In the Morning, I'll Say Hello - Chapter 42

"In the Morning, I'll Say Hello" is a yuri comic I wrote. I can't draw, so I'm posting the scripts here so that at least someone other than me might enjoy them!

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

Chapter 42
"Game On"

A big gym with multiple volleyball courts set up. Players are warming up, practicing, stretching. The stands are beginning to fill. Yuka is in the stands. She’s watching as Aiko and Kiko warm up together. They’re really into the preparation but also chatting, more like friends than before. Yuka looks puzzled at this new interaction between Aiko and someone she doesn’t know. Aiko looks up to the stands and sees Yuka. She waves and runs over to the side of the stands (it’s a big arena with stands that are more than mere bleachers).

Aiko: “Yuka!”

Yuka comes down the aisle to meet her at the front barrier of the stands. Aiko is flush from practice, sweating, but radiant. Yuka is mesmerized.

Aiko: “I’m so glad you’re here. I missed you this past week.”

Yuka places her hands on Aiko’s, closes them in hers, and places them against her cheek, closing her eyes a bit while leaning her head into the clasped hands.

                Aiko (to herself): "What's wrong?"

Aiko: “ didn't drag Fujimaki-san and Arishima-san here?”

Yuka just shakes her head 'no.'

Aiko: “Did something happen?”

Yuka shakes her head 'no' again and tries to put on a brave face.

Aiko (to herself): “Now I know you’re hiding something. But at least I get you to myself.”

Aiko: “Our first match is in the second set of matches today, I’m sorry that you’ll have to wait.”

Yuka shakes her head 'no' vigorously signaling that she doesn't mind and Aiko shouldn't worry about it. Yuka gives a big smile and a peace sign. Watching all this from a bit of a distance, from where they were practicing, is Kiko.

Kiko (to herself): “Okumura, you're much more interesting than I used to think. I wonder if your little freak club knows about your secret?"

Noticing Kiko looking at them, Yuka points inquisitively.

Aiko: “Oh, that’s Kiko Hasekura. She’s in class 2-X, so you might not have met her before.”

Yuka turns her head to the side and blinks at Aiko as in “since when did you make another friend?”

Aiko: “She...well, on the trip. She’s almost as good a player as I am!”

Yuka makes a funny face, like “how immodest to actually say it.” And they both start laughing. Kiko turns around and walks towards another group of girls.

At the hospital. Eriko and Hatsue are walking into the main entrance.

Eriko: “...He was pretty cute.”

Hatsue: “It’s not like that. He’s a...”

Eriko: “Oh, so now you’re afraid of guys again, that’s not what it looked like back there.”

Hatsue: “Quiet you!”

They’re just playing around, shoving each other, laughing as they go up to the reception desk

Nurse: “Yes, may I help you?”

The nurse isn’t looking up from her work yet, but when she does, she sort of scoots back and looks shocked.

Nurse: “Wait, you’re back! What do you want? You shouldn’t be here?”

Hatsue: “They seem to know you here.”

Eriko: “Um, I might have...done some a few people.”

Hatsue: “What type of things?”

The nurse is secretly calling security on the phone (whispering into it).
Nurse: “She’s here, that young woman the old man brought in...yes, that one...I don’t know...just get up here.”

Right then some guards start turning the corner.

Guard: “Stay where you are!”

Eriko grabs Hatsue’s hand and takes off running, they start running randomly through the halls, eventually eluding the guards. When they think they’ve gone far enough, they stop, with Eriko’s hands on her knees and Hatsue falling in a lump to the ground panting for air.

Hatsue: "Wh...wh...(panting)”

Eriko: “you might...not...believe this...(panting)...but I...might have...beat up the guards.”

Hatsue: “No...I...(panting)...I...believe you!”

They laugh at each other.

Hatsue: “You're not at all like I thought you were when we first met."

Eriko: “I...I wasn’t really anything back then. I felt like an animal. It’s sort of I’ve started building myself up, from scratch, since then.”

Hatsue: “I guess it’s not like you had any other choice.”

Eriko: “What do we do now?”

Hatsue: “Well, since we’re in, let’s see if we can find that doctor friend of yours! Maybe he knows something.”

They go from room to room, looking in, finally they find the doctor (from chapters 21-22 when Eriko first was found by Heizo in the alley).

Hatsue: “Excuse me...”

The doctor turns from his patient.

Doctor: “Excuse me for a moment. Yes, can I help.....YOU! away from me. GUARDS!”

Before she knows it, Eriko has grabbed him, clamped her hand over his mouth to silence him. Hatsue plays the tough guy.

Hatsue: “You know what she’s capable of. All we want to do is ask some questions. Will you come with us?”

He looks at Eriko who shoots him a devilish look (but one she’s fully in control of this time). He nods his head “yes” with her hand still clamped over his mouth. The patient is left stunned watching as the doctor is taken away. Hatsue turns and puts a finger to her mouth.

Hatsue (to the patient): “Shhhhh.”

Eriko, Hatsue and the doctor are sitting in an empty room now. The doctor is on a wheelie stool, Hatsue is sitting up on the exam table, Eriko is leaning against the wall like a bad-ass.

Doctor: “...that’s really all I know, I swear.”

Hatsue: “So this old guy just drops an injured high-school girl off, says he found her and doesn’t know who she is, and when no one else comes to see her, you call him and he picks her up? And you were okay with that?”

Doctor: “She didn’t have anything with her, no clothes, no jewelry, no ID, nothing. We checked with the police and no one matching her description was reported missing or anything. It’s like she didn’t exist before that night.

Hatsue: “And the police didn’t take fingerprints?”

Eriko: “Um, actually...they tried, but...”

Hatsue looks exasperatedly and comedic-ly at Eriko, knowing full well what Eriko must have done to resist the police.

Hatsue: “Sigh...You really are impossible. Didn’t you realize they were all trying to help you?”

Eriko: “Back didn’t seem...possible.”

The doctor is slowly slinking out of the room.

Hatsue: “Wait! You’re not going anywhere until we do. Stay in this room and count to 100. Otherwise...”

Hatsue makes a slash across the throat sign (like he’ll be killed).

Hatsue: “Got it?”

He just nods “yes” fearfully and sits back on his chair.

Hatsue: “Good. Let’s go.”

Eriko: “And you think I’ve changed? Where did that come from?”

Hatsue: “It’s easy to do when I’ve got a bodyguard like you.”

Eriko blushes. We hear the doctor counting in the background as they walk down the hall and out of the hospital, then they are running and giggling together.

Volleyball scenes. Aiko’s team is playing. Aiko is playing amazing, dominating the competition. A few shots of Kiko too, she's great as well. They high-five each other after plays. Shoot each other looks to make plays. They rally to win. Yuka is cheering them on. Aiko looks over at Yuka and winks.

After the match, Yuka is waiting around by the locker room. Aiko comes out with some teammates.

Teammate: “...when you did that, it was amazing!”

Teammate 2: “I thought for sure we were done.”

Teammate 3: “With Okumura-senpai and Hasekura-senpai there’s no way we can loose.”

Aiko: “Yuka! How was I?”

Yuka is beaming and nodding her head and runs up to hug Aiko who gives her a warm hug back.

Teammate: “Okumura-senpai?”

Aiko: “Oh, right. Yuka, we were going to the cafeteria for lunch, want to join us?”

Yuka looks at the other girls who are talking amongst themselves and nods “yes” tentatively.

Teammate 2 (to herself): “We have to eat with that freak?”

In the cafeteria, all the girls are sitting around the table eating in their warm-up outfits (warm-up pants, jackets, etc...). Yuka is sitting at the end with Aiko next to her and Kiko across from Aiko. Aiko and Kiko are talking. Yuka is just eating, basically being ignored.

Kiko: “...did you see XX from M High School?”

Aiko: “She’s ranked pretty highly. Her stuff blocks are supposed to be legendary.”

Teammate (next to Kiko): “Don’t worry about it, we won’t even give her the chance to block it.”

Aiko: “And how do you propose to do that, you nearly blew that point back there?”

Kiko: “Hey now Okumura-san, I thought you were finally being nice to your kohai?”

[Ed. note: kohai in the senpai-kohai schema denotes a person who is under the tutelage of a more experienced (and senior) person, known as the senpai, often used in work or school settings based on age/grade, entry date into a job, and ability/experience.]

Aiko: “Do we want to win the whole thing this year or not?”

Teammate 2: “We’ve got this!”

Yuka keeps eating alone, seemingly ignored. She pushes the food around on her plate listlessly. Her mind begins to drift as she’s pushing the food, flashing back to the night they found Eriko in the cave, brought her home, and ate a solemn dinner alone, just Yuka and Suzu.
[FLASHBACK - occurred between chapters]
Suzu and Yuka are sitting alone in the beach guest house, eating a wordless dinner. Yuka is poking at her food and pushing it around her plate.

Suzu: “I’m just glad you found her. It seems like she’ll be okay.”

Yuka doesn’t look at her but nods once in affirmation.

Suzu: “This reminds me of those dinners...after dad died...when it was just the two of us...and things were awkward and sad...remember?

Yuka still doesn’t look up but does stop pushing the food around.

Suzu: “Mom would be asleep on the couch, or locked in her room, or...well, I’d bring home some bento from the convenience store, or some instant ramen and we’d eat together. I guess I’ve become a better cook now, after all these years.

Yuka looks up at her.

Suzu: “You haven't looked like this in a long time. I’m worried. I like Eriko-chan. I really do. But...
                [Flashback ends]

Back to the present.

Voice: “...ka...Yuka...we’ve got to get ready for our next match.”

It’s Aiko. Her voice pulls Yuka out of her flashback and into reality. Yuka notices that everyone else is clearing their plates and leaving. Aiko is standing up next to her.

Aiko: “You didn’t eat at all. Weren’t you hungry?”

Yuk shakes her head 'no' and puts on a somewhat fake little smile to try and reassure Aiko.

Aiko: “I’m sorry, we didn’t even get a chance to talk. I still haven’t heard much about the trip. But I’ve got to go. Will you stay and watch the next match?”

Yuka nods 'yes' vigorously.

Aiko: “Thanks Yuka! I’ll see you after.”

Aiko waves as she leaves, Yuka puts up a hand weakly to wave, but when Aiko turns away, she blankly stares after Aiko leaving with all the teammates, looking at them all interacting closely with each other as she sits there feeling alone.

Hatsue and Eriko are sitting in a café.

Hatsue: “Well, that was a bust. He didn’t know anything.”

Eriko: “What did you expect?”

Hatsue: “I guess I just thought they would have found something with you or the police would have looked into it or something.”

Eriko: “Arishima-san said I didn’t have anything when he found me.”

Hatsue: “Nothing? Like, you were naked?”

Eriko blushes.

Eriko: “I...I think so.”

Hatsue: “Poor guy, you must have given him a heart attack. He probably hasn’t seen anything like that in decades!”

Eriko chokes on her food.

Hatsue: “HAHAHA, I’m just kidding. I know how precious he is to you. But seriously, why hasn’t anyone come to the hospital or police to look for you?”

Eriko: “Maybe....maybe they don’t want to find me.”

Hatsue: “That can’t be true!"

Awkward silence.

Hatsue: "Are you an orphan? Maybe you ran away from an orphanage?"

Eriko: “I don’t know. But that doesn't feel right either.”

Hatsue: “Then you must have parents out there somewhere. They must be crazy with grief, you’ve been gone for months.”

Eriko (to herself): “If I do, I bet they’re glad I’m gone.”

Eriko and Hatsue are silent after this. A police officer walks by the window sparking a thought in Hatsue.

Hatsue: “I know, why don’t we go to the police stations tomorrow?”

Eriko: “Why?”

Hatsue: “Don’t they have posters of lost kids? We could look to see if you match any of them.”

Eriko: “I...I don’t know...”

Hatsue: “Come on, what have you got to lose?”

Eriko (to herself): “I could lose all of this, all of you.”

Eriko: “What...what happens...if we do find something?”

Hatsue: “Are you really going to back out now?”

Eriko (to herself): “I'm afraid to find out. What if the reason I can't remember anything is because I didn’t want anyone to find me?”

Eriko: “But what if...”

Hatsue: “But nothing. You’re stuck. You can’t move forward like this. Either you have to let it all go and just accept who you are today, right now, or you have to find out who you really are.”

Eriko: “It might change...everything.”

Hatsue: “You’re still 'you' and who you are and what you feel today won’t be gone just because you find out about your past.”

Eriko: “What I feel?”

Hatsue: “Isn’t this about being able to face her? Or am I wrong about that?”

Eriko: “H...her?”

Hatsue: “If I’m wrong, we can just go home now.”

Eriko (to herself): “She right. I can’t face Yuka like this. I can’t drag her into my life any more than I already have until I know what sort of life it is.”

Eriko: “Okay. Tomorrow?”

Hatsue: “Tomorrow!”

More volleyball scenes. Aiko is just killing it. Kiko doing well too. Various vignettes: Aiko shouts some orders, takes a hard spill, is helped up by Kiko, etc... They exchange strongly supportive looks at each other throughout to keep the other pumped up. At one point, Kiko does a great setup for an Aiko spike. Aiko yells:
Aiko: “Nice!”

The other girls on the team are really getting pumped.

Girl: “When they play like that, we’re unstoppable.”

Girl 2: “Come on ladies, we can’t let them hog all the glory!”

Aiko looks on them approvingly. They huddle. More shots of the match. Finally they come out victorious in a close contest. The team is celebrating. Yuka has been watching all this from the stands. We see her being intermittently excited by the action but also clearly concentrating on the emerging relationship between Aiko and Kiko.

Outside the sports venue, it’s dusk. Yuka is waiting on the edge of a raised tree planter under the shade of the tree. Aiko and her teammates walk out, they’re congratulating each other. Yuka looks up at Aiko. Aiko opens her arms up. Yuka runs into them.

Aiko: “How’d we do?”

Yuka nods vigorously 'yes' in approval.

Aiko: “We made it to the semi-finals tomorrow, but that’s where the real challenge will be. The other three teams all come from schools that have won this in the past.”

Yuka looks up lovingly, and somewhat longingly, at Aiko.

Aiko: “What’s wrong?”

Yuka shakes her head 'no' and gestures to her stomach which grumbles. They both laugh.

Aiko: “Well, you didn’t eat much lunch. Is Suzu cooking tonight?”

Yuka gestures for Aiko to come over and join them for dinner.

Aiko: “I’m so sorry, I can’t come over tonight, I have somewhere I needed to be.

Yuka looks over at the other girls from the team who are standing around talking. One glances at Aiko and makes an expectant look. Yuka looks at Aiko and nods acceptingly (she knows that Aiko needs to go out with her teammates after a day like this.)

Aiko: “Will you cheer us on again tomorrow?”

Yuka nods 'yes.'

Yuka waves goodbye as she leaves for the train station. Aiko waves back with the other girls standing in the background. Kiko comes up to Aiko and puts a hand on her shoulder.

Kiko: “You're coming out with us tonight?”

Aiko: “I’m sorry, I can’t.”

Kiko: “Didn’t you just turn Kiyoura-san down?”

Aiko: “What about it?”

Kiko: “Whatever, if you change your mind we’ll be at XXXX.”

Kiko (to herself): “You better not mess this up Okumura. We need you in top shape tomorrow.”

Yuka on the train ride home. It’s dusk, the sunset is vivid through the mostly empty train windows. Yuka is sitting with her body facing into the train’s center aisle but her head it turned staring forward out the window. She’s in a daze. As she's looking out the window, she sees someone riding a bike along the path by the canal. Her eyes perk up when she notices the wild blond hair streaming behind the figure on the bike. The woman on the bike is pedaling fast, and not even sitting in the seat, all energy and youth. Yuka stares, as the person gets closer, she realizes that it’s Eriko (returning from Hatsue’s house). She turns in the seat and presses her hands to the window as she watches Eriko on the bike backlit by the sunset, hair shimmering and streaming behind her. Yuka is mesmerized.

A fancy black car pulls up in a big formal drive. We see sneakers step out of it. It’s Aiko getting out of her car at the psychiatric institution where her mother is placed.

Next we see the mother, comatose in the bed, hooked up to IVs, looking thin and gaunt. Beeps from the monitors. The curtains on the window gently blowing in the twilight. Aiko is sitting in a chair next to her mom, staring out the window. She’s on the phone.

Phone: “ can’t be reached. BEEP”

Aiko: “Hi Dad. It’s Aiko. We won both our matches today. We’re in the semi-finals...”

(to be continued...)

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