At the time, an appropriate response eluded me entirely. I expect I lacked the capacity to even consider one. Even as a clammy sweat seeped from my armpits and into my shirt, I sat there stoically without stirring. K continued on in his signature solemn voice, pouring his heart out a bit at a time. My anguish was unbearable. I imagine this anguish was written across my face, like the bold clear print on a large handbill, for all to see. Even K should have seen it clearly, but he was too absorbed in his own affair to lend me any regard. His confession continued on, from beginning to end, in the same vein. It was slow and heavy, and it impressed me thus as firmly rooted, not something easily dismissed. My thoughts were in a frenzy, wondering what I should do, and I only half listened to his words. The details of what he said might just as well have fallen on deaf ears, but the tone with which he spoke reverberated forcefully through my being. In addition to the anguish I've described, I began to also sense a certain kind of fear. In short, the fear of facing a stronger rival was taking hold in my mind.
When K finished speaking, I had nothing to say in response. My silence wasn't one of calculation. I wasn't weighing whether I should best counter with a similar confession or keep my feelings hidden. I simply had nothing to say. Nor did I feel any desire to speak.
When it was time for lunch, K and I sat face to face at the table. The maidservant waited on us. Never had I experienced a less appetizing meal. The two of us exchanged hardly a word. We didn't know when Okusan and her daughter would return.