House of the Sleeping Beauties: And Other Stories
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The fusion of reality and fantasy in the minds of the old and the lonely is the central theme of these Japanese stories.
roughness. But immediately he drew back, for he had come upon clear evidence of her virginity. He groaned as he pulled away, his breathing was convulsive, his pulse rapid, less from the sudden interruption than from the surprise. He closed his eyes and tried to calm himself. It was easy for him as it would have been for a young man. Stroking her hair, he opened his eyes again. She still lay face downward. A virgin prostitute, and at her age! What was she if not a prostitute? So he told himself.
a very pretty girl. I only take guests I know I can trust." As Eguchi looked away his eye fell to his wrist watch. "What time is it?" "A quarter to eleven." "I should think so. Old gentlemen like to go to bed early and get up early. So whenever you're ready." The woman got up and unlocked the door to the next room. She used her left hand. There was nothing remarkable about the act, but Eguchi held his breath as he watched her. She looked into the other room. She was no doubt used to looking
would not be asleep, that the woman would haver her asleep by eleven. Might it be called the surprise of suddenly being pulled away from the every day world? For the girl could be asleep and certain not to awake up. Was he too quick or slow, going again after a fortnight to a house he had not thought to revisit? He had not, in any case, resisted the temptation by force of will. He had not meant to indulge again in this sort of ugly senile dalliance, and in fact he was not yet as senile as the
head very slightly forward and her breasts back, and in the shadow of her jaw there had been a scarcely perceptible line across the fresh, slender neck. Her long hair was spread over the pillow behind her. Looking up from the neatly closed lips, he had gazed at her eyebrows and eyelashes and had not doubted that she was a virgin. She was too near fir his old eyes ti make out the individual hairs if the eyelashes and eyebrows. Her skin, on which he could not see the fuzz, glowed softly. There was
it had Eguchi known in his sixty-seven years? And around the old men, new flesh, young flesh, beautiful flesh was forever being born. Were not the longing of the sad old men for the unfinished dream, the secret of this house? Eguchi had thought before that girls who did not awaken were ageless freedom for old men. Asleep and unspeaking, they spoke as the old men wished. He got up and opened the door to the next room, and already a warm smell came to him. He smiled. Why had he hesitated? The girl