||“The Flower’s Life is Short” (short story) by Masami Fukushima
First published in Hayakawa SF Magazine (October 1967)
Currently available from Kurodahan Press’s Speculative Japan (2007)
|Original: Japanese, 1967
Translated by Yano Tetsu and Judith Merril, 2007
Synopsis: With an electronic synthesizer, Rina creates luminescent flower arrangements in vivid and three-dimensional works of art. In her eighth decade of life, she is dedicated to her art and remains unattached to any partner. Her friend Yuri offers her a teaching position, but when contemplating the career move, Rina’s lover from fifty years ago manifests in her studio, making her long for a move in relationship, too.
Analysis: Through the course of a flower’s life, it will bloom untold times, each time as beautiful and similar as the last. People, too, blossom throughout their lives in terms of their career, sexuality, education, etc. While each of these is a subjectively unique experience to the person, the objective view is one much like that of the blooming rose: one blossom is just like the rest all over the world. Subjectively, when we anticipate a fresh blooming—the pinnacle of an achievement or ceremony of accomplishment—some residual scent of past accomplishment (blooming) always lingers on the mind; this success and reminder of success is a familiar friend.
As Rina contemplates her next professional blooming as a teacher, her mind recalls the blossoming of love she had earlier in her life. Though she loved and lost, her finding a man whom she can love enduringly when apart is a big part of her artistic soul. Her reverie of fantasizing about teaching is shattered by the recall of her love life; however, just as their time together was brief long ago, this illusion is far too short. Her mixed sentimentality of success (blooming) catches her off guard, thereby dampening the excitement she held for the teaching position. Awash in regret, her tired heart flutters like autumn leaves.