Tokyo Weekender’s series TW Creatives features various works by Japan-based writers, photographers, videographers, illustrators and other creatives in a bid to provide one additional platform for them to exhibit their talent. The works submitted here belong entirely to the creators. TW only takes pride in being one of their most passionate supporters. This time, we introduce a short story by Kirsty Kawano.

Little yellow dots

A little yellow dot made its way steadily higher up my bathroom door. Another journeyed away on the nearby wall. They brought the count for the day to ten — a new record for a single day’s catch of yellow ladybugs.

I picked the bugs up one at a time. I had done it so carefully when they first started arriving because I was scared I would squash them. Then they started coming once a week, then twice, and now every day, and I was used to it now. They seemed to be, too. They never flew away and appeared content enough for me to touch them. I cupped these two in my hands now, but before I had even made it to the balcony, they had found the gaps between my fingers and were marching forward in that indomitable way they do.

Out on the balcony, I could hear my neighbor talking in the apartment next door; he was on a work call. I wondered if he was still making video calls, like we all had, for a while — until it began to feel strange to see someone else’s naked face. A lot of people started masking up for video calls, but when those security issues over deep fakes and facial recognition emerged, most of us shifted to audio.

I wondered what my neighbor looked like. He’d been a recluse since before the pandemic. Back before these ladybugs started appearing. Before staying at home became the law.

One bug made its way up the inside of my left arm, its little legs touching lightly as they went. The other one went overland on my right arm and through the jungle of hair. Deep, golden yellow, like a piece of the sun — I wondered where the bugs had come from. Where had any of them come from? And where did they go? There were only ever a few on my balcony, only a fraction of those that came; that came inside, to have me pick them up and bring them out here.

I ran my finger in circles on the shell of one ladybug to savor its smoothness. Apart from the few plants I had in pots on the balcony, this was the closest I got to another living thing these days. It had been a while. I closed my eyes and imagined I could feel the release and return to my skin of each of those twelve tiny legs.

The bugs ventured onward, inside the sleeves of my T-shirt and along my collarbone, like a finger tracing the contours. They met in the middle, near the base of my neck, where I suddenly felt a prick — one and two. I brushed the bugs into my hand, and as I stretched out my arm to drop them onto the strawberry plant, a breeze came by. They took off on it, and flew out into the world, together. Lucky things.

I checked my neck in the mirror. Where I had felt the pricks there were two tiny red marks. When I checked them again before going to bed, the marks had turned into yellowish circles.

When I woke in the morning, something had changed. I felt lighter, smaller and stronger, and I knew what I had to do. It was a long, long way down the corridor, past the bathroom and out to the balcony, but I knew there was a gap somewhere there that the other ladybugs had come through — where I could go now, to be free, to be touched, to not be alone anymore.

About the Author

Kirsty Kawano

Kirsty Kawano is a translator and freelance non-fiction writer whose work has appeared in TW before. This foray into fiction was inspired partly by her membership of Writers in Kyoto.

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