11. Shut Out

The next morning, you slept in late. There was no freshly made coffee waiting in the kitchen, no friendly conversation. When you did wake up, you were . . . well, not exactly cold, but not very warm, either. You kept your distance from me; your smile seemed somewhat forced; there was parsimony in your words. I don’t mean to say that you were behaving like a woman scorned, but the change in your demeanor, however subtle, was palpable. The spell had been broken.

If I could have, I would have rewound the clock and returned to the engawa with your head resting on my lap, my hand on your breast, and I would have kissed you. But what was done, or rather the undone could not now be done. I had missed my chance; the door was shut.

When I got home later in the afternoon, my wife asked me how the “camp” had gone.

“Alright, I guess,” I said with a shrug. “I probably won’t do it next year, though.”

“Oh? Did something happen?”

“No. I just need a break from it all.”


True to my word, I wouldn’t hold the camp the following year. I wouldn’t take students anywhere, either, unless I absolutely had to. There wasn’t much use in it. For me at least, there wasn’t. I knew it just wouldn’t compare to the experience I’d had with you and your cohort. I knew it would be futile trying to rekindle the enthusiasm you had brought into it. The spark had been snuffed out.