The Lonesome Bodybuilder by Yukiko Motoya

The Lonesome Bodybuilder by Yukiko Motoya

Author:Yukiko Motoya
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: Fiction
Publisher: Soft Skull Press
Published: 2018-08-20T16:00:00+00:00

I went to see Hasebo in her and her husband’s new place, and got home late afternoon to find my husband, who seemed to have left work early again, standing pensively in front of a pan of oil, holding a pair of cooking chopsticks.

“Should we open a window?”

The heat of the frying had steamed up the apartment. My husband, who’d been gazing into the pan as if he were searching for his long-lost mother, finally reacted to the beep emitted by the AC remote and said, “San, welcome home.” It sounded hollow, as if half of him was still wandering through some dream.

The tray on the countertop held a lavish pile of battered and breaded ingredients. Not again. Just the sight of it seemed to bring last night’s fritters back up to my throat. Truthfully, my stomach had begged for mercy long ago. But what was the right thing to do when a sick person told you the only thing that gave him relief was deep-frying fritters?

It turned out that the fritters were just a replacement for the coin-tinkling game, and my husband was still unwell.

He once again installed me on the couch and handed me a highball. Helpless to refuse this strangely solicitous husband, I brought the glass to my lips and stared dimly at the variety show. There was still nothing interesting to me about it. But soon enough, between the sounds of deep-frying coming from the kitchen and the cacophonous cries on the TV, I felt a mist descend over my head. Stirring from the couch seemed like a huge effort.

“Tell me where you’ve been today,” my husband said, having moved me to the table and eagerly poured me a beer.

He sounded almost like a wife, I thought. “To Hasebo’s new place.”

Beside me, I thought I saw my husband nod. But maybe he didn’t nod—maybe he was just staring at me. I felt an uneasy rustling down the left side of my body as I picked up my chopsticks. I moistened my mouth with the pleasantly foamy beer and picked up a fritter as I was told. No rice, no miso soup—my husband was only interested in deep frying. “That’s bamboo shoot. And that one, that’s chum with yam bulbs,” he told me proudly. “I’ve made a light ponzu sauce for you tonight.” My husband said his digestion wasn’t so good lately, and he hardly touched the platter, making me eat most of it.

I put the fritter in my mouth resignedly. But to my surprise, the moment I tasted the first piece, my appetite came back with a vengeance, and I found myself reaching for the next fritter even before I’d swallowed the first. Perhaps my body was starting to need the oil. I tossed one fritter after another into my mouth. Washed down with beer, they made me feel warm and excited inside. I’d keep eating them forever if I could. I got so absorbed in moving my mouth I couldn’t think about anything else.

“It’s nice you’re getting to be more like me,” I heard my husband murmur as he poured himself another beer.


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