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  • "Today's Modern Spirits"
  • Fujino Kaori (bio)
    Translated by Kendall Heitzman (bio)

The first time the woman later known to the world as micapon17 revealed her rare gift, she was only two years and ten months old. The day is also worthy of commemoration as the very first day she even held a camera. At the time, digital cameras had not come into widespread use, nor for that matter had cellphones, let alone cellphones with built-in cameras. What her parents handed her, just for the fun of it, was a thirty-six-exposure disposable camera. And since it was a film camera, the first time her parents came into contact with their daughter's frightening talent was exactly one week later, after they picked up the developed film and prints from the photo developer.

It was her father who showed up at the counter to pick them up. He noticed the developer was acting strangely as he rang up the purchase. The man seemed about to say something over and over again, biting his tongue each time. [End Page 102]

"Is anything wrong?" her father asked. The developer abruptly pressed his fingers down on the paper bag that her father had started to slide toward himself, stopping its progress across the counter, but just as soon made an aaagh sound and sprang back with his whole body. Something's not quite right with this fellow, her father thought. But these slightly-off people are to be found everywhere. Even people who panic at the thought of having to talk to others and people who can't help but act suspiciously have to leave their houses and work somewhere. Her father decided that in these situations the best thing for both parties was not to get drawn in. He picked up the paper bag as though nothing had happened, and swiftly turned around and walked out. It was only after he arrived home that he realized the developer hadn't been a weirdo after all. Her father understood exactly what the man had wanted to say. And why the man hadn't quite found a way to put it into words.

Her father himself had no words for it. Nor did her mother. Her mother was holding micapon17. micapon17 stretched out her arms and furiously tried to grab at the photos that her father was holding. Her mother adjusted her grip on micapon17 over and over again to keep her at a distance from the photos, even while she herself couldn't stop staring at them. micapon17 ended up in tears. "Those Mika's!" she said as she sobbed convulsively.

"They are not Mika's . . . they are not Mika's!" her mother, alarmed, shouted at her.

This was a lie. Of course, these were photos that micapon17 had taken, two of the thirty-six exposures. The disposable camera was one that the family of three had used when they took a trip to a nature park that was somewhat far from their home; the other thirty-four exposures had been snapped by either her mother or her father. These photos showed micapon17 in the hat her parents had put on her, micapon17 slurping on a strawberry from her lunch box, micapon17 running across the grass, micapon17 in high spirits on her father's lap extending her hands skyward, micapon17 running away from the camera and her mother bent over chasing her . . . to us, at first, they were without any particular value, the documentation of a family ordinary in every way. And yet, today, it is impossible for us to apprehend the figure of the girl in these thirty-four exposures—a girl who seems to hold no particular charm other than that of being a little girl—without being overcome by deep emotions. After all, this is where it all started.

The negatives of the photos taken that day, including the truly important two, have made their way through certain avenues to those of us who would preserve them. As a precaution against the degradations of time, we have digitized them and even have a solid backup system in place. Considering the fact that on that day her father crumpled...


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pp. 102-113
Launched on MUSE
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