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17 March 2007

Short Novel: The Flight to Tokyo, Chapter 4

A story of a B-29 bomber pilot who time-travels from the war-time Tokyo to present-time.

Please read Chapter 1 to Chapter 3 first.


Sayuri worried about Jim’s reaction. She thought she shouldn’t have told the story about Grandma. After lunch Jim went to the bathroom to take a shower. After cleaning up his body and he wore the clothes, and got out of the bathroom.

He saw Sayuri and Grandma leaving the house. Jim said to Sayuri “Where are you going?”

“We are attending the ceremony. But we will come back here by the evening. You should rest in my room.”

Jim asked “what kind of ceremony are you attending?”

“Well, This may not be what you like. The ceremony for 60th commemoration of Tokyo Air raids. Grandma and I will be on the stage. Grandma talks and I will interpret what she says for the American attendees including the U.S. ambassador.”

“I’d like to go, can I?” Jim was curious.

Sayuri took Jim and Grandma to the civic hall by car. She drove. Jim sat on the front passenger’s seat. Grandma sat on backseat. They remained silence in the car.

There were almost 100 people in the hall. The attendees wore formal suits. There were some Americans including an old lady who was the U.S. ambassador. Jim avoided American crowd.

At the beginning, on the stage, speaker said something in Japanese and Sayuri interpreted.

“Please stand in silence in remembrance of the victims of Great Tokyo air raids.”

The attendees all stood up and kept silence. Jim did that.

After the moment of silence, the U.S. ambassador came up on the stage to make a brief statement. She was in black funeral suits. Her hair was white. She looked like over 70 years old.

“Good afternoon, my name is Kathleen Bolton. I am the U.S. ambassador to Japan . The invitation to this ceremony is very meaningful to me because I lost my family member in the war. The war ended 60 years ago. The U.S. and Japan have been close allies since the war ended. However the pain of loss still remained. We all share the grievance and we all share the hope for peace. Today is my last day as the ambassador. This ceremony should be the one I can never forget. Thank you.”

It was really brief statement, Jim thought. She seemed like she could not get into this issue because of her position.

Next was the talk by the survivor of the Air raid. Sayuri’s Grandma showed up on the stage. Jim was thrilled to hear the story. 

At first, Grandma explained herself. She was only 8 at that time. She lost her mother and brother in the raid. Then she started to talk about that night.

“I remember it was windy and very cold. Very cold even inside the house because we did not have fuel to use stove. We were afraid because we hear sirens and sounds of airplanes coming to the city. Then that night, the planes came. We heard the siren of the warning and went outside.

My brother who was only a baby was carried by my mother. We ran and ran. The sky turned red. Everywhere was fire. We were surrounded by the fire. The fire expanded by the wind and swallowed the people running. It was so dangerous not just by the fire. The boards, glasses, were flying in the air and bumped to the people.


My brother cried. The fire sparks were inside his mouth. My mother tried to take them out. I saw people burning and screaming in front of me. We ran into the river and reached the bridge over the river. But the bridge wasn’t the safe place. The heat was so hot that we could not stand. The fire even stretched to the bridge and the bridge was crowded by the evacuees. My mother told me to jump off the bridge to the river.

There was no way out. She had to hold my brother. She could not dive into the river. I did not want to but I had no choice. My mother looked so sad. I still remember her face. I realized that I have to say goodbye to her and my brother forever and then jumped. The river was so cold contrary to the air. I was drowned at first but later saved by the boat floating in the river. I was saved. Since that night I’ve never heard from my mother and brother. That means they never survived.

After the war, my father came back from the battle field, he was saddened by the loss of his family but glad I was alive.”

Grandma’s eyes were filled with tears. Sayuri seemed so sad but just doing her job as an interpreter. Some of the attendees started to cry. The ambassador looked serious but just normal. The ceremony ended after the closing statement for the peace.

Jim was surprised there were no antagonistic words in it. Because 60 years have passed, and Americans were invited to the ceremony, for Jim it was yesterday memory.   


Jim got out of the hall and walked to stay away.

“Jim, where are you going?” It was Sayuri’s voice behind him. He looked back.

“Let’s go back home” said Sayuri.

“I can’t.”

“Why not? The ceremony was finished. Is there any problem, again?” Sayuri looked worried.

“I cannot stay with you, especially with your Grandma.” Jim said that seriously.

“What? Hey, you don’t have to worry about her. She said she was sorry for being rude to you. She had been so nervous speaking out in public. Now she is fine. She says she wants to apologize to you and express gratitude to you for saving my life. In fact her experience has nothing to do with you. You are young American of today.”

“No, it is not your Grandma’s fault. I just cannot be with you. I’ll tell you. I do not suffer amnesia. I have my memories.”

“You recovered your memory. That is good to hear.”

Sayuri looked happy.

“I never lost memory. I lied. I lied because I was afraid.”

“What are you afraid of?”

Her face turned serious.

“Because if I tell who I really am, I thought I would be killed by your people.”

Sayuri could not understand what his words mean. She began to think Jim might be a psychopath, not a patient of amnesia.

“I do not understand you. Who are you, really?”

“I am James Austin, who belongs to the U.S. Air Force, 314 aircraft wing. The wing that bombed Tokyo at the night your Grandma lost her loved ones.”


Go on to Chapter 5

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