In the Morning, I'll Say Hello - Chapter 22

"In the Morning, I'll Say Hello" is my ongoing yuri comic series. I can't draw, so you have to read the scripts instead (unless you want to be my artist!). Enjoy Chapter 22.

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

Chapter 22

"A Place To Call Home - Part 2"

Saturday, May 16th:
In the present, in Heizo’s house. Heizo is working up front in the shop, helping a customer. Aiko and Yuka are still sitting at the table after tea. Aiko looks at her watch, it’s after 10am.

Aiko: “We’ve waited long enough Yuka. Let’s leave her work.”

Yuka shakes her head 'no' and puts her hands together in a 'please' gesture.

Aiko: “She didn’t even know we were coming, she might not be back anytime soon."

Yuka just crosses her arms and sits tight.

Aiko: "You know, I could just leave you here, I didn’t have to come.”

Just then Heizo walks into the room and sits down with them.

Heizo: “I’m sorry to keep you waiting, we’re usually not so busy at this time in the morning. Can I get you anything else while you wait?”

Aiko: “Do you know how long she’ll be?”

Heizo: “She left early this morning, but I honestly never know when Eriko-chan will be back. She’s sort of mysterious that way, isn’t she?”

Aiko: “See Yuka, there’s no point in waiting for her.”

Aiko turns to Heizo and gives a little head nod/bow.

Aiko: “Thank you so much for your hospitality Arishima-san.”

Aiko gets up, but Yuka just sits.

Heizo: “Ho ho! It looks like your friend wants to stay.”

He turns to Yuka.

Heizo: “You’re more than welcome my dear.”

Aiko sits down gently next to Yuka (instead of on an empty side of the table) and puts her hand on Yuka's back and says softly.

Aiko: "Don't waste your weekend waiting for her. She doesn't even know you're here."

Yuka shrugs.

Aiko: “I know you’re worried about her. But she did this to herself. She’s lucky it’s just a suspension."

Yuka shoots her a dirty look.

Aiko: “Ughhhh...I know, I know, she was just protecting Fujimaki-san, but still, she shouldn’t have been so violent.”

Yuka has a triumphant face, jutting out her jaw in victory and looking up and away from Aiko.

Heizo: “Is that what happened? She didn't tell me.”

Heizo (to himself): “And neither did H-san, that old codger...well, at least he kept her from being expelled.”

Aiko: “She's got to learn violence isn't always the answer, even if that girl had it coming.”

Heizo (to himself): “Violence, yes, she certainly knows violence...”

Heizo: “Please don’t think too harshly of her. She’s had a tough life from what I can tell.”

March 27th:
It’s late at night. The cherry blossoms are in bloom in the park. Heizo and some friends are out on the main streets. They’re pretty drunk, laughing, saying goodbye to each other. Heizo waves and departs down the street. As he passes an alley, there is a bright blinding light. He’s knocked off his feet. He gets up, dusts himself off and there in the alley, laying in a heap, is a young girl, totally naked and in a fetal position (tall, lanky, long (past her waist) blond hair in a mess over her – its Eriko, just arrived to Earth). Heizo looks around in shock but there’s no one else around. He goes over to her.

Heizo (to himself): “Is she dead?”

Heizo: “Um, miss, are you okay?”

He squats down, brushes the hair off her face. The face is both angelic and battered/cut/scratched at the same time. He notices that she’s got bruises, scrapes, cuts, and scars all over her body, particularly two large wounds running parallel down her back. He’s suddenly feeling very sober now.

Heizo: “you poor thing. What happened to you?”

She starts to stir. He startles back. She sits up a bit, her long hair covering her chest. She looks at him in shock, goes to speak, and then starts to collapse. He reaches out and she collapses in his arms. Even though Eriko is passed out, tears are streaming down her face.

Heizo: “You'll be alright now.”

He takes off his coat and wraps it around her.

Heizo: “I'm too old to carry you, but we’ll figure something out. I’ll just leave for a minute to call for help.”

He goes to lean her up against the wall but she awakens and protests.

Eriko: (woozy and weak): “Where ... am I?”

Heizo: “You’re near the center of town. I found you here, ummm...”

Just then Eriko notices that she’s naked and wraps the coat tighter around her. Her eyes are filled with rage.

Eriko: “Wha???!!!”

Heizo: “You were like this when I found you. Do you know what happened?"

She shakes her head slightly.

Eriko: "No."

Heizo: "What’s your name? I’m going to get you some help.”

Eriko: “N...Name? I...I don’t know.”

Heizo: “That's okay, you must just be in shock. Wait here and I’ll be right back.”

Eriko: “NO!...No... please, don’t go...please.”

Heizo: “Okay, okay.”

He goes and sits next to her. She leans against him and goes to sleep. Heizo, looks again at the blood, scars, and bruises on her body.

Heizo: “Maybe it would be best if you didn’t remember what happened.”

She’s totally asleep now. He gently sets her head against the wall, and sneaks out away from her.

Heizo: “I’m sorry young lady, I’ll only be gone for a few minutes, just to get you some help...and may god help you too.”
[Flashback ends]

Saturday, May 16th:
The present. Heizo, Aiko and Yuka are still sitting around the table.
Yuka tugs at Aiko’s sleeve and is a bit squirmy.

Aiko (to Heizo): “I’m sorry, is there a bathroom she can use?”

Heizo: “Ahh, ohh! It’s right down the hall that way, help yourself.”

Heizo (to himself): “She’s interesting, that little one...”

Yuka scampers off to the bathroom. When she’s done, she comes out of the bathroom and walks past Eriko’s room. The door is slightly ajar. We hear Aiko and Heizo talking from the next room:

Heizo: “...don’t know anything about her parents, she never talks about them.

Aiko: “So you just found her homeless and took her in? Weren’t you afraid she’d just rob you or kill you and run?”

Heizo: “We both know she only looks dangerous. Actually, she’s...”

March 28th:
Night time. Eriko is lying on a futon in the barren, spare bed room (under a blanket – it's still a bit chilly at night since it's late March). It’s her first night at Heizo's so there isn’t anything in the room other than the futon and the clothes she wore home from the hospital, folded neatly. She’s staring at the ceiling.

Eriko (to herself): “A stranger's ceiling. How did I get here? Who am I? Everything hurts. Tomorrow I'll...what do I do tomorrow?”

She drifts off to sleep. Night passes. In the middle of the night we see the light forming above her. It envelops her, the tendrils of energy radiating out of it and passing over every bit of her body. She’s arching in pain, silently screaming, the energy is lifting her from the bed. We see a shot from the hallway where the light is flooding out around the cracks in her door. Suddenly she is totally enveloped and disappears. Heizo, in his bed, turns over and closes his eyes tightly.

Morning (March 29th). Heizo is making breakfast. He sits down and eats. Her bedroom door is closed. He goes about his day, tinkering with electronics, serving customers, making lunch, more tinkering. We periodically see him look at the closed door to Eriko’s room. Sometimes he puts a plate of food outside, or takes one away from an earlier meal, all untouched. Each time he just looks at the door or walks by, doesn’t disturb it. In the room, we see Eriko huddled in her futon cover in a corner of the room, crying, just sobbing, she’s bloody and bruised. It’s dinner time. Heizo is in the kitchen making food. He hears footsteps and turns around. There is Eriko, a mess, shy, sad, wrapped in her blanket. Heizo notices the blood and scratches, but doesn’t say anything.

Eriko: “Umm, I don’t want ruin...your wife’s clothes...can I take a bath?”

Heizo: “Oh my dear child, of course. Dinner will be ready when you get out. And clothes, don’t worry about those, I’ll put out some more of Kinuko’s clothing. Hmmm, But, I suppose we’ll have to get you some of your own, won’t we? Tomorrow maybe?”

Eriko: “T..Tomorrow?”

Heizo: “Yes, tomorrow. We can go out to the shops and... what am I saying, you probably don’t want an old man going clothes shopping with you. Hee hee, What will people say?! Well, anyway, we’ll figure that out, go take your bath.”

Up in the bathroom, Eriko is looking at her battered and bruised body. She sees a pair of scissors on the sink stand. She looks at her long hair and starts to chop it off, down to its current length of upper-to-mid-back. Hair is falling onto the floor in clumps.
                [Flashback ends]

In the present. Yuka peeks into Eriko’s room. There is her bed, a dresser, and a desk. It’s spartan, but furnished (unlike when she first moved in). Her uniform is hung up. The room is neat and tidy, but at least it looks like someone lives there.

Noon, Saturday, May 16th:
Eriko’s been sitting on the bank of the canal, not under the overpass like normal, so she's actually getting sunlight. Her stomach begins to growl. She takes her wallet out of her pocket, sees that she has a few coins in it. She gets up and walks into the town, and sees a ramen shop. She stops in front of it, clenches her fist, and turns and walks past it.

March 31st:
Eriko is wearing her new clothes from Heizo. She’s sitting in the alley, the same alley where Heizo found her. She’s just watching people pass by the entrance to the alley, it’s a busy shopping day. Her stomach starts to grumble. She looks at the ramen shop across the street (a different one than above - different part of town). She turns her head away. Suddenly she’s looking at three large men looming over her in the alley.

Man 1: “Hey girl, are you hungry? We’ll take you to lunch?”

                Eriko turns her head away, not paying attention to them.

Eriko: “No... thank you.”

Man 2: “Oh come on honey, we just want to spend some time with a beautiful girl.”

Eriko still ignores them.

Man 3 puts his hand on her shoulder.

Man 3: “Tell us your name beautiful.”

Eriko forcibly takes his hand off her shoulder and responds quietly but in a growl through clenched teeth with a fierce look.

Eriko: “Don’t touch me!”

She stands up and goes to walk past them, only then letting go of his hand. He’s rubbing his hand as the other two stop her.

Man 1: “We were just being nice and you had to go and ruin everything.”

Man 2: “I think she’s just playing hard to get, what do you think?”

Man 3: “I think you’re right, that’s all it is, just playing hard to get. And now you owe me!”

They start to close in on her. They grab her by the shirt. She looks down at the hand on the shirt, she flashes back to getting that shirt from the bag that Heizo had left her, clutching it to her chest that night. She has fire in her eyes.

Eriko: “I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”
                [Flashback ends]

Noon, Saturday May 16th:
Back to the present, Aiko is helping Heizo prepare lunch in the kitchen.

Heizo: “I’m so sorry, Okumura-san was it? Here it is you came to see your friend, but you’re helping me instead.”

Aiko: “She’s not really my friend.”
Heizo: “I see, I see. Well, thank you for being here anyway. What about little Kiyoura-san? Is she friends with Eriko?”

Aiko (unhappily): “mmmm....Yes... I suppose she is.”

Heizo: “Well, I do appreciate all your help. It’s been hard for an old man like me to keep the house up. Eriko helps sometimes, she’s not too good at it, but she tries.”

Aiko: “I’m not too good at these things either, but probably for very different reasons.”

Heizo: “Yes, you look like you’re from a good family. With a name like Okumura, I can’t help but wonder...”

Aiko (matter-of-factly): “Yes. my father is the head of the Okumura Group. I’m used to having people cook and do my laundry for me..."

Heizo: "But your friend there..."

Aiko looks out the kitchen window at Yuka folding laundry in the side yard. Yuka is hanging up Heizo’s clothes and some of Eriko’s, but she comes across an old pair of women’s clothes that are clearly too small for Eriko – she’s turning them around, holding them up to the light, trying to figure them out. She shrugs to herself and hangs them.

March 28th:
Heizo is at home working on some electronics repair. The phone rings.

Heizo: “Hello?”

Doctor from hospital: “Hello, is this Arishima-san?”

Heizo: “Yes, who am I speaking to?”

Doctor: “This is Dr. K from M. Hospital. We have you listed as the contact for a patient here.”

Heizo: “Oh, do you mean that young woman I brought in last night?”

Doctor: “Yes, and I’m afraid she’s still claiming to have no memories of what happened to her. She can’t even tell us her name. You are the only one we have listed in her files. She is ready to be released. The police have questioned her but haven’t come up with any leads.”

Heizo: “Is she alright? Where will she go?”

Doctor: “The police are working on finding a shelter for her to stay in.”

Heizo: “That won’t do! I’ll be right down to get her.”

Doctor: “I wouldn’t get your hopes up. She hasn’t been too helpful. I doubt she’ll go with you.”

Quick remembrance of her in the alley, begging him to stay, leaning on him, falling back asleep on him.

Heizo (to himself): “Hmmm, I wonder about that.”

Heizo: “I’ll be down as soon as I can.”

Heizo on the train with a paper bag with handles next to him. He walks from the station to the hospital. Goes up to the front desk.

Desk lady: “How can I help you today?”

Heizo: “Hello, I’m here to pick up a patient.”

Desk lady: “Yes, what is the patient’s name?”

Heizo: “I don’t actually know, I don’t think she does either.”

Desk lady: “Oh, you must mean that...woman? Yes, I’m glad someone has come to take her. Not soon enough though. She won’t tell us her name or let us help her.”

Right then, we hear a clatter and see things go flying out of a room and into the hallway. A doctor falls out of a room onto the floor.”

Eriko (from within the room): “Get away! I’ll kill you! I’ll kill you all!”

Over the announcement speaker: “Security to room 107 – stat!”

Desk lady: “Are you sure you want to pick her up?”

Heizo: “HA! Looks like she's got her fighting spirit back.”

The security guards rush past him into the room.

From within the room: “She’s trying to get out the window, stop her!”

We move our vantage point into the room, Eriko is in a hospital gown (with the long hair still - since it's her first day). She's perched in the window, the window is open, the curtains are blowing, her hair is blowing, she’s almost feral, she’s trying to get out, security guards are trying to keep her in. She’s putting up an amazing fight. Heizo walks into the doorway.

Heizo (nonchalantly): “Young miss. You must be feeling better today!”

In shock, and in recognition of his voice, she turns her head to him.

Eriko: “You...?”

In her moment of pause, the guards gain control and drag her out of the window into the room and are pinning her down.

Heizo: “It’s alright gentleman, I’m here now, she won’t go anywhere.”

They look at each other, then at her, she turns her head to the side but isn’t fighting. They slowly get off her. She shoves one of them while he is off balance, but then sits up.

Heizo: “You can leave now, I’ll take it from here.”

Turning to Eriko.

Eriko: “You?...You’re here.”

Heizo: “That’s right. The doctor called, they said they were trying to find a place for you to stay.”

Eriko (gasping and frantic): “No...I don't...I can...on my own...”

Heizo: “Shhh, It’s okay, everything's okay. Would you like to come stay with me until you figure things out?”

Eriko (confused): “With ... you?”

Heizo: “That’s right, with me. I’m just an old man, but I live alone. It’s not much, but you’d have your own room. I wouldn’t bother you. And, honestly, I wouldn’t mind the company.”

Eriko starts to respond aggressively but her energy fades as she goes on.

Eriko: “I...I don’t need...anyone.”

Heizo: “No, no, we all need someone. Here, put these on. They were my wife’s. They might be a little short and out of date, but it’s all I had.”

He gives her the bag he brought which has clothes in it for her to wear. She notices, with embarrassment that she's in a hospital gown and wraps it tighter around herself, then takes the bag.

Eriko: “ummm...thank you.”

Heizo: “I’ll give you a moment to change. Promise you won’t jump out the window.”

Eriko: “I...I won’t.”
[Flashback ends]

Saturday, May 16th:
It’s late afternoon nearing dusk.

Aiko: “Yuka, it really is time to get back.”

Yuka looks sad, but nods slowly 'yes.' They get up to go.

Aiko (to Heizo): “Thank you for your hospitality today. I’m sorry we kept you from your work all day.”

Heizo: “Don’t be foolish. How often does an old man like me get to have two lovely young ladies entertain him all day?”

Yuka runs up and gives him a hug. He blushes.

Heizo (to himself): “You do manage to say a lot without ever talking, don’t you?!”

Right then, the door opens, and Eriko walks in. She stops cold in her tracks at the sight of Yuka and Aiko.

Eriko: “What are you”

Yuka rushes up to her and goes as if to give her a hug, but pulls up short, almost forgetting where there relationship is really at. They're staring at each other. Eriko blushes, Yuka blushes, Heizo notices, Aiko is annoyed.

Aiko: “Okay, come on Yuka, we were just leaving. Arishima-san, we left your work for the week on the table.”

Eriko: “Oh...uh...thank you”

Heizo: “You can’t leave now after you waited all this time and Eriko-chan is finally here. Stay for dinner at least, please.”

Aiko: “No, Thank you anyway. We’ve imposed long enough. Let’s go Yuka.”

She takes Yuka by the hand, leads her to the entrance and starts putting her shoes on. Yuka sits on the stoop, puts her shoes on too, but looks back at Eriko who has entered the house now and is sitting at the table. Eriko sees her, blushes and looks back at the table, away from Yuka.

Eriko: “You could...stay...”

Yuka just breaks into a big smile, looks up at Aiko, pleadingly.

Heizo: “Okumura-chan, will you help me in the kitchen again?”

Aiko: “sigh...”

Scenes of Yuka and Eriko sitting around the table shyly (periodically making eyes at each other), Aiko and Heizo cooking, the four of them eating together. Aiko and Heizo talking. Aiko cleaning rice of Yuka's face. The "camera" pulls back on these vignettes showing more and more of the room around them as the four continue their evening around the table.

(to be continued...)

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