This is a short story I wrote for Japanese literature earlier this term to go along with a poem from the Kokinshū, which is an ancient Japanese text. The poem is translated for meaning so it does not have the same rhythm as it does in its native language....
The war had raged on for years and there seemed to be no end in sight. Shitami Yuzuru was one of the lucky ones as the last of his friends had been conscripted months ago. For many of them their war was already over. He couldn’t sleep as usual listening to the sound of the bombs pounding villages in the distance. The last several days the bombardments were getting closer every night. When he couldn’t sleep he usually thought of his friends still fighting in the war. He wondered where they were and if they were safe and warm. Fall had ended early this year and now it felt as if it were winter once the sun went down. However, tonight Shitami wasn’t thinking about his friends still off in the war. His thoughts were on his wife Mei, and newborn daughter Ai. He knew they would be safe tomorrow.
The moaning of his neighbor an old lady, Mrs. Okii, caught his attention for a second. When a government vehicle arrived at her door earlier that day Shitami thought he knew what that meant. Shitami’s best friend was Mrs. Okii’s son, Yuki. He had volunteered to fight in the war and had been gone for nearly two years. Mrs. Okii was prepared and ready for the news that she expected everyday but, that wasn’t the message she received. The separatists had bombed the village where Yuki had been living with his wife and two children before he left for the war. Nothing was left of the village just 10 miles over the eastern hills.
The letter Shitami was now grasping in his hand was given to him by the same official after leaving Mrs. Okii’s house. He was to report to the station at oh six hundred. He would head east just as Mei and Ai would flee west over the sea.
古今集 p. 161
Into the mist, glowing with dawn
across the Bay of Akashi
a boat carries my thoughts