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Standing Woman - Chapter 2 - page 3

"Michiko."
My wife looked at me, and blood rushed to her cheeks. She brushed one hand through her tangled hair.
"You've come again? Really, you mustn't."
"I can't help coming."
The hardware-store mistress, tending shop, saw me. With an air of feigned indifference, she averted her eyes and retired to the back of the store. Full of gratitude for her consideration, I drew a few steps closer to Michiko and faced her.
"You've gotten pretty used to it?"
With all her might she formed a bright smile on her stiffened face. "Mmm. I'm used to it."
"Last night it rained a little."
Still gazing at me with large, dark eyes, she nodded lightly. "Please don't worry. I hardly feel anything."
"When I think about you, I can't sleep." I hung my head. "You're always standing out here. When I think of that, I can't possibly sleep. Last night I even thought I should bring you an umbrella."
"Please don't do anything like that!" My wife frowned just a little. "It would be terrible if you did something like that."
A large truck drove past behind me. White dust thinly veiled my wife's hair and shoulders, but it didn't seem to bother her.
"Standing isn't really all that bad." She spoke with deliberate lightness, working to keep me from worrying.
I perceived a subtle change in my wife's expressions and speech from two days before. It seemed that her words had lost a shade of delicacy, and the range of her emotions had become somewhat impoverished. Watching from the sidelines like this seeing her gradually grow more expressionless, it's all the more desolating for having known her as she was before --- those keen responses, the bright vivacity, the rich, full expressions. I was so sad I felt my heart would freeze.
"These people," I asked her, running my eyes over the hardware store, "are they good to you?"
"Of course, people are watching, so they do their best to ignore me. But they're kind at heart. Just once they told me to ask if there's anything I want done. But they still haven't done anything for me."
"Don't you get hungry?"
She shook her head.
"It's better not to eat."
So. Unable to endure being a manpillar, she must be hoping to become a mantree as quickly as possible.