First published in 2009 and 2010 by Shinchosha Publishing Co Ltd, Tokyo

Books One and Two translated by Jay Rubin, Book Three translated by Philip Gabriel

jh: vrána vrána vrána

See also AfterdarkKafka na pobřežíNorské dřevoNa jih od hranic, na západ od slunceKonec světa & Hard-boiled WonderlandSputnik SweetheartA Wild Sheep ChaseDance Dance DanceThe Wind-up Bird Chronicle

Random House, London 2011

ƒ„Thanks very much,“ he said. „Be careful, it looks windy out there. Don’t slip.“

„I’ll be careful,“ Aomame said.

„And also,“ the driver said, facing the mirror, „please remember: things are not what they seem.“

Things are not what they seem, Aomame repeated mentally. “What do you mean by that?“ she asked with knitted brows.

The driver chose his words carefully: „It’s just that you’re about to do something out of the ordinary. Am I right? People do not ordinarily climb down the emergency stairs of the Metropolitan Expressway in the middle of the day – especially women.“

„I suppose you’re right.“

„Right. And after you do something like that, the everyday look of things might seem to change a little. Things may look different to you than they did before.“

There were so many things he wanted to tell her! „I still remember when you squeezed my hand in that classroom. After that, I wanted to be your friend. I wanted to get to know you better. But I just couldn’t do it. There were lots of reasons for that, but the main problem was that I was a coward. I regretted it for years. I still regret it. And I think of you all the time.“ Of course he would not tell her that he had masturbated while picturing her. That would be in a whole different dimension than sheer honesty.

Aomame gave her rubber plant its last watering, and then she put Janáček’s Sinfonietta on the record player. It was the only record she had kept after getting rid of all the others. She closed her eyes and listened to the music, imagining the windswept fields of Bohemia. How wonderful it would be to walk with Tengo in such a place! They would be holding hands, of course. The breeze would sweep past, soundlessly swaying the soft green grass. Aomame could feel the warmth of Tengo’s hand in hers. The scene would gradually fade like a movie’s happy ending.

„But it has finally hit me: she is neither a concept nor a symbol nor a metaphor. She actually exists: she has warm flesh and a spirit that moves. I never should have lost sight of that warmth and that movement. It took me twenty years to understand something so obvious. It always takes me a while to think of things, but this is a little too much. It may already be too late. But one way or another, I want to find her.“

He looked around, but all he saw was the same world as always. White lace curtains were drawn in windows in the condo across the street, peaceful lights on behind them. Nothing out of the ordinary. Only the number of moons was different.

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