Chris Ward’s story, Restoration, is a beautiful adult literary piece; one of my favorites in the Insignia anthology. I’ve become a big fan of Chris’ writing and believe he can write anything! He doesn’t typically write Asian or Japanese fiction, but you’ll see from this sample that he has an excellent voice for it.
Masato was changed when he returned. Fourteen years away and I could barely recognise his face through the skin withered and creased with age, but the biggest change was in his eyes. The boy of eighteen with the bright, carefree look about him had become a man hardened and dulled through years of war. I felt like no time had passed at all, but as he lay beside me that first night I felt I was clutching something hollow, something empty, a shell that if I squeezed too tight would collapse in upon itself and disappear.
Glad enough just to have my husband home at long last, even though the spinster talk barely ceased–after all, I wasn’t alone in seeing Masato as some kind of walking wraith, haunted and scarred by the far distant war that had decimated the population of our village–I still had hopes of creating some sort of real life for us. We had married young, of course, marriage forced on us by Masato’s recruitment, but I was only thirty-three and I knew of women who had given birth at a similar age. The risks were higher, of course, but risks and guarantees were two different things. I had spent sixteen lifeless years waiting for my husband to return, so risk was better than no possibility at all.
Masato refused to talk about the war at first. Old scars crisscrossed his skin like the lines on a Go board, and as I lay beside him I traced my fingers over them, fearing the stories behind each one. Masato would lie on his back with his eyes fixed on some image between us and the ceiling that only he could see, and I knew from the flushes and shivers of his skin that he was reliving those dark days over again. When I touched him on those nights it was like touching a dying animal; I could feel the residual heat in his body but the life had already gone.
Chris Ward is a native of Cornwall, England, but currently lives and works in Nagano, Japan. He is the author of The Tube Riders Trilogy, The Man Who Built the World and Head of Words, as well as numerous short stories and collections.
He spends his time snowboarding, writing, playing guitar in his rock band, Steampunk Unicorn, and generally having too much to say about just about everything.
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