It was in the middle of May of 1997 and you hadn’t seen Akané for over a month when you called her to say that there was something you needed to talk about.

Now that Haruka had agreed to marry me, it was time I faced up to what I’d been avoiding.

You think?

But how do you let someone down easy?

Tell them you just want to be friends?

Oh, and that always works wonders.

The next day Akané came over to your apartment. She was happy to see you, but a little worried, too. As she sat down on the sofa next to you, she glanced about furtively to see if there were any signs of another woman in your life, but found none.



“What is the matter, Darling?”



Darling. She always called me “darling”. I can’t hear that goddamn word anymore without being reminded of Akané.



“Darling? You wanted to talk?”

And I begin: “I do, but it isn’t easy to say.”

Understatement of the Year.

“The thing is,” I say. “I can’t see you anymore.”

And Akané jumps up off of the sofa, runs into the kitchen, takes the kitchen knife off of the counter, and makes a lunge at me.



Thank God, I had joined the Aikidō Club at the university, otherwise that knife would have gone right into my belly. I was able to push her aside and she went crashing to the floor, but the knife was still in her hand. She sat up and tried to slit her own wrist instead, but I managed to get to the knife first, pry it from her hand, and toss it across the room.

You would hold Akané tightly in your arms, and as she sobbed for the next hour, you would tell her over and over that you weren’t worth it.

It was true: I wasn’t worth her tears. I wasn’t worth her sadness.

What did you think would become of Akané?

I figured she would be lonely for a time, but would eventually find someone better, someone with whom she could make new memories to replace the ones she had made with me. Time really does heal, after all.

You were living proof of that.

I was, indeed.

Time, however, wouldn’t be quite the panacea for Akané that it had been for you now, would it?