Hanging out the laundry on the roof, it occurs to you – this is the last heatwave you’ll live through in Jingumae. The green synthetic floor-covering seems to steam, peeling and cracked like a cheap tennis court. It’s remarkable your apartment doesn’t leak.

It was good of the Ikarimotos not to put up the rent for so long. Though it wasn’t like you got a lot of maintenance. Half the stairwell has been blacked out for a year.

Hang the towel. Hang the shirt. They will probably dry before the thunderstorm hits. Haha. Had some storms. Your secret. No one would have seen the naked man, who cycled home (still clothed) through that deluge one night several years ago, sloshed up the stairs past the apartment, stripped off by the washing machine, swung open the rooftop door that no longer fits its frame, and among the buildings all around, danced some kind of swimming pagan steps in the sluicing darkness, the underwater air. No one saw.

Half a dozen summers here, not all so great. The white outdoor chairs are like old shells and the sun-brittle clothes pegs snap when you squeeze them, and almost pierce your fingers. The view has changed with ever blander buildings. And what it seems is, people round here just use the neighbourhood. They’re not invested. It’s just handy. Jingumae: where fashion and convenience meet. Young fashionistas drive Mercedes SUVs.

But you know, the low points were highs in a way. Here you finally arrived at what you needed to do. Bleary mornings-after staring into the predawn glare, wheezing from the doorway by the washing machine. Days lost under the sloping attic ceiling under Alfred’s renovation, the textured green wall (still a stroke of brilliance). Then the idea to move, a fancy at first, became the obvious thing to do. A little shift in viewing angle entirely reframed the possible.

Construction noise makes humidity heavier. Where’s it coming from? The water tank in the tower behind you never did come down. The image of everything collapsing, when you climbed up here on the weekend after March 11, and there was chubby, vigorous Mrs Ikarimoto doing a one-time bit of sweeping, as if this was what one does in a national tragedy. As you chatted you looked around at the surrounding buildings and agreed that in a terrible aftershock, none of them were likely to fall on you. Then you turned and pointed up to your own building’s water tower and said, that tank would probably crash straight through my bedroom. And she looked at you and smiled and said, if that happens, I’m sorry.

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