Three Scenarios In Which Hana Sasaki Grows A Tail
A Strange Object
Kelly Luce

“Ash” is from Kelly Luce’s debut collection, Three Scenarios in Which Hana Sasaki Grows a Tail (A Strange Object).  Luce’s work has appeared in the Chicago Tribune, Crazyhorse, Kenyon Review, American Short Fiction, The Southern Review, and other magazines.   Her debut novel, Pull Me Under, was published in 2016.


Luce said this about her story:  I’d been living and teaching in Kawasaki for four months when I was arrested in a department store and charged with shoplifting. Many of the details and scenes from “Ash” come directly from that experience. It’s the most autobiographical story in the collection.


The Japanese justice system was startlingly different from the one I took for granted at home. For example, foreigners were not allowed a phone call (but Japanese citizens were), so when I didn’t show up for work the day after my arrest, my boss and colleagues had no idea where I was. As in the story, I lived in a cell with two other women, one of whom was a fairly pregnant Filipina who spoke a little English and had a penchant for bananas.


After a few days, a man from the American embassy came and told me that I could be held as long as 24 days without an official charge being brought. He was kind enough to email my family on the sly so they wouldn’t worry about my lack of contact. This was over Thanksgiving, which sounds depressing, but I was so caught up in my new world that I barely noticed the holiday. Thanks to the wad of cash in my wallet at the time of my imprisonment, a guard was able to buy me a three-pack of underwear, a toothbrush, and a notebook. On the cover of the notebook, I scrawled my number, 329, and the words My Prison Diary. I still have it. Other than my husband and our cat, it’s one of the few things I would rescue in a fire.

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