Anyways, our relationship could very easily have gone the other direction.

Do you really think it went in the “right” direction? After all, it wasan affair.

It felt right at the time. It was the best I could hope for, considering the circumstances. The alternative would have been to spend another summer like the previous one, hanging out at bars or clubs, trying to seduce a stranger.

You didn’t?

Well . . . that’s another story, but for the most part, no, I didn’t.

For the most part?

Okay, I did on occasion go out drinking with friends.


I sometimes got lucky.

So, you were cheating on the woman you were cheating with. Kind of like picking the pocket of the person you’re robbing a bank with.

It’s a bit more complicated than that.


Kei was also seeing another person, that doctor. The affair had started shortly before she got married when . . . 

She had suddenly become “terribly attracted” to men.

Yeah . . . Kei had told me about the doctor months before our own little indiscretion began.

Let me get this straight. While she’s holding up the bank, she also picking the pocket of her partner in crime. Later, as she’s sharing the loot with you, you help yourself to the bills in her purse . . .

Something like that. It’s known as an “open relationship”.

Open to all kinds of diseases more like. You would think a nurse of all people would be more careful, wouldn’t you?

Yes, well, anyways . . . as I was saying, Kei and I became very close that summer meeting two or three times a week, taking daytrips.

Where would you go?

Onsen mostly.

Excuse me?

Hot springs. Onsen are hot spring baths.


Not long after you got back together with Akané, you started dating Haruka again, didn’t you?

I did, yes.

So, could you tell me what that was all about, Peadar?

Haruka wrote me a beautiful, heartfelt letter.

A letter? Oh, that’s right, this was way back in the Nineties. An age when the coke-fired blast furnace and steam engine held great promise for the future of industry . . .

May I continue?

By all means.

After Haruka and I had broken up, she traveled to the U.S. with a friend of hers—this was the same friend, mind you, who had at the very beginning asked me what I thought about Haruka, the one who had encouraged us to go out on that first date. That friend would get married to an American, by and by, and move to Texas with him where they would start a family.

That’s nice.

It is. It is. They’re still married today and have something like five children.


So, I agreed to meet Haruka. And when we got together I found her to be so sincere in her . . . I don’t know what to call it. “Love” seems too strong a word; “admiration”, too controlled . . .

Her “feelings”?

Yeah . . . Haruka was so sincere in her feelings for me that I didn’t have the heart to tell her that it was over.

How considerate of you, Peadar.

Well, that “consideration” had me dating the two of them for the next twelve months.

How do you think you managed not to get caught again?

I was more careful . . . Busier, too.


I had decided to enroll in the graduate program at Geikōdai, Kyūshū University’s School of Design, and was busy preparing for the entrance exam which was held the following winter. The two of them respected that and gave me the space I needed.

Well, wasn’t that convenient?