Friday, 29 May 2015

Chapter five (segment thirteen), twenty four years earlier, June, Kyoko

The crowd closed behind them again. Kyoko held on to Yu-kun's shirt for all she was worth. I lose him now and I'll be alone for the rest of the evening.

Just a moment earlier they had almost stumbled into a drunken fistfight and now they were running.

From her right music blared from a couple of loudspeakers, and then the sound grew fainter behind her. Why is he walking so fast?

“Yu-kun, I can't. My yukata.”

He finally slowed down. Her feet hurt from walking much faster than her shoes were designed for. Kuri-chan would have understood. She actually knew about the yukata. Ah, yes she told me she had been in Japan a lot before.

That thought scared her. Before this life. What is it like to live twice?

“Kyoko-chan, are you...”

“I'm fine,” she lied.

“Sorry I ran.” Yu-kun looked shamefaced.

Kyoko stared at him. Somehow he looked younger now, and scared.

“What is it? What happened?”

He looked away. “That fight before,” he murmured, “it was a set-up.”

How did he know? “How did you know?”

He walked them a little bit away. Whatever was on his mind wasn't romantic at all. She could see that in his face.

“You know, us from Red Rose.”

She knew that a lot of the students came from his old middle school. They were spread evenly among all classes, and she had heard rumours. “Yes,” she said, even though she wasn't sure where this was leading.

“We don't talk much about it. Have you heard that we call it Red Rose Hell?”

She had and it wasn't spoken about. “Uhum.”

“There was a lot of bullying, and worse.” He looked as if he was about to cry.


“No you should know, at least part of it.”

Kyoko wasn't sure she wanted to, but if it was important to Yu-kun then she would listen. I want to know you. I want you closer to me. “I'll listen.”

“There was a Chinese girl and two Korean boys. One of them in my class. It was bad and the teachers didn't help.”

“Like Kuri-chan,” she asked and remembered.

“Worse,” Yu-kun said. “I was a coward, but the Wakayamas refused to let go.” He looked as if he was making a decision. “I had a crush on Noriko-chan back then,” he said.

Had? Whoa! Had? You're not in love with her any more? “Uhum.” I'm not going to show anything, I'm not! Please!

In the distance fireworks were opening up. They really are flowers in the sky!

“Follow me! I'll find a better spot. Tell you more later.”

They had already moved away from the worst crowd so it was easier walking around, and Yu-kun soon found a place behind a stall. It smelled of food and it was darker here but Kyoko didn't mind at all.

“I'm sorry for telling you this now but if I don't I don't know if I ever will.”

His voice brought her back to his discomfort. Whatever occupied his mind was more important than the festival.

“Please I'm still listening,” she said and used it as an excuse to move just a little bit closer.

“She was too loud so they took revenge.”

She? Oh, Nori-chan.

“Urufu helped. He's a hero you know. The best there is even if he's a moron sometimes.”

She could agree about the moron-part. No she could agree on him being a hero as well. If it hadn't been for him Kuri-chan…

“I know. We both know how he helped Kuri-chan.” We, I said we.

“I don't know if I should tell you this but I will. He got into a fight and was expelled.”


“After that it got worse.”


“The Korean boy in my class was ambushed. I saw it coming but I was too afraid to get involved.”

Yu-kun what happened?

He remained silent for some time after that. Blossoms lit up the sky followed by distant thunder but she wasn't looking at the fireworks any longer. Something bad he had said.

“He transferred. The Chinese girl and that other Korean boy did as well. Personal reasons they said.”

“Yu-kun you look like a ghost!”

He looked at her and there was only sadness in his face. “I wish I was a ghost.” And he looked even sadder. “I was too afraid to stop it and some of my classmates helped with the bullying. Japanese purity they called it.”

“What happened?”

“I'm a coward. I laughed as well and made snide comments because… because...”

“Yu-kun!” She could see that he was caught in memories. What could have been that bad?

“Some of the teachers helped as well. And some parents. But not the Wakayamas. They fought back and they saved me together with Urufu. Without them I would have started to believe those lies.”

Kyoko didn't say anything. There were rumours after all. Some of them she had heard from her parents. “We're a superior race. Destined for greatness as long as we don't become improper. As long as we stay clean from foreign influences.”

Improper. Yes, she definitely had heard that before. And two of her best friends were foreigners. More foreign than anyone could possibly understand.

“That's why I knew what was happening you know, with Kuri-chan.” Yu-kun looked at her and suddenly his face lit up in a grin. “You know, I'll strive to be improper in the right way!”

You're no coward. I'll be your friend and maybe, maybe I can mend what I broke between us.

“I had to tell you. Still friends?”

Yes. I'll always be your friend. And if that means being improper then I'm going to learn from you. “I'm your friend, if you allow me to be.”

“Mind if I call you Kyoko?” His voice had turned softer.

Yes! “If I can call you Yukio,” she said. Yes!

“Please do, Kyoko.” She could hear the silence in that sentence. Just before he said her name. As if it scared him.

There were more flowers in the sky. She held on to him. It was a little bit like brother and sister but it was enough for now. Together they watched the fireworks in silence.

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