You are what they call "the possessive type." You're jealous in the extreme. The moment you sense something the slightest bit off in your husband's behavior, jealousy takes hold of you. When those green flames rage through your body, no one in this world can hold you back.
Your go-to strategy when seized by the feeling is to throw things. For the objects in your vicinity, it's an unmitigated disaster. You throw, and you throw, and you keep throwing.
If jealousy happens to strike in the bedroom, then you start with the pillows. First, your husband's. As you pick it up and cradle it in your arms, you find your chest flooded unexpectedly with a sweet memory from many moons ago: a school trip—you must have been fifteen or so, and you and the other girls in your class shared a big room at an inn, and when night fell, the great pillow fight got under way . . .
You lob your husband's pillow. That bedroom of yours has little space in it for anything other than the double bed, but still you swing your arm back and hurl it. It sails into the side of your husband's face, then plummets to the carpet. He doesn't retaliate like the girls at school. It's no fun for you at all. You try again with your own pillow, but your husband doesn't even attempt to catch it as it strikes his midsection, and then it, too, falls forsakenly to the floor.
The sight of those two pillows lying there on the carpet prompts you to the painful realization that the best years of your life were decades ago. Stuffed full with azuki beans, the pillows back at that inn had real heft to them and commanded quite some destructive force when thrown. You and the other girls had picked up those bean-filled pillows, their cases trimmed with lace and covered in little flowers, and hurled them at one another like bombs. You had rolled across the fu- tons that covered the room's entire floor space with barely a crack in between, laughing until you had difficulty breathing. Strands of your hair found their way into your mouth, and your PE outfit got in a terrible tangle. Someone landed a direct hit to your face with a pillow, and you toppled over backward as the blood streamed from your nose, staining the offending pillowcase a vivid red.
These two pillows, though, utterly stationary on the floor, seem fundamentally different to those pillows of your adolescence. These two, stuffed with the perfect quantity of top-quality goose down, are as soft and fluffy as heaven itself. They were given to you as wedding presents and have your and your husband's initials embroidered in red and blue thread. When you throw them, they feel light and airy, as if they might just spread their wings and take off into the skies. In other words, you realize, they are no good for throwing at all!
Stupid old pillows. You have the same realization about them each time jealousy sends you on a throwing jag. You even get as far as thinking that tomorrow, you really must go out and buy some more solid pillows that can be weaponized, but as soon as your jealousy abates, you forget all about it.
Still disappointed by the pillows' lack of clout, you kick up each of your legs in turn, firing the slippers from your feet like two missiles, aimed right at your husband. As slipper toes go, these are on the more pointed end of the spectrum, so their landing isn't without effect. "Ow!" your husband says as one of the missiles strikes his shin. I'll give you "ow," you bastard! You are crazed, ablaze with jealousy, and your husband's little exclamation only stokes your fire further. You reach for the paperback on the bedside table and toss that in his direction. It's a flimsy little book, miserly in its lack of substance, and its impact is practically negligible—except it succeeds in informing your husband that you are still very much a resident of the green-eyed kingdom. You would be well advised to prepare for your next attack by keeping a hardcover tome by your bed at all times. Preferably some kind of encyclopedia. Two of them, even. Then you could pick up one in each hand and hurl them one after the other.
You swing back your arm and, with all the strength you possess, swipe at the row of photograph frames lining the top of the chest. Your wedding photo, the shot of the pair of you holding koalas on your honeymoon, along with all the other silver-framed special moments, skid along the wood, cascading off the side. A hard parquet floor would have produced a more audible crash, sure, but at least the plastic backs break and skitter dramatically across the carpet in fragments. Just look at the fear in your husband's eyes as he takes in those tiny shards.
With formidable determination, you cast an eye around the room in search of your next weapon of attack, but the bedroom really doesn't offer itself up as a plentiful arsenal. When lucid you're the tidy sort, and there's little that irks you more than a messy room. Plus, you read in a magazine article titled "How to Put Your Husband in the Mood" that getting rid of extraneous clutter helps men maintain focus in the bedroom, and since then you've been even more militant about keeping the room spick and span.
With no other options available to you, you make a lunge for your made-to-order curtains, howling like a wild beast—GYAAAAAH! You yank them down with all your might, ripping them from their rails. The light-resistant lining happens also to be flame-resistant, so there's no risk that your blazing jealousy will set them on fire. No sooner has curtain number one fallen with a muffled flop to the floor than you set upon the other. Your motions are exactly the same for curtain number two.
When it's all over, you stand there like Moses, a lone figure parting a sea of curtain. Your husband, who is cowering in the corner of the room, looks at you in astonishment. When you turn to meet his gaze, he looks away. The force of your jealousy hasn't dimmed in the slightest—and quite honestly, you'd like to keep going—but there's nothing here left for you to do; so from your curtain sea you let out a great wail. Resentful words spill out of you, and you sob and sob. When there are no suitable objects available, you have to make do by venting your emotions instead. The bedroom is not a prime location to be stricken by jealousy.
Unequivocally, the kitchen is the best place for jealousy to strike. When you are fortunate enough to be consumed there, you assume a look of positive radiance.
You start with the crockery you bought at the hundred-yen shop: the little white dishes with badly painted fish in royal blue, those ramen bowls everyone has seen at least once in their lives with the dragons encircling their circumference, the large plates decorated with eggplants and tomatoes. A mug whose sole distinguishing feature is its bright yellow hue. A voluptuous sake flask with a rough-textured glaze. Each time you go to the hundred-yen shop, you stock up on ceramics. They're all destined to end up in pieces anyway, so you don't even look at them, just sling them into your basket. Well-stocked is well-armed, after all.
You throw and you pitch and you chuck. You smash things to bits. Tiny particles of porcelain dance around you like a dust cloud. Sometimes they cut your arms and your legs, but what does that matter? You don't pay heed to such things, choosing to focus single-mindedly on your destructive activities. For you, such scars are the honorable wounds of a warrior.
If anything, the scarlet blood adds a streak of color to your destruction, heightens the sense of drama.
When you've hurled the last of the hundred-yen crockery, it's time to take your bombardment to the next level. You dive into your medium-range selection: the dusky powder-blue stuff from IKEA, the items from MUJI's functional white series. Plates, tiny bowls, big bowls, teacups—you fling them all without distinction. You send them smashing down to the floor, regardless of whether or not they break. The lacquered wooden bowl bounces off the linoleum and rolls down the corridor, spinning around and around like a top.
Only your set of rapturously exquisite Noritake teacups will you not throw, not for anything. Those cost the earth, those cups. The ornate Arabian china is out of bounds, too. You collected those beauties one by one. They are your treasures, secreted away in the depths of your kitchen shelves. However potent the jealousy that overcomes you, you always retain at least that much presence of mind. In this world, there are things that are okay to throw and those that are not. On this point, your judgment is infallible. Your husband has curled himself into a ball under the table, shielding his head.
When you run out of things to throw, you tear off your polka-dotted apron and trample it. You plunge your fists down into the sink full of dishes with all your might, so the water goes splashing about you like great splatters of blood. You take some ice from the freezer, toss it into your mouth, and crunch down on it.
The kitchen's resources can always keep pace with the blazing fire of your jealousy.
You take up a large daikon and whirl it around you like a baseball bat. When you bring it crashing down on the table, the daikon—which must have been softer than you thought—breaks into pieces, like a slow- motion video. Doubtless you will use some of these in tonight's dinner—they're the perfect size for simmering. As you squeeze out every last drop of ink from a raw squid, you even have time to think that you'll combine the two, make ika-daikon.
Next, your eyes land on the cardboard box of apples that your parents sent over from their garden. You take them out and wrench them apart with your bare hands. Later you can make them into jam, or bake them in a pie, or mix them into macaroni salad—apples are surprisingly varied in their uses. You focus on channeling all your power into your fingers as they tear through the glossy skins.
Having destroyed the kitchen to the best of your ability, you begin to tidy up the mess strewn across the floor. When you tread on the miscellaneous shards, you can hear them screaming out in agony beneath your feet. You can empathize. The feelings of those little fragments are far easier to understand than those of your husband. Just because you're clearing up doesn't mean that it's over, mind. Your jealousy is still blazing wild and free, like the huge pyramid pyres at fire festivals.
You tidy like an incensed person, not missing a single piece. You clear up every last particle, however small. When you pick up your apron, you smooth out every crease. You refill the ice-cube tray so that the water in each hole is at exactly the right level, then put it back in the special compartment in the freezer. You compress the trash bag full of all the mess you created, then look again around the newly cleaned kitchen and breathe a sigh of relief. By this time, the lump of jealousy inside you has finally dissolved. The day you thought would never end has drawn to a close. You glance at your husband, still cowering under the kitchen table, and say with incredulity, "What on earth are you doing down there?" Then you start to hum a little tune.
The roots of your jealousy can be traced all the way back to your time at nursery school. At that early stage of life, your possessive nature was already in bud.
The first person you ever had a crush on was a male teacher, back in the days when it was still a rarity for men to have such a profession. That was a tough time for you. Whenever you saw this teacher picking up another child, a piercing grief would reverberate through your tiny body—the smaller the body, the quicker grief can race through it—and you would scream and cry. Needless to say, the teacher was more or less constantly cuddling other children and holding their hands, so you were more or less constantly in tears. By the end of the day, you were shattered.
When your mother came to pick you up, your
teacher would report on the day, explaining that it seemed as if you were still missing your mommy. Hearing this, your mother was not altogether dis- pleased. She'd stroke your hair and say, "Oh dear, oh dear!" As you looked up at the adults and listened to their conversation, the whole thing felt utterly unjust. Why couldn't they see you were genuinely in love?
At snack time, when your beloved would help other children eat, you would clench your fists so hard that the cookie in your hand was pulverized to a crumby mess. The verdict was that you "still lacked grip control."
At playtime, when your beloved erected magnificent building-block castles with the other children, you would let out a wail and charge straight into them, knocking them to the ground like a merciless god. As you lay there motionless on the floor, you could feel the scattered blocks lumpy beneath your body. It occurred to you that they were a bit like vegetable chunks, and the image of a bowl of vegetable-laden curry floated to your mind for a second, then disappeared.
At every stage of your development, your jealousy was remarkable. In grade school, you cast endless love spells from a book full of glitter-encrusted illustrations. When it dawned on you that they weren't work- ing, you ripped the book to shreds. You tried your hand at black magic. You were never without a stock of voodoo dolls in your room. You visited a nearby shrine a hundred times to pray that the boy you were in love with would break up with his girlfriend. You stood naked under a waterfall and prayed with even more fervor.
When you fell for a boy in middle school, you stole his diary and kept it on your person at all times until you graduated. The heat of your body caused its cover to fade. You were assiduous in placing a curse on each and every girl you saw speaking to him. You worked with astonishing dedication in the hopes of getting into the same high school as him, so that in the end, you were admitted while he wasn't. Even once you were in your new school, the thought of all the girls he might be meeting was enough to make your blood boil over black. Ducking out after your last class, it was your daily afternoon ritual to walk over to his school and spy on him.
As a university student, your jealousy blossomed further still. When your boyfriend left a text of yours unanswered for five hours, the shock you endured made you come down with a fever. When the same boyfriend didn't pick up the phone, you would leave him voice mail after voice mail at two-minute intervals. That was no easy task, either—as soon as you put down the phone from recording one mes- sage, you'd redial to start recording the next. You were driven to such wild curiosity about his ex that you took an overnight bus to his hometown. When you approached and questioned the various people you met, you were mistaken for a private detective, and before long rumors were flying around that your boyfriend was mixed up in some bad business.
Your bible was The Tale of Genji. Every man you fell in love with, every man you went out with, caught a glimpse of hell. All of them, without exception. For the man that you married, every day was a living hell. Why'd he marry you, anyway? It was clear from the start what kind of person you were. When he casually checked the messages on his phone in your presence, hadn't he sensed your murderous gaze bearing down on him?
And what's more—and this is what's really amazing about you—until yesterday, you hadn't even realized that you were the jealous type. TV programs are always spilling over with crazily possessive girlfriends and wives, so you never questioned your normality. You were under the impression that this was what romance, what love was all about.
So what if jealousy had occasionally driven you to punch through the car window, or to rip to shreds the yukata you were sewing for your husband when it was inches away from being finished, or to slip a GPS device into his shoe to track his whereabouts? Even the way you were perpetually honing your sense of smell so that you'd instantly be able to catch a whiff of another woman on your husband's person seemed to you perfectly conventional behavior.
And so yesterday after dinner, when your husband announced that he wanted a divorce, quite out of the blue, your first reaction wasn't distress so much as utter bewilderment. He spoke at length about how ab- normal he felt your jealousy was. It terrified him, he said, and he couldn't tolerate it anymore. It was sheer madness. Visibly teetering on the cusp of sanity, your husband sank his head onto the dining table like a Jenga tower tumbling down, and promptly dissolved into sobs.
You are a well-meaning person at heart, and so you were quickly overcome by deep regret. It had sim- ply never crossed your mind until now that what you were doing was wrong. You apologized repeatedly to your husband, promised that you would change, and begged him for one more chance. Your husband smiled heroically. "Okay," he managed to squeak as he dried his eyes. Then, still somewhat ill at ease, the two of you sat in silence and ate the apple pie you'd baked for dessert.
Today you woke up feeling fresh and new. You felt rebirth was possible. You would become a kind- hearted person to whom jealousy was a foreign concept, a generous-spirited sort who could accept your husband just as he was. You swore to yourself that you would.
But—and here we reveal our real reason for get- ting in touch with you on this occasion—why on earth did you have to go and do something as banal as to repent? If your husband ignites the flames of your
jealousy with the suspicious messages he receives on his phone, or the matchboxes he keeps in his pockets from dodgy-looking establishments, or the posh chocolates he brings home on Valentine's Day, then it's him that's in the wrong. If he makes you imagine he might have been unfaithful—leaving aside the question of whether he really is occasionally being unfaithful— then it is entirely his fault.
Why should you have to go and show benevolent forgiveness toward a husband like that? You made your dissatisfaction clear. Where's the problem with that? You've done nothing wrong. The misguided one here is your cheating husband. That's why, from now on, you should let yourself go wild with jealousy. We implore you not to part so readily with your defining asset.
Maybe you haven't realized it yet, but your jealousy is a talent. You mustn't go listening to the nonsense spouted by all the drudges surrounding you. They know nothing. There is no need for you to divest yourself of your own fangs. It would be the world's loss if you were to do so.
So long as your husband keeps up this flighty behavior of his, you should continue to show him hell. If he starts blathering on about divorce again, then find a chink in his armor and blackmail him. If necessary, we are happy to help you out in that regard by locating some kind of chink on your behalf. We don't think it will take long.
It is also testament to the singularity of your gift that your jealousy retains a youthful intensity even into your fifties. Ordinarily, individuals find their personalities softening as they get older. After living with someone for years on end, they develop a sense of resignation. Plainly put, they stop caring. Many women end up looking not to their husbands but to the male stars of their favorite TV programs to trigger their most passionate feelings. This is because such stars facilitate beautiful fantasies. There is nothing wrong with that, either.
Surely it has not escaped your notice how many married couples walk around with long-suffering expressions on their faces? Times change, but the path trodden by your standard married couple remains the same. You, on the other hand? You've never given up, not once. Your jealousy remains as fresh as a daisy. Even consulting our statistics, it's clear that your trajectory makes you a true outlier.
Barring any significant changes, we predict that the energy your jealousy generates will enable you to keep going strong until you are at least a hundred, but given that we are somewhat short of hands, we would prefer if you were to make your way here before then. The sooner the better, as far as we are concerned. The numbers of people with the levels of passion it takes to become a ghost are decreasing every year. Contrary to common presumption, it's not just anyone who can assume spectral form. Without the requisite degree of jealousy or obsession, people just float straight to heaven. Between you and us, everyone is so blessedly sensible that we sometimes find ourselves tempted to give them a good talking-to. Are you really going to settle for that? we want to ask. Quite frankly, watching over lives as dull as theirs, we are bored witless.
In today's world, there's a tendency for jealousy and obsession to be portrayed in a negative light. Those with talents in these areas are often criticized, as if they were lacking in some way. This only serves to ensure that people with extraordinary talent like yours shrink in number. This is the vicious cycle we find ourselves in. The situation is truly grave.
On that account, as embarrassing as it is to admit, we find ourselves chronically understaffed, and nothing would please us more than if you were to join our team. For a person of your gifts, we don't feel any training will be necessary and hope to welcome you into our team immediately. Recognizing your capabilities at this stage, we have extremely high expectations for what you could accomplish with us into the future. In terms of arrangements for your appearance on the spectral stage, rest assured that we have a wide variety of options available, and we feel confident that we'll be able to find something you will be satisfied with.
Accordingly, when you do pass away, please be sure to get in touch.