Out of sheer curiosity, I watched as the two of them walked, side by side, down to the water. I watched them proceed directly into the surf. They traversed the shallows, passing through throngs of boisterous bathers, reached a relatively deserted space, and began to swim. They swam toward the open sea, and I watched as their heads grew smaller. Then they turned and made a bee line back to the shore. Again in the tea hut, they wiped themselves dry without rinsing, dressed, and promptly departed.
After they left, I went back to my stool, sat down, and had a smoke. As I smoked, my mind, somewhat vacantly, wandered back to Sensei. I couldn't help but think that I'd seen him somewhere before. Try as I might, though, I failed to place him.
By that time, rather than carefree pleasure, I was feeling a sense of tedium. The next day, I took it upon myself to return to the tea hut again at the same hour. The Westerner did not show, but Sensei arrived, wearing a straw hat. He placed his glasses on the table, tied his towel around his head, and walked briskly down to the water's edge. Just like the day before, he cut past the boisterous bathers and began to swim out alone. As he did so, I was seized with the urge to follow. Kicking up water as I splashed through the shallows, I proceeded out to the depths. Once there, I began to swim arm over arm toward Sensei. Unlike the prior day, however, Sensei cut back toward the shore in an unexpected arc. Thwarted in my effort, I failed to catch him. When I came up from the water and entered the tea hut, still shaking the drops from my hands, Sensei had already dressed. We met in passing as he made his way out.