stories

Standing Woman - Chapter 2 - page 2

He brought a hard smile to his cheeks and shook his head.
The red mail truck stopped beside him.
I slumped my shoulders, and went on past the hospital.
Thinking I'd check in on my favorite bookstore, I entered a street of crowded shops. My new book was supposed to be out any day now, but that kind of thing no longer made me the slightest bit happy.
A little before the bookstore in the same row is a small, cheap candystore, and on the edge of the road in front of it is a manpillar on the verge of becoming a mantree. A young male, it is already a year since it was planted. The face has become a brownish color tinged with green, and the eyes are tightly shut. It Its tall back slightly bent, its posture slouching a little forward. The legs, torso, and arms, visible through clothes reduced to rags by exposure to wind and rain, are already vegetized and here and there sprout branches. Young leaves bud from the ends of the arms, raised above the shoulders like beating wings.
The body, which has become a tree, and even the face no longer move at all. The heart has sunk into the tranquil world of plants.
I imagined the day when my wife would reach this state, and again my heart winced with pain, trying to forget. It was the anguish of trying to forget.
If I turn the corner at this candy store and go straight, I thought, I can go to where my wife is standing. I can meet my wife. I can see my wife. But it won't do to go, I told myself. There's no telling who might see you; if the women who informed on her questioned you'd really be in trouble. So I told myself. Coming to a halt in front of the candy store, I peered down the road. Pedestrian traffic was the same as always, if anything, lighter than usual. It's all right. Anyone would overlook it if you just stand and talk a bit. You'll just have a word or two. Defying my own voice screaming, "Don't go!" I went briskly down the street.

Her face pale, my wife was standing by the road in front of the hardware store. Her legs were unchanged, and it only seemed as if her feet from the ankles down were buried in the earth. Expressionlessly, as if striving to see nothing, feel nothing, she stared steadily ahead. Compared with two days before, her cheeks seemed a bit hollow. Two passing men, looking like factory workers, pointed at her, made some vulgar joke, and passed on, guffawing uproariously. I went up to her and called her name.