But it's different now. There are people now who believe what I say. I understand that. So I can admit it now, that I'm a murderer. I'm the man who killed Yoshino and dragged Miss Magome along with me.... I can just come right out and say it.
Can I say one more thing?
I heard that Miss Magome was able to go back to her job. Is that true?
I guess I won't be able to see her again, right?
I know it sounds stupid coming from me, but I want to tell her to forget all about this, as quickly as she can.... And tell her to find her own kind of happiness ... Could you tell her that for me? I won't see her ever again, but it would be enough for me if you told her that.
I know she must hate me and doesn't want to hear anything I say, but if you'd just-just tell her that, that would be enough....
I'm living in our apartment with my younger sister again. Everybody at work has been very helpful, and I've been able to go back to work this month.
Things are back to normal. My life's the same as it was before I met that man.
Right after the news broke, reporters were trying to force their way into my parents' house, and I didn't know what to do. But now I get up every morning at eight, pedal my bike to work, come back to the apartment in the evening, and make dinner with my sister....
On the last holiday I did something I haven't done in a long while-I bought a CD of a singer I like at the shopping center in the neighborhood. I think I'm getting calmer these days.
I've heard all kinds of things from the detectives about what that guy said, ever since he was arrested. Of course I didn't believe it at first. About him saying he liked to make women suffer and that he took me along just to get money out of me.
I couldn't believe any of it, no matter how much I heard. But finally I understood that I was the one who was really flipping out here. That like an idiot, I'd been so taken in by him, and maybe he really was was using me. using me.
After that guy's testimony was in all the TV stations and magazines, people stopped throwing rocks at the windows of my parents' house, and though people still come to my workplace sometimes out of curiosity, wanting to take a look at me, I don't get any dirty looks anymore from people on the street.
Because I'm not the woman who ran off with him, but a victim who was forced to....
My sister and other people have asked if I want to move, but I'm the woman who couldn't go anywhere, even when I was running away with that guy. There's no other place I can go.
I've been reading articles about the incident in magazines. But I never can believe it's me they're talking about.
I'm not trying to escape reality. But even when I try hard to remember what happened, it always feels like some other woman who did all those things. Not me.
I think while all that was going on, I forgot what kind of woman I am. I'm a woman who can't do a thing, but I was convinced I could.... I ignored the fact that up till then I couldn't do a single thing in my life....
Not too long ago, I went up to Mitsuse Pass for the first time, to lay flowers at the spot where Yoshino Ishibashi passed away. For a long time I didn't have the courage to go, but I thought it's my duty to go there....
My sister said, "You're a victim here, so you don't need to force yourself to go," but that time when we were in the squid restaurant in Yobuko, when he told what had happened, I forgave him. I was just thinking of myself, and I forgave him for violently taking Yoshino's life, no matter why he did it.
I think that for the rest of my life it's my duty to apologize to Yoshino.
The place where she died is a lonely curve in the road, a gloomy place even in the middle of the day. The flowers there were all dried up, but there was a bright orange scarf someone had wrapped around the guardrail like a landmark. I plan to go every month, on the day of the month when she died, to apologize. Not that that will make her forgive me or anything....
I've never met that man's grandmother. I heard she visited my parents' house a number of times, but I was never sure how I should receive her. All I really want to tell her is that none of this is her fault....
No, I'm trying not to follow the trial. At first I thought he was lying to protect me. I wasn't threatened by him, or the victim of mind control or anything.... I tried to argue that we were really in love with each other, but people kept on saying no man could be in love with a woman he just met on an online dating site. And if he really loved me, would he try to strangle me?
But those days when we were on the run ... when we were in that shack at the lighthouse, scared, when it was snowing and we were freezing-I still miss those times. I know it's stupid, but it hurts when I think of those days together.
I guess I was the one who was off in my own little world, convinced I was in love.
I mean, he's the guy who murdered Yoshino. The one who tried to kill me me.
Isn't it like everybody says? That he's the villain in all this? And I just decided on my own to fall for someone like that.
A NOTE ABOUT THE AUTHOR.
Shuichi Yoshida was born in Nagasaki, j.a.pan, in 1968. He is the author of numerous books and has won many j.a.panese literary awards, including the Akutagawa Prize for Park Life Park Life, and the prestigious Osaragi Jiro Prize and the Mainichi Publishing Culture Award, both of which he received for Villain Villain. Several of his stories have been adapted for j.a.panese television, and a film based on Villain Villain is due to be released in 2010 in j.a.pan as is due to be released in 2010 in j.a.pan as Akunin Akunin. Yoshida lives in Tokyo.
A NOTE ABOUT THE TRANSLATOR.
Philip Gabriel is professor of j.a.panese literature at the University of Arizona. He has translated works by Kenzaburo Oe, Senji Kuroi, Akira Yoshimura, Masahiko shimada, Natsuo Kirino, and Haruki Murakami, including Murakami's Kafka on the Sh.o.r.e; Underground; Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman Kafka on the Sh.o.r.e; Underground; Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman (co-translator); (co-translator); Sputnik Sweetheart; Sputnik Sweetheart; and and South of the Border, West of the Sun South of the Border, West of the Sun. Gabriel is a recipient of the PEN/Book-of-the-Month Club Translation Prize (2006) and the j.a.pan-U.S. Friendship Commission Prize for the Translation of j.a.panese Literature (2001).