Japanese Short Story Translation: “Five Minutes Won’t Cut It” by Kisaragi Shinichi [Chapter 5]

This is the fifth chapter of “Five Minutes Won’t Cut It” (大泥棒に5分は長い), a short story by Kisaragi Shinichi 1(如月新一). I have permission from the author to translate this work, and I plan to release the complete story in six chapters.

Thanks to Locksleyu from Self Taught Japanese, both for inspiration to start this project and for help with verifying the translation and editing.

I’m Moving Back In With My Parents

“I’m moving back in with my parents.” I never thought the day would come when I would say those words. The only thing there for me is nagging. My parents are the type of people that still say a woman’s place is in the home, so I can’t imagine us seeing eye to eye.

My job comes with responsibilities. It’s not like I’m making a weekly magazine for fun. I’m hoping the articles I write will reach the world, resonate with the world, even a little. Occasionally I’ll write some worthless, exaggerated piece: actors and their suspected affairs, celebrity ratings, secret pop star rendezvous. But no matter the topic I want to take it head on. That’s why I just keep getting busier.

“I told you I’m busy. There isn’t much I can do.”

“Well what do you expect me to say about instant udon for dinner?”

I had served udon for dinner, blaming my busy work schedule. I was struggling to get an interview about corruption within the Japan Highway Public Corporation and was hitting a dead end at work, so it was only natural for my husband’s comment to annoy me so easily.

“If you don’t want it, don’t eat it. Before we got married, we pretty much agreed to both keep working, did we not?”

“That’s not what I’m talking about. If you’d have told me, I could have made dinner today.”

“Oh, of course—I can’t do anything right!”

At the time, I got the impression he was berating me for not being able to do my job or even things around the house. Actually, that’s exactly how it was—he had touched a sore spot—so I guess I was putting up a tough front.

After that, we brought up all our usual complaints with each other; “After all, I guess you don’t love me like you used too,” I screamed. He said nothing, so I told him I was moving back in with my parents and ran out of the house.

However, now I think I’ve done something terrible. I deeply regret what I did.

If I could go back in time one week, I would have slapped my own hand and apologized instead. For the last week, every night after work my husband made the several-hour trip to my parents’ house to come bring me home, but I wouldn’t even see him. But as the days passed, my regret, remorse, and embarrassment were no longer only in my heart, but came to fill my entire being. So I secretly came back home—though I didn’t even know if I could look him in the eye.

My husband had left a half-eaten bowl of udon on the table—he must have gotten the urge for a beer and gone out to the convenience store.

A ring, a watch, and a Kyoto travel guide were on the living room table.

I thought my husband had lost that ring long ago. It was a couples ring we had bought together before we were married, and the watch was a present I gave him just after we started dating. The Kyoto guide book was from our first trip together in the spring of our junior year in college. The corner of the Kiyomizu-dera temple page was folded. I remember pressuring him into visiting the temple together—I really wanted to pray to the god of love and matchmaking for good luck in our relationship.

Maybe he had been eating udon alone as he stared at these keepsakes.

I reached for the udon with my chopsticks.

I thought about these things as I ate the dried-out udon noodles and salty broth. The broth had cooled and the noodles were all stretched out. Neither me or my husband wanted it to come to this. We wanted to make a household overflowing with warm meals. It would have been fine if they were poorly prepared or if the spices were a bit off. If only we had made something together. I regret that even if I had cooked some scrambled eggs with cabbage, he probably would have said it tastes great and happily eaten it.

My regret had become a stream of tears. I’ve heard that the human body is seventy percent water. I thought it would be fine if I lost all of it in tears. I continued to cry like a lost child with no idea what to do.

I don’t know how long I cried before I caught a whiff of a nostalgic smell. Before I knew it, I was grabbed firmly from behind. It was a strong embrace, with no indication of letting go.

“Welcome home,” my husband said into my ear.

“I’m sorry.”

“Shouldn’t it be, ‘Honey, I’m home?’ ”

“I’m sorry.”

“No, I’m the one who said too much. I’m sorry.”

“I’m sorry. Honey, I’m home.”

I stood up and hugged him. Letting out a sob, I buried my face, dripping snot, in the chest of his suit and wailed. I surprised myself that there were any tears left after all that crying.

“It’s okay. Let’s make things work…like we used to.”

I nodded vigorously several times and embraced him again. Then I gradually loosened my hold as my consciousness started slipping away. Now that I think of it, for the past week I’ve been thinking about things a lot and I haven’t slept too well. These thoughts passed idly through my mind.

Next thing I realized, I was in my bed. My husband lay next to me, patting my head softly, as if lulling a child to sleep.

I silently hugged him and closed my eyes.

Next Chapter

  1. In this blog, I always write Japanese names with the family name first. Shinichi is pronounced Shin`ichi.