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Happy Anniversary

by Ken Brady

I walked through the Shibuya Ginza Line portal and emerged in Asakusa a few moments later. At least it felt like a few moments. Sometimes there were delays, automatic holding patterns so commuters could port in from dozens of stations at once and not emerge into the same space. I'd been stuck in transit for almost ten seconds once, though it had felt instantaneous.

At Asakusa, I paused briefly to check out some young hipsters strutting their latest outfits and smiled. Fashions changed so quickly in this city it was unbelievable. The colors and trends seemed different even than those in Shibuya.

Hefting a box that contained a vintage cotton dress - a gift to my wife for our second anniversary - I walked through the winding streets toward our apartment. My wife loved tradition, and I knew she'd appreciate my attention to detail. I checked my watch and picked up the pace. She also loved it when I was on time.

It wasn't until I turned onto our street that things began to feel wrong. The trees seemed a bit taller than they should be, the paint on the apartment buildings too clean and bright. The tiny Mazda kei car which I hardly ever used in Tokyo was gone, and in its place was a shiny red Toyota Zuka, a model I had never even heard of.

I used my key to open the door and went into our small apartment.

"Tadaima!" I said, removing my shoes and stepping up to the wooden floor. I padded through the living room and toward the bedroom.

I expected to hear "okaeri" from my wife. When I opened the bedroom door, I didn't expect to see her standing there, naked. I didn't expect to see a similarly naked salaryman scrambling to put his clothes on. I certainly didn't expect my wife to scream and point at me as if I were just back from the dead.

Some things come to you in a quick succession of images. The new fashions, the newer than new car, overgrown trees and new paint. Looking around, I noticed the rearranged furniture, the wall calendar with the wrong year printed on it, a small shrine in the corner of the living room, my wife's lack of a wedding ring, my missing year.

"Happy anniversary," I said, and closed the door.


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