How was life now that Haruka was back?

To be honest, it was kind of a relief having her back.

A relief?

At first, yes. We still fought, of course. Bickered about trivial things day-in, day-out, but there was a comfortable predictability in all of it.

You really are a glutton for punishment, Peadar.

Perhaps, yes. But, in spite of my wife’s other faults, no one ever lavished souvenirs on me quite like Haruka would in those days. 


I’ll never forget the hundred-dollar bottle of Reserva de la Familia Cuervo she gave me that year. It became my new standard for tequila.

Something to numb you with then.

It helped.

But then the novelty of Haruka being around started to wear off, didn’t it?

A bottle of tequila only lasts so long.

And Xiuying called, asking if you’d like to have dinner.

I don’t know if it is a Chinese thing, or just Xiuying, but from then on whenever I approached her she would pull back, and whenever I retreated, she would strike. Anyways, Xiuying and I met in town and when I asked what she was hungry for, she said, “You!” So, we skipped dinner altogether and headed to the nearest “rabuho” where we screwed like cats for the next four hours.

Xiuying had gotten divorced by then, hadn’t she?

Yeah, and had gotten her permanent residence visa, too, which got me thinking: if a Chinese woman with a loser for a husband could get it, then, by gum, I so could I!

Boys, be ambitious!

Yes, well, speaking of ambition, Xiuying was working for what the Japanese call a “shōsha”,[1] a trading company, during the day to learn the business and build contacts, and in the evenings and on weekends she was building her own business. She had become increasingly independent and confident. Success was not a matter of if but how soon. As I lay next to her, I liked to think that I had something to do with . . . 

You? You think youhad a hand at Xiuying’s success, Peadar?

Well, I . . . 

You had nothing to do with it whatsoever, Peadar. Xiuying would succeed in spite ofyou, not thanks to you.

You’re probably right.


You are right.

And Xiuying would end up being as unreliable a lover to you as you had been to her.

She could be frustratingly unpredictable, but then I probably deserved it.


I deserved it.

Peadar, I think there’s hope for you, yet.

[1]A shōsha (商社) is a trading company. Many wholesalers in Japan will import goods through shōsha rather than import the products themselves to avoid all the hassles involved in bringing foreign products or commodities to Japan.

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

A Woman's Hand and other works are available in e-book form and paperback at Amazon.


I suppose it’s only natural that you would start thinking about Akané, again. After all, your Chinese “friend” wouldn’t let you crack open her fortune cookie, so to speak, and the girls at the Happy Cock weren’t interested in your . . . ahem, and Nahoko had the good sense to run as far away from you as possible . . .


So, two weeks before your wife is scheduled to return, you start asking around about Akané.

It wasn’t like that at all.

How was it then, Peadar?

I went to a bar . . .

Happy Cock, again?


The Crazy Cock?[1]


The Monstrously Huge Cock?

Oh, for the love of God!

I’m sorry. I couldn’t help myself. 

I went to Off Broadway.

Another gaijin bar.

Yes, another gaijin bar. A friend of mine named Stanley worked the kitchen there.



As I’m sitting at the counter eating a burger, Stanley emerges from the kitchen, wiping his meaty hands on his apron, and says, “Hey, Peadar, how’s it going?”

“Meh . . .”

“Your girlfriend was in here the other day.”

“My girlfriend?” I’m not sure who Stanley is talking about.


“Oh, right. That girlfriend,” I say, a wistful smile on my face. “She come here often?”

“Off and on.”

And though I would rather not know, I can’t keep myself from asking: “Alone?”

“Akané Alone? Hah! That girl may arrive alone, but she never leaves this joint that way.”

And the wistful smile drops from my face . . .

Stanley continues: “Akané was in here a few weeks ago. Sitting exactly where you are now, Peadar. And this big black guy—must have been twice her height and five times her weight—he had his hands down the front of her shirt, pawing the girl like he was shopping for avocadoes, and Akané was laughing like it was the funniest thing in the world. They left together and a few nights later she came back and she said, ‘His chimpoko[2]was this big!’ Well, I don’t know how the guy could have ever got a cock that big inside her, she’s so tiny.”

. . . and is replaced by chagrin.

“Get this,” Stanley says with a playful grin. “I asked Akané why she keeps sleeping with all these black guys, and you know what she tells me? She whines, ‘How else will I ever forget Peadar?’”



And that, Peadar, was the end of your long-anticipated Summer of Love.

Yeah . . . A week later Haruka returned.


[1]The Crazy Cockwas one of three popular clubs run by an English expat in the late 90s and early “Naughties”. The businesses were eventually sold to others, and while The Happy Cock retained its name for a while, The Crazy Cock located on Oyafukō-dōriis now called Fubar.

[2]Older Japanese slang for “cock”. 

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

A Woman's Hand and other works are available in e-book form and paperback at Amazon.


Tell me about Nahoko.

Nahoko was the friend of a friend of a friend, or something like that. A large group of my own friends and hers were out drinking at a gaijinbar when we met. She was only nineteen years old at the time, a college student, but was working part-time as the receptionist at an English conversation school in town. Diminutive, with a peaches and cream complexion, she reminded me somewhat of a purer, younger version of Akané and I couldn’t help being drawn to her. The two of us chatted, she laughed and touched my arm, I took her hand, we leaned into each other, and just as we were about to start kissing, her co-worker, a woman a little older than myself, came to the rescue, saying it was past Nahoko’s bedtime.

And that, was it?

No. Nahoko and I exchanged e-mail addresses and, after mailing each other a few times over the next few days, agreed to go out on a date the following weekend. The problem was, her co-worker insisted upon playing the role of chaperone. Who was I to protest? So, the three of us had dinner together and went to see the movie “Shakespeare in Love”. When the movie ended, I expected “Auntie” to tell me that it was time once again for Nahoko to be going home. To my surprise, however, she bid the two of us a hasty adieu, and split.

Not much of a chaperone, was she?

I suspect that Nahoko had initially requested her co-worker to join us, just to be on the safe side, but now that she was ready to be alone with me had signaled to her friend to make herself scarce.

And now that her friend was gone, you asked Nahoko if she wanted to come back to your place?

Of course, . . . At my apartment, I carried her petite body from the entrance of my apartment straight to the bedroom, lay her gently down on the futon, and in the warm light of a paper lantern undressed her, slowly removing each piece of clothing . . . I’ll never forget her skin—so soft and not a blemish on it. After we made love the first time, Nahoko asked me if she made me feel young. 




“Young?” I reply. “You make me feel reborn.”

And as we are lying side by side, I tell her I have to confess something. She places her hand on my lips and says: “I already know.”

“Who told you?”

“Your friend. He told my coworker, and she . . .”

“I’m sorry.”

“Don’t be.”

“It was never my intention to deceive you.”

“It’s okay,” she replies and then says something that catches me off guard: “I know the Rules of Illicit Love.”



Awfully mature thing for a nineteen-year-old to say.

That’s what I thought. But before I could ask what those rules were, she climbed up on top of me and we started to go at it again, which had a way of pushing all the questions out of my head. By the time I fell asleep, I was convinced that Nahoko and I would be together for months, if not years, and I took much comfort in the idea that even if conjugal bliss eluded me, I would still be able to find affection outside of marriage.

But then you woke up.

Yes, and Nahoko was gone.

Were you surprised?

No. Japanese girls often sneak off once their boyfriends have gone to sleep; they have to hurry home before their parents wake up and realize how late they’ve been out. Akané used to do it all the time. That, at least, is what I had thought Nahoko had done. So, I got up and went to the kitchen to make myself some tea and there on the dining room table I found a letter: “Dear Peadar, I really, really, really like you, but . . . I can’t do this. I’m not strong enough . . .”

Tagged out at home plate.

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

A Woman's Hand and other works are available in e-book form and paperback at Amazon.


What did you think your summer would be like with your wife Haruka away?

Frankly speaking, I thought I’d be able to screw as many girls as I liked without the hassle of having to sneak about. Without Haruka around, I would be able to mail women without her looking over my shoulder and go out on dates without having to worry about my cellphone ringing.

You wanted, in essence, to pretend that you were single again.

It is the next best thing to being single.

Why not just get divorced?

Looking back, I probably should have. Many friends told me that it would only get harder to break up the longer I waited, and they were right. Trouble is, I didn’t quite have confidence I would be able to land on my feet. Besides, I needed to focus first and foremost on my career.

And you did that by sleeping with as many girls as you liked?

Yes . . . I mean, no. The women were . . . a distraction.


From the loneliness that was gnawing at me.


I’ve always been a lonely person. Many people think that because I often spend time alone, I’m a loner, but nothing could be further from the truth: I crave to be with people. I don’t necessarily need to be the center of attention, but I do like to be surrounded by people.

Why do you think so?

I think it has something to do with growing up in a large family and being at the bottom of the totem pole, so to speak. I was called the “Baby of the Family” as if I were babied, but the fact of the matter is, the lower you are on that totem pole the less of your parents’ tender loving care you receive. 


Listen: when the first child trips and falls, the parents scoop the child up into their arms and comfort it. The second child gets a hug and some encouragement. The third, a pat on the head. The fourth is told to walk it off. The fifth gets scolded for making so much goddamn noise.

And the sixth?

He’s told he’ll be given something to really cry about if he doesn’t stop crying right this second.

It must be terrible to be the seventh child.

Oh, the seventh child has it easy: the parents are so tired of raising children by then that he usually gets forgotten or neglected. Neglect would have been like a walk in the park on a sunny afternoon compared to what I had to contend with as a child.

Such as?

Older brothers showing their fraternal affection through the administration of the daily Wedgie, Titty-Twister, Wet Willy, and other indignities. So, as a consequence of the mild neglect of my parents and quotidian physical and emotional abuse by siblings I developed this inclination for melancholy and loneliness.

Has sleeping around ever helped?

Helped what?

Tame that gnawing loneliness.

Gabriel García Márquez wrote that . . . 

Gabo again?

He is the Maestro, after all. Gabriel García Márquez wrote that there was no place in life sadder than an empty bed.[1]

Oh? I can think of places that are worse.

A tad hyperbolic, perhaps, but true, nonetheless. My bed today is far from empty—three young boys sleeping between my wife and me, tangled limbs and leaking diapers and I’m constantly rolling over onto Tomica die-cast cars, Legoblocks, and Kamen Riderblasters—and I couldn’t be happier. When my second son woke the other night to find his younger brother sleeping on my chest he cried, “No! No! No! My Daddy! My Daddy!” Now that I think about it, I haven’t felt lonely or sad since I became a father five years ago. Am I tired? Yes. Woozy from sleep deprivation? Yes! But lonely or sad? No, not at all. As for the sleeping around helping, I would have to say, no, it did not help.

I could have told you that, of course, but why do you think it didn’t?

Because what I was really after was not so much the act of making love—I wanted that, yes—but I wanted more: a sense that I was loved, loved for who I was, flaws and all . . . I often joke that what men and women want is usually in conflict: namely, men don’t want their women to change; they want them to remain that adorable little creature they fell in love with. Women, on the other hand, want their men to change, to become better, something worthy of their affection. Trouble is that while women often change, men don’t: they remain the loutish, shiftless drunks that their women could barely stand when they first started dating.

So, how do you think your summer went?

Not quite as planned.

You met up with Xiuying again.

Yes. There’s nothing like hitting a homerun on your first at-bat.

But you struck out.

Funny that.

You had expected otherwise?

I suppose yes, yes, I had.

Let’s see, you dump the girl just when she’s most vulnerable and a year later you think she’ll be eager to jump into the sack with you for nostalgia’s sake?

When you put it like that . . . 

So, you strike out.

Let’s say it didn’t do much for old Peadar’s confidence.

And the girls at the Happy Cock weren’t as enamored of you, either.

It was incredibly frustrating: for all intents and purposes, I was “single” again, but I was having a devil of a time just trying to get girls to give me the time of day.

You strike out again. Has it occurred to you that you might have been trying too hard?

Now it does, yes, but at the time I thought I was being charming.

Oh, that fine line between charm and repugnance.

But, then I met Nahoko.

[1]The original quote is “Ninguin lugar en la vida más triste que una cama vacía.” Another good one from El Coronel ne tiene quién le escribais “No hay medicina que cure lo que no cura la felicidad.” (There is no medicine that cures what happiness cannot.)

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

A Woman's Hand and other works are available in e-book form and paperback at Amazon.


Painting by Uemura Shōen (1918)

Painting by Uemura Shōen (1918)

In the spring of ’99, Haruka quit her job, didn’t she?

She did, yes. She told me it was because she had been working non-stop since she graduated from school and now wanted to take it easy. I asked her if I could take it easy, too, but she wasn’t very excited about that idea. The odd thing is—apart from her father dying when she was in high school, which couldn’t have been easy—Haruka had never really had it all that hard.

How so?

Like me, Haruka was born in 1966. According the Chinese calendar, this was a once-in-six decades Year of the Horse, called the Hinoe Uma, or Fire Horse.[1] Superstition had it that people born in this year have “bad personalities” . . .

Those Chinese have certainly got your number!

Listen. The superstition is even less flattering for women born in that year: the Japanese believe that women born in the Year of the Fire Horse are so headstrong that they will end up driving their husbands to an early grave, a concern widespread enough that the birth rate actually plummeted in Japan in 1966.[2] Haruka used to tell me that thanks to the superstition, it was a breeze getting into the schools of her choice. There was never much competition. The same was true when she started job-hunting: no shortage of work for a cute, young woman with big tits. If only I . . .

Had large breasts?

If only I had been a Japanese girl born in 1966. Anyways, whether you want to believe it or not, Haruka fit that stereotypical image of the Fire Horse perfectly—stubborn, overbearing, selfish. I often joked that sooner or later she was going to kill me. So, it wasn’t all that surprising to me that she would one day decide she was going to take it easy and become “a housewife”. What did surprise me, though, was when she told me she was going to visit Mexico.


I had a Mexican friend who was running a small restaurant here in town. Haruka became friends with a woman who was part-timing at the restaurant (and having an affair with my friend, but that’s another story). Well, one thing led to another and Haruka and the woman made plans to travel to Mexico City together.

And Peadar was now entertaining the prospect of being able to spend the start of summer without the Missus.

Yes, well, let’s just say that the idea of my wife retiring no longer sounded all that bad to me. The possibilities were tantalizing. So, I told Haruka if you’re going all the way to Mexico, you might as well go to Portland and visit my family, too. And, if you’re going to go all the way there, you might as well stay for at least a month. After all, there is no better time to be in the city than in the summer . . .

How unselfish of you, Peadar!

Oh, the points I scored with the young housewives I was teaching back then. They would say things like, “My husband would never let me go abroad by myself for so long.” And I would reply, “If I had a wife as pretty as you, I wouldn’t let you go either.”

And, the countdown started: two more months . . . one more month . . . two more weeks . . . ten more days . . . one more week . . . three more days . . . two . . . one . . .

And freedom!

Or so you had hoped.

Yeah. Things often have a way of not going quite as planned.


[1] Hinoe Uma (丙午、ひのえうま). In addition to the twelve animals of the Chinese zodiac calendar there are five elements—fire, earth, metal, water, and wood—bringing the total number of years in the Chinese calendar to sixty (12 animals x 5 elements = 60 years). Those of you familiar with Asian cultures may have heard that the sixtieth birthday is a special one. It signifies the completion of the cycle and a rebirth of sorts. In Japan, where babies are called akachan (赤ちゃん, lit. “Little Red”), those who become sixty are usually presented with something red.

In the 20th century, 1906 and 1966 were Hinoe-Uma years. According to the theory of Yin-Yang and the five elements, Hinoe and Uma are characterized as being on the Yin side of Fire. It was commonly believed that more fires occurred in those years than in other years. There was also a widespread belief that women born in Hinoe Uma year were unyielding, and henpecked their husbands to death.

[2] The number of births dropped some 25% in 1966. The figure was so low that it was not matched again until 1989 when the effects of Japan’s dwindling birthrate started to be felt. 50.9% of the children born in 1966 were, like Haruka, the first son or daughter, the highest rate ever.


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

A Woman's Hand and other works are available in e-book form and paperback at Amazon.


There’s a song called “End of the Century” by the British alternative rock band Blur. The lyrics go something like . . .

“Sex on the TV, everybody’s at it, and the mind gets dirty, as you get closer . . . to thirty . . .”

Right. And, there I was thirty-two years old with so much desire in my randy “young” heart I was practically bouncing off the walls.

Do you really think it was only a question of your age?

No . . . Yes . . . No . . . Now, I’m well aware that passion never lasts. It’s impossible to maintain it. Japanese novelist Endō Shūsaku[1] wrote that stability spells the death of passion; that the longer a couple is together the more stable and, as a result, boring their relationship will inevitably grow. It can’t be helped. But, at the same time I believe there has got to be some passion at the start of a relationship. Too hot and it will burn itself out before you know it. But, if it is just bright and hot enough, there will always be an ember of it warming your hearts, no matter how long you’re together. You’ll never forget that there was a time when the two of you couldn’t get enough of each other, when you had to be touching and holding and caressing each other. You would walk, not only hand in hand, but sometimes with your hands in each other’s rear pockets, kneading the buttocks like bread dough. You would make love all night long, sleeping briefly, only to make love again in the morning. You would make love while brushing your teeth if inspiration called for it. You would fall asleep in each other’s arms, and note that you seemed to fit—both physically, emotionally, and fatefully—together, like twins in the womb. Well, I’m afraid Haruka and I never had anything like that.

And now you were longing to be “in love”.

To be loved.

Haruka didn’t love you?

She may have believed that she loved me, but Haruka’s was a perverse kind of loving: expressed primarily through grousing, grumbling, griping, grouching . . .Listen: we often had parties, Haruka and I. We were big entertainers in the early days, I would cook, she would pour wine and chat up the guests. The most entertaining part of those parties, however, was our petty quarrels. People would say things like, only couples who really love each other fight like that. But, the truth is, I was awfully depressed at the time.

And then you started drinking more.

I always drank a lot, but now I was drinking every day, getting really blasted, anything to keep me from . . . I don’t know . . . feeling? It was then that I started hanging out with other foreigners.

You hadn’t before?

In my first year in Japan, I had a circle of friends, but most of them returned to their home countries after their contracts were up. Glutton for punishment as I was, I stayed on. Over the next three or four years, I was pretty much a loner. Not so much by design as by lack of choice. It wasn’t until the Internet became popular that I was able to meet people. I belonged to an online community that had offline meetings every now and then, and I was able to become friends with a number of fellow expats. Most were single and horny and would hang out at a gaijin bar called “Happy Cock” on the weekends. I would join them, and for a time there, I was “pulling chicks”, as those guys liked to say, pretty much every time I went out.

Peadar must have had the happiest cock of all.

Yes and no. It was nice being fawned over by young, albeit drunk, women, but I was still desperately lonely.

[1] Endō Shūsaku was a 20th-century Japanese author noted for writing from the perspective of being both Japanese and Catholic. Along with Junnosuke Yoshiyuki, Shōtarō Yasuoka, Junzo Shono, Hiroyuki Agawa, Ayako Sono, and Shumon Miura, Endō is categorized as one of the “Third Generation”, the third major group of writers who came to prominence after World War II.

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

A Woman's Hand and other works are available in e-book form and paperback at Amazon.


We got off to such a bad start, Haruka and I. “The Debt” and all that. It really set the mood for our first year. The second year was better, though: we were able to travel quite a bit. Mostly to Southeast Asia, Malaysia a few times, Bali, and so on. Money was pretty good, but, boy, did it fluctuate from month to month, which made it hard to save. I would put aside a nice chuck o’ change one month only to spend all of it in order to get through the next month when money was thin.

Haruka often called you profligate.

Looking back, I suppose, I was. Not that I was a big-spender. It was little things that I frittered money away on.

Penny-wise, a pound foolish.

More like, a pound wise, a penny foolish. Pennies add up.

Many a mickle makes a muckle, eh, Peadar?

Whatever . . . Anyways, I was writing and translating quite a bit, too, at the time, something that kept me busy but never paid nearly as much as the effort required to complete the work.[1] Thanks to it, I was able to build up my résumé, which led to my landing a full-time teaching job at a reputable university before I turned thirty-five. It was a pretty good time, all things considered, and I still have quite a few good memories from those days.

But not all was happy in the O’Leary home, was it?

[1] The needs of the translator/writer and the client are often diametrically opposed: the client wants quality work, but is usually unwilling to pay much for it; the translator/writer wants to earn a quick buck. The longer the translator/writer works on a piece, the better the product and more satisfied the customer will be. Unfortunately, the longer the translator works on it, the less he is remunerated on an hourly basis and the less satisfied he becomes. He will also be less inclined to do similar work for the client in the future. It’s lose-lose.

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

A Woman's Hand and other works are available in e-book form and paperback at Amazon.


Your honeymoon period lasted all of . . .

Half a year.

When you look back on your first marriage, why do you think it failed in the end?

It’s been so long now . . .

Care to have your memory jogged?

Not particularly.

It would be instructive, Peadar.

Life usually is, isn’t?


The following summer, in spite of the infidelity, your wedding went on as scheduled and was held at a local Shintō shrine.

At Gokoku Jinja, no less. When Haruka and I consulted with the kan’nushi, the Shintō priest who would conduct the ceremony, we were seated in an office, the walls of which were plastered with photos of kamikaze pilots.[1]

Your father and mother and all six of your older brothers and sisters came.

That was really quite good of them—after all, it’s not a cheap trip to make. When Haruka and I were first making plans for the wedding I told her not to get her hopes up, warning her that it might be a small, lonely wedding. But then, to our surprise and delight, the whole Ó Laoghaire Teaghlach[2] showed up and—crack open the saké barrels, kill the fatted tuna—it was time to party! My brother Padraig,[3] in particular, took to celebrating wholeheartedly, and stayed out with me drinking and dancing until the crack of dawn the morning of my wedding.

A rainy mid-July morning it was.

And a terribly, terribly humid one at that. My poor family suffered quietly at the time, but they never pass up the opportunity to rib me about it today. Why don’t you visit Japan again, I’ll ask, and they’ll say something like, “What? To that boiling cauldron of a country? Peadar, how do you say, ‘I think we’ll take a pass.’ in Japanese?”

In spite of the heat, the two of you made for quite a handsome couple with Haruka dressed in a white kimono and you in a black hakama.[4]

I think that was the peak of my looks and it’s all been downhill after I said, “I do.”

As the Kan’nushi waved an ōnusa[5] over your heads and intoned a blessing in archaic Japanese . . .

I turned to Haruka and told her that I loved her.

Did you?

That’s the power of the religious rite: it can really bring a marriage into focus much clearer than a piece of paper at your local Ward Office ever will.

The gods were now watching you.

All eight million of them.[6]

Family, too.

Yes. And our families were now one, as the Japanese say.


[1] Gokoku Jinja, like other “gokoku” shrines in Japan such as the infamous Yasukuni Shrine in Tōkyō, is dedicated to those who ever died fighting for, or defending, Japan. According to the official website of Yasukuni, “When the Emperor Meiji (reign 3 Feb 1867 – 30 Jul 1912) visited Tokyo Shokonsha for the first time on January 27 in 1874, he composed the following poem[:] ‘I assure those of you who fought and died for your country that your names will live forever at this shrine in Musashino’. As can be seen in this poem, Yasukuni Shrine was established to commemorate and honor the achievement of those who dedicated their precious lives for their country. The name ‘Yasukuni’, given by the Emperor Meiji represents wishes for preserving peace of the nation.”

[2] Gaelic for O’Leary Family, pronounced “O Layder Tie-lach”.

[3] Gaelic for Patrick, pronounced “Pah-drik”.

[4] A hakama (袴) is a long pleated skirt-like garment worn mainly by men over a kimono on ceremonial occasions.

[5] An ōnusa (大幣) is wooden wand with white zig-zagging paper streamers known as shidé hanging from it. The ōnusa is waved left and right during Shintō purification rituals.

[6] The Shintō spirits are known collectively as yaoyorozu no kami (八百万の神), an expression which has the literally meaning of “eight million gods”, but actually means “an extremely large number of gods”. The kanji for eight hundred (八百, happyaku, yao) can also mean a very large number of things. The most common word with “yao” in it is “yaoya” (八百屋, lit. eight-hundred shop). A yaoya is a “greengrocer”, or a shop dealing in “a large variety” of vegetable and fruit. 


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

A Woman's Hand and other works are available in e-book form and paperback at Amazon.


You promised to meet Xiuying next week for your “lesson” not at your home, but in front of Yakuin Station. Both of you knew what to expect.

There was a love hotel, an unremarkable one, a few blocks from the station called the Personal Hotel Ōmiya. I had never been, but used to walk by it once a week on my way to a teaching gig. It was simple in design, no gaudy exterior or flashing neon lights like so many love hotels have. If you didn’t catch the sign at the entrance saying the rate for a “rest” was only 4,500 yen,[1] you wouldn’t know that it was a “rabuho”, that is, a love hotel.

Your hearts beating wildly, nervously, Xiuying and you hurried off the street and ducked under a curtain concealing the parking garage.

And there was that delicious terror again . . .

After choosing a room from a lighted panel, illuminated arrows showed the way, directing you upstairs and down a hall to the den of adultery. And once inside the room, the two of you threw yourselves at one another, kissing and biting each other’s skin as if you had been starved for flesh.

We were. Xiuying hadn’t had sex with her husband for over a year—imagine that! All that beauty and sexual energy going to waste, a magnum opus left un-played. And, as for Haruka and me, well, we hadn’t exactly been setting our futon on fire with passionate love every night either. It had been months since we’d had sex.

Naked below you on the bed, Xiuying spread her legs.

I eased myself in, gently, slowly, and sounds like nothing I’d ever heard from a woman erupted from that pretty little mouth of hers. I was so turned on; it was all I could do to not come right then and there. Less than five minutes into sex, though, the orgasm boiled within me . . . I pulled out and came with such force that the ejaculate shot through the air and struck the wall a good four or five feet above the headboard. For all I know, it may still remain today with a plaque next to, stating: Another Satisfied Customer.

Thank you for that, Peadar.

I had now committed adultery, something I had hoped with all sincerity that I would never ever do. A line had been crossed and it was very frightening. How do you undo something like that?

By promising never to do it again, of course. But you did it again anyways, didn’t you? Only a week later, the two of you were at it once more. And the week after that, and the week after that . . . every Thursday afternoon. Your “private language exchange”. And it got a little less frightening each time, the fling developing into a full-fledged affair . . .



And Xiuying starts to fall in love with me, and starts talking about leaving her husband, starts saying things like, “Wouldn’t it be nice if we were both single?”

And lying naked beside her, I reply flatly, “Yes, yes, it would.”

And she asks if I love her, and without emotion I say, “I do. Madly.”

She wants me to say it, so I say it four languages: “Xiuying, I love you. Aishiteiru. Je t’aime. Ich liebe dich. Wǒ zuì téng ài nǐ.

And she holds on to me tightly, body quaking, tears flowing from her eyes.



Meanwhile, your own dry eyes were fixed on the door to the hotel room as you wondered how you might be able to put a little distance between yourself and Xiuying.

She left me with little choice. Xiuying’s relationship with her husband had started to unravel. Listen: Xiuying found out that the reason he had “resigned” from his company was because he had been caught embezzling. As for his plans of starting an importing firm, well, those never really panned out, and, because bad luck comes in threes, a tumor was found somewhere in his body. Now that he was unemployed, the poor bastard didn’t have the insurance or the cash to get it removed. Xiuying asked me if she could borrow some money, but I could never have given her the kind of money she needed without Haruka finding out. In the end, I couldn’t help him and I couldn’t help her.

Talk about fair-weather friends.

That’s just another word for arsehole.

I know.

There was more to it, though. I started to get the feeling that the woman was cursed.


Yes, cursed. As beautiful, talented, and intelligent as she was, Xiuying was Bad Luck Incarnate, and, go ahead, call me superstitious, but bad luck is as contagious as the flu.



You are superstitious.


[1] ¥4,500 was equivalent to about thirty-eight dollars in 1997. 

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

A Woman's Hand and other works are available in e-book form and paperback at Amazon.


A year had passed since Xiuying and you had last met and as she stood at the entry of your apartment, looking more gorgeous than ever, you could barely hide your excitement.

I had always been attracted to her, always wondered what would happen if we were ever alone together, and now here we were, just the two of us. I was tempted to pull her right in and start tearing away at her clothes.



My mouth dry, I wheeze for Xiuying to come on in.

As she steps in, she locks the door behind herself. I disappear into the kitchen and make some tea, if anything to hide that divining rod of an erection of mine.

Taking a seat at my dining room table, Xiuying asks how married life is treating me.

“Never better,” I say. It is a lie—Haruka and I just had another epic fight that morning. “And, you?”

She replies that her husband resigned from his company and is going to start an importing business. She sounds excited about it.

By the time the tea is ready, my friend “Paddy” has calmed down enough for me to safely venture out of the kitchen. I sit down across from Xiuying and ask how I can help her.

“I want to study in America . . .”


“What does your husband think about that?”

“I haven’t told him yet,” she says with a titter.

Xiuying goes on, saying she needs to improve her English first so that she can get a good score on the TOEFL and GRE. The usual spiel. I have already helped so many people with similar goals that I have considered starting a consulting business.

She pulls a textbook out of her bag to show me what she has been studying. She is already half way through the thick text and it is obvious that she has been poring over it: pages are dog-eared and highlighted, memos in Chinese and Japanese are written throughout. She says she is going to take the tests in the autumn, so she only has about half a year left to prepare.

“If you keep up the good work, I don’t think there is any reason why you won’t get the score you want.”

“I’m so relieved to hear that,” she says in well-rehearsed, yet faltering English. “But, I need help with my pronunciation.”

It’s true: she won’t be winning any diction contests.

“Tell you what: why don’t we teach each other?” I suggest.

“What do you mean?”



I had been studying Chinese for a few years and needed more practice. I couldn’t think of a more enjoyable way to learn how to get my tongue around Chinese words than over tea with Xiuying.

And so, it was agreed: you would meet every Thursday afternoon, spend forty-five minutes speaking in English, forty-five in Chinese.

Only, it didn’t quite work out as I expected.

To put it mildly.

Once we had taken care of business, I told Xiuying about some CADD[1] software I had bought and asked if she wanted to see it.

Xiuying, though, was more interested in seeing something else first.

Well, Xiuying had never used the Internet before—few people had at the time, come to think of it—and asked to see the Internet, instead. As I was showing her some of the fun stuff you could do online—Mind you, this was a decade before Facebook, Wikipedia, YouTube, even before Google . . .



“Can you see . . .,” Xiuying says with a tinge of embarrassment, “pornography?”

“Porn? Why the Internet is virtually powered by porn,” I exclaim.

And with a clickety-click-click, a picture of a naked woman reveals itself, scrolling down one painfully slow line at a time. When the woman’s nipples finally appear, Xiuying squeals with childish delight and squeezes my arm.

“What else can you see,” she asks, barely able to control her excitement.

I open up a new window and, clickety-click-click, a photo of a woman fellating a man starts scrolling down.

More titillated screams explode from Xiuying. She is now clutching onto my arms and squirming beside me. We look at a few more pictures and the next thing I know we are rolling on the floor, kissing like we’re the first couple to discover it. And I’m thinking, “I shouldn’t be doing this, I shouldn’t be doing this, I am a married man, I am a married man, I am a . . .”

But I can’t stop myself. I pull the sweater over her head, undo the bra and bury my face in her gorgeous breasts.



If it weren’t for the doorbell, announcing the arrival of my next student, the two of us would probably have had sex right then and there on my dining room floor.


[1] CADD stands for Computer-Aided Design and Drafting.

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

A Woman's Hand and other works are available in e-book form and paperback at Amazon.


Xiuying wanted you to help her with her English.

I was still teaching English back then. But, now that I had a shūshi-go, a Master’s degree, from Geikōdai, I was “qualified” to teach at university, albeit mainly part-time as an adjunct. The work paid considerably more than the English conversation schools ever did, but was terribly unstable. It was always feast or famine—lots of money when school was in session, zip when it was out—so, I still had to teach some lessons at home and elsewhere to pay the rent and keep my new wife happy.

Was she?

Haruka happy? I don’t know. Our marriage got off to a rocky start and never quite recovered.

Why so?

I didn’t have much money when we got married. That surprised her. No. I should say that horrified her.

But, you were a student. How much money could you have had?

Well, it was more than that. I was “in debt” when we got married. By debt I mean I was still trying to pay off the student loans from my undergraduate studies. When Haruka found out about it, she went through the roof. Never mind that most students in America graduate with some debt. She wasn’t having any of it. I had “deceived” her. I had “lied” to her!

Had you?

No. Haruka had never asked to see a financial report before we got married. Perhaps, she should have. Perhaps then we wouldn’t have gotten married and would have saved ourselves a lot of grief in the long run . . . At any rate, once I was done with grad school and working full-time again, I was making quite a bit of money, so her concerns were allayed somewhat. But, whenever we fought, and we fight we did, the issue of that “debt” and my “lies” always came up. Our Symphony D Minor played on a continuous loop.

Why do you think it upset her so?

Because her father had died suddenly, prematurely, when she was young, and her family, while not poor, never had a lot of money after that. She wanted to live in the lap of luxury. She wanted to be coddled.

And you?

I wanted to pursue my interests, interests in design and architecture, to do something with that education of mine. Making a lot of money was never the aim—money would come later if I had any talent—and yet, to make Haruka happy, I ended up pursuing money, putting my dreams on the back burner, and a sense of discontent was starting to gnaw at me.

And then Xiuying came back into your life.

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

A Woman's Hand and other works are available in e-book form and paperback at Amazon.


Half a year later, you and Haruka were married.

Legally, yes. We submitted the paperwork.

Your wedding, however, wouldn’t be held until ten months later in the summer of ‘98. Just long enough for the doubts to start niggling at the back of your mind. And then Xiuying would re-enter your life.

Xiuying . . . Must all my regrets have the name of a woman attached to them?

Beautiful, talented, and coquettish, Xiuying was the thing which men’s fantasies were made of, wasn’t she, Peadar?

Was she ever!

Xiuying sat down next to you in one of your classes at the university and asked if you minded sharing your text with her.

Minded? I couldn’t have been happier to have the best-looking woman on campus choose me of all people to sit next to.

Throughout class your legs and arms touched, her breath was like warm kisses on your neck . . .

Gabriel García Márquez once described the feeling as “un terror delicioso”, a delicious terror. I was still single at the time, but engaged to Haruka. I had broken up once and for all with Akané, had resolved to lead an honest, upstanding life. And then, this gorgeous Chinese woman sits next to me in class, filling my heart with so much desire I thought it would explode.

The two of you would get on like a house on fire.

We most certainly would.

And you’re still smoldering today.

Yeah, well . . . The Japanese have a saying: ten wa ni butsu-o ataezu.[1] It implies that an intelligent girl will often be homely; and a beautiful girl, dimwitted. But as far as I could tell, Xiuying had it all going for her: looks, brains, wits, a talent for languages and the arts. Heaven had lavished blessings upon her.

She also had the ambition to do something with all that talent.

Xiuying was only twenty-three or so but already married to a much older man, a Japanese salaryman she had met when she was an undergrad. She had been working evenings as a hostess in some cabaret in Nakasu at the time. He was a regular customer, the kind of idiot that pays a hundred dollars a pop just to drink watered-down Japanese whiskey and chat with beautiful women for a few hours. The man proposed to her on their first date and she said no. He asked her again and she said no. He continued to ask her over the next several months and it was only after promising her, among other things, that he would permit her to continue with her studies that she agreed to marry him.

And they lived happily ever after.

When I first met her, she did seem happy. It was another one of the reasons why I never contemplated doing anything more with that lust of mine than give into “the ol’ lascivious hand”.[2] But, we did become friends of a sort and would chat over coffee after school or have lunch together every now and then. It wasn’t too surprising, then, that she would phone me one day out of the blue.

She called and said, “This is Xiuying. Do you remember me?” And you replied, “Xiuying! How could I ever forget you?” When she told you she had a favor to ask, you were all ears.

My ears weren’t the only things to prick up.

Droll, Peadar, very droll.


[1] 天は二物を与えず (Ten-wa ni butsu-o ataezu) Lit. “Heaven does not bestow two blessings.”

[2] See A Woman’s Nails.

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

A Woman's Hand and other works are available in e-book form and paperback at Amazon.


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?


After New Year’s you saw Akané less and less. She thought it was only because you were busy with your studies . . .

I was.

But that wasn’t the real reason you weren’t spending as much time with her anymore, was it, Peadar?

It was over.

For you, perhaps.

It was over, period. Nothing Akané could have said or done at that point would have changed my mind.


Nothing. I can be a stubborn bastard when I make up my mind.

Oh, I know all about that, Peadar . . . I’m curious, though, why were you so eager to marry Haruka?

It wasn’t so much eagerness as inevitability.


We had been together for two years, the longest, most stable relationship I’d had with any woman, Japanese or American, a relationship which had endured infidelity and other venial sins. And, after we’d been together for a year and a half, Haruka went to a famous fortune-teller in town to ask her about me. The woman said ours was a kusaré-en.[1]


Meaning that, for better or worse, we would be hopelessly stuck with each other for many years to come.

Sounds as though the fortune-teller hit the nail on the head.

Squarely. Haruka and I went on a trip to Okinawa in March and it was there as we were walking on the beach on our final evening that I proposed. I’d had butterflies in my stomach all day. And a voice in my head kept asking, “You really want to go through with this, Peadar? Do you really want to spend the ‘rest’ of your life with this woman? Do you really want to start a family with this woman?”

And you didn’t have an answer for me, did you?

Haruka and I sat down on a big chunk of white coral and watched in silence as the sun slowly set. After a while I said, “Haruka, do you love me?” And she nodded. And I said, “Do you want to marry me?” And she nodded again. So, I said, “Well, then, let’s get married then.” And she started to cry.

Did you ever love Haruka?

I don’t know . . . I always liked her. I respected her an awful lot. I still do. In spite of everything that happened, I still do like her a lot. But love? What the fuck is “love” anyways?

“Love is a many-splendoured thing 〜♪”

Ugh! I’ll tell you what love is: it’s an autoimmune disease that eats at you, making weak. You’re never more vulnerable than when you are head-over-heels in love with someone. That’s how I was with Mié and what did it do for me? It crushed me. I wanted to die. That’s love for you.

It doesn’t always have to be that way, Peadar.


[1] Kusaré-en (腐れ縁, くされえん) is an unfortunate, but inescapable relation, a fatal bond.


On the morning of New Year’s Day 1997, Akané came to your apartment wearing a stunning furi-sodé kimono.[1] It had a deep purple background, so deep in color it was almost black, but the long sleeves and the bottom half were emblazoned with colorful dahlias, her favorite flower. Around her waist was a wide obi of gold silk.

I’ll never forget how she looked that day. Her hair done up with lovely accessories called kanzashi. She looked just like a maiko.[2] She was terribly pretty.

You went to Hakozaki-gū Shrine together, where you would end up praying for quite different things: you, for your future success.

And Akané?

Akané prayed for happiness, of course. Happiness with you, Peadar, which meant marriage, kids, a house, a dog, the whole kit and caboodle. And were those prayers answered?

Er, no.

And when the two of you returned to your apartment, you “unwrapped” Akané.

She had so many layers on. First, I untied the obi-jimé, a crimson red rope made of silk that was holding everything in place. Then, I unraveled the long gold obi, pulling on it as Akané spun around, giggling, in front of me. There was an obi-agé, also crimson in color, just below that which I undid. The kimono came loose and opened it up to reveal two more layers of undergarments called juban held in place by more sashes. And when I opened up the last layer, I discovered that she was completely naked underneath. No bra or panties. That was such a turn on seeing her naked body lying above all those colorful garments, sashes, and silk ropes.

And you made love to her for the rest of the day and night.

It was one of the few times when Akané didn’t have to scurry away before her carriage turned back into a pumpkin.

Akané’s mother was finally ready to trust you, so convinced that the two of you would eventually marry. She had even spoken to her husband to warn him of what was coming. And rather than fly off the handle as the typical Japanese father might when confronted with the possibility of his daughter marrying a gaijin, do you know what he said to his wife?

I have no idea.

He said, “They’ll have the cutest children!”

Huh . . . I had no idea.

There’s a lot you don’t know, Peadar.

Do I want to know?

Probably not, but you should.


[1] Furi-sodé (振袖) is a long-sleeved kimono worn by unmarried women on ceremonial occasions, such as Coming-of-Age Day, New Year’s Day, graduation ceremonies and weddings.

[2] A maiko (舞子) is a young dancing girl working in the o-chaya (お茶屋, lit. “tea house”) of Kyōto.


And did you make the right choice?

The right choice would have been not getting back together with either of them in the first place.

That’s what I would have told you. But, as I have said before, you probably would not have listened anyways. In the end, you have to lie in the bed you have made. So, Peadar, why did you choose Haruka?

A better question to ask would be: why did I not choose Akané.

Yes, why not Akané? You loved her. And, she adored you.

She did, yes.

Hurts to think about it, doesn’t it, Peadar?

Yeah . . . You know, it used to baffle me how ugly some of the wives of the more established Japanese men could be.

Ugly? That’s awfully severe.

Homely, then. Homely and frightfully dowdy. The wives of doctors, university professors, executives, and successful lawyers here in Japan are often . . . well, dogs. In the States, the trophy wife is so commonplace—you know, successful men marrying beautiful women—that the well-to-do end up having children that have a highly-burnished look. Not always, of course, but often. After several generations of this virtuous cycle, the result is a class of attractive people, exuding wealth and confidence. Not so in Japan. The men—or, more accurately, their parents—are so concerned that a bimbo will disgrace the family name that the men often end up marrying the type who won’t ever win a beauty pageant, but who won’t embarrass the family, either. There’s a saying in Japanese: bijin wa akiru, busu wa nareru.[1]

Which means?

“When it comes to women, you’ll eventually get bored with a beauty and used to a dog.”

Those enigmatic Japanese . . . So, you went for homely, then?

Haruka was not homely. She just wasn’t a head-turner. But . . .

She wouldn’t embarrass you.

She was from a middle-class background. By no means rich, but she had been raised and educated well enough that she knew how to speak to people. Actually, she was very good with people. Extremely good. She could have a conversation with just about anyone and the person would leave with a favorable impression of her. It never ceased to amaze me how easy it was for her to make friends.

And Akané?

I think men liked her. She was young, cute, full of energy, compulsive. What was there not to like? Women, unfortunately, thought she was a bimbo. I had been in Japan long enough by then to worry about what people thought about me.

Better late than never.

Yeah, well . . . I didn’t want people talking behind my back, saying things like, “That Peadar is awfully nice, but his wife . . . oh, dear! What was he thinking marrying a floozy like that?”

So, that’s why you dumped the poor girl?

It wasn’t only that. There was the question of her family, too.

Her family?

I met Akané’s “sister”. I don’t remember what the exact relationship was—her mother’s younger sister, or perhaps an older cousin. At any rate, she always called this woman “big sis”[2] and would sometimes invite her out on dates with us. Big sis was in her mid-to-late thirties, very tall and slim. Akané told me she had once been a model and it was easy to see why. The funny thing, though, was that Akané, as small and petite as she was, nevertheless tried her damnedest to emulate that big sis of hers, imitating the way she dressed and kept her hair, smoking the same KOOL menthols the woman smoked, and so on. Big sis, however, was no fan of yours truly.


The woman came off as jaded. She’d probably had her own share of gaijin boyfriends over the years and didn’t trust me. At least, that’s how I felt around her. The thought of having this woman in my life, glowering at me for years on end, was a real turn off. Haruka’s younger sister, on the other hand, was rather sweet, demure . . .

You met with both their families?

No, no, no. You should understand that in Japan you normally don’t do such a thing until you’re absolutely committed to getting married. You meet surrogates, instead. Friends, first. Then, maybe a sibling or two. And once you’ve cleared those hurdles and you’re ready to do the formal engagement ceremony you meet with the parents. I wouldn’t meet with Haruka’s mother until less than a month or so before we got married.

Not her father?

Haruka’s father had been dead for about ten years by then.

What is it, Peadar, about you and women with dead or absentee fathers?

I do not know. Mié’s father had also died when she was young.

Yes, I remember. What about Akané’s father?

That was the thing: he was a taxi driver.

You dumped Akané because her father was a taxi driver?

No, no, no. I’m sure taxi drivers are fine people. It was just one more thing. As much as I liked . . . even “loved” Akané, I just couldn’t picture myself marrying her and being part of that world.

You could have always left Japan. It wouldn’t have mattered then what her background was.

True. But then, I wasn’t planning on leaving Japan anytime soon.


[1] 美人は飽きる、ブスは慣れる (Bijin-wa akiru, busu-wa nareru.)

[2] お姉さん (o-nē-san) is what most Japanese call their elder or oldest sister, but the term of endearment can also be used for any woman who is not yet old enough to be called an oba-san (小母さん), an “auntie”.


Your thirty-first birthday marked a turning point of sorts for you. Care to elaborate?

I am often impressed by the young Japanese women I meet. Some of them can be so level-headed when discussing their future. They’ll tell me that they’re going to start saving for marriage as soon as they have graduated from college and have found employment. They say they’ll work for a company for five or six years, get married by the time they’re twenty-seven or eight, and have the first of two or three children when they are thirty. They will resign from their job shortly before giving birth and dedicate themselves to raising the children. And, I’ll be damned if they don’t do exactly what they planned to do. In my own experience, so little has ever gone according to plan that I have had to resign myself to playing life by ear. Listen: less than a month before I was to depart for Japan, my mother and I were in a grocery store . . .

Grocery store? Do people still use that word?

Jesus Christ, you can be so annoying! A supermarket, we were at a supermarket! My mother asked me what my plans for the future were. And I said, “Oh, Ma, I really don’t know. I guess I’ll spend a year or two in Japan, then travel on to Barcelona, stay there a year or so to study architecture, and return to the States and go to graduate school . . .

And your poor mother sighed: “Peadar, by the time I was your age, I’d already had five children!”

Ma would never be crowned Miss Congeniality.

When you were struggling to find a job after college and you went to your mother to whine about the injustice of the world, what was it, again, that she said to you?

She said, “Do you know where you can find sympathy, Peadar? In a dictionary.”

I’ve always loved that story.

Well, you would . . . Anyways, back to what I was saying: despite my original “plans”, I have now been in Japan for far longer than I ever imagined, still have not been to Barcelona and may never go, and I ended up getting my masters here in Japan rather than back in the States. So, how do you like them apples?

The long and winding road . . .

Anyways, pressure from friends and family to settle down first started to build when I turned thirty, but I was so focused on getting into the graduate program at Geikōdai[1] I didn’t really have the time to think about it. Besides, I was eager to put off the inevitable as long as possible.

The inevitable?

Choosing one woman to propose to; another to bid farewell to.

Were those really your only two options, Peadar?

Looking back on it now, I realize that no they weren’t, but at the time I didn’t know better.

I could have told you . . . Then again, would you have listened?


[1] Geikōdai (芸工大) is the abbreviation of Kyūshū Geijutsu Kōka Daigaku (九州芸術工科大学), or Kyūshū Institute of Design. In 2003, the school became Kyūshū University’s Graduate School of Design.


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?