May 10th, 2016 § 0

Clothes in locker, I tiptoe through a glass door into the wet room.  I set down my soap and bucket, and sit on the low plastic stool.  The mirrors watch me, making sure that every reflection (and they are infinite) is scrubbed clean.  I catch the eye of an older woman I often see here.  Konbanwa. Good evening.

Although she is at least eighty, she uses no stool, squatting on sinewy legs.  Her curved back is smooth and luminous under the water.  As I move to the hot bath, my eyes continue to trace her folds.  Those will be my fingers someday.  Those will be my breasts.  She is purposeful, agile, and could do her evening routine here blindfolded.

Bubbles rise to the surface, then pop in the heat.  I close my eyes.  I move in circles against the powerful jets, my body softening.  From the other side of the partition I hear whistling and the low, short exclamations of men.  They bounce around the high ceiling, back and forth between the tiled walls.  The women’s voices are a continuous murmur, the highs of laughter and the lows of gossip sandwiched between sheets of running water.

A woman and her two children have joined me in the tub.  They are beautiful.  His name is Ryu, ‘dragon’, and her name is Kubuki, ‘little snow’.  He’s ten months old, with swirling hair like smoke from a dragon’s nostrils.

His four-year old sister catches sight of herself in the mirror with the washcloth between her teeth.  She likes what she sees.  She can squeeze water out of the cloth so that it runs down her chin.  Taunting her brother with her abilities, her teeth drag a larger towel around the sento to a larger mirror.  It partly covers her body.  Her head is a huge and perfect sphere perched on a slender frame.  She is a branch defying gravity.

Later, in the change room, she whispers to her mother, then runs up to me, offering a golden grapefruit.

Where am I?

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