Monday, 9 May 2016
Chapter one (segment seven), 2016, December, Kyoko
Kyoko pulled Kuri-chan aside as soon as they left their classroom for lunch.
“What are you going to do about it?”
Kuri-chan didn't answer but for a shrug.
Waiting for their classmates to disappear down the stairs Kyoko held on to Kuri-chan's blazer. “Please! Our class knows you're going out with Urufu, but the rest of the school?”
With irritation clearly showing in her face Kuri-chan shrugged again. “Ko-chan, most of the school knows,” she said.
That might be true. With Kuri-chan rising to national stardom the students at Himekaizen were bound to have heard that the photo model had her boyfriend in the other wing. Still, being caught by paparazzi when he left her apartment gave birth to all kinds of rumours, and what was worse, Kuri-chan didn't deny any of them. Rather she had a satisfied smile glued to her face mixed with an aura of absent-minded happiness whenever she spaced out.
“Let's have lunch,” Kyoko said and led her friend to the stairwell. “Cafeteria mystery food?” The question originated from an occasion early summer when Urufu loudly wondered which specific species of rodent made up most of whatever served as meat. Luckily enough he had done so in English, or the entire gang of friends would have been called to a disciplinary meeting.
They walked down the stairs, indoor shoes slapping against concrete, until they made their way to the main corridor feeding cafeteria, shoe-lockers and vending machines. Sometime during their descent Kuri-chan agreed to the extra mysterious food, and they voided the cafeteria in favour of the vending machines.
Given the taste of what those machines spewed out Kyoko felt rather certain rodents were too high class to make it into the menu, but it was cheaper and quicker than the cafeteria. More so now when Kyoko had made certain they'd arrive last of all students.
She defiled a few coins and received something more suitable to use as replacement PE shoes than eating. To her it mattered little as her stomach had always been a good substitute for a recycling unit of hazardous material. Kuri-chan was no better. Despite a life spent with enough money to run a small city her feeding habits were atrocious enough to make Kyoko grimace.
Kuri-chan nodded and they returned the same way they had come.
“Look,” Kuri-chan said, “I understand you're worried, but I'll fight for him some more.”
Some more? Those two words birthed a chill in Kyoko she hadn't expected. Kuri-chan and Urufu were invincible. They didn't lose to anyone.
“If they really manage to find a way to destroy our lives if we don't part ways...” Suddenly Kuri-chan's voice was the only thing that disturbed the rhythmic tapping of their shoes on the stairs. “If that days comes I'll break up and break down.”
How can you be that cold?
Kuri-chan must have noticed Kyoko's stiffness, because she stopped and pulled Kyoko around. “I'm prepared to live a very different life if I can share it with Ulf, but I can't drag him down with me. You understand that, don't you?”
What Kyoko saw in her friend's eyes was equal parts panic and desperation.
“Why, why would you give him up?”
A few seconds of silence followed when Kuri-chan's face shifted from love-sickness to wrath and back to love again. “Because he's the first I've loved more than myself.” Then she smirked. “Don't misunderstand me. I'm always first in my life, but that doesn't mean I love myself more than him.”
Kyoko felt incomprehension compete with anger in her. “I don't understand,” she said and turned away. A few resolute steps brought her up another half a flight before she stopped and looked down at her friend. “I don't understand, and I don't want to.”
Kuri-chan looked back before looking away. She rested her hands against the windowsill and leaned her forehead against the pane. Barely audible her voice came out, a hoarse whisper mixed with silent sobs. “Ulf gives meaning to my life. He fills it with colour. He's the best thing that has ever happened to me. When I wake up the first thing I think of is him and when I go to sleep I daydream about what we did together or what we could have done.”
How can you even think of letting someone like that go?
“I'm losing him to my job, and I'd lose him if I quite, because he'd never allow himself to let me become less than I could be.”
Something glittered on the sill and when Kyoko looked closer she saw droplets of tears spreading. Choking down her own tears she ran down the stairs to hug her friend.
“Kuri-chan, you're my best friend. Please let me help you in any way I can! I can't stand seeing you like this!”
Tall girl with golden hair never as much as moved, but Kyoko could feel her friend trying to hide the racking sobs that threatened to overtake her though their embrace. They stood like that for what felt like an eternity but probably was only a few seconds. Then Kuri-chan turned in Kyoko's arms and placed her hands on Kyoko's shoulders to push her away far enough for them to face each other.
“Then, as my best friend, please make me believe! Please help me pretend that I can keep Ulf by my side forever!”
You ask me of so little and so much more than I can ever give you. “Yes, of course I'll make Ulf stay with you forever,” she lied. It hurt more than she had expected, and yet Kyoko felt numb. “Ulf loves you, and if you tried to break up he'd know how much you loved him. He'd never give up on you,” she said. As the words left her mouth Kyoko realised it was the second lie she told in a row.