Sunday, 15 May 2016

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

Wet sounds under her feet accompanied her walk from the train-station. Her brother, her very much not an idiot brother at the moment, walked a bit ahead of them leaving midget sister and tall model an opportunity to talk undisturbed.

These were the rainy days of Tokyo, and more so these were the rainy days of her heart. While she had all but buried her feelings for Urufu, Kuri had become an important friend, and watching the two of them breaking apart hurt more than Noriko had thought possible.

I don't understand you. I don't understand you. I don't understand you! How two people so obviously in deep love with each other could let what they shared slip though their fingers was beyond her.

I can't say anything more. I gave Urufu a promise,” Noriko said and looked up at her friend.

Coming to Japan this way, to a new life in a new world. I don't regret it. I never will,” Kuri said.

Are you really talking with me, or are you just thinking aloud?

You see, there was never any promises. It's a transition and restart, but there's no guarantee I'll always be happy with it.”

But...” Noriko began.

Urufu is an adult,” Kuri interrupted. She made a pause to jump across a suspiciously dark pool of rainwater. “In many more ways than I am he's an adult who lived an adult life.”

Go on,” Noriko said. Kuri would anyway, so there was no point in pretending this was a conversation. When Kuri was done emptying her soul she'd say so.

I chased dreams in that other life, and I reached my goals one after another, but I never really grew up.” Kuri smiled and Noriko saw a perfect line of white teeth glimmering in the street lights. They looked just as alone as the rest of Kuri's face.

What do you mean?”

I never had to stop behaving like a spoiled teenager. Apart from marriage I got everything I pointed at. Sure I worked hard for it, but I never failed. Not once.”

The billion dollar empress. Yeah I can see how you became a force of nature, like Alexander the great.

You didn't die,” Noriko said.


Sorry, I was thinking of something else.”

Kuri tugged her coat tighter around herself and burst out in laughter. “You're a morbid one. No I didn't die.”

Noriko felt a little ashamed that she had forced an end to Kuri's monologue, but she didn't really understand what the beautiful woman turned girl spoke about. Friend, you're my friend despite being older than my parents. That was the most important. Friend. Noriko's life hadn't been filled with those.

They turned left at a red light and followed Ryu along narrow streets leading to her home. Kuri would spend the night with them. Noriko's mother had already agreed, and it wasn't exactly like Kuri had anyone to ask permission from.

Thinking of home made the next question come natural. “What about your new place?”

By her side Kuri flinched, and Noriko guessed whatever came next would be a watered out lie.

It's the kind of luxury I grew tired of many years ago.”

Closer to school?” Noriko wondered and immediately regretted the inane question.

I guess so. Not that it matters. I'll get a driver.”

I'm so sorry. Kuri, I'm so sorry for you!

It's the kind of high security living only the very rich can afford.” Kuri's voice died a little with every word in that sentence.

Watching her friend so lifeless stabbed at something inside Noriko, and she understood just a little better what it meant to care for a friend. So they made sure Urufu will never get inside. I'm so sorry!

They even offered a transfer to a private school for that kind of people.” Then Kuri's face lit up in a beautifully malicious grin. “That didn't fly though. It seems us arrivals attending Himekaizen isn't optional.”

No, you're no longer an empress. You gave that up for a chance at living, didn't you? Somehow Noriko grasped that such thoughts weren't for a child of sixteen, and somehow she grasped she had just lost a little bit of innocence.

And I don't have to pay anything for it. They even quadrupled my salary.”

Didn't have to pay anything? You had to pay everything you idiot!

I've never been paid so well for being betrayed. There's this magazine, Vogue, and they set me up for life.”

With that sentence Noriko knew Kuri had just put words to the lie.

Is it worth it?” Noriko had to know. In a way it was a little like the kind of life expected of a daughter to her parents.

No,” Kuri said, and for the first time since they left Stockholm Haven café her face radiated real happiness tinged with a large dose of love and pride. “No, I'd throw it away in a heartbeat. I already lived this life once, but I never had Ulf before. I'd even become a good Japanese wife and stay home if I could just keep him by my side.”

Then why don't you?” Despite asking something that went against everything she believed in Noriko just couldn't let go. Frustration mounted in her, and just as she was about to continue Kuri sighed and voiced her answer.

Because Ulf would throw me away in an instant. He'd never agree to me betraying myself. That's what I admire most about him.” Large eyes, blue even in the poor light of the night met Noriko's. “That's what makes me love him more than life itself. If he was anything less I'd love him less.”

But you'd get to keep him.”

And live a life of lies? No, I couldn't do that to him. I'll never play house with him. I'll have all of him or nothing at all.”

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