Why do you think your relationship with Kei would last as long as it did?



Yes, instability. Uncertainty. Unpredictability. All those “ins” and “uns” that are like fuel to a fire. Although Kei and I met regularly—about once a week, sometimes more—there was never any guarantee that at the end of a date we would end up rolling in the sack. Most often we did not. A typical date, if you could call it that, involved the two of us walking in the evening under the branches of the willow trees along Meiji Avenue, talking about life. But every once in a while—usually when the imo jōchū [1] with umeboshi [2] she liked to drink went to her head—Kei would cuddle up next to me, rest that fragrant head of hers on my shoulder, and let me kiss her. The world could burn down around us and I wouldn’t have cared at all. It was that very unpredictability—not knowing when or where we would have sex again—that drove me mad with desire. It might be this afternoon; it might be two months from now; it might be at my home, in a dark alley, at a love hotel, or, yes, even on the deck of a yacht moored in the wharf at Minato. I would never know until she was lying naked below me, nipples like radio dials pointing upwards. The woman was as inscrutable as they come. And it was that very inscrutability, that unpredictability, which fired me up so and gave the relationship far more life than it would have everhad if Kei had just allowed me to get bored with what an easy a lay she actually was.

Excuse me?

I think Kei in her own way was forever trying to put the brakes on the relationship, to stop cheating on her husband—a man she really did intend to stay with until death did they part. But, by being inconsistent with her affection towards me she only succeeded in throwing fuel onto the fire. If we’d had a “normal” affair with regular sex, we probably wouldn’t have stayed together for nearly as long as we did.


[1] Imo jōchū (芋焼酎) is a clear, pungent liquor distilled from sweet potatoes. It is produced mainly in southern Kyūshū.

 Umeboshi (梅干し) are sour pickled plums.

The first installment/chapter of A Woman's Hand can be found here.

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