Date and Time
“So we meet on Friday?” I asked.
“Yeah,” Itsuo said from the other side of the line. “At Tokyo Station. As always.”
“Got it. And at two? As always?”
“Yeah, but I have to leave two hours earlier. I have to finish my manuscript. The deadline is next week.”
My heart sank into an abyss. We usually met for six hours once a week. So every minute together was precious and irreplaceable to me. But Itsuo had been writing this book on time management for five years. He couldn’t mess up at the last minute.
Anyway, four hours was still a lot. To eat, talk, kiss.
“I’ll be thirty minutes late,” Itsuo said from the other side of the line. “I’m sorry. I was writing on my phone, so I missed the station.”
My heart twitched painfully. It was okay. That wouldn’t be so bad.
Thirty minutes later, Itsuo called me again. “Hey, I was thinking … What about we meet directly in Shinjuku Station? South Gate? That way, I won’t have to exit the subway.”
Itsuo usually took the bullet train from Kawasaki to Tokyo. We would meet at Tokyo Station and take the Yamanote Line to Shinjuku Station. That would give us thirty minutes together.
But Itsuo was right. It would be more efficient to meet at Shinjuku Station — even if that would reduce our time spent together to three hours.
Anyway, three hours was still okay. To eat, talk.
I got into Tokyo Station and took the train to Shinjuku Station, wishing it would go faster. Wishing it would at least give me a few more minutes with Itsuo.
The train arrived at Shinjuku Station one minute late. I rushed out of it and to the South Gate. Then I called Itsuo. “I’m here. Where are you?”
In the end, it took us thirty minutes to find each other.
“I said North Gate.” Itsuo wiped his sweat with the sleeve of his dress shirt.
“You said South Gate. Also, there’s no North Gate.”
“Sorry, my mistake. Anyway, let me freshen up in the toilet. I’ll be back in a minute.”
He was back in thirty minutes. He always spent more time in the toilet or bathroom than me. His motto was “Time in the toilet is never wasted.”
To me, though, it was time wasted. We only had two hours left.
Anyway, two hours was still enough. To eat.
It took us thirty minutes to reach the restaurant we frequented.
Another thirty minutes later, Itsuo sipped his glass of wine and said, “Sorry, but I have to have a video call with my editor. He just texted me. He said we have to discuss the rewriting of a chapter.”
I put down my glass of water. “Here?”
“I’ll go to a nearby park. It’ll be quieter.”
“Can I sit next to you while you’re having the video call?”
“It’ll be long.”
“I have time.”
“You’ll get bored.”
By now, my heart was numb. “You’re right.”
I was still eating my dry-aged steak, so I remained seated as I watched Itsuo set down his fork, leave a five-thousand-yen note on the table, and hurry out of the sliding glass door.
Well, at least he’d made time for a date.