Sunday, 24 April 2016
Chapter one (segment two), 2016, December, Noriko
So the hostess part time stunt had finally reared it's ugly face and was about to take a bite out of Kuri's world. Noriko had suspected that something like this would happen eventually, but that didn't make her agree any less with Urufu's outburst.
There were things women weren't supposed to do, and that kind of segregation spoke its own story of a society that in some parts was woefully underdeveloped. She knew that, but she was still a product of that society, and despite agreeing with Urufu Noriko couldn't but help wondering about why Kuri had taken such a stupid risk.
“You know, maybe you shouldn't live here if you dislike Japan that much,” Ryu said.
Noriko hoped he regretted his words the moment they left his mouth, and her reaction was instinctive. “Idiot brother! Of all the tasteless comments I've ever heard!”
“It's not like I chose to live here,” Urufu filled in. “They refuse to hand me a passport, so I can't travel to Sweden neither, and there's Kuri, and...” He palmed his face as he walked. “Sorry for my outburst. It was uncalled for.”
“No!” If anything it wasn't uncalled for. Forcing Urufu and Kuri to break up was so unfair it made Noriko's stomach churn. “You're right. It's disgusting what they're doing to you.”
Ryu coughed silently as if he needed to think before speaking. “I apologise. Still, I don't know about disgusting...”
“Shut up bro!” That Ryu didn't understand made her angry and a little afraid. “They're keeping Kuri hostage because she's a girl.” When he didn't react Noriko pulled his arm and glared at him. “If you don't find that disgusting, then how could I trust you if something like that happened to me?”
“Why would it? I can't seen anything like that happening to you. We're the Wakayamas after all.”
For the first time in her life she slapped her brother with the intent to hurt. She hit him open handed, retracted her hand and whirled to slam it into his face with all the force her small body could muster. The second slap never reached its target. For a moment Ryu looked as if he would retaliate.
“I wouldn't if I were you,” Urufu said. “My hands, elbows, knees and feet might slip and accidentally land in your face.”
Noriko saw how her brother sagged before he snorted and grinned. “You might miss, you know.”
“I wouldn't,” Urufu said. “When I slip I always hit my target.”
There was something cold in his voice that made Noriko shiver. Not the overt threat he voiced, because she doubted he'd ever attack her brother. Rather it was a lack of something that scared her. It was a lack or joy, or even life. It was the voice of someone who had resigned and accepted defeat, and a beaten Urufu somehow frightened her more than a horde of enemies.
Ryu slowly released the arm he had caught, and Noriko watched her brother examine her face to see if she intended to hit him again. She shook her head and looked down the way she had done so often when he made that kind of silent question.
“Ryu,” she said, “are you really fine with our friends getting hurt because they're not the Wakayamas?”
He flinched as if she had struck him a third time. For a social genius like him her brother sometimes lacked even the most basic of sensibilities.
“You should listen to your sister,” Urufu added. “I've lived for more than half a normal life, and even if this body makes my head flare up in anger I still know how to evaluate what happened.”
There were a few seconds of awkward silence during which they continued walking towards the station.
“Meaning?” Ryu said.
Noriko wasn't sure if he really needed an answer or if he merely wanted to banish the wordless void.
“Meaning that if I hadn't been me you could easily have lost a friend.”
“Man! Ryu, sure we're past fifty but it's still my girlfriend you're talking about. We don't really belong here, and we really only have each other. Now when we're shitting ourselves because we'll most likely be forced to break up you tell me that's OK because none of us come from an influential family?” Urufu palmed his face. “Screw it Ryu, what kind of brain-dead monkey are you?”
“I didn't mean it that way!”
“Ryu, you're a good friend. You have your strengths and weaknesses. One of the latter is how narrow-minded you are. Yes, you meant exactly what you said. Family is important to you, and you honestly believe people get the families they deserve.”
A dejected shadow passed Urufu's eyes. Noriko didn't like the sight of it one bit. “You sure made a good choice of parents,” he said and increased his steps. A laugh that held no mirth left his mouth.
“Urufu?” Noriko said. She knew the answer to her question before she voiced it.
“I recalled I have something I need to do. You two continue. I have to check something.”
He could just as well have screamed: 'Go to hell you insensitive bastard!' She watched his back vanish down the street. A lonely hand waved over his shoulder, but he never turned to face them in that usual western style of his.
“What's with him?” her brother wondered after Urufu vanished into an alley.
“What's with you? You did something really bad.”
“In what way?”
“Family is important, right?”
“Yeah, so what?”
Idiot bro! Really! “Kuri never had one after she grew up. She said as much. Urufu is her family now.”
And still her brother's face showed no sign of comprehension.
“Ruy, you know that Urufu lost his when he arrived here. They're all alone here in Japan and you just told him he should have been more careful picking his family when the two of them are being forced apart.”
Maybe I should slap him once more. Just to beat some sense into him.