FICTION: My Friendly Neighborhood

The surface of the water ripples. It is wide and flat as if it were dead. The Sumida-River is a large, bland river.

My hometown, Machiya, in Tokyo, was a traditional working-class town. As a child, I grew up in a row house next to the busy road always filled with traffic. Grandma was working at home sewing kimono every day. I drew pictures alone, sang a song, and made my own stories in my brain. I was not lonely. I was not old enough to understand the word “loneliness”.

Cranes, canning factories and high-rise condominiums are quietly – but confusingly – located across the river. The river separates the towns and is also the boundary of the weather map. The isolated showers block my view. I rush into a hamburger joint to order French onion soup. As I wash my hands in the ladies room, a little boy in a Spider-Man costume comes out of the restroom stall with his mother. The mother holds a supermarket plastic bag messily packed with her son’s sweater and pants in her hand. The little Spider-Man hangs from the bathroom door opening outwards, sways, and jumps out of the window with momentum. He lands on a pleasure cruise on the Sumida-River. The little Spider-Man shouts “Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man!”, from the deck of the boat heading to the estuary. And then he sneezes. Spring has come. The season for hay fever has arrived in Tokyo.

The bus arrived just after the rain stopped. Machiya-Station is just around the corner from the Sumida-River. The bus is stuffed with elderly people. An old man with a cane is slowly trying to sit next to me. A cabaret leaflet is on the floor. In the leaflet, the heroine in an anime is waving a magic wand to make the stars sparkle. The old man sticks it with his cane, then disgustingly flies it into the air. In the bus, the stars are scattered shinning with the magic of anime girl.

“Did you know that it snowed a while ago?”

From the back seat, I hear the voice of my late grandmother.

“Are you scared?”

What? When I turned around, a ray of light is shining into the Sumida-River through the grey clouds.

“I wish you a safe journey like this river.”

hiromi suzuki is a poet, fiction writer and artist living in Tokyo, Japan. She is the author of Ms. cried - 77 poems by hiromi suzuki (Kisaragi Publishing, 2013), logbook (Hesterglock Press, 2018), INVISIBLE SCENERY (Low Frequency Press, 2018), Andante (AngelHousePress, 2019), Found Words from Olivetti (Simulacrum Press, 2020). Double solo exhibition with Francesco Thérèse visual HAIKU | OLIVETTI poems was held in Rome, 9 ~30 September 2021. Her short stories have been published at 3:AM Magazine, RIC journal, Burning House Press, and various literary journals on-line. The post image is by suzuki.

Web site:

Twitter: @HRMsuzuki

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