Yume de Aimashou: Apartment (Itoi)
Mr. Yoshio Kotaka authored a book, “How I Became Section Chief”; unfortunately, this maiden publication of his came just on the heels of the launch of his colleague Takao Ōyama’s “Do This and You’ll Be a Department Head,” a step up the corporate ladder. Mr. Kotaka’s book did not set the charts ablaze.
His wife Mutsuko, missing the bright and cheery Mr. Kotaka of old, reached out to her mother and sister-in-law at their family home.
She needed the help.
The three Yamamoto women - the new Yamamoto, the née Yamamoto, and the Yamamoto who’d been one for a good long time - took Mr. Kotaka’s work and covered the “Section Chief” type on the cover with stickers that read “Company President”.
The née Yamamoto - that is, Mutsuko, now Mr. Kotaka’s wife - was a woman who could sustain her ardor.
By the time her mother and sister-in-law timidly asked her if she’d take care of the bullet train tickets to take them back to the Yamamoto home, the sticker-sticking work had stretched on for fifty hours in all.
“I’m not a Yamamoto, though, I’m a Kotaka,” Mutsuko said resolutely. She kept at the stickers, not even pausing to see the other two off.
Her labor went on for twelve whole years and more.
Perhaps it would’ve been better to sell the amended books as she finished them, but if they had sold out, there wouldn’t have been any more to restock with yet.
When the first printing of three thousand copies, each one with the “Section Chief” changed to “Company President” and the publication date in the colophon fixed, was finally ready to rush to bookstore shelves, Mutsuko Kotaka read her husband of many years’ work afresh, and she was moved to tears.
Mr. Yoshio Kotaka was, at that moment, in the bath; when the sound of his wife sobbing reached him, though, he came running, still wet. Mr. Kotaka held, by this point, the title of Department Head. The dripping, naked, aging man with a towel wrapped around his waist and his wife, wrapped in a very unsteady posture of embrace, cried aloud together.
Mr. Kotaka had one secret he’d been keeping from his wife: thanks to an acquaintance who had a printing company, he’d begun printing copies of his second work, “Finding Success As an Apartment Manager!”
His old rival Takao Ōyama had launched his own book, “I Got This Rich Managing Condos!”, a single day before.
He couldn’t ask her to cover the title with “a Home Realtor” stickers, even if he tore his mouth open. Mr. Kotaka gently stroked the stiff curls of his wife’s permed hair, and bulbous tears drooped from his eyes.
Mutsuko felt a distantly remembered something - something like warmth and affection - coming from her husband’s hands, and as she cried, she squirmed and slipped out of her skirt, letting it drop away.