Short Story & Art Work // Nocturnal Daisy
She simmers diced apples in a milk-pan with honey. At dawn, she cooks the confiture with overripe and rotten fruits. An apple that she found in the backyard of her apartment is Red Delicious, it has been forgotten in the back of the refrigerator for a week. Preserving the sweet sweetest Red Delicious with honey in amber colour is a dream she has just before waking up. Suddenly, a knife-wielding man is reflected on the surface of the glass jam jar, to which the confiture has been transferred from the pan. No, a hairtail in a shiny, water-repellent tailcoat sparkles in the morning sun outside her window. She recognizes it as usual. Since the factories were closed in the town that once prospered with paper manufacturing, most of the private houses and shops have been abandoned. Surrounded by deep forest, the island is a quiet town under the ocean. The hairtail mimics the sunlight shining into the deep sea. He stands at about the same height as an adult human male, swims in a thin and flat body, emits a silvery steel blue colour on the seabed. The hairtail is laughing, showing his sharp and ferocious teeth.
She goes to work at 8:00 am at the same time as the only bakery in the town opens. While relying on the good smell of yeast, a sleepwalker in her dream feels the gentle flow of the sea and arrives at the store. A boulanger, the bakery owner sleeps together with the dough kneaded after the sunset and bakes the breads from 2:30am, before sunrise. Waiting for a store clerk, he puts out Danish pastries, croissants, baguettes in the display rack to cool. She is in love with him. In her imagination, she is in love with the bakery owner who will go to bed at 8:00 pm, get up at midnight, wear a toque blanche and start baking breads. When she fantasizes about the stories between the pages of books in the dark, he may be sweating with the heat of the oven. In the dim light of the kitchen, he must be stirring the sugar and egg white with hazelnuts and lemon juice until meringue will become the sweet foam. But, in fact, she does not know who the store owner really is. An old lady comes to the store every morning and buys a pie baked with chocolate syrup and custard cream spread in thin layers between the dough. The store owner carefully wraps the pie in translucent waxed paper. The old lady is in love with the pie. The beautiful pie, like the ancient strata that have their own histories on the ocean floor. Like the stories of each pebble that might have been brought by many years of river flow.
"Would you take home the edge of the white bread? I have cut it too thin and you see, there was a hole in the middle."
The bakery owner closes the store late in the afternoon and gives me a piece of unsold bread. "Make an apple confiture sandwich for a midnight snack. Watch out for the hole," he says, looking at the woods through the hole in the middle of the bread. "Be careful not to fall from the hole into the darkness forever. The time in the forest at night is deep and long," he says, wrapping his whole body in a hoodie as if he is changing into a diving suit in preparation for the coldness. Then he melts into the cove at dusk.
In her room, she is reading books left behind by the closed paper mills and printing factories. The books, having seen better days, are shabby due to the humidity of the sea breeze and the sighs of the trees in the forest. A silverfish lives in the books. Silverfish is not a fish. Its name comes from the appearance of wearing shiny scales. It is a nocturnal insect that usually lives in old books and eats used paper, blurred black and white photographs, and bookbinding glue. The silverfish running away from the light seems to be a fish swimming in a rock reef. As she turns the page of a book in her study under the stairs, the silverfish swiftly escapes under the wooden floor, scared by the suddenly lit lamps. Tonight, she intends to lie down on the couch and enjoy the rest of a story with apple confiture put into a cup of tea. However, there are many holes in the pages. The silverfish eats the pages she has just finished reading, so she cannot reread the texts she inadvertently passed by.
‘If it wasn’t for the mist we could see your home across the bay,’ said Gatsby. ‘You always have a green light that burns all night at the end of your dock…’ Possibly, it had occurred to him that the colossal significance of that light had now vanished forever. Compared to the great distance that had separated him from Daisy it had seemed very near to her, almost touching her. It had seemed as close as a star to the moon.
Part of Chapter 5 in the novel The Great Gatsby, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald in 1925, has been eaten up by the silverfish. Someday, the silverfish's stomach will be full of letters. In the end, even the leftover letters will be lost after the traces of the silverfish have gone. She pours a drop of brandy into Darjeeling tea. Her memory fades. Finally, she fills the brandy to the brim of teacup. She falls asleep, even though the hands of clock only point to 9:30pm. It dawns on her that the light of memories and stories has now vanished forever.
Hiromi Suzuki is a poet, fiction writer and artist living in Tokyo, Japan. She is the author of Ms. cried – 77 poems by hiromi suzuki (Kisaragi Publishing, 2013), logbook (Hesterglock Press, 2018), INVISIBLE SCENERY (Low Frequency Press, 2018), Andante (AngelHousePress, 2019), Found Words from Olivetti (Simulacrum Press, 2020). Her visual poems have been published internationally in poetry journals, literary journals and anthologies. Her short stories have been published in 3:AM Magazine, RIC Journal, époque press é-zine, Burning House Press, The Journal Petra, and so on.
Of the work featured hear, Hiromi says:
‘The heroine of this story dreams in her dream and loses a dream in her dream. Many stories and histories that have been handed down all around the world for a long time are nothing more than illusions. She obtains an ecstatic experience due to the contact with the flow of the time or place in illusion. Chocolate Daisy blooms in the night. The nocturnal flower will give off an ephemeral sweet scent and emit the dim light in the dark.’