Evening Smelled Like Sunlight

When I started high school, I told my parents that I wanted to become a novelist. They opposed it, and it became uncomfortable to stay home. That’s when I met Miss Fushi, a woman in her late seventies who lived alone in a Japanese house in my neighborhood. Upon hearing my story, she allowed me to use the tearoom of her home to do my writing.

I was grateful to her. However, I remained doubtful about my decision.

Why do I want to write, anyway?

The sun was setting beyond the sliding door that led to the small garden. Its orange glow reflected off the tatami, giving out a warming scent like that of burnt straw. Miss Fushi entered with a tray of sweets and tea, which she set down over the veranda. “Come,” she called me, “sit with me. It’s time to rest.”

So I went. The cup of tea felt hot in my palms. I took a sip. Miss Fushi’s tea was always delicious.

Miss Fushi closed her eyes next to me, holding her cup. The evening light erased the traces of her wrinkles, leaving only a soft smile across her face. “When I was your age,” said Miss Fushi, “I never took my life seriously. By the time I realized that, it was already too late. You should live your life the way you want. And in the end, even if you can’t make your name known to the world, then so be it.”

I closed my eyes, taking in the smell of the evening, which washed my doubt away. “My wish,” I said, ‘is to write stories for the rest of my life.”

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