Friday, 9 October 2015

Chapter one (segment ten), 2016, September, Noriko

Noriko ran to her brother and demanded all extra hands he had available. Outside the back entrance a truck stood waiting.

A truckload of clothes, literally. You gotta be kidding me!

She didn't really have time to explain anything, because the truck blocked most of the street.

More than a few faces turned their way when she ran together with her crew past the gym, across the pool area and to the gate no one had found a teacher with a key to.

It was late enough in September for the last remnants of summer to have vanished, and the end of the festival would see them change into their winter uniforms. Right now she was happy they still wore their summer ones as the rush to the truck was sweatier than she had thought.

Of those most concerned with the load none were present. Kuri and Nao-sempai were busy preparing them for the show. Apparently walking the catwalk entailed more than just naturally looking good.

Noriko didn't know. She'd been part of Urufu's fire brigade from the start, and things like the sudden appearance of the truck was exactly what she handled. In all fairness Ryu should have been part of it as well, but as the festival loomed closer the more occupied he became with the fashion show. It was a given that he would participate, but Kuri-chan said you could create a fashion model 101 education based on everything he misunderstood.

Just as she saw the truck her phone signalled an incoming message. Nao-sempai, or maybe just Nao now, she thought. They were dating after all. That thought had her fingering her ear where a dazzling piece of gold and ruby adorned it. The pain from piercing it was all but gone, as were the memories of the verbal bashing she received when she first arrived home with her earrings.

She led half her crew around the gates thinking of the tall junior. Nao, her Nao. It was a cosy feeling. Not the burning longing she once felt for Urufu but rather a sense of safety.

“One bundle at a time,” she shouted. “Above the gates, stack them over there and you four start lugging it to the gym hall!”

It took them a quarter of an hour to offload the truck, and when they were finished a short line of cars with irritated drivers stood waiting for the large vehicle to get moving.

After that they carried the boxes to the gym hall a little like a caravan of ants with their load. Another half an hour gone when they had so little time left, or so she thought when they arrived with the second set of boxes.

'An increment must comply with a definition of done', Urufu said, 'and a definition of done should always result in something practically useful', but Noriko never understood what he meant by that until now.

Inside the gymnasium Kuri already had her models clad in whatever clothes were in the first set of boxes, and Noriko heard her instruct them in how to wear those clothes and how to walk.

When Noriko and her porters arrived with the third set the modelling crew received instructions in new attire. All in all the loss of time could be counted in minutes.

As the stash of boxes by the gates shrunk the hangers in the gym hall filled with clothes tried on, and by the time the last of the clothes were carried inside the models looked as if the had a pretty good idea about how to change between sets in an absurdly short time.

While the exercise served its intended means it also became a show of its own. An audience gathered, both boys and girls, ogling the models as they changed. Noriko heard Kuri shout a choice set of Swedish words to the boys, and there was no need to understand the language to get the message across.

Hitomi-chan looked more embarrassed than beautiful and Noriko understood her perfectly. Changing clothes as a model meant spending a lot of time half naked in front of others, and no matter how much they tried to shield her with blankets some of the boys always managed to sneak a peek or two while she wore nothing but her underwear.

“Kuri, club room,” Noriko suggested when she understood that nothing Kuri shouted would help.

Hitomi-chan gave her a grateful look in return and stared pleadingly at Kuri. When Kuri started to shake her head Noriko grabbed one of her arms and yanked.


“Club room. This isn't Sweden. We're not used to having boys stare at us that way.”

“If you want to work as a...”

Noriko didn't allow Kuri to finish that sentence. “This isn't work. It's a school event and Hitomi-chan shouldn't have to go through this.”

Kuri backed down at that. Almost. “But the clothes?”

It made sense. The ones they planned to used from the start lay in the burner after someone shredded them. “I'll assign people to guard duty here, OK?”

Kuri nodded and shortly afterwards Noriko watched her leaving the gym hall together with the models. They carried a box each. Enough to continue training but most of the clothes were still here. Another half an hour later saw all boxes empty and the hangers filled to capacity.

Now the time had come for the more difficult part.

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