In the Morning, I'll Say Hello - Chapter 36

"In the Morning, I'll Say Hello" is a yuri comic I wrote. I can't draw, so I'm publishing the scripts here. I hope you enjoy!

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

Chapter 36
"Off to the Festival"

At the end of class, Aiko is talking to Yuka. Other students are getting up and leaving.

Aiko: “I’ll meet you and Suzu-san at the temple at 5:30, and we can walk to the festival from there, okay?”

Yuka nods her head and then looks over at Eriko who has her head down on her arms, but is looking out to the side at Yuka and is shocked and blushes when Yuka looks her way and makes eye contact.

Eriko: “Um, can we still...join you?”

Yuka nods 'yes' vigorously and smiles broadly. Hatsue walks up then.

Hatsue: “Eriko-chan, will you come over before the festival, so we can go together?”

Eriko: “Oh, sure...but are you going to be okay?”

Hatsue: “I don’t know, really, but I can’t stay shut in forever.”

Yuka grabs Hatsue's hands in happiness/solidarity.

Aiko: “Fine, we’ll meet you all at the clock at 6. Don’t be late.”

Hatsue’s room, she’s looking through her closet.

Hatsue: “What should I wear? I’m really sad I couldn’t ever get a yukata. It would have been so nice to wear one tonight.”

Right then there’s a knock on the door.

Hatsue: “Who is it?”

Tetsu: “It’s me, Tetsu, can I come in.”

Hatsue: “Sure.”

Tetsu: “Megumi-chan and I leaving soon for the festival, do you want me to drop you off?”

Hatsue (to herself): “Megumi-chan? And they’re going together? Why won’t he just tell me what's really going on between them?”

Hatsue: “No, that’s okay, Eriko-chan is coming over.”

Tetsu: “Will you really be okay?”

Hatsue (to herself): "Everybody keeps asking me, of course I won't be...but I have to try."

Hatsue replies cooly, not making eye contact with Tetsu and looking away towards the clothes in her closet.

Hatsue: “I’m fine, go have fun with Shibata-san.”

After a bit of a pause:

Tetsu: “She’s not a bad person.”

Hatsue: (to herself): “I know that, I know that, why can’t I stop being so mean to him about it. He deserves to have someone he can love.”

Hatsue: “Sure.”

Hatsue (to herself): “That’s not what I meant to say”

Tetsu: “Okay, well, call me if you need anything.”

Hatsue: “Fine, bye.”

He leaves, shutting the door quietly. She lowers her head burying it into some clothing hanging in her closet.

Eriko’s bedroom. She’s got a couple outfits on her bed, nothing fancy. She just sighs.

Eriko (to herself): “Well, I guess it doesn’t really matter which. But, I sort of wanted to look...cute...tonight?...Ughhh that’s so not like me, but for her...for her, I wanted her to notice me...”

A knock on her door.

Eriko: “Come in?”

Heizo opens the door and peeks in.

Heizo: “Sorry to interrupt, but I was going through some things and thought you might be interested in this?”

He hands Eriko a folded up yukata. She holds it up and her face is bewildered, not really knowing what he means.

Heizo: “I know it’s a bit old, and maybe not your style, so you don’t have to...”

Eriko's eyes light up and she hugs him spontaneously.

Eriko: “No, I...I love it.”

Heizo blushes at her unusual effusiveness, Eriko backs off in shock at realizing she’s just hugged him.

Eriko: “Umm, I mean, thank you...I’ll be glad to wear this. But where did you get it?”

Heizo: “It belonged to my wife. I think she’d be very happy to know that someone was getting some use out of it.”

Eriko: “Are you sure that’s okay?”

Heizo: “Of course! But you’ll have to have one of your friends help you to put it on. I wouldn’t know where to begin. As a guardian, I’m afraid I’m not really much use at all in that regard! Hohoho.”

Eriko quietly holds it to her chest, eyes closed, a gentle smile on her face as she replies.

Eriko: “No, don’t say that. Thank you.”

At the local temple/shrine. People are washing their hands, making wishes, and writing wishes on tanzaku and attaching them to the bamboo trees.

Suzu and Yuka are standing in line, waiting to go up to the altar and ring the bell and make a wish/prayer at the altar. Suzu is in street clothes, Yuka is in a cute little yukata with her hair done up elegantly with a little flower in it too. Suzu starts squeezing and hugger her tightly. Yuka lightly protests the snuggling.

Suzu: “Ahh, you just look so cute!”

Suzu: (to herself): “I wish I could be there tonight to see the sparks fly! God, I’m so pitiful, living vicariously through my little sister...sigh.”

Suzu: “Oh it’s our turn, Let’s not keep your friends waiting too long.”

Yuka takes her hand and turns her head to the side slightly as in “you can come with us if you want to.”

Suzu: “No, it’s okay, I’d just be in the way. Have fun with your friends tonight, don’t worry about me.”

Suzu: (to herself): “Besides, I think it would be too depressing to hang out with my little sister’s friends!”

They make their prayers. Then they go over and write their tanzaku wishes and hang them on a bamboo tree.

Suzu: “What did you wish for?”

Yuka blushes, shuts her eyes and shakes her head (like “I’m not going to tell you”)

Suzu: “Well, I’m not wasting my wish on a boyfriend. I’ve done that too many years and what good has it done? This year, I’m wishing to get rich! That’ll show all those bums.”

They’re laughing together as they walk away. They see Aiko and wave her over.

Suzu: “Aiko-chan, over here!”

Hatsue is in her room. She hears the doorbell ring.

Hatsue: “Must be Eriko-chan!”

She comes down the stairs and stops in front of the door, seeing a package with her name on it sitting on the stoop by the shoes. She’s confused. The doorbell rings again.

Eriko and Hatsue are sitting in Hatsue’s room now. On the table in the room is the package.

Eriko: “Um, are you going to open it?”

Hatsue: “I guess I should, but I don’t know who it’s from.”

Eriko: “Tetsu-kun?”

Hatsue: “I’ve been sort of a jerk to him lately.”

Eriko (to herself): “So I wasn’t imagining things.”

Eriko: “But I thought you two were close?”

Hatsue: “We are...or were...he’s...he’s seeing someone now.”

Eriko: “Like a girlfriend?”

Hatsue: “I’m so pitiful, I just get so jealous of her. Every time I see her...”

Eriko: “Jealous?"

Eriko (to herself): "Is that what I feel about Okumura-san?”

Hatsue: “I don’t want to be so reliant on him. That’s why tonight is important! I have to show him that I can be okay without him!”

Eriko: “Show him?”

Hatsue: “No, no, you’re right. I have to prove it to myself that I can overcome this fear. He has a right to be happy and I can’t make him happy the way she can...I know that. I have to do this for myself.”

Eriko: “Come on, open it.”

Hatsue opens the box, in it is a small note that says: “I hope we see each other tonight at the festival. I really want to get to know you. From, Megumi”

Hatsue: “What could she...?”

She pushes back the tissue paper to reveal a beautiful new yukata. Hatsue takes it out and holds it up and starts crying. Eriko doesn’t know what to do and reaches out a hand to put on Hatsue. Hatsue looks up at her with a radiant smile.

Hatsue: “Okay! Let’s get dressed and show this town what we’re made of!”

Hatsue and Eriko, both done up in yukatas, makeup and wearing getas, are standing at the front door (inside) of Hatsue’s house.

Hatsue: “Okay, Hatsue, you can do this!”

She smacks her face with both hands to gear herself up. Eriko laughs at her and takes her hand. Hatsue looks up in warm thanks.

Hatsue (to herself): “She almost looks like a princess, so tall and regal.”

Hatsue: “You really do look amazing tonight.”

Eriko (blushing a bit): “Um, you think so?”

Hatsue: “I’m just afraid I’ll be going home alone after Kiyoura-chan sees you looking like that!”

Eriko: “What!!!”

Eriko is fake shocked and shoves Hatsue, they both bust out laughing.

They are walking down the street towards where the festival will be held. There are lots of other people walking that way. Hatsue starts perceiving people staring at her (more like self-conscious and paranoid, than actual – at first...)Hatsue starts clinging to Eriko.

Eriko: “Are you okay?”

Hatsue (through closed eyes): “Umm, hmmm.”

Behind them we hear from some young men talking about them rudely.

Young man 1: “Hey, look at those two?”

Young man 2: “Who do you like, the tall one?”

Young man 3: “No, I like ‘em small.”

Eriko turns around and sends a death look in their direction. They scatter their gazes as if they were never checking out the girls.

Eriko: “Just ignore them, I’m here for you.”

Hatsue: “I know, I know.”

Hatsue (to herself): “I won’t mess this up for you! I won’t lose to myself either!”

As they are crossing a street, some people bump into them and Hatsue gets separated from Eriko. She gets jostled around a bit, starts to hyperventilate in her anxiety. She calls out for Eriko and squeezes her eyes tight.

                Hatsue: "Eriko-chan!"

She gets jostled and falls down to the ground. A person reaches down a hand to try and help her up.

Person: “Are you okay?”

Hatsue looks up but to her this person looks like pure evil, a big black silhouette against the fading sunlight. She screams.

                Hatsue: "Ahhhhh, get away!!!!"

Eriko: “Ha-chan! Ha-Chan!”

Eriko shoves the person away and kneels down by Hatsue.

Eriko: “Get away from her, what are you doing?”

It was just a normal middle-aged man though who meant no harm.

Person: “I’m sorry, I just...”

People are mumbling around them, everyone is looking. Things start to spin for Hatsue.

Eriko: “Ha-chan! Ha-cha.....”

Things go black for Hatsue.

Hatsue wakes up being carried on Eriko’s back.

Hatsue: “huh? What’s going on?”

Eriko: “You passed out back there. I’m taking you home.”

Hatsue: “But you have to go, you can’t miss it!”

Hatsue (to herself): “You can’t miss her.”

Eriko: “It’s okay, I need to get you back home.”

Hatsue starts weeping openly.

Hatsue: “I’m so sorry Eriko-chan, I’m so sorry.”

Eriko: “You did your best, I’m proud of you.”

Eriko looks up into the starry night as she's walking with Hatsue on her back crying.

Eriko (to herself): “I really did want Kiyoura-san to see me...I wanted to see her too...”

Hatsue: “I’m so sorry...I’m so sor...”

Aiko and Yuka are standing at the clock, it’s 6:30 already, a half hour after they said they’d meet. They’re not really talking, just waiting.

Aiko: “Yuka, we’ve waited enough, I don’t think they’re coming.”

Yuka shakes her head 'no.'

Aiko (to herself): “Damn that Arishima!”

Aiko: “Okay, we can wait a bit more.”

A boy goes running by them (it’s Toshikazu “Toshi” Ishihara - the boy who told Hatsue she was pretty). He's blushing and beaming.

Toshi (to himself): “I wonder if she’ll be here tonight? Maybe I’ll run into her. Stupid Toshi, you should have gotten her name...”

Aiko watches him run by while Yuka just sits silently.

Aiko (to herself): “Stupid boy, look at that smirk. Is he running to meet his girlfriend? Is that what girls want? Yuka, you’ll never get that from her, you know. You’ll always be waiting, like now.”

Scenes go by of people walking past them. It’s past 7 o'clock now. They end up sitting on a bench to wait. More scenes of people walking by (all these are like snapshots of time – almost like a time-lapse). At one point Aiko leaves, brings back drinks, Yuka declines, and just waits.

Aiko: “We’ll miss the festival if we wait any longer.”

Yuka shakes her head 'no' patiently.

Aiko (to herself): “I’ll do anything for you, but I can’t stand watching you get hurt like this.”

More time passes.

Aiko: “Yuka, she’s not coming, maybe something came up. You’ll just have to ask her on Monday. Let’s go and enjoy it while we can.”

Yuka (still sitting on the bench) absentmindedly lifts up her lower legs so they're sticking out straight in front of her revealing her geta.

Aiko (to herself): “How can that delinquent do this to her?”

Aiko: “You look really cute tonight.”

Yuka looks at Aiko a bit sadly, manages a wan smile, and puts her head back down against Aiko's side.

More scenes go by of people walking, some are going back the other way now, leaving the festival. It's late and dark out. Kids are tired in their parents arms ("I wanna see the fireworks!"), middle-school girls are crying about boys who didn't confess ("But he was with that other girl, how could he?")... We are shown panels with Aiko and Yuka shifting places on the bench, Aiko standing, sitting, etc... just snapshots to show the progress of time. It’s around 9 o'clock now. Yuka ultimately falls asleep with her head on Aiko’s lap. Aiko strokes the hair out of her face.

Aiko (to herself): “You really are so cute. It’s no wonder she fell for you, but she doesn’t deserve you...”

Right then the first of the fireworks start going off in the distance. Aiko looks up at them. The scene then shifts to Hatsue’s house.

Hatsue and Eriko are sitting on the floor of Hatsue's room around her central table. We hear the explosion of a firework. It snaps them both from quiet reverie into looking out the window where we see the first fireworks going off. Hatsue is looking guilty and frantic at Eriko.

Hatsue: “Oh Eriko-chan, you’ve missed it all because of me! I’m so sorry, this isn’t what I wanted to happen.”

Eriko: “It’s okay. I don’t mind.”

Eriko (to herself): “I did want to see Kiyoura-san tonight. But how could I leave Ha-chan?”

Hatsue: “No, no! That’s not okay. I may not be strong, but that shouldn’t get in your way. This was your night. You look so beautiful, it would be such a waste....”

Hatsue just starts bawling (crying heavily). Eriko goes over to her and holds her. Hatsue tries wiping her tears away.

Hatsue: “I wish everyone knew how kind you really are. Thank you for everything. But please, let me do something for you.”

Eriko looks questioningly at her.

Hatsue: “Go to her, you have to go to her. If you hurry, you can still catch up with her!”

Eriko: “It doesn’t matter now.”

Hatsue: “Don’t talk like that, of course it matters. These are once-in–a-lifetime opportunities.”

Eriko: “I wouldn’t be able to find her anyway. It’s a big festival.”

Hatsue: “You will find her! I know you will. I bet she’s still there, at the clock, waiting for you! I’m sure of it!”

Eriko: “There’s no way, it’s too late.”

Hatsue is starting to get frantic and is grabbing on to Eriko.

Hatsue: “No, that’s not right. She’s waiting, because she’s just got to feel the same way you feel about her. You’d wait for her, so I know she’s still waiting for you. You have to go! You just have to!”

Eriko blushes at the thought.

Eriko: “But, you’ll be all alone...”

Hatsue: “It’s okay, Tetsu will be home soon, and I’ve got to fix things with him and thank Shibata-san. But you, if you miss this because of me, I’ll never forgive myself.”

Eriko: “But...”

Hatsue pulls Eriko up to a standing position.

Hatsue: “No buts. You’re going. And you’re going to show her just how beautiful you are. Now get up and go! Take your bike, quickly!”

Hatsue is shoving her out the bedroom door.

Eriko: “Wait...wait...”

They’re outside now, Eriko is trying to get on her bike with the yukata and geta, but obviously it’s not working.

Eriko: “It’s not going to work, I won’t make it.”

Hatsue: “You have to, you have to make it, you have to try.”

Eriko: “You really think she’ll still be there?”

Hatsue: “Yes, yes, you have to, please...go!”

Next we see Eriko running down the street barefoot, Hatsue is standing on her front walk holding Eriko's geta and socks, next to the bike which is lying on the ground. Eriko is running full speed (with her yukata hiked up), past people returning from the festival, the fireworks going off in the sky above her.

Eriko (to herself): “What am I doing? What am I going to do if I do find her? I let Ha-chan get me so worked up...but...but I do want to see Kiyoura-san, I want her to see badly...god, what is this feeling?!”

We see almost a look of ecstasy on Eriko's face, an excitement of youth we haven't seen before.

A big firework bang. It’s so loud it wakes Yuka up with a start.

Aiko: “Shhh, it’s okay, you fell asleep.”

Yuka looks up at her with sleepy, yearning, and sad eyes.

Aiko: “She never came. I’m sorry Yuka. Maybe it’s time we went home.”

Yuka looks down and nods her head 'yes' without making eye contact with Aiko, totally defeated. A solitary tear drops into her lap. They get up and are walking, they start to disappear into the crowd, we see them from behind.

Right then, Eriko comes running into the scene, frantic, hair flying, a mess, feet bloody and scraped from running barefoot. She stops, hands on her knees, panting, and looks up at the clock, it’s about 9:20ish. She looks at the empty bench by the clock, she’s looking around frantically for Yuka.

Eriko (to herself): “She’s not here. Of course she’s not here. There's no way she’d wait for me. But...I guess I hoped she might...stupid Eriko...stupid...”

Eriko stands up straight as a giant firework explodes in the sky, illuminating everything. Right then, the crowd in front of her parts a bit, and she sees Aiko and Yuka from behind just as Yuka turns her head to look back behind her. As she turns, Yuka sees Eriko across the distance. Their eyes connect as if they were the only two people in the world. Yuka stops walking, drops Aiko’s hand and turns to face Eriko. They stand staring at each other across that space with the beautiful fireworks going off above them. Just gazing into each others eyes across the distance. Eriko blushes, but doesn’t drop eye contact, it's intense and connected. Yuka gives the biggest and warmest of smiles, simply radiant and joyful.

(to be continued....)

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