In the Morning, I'll Say Hello - Chapter 25

"In the Morning, I'll Say Hello" is my yuri comic. I can't draw, so I'm publishing the scripts here in case someone wants to read them. Enjoy Chapter 25!

"In the Morning, I'll Say Hello" - by Jaime Lustig
Chapter 25
"Someone Precious"

A dimly lit large formal dining room. Light coming in in streaks through the windows, almost a film noir sort of vibe with deep shadows. There is a single place setting on the side of the table (with nothing on either end). There are four chairs, one on each side. The table is emaculately set but only has the single place setting. 

We see the slipper-ed shoes of a house-staff going down the hall, up the stairs, down another hall and then approaches a door. The staff knocks and gets no reply.

House staff: “I apologize for bothering you Ojou-sama, your dinner is ready.”

Aiko is reading on the window seat in her bedroom. She looks up, but doesn't open the door.

Aiko: “Thank you Ukiyo-san, I’ll be right down.”

Ukiyo: “Your father called to say that he would be eating with clients tonight and would not be home for dinner.”

Aiko: “That is to be expected. Father’s work is very important. Thank you.”

Aiko (to herself): “Why does he even bother calling anymore?”

Ukiyo: “Thank you miss.”

Next we see the dining room table again, this time there is food at the single place setting. Aiko is eating in silence, alone, in this massive and cold room. She turns and looks at a family portrait on the wall, a formal picture of mom, dad, Shiori (her sister) and Aiko (when she was very young). There are reflections going across it, obscuring the parents' faces.

Young Aiko is going down the hall into Shiori’s room.

Aiko: “Shioriiiiii, Shioriiiii, it’s time for dinner.”

She barges in but the room is dark and empty.

Aiko: “Shiori?”

She looks around and sees a note on the desk.

Note: “Dear Aiko. I'm sure you will be the first to find since no one else ever comes looking for me. I have left home and won’t be back. Please know that my heart breaks leaving you alone there, but the thought of marrying that wretched man just for the sake of dad’s business is too much. I can’t be part of this family anymore. I need to find my own way, out from under our name. You are smart and strong. If you want it, dad will leave the whole company to you and you can do remarkable things with it. He has always favored you. But me? I’m just there to be married off to fuel his desire for power. It’s not your fault that he loves you like a daughter but only thinks of me like a commodity to be traded. I can’t go on like this anymore, not when I have someone who sees me as precious, who doesn’t want me because of my name or my connections, but because of who I am inside. I know dad will never acknowledge our love so we are running away together. I am so sorry but I know you’ll be okay. Someday we’ll see each other again, but please don’t try to find me, my heart is already torn too much. Love Shiori.”

Young Aiko crumples to the ground, crying over the note.
                [Flashback ends]

Back to the present. Aiko staring at the family picture. She looks down at her food.

Narration (from Shiori's note): “...someone who sees me as precious...”

Aiko (quietly): “But you were precious to me too...”

She gets up and goes over to the liquor on the buffet. She pours herself a glass, drinks it quickly, and pours another. She looks up at the portrait again, looks at Shiori, then her father, and throws the glass at it, shattering the glass, liquid splashing on the picture. The phone rings in the background.

Eriko and Heizo are sitting having a quiet dinner (warm and relaxed, a total contrast to the scene we just saw), the TV is on in the background...

TV: “in other news...a prominent American actor was found dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound. The suicide note left behind gives chilling details of drugs, underage women...”

Heizo: “Sorry, let me turn this off, you're too young to listen to all this nonsense. I forget sometimes that I’m supposed to be protecting you from the world at your age.”

Eriko looks up and a bit shocked.

Eriko: “P...Protecting? Me?”

Heizo (lovingly): “Yes, of course. I don’t know where you came from or what brought you into my life, but you're here now, and you are safe with me, and I intend to keep it that way!”

Eriko lowers her head and gives a warm, quiet affirmation.

Eriko: “mmmmm”

Right then the phone rings.

Heizo: “Hello, Arishima here..........ah yes, Kiyoura-san, it’s good to hear from you, it’s been a while. How’s the little miss feeling?........Is that so? Well, Eriko-chan never tells me a thing, such a teenager..........hohohohoho, I guess we share the same problems there!..............Saturday? No, no, she doesn’t need to help around here...............let me put her on.”

Heizo hands Eriko the phone, Eriko has a puzzled look.

Heizo: “It’s Kiyoura-san.”

Eriko: “H...hello?”

Suzu (on the phone): “Hello, Eriko-chan?”

Eriko: “Ummm, yes.”

Suzu: “I don’t know if you know this, but Wednesday is Yuka’s 17th birthday and I wanted to throw her a party on Saturday. Can you come over?”

Eriko (to herself): "A party..."

Eriko: “Oh, ummmm...okay.”

Suzu (laughing): “HA! I see what Arishima-san was saying, it’s hard to get two words out of you, you’re almost as bad as Yuka! Well, I’m happy you’re coming. Don’t tell Yuka okay? It’s a surprise! Oh, and don’t worry about a birthday gift, unless of course you already have something picked out for her!”

Suzu says this with a devilishly gleeful look in her eyes.

Eriko: “Picked out?”

Eriko remembers the necklace she was helping Yuka try on and that Suzu gave to her in secret that day.

Suzu: “Oh nothing, nothing. See you Saturday Eriko-chan, bye”

Eriko (blushing, quiet): “A birthday gift...”

Heizo: “hoho, little-miss’s birthday? Well, I’m sure you’ll find just the right thing.”

Later that evening, in her room. Eriko opens the drawer of her desk and takes out the small box in the drawstring bag. She opens it, pulls out the necklace and is staring at it as it glints in the light of her desk lamp.

Eriko: “A birthday gift...”

Suzu takes something out of her purse, it's the little parcel that was bought and wrapped in the store (a small box in a drawstring bag). She hands it to Eriko.

Suzu: "Here, this is for you."

Eriko: "Wait...what? I...I can't possibly...I’m sorry..."

Suzu: “...You’ll understand. Treat Yuka well and that will be your repayment to me."
                [Flashback ends]

Back to the present:

Eriko (to herself): “Did Kiyoura-onee-san always intend for me to give this to her? What would she think if I gave her this? Would she think it’s just a gift from a friend? Would she remember...?”

Eriko remembers the look of Yuka’s neck, brushing her hair back, as she tried to put the necklace on her. Eriko blushes, puts the necklace down and stands up and goes over to the window. It’s dark out. She’s looking out at the stars.

Eriko (to herself): “Calm down Eriko. You’re just friends. Kiyoura-san doesn’t think of you as anything other than that. How could she, you're both girls? it okay that I want...what do I want from her? ARGHHHHH”

She slaps her cheeks with both hands. Eriko lazily hangs out her open window, her head down on one arm which rests on the windowsill, one arm drooping over the edge.

Eriko (to herself): “It’s just a necklace that she liked in a store. It won’t mean anything to her, its just a nice gift. That's all.”

Eriko gets up and goes over to the desk, puts the necklace carefully back in the box/bag and into the drawer.

Eriko: (to herself): “Somehow, I feel like I’ll miss this. It was a little piece of you that I had all to myself. Could I really give this to you?"

She puts a circle around Saturday (June 6th) on her calendar above her desk and writes “party.”

By the shoe lockers in the school. End of the school day, students are leaving. Eriko rounds the corner with Hatsue to see Aiko and Yuka in an intimate (but not romantic) moment, it’s as if they exist in their own bubble, unconcerned with the random school kids around them.

                Eriko (to herself): "Could we ever be that close?"

Aiko: “....I’m so sorry that I can’t have dinner with you tonight. I have an appointment I can’t miss. I’ll make it up to you. Will you forgive me?”

Yuka fake pouts then vigorously nods 'yes' with a smile.

Aiko: “Thank you. Even though I asked, I knew you would. My ride is probably here. I’ll see you tomorrow Yuka. Say ‘hi’ to Suzu-chan for me, I hope she isn’t going to make you cook dinner tonight on your own birthday.”

Aiko says the second half of this as she leaves and is waving goodbye – heading towards the black town car down by the entrance to the school.

Hatsue turns to Eriko, they are far enough away from Yuka to not be overheard.

Hatsue: “It's Kiyoura-san's birthday today, and Okumura-san's missing it? What’s that about?”

Eriko just shrugs and goes to turn away. Hatsue follows quickly after her.

Hatsue: “Wait up, wait up! Now’s your chance to go home alone with her!”

Eriko: “I...can’t.”

Hatsue: “Why not?”

Eriko: “I have to...ummm, get a gift...”

Hatsue: “Oh my god, you’re going shopping for her! What are you going to get for her?”

Eriko (blushing): “I don’t know.”

Hatsue: “This is big, this is big, I’m so excited!”

Eriko: “ you want to come?”

Hatsue: “Oh, umm, out shopping?”

Eriko (To herself): “Oh crap, I forgot how scarred she is to be around men”

Eriko realizing how afraid Hatsue is retracts her question.

Eriko: “I’m sorry...I didn’t mean...”

Hatsue: “No no, I’m just so used to buying everything online so I don’t have to go out in public. I want to help you, really....but...”

Eriko smiles kindly.

Eriko: “Don’t worry. It’s fine.”

Hatsue: “You’ve really softened...maybe someday I’ll be able to go out like normal....anyway, do you have any ideas?”

Eriko, thinking back to holding the necklace last night.

Eriko: “Ummm, maybe...but I’m not sure...I need to look around.”

Hatsue: “This is a big step, what you get for her could change everything!”

Eriko (flustered): “A big step?! Change?! But we’re just friends?”

Hatsue teases her.

Hatsue (sarcastically): “Right. Just friends. Then it really doesn’t matter, does it? I’m sure she’ll like anything you get. No need for any special meaning behind it. Right?”

Eriko blushes in frustration and embarrassment.

Eriko: “Ummm...yeah.”

Eriko (to herself): “Am I that obvious? Can she tell?”

Hatsue: “Come on, I’ll have Tetsu drop you off in the shopping district.”

They get their shoes on and get ready to leave. They pass Yuka.

                Hatsue: "Bye Kiyoura-chan. Happy birthday!"

Yuka smiles at Hatsue and Eriko and Yuka make eye contact and blush slightly.

                Eriko: "Um...happy...birthday."

Yuka waves goodbye to Hatsue and Eriko as those two leave together. Yuka finishes putting on her shoes and getting her stuff together and then leaves the school on her own, it’s somewhat sad that she’s all alone on her birthday.

It’s dusk. We're looking at a huge strange white mansion-type property. It's heavily fenced in. Indiscriminate people are walking around the grounds (some are old and in wheelchairs, some young in hospital-type gowns, some look like nurses or doctors in scrubs and lab coats). Aiko's black town car pulls up to the front of the building. Aiko, who has been in the building, gets into the car. She's wearing street clothes, not her uniform.

Driver: “Did you have enough time, Okumura-sama?”

Aiko: “Yes, more than enough, thank you.”

They drive away. Various scenes passing by the windows. It’s getting darker and darker. Aiko continues staring out the window. They pass by people working in shops, women and children walking hand in hand down the sidewalks, etc...

Aiko (to herself): “someone who sees me as precious...”

Aiko: “Driver, please let me out here, there’s something I need to do.”

Driver: “Are you sure that’s okay, miss? It’s a school night. Should I wait?”

Aiko: “No need. I’ll call you when I’m ready to be picked up.”

The driver looks concernedly at the place where they stopped, a busy night-club street filled with bars.

Driver: “Excuse me miss, this isn’t my place, but what would your father say?”

Aiko: “MY FATHER HASN’T SEEN ME IN MONTHS! I’ll call you when I’m ready.”

Driver: “Very good, miss.”

She gets out of the car and slams the door. She walks in to the front of a very exclusive club, goes right past the line and towards the bouncer.

Bouncer: “Hey little girl, go home and finish your homework.”

Aiko walks right up to him and says, quietly, but fiercely:

Aiko: “I own this place, I’m going in.”

The others in line around them are grumbling.

                Person: "Who does she think she is?"

Person: "She doesn't even have any meat on those bones, who's she fooling?"

Person: "We've been waiting here for an hour."

Bouncer: “What do you think you’re trying to pull...?”

Right then the host comes up and whispers something in the bouncer’s ear.

Bouncer (to the host): “What, her? She’s the daughter....but isn’t she still too...?”

The host is shaking his head 'no' the whole time.

Host (to Aiko): “I’m so sorry Okumura-sama, he’s new here, I assume you would like your regular table?”

Aiko: “That would be fine.”

They walk in together past the crowds. The bouncer is left scratching his head. The crowd in line is grumbling that she gets to go in while they wait.

                Person: "What a loud of crap!"

                Person: "Who's she sleeping with to get that treatment?"

Eriko is in a small store. She’s looking at various knick-knacks, clothing, etc...

Eriko (to herself): “Ughhhh, I hate shopping, nothing seems right. I don’t really even know a thing about her, I don’t know what she likes. How can I pick out something for her?”

She picks up some more things.

Eriko (to herself): “I guess it’s just like Hatsue-chan said, it doesn't matter what I get if it’s just a gift between friends. So why does it feel like it does matter?”

Then her stomach rumbles.

                Eriko (to herself): "This is becoming a bad habit."

We see Eriko eating some food at a window counter of a fast food type place. There are only a few people around. We see a mom with a pony tail holding the hand of a small girl ordering food at the counter.

                Eriko (to herself): "I wonder if I ever had that?"

When she’s done eating, she walks out the front door, turns and starts walking. She's right near the club where Aiko went. As she walks past the club and the dressed-up people in line, we see the contrast between Eriko in her uniform coming from the fast food place (and all her scruffiness) and the loud noisy neon of the club and the line of people in fancy clothes outside. They are worlds apart. Just then there is a disturbance in the doorway of the club. Aiko has left the club, comes stumbling down by the line of people, and two guys come up to her.

Guy: “Honey, it looks like you could use a friend right now.”

Aiko (drunkenly): “I’mmmmm f....fine...”

She tries to push past him.

Guy: “Hey girl, why are you being so hostile?”

Aiko (drunkenly): “I shaiddddd, gedda wayyy fruuuum me!”

Aiko gives him a shove then stumbles and falls to the ground.

Guy 2: “Oh, so that’s how you’re going to play it, honey? Now I’m sure you need our help!”

The two guys surround Aiko who is in a lump splayed on the sidewalk (but sitting up, holding her head). They are about to go for her (with lecherous looks in their eyes) when suddenly they are both punched and knocked out. We see that Eriko and the bouncer have each taken out one of the guys. Eriko and the bouncer then exchange shocked looks with each other, then at Aiko and back up to each other.

Bouncer: “That was pretty impressive. Do you know her?”

Eriko: “Ummm...yes...”

We hear sirens in the background.

                Sound effects: police sirens.

The host comes over.

Host: “If you know her, then you know she’s pretty important around here. Please see that she gets home safely. I can’t have the boss’s daughter getting hurt, but I also can’t have her making a scene like this either.”

Eriko: “Oh...ummm...okay.”

The Host hails a cab and sticks Aiko inside, Eriko gets in and just as she’s about to ask:

Eriko: “Excuse”

The door closes before she can ask the host where Aiko lives.

Cab driver: “Where to?”

The cab pulls up in front of Eriko’s place. Aiko is passed out in the cab. She struggles to get Aiko out. Aiko is now partly draped over Eriko. Eriko manages to drag her into Heizo's house where she collapses on the ground by the entry way.

Aiko looks up at Eriko and is still slurring her words.

Aiko: “Wherrrre...youuur house? Whyyyy’d youuuuu bring meee herrrre?”

Eriko: “I don’t know where you live.”

Aiko: “Shiiit!”

She drops her head down.

Eriko: “Quiet, Arishima-san is probably asleep!”

Aiko: “Youuuu knoooow, youuuu talk moar whennnn you’re an....gry.”

Eriko is defiant then resigns herself.

Eriko: “Whatever..... Let’s get you cleaned up.”

Aiko: “I dooon’t waaant youuuur helfff.”

Eriko: “It’s too late for that.”

Eriko lifts Aiko up and walks her into the bedroom. Eriko drops her on her own bed. Aiko rolls over on the bed and appears to pass out. Eriko pulls covers over her.

Eriko (To herself): “I can’t believe you. What the hell is your problem? You always act so high and mighty, but what if Kiyoura-san saw you like this? Oh no, what am I going to do for her birthday? I didn’t find anything tonight. Well, at least, nothing that was as perfect as...”

Eriko sits at her desk. The overhead light is off so there is only the desk lamp on. She pulls out the bag with the jewelry box in it. She looks over and sees Aiko still sleeping. She looks at the date on the calendar. She takes out the necklace and holds it up.

Eriko (to herself): "That day in the store, the way you looked at this. It's become precious to me and I didn't even realize it. We're barely friends but the way you smile at me, the way you touch my hand, the way you reach into you feel that way too? I can't stop thinking about you, but what will you think if I give this to you? Would you know what it meant to me? Or would you just think it was a present from a friend? Why does that thought hurt the most?"

She looks up at the calendar and focuses on the 3rd (today).

Eriko (To herself): “Today was your birthday. I hope it was a wonderful day.”

We see Aiko roll over in bed and open her eyes a bit, she sees Eriko sitting there staring at the dangling necklace, put the necklace back in the box, take a marker and draw a little heart around the number 3 on the calendar. Aiko is about to gasp and clasps her hand on her mouth and rolls over.

                Aiko (to herself): "Oh no! Please no!"

Eriko turns to look, but Aiko appears to be back in the same position she was in before. Eriko gets up and leaves the box on the desk (forgetting to put it away in the drawer) and leaves the room.

Middle of the night. Aiko is asleep in the bed. Eriko made a small futon on the ground for herself.

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

Eriko’s mother: “Not tonight! Please there is someone in her room. If she were to find out...”

Kami-sama: “That’s right, if someone were to find out before the year ends, it would all be over. She would have no choice but to return.”

Eriko’s mother: “Do you really want her to succeed?”

Kami-sama: “I have no desire either way. What will come of will come. It is her personal desire that created this situation and she will bear the fruit of that desire, good or bad.”

Back to the room, the blue light sphere forms above Eriko and she begins to elevate, the tendrils of light start attaching to her body like a plasma globe. The light is illuminating Aiko, stirring her. Eriko screams out silently in pain as she is brought into the light and disappears. Aiko wakes up and sees Eriko’s futon empty. She sits up in bed and holds her head.

Aiko: “Ughhh, my head hurts, I need some water.”

She goes into the kitchen and gets some water, looks around the living room, doesn’t see Eriko anywhere.

Aiko: “Where is she? No wonder she comes in such a mess most days.”

Aiko walks back into the bedroom. She sees the box/bag on the desk. She sees the heart on the calendar. She is about to reach for the necklace, but she turns away. She looks at the time.

Aiko: “Shit, it’s late! I could call my driver, but I don’t really want to put up with him right now. I might as well get some sleep while I’m here.”

She gets back into bed. She sets the alarm on her phone for 5am and goes back to sleep.

At 5am the phone vibrates to wake Aiko up. She slowly sits up in bed, Eriko is still not there.

Aiko: “Where is she? Whatever, I’ve got to get home and get changed.”

She calls her driver to pick her up. She starts walking out of the room, sees the necklace box/bag, looks up at the calendar, sees the two dates (the 6th with the circle and word “party” and the 3rd with the heart around the number) and grabs the box/bag and slips it into her purse.

She walks out the front door, waits on the stoop, and gets in the car when it arrives. The dawn is only starting to break.

Back in Eriko’s room, we see the light forming above the futon on the floor. Eriko emerges from the light in a bloody, scratched, cut, and bruised mess. As Eriko slowly rouses back to wakefulness, realizes she’s hurt, she looks over at her own bed in horror.

           Eriko: “Ughh, where’s Okumura?....OH GOD! Okumura!...Did she see what happened to me?  Does she know?”

(to be continued...)

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