“You forgot your what?”
“My stamp,” Tsutomu said, “my jitsu-in... the one with the Mitsubishi seal on it.”
“Ah,“ his manager replied softly.
Tsutomu cleared his throat and took a deep breath.
“I was walking back to the docks to get it, passing by the potato fields... it was 8:15... I saw the plane before I even heard it. Two little parachutes were falling behind it. I thought it was more of those American pamphlets but then... there was a light...”
He tugged at the cotton bandage wrapping his left arm. It had been on for three days and it was itching him badly. A change was in order after the work day was over. He looked out the window at the bright early-afternoon sun and shook his head for a few moments before he turned back and continued.
“When I awoke... when I awoke... there was a giant mushroom of fire rising up high into the sky... It was like a tornado, but it wasn’t moving... it just rose and spread out horizontally at the top. And there was a prismatic light. It was changing in a complicated rhythm, like the patterns of a kaleidoscope...”
There was a long silence before Tsutomu began to cry.
“We are very sorry...” the manager said and placed his hand on Tsutomu’s neck. “But we are glad you’ve decided to return to –“
A popping sound from outside stopped the tearful meeting short and the office shook, just slightly. The two men spun towards the window. A bright light, a thousand times brighter the noon sun, seared their shadows onto the wall behind them before it collapsed.
It was August 9th, 1945, and Tsutomu Yamaguchi was about to survive the atomic bomb explosion over Nagasaki – three days after surviving the one at Hiroshima.