Monday, 15 June 2015

Chapter one (segment two), 2016, August, Kyoko

“I heard there's a shot this Sunday.”


“Shibuya,” Kuri-chan said, as if that answer carried all the information she needed.

Kyoko looked at her friend. As an afterthought she gave Kuri-chan a hard glare to slap her back to the domain where friends shared a common language. “Please translate that into something us mere mortals can understand.” Sometimes Kuri-chan could be surprisingly dense, or rather, it was as if she moved into a world where she was surrounded by people who could read her mind.

Kuri-chan took a few steps more while she looked like she was trying to solve a difficult problem. Then she seemed to have arrived at a solution. “It's a magazine, or some other commercial shot. Fashion, and models.” It all came out bits and pieces. A strange mix of English and Japanese, but by now Kyoko was getting used to Kuri-chan's mixing up the two languages without a second thought whenever she got really excited. Besides, her Japanese was getting better by the week. Which helped. A lot.

“So you want to watch the event?”

Kuri-chan tried a few extra steps. It looked like she was trying out a new outfit. In a way she is. Fifty, that girl is fifty years old! Sure doesn't look like it. Kuri-chan bounced down the street, very much behaving like the sixteen year old teenager she was in this world. Carefree, she's totally carefree.

Kuri-chan had turned and was walking backwards. A happy laughter bubbled out of her. Then she met Kyoko's gaze. “No. I want to crash the party.” A gust of wind caught Kuri-chan's hair, caressed it and spread it into the sunlight.

She's planning to make gold out of that gold, Kyoko realized. “You want to get scouted?”

“I was 'The Princess of Scandinavia'. Top ten in the world, for ten years. I can be again.”

“Top ten?”

“I used to be a super model. In that other world there isn't a catwalk on this planet that hasn't begged for my feet to walk it.”

Used to be. Suddenly those fifty years showed in Kuri-chan's eyes. She's looks like sixteen but she's planning a come-back. She looks like a goddess, but I wonder if there's a boy in this school who's as much of a man as she is. Kyoko blushed. Depends on how you define 'man', I guess.

“Thinking of Yukio much?”

Kyoko's blush burned deeper.

Kuri-chan bounced down the pavement dancing backwards. “Ko-chan, this is important to me. I don't like my current job much, and I think Ulf would disapprove.”

How can you move around like that in this heat? “Can you afford not to?” Kyoko knew how hard Kuri-chan worked to ensure her independence.

“For a while. School paid me to keep quiet about you know what.” Kuri-chan's voice became subdued and small.

The 'I know what'. That was disgusting what they did to you. It had better be worth it.

“They paid me a lot. Like, I won't have to work for a year, lot. But I don't want to live through all that money and do nothing.” Kuri-chan grinned and danced around the corner to the Asakusa tourist trap. At least they'd leave the heavy traffic behind them.

Kyoko dragged her feet a little. Her clothes were clammy and she felt very unladylike. “So you want to be a model again?”

Kuri-chan nodded. “I was rather popular here in Japan, back home, in the other world, you know.” She must have heard how strange that sounded, because she stopped dead in her tracks and gave Kyoko an apologetic smile. “Even if it sounds strange I'm really a bit too short for modelling,” she said in an attempt to make her earlier ramblings make sense.

“Short?” Kyoko pretended she hadn't heard how flustered Kuri-chan got. I guess living two lives gets confusing.

“Yeah, sounds funny, doesn't it? It wasn't as bad back then. People were a little shorter.” She swept some hair from her face. “I'm still tall in Japan, and in another year I'll have grown into the body I knew.”

“So wait a year,” Kyoko suggested.

Kuri-chan shook her head. “Can't. If I'm to have a running start I have to gain some fame before that. I was lucky last time, and I don't dare to count on being lucky twice.”

“That's not all, is it?”

Kuri-chan looked down. She shook her head. “No. My guardian, the landlady, you know. She wants more money, or… I have to find a way to stay free for another two years, until I'm eighteen.”

“Four years,” Kyoko said. “Twenty here in Japan.”

“Two years, four, whatever. I'll bribe her for another two if it is what it takes to keep my independence. It's important to me.”

You've already lost that independence. You lost it when you met Urufu. Kyoko decided that wasn't a topic she wanted to drag to the surface. The photo shot next Sunday was safer to talk about. “And you want me to come with you?” she asked. More for verification than because she really felt a need to ask the question.

Kuri-chan nodded. “Please!”

Kyoko bowed her head. If it was important for Kuri-chan, then she would be there. Together they headed for the stalls and the open galleria. There was a place serving really good katsudon that Kyoko wanted to share with Kuri-chan.

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