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Fountains in the Rain
by [?]

It was to witness this, he told himself again, that he had made love to Masako he, who had always been free from the dominance of desire.

And the tearful face of the woman now in front of him — this was reality! A genuine forsaken woman — forsaken by himself, Akio!

Even so, Masako’s tears went on for so long with no sign of abating that the boy began to worry about the people around them.

Masako, still wearing her light-colored raincoat, was sitting upright in her chair. The collar of a red blouse showed at the neck of the coat. She looked as though set in her present position, with her hands pressed down on the edge of the table, a tremendous force in both of them.

She stared straight ahead, letting the tears flow unchecked. She made no move to take out a handkerchief to wipe them. Her breath, catching in her thin throat, gave out a regular wheeze like new shoes, and the mouth that with student perverseness she refused to paint turned up disconsolately, quivering continually.

The older customers were looking at them curiously, with stares of a kind calculated to disturb Akio’s newfound sense of maturity.

The abundance of Masako’s tears was a genuine cause for astonishment. Not for a moment did their volume diminish. Tired of watching, Akio dropped his gaze and looked at the tip of the umbrella he had stood against a chair. The raindrops running from it had formed a small, darkish puddle on the old-fashioned, tile mosaic floor. Even the puddle began to look like Masako’s tears to him.

Abruptly, he grabbed the bill and stood up.

The June rains had been falling steadily for three days. As he left the Marunouchi Building and unfurled his umbrella, the girl came silently after him. Since she had no umbrella herself, he had no choice but to let her share his. It reminded him of the way older people, for the benefit of the outside world, went on pretending even after they’d stopped feeling anything. Now he too had acquired the same habit; to share an umbrella with a girl once you’d made the move to break with her was just a gesture for other people’s benefit. It was simply being cut-and-dried about things. Yes: to be cut-and-dried (even when it took such subtle forms) suited Akio’s nature….

As they wandered along the broad sidewalk in the direction of the Imperial Palace, the problem foremost in his mind was finding somewhere to dump this tearbag he was saddled with.

I wonder — he thought vaguely to himself — if the fountains work even when it’s raining?

Why should the idea of fountains have occurred to him? Another few paces, and he realized the physical pun in his own train of thought.

The girl’s wet raincoat, which he was touching — remotely, of course, and unfeelingly — in the cramped space beneath the umbrella, had the texture of a reptile. But he bore with it, forcing his mind to follow the pun to its logical conclusion.

Yes: fountains in the rain. He’d bring the fountains and Masako’s tears into confrontation. Even Masako would surely find her match there. For one thing, the fountains were the type that used the same water over and over again, so the girl, whose tears all ran to waste, could hardly compete with them. A human being was scarcely a match for a reflex fountain; almost certainly, she’d give up and stop crying. Then he’d be able somehow to get rid of this unwanted baggage. The only question was whether the fountains would be working as usual in the rain.