材料： 雞胸肉 200 克、青瓜一條、青紫蘇葉 6 片、梅子 1 顆、芝麻（隨意）
調味料： 鹽 1 小匙
“Your mum dropped by today and brought these pickled plum.”
“The pickled plum she made is always so tasty. I should ask her for the recipe and make some for you.”
Yukiko put into her mouth a piece of chicken, which was prepared with shiso and plum. The sourness of the plum flesh has irritated her canker sore, prompting her to quickly pour some ice cold water into her mouth to benumb the sudden pain. She looked up and stared at Hatuta, but he just continued munching the rice quietly without even lifting his head. 21,22… He had chewed 23 times in total; was he ever aware of his little habit of chewing for too long? Yukiko wiped her right eye, where her tears of pain usually came out.
“Yes?” Hearing his name all of a sudden interrupted Hatuta’s streams of thought. He looked up with wide opened eyes.
From the curve of his mouth, Yukiko could tell there was something Hatuta wanted to say but didn’t say. She lifted the bowl to her mouth, had a sip of the miso soup and continued, “Have you seen the news? Another elderly got hurt in a car accident.”
“Right.” He continued eating his rice and chicken.
“Does it taste good?”
Yukiko was looking at how Hatuta stacked the dishes one by one, then followed by the bowls on top of the dishes, then the chopsticks and spoons on the very top before carefully putting everything into the dishwasher. “I still have some work to finish off.” He turned away to his room while he spoke. Yukiko couldn’t take her glance off him, as well as the light emitted from the phone in his pocket.
Seeing Hatuta closed the door, Yukiko poured herself a cup of tea and lied on the couch. She turned on the television and randomly switched through basically all the channels without really watching any of the shows. All the faces or sceneries on the screen are just flashes that didn’t leave any mark on her mind. The talking and laughing of Hatuta could be faintly heard from behind the door, she needed to tune the TV louder and louder, until it was loud enough to cover up Hatuta’s voice.
It was already 3 a.m. when she woke up from dreams. Cars rushed by downstairs and casted light beams on the ceiling of this room in complete darkness. She didn’t remember herself switching off the television or covering herself with a blanket. Since when has Hatuta stopped asking her to go back to the room when she falls asleep on the couch? She lifted up the blanket, thinking about going back to the room. Another beam of light lightened the ceiling, then she lied down again.
Yukiko stayed in the coach until 8 in the morning. Although she has woken up, she simply kept her eyes closed and listened as Hatuta brushed his teeth and prepared himself some toasts and milk. Finally, she heard him leaving home, then she slowly got out of the coach, took a deep breath to soothe the ache from sleeping on the couch all night.
Yukiko went to the kitchen to pour herself a glass of water. The utensils they used last night were still lying in the sink, whereas half a pot of miso soup was still on the worktop. On the chopping board was some chopped shiso leaves, which was overly prepared last night when making the chicken with plum and shiso leaves. Too much of that would ruin the taste of the dish, but then again, they were too fresh to be thrown away. She intended to store up the leaves after dinner but ended up letting them in open air for the whole night. They had dried up, colour turned brownish, and the nice aroma faded. She wrapped them in cling film and put them into the fridge. For some unknown reasons, Yukiko just didn’t want to throw them away; even she doesn’t understand why she hates to see something go to waste, even for some stale shiso leaves.
Chicken with pickled plum and shiso leaves
200g Chicken breast, 1 Cucumber, 6 Green shiso leaves, 1 Pickled plum, some sesame
1 tsp Salt
Put salt in water and bring to a simmer. Boil the chicken breast until cooked.
Cool off the chicken; shred the meat.
Cut the cucumber into thin strips.
Remove the seed from the plum. Mash the plum flesh.
Chop up the shiso leaves.
Add in sesame and mix all the ingredients. Ready to serve.