Saturday, 16 January 2016
Chapter five (segment one), 2016, October, Kyoko
One grey day in mid-October Kyoko left the funeral with lips a thin line on her face as she tried to keep her thoughts together.
In difference from most her age she wore a set of proper mourning clothes; one morbid benefit of being raised as a proper girl.
It took some time to accept the black irony. More than just time if she was to be honest with herself. The unexpected death of a friend left her strangely empty and more than a little ashamed.
One misstep during an act of celebration was all it took. One relieved laugh too many and one glance in the wrong direction.
Three of them were hit by a drunk driver. One of them died on his way to the hospital where the other two shared a room next to Urufu's, the very person they were on their way to visit when fate dealt them a dirty hand.
Kyoko knew she should feel grief, but she didn't. She never got to know Urufu's and Yukio's dead classmate that well to begin with, and from the little she had seen he was a rather shy member of Kuri-chan's fan club, one who hadn't chosen to join the club to get closer to her.
There was the matter of her shame as well. The reason her heart was full of relief rather than grief. That day Yukio had pulled her back when she almost stepped into a puddle, and in doing so he spun around just enough to avoid the swerving car. Or almost avoid it, because a rear mirror caught his blazer and tore it off him.
Kyoko still remembered her entire world filled with cloth and Yukio's surprised shout. She hadn't even seen how Yukio's classmates were mauled by the car.
They hadn't told Urufu yet. He was still unaware of the two classmates only a wall away from him, and in the end Kyoko found herself forced to cajole Yukio into telling his best friend the bad news. And that was the reason she was on her way from a funeral to a hospital with an unwilling boyfriend in her tow.
“If you don't I will,” Kyoko said to Yukio. “Tell him, that is,” she continued just in case she had understated the obvious. He wasn't going to wriggle himself out of it this time, and with her in mourning dress he didn't stand a chance.
Yukio grimaced but held on to her hand and followed her. It felt strange leading him on. Usually he was the one to decide, but it created a balance of sorts.
'Improper for a woman' her parents would have said. Thinking about her parents Kyoko admitted to herself that her mother wasn't as meek as Kyoko once had believed. Her mother would still have said those words, but Kyoko remembered how she bulldozed right over her father that evening when Yukio got hurt.
I guess she's behaving improperly in a proper way. Gods! I hate that kind of deception.
“What's on your mind?” Yukio wondered.
Kyoko tugged her coat closer around her and pretended she hadn't heard anything. As if I'm over being deceptive myself, she realised. It couldn't be helped. She had no reason betraying her parents that way when she wasn't certain they deserved it.
From the way Yukio tightened his grip on her hand she suspected he understood.
They took a bus, changed to a local train and from that to a bus again. Almost two hours later they walked the last bit to the hospital. Most of that time they spent in shared silence.
Will Kuri-chan be there?
She had spent time by Urufu's side, but not to the degree Kyoko initially had suspected. Apart from that Monday after they spent a night in the waiting room Kuri-chan hadn't missed a single day in school, and Kyoko knew her friend had taken up her modelling job as well.
It's as if Urufu would be angry with you for wasting time with him, Kyoko thought. I don't understand you two.
She herself missed most of a full week when Yukio was hospitalised, and for once her parents hadn't said a word about her skipping school.
“Yukio, you know when he'll be discharged?”
Asking that question wasn't fair. As if being best friends with Urufu automatically gave you more information.
“Sorry, no. Maybe they'll tell us today,” Yukio said.
Kyoko said nothing. She only held on to his hand when they entered through the sliding doors and walked to the elevators.
Several floors later they left the lift and came out in a corridor much like the one they spent a night by, but Urufu was moved from ICU to some kind of convalescent area. Kyoko didn't understand the hospital organisation all that well.
Before they visited Urufu Yukio had to go to the room adjacent to his. Kyoko chose to wait in the corridor while Yukio went inside and chatted with his classmates.
He came back out with a smirk on his face, walked a few steps and slid open the door to Urufu's room.
Kyoko looked inside searching for Kuri-chan, but she was nowhere to be seen. Instead Sato-sensei sat on a stool and turned when the sound of the sliding door caught her attention.
“Kuri-chan's not here?” Kyoko asked before thinking of how that question could be insensitive in itself.
Sato-sensei shook her head. “She left earlier.”
But you were here earlier after all. Good! “I see,” Kyoko said instead.
From his bed Urufu gave Yukio and Kyoko both a weak wave.
“How are you man?” Yukio asked.
Urufu tilted his head a bit and grinned. “A bit more winded than usual, but it's healing well they promise me.”
“You know when...” Yukio began asking to Kyoko's shame. He was fishing for and answer to her earlier question.
“Maybe this week,” Urufu said.
Kyoko hid her face behind Urufu's back.
“They're running the elections for the student council now. Next week is midterms,” Yukio said. “Principal Nakagawa wants you to run for president.”
“As if,” Urufu said and laughed.