Modern Day Urashima
Once, when I was cycling on a high road that weaved through the coastal mountains of Japan, a small town suddenly appeared down in the valley to my right. In the brief moment before it disappeared, I saw a house. It was old and brown, and it was pressed up against a cliff. The black tiles on its roof flickered with the sharp light of the sun, which was hanging low, just over the edge of the sea.
Near this house, there was a slight waterfall. It trickled down a rock face to the side of a walking path. The mist from this cascade drifted upward. It made the air in my path damp and heavy. It carried with it an earthy scent of moss and soil.
In the brief space of that moment, I lived another life. Days and weeks passed. I spent years in that house, married to a woman I couldn’t know or see. I tended to the potted bonsai trees on the veranda in rear of the house. I drove an old car in and out of town. I grew old and died near the sea.