KYSO Flash
Knock-Your-Socks-Off Art and Literature
Issue 11: Spring 2019
Flash Fiction: 988 words

The Stewardship of Private Accounts

by Soramimi Hanarejima

Before she left, she left journal entries—that’s what she calls them—all throughout the city.

“So particular places will have certain significance when I return to them,” she told you.

Now, wherever you find these articulate reflections of hers, you read them intently. And you find them everywhere. In the stacks of the central library, in cozy cafés, in the hilltop park resting on the backs of its weathered benches and clinging to the signposts along the wooded trails. It’s as though she has made this metropolis the medium of her memoir, made the city the keeper of her chronicle of contemplations, which keeps you company in her absence.

Your favorite ones express a nostalgia for the science fiction worlds of her youth—like a longing to return to a technologically and culturally advanced homeland. When the unrequitable desire to talk with her goes unchecked for too long, you visit these entries, and they soothe the pangs of absence in your heart.

You’d be content to carry on like this, at least for a while, but these circumstances don’t last.

While on the way to some grocery shopping, you see a lanky teenager crouched down upon the old dock at the river’s Pine Street bend, the thick frames of his tortoiseshell glasses angled intently at the planks. And the next day, during the commute to work, you see a young mother leaning over the short ledge of the civic center fountain, baby stroller parked beside her as she peers at that slab of white marble. To you, the only possible explanation for their postures and transfixed gazes is fascination with her sentiments: on the dock, the disillusionment following a mentor’s confession of infatuation with the apparent innocence of her thoughts; on the fountain ledge, lament over the paltry pettiness of coworkers. You know them well. In both, her expressive recounting of dismaying episodes is like crystallized, iridescent gossip about humanity.

These sightings disappoint and distress you. You were under the impression that only you could see her phantasmal paragraphs affixed to tree trunks and tabletops. In actuality, her words are just easily overlooked by eyes unaccustomed to the subtle, unobtrusive nature of her ethereal prose; they can be spotted and read by anyone who looks carefully, which makes them available—and vulnerable—to the public at large.

For the sake of her privacy, their removal and storage seem necessary. So you charge yourself with the task of gathering up the entries, first securing the ones you know about, then searching out those you haven’t yet found. You hate to be the one to thwart her hope that these personal narratives inhabit the cityscape indefinitely. But better you than someone else. The city is full of thieves. Chief among them artists, those who will not hesitate to claim her stories as their own.

You decide to start with the arboretum and wend a route that will take you to the heart of downtown. An urban hike with waypoints where your path will seem to intersect the course of her thoughts.

At the city’s forested outskirts, you move slowly through the summer heat. When the hillside trail lined lushly with ferns brings you to the redwood grove, you see me removing the one on the impossibly thick trunk she liked to run her fingertips down.

“You can’t just take that,” are your first words to me.

“It belongs to a friend of mine,” I tell you.

But of course anyone could say that, so you ask, “Then what’s the name of the cousin who drives this friend crazy?” which isn’t mentioned in any of the entries you know about.


“What about the name of this friend’s elementary school?”

“Waplemurth Minor, then Nolaerd Costratum for fifth grade.”

“Okay, that’s her. She’s my friend too.”

“I bet you’re the one who tried to use a regretometer on her behind her back.”

The remark incites you to ask, “Is that in one of these or did she tell you that?”

“Don’t worry. She told me.”

But you do worry, concerned about how you’re portrayed in her friends’ minds.

While you wonder about how to proceed with this encounter, I finish coaxing her words off the furrowed bark, then lay them between sheets of vellum in a leather portfolio.

After putting the portfolio in my backpack, I ask you, “Did she compose them in these places or put them there after they were done?”

“I don’t know,” you answer. “She didn’t tell me.”

“But what do you think?”

“I think she did both but mainly articulated them in the places she left them.”

“I thought so too, but then what about the one in the stream?”

“What stream?”

“The one that flows by the ginkos.”

“I didn’t know she put one there.”

“I’ll show you,” I offer. “I was going to get that one next.”

“No wonder you’re wearing galoshes when it’s sandals weather,” you remark.

We make our way briskly past rhododendrons and larches, as if discovering each other has given the gathering of her journal entries a certain vigor or urgency. You want to ask me why I’m doing this, but instead you ask me how many I’ve collected.

“Fifteen now,” I tell you. “I got all the ones in her favorite ramen and karaoke joints.”

My words encourage and dismay you. With two of us, there’s a better chance that we’ll get all or most of her entries before city dwellers seize—or worse, vandalize—them. But you wanted to be the one to save her memories, to be their sole caretaker, to singularly hold that special status in her life.

“I didn’t know she’s into karaoke,” you murmur.

“Is she ever,” I reply, grinning.

With that, you know you’re on the threshold of finding out things about her you never would have from her journal entries, and you’re going to cross that threshold.


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