The Linnet's Wings Summer 2014 - Page 32

in the morning there was no one there to watch the store. My eyes told me the obvious: things were unruly! But my head couldn’t believe it. As I started to walk the city, I recognized immediately that things were very different from Iojima, the resort island I often visited. The streets were empty. There was no elaborate hotel resort to greet me. Instead, I found a place with small houses that was nearly deserted. Not everyplace was falling apart or in disarray. There seemed to be pockets of resistance. There was a brand new, almost gaudy, if small, athletic facility with a pool and spa not too far from the port building. My guess was that this was one last attempt by the city to keep the island from dying out. Just past it though was an apartment building that was falling apart. My first thought was that the building was condemned. From where I stood in the street I could see though that there were clothes hanging off two of the windows. Out of about thirty apartments only two seemed to be inhabited. The thought briefly crossed my mind that the two residents could be squatters. But for some reason the thought of squatters in Japan seemed too far fetched. I stared at the balconies for a long time. Finally someone came out onto one of them. * I had come to the island to refresh my senses, to give myself a new sense of purpose, and to overcome the onus of the middle—chapter three of my novel. I hated the middle. That was where things could all go wrong. No one was on the beach when I arrived. I was by myself except for a small bulldozer that was abandoned for the moment. It was there to move the sand. My best guess was that the sand was brought from someplace else to the island in order to make the beach more tourist friendly. Soon the tourists would come, I guessed. Perhaps on a weekend the sons and daughters who lived on the mainland would come to visit their parents and other elders and bring boxed lunches. They would take turns going into the water and seeing how long they could hold their breath. I left my backpack on the beach and hoped that nobody would steal it. I dove into the cool crisp water. The ocean was deeper, clearer than Iojima. It was also full of beautiful tropical fish of different colors. My favorite was the small fluorescent blue fish that hung out around the rocks. In the ocean by myself, with all the fish, I began to think how strange and lonely my journey had been that summer. Most of the friends I had worked with over the years in Nagasaki had recently left. Now some of my most magical moments were alone in the ocean. My dreams of snorkeling and working on my novel had made me the loneliest person in the world. It occurred to me that maybe there was something there—that this should be part of my novel somehow. I thought about how this loneliness looked, smelled, tasted. There was purity to it. But that purity was not without its costs. How many years could I spend like this, by myself, on weekdays, working on my novel, having adventures by myself? Could I squat in one of the abandoned apartments and live outside of time, outside of control? Could I live in an unruly Japan only I knew about? Could I live in chapter three for the rest of my life? I thought about these questions, and I looked at the fish. They sat there content, not doing anything, occasionally swimming in circles. Yes, I would be on chapter three for the rest of my life, swimming in circles. Or I would not. There was no way to split the difference. *