Kuzuha Makino

I Love Your Dirty Belly Button

Translated by Toshiya Kamei

By coincidence or fate, I caught a glimpse of Okabe-san's sullied belly button.

In the gray purulent morning air, I go up the stairs of the multi-tenant building with my eyes downcast. As a twenty-three-year-old temp slave I'm earning a net monthly salary of 160,000 yen. I open the door. Because I'm the first one to arrive, the lights haven't been turned on yet.

I wear a dirty white petal-like suit I bought very cheaply online. I hate myself for thinking that I can go to work in this flimsy outfit and look all proper. Admittedly, I'm cheap. My glasses are nerdy, too. Still, every day my wilted heart drinks in the presence of Okabe-san, a janitor vacuuming noisily from one corner of the office to another. A hollow-eyed man in his early fifties, he wears a tacky green uniform, cleaning dispassionately. His light brown skin and shiny bald head that reminds me of the tip of a penis turn me on.

"Good morning"

"Oh, morning," replies Okabe-san, without even looking at me. But I don't mind. I really don't want him to take a good look at me. He's a mere object of my desire. I don't need porn actors like Ittetsu and Shimiken to get me hot. And I'm quite serious about it. I'm determined to finish myself off while fantasizing about Okabe-san. That's what pure desire is all about.

I don't know what I'm fighting for, but this is a battle against myself. I want at least to boost my libido because I'm a cheap girl with no distinct personality. In thirty minutes Okabe-san will finish cleaning the building. He'll strip off his uniform to reveal a tank top underneath when he's alone and sit in a chair at the back of the smoking area, which the president usually occupies during lunch break. There he'll nimbly move his index finger and play a puzzle game while puffing on his Wakaba.

This is a miraculous moment.

Just then I come out of the restroom located opposite the smoking area.

It's a miracle that his tank top is so twisted up, fully exposing his pot belly covered with thick, bushy hair. How come out-of-shape geezers have such similar bellies? And thanks to the new glasses that have dramatically improved my vision, I spot the filth caked around his belly button.

I take a couple of deep puffs. I'm really out of it. My emotions are out of whack. I couldn't care less about making documents for today's meeting. Who cares about tables, let alonecells? There's something more fascinating than Excel or PowerPoint! A geezer's belly button lint tastes like dried squid! The more you chew it, the tastier it becomes! My heartbeat rushes into my ears. Fed up with my completely meaningless work, I let delusional thoughts flash through my mind. Now Okabe-san will make the rounds of various buildings and vacuum them. Then he'll buy himself a large can of Asahi beer on the way back to his apartment, which costs him 40,000 yen a month. Once home, he'll chuckle over a trite variety show before going to bed. What an animalistic and courageous life! Or he's married to a hissy woman who sells side dishes in a supermarket, and their son, a mono-browed junior high kid too busy jerking himself off, hates his guts. In short, his dirty belly button is what grounds him to his ordinary life. That's what well-endowed studs like Ittetsu and Shimiken will never have. So I can only embody libido by finishing myself off to what Okabe-san stands for. 

At seven in the evening I slip off my beige pumps by the front door. Anyhow, my days as a woman are numbered if I'm getting myself off to Okabe-san, I think to myself with a smile, recalling Ittetsu's Disneyland-like grin.

Born in 1993 in Hyogo, Kuzuha Makino graduated from Ritsumeikan University in 2016 with a BA in Film and New Media. A regular contributor to Hametuha, she was awarded the NovelJam 2018 Yushu-sho for her short story Yuki to Nagi no boken. Her favorite authors include Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Charles Bukowski, and Kenji Nakagami. Her short story "K" has recently appeared in Déraciné. As well as writing short stories, she has recently published the novel Setagaya kakumei zenya.