In the Morning, I'll Say Hello - Chapter 29

"In the Morning, I'll Say Hello" is my yuri comic. I can't draw, so I'm publishing the scripts here. Enjoy!

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

Chapter 29
"The Competition - Part 1"

All black panels with the white lights that represent Kami-sama and Eriko’s mother.

Kami-sama: “Feel her emotions, they are strong. She will be powerful tonight.”

Eriko’s mother: “Why must you play games with her? Why won’t you let her know what is at stake?”

Kami-sama: “This is the deal she made, there is nothing more or less to my actions than that.”

Eriko’s mother: “She is starting to become aware, I can sense it in her.”

Kami-sama: “Yes. She carries that awareness with her each time she returns, more powerful than the last.”

Eriko’s mother: “Are you afraid of losing that power?”

Kami-sama: “That power is what restores balance. However, her power is not all that would be lost, there is much else she would lose if she gets her wish and does not return. She will sacrifice much for there will always be balance and it's price will be paid.

Eriko’s mother: “She is not the only one who will pay the price.”

Kami-sama: “Are you speaking of your loss?”

Eriko’s mother: “A child growing is always a loss for a mother. That is unavoidable.”

Kami-sama: “Well said, well said. But tonight, let her power come forth in all its glory. Let her vengeance restore the balance that the corrupt have destroyed.”

We are inside a car now. There are a bunch of young men (in their early twenties) drinking in the car, smoking, laughing. The car is swerving as it speeds way too fast down a road. All of a sudden headlights appear before it in the windshield. Someone in the car screams.

Man: “Hey, watch out!"

There is a huge crash. The car with the young men in it has veered across the median and hit another car head on. The young men are hurt, but eventually come to their senses. They stumble out of the car and look into the other car where they see that a young family has been killed by the collision. The young men are in shock. The three passengers flee, but the driver gets back into his car and speeds off as best he can in his smashed car, leaving the dead family behind.

He pulls into the driveway of his crappy rundown apartment. He stumbles out and fumbles with his keys trying to unlock the apartment door. He drops his keys. While picking them up the door swings open as if on its own. He looks up into the doorway and there is a shadowy figure there with glowing eyes. He is pulled into the room where we hear a scream and see some blood spill out from under the door. A feather falls and lands in the blood.

We are in Eriko’s bedroom now. She is naked on the surface of her bed, bruised, cut, bleeding, and writhing in pain, but still unconscious/asleep.

Eventually she wakes up and groans in pain. She looks at the clock, it is 3:47am. She pulls on some clothing and stumbles to the bathroom. She throws up in the sink. As she is bent over, we see two vertical, dark, parallel streaks on the back of her shirt, where blood is soaking through. She takes her shirt off, turns in the mirror to see two long bloody patches where the scars on her back are. She sits on the seat by the shower and rinses off her back. We see the diluted blood going down the drain in the floor.

She towels off her hair, pulls on some fresh clothes and gets into bed. She continues tossing and turning, but clearly is not sleeping. She looks at the clock, it’s 4:23 am now.

Eriko: (to herself) “It’s getting worse...I’m so tired...but how can I go back to sleep now?”

She gets up and gets something to drink from the kitchen and sits out on the back stoop looking up at the stars in the sky. There is the faintest hint of the impending sunrise.

Eriko: (to herself) “Are you seeing these same stars? What do they look like from Tokyo?”

Heizo comes to sit down next to her.

Eriko: (startled) “Arishima-san?”

Heizo: “Hoho, you couldn’t sleep either I see.”

Eriko: “mmm” (affirmation)

Heizo: “So what’s on your mind?”

Eriko: “ummm...the stars...”

Heizo: “That’s quite a big thing to be thinking about.”

Eriko: “I’m worried...about...someone.”

Heizo: “It wouldn’t happen to be the little miss would it?”

Eriko blushes.

Eriko: “Ki...Kiyoura-san is alone, tonight...I think.”

Heizo: “No one is ever alone, as long as there is someone thinking about them.”

Eriko: “ that really enough?”

Heizo: “Could you get to her if you wanted to?”

Eriko: “What do you mean?”

Heizo: “Is she the one that feels alone? Anyway, if you’re worried about her, why not go to her?”

Eriko: “I...I couldn’t. She’s in Tokyo...It would be expensive.”

Heizo: “Yes, that is a problem. Anyway, I’m going to try and get some more sleep before sunrise. We’ll just have to hope she’s okay.”

Heizo leaves and goes inside.

Eriko (to herself): “How are you right now? You looked so down this week. I can't believe Okumura-san did that to you, even if it was okay in the end. And now, you're out there, all alone. I’m always thinking about you. Do you know that? Does that comfort you? Or does it bother you? What can I do for you?"

Eriko gets up and walks into her bedroom.

Eriko: (to herself): “I guess I’ll try and get some sleep if I can.”

On her pillow is an envelope.

Eriko: (to herself): “What’s this?”

There's money in the envelope and the word “go” written on it.

At their small city’s main train station. It’s still dark out, the clock shows 5:03am. Aiko is sitting waiting to board a train. She’s listening to a voice mail on her phone.

Voicemail: “Aiko-chan, it’s Suzu. I’m sorry you missed dinner last night. We’re getting on the train now. I wanted to try and catch you before school, guess it didn’t work out. We’ll see you next week, I hope. Wish Yuka luck! Bye.”

Aiko closes her phone and sighs.

Aiko: “I really messed things up, huh? How can I fix this? I still want to be there for you.”

She looks at her watch.

Aiko: “I’ll just barely make it on time with the bullet train.”

Right then she looks up and over to her left. In the distance, standing, having just arrived up on the platform, staring in shock back at her, is Eriko. Aiko turns her head back to look at the tracks, pretending as if she didn't see Eriko. Eriko comes over and waits, standing next to the bench even though there’s plenty of room to sit. Aiko speaks without making eye contact.

Aiko: “What are you doing here?”
Eriko: “I’m going to Tokyo.”

Aiko: “For Yuka?”

Eriko: “What if I said 'yes?'”

Aiko: “I thought she would have told you about the finals. It seemed like you two had gotten close.”

Eriko blushes at Aiko admitting this.

Eriko: “C...close? No...she...she didn’t tell me.”

Aiko (to herself): “Where was your confidence from a minute ago?”

Aiko: “But you’re going anyway?”

Eriko: “What about you?”

Aiko: “I’ve always been there for her and I always will be. I’ll prove that to her again and again if I need to.”

There’s silence between them. Other people are starting to gather around on the platform.

An alarm is ringing in a darkened room. A hand reaches out and swats at it to turn it off. The hand pulls back under the covers; we can’t see who it is. But from under the covers we hear:

Suzu: “Ughhh, come on Yuka, time to get up. We’ve got an early start today.”

Suzu sits up in bed and looks over at Yuka’s bed which is empty and not slept in.

Suzu: “Huh? Yuka, where are you?”

She looks around and sees the balcony door open. Curled up in the chair on the balcony is Yuka with the little blanket over her. She’s sleeping a bit fitfully and her cheeks are red.

Suzu: “Oh, Yuka, what have you done? Did you spend the whole night out here?"

Suzu feels her forehead.

Suzu: "Don’t tell me you’re sick. (sigh) What were you thinking?”

She lifts Yuka up and carries her into the room. Yuka stirs in her arms and looks up at her, still all flush.

Suzu: “Come on, let’s get you into the shower, we’ll get you ready somehow.”

Yuka’s standing under the shower, half awake, woozy. Suzu is toweling off her hair. Suzu is helping her get dressed. Yuka is sluggish and unfocused.

We’re on the train now with Aiko and Eriko. They’re sitting across from each other. Neither is talking to the other. Aiko is reading a book. Eriko is staring out the window at the passing scenery.

Eriko daydreams of putting the necklace on Yuka that night in the park. She turns and looks at Aiko. Aiko slowly puts down her book feeling the stare from Eriko.

Eriko: “Hatsue-chan told me you took it.”

Aiko (to herself): “She’s being assertive again.”

Aiko: “It doesn’t matter anymore, does it?”

Eriko: “Were you going to give it to her?”

Aiko: “Yes.”

Eriko turns back to the window.

Eriko (to herself): “Would it have meant the same to you if you had gotten it from Okumura-san? Or was I only imagining that you knew it meant more to me than just a present for a friend? Do you know how I feel? Does wearing it mean you feel the same?”

Aiko is back to reading while Eriko has the above thoughts. Eriko turns back to Aiko. Aiko, looking somewhat annoyed, puts the book down again sensing that Eriko is looking at her expectantly.

Aiko: “Sigh...What?”

Eriko: “That said see the way Kiyoura-san looks at me?”

Aiko: “Did I? I don’t remember.”

Aiko picks her book up, but Eriko is still staring at her. She puts it down.

Aiko: “Yes? Is there something else?”

Eriko: “The competition?”

Aiko: “What about it?”
Eriko: “You mentioned someone you hated from last year?”

Aiko: “What if I did?”

Eriko: “Why do you hate him? The same reason you hate me?”

Aiko: “If you must know, his name is Isei Yoshikawa. He came in with his family like they owned the place. He wouldn’t talk to anyone. But after the first round, when Yuka was in the lead, he came over to her. He wanted to know her secret, how she was beating him. He kept pestering her. By the end of the second round she had a pretty big lead. He aid some pretty hateful things. But when he won in the end, he wouldn’t even acknowledge her. Like she didn’t even exist anymore to him once she stopped being a threat. His whole ‘holier-than-thou’ stuck-up attitude just pissed me off...”

(Ed note: The above should be illustrated like a flash-back with Aiko's narration)

Eriko (to herself): “Don’t you realize you come off that way too?"

Aiko: “She'll beat him this year. And I’ll be there to watch it happen.”

Aiko: (To herself): “At least, I hope so. That’s why I have to be there. I have to make sure I didn't ruin everything. I have to make sure she knows how I feel.”

Suzu and Yuka are at breakfast, but Yuka is barely eating anything. She sneezes. They’re sitting by the window. Suzu is worried.

Suzu: “Are you feeling any better?”

Yuka looks miserable and only barely present. Then, Yuka’s eyes brighten up as if she’s just entered the world. Suzu looks questioningly at her.

Suzu: “What is it, Yuka?”

Yuka gets up from the table and rushes out the door where she’s standing on the sidewalk in front of Aiko and Eriko.

Aiko: “Yuka!?”

Eriko: “Ki...Kiyoura-san?”

She looks back and forth at the two of them (both happy, and a rare sight seeing them together). Yuka starts to tear up a little bit looking at them. She drops her head though.

Aiko: “Yuka, I’m sorry I’m so late, but I’m here now. I wouldn’t miss this.”

Yuka looks up at her with big pleading eyes.

Aiko: “I...I’m....sorry. The other day, it all came out wrong.”

Eriko (to herself): "So she can apologize."

Yuka runs and hugs Aiko.

Eriko: (to herself): “Oh, I was Okumura-san she missed. I guess I knew that.”

Suzu comes up to them.

Suzu: “This is an awesome surprise. Did you come together?”

Aiko and Eriko speak at the same time.

Eriko (at the same time): “Ummm, well...sort of.”

Aiko (at the same time): “No.”

Yuka looks up at Aiko's face from the hug with a big smile.

Aiko: “Well, it’s not like I had a choice or anything. She was already there and...”

Suzu: “Why don’t you two join us for breakfast?”

Suzu takes Aiko by the hand and breaks off the hug and leads her into the restaurant leaving Yuka and Eriko alone for a second. Aiko turns back but is being dragged in. Yuka and Eriko look at each other, blush and look down shyly. Eriko notices that Yuka has the necklace on. Suzu chides them from over her shoulder while leading Aiko.

Suzu: “Come on you two, we don’t have much time!”

Yuka takes Eriko’s hand and pulls her forward.

We see the outside of a hotel/convention center with a banner for the math competition. People are walking in. Suzu, Yuka, Aiko, and Eriko are standing in line at the registration table for the national high school math competition. Yuka is holding Aiko and Eriko’s hands and is standing between them. Both Aiko and Eriko are looking away in opposite directions with scowls on their faces. Suzu sees this and giggles to herself.

Aiko: “What?!”

Suzu: “Nothing, nothing, It looks like Yuka's feeling better.”

Aiko and Eriko (simultaneously to themselves): “Feeling better?”

Aiko: “It’s almost our turn Yuka.”

They get up to the registration table.

Suzu: “Hi, I’m here to register Yuka Kiyoura.”

Attendant: “Kiyoura, Kiyoura...ah, right here. It says you only have one guest though. I’m sorry, but family only today.”

Suzu: “Oh, these two...they’re our other....sisters!”

Aiko and Eriko (to themselves): “Sisters?!”

Suzu: “We didn’t think they could make the trip, but here they are!”

Attendant: “Okay, fine, fine, here’s the information for today, please complete a name tag and go in to the right.”

They write their names on the tags.

Eriko (to herself): “What name should I write?”

She sees “Eriko Kiyoura” written by Suzu on the registration list and writes it on her tag. She’s blushing while she’s doing it. We hear heart beat sound effects.

                Sound effects: "Ba-dump, Ba-dump"

Eriko (to herself): “My heart's beating fast again. I’m only pretending to be her sister.’s also sort of like we're...”

A quick fantasy sequence of Eriko coming home from work in a suit and Kiyoura greeting her with dinner ready (looking cute in her apron), they eat together like newlyweds. Eriko shakes the daydream off.

Eriko (to herself): “That...that could never happen.”

Aiko notices the weird look on Eriko's face.

Aiko: “What are you so happy about?”

Eriko: “Nothing!”

We hear whispers in the background.

Whispers/chatter: “Who’s that?” 

Whispers/chatter: “He looks rich?”

Whispers/chatter: “You don’t know, he’s last year’s champion!”

Whispers/chatter: “My god, he’s so gorgeous, like a prince!”

Eriko turns around to see Yuka staring at this beautiful high school boy. He’s in a suit, surrounded by rich looking parents.

Eriko (to herself): “Who is that? Why is she looking at him that way?”

Suzu notices Eriko staring at the boy.

Suzu: “That’s Isei Yoshikawa, he won last year’s competition over Yuka.”

Eriko (to herself): “He's smart and beautiful, of course she'd like him.”

Yoshikawa comes over to the registration table.

Isei: “Isei Yoshikawa.”

Attendant: “Yes, Yoshikawa-san, it’s wonderful to have you back this year!”

Isei: “Thank you very much.”

Attendant: “I heard that you’ve already been offered a full scholarship to T-University.”

Isei: “Yes, thank you, that’s true.”

He turns to his right and sees Yuka staring up at him. She blushes a bit.

Isei: “Kiyoura-san. It’s good to see you again.”

Aiko (to herself): “So he does remember her.”

Yuka just bows her head slightly to him.

Isei: “Maybe this will be your year?”

Aiko pushes in front of Yuka.

Aiko: “You’re damn right this will be her year!”

Eriko (to herself): "It's my temper she's worried about?"

Isei: “And who are you again?”

Suzu puts her hand on Aiko’s shoulder.

Suzu: “Come on girls, time to go on in and get Yuka ready.”

Yuka is walking slowly next to Suzu and Aiko with Eriko trailing behind. Eriko looks back at Isei as he’s finishing chatting with people, getting his picture taken, doing an interview for a TV crew...

Eriko (to herself): “I’ve never seen her like that before. What does she think of him?”

The four walk into the main hall. It’s rows and rows of desks with Sorobans. (Ed note: Sorobans are a Japanese manual calculation device similar to a western abacus.) There are chairs set up on either side of the hall for the spectators. People are starting to file in.

Eriko (to Suzu): “How does this work?”

Suzu: “There are three rounds to the competition. The top three competitors after the first two rounds advance to the final round. The first round is a Soroban competition. The second round is a written exam. But it’s the third round where she had trouble last year.”

Eriko: “What do you mean?”

Aiko: “It’s a mental math competition. They have to buzz in to answer. They let her write her answers on account of her voice, but they made her write before she could buzz in, so it made it much slower for her than the others.”

Eriko: “That’s not fair!”

Suzu (to herself): “Wow, I’ve never seen her so animated!”

Yuka puts her hand on Eriko’s arm and smiles sweetly up at her. Eriko blushes and looks away. But Yuka then starts to wobble and almost falls. Eriko catches her and lowers her to a chair. Yuka is coughing.

Aiko: “YUKA! What’s wrong?!”

Suzu: “Apparently she fell asleep outside on the balcony. I think she’s caught a cold.”

Aiko: (to herself): “It’s my fault, It’s all my fault...”

Aiko: “If only I...”

Yuka just nods her head 'no' and gives a little smile to Aiko.

Suzu: “Why don’t you close your eyes for a few minutes, we’ve still got some time before the first round.”

Yuka lays her head down on Suzu’s lap, Suzu is sitting in the chair next to her. Suzu strokes Yuka's hair gently.

Eriko (to herself): “Even sick she's"

Eriko starts day dreaming of Yuka laying in her lap, they’re laughing warmly to each other. Eriko is running her fingers through Yuka’s hair.

Aiko see’s Eriko sitting with her eyes closed and a slightly content smile (while she’s having this day dream), Aiko gets up and leaves in disgust.

Suzu: “Oh, Aiko, where are you going?”

Aiko: “I’m going to see if I can find her a sports drink, the electrolytes will be good for her stamina today.”

Suzu: “Thank you, that’s so thoughtful. I’m really glad you’re here.”

Aiko is wandering around the large convention center (attached to a ritzy hotel). She goes down various hallways and passages, gradually there are fewer and fewer people around.

Aiko (to herself): “There’s got to be a vending machine around here somewhere.”

She finally turns a corner and comes to a bank of vending machines.

Aiko: “Finally!”

As she approaches them she sees that someone is crouching between two of them. When she looks closer it’s Yoshikawa. He looks upset but is still going through flash-cards. His face is red.

Aiko: “Hiding out before your presumed victory lap? I thought you were the media darling out there, or has superstardom grown tiresome?”

Yoshikawa stands up startled and goes from his studying face to a fa├žade of savvy charm and cockiness. They talk while Aiko gets drinks from the vending machines.

Isei: “Oh, it’s you again. Where’s your friend?”

Aiko: “Yuka is getting ready.”

Isei: “Not that it will make a difference.”

Aiko: “Arrogant ass.”

Isei: “You can’t win in life if you aren’t confident.”

Aiko: “There’s a difference.”

Isei: “Yes, and there’s only one of us here who’s arrogant.”

Aiko: “You don’t know anything about me.”

Isei: “I could say the same to you.”

Aiko: “I know enough.”

Aiko finishes getting the drink and walks away. We see Yoshikawa drop his head in relief and a small tear form in the corner of his eye. He wipes his eyes on his sleeve, slaps his face with both hands, and goes back to studying. As Aiko is walking down the hall she passes Isei’s mother who walks past her with a stern and empowered air. His mother utters something quietly under her breath.

Yoshikawa’s mother: “Where did that ungrateful boy go, channel K is waiting for him?”

(to be continued...)

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