The Ghost Story
Several years ago I was working at a private co-ed junior/senior high school in Ichikawa City, Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo. One day in June when it was bright, sunny, and awfully hot and humid I was walking to the local train station at the end of the day. On the meandering road connecting the station and the school like an umbilical cord I ran across a high school boy trudging along by himself, head hung low, his uniform askew, hands deep inside his trousers’ pockets, and his school bag thrown over his shoulder haphazardly. In other words, your typical teenage boy walking with the patented teenage boy moping gait. I didn’t know his name, but in uniform they all look the same. We walked. We talked. I asked his name and his class to get a better idea of who he was. It was Daisuke Fujimura from Grade 10. Oh, Daisuke, right.
Funny thing, though, is that in the hot June sun I walked with my head and eyes down to try to avoid the glare, and in doing do I could see my shadow clearly on the road. But Makoto had no shadow. I looked around. Maybe he was walking in the shade of a tree or a neighborhood garden wall while I was walking in the open, exposed sunlight, or something. But no.
I thought little of it. What’s it to me, anyway? I’m busy, I’m tired. I had almost 200 students in total at that school. If one boy wanted to go around like Peter Pan with no shadow that’s his business more than mine. But just out of curiosity and a sense of fun, I told the tale to the head English teacher the very next day. I told him the whole thing, being sure to report his name to add credible details.
“Who did you say?”
“Daisuke Fujimura, from senior high school first year.”
“That can’t be, because that Daisuke died in a car accident two years ago.”
Well, it wasn’t any of my business, so I just filed the story away.