by T Daniel Clausen he universe is rolling back in on itself. Somehow, the universe, ambitious and apt to slip into speculative bubbles, had gone too far—and then, realizing its mistake, had stopped, debated its condition and realized that it needed to go back. Now it was slowly creeping back into itself. Inch by inch, it was excruciating. There was nothing easy about this diminishing. The expansion part had been easy. But now the diminishing, the folding back in on itself part, would be a painful ordeal. In the midst of all of this, I am certain of only one thing—it is difficult to write a feeling. In fact, it’s the hardest thing to do. To turn a lump of sensations and happenings into a narrative whose coherence flips the world and exposes its underside is no easy thing to do at any age. In r eality, things are never so clear as they appear at the end of a story, and the reality of that summer day in 2008, when I was 26, is that there is no story—not yet—just that feeling. The feeling that the world was trying to become more manageable, and that horrible things were occurring in order to accomplish this. A small island in Japan and I were/ are both part of the same story, but I doubt I have the narrative skill to tell you how. * By the time I made my way from my girlfriend’s house to the port building on Nagasaki Bay my back was already sticky with sweat. My T-shirt clung to my body from the fifteen minute bike ride. Even at 9 am in the morning the summer sun was hot enough to exhaust me. At 26, I was really a confused teenager, but I knew one thing: I was going to Takashima. In reality, even this much had yet to be decided, but since this has all happened before—and in some ways is all happening still—then perhaps it is enough to say that the mountain spirits of Nagasaki had already conspired to make it happen. Who was I at that moment in time? It’s hard to say. The particulars come through clear enough, even if they don't automatically make sense. I was an ex-English teacher, still living in Japan, unemployed temporarily (that is another story). I was waiting for my life to catch up with me. That or my life had passed me by—one of those two. I'm not sure if who I was had any bearing on why I was the one to find this place, Takashima. Perhaps it did. I was doing two things with my days. I was working on a novel and preparing for my comprehensive exam for my online graduate degree. I was also doing a third thing. I was waiting for things to work out. My girlfriend was Japanese, my career prospects were in the US, and I was getting lost. On this day, protected from the hot summer sun, I was waiting in a port to go on an excursion to one of the islands just off the coast of Nagasaki.