Amusing Myself in the Still of the Night

Amusing Myself in the Still of the Night
Art by Kotaro Satsuki

Translated by Marissa Skeels.


My nights are long.

A fixed-point camera facing the sea silently captures large, rolling waves. White spray blends with yellow light and smoothly vanishes. Relayed from Hachijioma, the Izu Islands. I lie in bed, staring at the television. The time displayed on the footage doesn’t show the present. Sometimes, on nights when I can’t sleep, I play recordings of stormy days, like this. Outside the window is calm, not a breath of wind.

Global weather forecasts and infomercials follow on endless repeat once

those regular shows have wrapped up. So distant are they, I’m out of harm’s

reach. I don’t always feel laid this bare, but I find I wish to stay secure

when alone, like so, in the still of the night.

Mind vague, I toy with a ballpoint, penning the Nazca Lines on my thighs. Nazca, from the word nanazca, meaning ‘bitterly harsh’. The lines spread little by little as my body is made into Nazca land. The real Nazca lines, it appears, are at risk of perishing. Should they disappear entirely someday, how much will the fact change that drawings are there/were drawn by people, I wonder.

3am passes, while drinking beer, it occurs to me to start making sweets. Something easy, just mix and bake. Feeling the magic will dissolve should morning come while they’re still baking, I put them in the oven as soon as possible. Forty minutes later, enveloped in the aroma of completed sweets, at last I sleep.

As a child, I thought that staying up late was an adult privilege. However, when I consider it now, taking into account the next day, adults sleeping right when they should sleep is also. Maybe amusing myself deep in the night is a small rebellion against becoming a grown-up.

I dream but a little, at once it’s come time to rise. Eyes closed, I change clothes, still dozing wrap the now-cooled sweets in tinfoil and put them in my bag for lunch. Leave the house, bathed in morning light, breathe deeply as if to replace the whole atmosphere within me.

On the way to the station, I pass people with various expressions. Those with prim faces, those who seem still asleep. People who’ve most likely stayed up, for whom it is still night.

As for me, on the train, I remember the geoglyphs on my thighs and feel a smile come on. Like so, my night alone upon my body, I get off the train and head to work.

Art by Kotaro Satsuki

Fuyubi Satsuki

About Fuyubi Satsuki

Fuyubi Satsuki is a writer and editor from Japan, whose journals, essays, travel writing, and short stories are available online. As a line-editor, she proofreads novels, essays, business materials, texts translated from English into Japanese, and more. She loves to dream at night. This essay originally appeared in Japanese in in the online journal BadCats Weekly (at https://badcatsweekly.com/2019/05/07/essay-dayinalife-mayonaka).

Fuyubi Satsuki is a writer and editor from Japan, whose journals, essays, travel writing, and short stories are available online. As a line-editor, she proofreads novels, essays, business materials, texts translated from English into Japanese, and more. She loves to dream at night. This essay originally appeared in Japanese in in the online journal BadCats Weekly (at https://badcatsweekly.com/2019/05/07/essay-dayinalife-mayonaka).

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