Vignette: the Vampire’s Visit

(The Kid has been practicing writing Japanese every day for a couple of years now. These days he writes enough to fill about 3/4 of a wide-ruled notebook page – with each row of characters taking up two lines for ease of reading/writing – and I’m making a point of ensuring that he practices a variety of kanji while occasionally learning new characters. Some days I dictate to him; others I just give him a list of characters to try to incorporate and he comes up with his own sentences; it’s good practice for both of us. This is a series of linked writing exercises that turned into a little story last fall… now available in English translation!)

1
 あの太った吸血鬼がやって来た夕方、ぼくらは誰一人としてあいつが化け物だと知らなかった。ただ、あやしい者だということは直ぐ分かった。
 吸血鬼が門の前で足を止めて、「この家の主はおらぬかい?」と、つまらなさそうな声で聞いていた。

(On the evening when the portly vampire came, none of us knew that it was a monster. We just understood immediately that he was nobody to be trusted.

The vampire stopped in front of the gate, and called out “Is the master of the house here?” in a bored-sounding drawl.

2
 その時、両親は休んでいたから、戸を開けたのは家の一番上の兄だった。兄は近くから相手の紅い目と長いはを一目見て、バタンと戸を強く閉じた。

Our parents were resting at the time, so the one who opened the door was my oldest brother. Close-up, he took in the stranger’s red eyes and long teeth in a single glance, and slammed the door shut again.

3
 ぼくらが住んでいる岩雪の国は大昔から四本のきょ大な灯台に守られているけど、まるで蚊が蚊やの中に入ってくるように、時々吸血鬼がしん入してきてしまう。高校でモンスターの科学を学んだ兄はもちろん、しょ理の仕方を知っている。

Since time immemorial the land where we live, Iwayuki, has been protected by four great lighthouses. But just as mosquitoes sometimes slip inside your mosquito netting, every once in a while a vampire will manage to get in. Naturally our big brother, who has studied monster science at high school, knows how to deal with them.

4
 吸血鬼は小さいつぶつぶの物を見たら数えざるをえないのだ。兄が妹に、「米を持っておいで」と言ったけど、妹が走って持ってきたのは小豆だった。

When a vampire sees a collection of small objects, it’s compelled to count them. Our brother told our little sister, “Bring some rice.” But when she came running back, she was carrying adzuki beans.

5
 兄は仕方なく、その小豆を吸血鬼の顔になげつけることにしたけど、ぼくはねんのため、砂をいっぱい手に取った。
 戸をまた開けたしゅん間、兄が豆をなげ、ぼくが砂をなげ、そして後ろから「エエエイ!」と弟がいつの間にか探してきた米つぶを一リットル分を地面にまいた。

That would have to do, so our brother got ready to throw the beans in the vampire’s face. Just in case I gathered a big handful of sand.

Our brother opened the door again and in the same moment he threw the beans, I threw the sand, and then with a shriek our little brother came up behind us and threw about a liter’s worth of rice, which he had managed to find at some point, all over the ground

6
 でも吸血鬼はひっ死に米つぶや豆を数えはじめるどころか、ゆっくりと笑って見せた。「お主はかんちがいをしているようだ。 己は算数好きな東生まれの者ではなく、西生まれなのだ」

But the vampire didn’t start desperately counting the rice or the beans. Instead, a smile slowly spread across his face. “You seem to be under a misconception. I’m not one of those arithmeticians from the East. I’m from the West.”

7
それまで、吸血鬼は男の人みたいなすがただったけど、そのほほ笑みは人間らしくなく、
おおかみやワニみたいな肉食動物のに見えた。
刀よりもするどくておそろしい、黄色いつめの指をこちらに向けて、こう言った。「さて、最後に大切な一言を教えてやろう」

Up until that point the vampire had looked more or less like a human man, but there was nothing human about that smile; it was the carnivorous grin of a wolf or a crocodile. He pointed his yellow fingernails at us, sharper than honed blades, and said, “Well, perhaps I’ll teach you one more lesson before the end.”

8
つめより、はより、何より、吸血鬼の満足気な笑顔がこわかった。息がちゃんと吸えないほど、体がとつぜん冷えた気がした。だけど、ひ鳴を上げたり、回ってにげたりする前に、ビュウーっと青白く光る、小さい雷のような物がとんできた。

More than those nails, though, more than his teeth, more than anything else, what frightened me was his self-satisfied expression. My whole body suddenly went cold; it was hard to even draw a breath. But before any of us could scream or turn to run, there was a hum as something pale and shining, like a miniature thunderbolt, came flying.

9
家の姉は毎月、一週間くらい京の市の南区で「王の道の当番」という仕事をする。だから、けん術やま術をはじめとして、古語の読み書きももちろん、有りとあらゆるぶ士の活動にふさわしいわざをよく練習している。

Our elder sister’s job is to spend about a week out of each month in the southern ward of the capital as guard on the king’s road. She spends most of her time practicing all the skills and arts appropriate to a warrior, starting with swordsmanship and magecraft, and naturally including the reading and writing of Old Speech.

10
多くの国のま術は地下の火、または星の光の力を使用する。
姉が働いている京のまほう使いたちは太ようの力をかりるんだ。

The magic of most countries uses the power of the Fire Down Below or of Starlight. But the mages of the capital, where our sister works, borrow the power of the sun.

11
ただの鉄と木でできてるぶきはあまり化け物にきかない。銀の方が良い場合もあるけど、とても高いから家にはなかった。
太ようの力で満ちていたからこそ、姉の弓からとんでいった矢が吸血鬼の心ぞうをさし、仕とめたにちがいない。

Weapons made of mere wood and iron have almost no effect against monsters. There are times when silver is better, but silver weapons are expensive and our household had none. I have no doubt that the arrow our sister fired was able to pierce the vampire’s heart, and put an end to it, because it was filled with the power of the sun.

——完 (——End)

About Confanity

I love the written word more than anything else I've had the chance to work with. I'm back in the States from Japan for grad school, but still studying Japanese with the hope of becoming a translator -- or writer, or even teacher -- as long as it's something language-related.
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