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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

This is my first attempt at writing prose. Some of the characters' names are from Haruki Murakami's books because he was a huge inspiration.

Submitted: July 09, 2018

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Submitted: July 09, 2018



Nana sat on the edge of her bed and mindlessly dipped a chocolate glazed waffle in unsweetened coffee.

She had been living in one of Kyoto’s better coffin apartment communities for two years. Better meant that her room had a bed, a small table where she could improvise a cooking center and a closet.

Every morning, Nana would wake up at exactly six thirty, eat breakfast, shower and head off to work. She worked in a high-rise office building in the center of Kyoto as a data entry specialist, meaning that she spent most of her time typing numbers. She earned an average salary, which could have payed for a decently sized room in a shared flat, but the coffin apartment suited her better. She had been working there for exactly two years, from the moment when she decided to break ties with her family and everyone else.

She never tried to make any new friends at work and most of her colleagues stopped trying to talk to her as well. She liked it this way. As far as she was concerned, living was like quicksand. The more you move, the faster it swallows you and you suffocate.

Nana had loved once, but soon discovered that romance is the most dangerous kind of quicksand. It tricks you into thinking that if you sink deep enough, you might end up somewhere else, somewhere better, but it’s still mud. It clogs your lungs and blurrs your sight. Not living meant that she could be free and see everything clearly. Right now, her life was as eventless as it could get and it was everything she had ever wished for: to occupy as little space as possible, to be able to breathe.

But as much as she tried, she could not become completely invisible. Every morning, when she left for work, Nana found Oishi, her next door neighbour, waiting for her in front of the apartment complex. From there he would walk with her to the bus station. It was a strange ritual neither of them had agreed to.

Oishi was tall and had a slender build. Even though he was in his mid-forties and had wrinkles around his eyes, his appearance was still youthful. Nana did not talk much in his presence, but he didn’t seem bothered. He would chatter nothings about the economy, politics and football. He worked odd jobs in order to pay rent and feed himself. Although he spoke a lot, Nana knew nothing about his past.

But one day Oishi didn’t greet her. Nana didn’t put much thought into it. In fact, she was quite pleased to be walking by herself. At work, no one said anything to her, not even Sala who would sometimes offer her Tic Tacs. Nothing was out of the ordinary, not at all,  but by lunch time, Nana was taken over by a feeling of uneasiness that she couldn’t quite shake off until the end of the day.  

Nana decided to walk home and stop at her favourite noodle place, hoping to put her thoughts behind her. As usual, the place was really crowded, but for some reason Nana started feeling uncomfortable, as though she was standing in someone’s way, like she did back in college during those awkward home parties her classmates sometimes threw.  She didn’t even wait for Mr. Tabata to take her order and left.

She stopped outside and called Frog, Mr. Tabata’s cat, but the damn thing didn’t even bother to look in her direction. What a stupid, ungrateful creature, she thought. That’s why no one likes cats. To make matters worse, as she was crossing the street, a black Honda almost ran her over. At that point, she started to wonder if she had indeed become invisible.

It was seven-firty when Nana got home. She found Oishi smoking a cigarette, sitting on the sidewalk next to the building. The light from the street lamp fell bright on his bony face when he lifted his eyes. He looked sad.

”Do you want one?” Oishi asked in a sullen voice , and took out the pack of cigarettes from his shirt pocket.

Nana pulled out a cigarette, lit it and sat herself next to him.  She had never seen him like that.

”My wife said that living with me was like living with a ghost,” he went on. ”She could see right through me. It’s true, I guess, I didn’t give her anything. I didn’t have anything to give. I’m like smoke. One day I will evaporate in mid-air and no one will even notice.”

It was the fist time that Nana felt a certain ”something” as she was talking to Oishi: a sadness deep down, so heavy that she couldn’t even lift herself up.  She felt sorry for dismissing him for so long, she didn’t know what to say to him now.  

”I think you and I are alike, what do you say?” Oishi asked.

Wrapped in the smell of the tobacco, Nana closed her eyes. Chills ran through her body. We are indeed alike, she thought. Perhaps I too am like smoke and one day I will evaporate. She had long wished for such a faith, to disappear without a trace. 

Nana opened her eyes and looked at her feet. She could clearly see her reflexion in the moonlit pavement. She could see Oishi’s as well and she was glad.

”Oishi, tell me, who won last night’s match?” Nana asked and pulled out another cigarette.

© Copyright 2019 Iuliana Mindru. All rights reserved.

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