This is an excerpt from the book Earthlings by Sayaka Murata, translated by Ginny Tapley Takemori.
Deep in the mountains of Akishina where Granny and Grandpa live, fragments of night linger even at midday.
As we wound our way up steep hairpin bends, I gazed out the window at the swaying trees, at the undersides of the leaves so swollen they looked as though they would burst. That was where the pitch-black darkness was. I always felt an urge to reach out to that blackness, the color of outer space.
Next to me, Mom was rubbing my sister’s back.
“Are you okay, Kise? These mountain roads are so steep, no wonder you’re feeling carsick.”
Dad gripped the steering wheel, saying nothing. He was driving slowly to keep the car as steady as he possibly could, glancing anxiously at Kise in the rearview mirror.
I was eleven and in year five of elementary school. I could take care of myself. Looking out of the window at the fragments of the universe was the best way to avoid getting carsick. I’d worked that out when I was eight and hadn’t been sick on this road since. My sister was two years older than me, but she was still just a child and wouldn’t survive the journey without Mom’s help.
As we drove up and up around endless bends, ears popping, I felt like I was gradually moving toward the sky. Granny’s house is high up, close to the universe.
I hugged my backpack to me. Inside it was my origami magic wand and my magical transformation mirror. At the very top of the backpack was my best friend, Piyyut, who gave me these magical objects. Piyyut can’t speak human since the evil forces put a spell on him, but he’s looking after me so I won’t get carsick.
I hadn’t told my family, but I was a magician, a real one with actual magical powers. I’d met Piyyut in the supermarket by the station when I was six and had just started elementary school. He was right on the edge of the soft toy display and looked as though he was about to be thrown out. I bought him with the money I’d received at New Year’s. Piyyut was the one who’d given me my magical objects and powers. He was from Planet Popinpobopia. The Magic Police had found out that Earth was facing a crisis and had sent him on a mission to save our planet. Since then I’d been using the powers he’d given me to protect the Earth.
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Earthlings – Summary
Here is the book summary from Goodreads:
Natsuki isn’t like the other girls. She has a wand and a transformation mirror. She might be a witch, or an alien from another planet. Together with her cousin Yuu, Natsuki spends her summers in the wild mountains of Nagano, dreaming of other worlds. When a terrible sequence of events threatens to part the two children forever, they make a promise: survive, no matter what.
Now Natsuki is grown. She lives a quiet life with her asexual husband, surviving as best she can by pretending to be normal. But the demands of Natsuki’s family are increasing, her friends wonder why she’s still not pregnant, and dark shadows from Natsuki’s childhood are pursuing her. Fleeing the suburbs for the mountains of her childhood, Natsuki prepares herself with a reunion with Yuu. Will he still remember their promise? And will he help her keep it?
Copyright © 2018 by Sayaka Murata.
Translated by: Ginny Tapley Takemori
More details on Goodreads can be found here.