|"Are you sure about this, Yuka?" Chie asked her older sister.
"But why do you want a divorce? What has Ryoji done to you?"
Yuka remained silent.
Her husband Ryoji was a quiet man, but he finally opened his mouth before
his wife and her sister. "Not once have I ever cheated on you, nor
do I remember ever slighting you. Now that we've just married off our son,
it's time for the two of us to live our lives together, don't you think?
But if you say you want to leave me, there's nothing I can do. At any rate,
why don't you tell me why you want a divorce?"
After shedding tears, Yuka opened her mouth. "I'm sorry, Ryoji, but
I've never really loved you. It's been thirty years since we were married
at my parents' urging. But T, whom I met half a year ago through my volunteer
work, made me realize something. You may laugh at such behavior in a woman
my age, but I'm in love for the first time in my life. I've never known
such a feeling until I met him. You may call it a woman's joy. He's made
me experience such romance."
"Don't be ridiculous, Yuka." Chie leaned forward. "What
do you know about love? A married couple is supposed to stick together
through thick and thin. Romance is an illusion for young people. Look at
me, I'm a good example. I married a man who said he would die for me, but
he ended up leaving me for another woman. So I've been single for twenty
years. T, or whatever his name is, has been fooling you, Yuka. He's after
your divorce settlement. The man knows that your husband has been successful
in business. No doubt he's in it for the money."
"He's not like that. I'm not asking you for any money, Ryoji. He says
that's fine with him."
"Well then, I'll be a witness. You won't get a single cent."
Yuka nodded. They kept silent for a while.
Chie broke the silence. "Okay then, Yuka." She sounded irritated.
"I'm moving in with Ryoji. Is that all right? I've always been fond
of you, Ryoji. You remember you once said, 'You and I would have gotten
along well, too, Chie.'"
Ryoji gave a wry smile. "Chie, that was just a hypothetical situation."
"I know. But I can't just leave you alone now that my sister is walking
out on you for no good reason. When she's gone, I'll move in here and look
after you, Ryoji. I hope it's all right with you, Yuka."
Yuka gave a deep nod. "I'm feeling happy as a woman now. So if you
just sign divorce papers, Ryoji, I won't ask you for anything." She
wiped tears from her eyes.
"Well, I suppose there's nothing I can do to change your mind. It's
painful for me, too, to live with someone who doesn't want to stay with
me." Ryoji signed the divorce papers with a trembling hand.
Half a year had passed since Yuka left. Every day Chie would speak to Ryoji
in a cheerful tone to keep him from sinking into dark moods.
Before long, Ryoji began to think he should get on with his life.
Then a lawyer paid Ryoji a visit, demanding Yuka's alimony and her share
of the property.
"She can't be serious! You agreed to give her a divorce because she
said she didn't want anything from you, Ryoji. I don't see why she has
to bring this up now. I'll be a witness. Let's have it settled before the
proper authorities," Chie rattled on.
"We'll discuss specifics at a later date." That was all the lawyer
said before leaving.
Three more months had passed before the lawyer returned. However, unlike
before, he spoke in a soft voice. "Actually, T, Yuka's partner, went
missing when he learned that it would take time to divide the assets."
Ryoji leaned forward. "Does that mean Yuka is coming back?"
"No. She did you wrong when she left you. And besides…"
"What is it?"
"You may find it hard to understand, but she said she would live in
"Afterglow?" Ryoji tilted his head to one side, looking doubtful.
Then he said quietly, "Okay then. I'll send her money to cover her
"No. I didn't come here to negotiate today. I'm just reporting what
"I don't mind. I'd like to cherish her afterglow."
As Chie heard Ryoji's words, tears welled up in her eyes. "Ryoji,
do you mean a married couple's afterglow?"
Ryoji flashed a smile and gazed up at the sky. Chie gently rubbed his back.
About the Author: A retired high school science teacher, Yoshiro Takayasu
lives with his wife and fellow poet Mitsuko in Togane, Chiba. He is the
author of several poetry collections, including Mukashi mukashi (1982)
and Jigenkyo (1987).
English translations by Toshiya Kamei of Yoshiro's fiction and poetry have
appeared in various journals, including The Broken Plate, The Dirty Goat,
Gargoyle Magazine, Metamorphoses, Nebo, and Visions International.