Tuesday, 12 January 2016

Chapter four (segment ten), 2016, October, Kyoko

The sound of Yukio's rhythmic snoring woke her. Kyoko's back ached from falling asleep sitting up on a chair.

When she looked around she saw how Sato-sensei finally had fallen asleep as well. Kuri-chan stood reading posters on the bulletin board nailed to the wall closest to the nurse's office.

Five am. She had slept for less than half an hour.

I'm sorry Kuri-chan. I left you alone.

Feeling sorry wouldn't make Kuri-chan any less lonely, so Kyoko got up, straightened her clothes and walked over to her friend.


Kuri-chan shook her head. “Slept well?”

Kyoko grimaced and started stretching stiff limbs. “Does it look that way?” she asked.

“No,” Kuri-chan admitted. “Those chairs are just as bad as an airport.”


“Uhum. I've had my fair share of sleeping like this during my travels.”

She's remembering her previous life. “What was it like?”

Kuri-chan shifted uncomfortably. “Lots of aching backs,” she said instead of answering the question Kyoko had really asked.

Kyoko let her fingers slide across the wall until they met the border of the bulletin board. “Have you had anything to drink?” she asked when the silence grew oppressive.

“Lots,” Kuri-chan answered, “but I could do with some hot coffee.”

Mentioning hot coffee made Kyoko realise how cold the waiting room was. She sauntered over to the vending machine and bought two cans.

While she listened to Kuri-chan opening her can Kyoko pulled Yukio's jacket tighter around him. Without even asking she added her friend's coat as extra cover. It would be morning soon anyway, and she harboured little hope that they'd be allowed to sleep like tramps in the waiting room when more visitors arrived.

An hour, at most, before they had to get any news on Urufu's condition, or else they were likely to be forced outside.

How did we end up like this? She still hadn't forgiven herself for switching her radio off when Urufu got hurt.

Maybe it was punishment. Girls her age should study rather than fool around with boys. One look at Kuri-chan made her resent that thought. Kuri-chan had never been jealous of her, had never wanted her to stay alone or thought that Yukio was bad for her. Those were the words of her parents, and even they had relented a little after Yukio came to her rescue that evening.

Kyoko glanced at Sato-sensei's sleeping form, and after some consideration she pulled the coat closer around the woman as well. She was still Urufu's guardian no matter how much she had tried to hurt him and Kuri-chan.

“She loves him in her own way,” Kuri-chan suddenly said. “Never believe anything else.”

“How can you be so kind to her after what she did?”

“Because I'm older than you are,” Kuri-chan said. “Because I understand she was never vindictive.”


“Kyoko, I'm rather certain she was forced to.” Kuri-chan smiled before she continued. “I wasn't at the beginning. I'll admit that.”

“I don't understand,” Kyoko said.

“You do understand that there are people who are aware of us arrivals?”

Kyoko did, and she nodded.

“I'm sure some of them don't like the way Ulf and I try to take control of our lives. For one we're not behaving like the teenagers we look like.”

First Kyoko couldn't understand what was so bad about two teenagers behaving a little different, but then she had to admit that Urufu and Kuri-chan hardly were normal teenagers.

“Are you worth a lot of money or something?”

“Or something,” Kuri-chan said. “Yes, I think we might be worth a lot of money for the wrong people.”

I don't understand you. But that was only true to a degree. Somehow Kyoko understood that controlling Kuri-chan and Urufu could be valuable, but she couldn't see exactly how.

Kyoko sat down and leaned back. While she rested their conversation petered out into nothingness and she watched how the cold, fluorescent light was slowly replaced by an ever increasing greyness as a new day broke.

She was about to fall asleep again when the sound of arriving footsteps stirred her fully awake. From the corner of her eye she saw Kuri-chan rise from a seat and hurry across the floor.

What's happening?

Kyoko looked up and saw a nurse accompanied by a doctor.

News about Urufu? Should I join them?

She decided against it. This was Kuri-chan's moment. She had waited the longest, and Urufu was closest to her. A glance to her right reminded Kyoko that there was another for whom Urufu was as important, and she rose.


Urufu's guardian shook off the hand Kyoko placed on her shoulder.

“Sato-sensei,” Kyoko repeated. “You should wake up.”

With a groggy groan Sato-sensei woke and met Kyoko's stare.


“Sato-sensei, there might be news about Urufu.”

Those words were enough to force the woman erect in an instant.


Kyoko pointed at where Kuri-chan stood listening.

Sato-sensei suddenly stood and blinked away any remaining sleep from her eyes. With worried determination in her face she took one step and then she rushed to Kuri-chan's side.

Kyoko remained by the seat Sato-sensei had occupied just moments earlier. It was only fair those two received the news first.

Please be safe! Please be well! Kuri-chan needs you, and you're my friend.

Even though Kyoko wanted nothing else than listening to whatever the nurse and doctor had to say she forced herself to stay. Staring and hoping. She could at least do that.

I front of her the doctor seemed to finish relaying whatever news he had, and Kyoko watched Kuri-chan and Sato-sensei sag and then embrace each other. Then Kuri-chan slumped to the floor and began wailing like a child. She hugged Sato-sensei's legs and cried and cried.

Now was the time for Kyoko to join her best friend, and with a leaden weight in her stomach she crossed the floor on wobbly feet.

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