Alienable – New Fiction by Yuko Sakata
This story by Yuko Sakata was supposed to appear in the Guccione Archives Issue, but it didn’t because that issue is all about Bob Guccione, and this story doesn’t mention him at all. But Yuko has such a good, light, honest touch that we had to share this one with you. Yuko received an MFA in creative writing from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She’s published one story prior to this, in the Missouri Review, and it won the Jeffrey E. Smith Editors’ Prize. Yuko was born in New York, but she grew up in Osaka, Hong Kong, and Tokyo, and she’s also a dancer, a choreographer, and a translator. Still, when we asked if we could interview her, she said she didn’t really think anyone would want to read an interview with “a novice.”
The illustration above is by Joana Avillez—you might remember her Eloise Moves to Brooklyn column. Joana was born, raised, and is still living in New York, and she has a BFA in painting from RISD and an MFA in the Illustration as Visual Essay program from SVA.
In a ground-floor cafe of a midtown office building, my friend and I sat next to the floor-to-ceiling window over some coffee. Not that there were any seats away from the windows; the sleek white café was encased in two stories of glass panels on three sides. I was not at all comfortable being on display like that, but Jay had his day job in the same building and this was the easiest place for us to meet. Pedestrians drifted past on the other side of the glass, some still wearing winter coats, some already in light jackets, uncertain of the in-between weather.
My friend was trying to console me after an unpleasant breakup. He said he felt responsible, because he was the one who brought us together.
“No, you weren’t,” I said. “We met at Amy’s when she had that party. You weren’t even on the same continent then.” Jay was a musician, and in Portugal on a month-long residency at that time.
“But you wouldn’t have gotten together if you hadn’t both known me,” Jay said. “I was the catalyst.”
It was true that Jay had been the icebreaker in our conversation. But in general, Jay liked to claim responsibilities for things.
The boyfriend I had lived with for the past two years had just moved out, after we had a conversation about the possibility of marriage and family. That is, I wanted it to be a conversation, though it ended up being an argument. At first he tried to evade the topic through his artful digressions. When I persisted, he accused me of misleading him, claiming that early on we had confirmed our mutual disdain for the institution of marriage and for the idea of delivering any more children into this messed up world. I reminded him that I never had a strong feeling one way or the other about marriage, which was different from having a disdain for it. As for children, I had simply been undecided.
“It’s fine, I don’t mind not getting married,” I said. “But I’m now pretty sure I want a child. My parents are getting old.”
“What do your parents have to do with this?” he said. Then I saw fear in his eyes. “Don’t tell me you are pregnant.”
“No, I’m not.”