In the Morning, I'll Say Hello - Chapter 24

"In the Morning, I'll Say Hello" is my ongoing yuri comic, but since I can't draw, you'll just have to settle for reading the scripts. Enjoy!

"In the Morning, I'll Say Hello" - by Jaime Lustig
Chapter 24
"Opening Boxes"

Aiko appears from inside the door of Heizo's shop, looking out towards the street. She’s looking at Eriko still wobbling on the bike and Yuka silently laughing but also helping her learn to ride. Eriko is frustrated but still taking the help. Aiko looks annoyed.

Aiko: “Yuka, Arishima-san! Lunch is ready, stop fooling around and clean up.”

Eriko sets the bike down by the front door and goes in with Yuka. She’s washing her hands in the bathroom with Yuka, when Yuka looks at Eriko’s knees which are all scuffed and bloody from the bike accidents. She gently goes to touch one and Eriko flinches. Yuka takes out a handkerchief, wets it, and gently starts to wash off Eriko’s knee. Eriko blushes.

Eriko: “ don’t...”

Yuka rinses the handkerchief out and wets it again. She motions for Eriko to sit down. Eriko does so obediently, but keeps her face turned away shyly (blushing still). She’s sitting down with her feet on the ground, knees bent up, hands behind her for support. Yuka is cleaning off her knees.

Aiko, walking down the hall to the bathroom, talking to herself.

Aiko: “What’s keeping them?”

Aiko is about to fully open the door of the bathroom which is already slightly ajar, and sees them through the crack. Aiko notices the tender chemistry, and backs away from the door. She stands with her back to the wall next to the door, Her breathing is rapid and shallow, like she's hyperventilating/panicking.

Aiko (to herself): “Pull yourself together, Aiko.”

Aiko takes a deep breath and walks back to the table for lunch without ever interrupting the two in the bathroom.

The five of them (Yuka, Eriko, Hatsue, Aiko, Heizo) are sitting around the lunch table, they're finished eating. They’re all looking satisfied and stuffed.

Heizo: “Fujimaki-chan, that was truly delicious. Were you the one who taught Eriko how to cook? She's gotten a lot better for some reason since she started school.”

Hatsue is still shy around Heizo.

Hatsue: “Umm, I just helped her with a few basics for lunch.”

Heizo: “ho ho, I could tell it was you!”

The phone rings.

Heizo: “Hello, Arishima here...what happened to it?...okay, I can take a look at it today. Can you get it here?...Oh, I see....well, maybe I can send Eriko-chan over to get it...wonderful...thank you.”

Heizo returns to sit at the table.

Heizo: “Eriko-chan, M-san’s short-wave radio is broken again, but he’s packing for a trip and needs to get it here before he leaves. Can you go and pick it up for me?”

Eriko: “Of...of course...I remember where he lives.”

Yuka starts beaming, stands up suddenly, grabs Eriko’s hand and pulls her out of the house.

Eriko: “Wait!”

Yuka stands up the fixed-up old bike that was leaning against the shop wall (that Heizo repaired last chapter).

Eriko: “What....that?”

Yuka just nods vigorously 'yes.'

Eriko: “But I...I can’t...I’ll just walk.”

Yuka gets on the bike, her toes barely reach the pedals (because she’s so much shorter than Eriko).

Eriko: “You can’t don’t know where it is.”

Yuka motions for Eriko to get on the back shelf over the rear tire.

Eriko: “But you're so...and I'm so...”

Eriko is thinking about their height and size differences, she's even subconsciously gesturing a bit along with the statement. Yuka pats the back of the bike anyway and smiles broadly. Eriko sighs and lowers her head (resigned).

Eriko (to herself): “I get the feeling I’d do anything you ask me to. Why is that?”

Eriko gets on the back, and Yuka pushes off with only the tips of her toes able to reach the pedals and starts slowly gaining momentum as they ride off. Aiko looks on in disgust.

Aiko (to herself): “Doesn't she know how that looks?”

Hatsue is clapping and beaming at Yuka and Eriko as they ride off. Eriko is holding onto the bike, but trying not to make any real contact with Yuka, and looking away, blushing as they ride away.

Heizo, Aiko, and Hatsue are cleaning up the inside of the storefront. Hatsue is moving some things in a corner and comes across a small box. She takes the box over to Aiko.

Hatsue: “Okumura-san, what should I do with this, it looks important?”

Aiko: “Just ask Arishima-san.”

Hatsue: “But, I...he’s a...”

Hatsue (to herself): "...a man."

Aiko: “You have to get used to talking with men sometime, it might as well be now, with him.”

Hatsue steels herself, builds up her nerves and takes the box over to Heizo who is bend behind the counter getting something out from underneath.

Hatsue (to herself): “Okay Hatsue, you can do this. He’s Eriko-chan’s guardian. He’s safe, you’re safe.”

Hatsue (still shyly): “A...Arishima-san? Ummm, what do you want to do with this?”

Heizo wasn't really paying attention since he was cleaning to. He looks up.

Heizo: “Hmmm, what was that?”

Hatsue: “Th...This looks like it might be important, but I found it in a pile of stuff in the corner.”

Heizo looks at it wistfully.

Heizo: “Oh my, I haven’t seen this in a long time.”

Aiko comes over to join them as he opens up the box. He pulls out a small outfit for a baby boy, with a little hat and shoes too.

Hatsue: “Oh, how cute!”

Aiko notices the sad face on Heizo.

Aiko: “Shhh, Fujimaki!”

Heizo: “No, no, it’s okay. This just takes me back. It’s funny how sometimes you can go years without thinking about things, and all of a sudden everything starts reminding you again. It’s been like that a lot lately, since Eriko-chan started living with me. Lots of things have reminded me of him.”

Aiko and Hatsue silently together:

Aiko and Hatsue (to themselves): “Him?”

Heizo: “He was going to be named Yasuo, after my grandfather...but he...he...I’m sorry, I’m just being a sad old man right now. Don’t mind me.”

Hatsue: “I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to bring up bad memories.”

Aiko, looking at the small clothes and then at Heizo.

Aiko: “What did you say your wife’s name was again, when you found her bike?”

(Ed note: there should be a lot of visual flashbacks/illustrations while Heizo is narrating his backstory).

Heizo: “Ahh, she was so beautiful, her name was Kinuko. I remember the day she told me we were having a child. We were out in the fields, pulling weeds. I said something to her about how 'these small weeds grow so big if we don’t get them all now...' and she just looked up and smiled, and said ‘weeds aren’t the only things that grow quickly.’ It was late spring, so he’d be a winter baby, a little bit of warmth to get us through the cold. But the pregnancy was difficult for her. She was sick often, it was hard for her but she wouldn’t rest. She kept insisting that she needed to work. We were so foolish; farmers with no real family, we were so alone, but foolishly happy, with no idea what was coming. For a brief time it all seemed so wonderful, like the world was full of possibilities and hope again. After all the horrors of war, finding her, getting married, and becoming parents. It was a chance to make a new world for a new generation that wouldn’t have to know the world we came from.”

Yuka riding the bike with Eriko on the back. Eriko is sitting rigidly behind Yuka trying not to touch her, but studying her back. Yuka is pedaling hard. They pass occasional people who stare at the small Yuka riding and the tall Eriko sitting on back. Eriko turns away in embarrassment. But she still periodically sneaks peeks at Yuka’s neck, her little hands on the handle bars, her relatively short hair blowing back. Eriko is getting lost looking at Yuka. At one point, Yuka turns her head as they turn a corner and Eriko can see the scar on the right side of Yuka’s neck. Eriko instinctually reaches out to touch it but she gets a searing headache and a brilliant flash of light.

Eriko (to herself): “Arghhh, that pain again...what is that?”

She snaps to and realizes they're about to miss a turn.

Eriko: “Oh! ...Uh....Kiyoura-san, turn right up there!”

Eriko points, but throws the bike off balance a bit, the tire begins to wobble, they hit into a curb and go flying. Everything goes black.

We’re in the complete blackness now of Eriko’s cave dreams. We hear the sound of dripping, see ripples in the blackness.

Narration: “Where am I? Why can’t I see anything?”

Then we start to hear the sound of rushing water, and a small light in the distance as if from an opening.

Narration: “That light, that must be the way out. But out of where? I have to stand... but it’s so hard to make my legs move. Find a way, any way...just move somehow.”

We see hands on the ground (white outlines on the black), crawling, making ripples as they land in the shallow water underfoot. They touch something, something dark, something wet.

Narration: “What is this?...It’’s warmer than the can’t be, it can’t be!”

But then, from the distance we start to hear the sounds of people talking but can’t make anything out clearly.

Sound effects: garbled, indistinct voices in the distance.

Narration: “Hello? Who’s there? Can anyone hear me?! Help me, I don’t know what’s going on? I don’t know where you are? Hello?!”

Suddenly it’s bright sunlight, the vantage point is looking straight up at the sky, the bright, indistinct sunlight begins to coalesce into the sun and the sky with some small clouds that can now be seen clearly (as if eyes are focusing).

Eriko: “Ughh, what happened?”

Eriko sits up, grabbing her head, seeing a bit of blood on her hand. She's sitting on the ground. She sees how scraped up she is from the fall off the bike.

Eriko: “Ughhhh....That’s right, the bike....AHHHH Kiyoura-san! Where...?”

She looks around and sees Yuka in a lump not moving a little farther away. She rushes over trying to rouse Yuka.

Eriko: “Ki...Ki...Kiyoura-san! Wake up! Are you okay? Ki...Kiyoura...!”

Eriko is crying intensely as she tries to rouse her.

Back to Heizo’s place. He’s staring at the child's outfit and the open box. He starts to fold it and put it back.

(ed note: illustrate and flashbacks/narration from Heizo)

Heizo: “But it wasn’t meant to be. That winter, Kinuko was so sick. She would barely eat anything. I worried the baby inside her wasn’t going to grow enough, he seemed so still sometimes. One night, there was a huge snow storm, unlike any we had had there for fifty years. I woke to the sounds of Kinuko crying out. She was having contractions. There was no way to get the midwife there in time to help, we didn’t have a phone, and the snow was so deep. It was just us. I brought her warm water, and for hours she struggled. Finally, our son was born, but he was blue, so small, and never opened his eyes. The snow broke the next morning, it was just us and the priest. We sold the farm that spring. We couldn’t go on living there. We couldn’t live those same old lives of ours anymore. Those lives were gone forever. That’s when I opened this shop. I had worked in the engineering division of the army as a radio technician. The only good thing to come out of going to war was learning this trade. At least I could try to give her a new life, maybe help her forget about him. But she was never the same. She lived a long life, kept beautiful gardens, stayed by my side, but it was still a life of quiet grief. She wasn’t the Kinuko I had known. Where she had always been quiet before, she was solemn now. She had made it through a war and losing her parents. But losing him...that was too much, too much...”

Aiko just goes up and puts a hand on his shoulder. He clasps his hand over hers and looks up.

Heizo: “Ah, but you four ladies. When I see you, I see the future that we never had. Even though we were together all those years we were both so alone. That’s why it’s been wonderful having Eriko-chan here. She acts like I'm doing her the favor, but she has brought so much into my life, including you three!"

Hatsue (crying): “That is so sad, Arishima-san!”

Heizo: (cheering up now): “ho ho ho, don’t let this foolish old man get you down. I was just rambling. You're young and have a full wonderful life ahead of you.”

Hatsue: "So do you!"

Heizo: "Hahahaha, if nothing else, my last few years look like they're going to be a lot more fun than I had expected!"

Aiko: “Ummm, not to break this up, but haven’t Yuka and Arishima-san been gone a long time?”

Heizo: “Hmm, my, yes, it does seem like it’s taking them a long time.”

Eriko crying over Yuka, lying unconscious in a lump on the side of the road, trying to rouse her.

Eriko: “Kiyoura! Kiyoura!”

Yuka rolls over a little and opens her eyes slowly. Upon seeing Eriko’s face crying over her, she gives a very small but sweet smile, and closes her eyes again.

Eriko (to herself): “What do I do? What do I do?”

She sees the bike lying on the ground.

Eriko (to herself): “The hospital is too far. I’ve got to get her to Arishima-san, he’ll know what to do!”

She picks Yuka up across her arms.

Eriko: “Does it hurt? Am I...hurting you?”

Yuka just nods 'no' slowly, her eyes still closed.

Eriko, puts Yuka against her chest in one arm (with Yuka’s arms draped around Eriko’s neck), lifts up the bike and sets Yuka on the back seat and gets on the bike herself. Yuka puts her arms tightly around Eriko.

Eriko: “Can you hold on?”

Yuka squeezes tightly (but eyes still closed). Eriko blushes.

Eriko: “Ummm, hold on...I’ll get you home.”

Yuka squeezes tight as they take off, she’s smiling contentedly leaning against Eriko’s strong back. Eriko is racing on the bike, up and down the streets like a pro.

At Heizo’s place, Hatsue, and Aiko are cleaning up in the back main room. Heizo is on the phone with someone. Just then the door busts open with Eriko holding Yuka in her arms.

Eriko: “Arishima! Arishima!”

Heizo comes slowly from another room so he hasn’t seen them yet when he speaks.

Heizo: “What’s wrong Eriko-chan, M-san said you didn’t show up?”

His eyes widen when he sees her. Aiko and Hatsue rush in too.

Eriko: “It’s Kiyoura-san, we fell, she’s hurt!”

Heizo: “Come, lay her down in your room, get me some water.”

Aiko (to herself): "Damn you, I knew it would happen again."

Eriko is in the kitchen getting the water. Aiko comes up behind her. Aiko speaks quietly, just by Eriko's ear so no one else can hear, but Eriko definitely can.

Aiko: “If anything happens to her I will never forgive you.”

Eriko responds through clenched teeth.

Eriko: “No one asked you to...forgive...”

Eriko turns away with tears in her eyes. Aiko is taken aback and surprised to see this side of Eriko. Hatsue comes in.

Hatsue: “Is the water ready?”

Aiko: “I’ll bring it in to her.”

Aiko takes the pan of water away from Eriko (The pan was on the edge of the sink, Eriko was holding it there where she was filling it up, but looking away from everyone, crying). Eriko is still looking away trying to hide her crying. Hatsue comes up behind her and puts a hand on her back and leans in to her a bit, resting her own head on Eriko’s top left shoulder from behind.

Hatsue: “I don’t know what happened, but I’m sure it wasn’t your fault. You’d never hurt her, I know how you feel about her.”

Eriko turns. She is a complete mess and holds on to Hatsue, who is surprised at the warmth of the gesture and holds Eriko tightly in response.

Eriko: “I don’t...I don’t know...”

Hatsue: “shhh, shhh, she'll be okay.”

Eriko: “Wh...what if...what if she’s really hurt?”

Hatsue: “Come with me, you should be in there.”

They walk into the bedroom and Yuka is sitting up getting cleaned up and bandaged.

Eriko: “Ki...Kiyoura-san!”

Yuka gives her a big smile and a wave.

Eriko: “I thought...I thought you were...”

Heizo: “She’s just a little banged up. Looks like her ankle might be sprained and she’s got a bit of a bump on her head, but overall she seems okay. However, I’d feel better if we get you both to the hospital to get checked out.”

We really notice for the first time just how bloody and cut up Eriko is from the fall.

Eriko: “I’m fine, I’m fine...I can’t...I can’t go back there.”

Heizo (he’s laughing): “Ah, maybe not! Well, let’s take your friend there and see if they even let you in the building after the last time!”

Aiko and Hatsue exchanges glances and silently say to themselves:

Aiko and Hatsue (to themselves): “Last time?”

Suzu is talking with Heizo in the waiting room. Yuka (bandaged up) and Aiko are next to her. Hatsue is sitting with Eriko off to the side in the chairs.

Suzu: “Thank you Arishima-san for bringing her here. I’m so sorry she’s troubled you.”

Heizo: “No, not at all. I'm sorry she got hurt. We were having a wonderful time today, just a little drama to finish it off was all.”

Suzu: “It looks like she’s going to be just fine with a little rest. Aiko-chan, please thank your family for using their driver to bring Yuka to the hospital.”

Aiko: “I’ll give them your regards. I’ll call later to check in on Yuka.”

They all start walking out of the hospital to leave, they are about to pass by Hatsue and Eriko who are still seated. Eriko is looking down, sullen and ashamed. Hatsue has her hand on Eriko’s back.

Aiko: “Let’s go Fujimaki-san, I’ll take you home.”

Hatsue: “Tt wasn’t Eriko’s fault. It was just an accident.”

Eriko: “No, it’s okay...if she hadn’t...”

Aiko: “That’s right! If she wasn’t with, if she hadn’t met you, she wouldn’t be in the hospital right now. I warned you. Ever since you arrived, you’ve been nothing but trouble...”

Yuka comes up behind Aiko and puts a hand on her hand to silence her and shakes her head 'no.' Aiko turns in surprise, anger still in her eyes.

Aiko: “Yuka!”

Heizo looks at Suzu and the two, sensing the situation, move things along.

Suzu: “Thank you again for caring for her Arishima-san.”

Heizo: “You’re very welcome. My apologies again that she got hurt. Ready to go Eriko-chan?”

Eriko: "mmmm."

Heizo and Eriko walk out together, Eriko's head down. Suzu, Yuka, Aiko and Hatsue watch them go. Yuka looks around at the people in the hospital waiting room/lobby. She looks at Hatsue who is watching Eriko depart. Yuka tilts her head to the side and her eyes open in a wondrous expression. She tugs on Aiko to get her attention and then motions around the whole waiting room with all the various doctors and patients coming and going, then points at Hatsue and gives a big smile.

Aiko: “Oh, you're right. Fujimaki-san, are you doing okay around all these people?”

Hatsue (surprised): “I...I didn’t even notice.”

Yuka smiles up at her and grabs her hand to go along with Aiko’s hand which she’s already been holding.

Aiko (looking at Yuka): “Sigh...At least you’re okay. I was so worried.”

          Suzu: “Okay girls, time to go.”

(to be continued....)

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