In the Morning, I'll Say Hello - Chapter 20

"In the Morning, I'll Say Hello" is my yuri comic. Because I can't draw, you'll have to settle for reading the scripts unless you CAN draw and want to collaborate!

In the Morning, I'll Say Hello - by Jaime Lustig

Chapter 20

"All Over Again"

In class. Hatsue is sitting alone, the group of her normal friends (Satomi, Chitose, Kaori) are talking in their own group whispering (periodically looking at her, whispering, laughing to themselves, turning away from her, shunning her, etc...). Hatsue is sitting reading. Other girls in the room are whispering, occasionally one of Hatsue’s group goes over to the girls and whispers to them. Some girls come by the door, peak in, point, whisper, and leave. Others stare or point at Hatsue, cover their mouths in a gasp, etc... Aiko and Yuka are talking to each other (obviously only Aiko is actually speaking verbally), but they are actually watching Hatsue and the rest of what’s going on out of the corner of their eyes. Yuka makes a worried face at Aiko.

Aiko (quietly to Yuka): “I know. I’m worried too. Something is going on. Something isn’t right with Fujimaki-san.”

Eriko walks in and sees Hatsue alone. She goes over to her.

Eriko: “Umm... good morning...Hatsue-chan.”

Hatsue looks up and looks overly happy.

Hatsue: “Eriko-chan! Want to have lunch together today?”

Eriko: “Oh, um, sure...if it’s okay?”

Hatsue makes some eye contact with Satomi and co. Satomi, Chitose, and Kaori are just looking over at her as if to say, ‘keep quiet.’ Hatsue ignores Eriko's question.

Hatsue: “I didn’t have time to make anything, so I have to get some food from the cafeteria.”

Eriko: “You...can have mine. I’m not hungry today.”

Hatsue: “I couldn’t do that, just wait for me and I’ll buy some bread and we can all eat together.”

Satomi and co. turn away in satisfaction.

Aiko (to herself): “Something is definitely going on.”

It’s PE class that same day. Everyone is getting ready for basketball.

Teacher: “Everybody split up into four teams and get started with the games.”

Yuka pulls at Aiko’s shirt and points at Hatsue. That’s when they notice that her knees have bandages on them. Aiko goes over to Hatsue.

Aiko (to Hatsue): “What happened to your knees?”

Hatsue: “What? Oh, nothing, just clumsy is all. Let’s play.”

Teams divide up and they start playing basketball. A student gets pretty physical, fouling Hatsue. Aiko addresses the student who fouled Hatsue.

Aiko: “What the hell was that?”

Student: “She ran into me.”

Eriko comes over all heated.

Eriko: “How about I run into you next?”

Aiko (to herself): “I don’t think I’ve ever heard her put so many words together at once!”

The teacher comes over from the other game, noticing the brewing tension and blows the whistle.

Teacher: “What’s going on here?”

Student: “It’s nothing, Sensei, just a misunderstanding.”

Aiko: “That’s right, just a misunderstanding.”

Eriko (to Hatsue): “It wasn’t nothing...she tripped you!”

Hatsue: “No, no, that was my fault, I’m just so clumsy, I tripped over myself.”

Eriko pulls her mouth in tight in anger but resignation to let this one go. She backs down from the girl.

Eriko: “Whatever.”

Teacher: “Alright ladies, get back to playing.”

The game goes on, Aiko is really good at it. But more trips and shoves of Hatsue and Hatsue getting fouled hard again. She winces in a bit of pain on the ground. Yuka rushes to her side. Eriko goes over to hurt the other student, picking her up by the collar.

Eriko: “What’s your problem?!”

Hatsue is still on the ground but puts her hand on Eriko to calm her.

Hatsue: “It’s okay, it was me again. I’m just not myself today, that’s all.”

Hatsue gets up and goes over to the teacher.

Hatsue: “Sensei, I have to use the bathroom.”

Teacher: “Okay, hurry back.”

Eriko is intense and declamatory.

Eriko: “I’m going too.”

Teacher (to herself): "Yikes!"

Teacher: “Fine, fine, the rest of you get back to playing.”

Eriko catches up to Hatsue who is in the bathroom with what appears to be tears coming down. Eriko pauses in the doorway. Hatsue reaches down and touches her bandages and winces in pain. She thinks back to this morning where after she waves goodbye to Tetsu she goes over to her normal group of girls:

Satomi: “Fujimaki, come with us, we need to talk with you...”

They all go off together around the back of the school. Suddenly the girls surround Hatsue. Chitose pushes Hatsue to the ground. Her backpack falls off and her lunch falls out of her backpack.

Hatsue: “Owww, What was that for?”

Satomi: “Don’t pretend you don’t know what this is about. I know your secret. Everyone knows your secret now.”

Hatsue: “What are you talking about?”

Kaori: “We know Tetsu-kun isn’t your boyfriend. We know he’s really your brother.”

Chitose: “You lied to us. We thought you were something special, but you’re just a fake.”

Kaori: “No wonder you hang out with Arishima-san and those losers. You’re just a loser like them. Can’t get a real boyfriend. You had to make one up!”

The three girls laugh and leave, as they do so, Chitose steps on Hatsue's lunch, squishing it into the ground.

Chitose: “You want to eat with them everyday? Eat that.”

Hatsue left stunned, sprawled in the dirt.
[End flashback]

Back to the bathroom. Hatsue splashes some water on her face to wash away the tears. She turns and sees Eriko standing there. Hatsue tries to put on a good face, wiping her eye.

Hatsue: “Oh Eriko-chan, I didn't see you there. I'm going back to PE.”

Hatsue is about to walk past her out of the bathroom but Eriko puts a hand on her arm stopping her.

Eriko: “I don’t understand.”

Hatsue: “What do you mean?”

Eriko: “They were doing it on purpose.”

Hatsue: “It’s okay, don’t worry about it. I’m okay.”

Eriko: “It’s....It’s not okay! I...I thought...I thought I was your friend?”

Hatsue: “Eriko-chan? What do you mean? Of course you’re my friend.”

Eriko: “Then tell me...why were they...ARGHHHH...I don’t understand?”

Hatsue: “They’re just girls being girls. I’m really okay. Let’s just get back.”

She brushes by Eriko. Eriko is standing looking out after her. Eriko does a backhanded punch of the wall, leaving a small crack in the tile.

Black panels with the white lights of Kami-sama and Eriko’s mother.

Eriko’s mother: “It’s building up around her.”

Kami-sama: “Even as a human, she can’t hide that power. It will come out.”

Eriko’s mother: “Do you really intend to let her win this little contest of yours?”

Kami-sama: “It neither little nor a contest. Just like with her obligations, there are lives at stake. She is needed tonight. The summer is coming and the people continue to be restless. She has much work to do.”

It’s early the next morning, Heizo is in the kitchen. The radio is playing in the background:

Announcer: “Two gang members were found dead of apparent overdoses. Information links these two gang members to pills that caused serious injuries during a rave the prior evening. In other news, police have taken three children into custody, they had been abandoned at a local hospital. The mother was found dead this morning after apparently being hit by a train. Authorities have ruled her death an accident. She had recently taken out an extensive life-insurance policy and the police are just waiting for relatives to arrive to take the children into custody. Next up, sports with...

Eriko waking up in bed. She is a mess, there’s blood everywhere, all over her and the sheets. She’s cut and scratched and bruised.

Eriko: “Ungghhhhh, it happened again. What’s going on? Why won’t it stop? What is happening to me?!”

That morning at school Aiko and Yuka are watching as Tetsu’s car pulls up. Hatsue gets out, says goodbye to Tetsu, but they are left completely alone, no one is rushing up to her.

Girls are talking in little groups in the courtyard. As she walks by, they stare and point, turn and laugh. Hatsue hangs her head. Aiko and Yuka run up to her.

Aiko: “Good morning, Fujimaki-san.”

Hatsue gives her best fake smile, trying.

Hatsue: “Oh, Okumura-san, Kiyoura-san, good morning!”

Yuka takes her hand. Hatsue looks at the tiny hand in hers and smiles a bit weakly. They walk into the classroom. There on the board it says horrible things like:

“Fujimaki = slut”
“Fujimaki loves her brother”
“Fakers love Freaks”

Yuka rushes up and starts trying to erase it. Just then, a very messy, tired, battered and bruised Eriko walks in. She sees the board. She is shocked, filled with rage, and yells in anger.

Eriko: “What is this!?”

Yuka turns away from cleaning the board to look at Eriko with a sad face. Eriko pounds her hand against the wall with a look of death in her eyes.

Eriko: “Who wrote it!?”

Silence in the room.

Eriko: “I asked, who wrote this!?”

Hatsue trys to calm Eriko with a hand.

Hatsue: “Eriko-chan, it’s okay, it’s nothing. Ignore it.”

Eriko: “It’s not nothing! How can you say it’s nothing!?”

At this, Hatsue breaks into tears. Aiko grabs the two of them and brings them out into the hallway.

Aiko: “This is no time for a public display. Arishima-san, take Fujimaki-san to the bathroom and help her get cleaned up. I’ll help Yuka get the board erased.”

Eriko is fuming, but then sees how pitiful Hatsue looks, crying. Eriko looks back at Aiko, angry but concedes (in a bit of a huff) and takes Hatsue by the arm towards the bathroom (leading her a bit aggressively).

Aiko watches them leave, then turns to go into the room. As she enters the room, Satomi, Chitose, and Kaori are leaving, they give each other stares as they pass.

Eriko is tending to Hatsue in the bathroom.

Hatsue: “I’m so sorry Eriko-chan, you don’t have to worry about me, I'm really okay.”

Eriko: “Why do you keep saying that!? Who did this to you? Why are they doing this?!”

Hatsue: “I think they all found out about Tetsu...that he's my brother.”

Eriko: “Who did?”

Hatsue: “The whole school.”

Right then we see that Satomi, Chitose, and Kaori have just entered the bathroom.

Satomi: “So you knew about him all this time Arishima-san? I knew you were sick, but it looks like you infected Fujimaki-san too.”

Eriko: “You! Did you write those things?!”

Kaori: “We didn't need to."

Eriko is yelling and leaning towards them aggressively.

Eriko: “Did you start all this?!”

Hatsue: “Please Eriko-chan. They’re my friends, they wouldn’t do anything like that.”

Satomi: “That’s right, once we told everyone else, we didn’t need to do anything more, they took care of it for us. We warned you with the book, the shoes, the note, even your lunch, but you just didn’t get it, did you?”

Eriko turns to Hatsue and speaks frantically, almost pathetically.

Eriko: “All that happened? Why didn’t you tell me?”

Satomi: “Stay out of this Arishima-san, it has nothing to do with you!”

Eriko speaks coolly with the look of death in her eyes.

Eriko: “That’s where you’re wrong!”

She goes over and lifts Satomi up by the collar and throws her against the mirror above the sinks, breaking the mirror, Satomi is stunned sitting on the sink counter. A bit of blood from the back of her head is visible in the mirror crack. The other two girls are afraid and run out screaming.

Chitose and Kaori: “Sensei, Sensei, help, Arishima-san attacked Kinoshita-san. Someone get a nurse.”

Eriko goes over to Satomi who is in pain, holding the back of her head, and a bit out of it. She starts cowering once she sees Eriko towering over her.

Satomi: “No, don’t, no more, don’t hurt me!”

Eriko: “Hurt you? Like you hurt Hatsue-chan? You don’t know what hurt is!”

Eriko lifts Satomi up a bit by the shirt, starts to cock her fist back.

Hatsue: “No Eriko, no more violence!”

Just then teachers come busting through the door and grab Eriko and restrain her.

Teacher: “Stop her”

Another teacher: “Grab her”

A third teacher: “Get Kinoshita-san away from her”

Eriko fights against them but they get a few more people on her and haul her out of there. The nurse takes Satomi away. Hatsue slumps to the floor, crying.

Later, outside the headmaster’s office. Aiko and Yuka are waiting. Tetsu and Hatsue walk out.

Aiko: “What’s going on in there?”

Tetsu: “I’m taking Ha-chan home for the day. It doesn’t look good for Arishima-san though.”

Eriko opens the door violently, she’s being escorted by two large male teachers. They walk right past Aiko and Yuka. Yuka and Eriko catch eyes. Eriko angrily turns away and keeps walking. Aiko puts her hand on Yuka’s hand. Yuka looks up in pain at Aiko. Aiko squeezes Yuka’s hand.

It’s the next morning at school. Students are talking in groups.

Girl 1: “Did you hear? Arishima-san has been suspended for two weeks.”

Girl 2: “After what she did to Kinoshita-san, they should expel her.”

Girl 3: “Yeah, but Fujimaki-san told them about all the bullying. I think they went easy on Arishima-san after that”

In another group, Chitose, Kaori and Satomi are talking. Satomi has some bandages on. She’s intentionally looking pathetic and taking the sympathy.

Chitose: “You poor thing, does it still hurt much?”

Satomi: “It’s just awful, I have a headache and my eyes are blurry...”

Just then Aiko appears above them, angry eyes.

Aiko: “It doesn't hurt nearly enough for what you did.”

Satomi: “How can you say that? I’m the victim here.”

Aiko: “Don't play innocent with me, you fooled the teachers, but I know it was you who started it all."

Chitose: “Why do you care so much about that lying freak whore?”

Aiko: “I don’t know why Fujimaki-san did what she did, but it had nothing to do with you.”

Satomi: “Yeah, well, it might just have had something to do with you.”

Aiko is taken aback.

Aiko: “What do you mean?”

Satomi: “It’s hanging around with freaks like you that got her into this mess. She didn’t used to be like that.”

Aiko: “We had nothing to do with it! You’re just a jealous bitc...”

Yuka runs up in front of Aiko, pushes her back, uses her hand to turn Aiko’s head toward her in a sort of apologetic way, and then keeps pushing Aiko back. Aiko takes a deep, center breath, and restores her normal calm and poise.

Aiko: “Thank you Yuka.”

Yuka tugs on her, pointing to Hatsue’s seat which is empty.

Aiko: “I don’t blame her for not showing up today. I don’t understand why she was pretending all that time?”

We see shots of Eriko and Hatsue’s desks empty over different periods that day, neither ever showed.

Yuka and Aiko arrive at school the next day and still, Hatsue’s desk is empty. Yuka looks again at Aiko with concern. (Eriko is still suspended obviously)

Aiko: “She’s not here again, huh?”

Yuka gives her a stern and determined look.

Aiko: “Alright, we’ll go after school and figure this out.”

Aiko and Yuka arrive outside Hatsue’s house.

Aiko: “I think this is the address sensei gave us.”

They ring the bell. Once, then twice. Finally, Tetsu comes to the door.

Tetsu: “Oh, its Ha-chan’s friends from the other night. Hello, come on in. I don’t know if Ha-chan is up for guests though.”

They are sitting around the table. Yuka takes out a stack of work for Hatsue.

Tetsu: “Thank you for bringing that, I’m sure she’ll want to stay up on her work.”

Aiko: “What was she thinking, anyway? And you knew and didn’t stop her!”

Tetsu (sighing): “Yes, I knew. I knew and I still couldn’t protect her. But please, don’t think unkindly about Ha-chan. She really had no choice.”

Aiko: “We all have choices.”

Tetsu: “I don’t know if I should tell you, but, you seem...more understanding...than her other friends.”

Aiko: “Tell us what?”

Tetsu: “It started in middle school...”

We see scenes of them talking, he’s telling them the story about her trauma.

Tetsu: “And that’s why she’s so afraid of men. She can’t even go out to the store, even with me. She spends all her time here or at school, like a hermit. That’s why I was so happy when you invited her to your house. I couldn’t believe she actually went. I was hoping she was getting better. But I’m not so sure what’s going to happen.”

Aiko: “I still don’t approve of what you two did...”

Tetsu: “But...?”

Aiko: “But, it seems like you did it out of love.”

Tetsu (smiling): “I just can’t help it. Our parents are out of the country a lot on business. I’m all she has. But, you’re here now.”

Yuka tugs on Aiko’s sleeve.

Aiko: “Where’s her bedroom?”

We are inside Hatsue’s bedroom now, it’s dark, Hatsue is under the covers. The door opens. Aiko and Yuka walk in with Tetsu.

Tetsu: “Ha-chan, your friends are here to see you.”

Just silence from the lump in the bed.

Aiko: “She’s been suspended, you know. She did it for you.”

Hatsue sits up slowly in bed. She’s a mess, not the put-together Hatsue we’re used to seeing. Her hair is in two braids. She’s got no makeup. She’s clearly been crying with puffy eyes with dark circles below them.

Hatsue: “For how long?!”

Aiko: “For two weeks. I’m not sure she really cares. But she did that to protect you, as stupid as it was.”

Hatsue: “I know she did. I feel terrible for putting her through this.”

Aiko: “So you pay her back by running away and not coming to school?”

Hatsue: “Everyone knows I pretended to have a boyfriend and Satomi-chan got hurt because of me. They all hate me. How can I go back?”

Aiko: “You just do. You go back and you hold your head up. Your brother told us everything. Who cares what those assholes at school think of you. Arishima-san knew the real you, and she cared about you enough to keep your secret and then risk everything to protect you. What happens when she returns to school and sees that you're not there?”

Hatsue: “I didn’t mean for any of this to happen. I swear!”

Aiko: “You need to get up tomorrow and decide who you’re going to be. Arishima-san is your friend, don’t let her sacrifice be for nothing."

The next morning at school. People coming into the gate, milling about the school courtyard and grounds, entering the school building by the lockers. Tetsu’s car pulls up. Satomi, Chitose, and Kaori are standing in their group in the courtyard. Other groups and individuals are all staring.

Chitose: “It couldn’t be?”

Kaori: “Is she really going to show her face?”

Satomi: “She wouldn’t be stupid enough.”

The door of the car opens. Out steps Hatsue, but instead of her normal heavily made-up idol look, she has braids in her hair, glasses on, no makeup and an even more conservatively worn uniform. She’s just like a regular girl. She looks shy, her head is down. Aiko and Yuka walk up to her. Tetsu is standing outside the driver’s side door.

Aiko: “Thank you for bringing her. We’ll take it from here.”

Then turning to Hatsue.

Aiko: “Are you ready, Fujimaki-san?”

Hatsue (nodding yes): “Mmm hmmm. I think so.”

Aiko: “Hold that head up, you have nothing to explain to anyone here.”

Yuka grabs their hands, one on each side of her, and starts to pull them forward towards school.

As they are talking on their way in, a freshman girl comes up with her friends. They’re a bit giggly and shy at the same time.

Girl 1: “Umm, Fujimaki-senpai? Ummm, now that I know you aren’t dating Yamamura-san, I mean, Fujimaki-san, I mean, that he’s your brother, I he single?

The girl blushes and turns to the other girls, they’re in a little embarrassed squeal-fest, giggling away that she really asked.

Hatsue lets out a big laugh, Aiko tries to stifle her own.

Hatsue (laughing): “Hahahaha, I guess he is.”

(to be continued...)

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