The Gift of the Magi
It was the first morning of the remaining three days.
Thus, Miyagi was gone.
I decided how I’d spend those three days a while ago. In the morning, I filled up the notebook.
When I woke up, I went out to smoke, then bought a cider from a vending machine for my thirst.
I looked back at my bed.
Three times I counted it. One hundred and eighty-seven yen.
Realizing a strange coincidence, my cheeks burned. Passing the three days would be a somewhat uncertain business, but for now I enjoyed that happenstance.
I wondered if Miyagi was off observing someone else now.
I prayed that Miyagi could keep working until she paid her debt, and live such a happy life that she forgot all about me.
I put out my hand, said “Look, Miyagi!”, and held an imaginary Miyagi’s hand.
It was the same as always for everyone else. “Ah, that idiot Kusunoki’s walking with his imaginary girlfriend again.”
As I went on doing this to myself, I was hit with such sadness I could barely stand up. I realized Miyagi’s absence more than ever.
I had a thought.
But did that girl named Miyagi really exist? Had not only her existence, but the existence of a shop dealing in lifespan, been a convenient fantasy of mine as I recognized my coming death?
The boy innocently asked, “Mr. Kusunoki, how’s Ms. Miyagi?”
“Huh? What happened? Did you have a fight?”
“Well, I dunno… I mean, even Mr. Kusunoki and Ms. Miyagi argue?”
Before I knew it, I was crying like a dam had burst. The more I tried to imagine Miyagi beside me to comfort myself, the more the tears came.
People of all ages crowded around the scene, as if to say “Kusunoki’s doing something new.”
Shinbashi’s friends Suzumi and Asakura were there. Suzumi asked me what had happened.
“Why, did something happen?”, said a man beside her. I remembered his face.
“But does that mean she’s gone?”, Suzumi asked.
…Just then, there was a voice from behind me.
“Indeed. To think, when he’s such a good person.”
I knew the voice, of course. I wouldn’t have forgotten it in a day or two.
I needed to be sure.
But until I saw it myself, I wouldn’t believe it.
She chuckled to herself.
Miyagi put her arm around my neck and hugged me.
I reflexively hugged her back, smelling her hair. That smell was one with my sense of “Miyagi.”
I was stunned into silence when I saw their reaction. Everyone could see Miyagi.
“Might you be Ms. Miyagi?”, a man in a jersey timidly asked.
“Thank goodness!”, he laughed. “What do you know, she really exists. And you’re really pretty, Ms. Miyagi! I’m jealous!”
But I still didn’t understand what was going on.
Asakura, from the back of the crowd, suggested that they let us be alone. So the people left us banter and congratulations as they scattered away.
I thanked Asakura.
“Strange, isn’t it? How can I be here? How can others see me? …It’s simple. I did the same thing you did.”
“How much… did you sell?”
The person I had sacrificed everything to protect betrayed my desire and threw her own life away - I should have grieved.
And yet, I was happy.
“Quite impressive, Mr. Kusunoki. Buying back the majority of my life with just thirty days. …And I’m sorry. I threw away the life you worked so hard to get back. I’m such a fool.”
Miyagi laughed happily and pressed her chin on my shoulder.
“Thanks to you, the value of my life went up a bit as well. So not only is the debt paid, there’s plenty of money left. More than we could possibly go through in three days.”
"So we’re rich,” I said grandiosely, hugging Miyagi and shaking her.
Tears poured out again, but so did they for Miyagi, so I didn’t pay it any mind.
Perhaps some curious person might remember me - as a fool, probably - but it’s a lot more likely they’ll forget.
But I don’t mind that.
I don’t mind if no one remembers me.
Because she’s here with me, smiling at my side.
“Well, Mr. Kusunoki.”
Miyagi turned back to me with a lovable grin.
“How do you plan to spend these three days?”
They say that a fool can never be cured to his death.
What is characteristic of this fool, first of all, is that he is strongly convinced he can never be happy. Made more severe, this conviction can be expanded to become “I shouldn’t be happy,” and ultimately arrive at “I don’t want to be happy,” a most destructive misunderstanding.
Once that point is reached, there’s nothing left to fear. These fools become intensely familiar with dissatisfaction, and no matter how blessed their environment, they find some loophole to avoid happiness.
The self-pity they used to endure unhappiness eventually becomes their only enjoyment, and they actively seek out displeasure for that purpose.
However, as I stated at the outset, I believe such fools will be cured by the time they die. To be more exact, my thought is “Just before death, I’m sure they’d be cured.”
However, I consider that through the eyes of this “fool who was cured, but too late,” everything is hopelessly beautiful.
At least here in “Three Days of Happiness,” though it would seem I used the story to speak about the value of life, the power of love and whatnot… to be honest, that was not my intention in the least.
- Sugaru Miaki