight into my nerves. She’s coloured in a picture of a wiener on legs that comes with the kid’s meal. She’s coloured the wiener green. “Cute!” I say, in chorus with the other mums.

Across the restaurant from us, there’s a couple. Japanese guy, Western female. She’s tall and leggy, with brutally cropped hair, and hasn’t made much of an effort to look feminine. He’s tall – very tall, for a Japanese man – and wearing dark jeans and a dark sweater, the kind of clothes you’d wear to commit a highly visible crime.

They’re clearly a couple. They clearly spent the night together. But there’s an absence hanging over the table – of energy, of flirtation, or comfort. Neither looks happy. They look like they’re each tired of not being happy. There’s a sadness clinging to the corners of her smile, a resignation in their playfulness.

“Waaaaah!” says Yu-kun, Suzuki-san’s younger boy. He’s somehow slipped down into the high chair, to the point where the plastic cuts into his legs, and is kicking wildly. It’s only driving him further down, which is winding him up further. The volume increases and we three mums crowd over him, smiling broadly, coaxing soothingly.

By the time he quiets down, somehow, their relationship is over.

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Discovery

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A child is crying,
unknown, unnamed, unconstrained –
cutting between us.

Couple

cc by Ramon Peco via Flickr

CaBloWriMo: A Beautiful Friendship

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He’d stuck to her from the off, mirroring every movement, like the magazines told you he would. For week after week, she couldn’t go anywhere without him somehow turning up and working his way steadily across the room until he was across from her, eyes fixed on hers, predatory. She was unsure whether to be flattered or terrified.

One time, he came cycling with her and a couple of friends, except that he didn’t have a bicycle. He’d spent a year in the French military, he said as he kept pace with her effortlessly, officer class. She cycled faster, giggling as she left him behind, feeling elated. It rained, and his shirt stuck to his chest in a way that did things to her body that alarmed her.

He’d become progressively less charming as their lives had become more entwined. Most of what she said seemed to cause offence, and her protests turned him to stone. As they teetered together on the brink, it came to seem so much easier to keep her feelings to herself. When anybody asked, she told them everything was great and that she couldn’t be happier.

And so when he asked her to marry him, that’s what she told him too.

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