Metal tines stabbed against the soft body of the baked bluefin tuna, the most desired taste, in Yokohama, Japan. Arai watched his wife wipe the brown ponzu from their son's lips, her jet black hair wrapped up in a single bun, her brown eyes gleaming against the chandelier’s yellow light. “Tomoe… Benjiro, how did you like the food?” Benjiro’s eyes lit up with excitement as he raised his fork in the air and proclaimed “It was tasty! Really, really tasty! thank you, daddy, thank you, mommy!” Tomoe smiled and brought the plates into the kitchen sink as the distant sounds of rubber bullets and exploding tear gas cut through the night. “I’m glad you liked it Benjiro,” Arai replied, “now go to your room and get to bed so you can wake up early for school tomorrow, okay?” As Benjiro ran to his room, silence filled his place, and so did the heat of Tomoe’s anger.
Arai spoke softly, “Tomoe, you know this isn’t my fault… people have been upset about the price hikes since before I came into office. This new policy isn’t any different from the policies of the past 20 years.” Tomoe dropped the fork she was cleaning and glared at Arai with an eye that made him go pink. “You’re right, it isn’t any different,” Tomoe snarled, “I told you not to go through with that law, I told you it would only make things worse, but you never listen to me, Arai! This is the fifth day in a row that the city has been in flames, and you and your Party aren’t doing anything about it!” With trembling hands, she started back wiping the brown ponzu off of scratched silverware. “Well, what would you have me do Tomoe?” Arai started, “Go out in the streets and get myself killed trying to challenge the Party with the rest of them? Would that make you happy? We’re not in University anymore. I’m a leader in this country, I don’t have the privilege of sitting back and complaining about things I don’t like without having to come up with any solutions of my own. I’m doing this for you, I’m doing this for Benjiro, I’m doing this for Japan! Why can’t you see that?”
“You’re not doing this for us, Arai!” Tomoe shouted as she slammed the sliding glass door of their 20-story balcony. The sight of black smoke rising from burning cars filled the sky behind her as she continued, “You’re doing this for your friends in the Party. You're doing this because you’re scared that you’ll lose your job if you don’t. You’re doing this for yourself! Do you think that just because you bring home over-priced fish and expensive alcohol I’m supposed to be okay with this? That I’m supposed to praise you for being such a big man? The oceans have only gotten worse since the Party has taken control, and your higher-ups still allow Sakana Inc. to over-fish by the coast of our port. This isn’t only about Yokohama, Arai. All over the world, people are suffering because of this. The price of food keeps rising, and you and your friends are getting richer from it!” In a desperate attempt to defend himself, Arai slammed his hands on the purple heartwood table and snapped back, “Well, what do you want me to do Tomoe?! what’s the point of fighting them if I’m only going to lose? I’ll lose support in the Party, I’ll lose my job, and we’ll lose our home. These people out there tearing the city apart don’t care about the oceans, they don’t care about Yokohama, they don’t care whether we can afford to keep Benjiro in school or not. They don’t care about anyone but themselves. They're not even stealing food, they’re stealing sneakers, jewelry, and TV sets! They’re taking advantage of the situation and robbing ordinary businesses that have nothing to do with the new policy. This isn’t about the food, this is all just a quick heist for them!”
Silence filled the room, as a look of deep betrayal marked Tomoe’s face. She replied, “Arai, your mother was one of those people that was stealing food and clothes for you during the blackouts of the 2050s, and so was my mother. Those people outside tonight are no different from you or me.” “Tomoe, the 2050s were different!” Arai cried out, “After the War people didn’t have anything, and those blackouts ended up killing millions! These people that are burning down the city today are nothing like our parents. The government gives them what they need to survive, every month, but no, that’s not enough for them. They want more, these kids today don’t know what it’s like to have nothing!”
“Arai, You’re so disconnected from the world that you don’t even know what the average person goes through, you’re so disconnected from your family that you don’t even know what your own wife is going through. You’re worried about losing your job, but are you at all worried about losing me? Or am I supposed to stay here by your side until I’m old and gray, obeying every foolish word that comes out of your mouth!” Arai paused for a moment at this statement, then dropped his work bag on the floor and looked at his wife with tightened lips, and exhausted eyes. He let out a deep exhale and said “Tomoe, I can’t talk to you when you’re like this. I’ve been working all day and night for our family, but no matter what I do, it isn’t good enough for you. I bring home the most expensive wine, you won’t drink it. I buy you new clothes, you won’t wear them. Apparently, not even the most expensive meal in Yokohama, Japan, the Bluefish Tuna, can please my wife! You know how hard things were for us before I got this job, I would’ve never been able to do all of this for you on my old salary! We’re just starting to get some headway in the world, and you want me to throw it all away, right now? Right now, while things are getting so bad? It isn’t my fault that they’ve been destroying the oceans since before we were born, it isn’t my fault that the central government forces us to raise prices on food, it isn’t my fault that the Party is corrupt! Life is unfair Tomoe, the most we can do is try to survive this storm, and scrape up whatever extra dollars we can while we still have the chance. Just like those looters destroying the city are doing right now.”
Satisfied with his logic, Arai began to undress triumphantly before heading into their master bedroom. As he proceeded to leave the kitchen, Tomoe pulled him by his arm, and said “Arai, leave, right now.” Confused, he exclaimed “Tomoe! I–,” “Arai, no,” cutting him off before he could finish his sentence. “You have to choose a side, and if you think that you can continue to do this, and still have me by your side, you’re mistaken. You can’t share a bed with me, and with your Party at the same time. Make your choice.” Arai felt the pain of Tomoe’s words sink deep into his chest, and so did she. Both of them stood in a heavy silence that widened the distance between them, as smoke and fire continued to fill the night sky of Yokohama, Japan.