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Fountains in the Rain
by [?]

Translated by John Bester

The boy was tired of walking in the rain dragging the girl, heavy as a sandbag and weeping continually, around with him.

A short while ago, in a tea shop in the Marunouchi Building, he had told her he was leaving her.

The first time in his life that he’d broken with a woman!

It was something he had long dreamed of; it had at last become a reality.

It was for this alone that he had loved her, or pretended to love her; for this alone he had assiduously undermined her defenses; for this alone he’d furiously sought the chance to sleep with her, slept with her — till lo, the preparations were complete and it only remained to pronounce the phrase he had longed just once to pronounce with his own lips, with due authority, like the edict of a king:

“It’s time to break it off!”

Those words, the mere enunciation of which would be enough to rend the sky asunder…. Those words that he had cherished so passionately even while half-resigned to the impossibility of the fact…. That phrase, more heroic, more glorious than any other in the world, which would fly in a straight line through the heavens like an arrow released from its bow…. That spell which only the most human of humans, the most manly of men, might utter…. In short:

“It’s time to break it off!”

All the same, Akio felt a lingering regret that he’d been obliged to say it with such a deplorable lack of clarity, with a rattling noise in the throat, like an asthmatic with a throatful of phlegm, which even a preliminary draft of soda pop through his straw had failed to avert.

At the time, his chief fear had been that the words might not have been heard. He’d have died sooner than be asked what he’d said and have to repeat it. After all, if a goose that for years had longed to lay a golden egg had found it smashed before anyone could see it, would it promptly have laid another?

Fortunately, however, she had heard. She’d heard, and he hadn’t had to repeat it, which was a splendid piece of luck. Under his own steam, Akio had crossed the pass over the mountains that he’d gazed at for so long in the distance.

Sure proof that she’d heard had been vouchsafed in a flash, like chewing gum ejected from a vending machine.

The windows were closed because of the rain, so that the voices of the customers talking around them, the clatter of dishes, the ping of the cash register clashed with each other all the more violently, rebounding subtly off the clammy condensation on the inside of the panes to create a single, mind-fuddling commotion.

Akio’s muffled words had no sooner reached Masako’s ears through the general uproar than her eyes — wide, staring eyes that seemed to be trying to shove her surroundings away from her thin, unprepossessing features –opened still wider. They were no longer eyes so much as an embodiment of disaster, irretrievable disaster. And then, all at once, the tears had burst forth.

There was no business of breaking into sobs; nor did she bawl her head off: the tears simply gushed, expressing nothing, and with a most impressive force.

Akio naturally assumed that waters of such pressure and flow would soon cease. And he marveled at the peppermint freshness of mind with which he contemplated the phenomenon. This was precisely what he had planned, worked to encompass, and brought to reality: a splendid achievement, though admittedly somewhat mechanical.