That evening I went to bed early. I'd said at dinner that I wasn't feeling well, and Okusan, concerned, came to my room around ten with soba broth. My room, however, was fully in darkness. She remarked her surprise as she cracked the fusuma a bit. Light from K's desk lamp pierced the darkness at an angle. Apparently he was still up. Okusan seated herself at my bedside. She thought I must have caught cold and, saying that I should warm myself, she pushed a cupful of broth my way. I had no choice but to down the thick broth in her presence.
I ruminated in the darkness until it grew late. Of course I was chasing the same problem in circles, getting nowhere. Suddenly, I felt the need to know what K was doing in the adjacent room. Half unconsciously, I called out to him. From the other room, he called back. He was still awake. Through the partition, I asked if he hadn't gone to bed yet. He answered simply that he was about to. I asked next what he was doing. There was no answer. Instead, I clearly discerned, five or six minutes later, the sound of his closet opening and the sound of him laying out his bedding. I called out again to ask what the time was. He replied that it was twenty past one. After that, I heard him blow out his lamp, and all in the house was dark and still.
There in the darkness, though, my eyes were open wide. Still only half consciously, I called out to K again. He called back in the same manner as before. Finally broaching the subject, I asked if we could further our conversation of that morning. I had no intention, of course, of talking through the partition, but I expected at least his agreement. His response this time, however, was not so forthcoming. He murmured back quietly, his voice steeped in reluctance. I was seized with a sense of dread.