Autodidact: self-taught

Nov
24
2012

Otsuichi

by V. L. Craven

Otsuichi

Black Fairy Tale
001. He spread his wings and flew high up into the sky. Above him were clouds, below him the grey city.
002 The raven flew beneath low clouds heavy with rain and thought, If it meant that she could see light and colour again, I’d paint the world with blood.
003 The forest spread black along the base of the crimson sky.
004 After he left her mansion the raven happened to pass over a graveyard at the top of a small hill with no houses around it. The sun was fast asleep, and the land was bathed in moonlight. Only the lines of gravestones below were white.
Someone was being buried. A gravedigger was digging into the earth with a shovel. The raven stopped on a withered tree to watch him work.
A person covered by a cloth lay on the ground next to the grave.
…After the corpse was buried in its grave, the raven flew from the tree, beating his black wings. It had already grown dark and only the pale moon was out.
005 When I had time to spare from my investigation I put the binder full of my eye’s memories into my backpack and walked around town. The binder was heavy—when I held it in my arms as I walked, I felt like an ascetic monk.

Otsuichi Goth

Part One: Goth
001 People had been killed—torn to pieces. People who had that done to them and people who had done that actually existed.

002 Morino and I had a unique interest in this kind of awful event. We were always looking for stories that were so tragic that they made you want to hang yourself. We had never spoken about this strange inclination directly, but we both sensed it in the other without saying anything.
I imagine normal people would have been appalled. Our sense of these things was abnormal, so whenever we discussed torture implements or methods of execution, we always kept our voices low.

003 I became aware of Morino when second year began and we found ourselves in the same class. At first, I thought she was like me, living her life without getting involved with anyone around her. Even during break periods or when she was walking through the halls, she always avoided other people, never joining the herd.
We were the only two people like that in our class. That is not to say that I gazed coldly at my classmates’ excitement the way she did, though: I would answer if someone spoke to me, and I joked around enough to keep things friendly. I did the bare minimum to lead a normal life. But these all were surface relationships, and all the smiles I produced were lies.
The first time we spoke, Morino saw right through that part of me.
‘Will you teach me how to smile like that?’ she’d said, standing directly in front of me after school, no expression on her face at all. She must have scorned me for it, privately.
That was at the end of May. Since then, we had begun to speak occasionally.
Morino only ever wore black clothes—dark colours, from her long straight black hair to the tips of her shoes. In contrast to that, her skin was paler than anyone else’s I’d ever seen, her hands like ceramic. There was a small mole under her left eye, like the patterns on a clown’s face, and it gave her a slightly magical aura.
Her expression changed significantly less than that of most people, but it did change. For example, when she was reading a book about a killer who had murdered fifty-two women and children in Russia, Morino was clearly enjoying herself. It was not the same as the suicidally gloomy look she wore when she was in a crowd of our classmates; no, her eyes were glittering.
When talking to Morino was the only time I didn’t feign expressions. If I’d been speaking to anyone else, they would wonder why my face was so blank, why I never flashed a smile. But when I was speaking to her, none of that mattered. I imagine she chose to speak to me for much the same reason.
Neither of us liked to attract attention. We lived quiet lives in the shadow of our livelier classmates.
And then came summer vacation—and the notebook.

004 There was nothing that could identify who had written it. And neither of us ever considered giving it to the police. They would catch him eventually, without our doing anything. If we gave them the notebook, they might arrest him faster, and there might be fewer victims—so it probably should have been our duty to turn it in. Sadly, though, neither of us had the kind of conscience that was bothered by keeping it to ourselves. We were cruel, reptilian high school kids.

005 Both of us felt an entirely irrational anger at the idea of any form of exercise. We enjoyed neither slope nor stairs. And by the time we reached the shrine, we both were exhausted.

006 The next day, Morino sent a message to my cell phone from hers: ‘Return the notebook.’
Her messages always were short and simple, nothing unnecessary. Likewise, Morino had no detestable clattery key-holders or straps attached to her phone.

007 ‘When second year started, that girl suddenly started going to school all the time. Now I know why!’
The year before, Morino had said school was boring and rarely went. I had not known that. Her interests were unusual, but more than that, she was awkward, unable to blend in. It was only natural she had ended up the way she was.

Otsuichi Wrist-Cut
008 Apparently, Morino had been absolutely dying to talk about this movie with somebody, but I was the only person in the class who she ever talked to—and she would only do that when I was alone, not when I was talking to any of our other classmates. Therefore, she’d been unable to speak to me until just before I went home.
A few girls to the side of the room noticed us talking and began whispering; I could tell they were talking about us. At first, people had wondered if we were a couple, but our body language was never at all intimate, our expressions remaining sullen throughout each conversation. So just how close we were remained a mystery to our classmates. But as far as they were concerned, Morino talking to anybody was remarkable in itself. She hid herself in the class, vanishing the moment school ended—she lived like a submarine, hugging the sea floor.
Unless wearing the summer version of her uniform, she always wore black—black from her long hair down to her shoes—as if she were doing her best to melt unto the darkness, fleeing detestable light.
I once asked Morino shibou douki, or why she’d chosen this school to attend.
‘The uniforms are black and very plain. That’s the only reason… When you first said ‘shibou douki,’ I understood a very different meaning.’
She wrote the homonym on the blackboard in white chalk: the kanji for ‘death wish’. As she did, her thin wrist emerged from inside her uniform sleeve. Her skin was very pale, as if it had never been exposed to sunlight.
She had a pretty face, so a few boys had tried to chat her up—until something had happened to change everything: One of the teachers had done something to her that amounted to sexual harassment, and she’d produced an aerosol can filled with pepper spray, calmly attacking him with it before picking up her desk chair and beating him to the ground. I had been watching in hiding. After that, no other boys dared approached her.

009 [the Wrist-cut killer] …he had observed the people around him enough to understand that the world was controlled by the empty words emerging from heads and mouths.

010 It was easy to act like my cheerier classmates. If I kept up with the most popular TV shows and variety programmes, and responded with the right words and expressions, it was easy to seem like I was following along. Everyone believed me to be an outgoing boy, and I was able to avoid any unnecessary trouble.
What kind of trouble? In kindergarten, I had once become obsessed with the idea of colouring in a doll’s face with black magic marker and cutting off its arms and legs—and I had done just that, which caused a great deal of concern among those around me. I could clearly remember the worried looks my mother and teachers gave me.
After that, I became good at lying. Like with the crayons we used for drawing: Until then, the black ones always had been much shorter; but after, I was careful to wear all the colours down evenly. I don’t remember drawing much of interest afterward, but the subject matter must have involved a number of rainbows or flowers or the like. This seemed to put the adults around me at ease.
By understanding the value system the world preferred, remembering and feigning it, I was able to convince others I was free of problems. I simply had to participate enthusiastically in the boring conversations my classmates were having.
I didn’t tell my classmates that I was helping clean the chemistry office that day. The character I played in class would never do that sort of thing.

011 [Morino] looked up, glancing at me as I entered from where she sat in the far corner, as far from the office door as possible. Then, she immediately turned her attention back to the book, showing no interest in me at all.
At first, I’d wondered if she’d come to help, but apparently that was not the case. I decided she wouldn’t interfere with my plan.
I had never spoke to Morino, but her oddness had occasionally caught my attention. She didn’t stand out much—but in not standing out, she attracted attention. There were people in class who were charismatic and filled with light and energy; Morino, however, seemed to be forging her way stubbornly in the opposite direction. She had mercilessly ignored anyone who attempted to speak to her until she was completely isolated—and she appeared to love that isolation.

012 ‘There was a girl in there, right? She comes there almost every day at lunch,’ the chemistry teacher said. The lecture hall was dimly lit and one of the quietest places in the school. I could understand why she came here. It was nothing like the bustling classrooms where we spent most of our time. It was silent, like time had stopped and the darkness did not wish to be disturbed. It was seeped [sic] in a comfortable repulsiveness, like when clinically observing things as they died.

013 I once came across Mr Shinohara talking to Morino outside the lecture hall. He had seen the book Morino was carrying and was telling her he had a copy of the follow up. It was a non-fiction book about dealing with the mentally unstable. Morino simply replied, ‘Do you?’ her usual blank expression never faltering.

014 …it was exhausting to keep my slang current and to chatter happily with the humans around me about the latest celebrity gossip. I occasionally felt like an idiot for expending all that effort.

015 She was always along, but not because she was being bullied—it was more like she had deliberately cut off all communication with those around her. Her stony silence made it clear that her interests and passions had nothing in common with those of the other students.

016 Morino had been carrying around a can of pepper spray. She unloaded it in Mr Shinohara’s face, and then she hit him in the head with her chair before she began shouting for help. She did not scream—and she called out, calmly but loudly.

017 The only hands I had wanted were Morino’s pale, beautiful hands.
‘Will you teach me how to smile like that?’ she asked me the next day. It was the first time Morino had ever spoke to me.
Whenever I talked to someone else, I smiled. But inside, I had no expression and Morino had somehow picked up on that. The performance that no one else had ever seen through was no match for her.
After that, we each had someone to talk to. Our relationship was a little to cold to ball friendship—but when I spoke with her, it was the only time I could stop acting, letting my face remain devoid of expression. It gave the muscles in my face a well-earned respite. There was a comfortable disinterest to our relationship, which allowed me to express the inhuman and unemotional sides of myself.

018 The reason I wanted her hands was because she had those beautiful scars, from when she tried to kill herself.

Dog
019 There was no particular reason why we arranged to meet here. It would have been equally convenient to leave school together, but Morino was a little too well known. The way she looked and acted, and the rumours that swirled around her, meant that people often turned to look as she went past. She stood out, and I didn’t want to be seen in her company too often.
But Morino never worried about anyone around her, treating everyone like so much static. It was as if her nerves that were responsible for worrying about what people thought had burned out long ago. Or perhaps Morino simply didn’t notice how much attention she attracted. She could be a little oblivious sometimes.

020 ‘Let’s go,’ she said, standing up and walking away.
I headed in the same direction. She had promised to guide me to a used bookshop she frequented.
‘It’s a very small shop. I’m the only customer.’
When I’d asked the name, she’d told me—but I’d never heard of it. She had given a general description of the shop’s location, but that had not helped much, either. So, I had her draw a map on the board—but the lines she drew resembled no place on Earth, impossible to parse. And as she’d added yet another line of chalk, she’d been as a loss to explain how the bookstore had come to be constructed in the middle of a river. Therefore, we’d agreed that she would take me there directly.

021 Morino had a strong tendency to follow her own instinct, regardless of what anyone else thought. She didn’t blend into class, and paid no attention to anything anyone else said to her. She spent the bulk of her time alone, without expression, so her her to look so upset and defeated…it must’ve been something significant.

022 Morino and I found strange cases—and the people involved in them—darkly fascinating. Tragic human death ought to have torn our hearts in two—deaths so unfair that they made people want to scream. But we cut those articles out of news papers, looking down the deep dark well at the hearts of the people involved.

023 A small disturbance right next door was much more interesting than a huge fire in some other country.

024 But to me, there had been no conversation between me and my mother and sister. I forgot what we said as soon as it happened. It was so though I were sitting there in stony silence while everyone around me cracked up for no reason at al, as if I were living in some surreal dream.

025 I enjoyed watching people carry out unusual crimes. This hobby had once led me to encounter a man who had killed several women. I’d stolen a set of twenty-three knives from that man’s apartment, which I now kept hidden behind a bookcase in my room. When I was at home, I often gazed at the reflection of the ceiling light in the metal blades—the white like gleamed like it was wet.
Occasionally, my reflection in the blade would transform into the faces of the women those knives had killed. I knew this was just a trick of the mind, but I felt like their suffering and despair had stained the knives forever.
The knives were a little too much for me. I should never have brought them home. I felt like the gleam in that metal surface was telling me to use them.

Otsuichi Memory/Twins
026 I have a classmate with the family name Morino whom I talk to occasionally. Her given name it Yoru. If you read the names together, you get Morino Yoru, or ‘the woods at night.’ Her hair and eyes are both jet black. Our high school also has black uniforms, and Morino always wears black shoes. The only colour anywhere on her is the uniform’s red scarf.

027 The name Yoru matches Morino’s black-clothed figure perfectly. Her commitment to the colour is so great that I imagine if the darkness of night were given human form, then it might well look like her.
In direct contrast to all that clack, her skin is pale like the moon, as though it’s never known the sun. There’s no flush of health; she seems to be made of porcelain. There’s a small mole under her left eye, and she has a mystic air, like a fortuneteller.
I once saw a girl with a similar air in a movie, a movie that opened with a couple drowning. The rest of the film depicted their attempts to adjust to life after death. The leading ghosts were invisible to normal humans—but eventually, they found a girl who was able to see them. That girl was the heroine of the movie, and her name was Lydia.
‘I’m basically half-dead myself,’ Lydia had said, explaining why she was able to see the ghosts. ‘My heart is filled with darkness.’
Lydia wore all black and was sickly pale. She preferred staying indoors and reading to playing outside and she seemed very unhealthy.
Some people began calling people like her ‘Goths.’ Goth refers to a culture, a fashion, and a style. If you search for Goth or ‘gosu’ online, you’ll find any number of pages. Goth is short for Gothic, but it has little connection with the European architectural style. It has much more to do with the Gothic horror novels popular in Victorian London, like Frankenstein or Dracula.
It seems fair to call Morino a Goth. She frequently expressed an interest in torture methods and execution devices, and a fascination with the dark side of humanity was a common characteristic among Goths.
Morino rarely exchanged words with anyone else. She had nothing fundamentally in common with our healthy, over-energetic classmates. If classmates smiled and spoke to her, Morino would simply stare back at them, her blank expression never crumbling—and she would say, ‘Oh.’ Even if classmates waited for her to say something else, nothing would happen; Morino would react no further.
Most people who spoke to her ended up feeling ignored. The girls in class had said as much. Ever since, they had begun to look down on her.
This attitude only helped complete the barrier around her that kept everyone else away. While everyone else was laughing and talking. Morino alone remained utterly silent, as though she were in some other dimension, as if there were a shadow cast on the spot where she sat.
But Morino didn’t intend to ignore anyone. After talking with her a while myself, I became convinced of this. It wasn’t out of spite that she didn’t happily respond; rather, it was simply because she was that kind of person. She had nothing against the others, and she was equally distant with everyone.
After carefully observing such interactions, what I sensed was confusion. When someone spoke to Morino, she couldn’t figure out how to respond, and she was unable to think of anything to say. But this was all speculation on my part, as I didn’t know what she was actually thinking. Most of the time, her emotions didn’t register outwardly, and it was hard to tell what she felt.
For a while after we first spoke, I thought she was like some sort of doll. The impression she gave off was one more like an object than something animate.

028 One Wednesday in October, just as the leaves were changing from green to red, Morino came into the classroom with her head down, and everyone fell silent. Her long black hair was hanging down, obscuring her face, and she was walking slowly, dragging her feet in a very creepy fashion. Most of the students must have thought she looked like a ghost—but her air was much more dangerous, like some sort of wild animal.
The barrier around her had transformed from its usual transparent sphere into something covered in spikes; she seemed like she might attack anyone who got too close to her. She was silent, as always—and nobody ever spoke to her, anyway—but you could see just how different her mood was by the tension on the faces of those sitting near her.

029 Morino was sitting low in her seat. Both her hands hung listlessly at her sides, and she looked exhausted.
‘I’m not sleeping much,’ she said, yawning. There were shadows under her eyes. Her eyelids were half closed, and she stared past them into the distance.
I was in my seat, preparing to head home. Her seat was clear on the other side of the room. There was no one else there, so I could hear her well enough, and it didn’t occur to me to move closer to her to talk.
‘Is that why you were so strange yesterday?’
‘I get like this sometimes. No matter how hard I try to sleep, I can’t. Insomnia, I guess.’
She stood up. Still looking very sleepy, she staggered toward the chalkboard.
There was an outlet at the front of the room, and an extension cord plugged into it, which was connected to the eraser cleaner. Morino unplugged the cord, which was a good sixteen feet long. Leaving the other end connected to the eraser cleaner, she wrapped the cord around her neck. She stood there that way, motionless.
‘No, doesn’t feel right,’ she said, shaking her head and dropping the cord. ‘When I can’t sleep, I always wrap something around my neck, close my eyes, and imagine myself being strangled to death. Then, I can fall asleep—it feels like sinking deep underwater.’
I was disappointed: She hadn’t yet gone mad from lack of sleep. ‘If that helps, you should try it before you’re this far gone.’
‘Not just any bit of rope will do.’
Morino was after a certain type of rope, and the extension cord had not proved an effective substitute.
‘I’ve lost the one I used the last time. I’m trying to find a new one, but…’ –she yawned, looking around blearily– ‘I don’t really know what I’m looking for. If I could figure that out, goodbye insomnia.’
‘What kind did you use last time?’
‘No clue. It was just something I found, and I tossed it out as soon as I could sleep without it.’
‘She closed her eyes, fingering her throat. ‘I just remembered how it felt…’ She opened her eyes, as if she’d just had an idea. ‘Right, let’s go rope shopping. You should buy some rope or cord yourself; it might come in handy. You might need it when you kill yourself.’

030 The large store was filled with wood and metal for construction, as well as any number of tools. We wandered through the aisles, looking for anything like a rope; AV cables for connecting TVs and video players, clothesline, kite string… they had everything.
Morino pikced up each one, feeling it with her fingers—carefully, as if she were choosing what to wear.
She seemed to have fairly strong opinions about what sort of rope should be used to hang oneself, and she explained them, looking haggard. ‘First, thin string would just snap. Electric cords are strong, but they lack in beauty.’
‘What about plastic?’ There was a big ball of plastic string on the bottom shelf, and I only asked because I happened to see this.
She shook her head, expressionless. ‘It stretches. Ruins everything. I’m done here.’

031 ‘I always thought that when it came time to kill yourself, you’d slit your wrists, not hang yourself,’ I said.
She held out her wrist. ‘You mean this?’
On her wrist was a thick white line, like a welt. The skin was slightly raised, and it was clearly a scar left from a slashed wrist. I’d never asked about it, so I didn’t know why she’d cut her wrist.
‘That’s not a result of planning to kill myself—it was just a sudden impulse.’
She went through her life without expressions, but she apparently did have emotions strong enough to produce that kind of reaction. Her lack of outward expression was similar to the way a thermos is never hot on the outside: No matter what was going on inside, it never affected the surface.
But when emotions get too strong, humans have to do something. Some people release their emotions by playing or exercising, whereas others calm their emotions by breaking things. People in the latter group could let their feelings out just by breaking furniture or the like. But Morino was unable to direct those feelings outward, so she’d directed them at herself.

032 I searched her voice for any trace of guilt, but there was none. It must not be a quality she possessed. In this sense, she was a lot like me.

033 I looked down at the book she was reading. On the corner of the page it said, ‘Chapter Three: You Are Not Alone… How to Live Positively’ This came as something of a shock to me.
Her head still down, Morino corrected my assumption. ‘I thought this book might put me to sleep.’

034 The grin on her wrinkled face made it hard to see any resemblance to Morino, who always seemed as if she had already died, sharing nothing of the vitality and sunny disposition her grandmother radiated.

035 There was a picture on the side of the kitchen cabinets. In the picture were a pair of doll-like little girls. They both had long black hair, and they were staring directly at the camera, not smiling at all. They were dressed all in black, and they were holding hands.

Otsuichi Grave
036 ‘Where am I? The mountains?’
‘No, you’re in my garden. This is your grave.’
The girl fell quiet. He tried to imagine what her face must look like in that tiny, dark space.
‘Grave? You’ve got to be kidding. I’m still alive.’
‘Burying dead people isn’t as much fun,’ Saeki said, feeling like that was extremely obvious.

037 ‘I wonder where Morino disappeared to…?’ he heard the boy mutter.
Saeki froze in his tracks, staring at the boy’s back.
‘I’m not sure quite how to explain this, but she gives off some sort of … pheromone that attracts strange people,’ the boy said, turning to look up at Saeki. It was obvious he had intended his muttered comment to be overheard. ‘Walking around in a cloud of those pheromones means those abnormal individuals often come after her.’

038 ‘So why did you bury her?’
He was not chastising Saeki for having driven a girl to her death. He simply sounded like this was something he wanted to know. Saeki could think of no clear answer to the question; after a long silence, he simply shook his head. ‘I have no idea. I buried her because I wanted to.’
He was being honest.
Why had he killed Kousuke? Why had he been possessed by the terrifying urge to bury people alive?
There was no reason. Saeki had buried the two of them as if he had been born to do so.

039 The morning sun rose beyond the trees, striking the pale cheeks of the boy next to Saeki. Saeki blinked, blinded by the sudden brilliance. The boy’s profile glittered, the rest of his face lost in shadow, making his eyes all the more memorable.
The boy’s eyes had no emotion. There were utterly blank. They were exactly like Saeki’s own eyes had looked when he’d seen his own face in the rear view mirror while he was out searching for a victim. They were eyes that contained unfathomable darkness.

Voice
040 By the time classes ended that evening, it was already dark. The florescent lights were on, and the windows reflected the classroom like a mirror. When the last class ended, the other students surged out of the room. In the windows, I could see one immobile figure in the middle of this raucous flood. She had long black hair, and her skin was so pale it was like she was made of snow. Morino Yoru.
Only the two of us remained.
‘You want to show me something?’ I asked. She had whispered as much to me in the hall after lunch, telling me to stick around after classes.
‘I have obtained a photo of a dead body.’
Everyone goes through life in his or her own way. You take one hundred people, you get one hundred ways of life, and all of them find it hard to understand any way of life but their own.
Morino and I had a unique way of life that was well beyond the ordinary. Exchanging pictures of corpses was simply part of this.

041 Morino raised her eyebrows marginally. It was easy to overlook, but this was how she expressed surprise.

042 ‘I killed her.’ The boy’s words echoed through my mind. I had known it was possible, but my mind couldn’t deal with the words as easily as my ears had. It was like too much water had been poured into a potted plant: His voice got stuck between my skull and my brain, the bulk of it sitting there unabsorbed.

043 Abruptly, all the light and noise of the restaurant turned back on. No, they didn’t turn on—the music playing and the customers’ voices had never stopped in the first place. They simply hadn’t reached my eyes and ears. But to me, it felt like time had stopped and then started moving again.

044 As rattled and flustered as I was, he remained utterly calm, as though he were observing me scientifically, like I wasn’t a human, but an insect under his magnifying glass.
‘Natsumi, I don’t want you to scream,’ he said without the slightest flicker of emotion in his voice, like he had no heart at all. I knew the thing across the table from me was very frightening indeed.
‘Why did you kill her?’
This boy would never laugh like Itsuki, or be surprised if someone unexpectedly dumped her problems on him. He was like a tree stripped of branches and leaves, reduced to the simple essence. A strange way of putting it, but that was how he felt to me.

045 I wanted to clap my hands over my ears to stop from hearing his voice. It was like he was climbing into my mind without even taking off his shoes.

046 For a moment, he was quiet. Then, he shook his head. ‘I don’t know. I’ve thoughts about why I have to kill people, but I’ve found no answers. And I’ve had to keep it secret, pretending that I’m normal. I’ve been very careful not to let anybody see inside my heart.’
‘Not even your family?’
He nodded. ‘My family believes I’m an ordinary, normal boy. I’ve been extremely careful to carve that position out for myself.’
‘Your…whole life… is a lie?’
‘Meaning that I could only believe that everything else was a lie.’
I didn’t understand this.
He explained further, ‘I couldn’t believe that the conversations my family had or the friendly attitudes of the people I knew were genuine. I was certain there had to be a script somewhere—and once, when I was very young, I searched the house for it. I wanted to read the same words everyone else was saying. But there was no script. The only thing that ever felt real to me was death.

047 Morino was herself again, no longer needing my guidance. We moved in opposite directions, without even saying goodbye.

Afterword of Goth by Otsuichi
048 So, the killers that appear in GOTH are not human, but youkai . And the male protagonist is also a youkai, with the same power as the enemies, whereas the female lead has a powerful psychic gift that attracts youkai. As I didn’t use any items or jargon to suggest that this was not our world, people tend to believe the book is set in reality; but in my mind, it absolutely is not.

Otsuichi Summer, Fireworks and My Corpse
001 She recalled all of her dreadful past sins and felt aware of the boyish demon sleeping somewhere in the bottom of her soul.

Afterword: Originally published in the Japanese paperback edition of Black Fairy Tale
001. Anyway, today at the family restaurant, I read through the galley for Black Fairy Tale. With a red pen firmly in hand, I had to read through it carefully with open eyes. I confronted the galley…
But I had written Black Fairy Tale while I was still honing my craft. Each time I saw my infantile self in the spaces between the words, my temperature rose and my pulse quickened.
I was ashamed. The words I’d written utterly shamed me. I couldn’t even read them. If I had to describe it, I’d say it would be like if you were forced to read a diary from your teenage years…
I read one line, and I could feel my cheeks turn bright red. I read a second line, and my hand holding the red pen started to shake, and I began to stamp my feet under the table. I read a third line and thought, ‘Damn it, no more!’ and I rolled up the galley and whacked it against the wall.
When I’d read up to the second chapter, I reached the limit of my shame, and my nerves broke.
Soon those embarrassing words would be printed and sent out into the world. Faced with the nearly unbearable humiliation, something in the back of my skull snapped. I realised I was about to make a strange monkeylike cry and frantically held it in.
002. Whatever you do, just don’t become a writer. Find a good company to work for and give your parents something out of your first paycheck. Please, I beg of you.

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