Perhaps it was the constant dull clatter of Tokyo’s Chuo line wearing down the tracks over two long years during which I dangled from the end of a plastic ring that had lulled me into a sense of nonexpectancy. The constant press of knees, elbows and designer bags had become only vague sensations as my mind produced more fanciful illusions of uncommon adventure, none of which were currently possible for man of my means. And so I resigned myself to the numbing clatter, often even welcoming it after a long day. In retrospect, this desensitizing was most certainly a ploy of fate to provide a contrast for the unimaginable.
The evening commute that late autumn day started as any other with swarms of salaried workers inflating around me, each maneuvering for their own pocket of oblivion. After three stops my grasp of the ring was merely perfunctory as the limbs and torsos around me had closed in. I was mentally strolling some empty beach when the scent of my fictitious floral shore suddenly seemed oddly more salient than usual. Then something feathery brushed my right cheek. I opened my eyes a crack.