stories

Standing Woman - Chapter 1 - page 1

Standing Woman(1)

by Yasutaka Tsutsui

Translated by David Lewis

I stayed up all night and finally finished a forty-page short story.
It was a trivial entertainment piece, capable of neither harm nor good.
"These days you can't write stories that might do harm or good; it can't be helped." That's what I told myself while I fastened the manuscript with a paper clip and put it into an envelope.
As to whether I have it in me to write stories that might do harm or good, I do my best not to think about that.
If I were to go around thinking about it, I might want to try.
The morning sunlight hurt my eyes as I slipped on my wooden clogs and left the house with the envelope.
Since there was still time before the first mail truck, I turned toward the park. In the morning no children come to this park, a mere sixty-six square meters in the middle of a cramped residential district.
It's quiet here. So I always include the park in my morning walk.
Nowadays even the scanty green provided by the ten or so trees is priceless in this small town.
I should have brought some bread, I thought. My favorite dogpillar stands next to the park bench. It's an affable dogpillar, large for a mongrel, with buff-colored fur.
There's another dogpillar next to the small tobacco shop on the way to the park. It's a white mongrel, part Spitz. It's not long since it was planted, and it still yaps whenever an even slightly suspicious looking person passes by. Since I wear wooden geta, I was always getting barked at up until no more than a week ago. It got so that for a while I changed the shop where I'd always go to buy cigarettes. But now this dogpillar doesn't bark when he sees my face. This morning when I passed he whined through his nose, poised as if ready even now to pull out his four legs planted in the earth. Just once I give him some bread, and he acts like this. Completely unprincipled.
The liquid-fertilizer truck had just left when I reached the park; the ground was damp and there was a faint smell of chlorine. The elderly gentleman I often saw there was sitting on the bench next to the dogpillar, feeding the buff post what seemed to be meat dumplings.
Dogpillars usually have excellent appetites. Maybe the liquid fertilizer, absorbed by the roots sunk deep in the ground and passed on up through the dogpillar, feeding the buff post what seemed to be meat dumplings.
Dogpillars usually have excellent appetites. Maybe the liquid fertilizer, absorbed by the roots sunk deep in the ground and passed on up through the legs, leaves something to be desired.
They'll eat just about anything you give them.