Extra 7: Eyes on the Same Light
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.
When Shitara told Mutsuto that he was returning to Asahi TV headquarters, Mutsuto gasped, buried his face in his hands, and let out a long, shaky breath.
“…I’m so glad…”
It was a topic that they hadn’t ever really touched upon before until now. Every time Shitara was transferred, he would say something to the effect, “Come visit if you ever feel like it,” and Mutsuto would reply with a “That would be great” and that would be that, never delving into the topic too deeply. It probably caused Mutsuto more pain to talk about it. He probably agonized about it over and over again—wanting to apologize, but there was nothing that he could do to undo the things that he did—that he knew all of this from the beginning. Maybe it would have been easier on Mutsuto if Shitara had blamed him more for his actions, but all this time had passed since then, and Shitara didn’t resent him for it.
“When will you be back?”
“At the beginning of the new year. I’ll be in charge of the nightly news starting next spring, and preparations for the revamp are already underway, so I’m being run ragged.”
“The nightly news—so you mean The News, right? That’s amazing.” Mutsuto’s eyes sparkled in an instant.
“Nah, it’s like they have their backs to the wall and decided to pass the baton over to me. They’re asking me to pick up the pieces of a bad situation that’s just getting worse and worse.”
“Oh, I see, so there’s a lot of pressure on you… But I believe that you’ll turn it around somehow, Shitara-san. I think you’re the perfect choice.”
“Well, no matter where I go, it doesn’t really change the work that I do. Now that I have the budget and people at my disposal, I plan to make full use of all my resources. I don’t really care if they regret bringing me back.”
“You’ll be fine.”
Mutsuto’s smile suddenly fell. Shitara didn’t have to think to know whose face Mutsuto was imagining, but he deliberately asked him anyway, “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing. I just thought that it’d be nice if Souma could be assigned to the show too. You two would be unstoppable then. …Are reassignments coming up in the spring? Maybe you could pull some strings…”
“There’s no way.” Shitara dismissed the expectations with a wry smile. “HR would never pull the top producer of one of the shows onto another one.”
“I see… But at the very least, you two should be able to talk normally once you’re back in Tokyo, right?”
“Hmmm, but he’s probably really busy.”
It wasn’t Mutsuto’s fault that Shitara had lost contact with Sakae. However, he couldn’t explain the reason to Mutsuto so that he would stop blaming himself. That was why Shitara was relieved when Urara and Souta returned home and they dropped the conversation.
“We’re back~! Did you see the moon outside? It’s so cool!”
Souta slipped past Urara who carried a number of shopping bags with her, and he came running over to Mutsuto and Shitara.
“It’s huge and so pretty! Uncle Sousuke, let’s go watch it together!”
“You want to go out again? You just got back though. Aren’t you tired?”
“I’m full of energy!!”
“I’m sorry, if you could take him out while I’m preparing dinner, it would help me out so much~” Urara said.
“Then I’ll go too.”
“Nope, you’re staying here with me, Mucchan. You have to help me with the frying.”
And so Shitara led the small hand along as they walked to the nearby beach. It was a man-made one, and there was barely any scent of the tides. The bright round moon had just risen over the surface of the sea, and its reflection flickered in the calm waters.
“See? Look! It’s so cool, right!?”
Souta gave a proud look as Shitara gave him a pat on the head (which almost fit into the palm of his hand).
“It sure is,” Shitara said with a smile. “The moon is beautiful. Thank you for taking me out and showing it to me.”
“Is this a full moon?”
“The news said that it was a full moon yesterday, so this one is not quite a full moon. It’s a sixteenth-day moon.”
“So yesterday was a fifteenth-day moon? What about the Moon Viewing Festival?”
“The Moon Viewing always happens in the fall. Right now it’s already December.”
“Hmmm.” Souta pursed his lips in disagreement. “Why does it always have to be in the fall? I think we should watch the moon whenever it’s pretty out.”
When they descended the stairs to the shore, the feeling under their feet changed to the weighty sensation of sand.
“The sixteenth-day moon is also called izayoi.”
When Shitara offered this tidbit of extra knowledge, the young child immediately asked, “What does that mean?”
In an instant, his shiny veneer was tarnished.
“Umm… Hold on a second. I need to cheat a little.”
Shitara pulled out his cell phone, did a quick search on the Internet, and the handy little toy immediately gave him an answer. He chuckled a little over Souta’s head, but the boy didn’t seem to hear him.
“Did you get an answer?”
“Yeah. Izayou means to waver or hesitate. Like when you don’t know what to do. It comes out a little later than the full moon, so it means that the moon hesitated today.”
“Why does it hesitate, I wonder?”
“Hmm, I wonder why.”
Souta squeezed the fingers in his hand as he paused to ponder the question. Eventually, he looked up at Shitara and shouted, “I know!” His eyes looked exactly like Mutsuto’s. There was a pain in Shitara’s chest, but he thought that it was something that belonged to Sakae. It was the pain that Sakae didn’t even realize that he felt after he lost this gaze.
“The moon is scared that it might get lost. There are no signs in the sky, and don’t the stars all look the same?”
“…Oh, you could be right,” Shitara nodded.
Souta stretched both arms up towards the sky and started waving at the moon. But then his attention immediately turned elsewhere, such was the typical attention span of children, and he pointed at the sandy beach.
“Oh, I saw on TV, a turtle that laid eggs, and one night a bunch of baby turtles hatched under the full moon and went into the ocean. Do you think any eggs are buried here?”
“I don’t think so. Turtles would pick a nicer ocean far, far away from here where there aren’t any people.”
“The baby turtles were just born, but why don’t they get lost?”
Shitara knew the answer to the question without needing to look it up.
“Because they use the moonlight to guide them.”
That was why even if they hesitated, even if they were scared, even if they were all alone, they still had to climb higher. Even if they repeated the same things over and over again, they had to move forward. They had to be a guide for others—that was all there was to it. It had nothing to do with what they wanted or didn’t want. Nor what they decided or was decided for them.
It’s the same for you too. Right, Sakae?
His head rocked as it leaned against a window, and he woke up. It was dark. He was on the bus with the production crew. Apparently his head had slipped when the bus stopped for a traffic light. His consciousness drifted for a moment, and he wondered where he was and what he was doing, but then he met his own eyes in the jet black reflection of the window, and he came back to Earth. He was on his way back from a shoot in Hakone for an episode about comedians mountain climbing in the winter. Both the performers and the crew were exhausted, having spent nearly a full day with a professional mountaineer shooting scenes under his strict instructions, and a silence had settled like ink in the bus. Sakae closed his eyes again, about to go to sleep again, but there was a rustling sound from the back of the bus of someone rummaging through a plastic bag. Normally, the sound wouldn’t have bothered him, but right now it grated on his nerves. Just as he wondered who the hell it was, he heard Shin speak in a low whisper.
“Are ya lookin’ for a drink? I have tea or water if ya like?”
“No, I’m sorry for the noise. It’s just that I’ve dropped my earphones somewhere.”
Apparently, it was their guest mountaineer. Maybe he didn’t feel tired or sleepy since he was always training.
“Oh, is this it?”
“Yes, that’s it. Thank you very much.”
“Thank ya for spendin’ such a full day with us today. We really ’ppreciate it.”
“Oh, it was nothing. I’m sure that everyone here is exhausted.”
“Yes, the performers really gave it their all… Um, I was thinkin’ earlier, but ya eyes are really quite gray. Almost like a blue-gray.”
“Oh, that’s because I’m always climbing mountains.”
“It’s due to all the exposure to UV rays over time at high elevation.”
Instead of the harshness that was spoken with a blitheness that was the man’s livelihood, Sakae focused on something different in the words.
The eyes saw something that ordinary humans could not see.
Something seemed to come to mind, but he couldn’t grasp it. He tried to remember something, but it didn’t come to him. Earlier, was someone calling out to him? His irritation melted with the mechanical rocking of the bus, and Sakae drifted off to sleep again. A round silver moon floated outside the window.
On a late-night drive home, when the moon had set and the dawn was breaking, Shitara spoke up from the driver’s seat.
“I wonder if we saw the fifteenth-day moon or the sixteenth?”
“Dunno,” Sakae answered with a yawn. “They’re pretty much the same anyway.”
“To the naked eye they are.”
Shitara continued to talk, not bothered that Sakae was dozing off.
“The fifteenth-day moon is bougetsu, the full moon, and the sixteenth-day moon is kibou, already full. Apparently, that’s where the name Kibo for the Japanese Experiment Module for the ISS comes from. I would have thought it was named for ‘hope’… But maybe it could also mean a ‘granted wish’?”1
“Do you mountain climb or anything?”
“Huh? Well, no. Do you want to go mountain climbing somewhere?”
“What kind of trap door did I just walk into?”
“I just suddenly felt like asking you the question. That’s all.”
Maybe it was because of the moon last night. It made him remember the past.
“I’m going to sleep, so don’t talk to me.”
“Roger. I’ll wake you up when we arrive.”
“You better take me back to my place.”
Sakae closed eyes and leaned against the window. The car headed for Tokyo.
“Oi, where’s your answer?”
“Don’t ‘hmmm’ me.”
The bright light of the sun burst behind his eyelids. And then later on, they would approach the broadcast time of the moon and start again.
—–Translated by daydrop. Please read on the original site at daydrop.nowaki.net.
- 望 (bou) is the archaic name for the full moon. But in everyday Japanese, 望み (nozomi) means wish. 希望 (kibou) means hope but 既望 (kibou) means the sixteenth-day moon, which is already full. Shitara is suggesting maybe the ISS module きぼう (kibou) means a wish already granted.