Mihashirabō Presents "A Life Half-Fulfilled"
rating: +7+x

The storyteller walks into stage from the left, and sits down on the pillow at the center, facing the audience. He closes his eyes.

“Am I happy living this way? Am I satisfied with such an existence? If I were to die tomorrow, or even today, would I be at peace with my accomplishments? These questions often plague the lives of those who are led to believe peace is attainable during one’s life. The truth, of course, is much more complex than that. Could you say you knew the place you would be at today a year ago? How about five years ago? Ten? Twenty? Could this present of yours have been predicted before your birth? No, of course it couldn’t have been.”

“But what if it had?”

The storyteller opens his eyes.

“This is the story of Toyama, who had just picked up his cardboard-collecting cart, ready for a new day.”


“Good morning, Iida.”

“Ah, good morning, Toyama. I’ll pick up the trash in a bit. Why don’t you sit down, have some food while I finish here?”

“Are you sure? I don’t… I don’t think it’ll be good for customers to-”

Before Toyama was done stumbling through his words, a bowl of oden had been served for him. Accompanying it were some tendon sticks and edamame. Soon enough a glass of sake entered the scene.

This was the usual menu Iida would offer people wandering about at the lone hours, that period between 1 and 5 AM where the only people roaming the streets are drunkards, attempting to find the memories they didn’t want to drown in liquor amongst the many they did. Of course, it was also the time period in which the homeless and the unseen would roam the streets, trying to find shelter, or food, or water, or meaning, or anything, really.

“I don’t see any customers fighting to take the stop you’ll be taking. Do you?”

A part of Toyama didn’t want to accept the meal. He knew he couldn’t pay for it, and Iida knew too. Iida didn’t care in the slightest.

“T-thank you. From the bottom of my heart, thank-”

“How about you thank me from the bottom of your stomach. Come on, it’s the middle of winter. The food’s gonna get cold real soon.”


Toyama puts down the cart, takes off his gloves, and sits down. His stomach growls at the mere smell of the food. Damn, the daikon and the chikuwa looked good. The bowl even had those konnyaku noodles he loved so much. Had he told Iida this before? Maybe, maybe… He couldn’t remember much these days.

With a quick bow, he grabbed the chopsticks, and began eating. The flavor was nostalgic, yet so, so good. It’s been a good week since he’d eaten something this good.

“Good, yeah?”

Toyama nodded.

“Ah, I’m glad. I was worried you had forgotten the taste of your favorite oden mix-”

- Ah, so he did remember-

“- since you’ve been gone for so long.”

Toyama felt a small tinge in his chest. Guilt.

“Y-yeah, s-sorry about that… I was… I just… I guess I wasn’t feeling too well.”

“Ah, were you sick? You could have told me, you know? There’s nothing better for an illness than a good bowl of oden. Oden, and friends to eat with.”

Prick. Prick. Prick. His heart hurt.


“Oh, sorry, I’m not- It’s ok, you know. I don’t blame you for anything. I was just worried, is all. When people without a home stop visiting around winter… It’s, you know, I can’t help but fear the worst.”

The glass is put down, empty.

“It just didn’t feel right, coming back. You give me food, you get me clothes, you help me when I’m down, and you even help me with the trash. I felt ashamed that I couldn’t do anything for you. That I’m still incapable of it, so I ran away. I took my tent to the opposite side of town and disappeared, because to me it felt right, but… But it was selfish. I don’t blame you for thinking I was dead. I hoped for you to believe I had.”

Soon enough, there was another bowl of oden to replace the previous one. Three more tendon sticks. Another cup of sake.

“S-stop… Please…”

“I will not, because I’m your friend. I don’t care that you’re ashamed that I’ve helped you, because I’ll continue to help you.”

“Why?… I’m just a vagrant. I contribute nothing. I’ve done nothing to help you. I’ve just-”

“Eat, Toyama. Please.”

Toyama could keep fighting, but he didn’t feel the need to. It was a pointless fight. Why was he even like this? What sense of pride could he still have to his name, after so many years collecting coins from under vending machines, and cardboard from ramen shops and oden places?

He grabbed a tendon stick, and Iida began speaking.

“You know, when… When Hanako passed, I… I didn’t know what to do with my life. I thought that maybe that was the end for me, that… That there was no other way for me to continue on. But many people helped me see that there was more to it than what I knew back then… That I could continue on despite it all.”

“You are one of them, Toyama. So don’t say you’ve done nothing. You’ve done more than enough for me. I merely am thanking one of the people who allowed me to see life as it is, instead of as what couldn’t be.”

The oden was getting cold.

“If you want to do something for me, why don’t you start doing something for yourself? That’d make up for any perceived slight.”

The sun began rising, and a half bowl of oden still remained.

“You’re too nice, Iida. This is why I didn’t want to come back… I knew I would be well received, and I also know I don’t deserve it…”

The sun had risen, so Iida removed the cold oden from the table.

“Become someone who deserves it, then.”

The sun was up, and the sounds of the city slowly began reaching the two friends’ ears. The first train passes by, as well as the first bicycle. The first car. The first group of students. The first salaryman.

Yesterday had turned into today. Night had changed into day.

The winter breeze had gotten just a tad warmer.

A beer can is opened. A gulp is taken. The can is put down.

“Ahhhhh. That hits the spot.”


“Hm? Yeah, yeah, I’m on break. What’s up?”


“Ah, can’t that wait, it’s-”


“… Yeah, guess it can’t wait. Aight then.”

The beer can is put down, and work resumes. Bags of cement and mix are carried around. Beams and carts are moved. Eventually, the shift ends, and everyone is unceremoniously dismissed from the construction site, returning to their lives. To their wives, their children, their beds.

Toyama doesn’t have a wife, nor a child. He doesn’t really have a bed, but he has a place where to go. A place where he belongs.

On the way to the oden shop, he stops by a small store, buys a couple snacks for tomorrow, a new towel for showering, and a new sake dish. It’s a cheap one, but he’s been wanting to get one ever since he got a job.

“They say sake tastes better in one of these… Let’s see if it’s true…”

”People say a lot of things, old man.”


Toyama turns around, and is met with something moving towards him at high speed.


It hits him right in the face, and Toyama falls onto his back, spilling everything he was carrying on the pavement besides him. He can't see straight, and something hurts so, so much. He tries to stumble back onto his own two feet, but


This time the hit is on his leg, and the pain is unbearable. It takes him right out of his confusion: His nose is bleeding profusely. His leg is now broken. He looks around, before fixating on a single entity:


A masked man, carrying a metal bat. The bat has blood smudges on it. Some old, some brand-new.

“You’re… You’re kidding, right?”

”This looks like a joke to you, old man?”


The masked man attacks Toyama again. He barely feels it.

“Not today… Not right now…”

”You don’t get to-”


”-Decide that!”

”Why… Why aren’t you screaming?”


”There’s no point if you don’t scream.”

”Come on, say something, you bastard!”




”Say… Something… Come on…”

Couldn’t you have done this some other day?

I’m fine with dying. There’s no worth behind my name.

But even then… Just… Not today. Please.

Not right now.

”Four that night. Seven others the previous week.”

”Yes. Yes, I know.”

”I, uh, I thought it was the right thing to do.”

”I mean, they’re homeless people, you know? They’re pointless. Worthless. They do nothing for us. Wouldn’t they be better off dead?”

”But even then, isn’t it better to die in a second than to suffer through the winter, dying in your sleep, with no one to remember you?”

”Not… Not like they’d be remembered regardless, but-”

”Y-yes, I understand. Yes.”


”No, I would do it again if I had the chance. I would definitely do it again.”

On the other side of town, a bowl of oden grows cold.


Thus our story ends.

The storyteller bows twice towards the crowd, then carefully gets up, brushing off his clothes. The play is finally over.

“I hope this story resonates with you all, at least in some way. If it doesn’t, that’s fine too.”

The storyteller opens his mouth, but no sound comes out. He ponders.

“What have we learnt here?”

The storyteller takes off his mask.


”Didn’t you listen to the story? We learned absolutely fucking nothing.”

The storyteller puts the mask on the floor, before stomping on it, breaking it into a hundred pieces.

“What a shit tale…”

Dissatisfied, the storyteller walks off the stage without bowing.
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License