On a train in Tokyo, two handsome young men sat together across from me, looking grim. One was seated sideways to hold a large suitcase, giving me a three-quarter view of his face. A silver earring dangled from his ear.
The two never spoke. The one without a suitcase looked increasingly downcast. Then he closed his eyes and rested his head on his companion’s shoulder. So, it was fatigue—perhaps from travel—that kept them quiet. The passengers around them froze. The two women next to me whispered, heads together, “I haven’t seen any…with my own eyes.”
The man clutching the suitcase did not budge, aware of the attention but unperturbed. Sunlight gently gleamed on the young men. The air around them was charged with something palpably intense, something that made them look radiant together. For a moment, thoughts crossed my mind: Living as a gay couple isn’t easy in Japan. They still face societal discrimination, and the government staunchly opposes same-sex marriage. Was it this adversity that strengthened their bond, a pure and deep bond I rarely discerned in socially accepted couples?
These thoughts dissipated as I gazed at what seemed like love that needed only itself. The train reached my stop. How I wanted to continue watching their tired, but contented, faces, and the silver earring swing in rhythm with the train.
Kaori Fujimoto is an essay writer and freelance translator based in the Tokyo area. She lived in the US Midwest, South, Southwest, along with Hawaii to study, work, and loaf, and also traveled a lot along the US East Coast and Europe when she was young. Her work has appeared in Brevity, South Loop Review, Easy Street, Punctuate, Wanderlust Journal, and more.