In the Morning, I'll Say Hello - chapter 41

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

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

Chapter 41
"Getting Back Out There"

The phone rings.

Heizo: “Hello, this is Arishima.”

Suzu: “Arishima-san, it’s Suzu Kiyoura, Yuka’s sister. How’s Eriko-chan doing?”

We are in Eriko's room now. She’s sitting alone on a chair pulled up by her window. Her knees pulled up and held in tight, staring out the window. Her hair gently blowing in the breeze along with the curtains. She’s looking out but not really looking at anything.

There’s a knock on the door.

Heizo: “Eriko-chan, Suzu Kiyoura-san is on the phone.”

Silence, Eriko stays sitting. Heizo ventures:

Heizo: “She’s going out with her sister and wanted to see if you’d like to join them.”

Still more silence. Heizo walks back to the phone.

Heizo: “Suzu-san? I’m sorry, it seems she’s just not feeling up to it.”

Suzu: “That’s okay, thank you for asking her, sorry for the interruption.”

Heizo: “Hardly. By the time you get to be my age, you’re just glad for any reason people have to talk with you!”

Suzu: “You’re too cute, who wouldn’t want to talk to you!”

Heizo: “I hear you’re single, so you better be careful how much you flatter me!”

Suzu: “It's awfully tempting, think you can keep up?”

Heizo: “You’ve got me there. Have fun today.”

Suzu: “Thanks again, bye bye.”

Suzu (to herself): “It’s been a week since we’ve been back, and they haven’t seen each other. I can’t tell what Yuka’s thinking. It was pretty shocking. Maybe it’s for the best.”

Over to Yuka, who is sitting on the couch, watching anime.
Suzu: “Okay couch potato, that’s enough TV for you. It’s the summer. You need to get out of the house.”

Yuka is walking in the little park by their house. She’s looking down while she walks, a bit downcast. Without even knowing it, she walks right into a tree, the tree where they buried the bird (chapter 13).

[Flashback from chapter 13:
(young Suzu and Yuka) They’re outside now, in a neighborhood park. At the base of a tree, Suzu is digging a hole to bury the bird that their mom hit out of Yuka's hand.

Yuka: “Can we take it to a doctor, like daddy?”
[Flashback over]

Yuka bends down and sees a small patch of weed flowers growing where they buried the bird all those years ago. A bee is going from flower to flower. She holds out her hand, ever so gently, the bee lands on her finger. Then flies off to a flower far away. Yuka is left looking at her empty hand. She thinks back to the time she held Eriko's hand on the fieldtrip (chapter 14).

[Flashback Chapter 14]
Yuka takes Eriko’s hand in hers and brings it over to the flower. Eriko is in shock at the touch, her eyes wide, but doesn’t pull back. Yuka uncurls Eriko’s fingers and guides Eriko’s pointer and middle finger over the edges and textures of the flower. Then she take’s Eriko’s hand into hers and holds it.
[Flashback ends]

Yuka, still squatting by the tree base, looks up into the vivid summer sun.

Hatsue is walking around inside her house, not really doing anything, just going here to there and back again.

Megumi: “You’ve been moping around since you got back from your trip. What’s going on?”

Hatsue: “Hmm...oh, Shibata-san, I’m sorry, I didn’t even know you were over.”

Hatsue really was in a daze, and unawares of anyone else, she wasn't just being rude.

Tetsu: “Burn! I thought you were past your rivalry with Megumi-chan?”

Megumi: “Be nice to her. Something’s wrong, you haven’t even talked about the trip.”

Hatsue: “It’s just...what would you do...hypothetically..?”

Megumi: “Hypothetically...”

Hatsue: “...if you knew a friend was in trouble, but you were scared at the same time?”

Tetsu: “Scared to help, or scared of your friend? Hypothetically of course.”

Hatsue: “Hypothetically...maybe the person isn’t who you thought they were to begin with and you’re scared to find out the truth.”

Megumi: “Well, you can’t fake real friendship."

Hatsue: “So...if they haven’t done anything to change that...”

Tetsu: “That’s right, it’s how they treat you, and how they treat others, that defines friendship, not what they’ve been through or what they’re going to face in the future."

Hatsue: “So this person...I mean, hypothetically, even if something dangerous is going on, then their friend shouldn’t be keep being their”

Megumi and Tetsu: “Just go already!!”

Hatsue looks up wide-eyed at them, in shock.

Tetsu: “Do you need a ride?”

Hatsue (with strength): “No, I can do this!”

Hatsue (to herself): “I can do this for her!”

Scenes of high-school baseball practice. From the viewpoint of the field, looking through the fence, Toshikazu (Toshi) sees Hatsue running down the road.

Toshi (to himself): “Wait! That’s her!”

Teammate: “Hey Toshi! Heads-up!”

Right then a flyball hits Toshi on the head, knocking him down, distracting him from Hatsue, who is gone by the time he collects himself.

Hatsue is running past people going down the street. They’re mostly going about their business shopping, strolling, etc...

Hatsue (to herself): “Don’t look at them, just get to the train station. You can do this!”

People are staring at her mostly because she’s running, otherwise they wouldn’t care.

Volleyball practice.

Aiko: “Okay girls, bring it in. Tomorrow is the tournament we’ve been working so hard for. Tomorrow is when we find out where we stand in life. You all have a choice: you can just sit on the sidelines and watch life pass by, or you can take it by the throat, shove it up against the wall and take control of your life. Our team has never amounted to much, but tomorrow is where we change all that. Are you ready?”

Team: “Ready!”

They’re in the locker room changing into street clothes.

Kiko Hasekura: “Hey, Okumura-san, a couple of us are hanging out tonight, relaxing. Do you want to join us?”

Aiko: “Thank you, but I have plans.”

Girl: “Come on Kiko-chi.”

Kiko: “Okay, but you’re welcome to join us if things fall through.”

Aiko: “Just be ready for tomorrow.”

Kiko gives her a knowing, but not unkind, look.

Kiko: “You too, okay?”

Eriko in her bedroom, she’s on the bed now, curled up. It’s hot outside. There’s a knock at the door. Silence from Eriko. The door slowly opens.

Eriko (quietly): “I’m okay, just leave me alone...please.”

Hatsue: “Oh, okay. I was just worried.”

Eriko quickly rolls over to face Hatsue.

Eriko: “Ha-chan! Wait!”

Eriko (to herself): “I thought it was Arishima-san”

Hatsue: “Is it okay to come in then?”

Eriko: “Are you okay? You look...exhausted?”

Hatsue: “I ran from the station. I couldn’t take it anymore. You haven’t been answering my calls and Suzu-san said you and Kiyoura-chan haven’t seen each other either. I was worried.”

Eriko: “I’m sorry I haven’t called...Wait! You came by train? By yourself?!”

Hatsue (blushing): “Well, I couldn’t leave you alone, could I?”

Eriko (smiling): “See, I was just giving you an excuse to get over your fear.”

Hatsue (looking away): “So...why were you ignoring me?”

Eriko: “I...I don’t...I wasn’t...”

Hatsue: “No, I’m sorry, that’s not fair of me. I didn’t know what to do either. Eriko, I’m scared and I don’t know what to do about it!”

Eriko: “Scared?”

Eriko (to herself): “I’m scared too, all the time.”

Hatsue: “I don’t understand anything that’s been happening to you. I don’t know who you really are. I...I’m scared that one day...that one day you’ll wake up and remember everything. And maybe...maybe you’ll be a different person then, and you won’t be my friend, or I won’t want to be your friend. I’m so sorry...I’m so sorry that I’m even thinking these awful things. You must hate me, especially now.”

Hatsue is crying by the end of this.

Eriko: “I...I worry about all those things, too.”

Hatsue looks up to see small tears in the corner of Eriko’s eyes and Eriko looking off to the side, lost in her own thoughts.

Hatsue: “Oh, Eriko-chan!”

Hatsue starts to make a gesture with her hand towards Eriko. Eriko continues looking off into the distance as she speaks.

Eriko: “Maybe something awful happened to me in the past, something I don’t want to remember. Or worse, maybe I’ve done awful things, things that can’t be undone."

Hatsue: “I realized today that it doesn’t matter. Nothing that happened before changes who you are now, even if you do remember your past some day.”

Eriko: “I...I hope that could be true.”

Hatsue takes Eriko's hand.

Hatsue: “Why don’t we find out together?”

Eriko finally turns and looks at Hatsue.

Eriko: “What do you...?”

Hatsue: “We have time before school starts again. Why don’t we spend it trying to find out about your past? Someone has to know something. It's not like you appeared out of nowhere one day!”

Eriko: “But what if we...find...”

Hatsue: “Then we’ll face it together. All of us!”

Eriko: “All of us...?”

Hatsue: “Kiyoura-chan too. Believe me, if I won’t give up on you, she certainly won’t.”

Eriko: “I’m so afraid...”

Eriko lets her head gently fall onto Hatsue's shoulder.

Eriko (to herself): “And Kiyoura...she seems so fragile...what if she can’t accept me?”

Hatsue is rubbing Eriko's back now.

Hatsue: “There, there”

Hatsue (to herself): “She feels surprisingly delicate when she lets down her guard. You better treasure her Kiyoura-chan!”

Yuka in her room at night, in her summer pajamas. She still looks somewhat downcast. She’s looking up at a calendar that has the days of Aiko’s volleyball tournament marked, including the day of the finals. Suzu walks in from behind.

Suzu: “Why don’t you invite Eriko-chan to go with you to watch Aiko play?"

Yuka shakes her head 'no' without turning to look at Suzu.

Suzu: “Maybe you’re right, she’s not really a fan of Aiko.”

Yuka shakes 'no' again.

Suzu: “Are you thinking about what happened at the beach?”

Yuka nods 'yes' slightly and slowly, almost imperceptibly.

Suzu: “I don’t know what happened to her and I can understand why she doesn't want to talk about it, but there’s no need for her to avoid you now.”

Yuka shakes her head 'no' with eyes closed.

Suzu (to herself): “Aren’t you afraid of what you saw? Of what you don’t know about her?”

Suzu: “Yuka, how well do you really...mmm, nevermind...”

Suzu (to herself): “I’m still not sure I should be helping them...”

Suzu: “She’s probably just embarrassed. Why don’t you go over there tomorrow, before the tournament? There’s no way she can say 'no' to you if you’re right in front of her.”

Suzu (to herself): “If there’s one thing I do know about her, it’s that.”

Yuka turns around and looks up brightly at Suzu.

The next morning, Eriko is packing a bookbag in her room. She’s got hiking-type clothes on. She passes the kitchen on her way out.

                Heizo (to himself): "She looks better today!"

Heizo: “mmmm, Eriko-chan, would you like some breakfast?”

Eriko: “No...thank you...not today.”

Heizo: “When will you be back?”

Eriko: "Just a...a little while. I...I don’t think Ha-chan can be out long.”

                Heizo: “Okay, well, have fun then.”

Eriko (to herself): “He’s acting a little strange. Does he know what we’re doing?

Heizo (to himself): “What will you find out there? Answers, I hope...but what kind?”

Eriko opens the front door to leave, and right in front of her, about to knock, is Yuka, her hand still up in the air about to knock. Eriko is startled.

Eriko: “Ki...Kiyoura...chan?”

Yuka is looking up at her with big searching/imploring eyes, she’s about to reach out her hand as if to touch Eriko, to make sure she's real. Eriko steps out of the door, turns, closes the door behind her, walks by Yuka and gets on her bike leaving Yuka on the landing watching her. Eriko stops to think for a moment about learning to ride the bike with Yuka. Then turns to Yuka, acknowledging her for the first time.

Eriko: “I have to go.”

Eriko (to herself): “I’m so sorry...there’s so much I want to say to you, but I have to do this first.”

She rides off leaving Yuka standing there confused.

Eriko is locking her bike to a bike rack at a small train station. She boards a train that is mostly empty. She’s sitting on the train with head turned to the side, not quite looking out the window. She’s thinking of Yuka’s face as she left her back at her house.

Eriko (to herself): “How can I face her now? I don't want to get her involved in my mess. She’s...too important to me to let her get hurt because of me. I have to find some answers first...”

Eriko has a shocking realization.

Eriko (to herself): "First?...but what then?"

Yuka is also on an empty train. She too is staring to the side, like Eriko. She has a flashback to their return from the beach, on the train home:

[Flashback - takes place between last chapter and this one]

Suzu, Hatsue, Yuka and Eriko are on the train heading back from the beach house. Eriko is staring out the window, bandaged, bruised. Hatsue is next to her, Suzu and Yuka across from them. There’s awkward silence between the four.

Suzu: “How should we thank Aiko-chan for letting us all stay there?"


Suzu: "Ah ha ha...It was quite the adventure this time, wasn’t it?”

Eriko doesn’t say anything, Yuka looks at her. Hatsue seeing Eriko cringe thinks to herself:

Hatsue (to herself): “I have to change the subject.”

Hatsue: “How do you think her volleyball camp went?”

Suzu: “That’s right, her tournament is next week isn’t it? Are you going Yuka?”

Yuka isn’t really paying attention to the conversation.

Suzu: “Yuka?”

Suzu (to herself): “This is going to be a long ride home."

Yuka is only intently staring at Eriko. Suzu nudges Yuka as if to prompt her to do something. Yuka turns and looks at Suzu who waves her on. Yuka takes some food out of a bag and offers it to Eriko. Without looking at Yuka, Eriko says:

Eriko: “No...thank you.”

Hatsue, seeing the sad interaction says:

Hatsue: “I’m starving! I’ll take it if Eriko-chan doesn’t want it.”

Yuka brightens up just a bit when Hatsue takes the food.

Hatsue: “Mmm, this hits the spot. Thanks Yuka-chan!”

Yuka manages a wan smile. She looks over at Eriko who is continuing to stare out the window. Suzu puts her hand on Yuka’s thigh to comfort her.
[Flashback ends]

Back to the present with Yuka alone on her train, Eriko alone on hers.

At the entrance to Hatsue’s home, Eriko is picking Hatsue up.

Tetsu: “You sure you don’t want me to come along?”

Hatsue: “No, it’s okay, I’ve got Eriko-chan to protect me!”

Tetsu: “True, no one is going to mess with her!”

Eriko and Tetsu make faces at each other.

Tetsu: “So where are you going?”

Hatsue: “Oh, um, just”

Tetsu (to himself): “Suspicious.”

Hatsue: “Come on Eriko-chan, let’s get going.”

Eriko: “Oh, um, okay.”

Hatsue: “Bye, we’ll be back later.”

Tetsu: “Be safe.”

They are walking down the street by Hatsue’s house.

Eriko: “Thank you...for coming with me.”

Hatsue: “We’re in this together, right?!”

Eriko: “Are you sure you’re okay...I mean, being out in public?”

Hatsue: “You’ve helped me so much, I feel like I can do this, especially with you here.”

Eriko (to herself): “She’s so fired up! But can I really protect her? Or anyone?”

Hatsue: “So where should we start? I was thinking about the hospital where Arishima-san took you.”

Right then, from out of nowhere, Toshikazu (Toshi) Ishihara jumps out.

Toshi: “Hey!”

Hatsue screams and jumps behind Eriko who is immediately in a fighting stance and has grabbed Toshi by the collar about to pummel him.

Toshi: “Wait! Wait! I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you!”

                Eriko: “Who are you?”

Toshi: “You don’t remember?”

Eriko: “Remember? Spit it out!”

The whole time he's talking, he's talking to and looking at Hatsue.

Toshi: “I...I um...from before, we bumped into each other, and then, the night of the festival, I was hoping to see you...and, then were running.”

Eriko: “Me?”

Toshi: “Um, no, I mean...I remember you, but I meant...her”

He's pointing behind Eriko at Hatsue.

Eriko: “Do you know him?”

Hatsue thinks back to the chapter when they bumped into each other on the walk and he says how cute Hatsue is.

Hatsue: “Gasp! You were the one...when we were out for a walk. We bumped into each other, right?”

Toshi: “That’s right! I’m sorry, for saying you were cu...I mean...I’m not sorry, because you are cu...I mean...”

Hatsue lets out a little laugh.

Toshi (to himself): “She’s even cuter when she smiles!”

Toshi: “Um, can you let me go now? I didn’t mean to scare her, I promise.”

Eriko: “Then why did you?”

Toshi turns back to Hatsue.

Toshi: “The other day, when you ran by the school, I was practicing with the team, and I saw you, and I figured, since I keep seeing you around here, that maybe you live nearby, so I figured I’d wait around to see if you did and...”

Eriko: “So you’re stalking her?!”

Toshi: “No, it’s not like that, I swear!”

Hatsue, slowly coming from behind Eriko.

Hatsue: “It’s okay. You can let him go.”

Eriko looks at Hatsue, then at Toshi, and grudgingly lets him down.

Hatsue: “Are you okay?”

Toshi: “I’m fine, don’t worry about me, I’m tough!”

He’s beaming as he says this. Hatsue laughs a little again.

Eriko (to herself): “I’ve never seen her like this. Is this what she was like, before she was hurt so badly?”

Eriko: “So, who are you?”

Toshi: “I’m Toshikazu Ishihara, but everyone just calls me Toshi.”

Hatsue (shyly): “Tosh...Ishihara...kun. I’m Hatsue...Fujimaki. Pleased to meet you.”

Eriko is looking sternly at him. There’s an awkward pause after Hatsue’s introduction. Both Toshi and Hatsue look over at Eriko, who realizes.

Eriko: “Oh, I’m Eriko Arishima.”

Hatsue: “Is that all you have to say?”

Eriko: “Fine...sorry for grabbing you.”

Toshi: “It’s okay, it’s okay! I’m just happy that Fujimaki-san has someone who care’s so much about her.

Hatsue blushes at this.

Hatsue: “Oh! Eriko, we should get going!”

Toshi (somewhat dejected): “’re going somewhere.”

Eriko: “Yes.”

Hatsue: “I’m sorry.”

Toshi: “Wait, do you really live around here? Will I see you again...I mean, can I see you again?”

Hatsue: “Umm, I...I don’t know...”

Eriko: “Come on, let’s go Ha-chan.”

Toshi: “Oh, well, if you want, my school’s the one over there. I’m on the baseball team, you can always come watch us practice, I mean, if you want.”

Hatsue: “I...I’ll think about it.”

Toshi: “Bye.”

Hatsue gives him a meek and embarrassed little wave as she departs.

Hatsue: “Bye bye.”

Toshi is standing watching them as they walk away, he’s waving and beaming. Hatsue does turn around slightly to see him, she blushes and he beams and even bigger smile.

(to be continued...)

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