Halfway through painting my nails in the bedroom, I heard a bang coming from the bathroom. Oh no! Had Manabu slipped?
I sprinted into the bathroom. “Are you okay? I told you not to get the floor wet.”
Manabu was clutching the sink, frowning at it. More specifically, at the three strands of hair stuck to the white porcelain. This wasn’t a sign of concern — except he had so few strands left that you could count them. “I can’t believe I’m going bald at thirty.”
“Hair is overrated.” …
Yui twisted her webcam. “Can you see me?”
Osamu tapped his microphone. “Can you hear me?”
That was how they began each online rendezvous. It was funny — since they could clearly see and hear each other. Perhaps they just wanted to acknowledge each other’s existence, make sure they were physically there.
These internet meetings were virtually the same every time.
Until one day.
“What’s wrong?” Yui asked, leaning toward the webcam.
Osamu lifted his mouse. “I think this is broken.”
“The batteries died?”
“It’s not wireless.”
“Maybe try unplugging and replugging it?”
Osamu did as he was told. …
One of Mai’s greatest fears was to have a child with a birth defect — a cleft lip, Down syndrome. She never expected to suffer the opposite predicament.
The birth of her baby, Ami, was without complications. She was cleaned by the midwife, wrapped in a blanket, and placed in Mai’s arms. This was, no doubt, the happiest day of Mai’s life; she was cradling someone who’d been inside her. Someone who’d been part of her body. Someone she’d been eager to meet for eight months.
This marvelous moment was disrupted by an observation: Ami was watching her. It wasn’t a curious or charming stare. …