Someone slipped a spider into my T-shirt! And a strange woman stood behind me...
| I’ve got a blue spider in my neck. Real one. I jumped up and down with surprise, screaming. Soft hairs of the spider’s legs grazed against my back and I felt goose bumps from head to toe. Behind me, I heard a woman chuckling out loud. I whisked the spider away and stomped it flat on mud and fallen leaves. I saw a yellow lizard scurrying in the mud.
The woman in a striped dress walked away, still giggling, and I glared at her with tears in my eyes.
“Are you all right?” Yoshio said to me, running toward me.
“Certainly not!” I said. “How dare she makes fun of me. I hate the woman.”
We strolled through a park, had a rest at the top of a hill and entered into an astronomical observatory in our town.
“Look at this, Haruo. It’s fantastic,” he said.
“It’s the clear night sky,” I said.
After a while, I felt refreshed due to seeing beautiful stars.
On that weekend, I sat on a steel couch in a supermarket, seeing my dad taking care of the customers. A woman carrying a straw bag in her hand pushed a shopping cart, her two children romping around in front of a deli counter. I vacantly looked at a salesclerk arranging prepared foods on the deli counter when I saw steel shelves fell down with a thud.
The woman who had slipped the blue spider into my T-shirt was dashing for the nearest exit. Canned beverages were scattered over the floor, and several customers were screaming.
“She’s running away from a back door!” I screamed and rushed to the exit. But when I reached there the shoplifter has already fled from the spot. There I stood, never averting my gaze from the exit door.
“Maybe I’ve known her,” Yoshio said. “I remembered the woman had worked in a clothing store on the back street. But the store went bankrupt during the depression.”
“What does ‘go bankrupt’ mean?” I asked to him.
He searched for some websites and showed it to me. Although he explained it in a simple way, I was slow to understand things. In any case, they were forced to shut down their shop, and it was not only them that was to blame.
“Imagine your dad has to close down your supermarket even if he works hard,” Yoshio said.
What I thought about was so shocking I couldn’t say a word.
The following day, I stayed late at school to prepare our school bazaar and went home at around five o’clock. When I hugged the bank of a river I saw vapor trail in orange sky and wanted to make a little detour to the riverside park. I walked along a tree-lined street and heard birds singing. I ran up a slope, climbed over a fence and cautiously leaned forward, looking down a cliff. There was a rapid stream ten meters below. Something sparkled like a star in my sight, and it turned out to be a flashlight. And then I found a shadow of man or woman standing on a narrow river bed in the dusk of the evening.
It was the woman who had slipped the blue spider into my T-shirt and had shoplifted at the supermarket. We recognized each other at once. She looked at me with fearful eyes when I noticed used tires piled up beside me. What if I threw these tires away from the top of the cliff? If one of them hit the woman, she would get hurt. I glared at her for a while and turned around, jumping the fence and running away.
I was already out of breath when I came home. Mom asked what I was doing after school, but I couldn’t answer. At supper, I asked mom what we had to do if the supermarket went bankrupt. She was startled at what I said, but finally, she said:
“If that happens, dad and I must find another job. Do you worry about it all day long?”
“No. I’m just asking,” I said.
And I was not lying to her. I went to my room and texted to Yoshio what had happened that evening.