Fiction / December 2016 (Issue 34)

A Solar Eclipse

by Kyoko Yoshida

My soup's getting cold and I don't think it's Minestrone. It's transparent on the top. Some copper-red liquid has precipitated at the bottom. Bits and scraps of unknown vegetables are floating. This wrinkled, brownish-orange thing is carrot. This red bit is tomato, maybe apple skin. Those few pieces gathering around the only pea in the soup—like a colony of duckweed gathering around a waterlily leave in a pond—are those fish scales? Or the sequins of your dress? I perceive some kind of pasta swimming. Maybe fragments of the ramen noodles that I made yesterday and left in the bottom of the pan. Are these clams? Not some chopped navel-strings? My soup's getting cold and I don't think it's Manhattan clam chowder, either. All I remember is you said you'd made something that starts with M. I'm getting old and I don't think it's evening, but it's getting dark outside. Last time when you made me a pizza … Margherita ... that Thursday night in April when I started to leap crookedly like a prawn in a hot chili-oiled wok and went to St. John the Baptist Hospital to have a gastric lavage. The pizza was purple and you called it Margherita. Maybe I'm wrong. Something that starts with M. I'm getting cold and it is completely dark outside. So I came home dehydrated from St. John the Baptist and I opened the door and found you belly dancing to adhesive Turkish music. Your jelly belly sinuously wriggled to the pestering song. You held that purple iridescent veil just below your eyes. That made me think of the last time you made macaroni and cheese because the macaroni and cheese had an iridescent sheen. It was cheesy yellow but it had this shiny film on the surface like dragonfly wings. It was a beautiful Thursday morning and you were half-awake in the white gauze negligee with the top three mother-of-pearl buttons undone. The morning light shone through the gauze outlining your torso and hinting at your pink nipples. Now it's completely dark outside. It's only four o'clock. Yes, the macaroni and cheese. I had six stitches sewn in my left cheek—you know I tend to chew on my left side. I came home from St. John the Baptist and you were sitting by the bay window mending my sock. The late afternoon light brushed against your cheeks and I was mesmerised at the golden downy hair swaying on your cheeks. The tips of your delicate fingers were pink, which reminded me of the mushu pork you had cooked. Its sour and spicy steam made me weep and its pink pork was tantalising. At St. John the Baptist I had my left kidney removed. My feet are getting cold and I think the lights are getting dark, too. My palms are getting sweaty and I don't think it's Minestrone. Honey, what was the appetizer I just had? You said ravioli but I could be wrong again as usual. I am getting old. It was something that starts with R. I chewed the appetizer that starts with R and its hot juice squirted out, tingling my palate. The exquisite burning sensation went down my throat. My arms are getting too heavy to lift and now the room's completely dark. I can't see your beautiful face. Oh, you're kind enough to feed me with your spoon. But my soup's getting cold and I don't think it's Minestrone.

 Kyoko Yoshida has a collection of short stories Disorientalism from Vagabond Press in Sydney, and her short story is included in the inaugural issue of Singapore's Books Actually Gold Standard 2016 anthology. She was born and raised in Fukuoka, studied in Kyoto and Milwaukee, and after thirteen years of teaching English in Yokohama and Tokyo, now teaches American Literature at Ritsumeikan University in Kyoto. She was a fellow at University of Iowa and Brown University. She writes fiction in English, translates Japanese poetry and drama into English, and translates American fiction into Japanese. Her latest translations include Dave Eggers’s A Hologram for the King and Gozo Yoshimasu’s Alice Iris Red Horse. Yoshida will serve as one of the guest editors for Cha's "Writing Japan" Issue (June 2017). [Cha profile]

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