In the Morning, I'll Say Hello - Chapter 51

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

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

Chapter 51

"Progress at What Cost?"



At lunch. Outside at school, just Hatsue and Eriko, it’s colder (a crisp fall day), but still sunny.


Hatsue: “Pleeeeassssse Eriko-chan, I can’t keep putting it off any longer.”


Eriko: “But a”


Hatsue: “It’s perfect, it’ll be me and Ishihara-kun and you and Yuka-chan!”


Eriko: “Kiyoura...san...”


Hatsue: “I thought you were finally making some progress.”


Eriko: “Progress...I don’t even know...”


Hatsue: “Are you still in denial?”


Eriko: “About what?!”


Hatsue: “About your feelings, stupid.”


Eriko: “ maybe they’re just my feelings...”


Hatsue: “You really don’t have any confidence, do you?”


Eriko: “It’s not like...liking a girl is...normal.”


Hatsue: “Is anything about you normal?”


Eriko: “It doesn’t...bother you?”


Hatsue: “What, that you’re in LOOOOOOOVE with a girl?”


Eriko: “What, no, I mean, well...yeah, that.”


Hatsue (to herself): “At least she's admitting she's in love, I guess that's progress."


Hatsue: “No, it doesn’t, but you’re right, there will be some people who aren’t okay with it.”


Eriko: “Like Okumura-san.”


Hatsue: “I'm not sure that's what's going on.”


Eriko (to herself): “Then I really don’t get her at all.”


Hatsue: “Maybe this space from Okumura-san is what you and Yuka-chan need? Take things up a notch, make it real!”


Eriko blushes, thinking about holding Yuka's hands in the last chapter.


Eriko: “Real?”


Hatsue (to herself): “You’re so transparent, it’s not the date that has you nervous, is it?”


Hatsue: “I know how you feel about her, and I think she feels that way about you. So why are you still so unsure?”


Eriko: “How I feel...?”


Hatsue: “Have you told her yet?”


Eriko just absent-mindedly repeating it to herself...


Eriko: “How I feel...”


Right then, Yuka comes over and joins them with her lunch.


Hatsue: "Okumura-san didn't want to join?"


Yuka shakes her head 'no' and starts to open her lunch.


Hatsue: “So Eriko-chan, that thing we were talking about?”


Yuka perks up and looks at one, then the other, somewhat expectantly.


Eriko: “ you came to the hospital, that weekend...”


Yuka looks up at her some more but with a worried face this time, clutching her chest.


Eriko: “No, it’s not that...he’s fine, he’s back home now.”


Yuka lets out a sigh, sits back onto the back of her legs, and looks relieved. But then shivers.


Eriko: “You’’re cold...”


She nods 'yes' and laughs (silently) a bit in embarrassment.


Eriko (to herself): “She can make that face too? So cute! Arghhhh”


Eriko: “Then...we should go inside, for lunch, I guess.”


Hatsue (to herself): “Geez, Eriko, don't let the moment go!"




Classroom, end of day, teacher handing out papers.


Teacher: “Remember, you have mid-terms on Thursday, Some of you will need to work much harder.”


Eriko gets her test back, it's a terrible mark. Hatsue turns around and looks at it.


Hatsue: "Really, Eriko-chan, if you don’t do well on the midterms this week you’ll end up having to do supplementary lessons during winter break."


Eriko: "Ughhhh."


Hatsue: How'd you do Yuka-chan?"


Yuka smiles and shrugs.


Hatsue: "So modest. How about you Okumura-san?"


Aiko stuffs her paper in her bag, gets up and turns to leave without saying anything. Hatsue and Eriko notice Yuka sitting there, not even watching Aiko leave.


Eriko (to herself): "What was that? And now, she's not even waiting to go home with Kiyoura-san?"


After Aiko has left, Yuka finally packs up and then gets up and leaves, clearly having left time to not run into Aiko on the way out. Eriko is watching her leave.


Hatsue: “Come on, time for us to go too.”


Eriko (to herself): "Is this really my fault? For...loving...her?"




Eriko and Hatsue are walking out of the school talking. Yuka is trailing slightly behind, looking sullen.


Hatsue: “ how are we going to help Eriko-chan with her grades? The midterms are in three days!”


Yuka realizes she’s being spoken to, looks up. Then she points to herself questioningly.


Hatsue: “Will you?! You don’t mind helping Eriko-chan? That sounds perfect, doesn’t it Eri...”


Hatsue pauses mid-sentence as she sees Eriko make a mean face at something. They have just crossed out the front gate and they see Ishihara standing there (whom we now realize is what Eriko was glaring at). Other girls from the school are pointing and saying things to each other:


Random girl: “Do you think he’s waiting for someone?”


Random girl: “How bold!”


Random girl: “Who do you think he’s waiting for?”


Ishihara, on seeing them (with Hatsue frozen in shocked embarrassment) comes rushing over to them, waving and making somewhat of a scene.


Ishihara: “Fujimaki-chan! Fujimaki-chan!”


The others around them are all staring, laughing to themselves, gossiping.


Random girl: “That fake? Can you believe it?”


Random girl: “Well, she used to be the school idol after all.”


Random girl: “I know, but no one pays any attention to her now. What’s he thinking, there are a lot of cuter girls here.”


Ishihara makes it over.


Eriko: “Are you an idiot?”


Yuka starts laughing (silently).


Ishihara: “Oh, it’s good to see you both again. Kiyoura-san was it? And, Arishima-san, how are you?”


Eriko: “mmmm.”


Hatsue: “Wh...what are you doing here?”


Ishihara: “I thought, maybe, if we saw each other in person, that is, I mean, maybe it would be harder for you to say ‘no.’”


Eriko: "Say no to what?"


Ishihara: "I asked her on a date but she hasn't said 'yes' yet."


Eriko: “So you're going to bully her into going?"


Ishihara: “No, that’s not it. I just thought...”


Eriko: “So ‘no’ doesn’t mean ‘no’ to you does it?”


Hatsue puts a hand on Eriko.


Hatsue: “Down boy!"


Eriko turns to Hatsue, Yuka is still silently laughing at this exchange.


Hatsue: "It’s okay, really.”


Hatsue turning to Ishihara:


Hatsue: “I’m so sorry, I promise I’ll keep thinking about it, but after last time, at the festival...”


Ishihara: “Okay, I understand. I promised I’d take it at your pace after all. I’ll wait as long as you need. I’m just glad I got to see you. I’ll be good for a while now!”


He turns and runs off to leave. Just before disappearing, he turns back, waves, smiles and shouts:


Ishihara: “Bye bye Fujimaki-chan!”


Hatsue blushes and does a little wave back, Yuka is nearly doubled over laughing (silently) while Eriko is all but growling at him, staring him down. Yuka then takes both their hands.


Eriko (to herself): "She's laughing, it feels like it's been weeks."


Hatsue: “What do you think? The library again?”




They’re studying in the library, Yuka is helping Eriko. They’re studying diligently, Hatsue is studying them, watching the subtle interactions – the light accidental touches of the hand, the snuck looks when one thinks the other isn’t looking, the blushes.


Time passes and it’s getting late, they say goodbye outside the library and head their various ways.


Hatsue (to herself): "Maybe they are making some progress. So what's Eriko-chan still afraid of?"




That night at the Arishima household. The phone rings. Eriko is doing dishes in the kitchen. Heizo comes in.


Heizo: "Eriko-chan, it's Fujimaki-chan for you. I'll finish those."


Eriko: "Oh, um, you don’t...I’ll do them later."


Heizo: “Please, after all you’ve done for me these last weeks, I’m starting to feel useless.”


Eriko: “If you’re sure.”


Heizo: “Go, go.”


As Eriko takes the phone and walks away, Heizo turns to start dishes, he coughs a few times.


                Heizo: "Cough...cough..."


Eriko looks back at him and thinks:


Eriko (to herself): “He seems a lot older ever since the hospital. Is he telling me everything? Then again, I guess I’m not telling him everything either.”




Eriko's bedroom. She's lying on her bed talking with Hatsue.


Hatsue: "So, have you thought about it anymore?"


Eriko: “You really like him?”


Hatsue: “I think I do.”


Eriko: “But you’re still scared to be around him?”


Hatsue: “Yeah, I’m sorry. I know how stupid is sounds.”


Eriko: “It's not stupid! Of course you’d still be scared. Especially after all you’ve been through, and then, with how pushy he is...”


Hatsue: “I like this protective side of you!”


Eriko: “Well, you’’re my friend.”


Hatsue: “You’re blushing right now, aren’t you?”


Eriko: “Shut up!”


Hatsue (laughing): “Hahahaha. Speaking of friends, you’re going to invite Yuka-chan, right?”


Eriko: "I...I'm not sure...with the way things have been lately, I don’ might...make things worse."


Hatsue: “Don’t tell me you’re actually feeling bad for Okumura-san?”


Eriko: “She can burn in hell for all I care! But...”


Hatsue: “But she matters to Yuka-chan.”


Eriko: “mmm.”


Hatsue: "The question is, what do you want?”


Eriko (to herself): “What do I want? If I invite her, it’ll be obvious it’s a double date, won’t it?”


Eriko: "What if I went alone just to keep you safe?"


Hatsue: "Wouldn't that be awkward for you? Like being a third wheel?"


Eriko: "Maybe your brother and his girlfriend?"


Hatsue: "Yuck, I don't want to go on a date with my brother!"


Eriko: "Hahaha, true."


Hatsue: "Come on. Or has something changed?”


Eriko: "Can I...can I ask you something?"


Hatsue: "Sure, anything?"


Eriko: "How do I know?"


Hatsue: "How do you know what?”


Eriko: "It's just that...I don't know...this is new...everything is new."


Eriko (to herself): “Everything in my life is new, as if I was only born a few months ago, like everything I’m feeling is for the first time.”


Hatsue: "Look, I wouldn't be supporting you if I didn't think your feelings were real and true. Is this still about you both being girls?"


Eriko: "But maybe...what I'm feeling...maybe it's just wanting to protect her...or something. Like how I want to protect you."


Hatsue: "Is that really all you feel about her?"


Eriko: "No."


Hatsue: "So, will you think about it?"


Eriko: "You're impossible."


Hatsue: "Is that a 'yes'?"


Eriko: "Ughhhhh, fine."


Hatsue: "Yay!!!! All that's left is for you to ask her!"


Eriko: "A...ask her?!”


Hatsue: "hahahahaha, it won’t just happen on its own, you know!"


Eriko: "Shut up."


They both are laughing together.




Science classroom (Tuesday).


Teacher: “Find your lab partners for the day.”


Eriko is watching as Yuka is looking at Aiko. Then Yuka looks up and sees Eriko watching her. Eriko just tips her head in Aiko's direction a couple times and silently mouths: "go." (albeit reluctantly) Yuka gives Eriko a small smile back in thanks for her understanding. Hatsue comes up to Eriko.


Hatsue: "That was really nice, what you just did."


Eriko: "Whatever."


Yuka is making her way over to Aiko, when Aiko says:


Aiko: “Sensei, XXXX doesn’t have a partner today, may I assist her?”


Sensei: “Yes, that would be fine, thank you.”


Aiko walks by Yuka without saying a word. Eriko and Hatsue see this. Eriko is boiling with rage at this slight.


Eriko (to herself): “That bitch, how can she treat her like that, how can she just turn her back on her friend that way? Is that how little she really means to you?!”


Hatsue sensing this, puts a hand on Eriko’s arm/shoulder to calm her down and says:


Hatsue: “Yuka-chan, come over here, we need help with this, it’s too tough for us.”


Aiko is watching this out of the corner of her eye while standing next to her random partner and pouring something into a beaker.




Aiko walks into the library and goes up to the desk. She submits a piece of paper to the clerk.


Aiko: “Excuse me, do you have this book by any chance?”


Clerk: “Let me look this up and I’ll bring it to you once I’ve located it.”


Aiko: “Thank you.”


Aiko walks through some stacks to where there are tables, however, just as she’s about to emerge from behind the stack, she hears the voices of Hatsue and Eriko and notices that Yuka is there as well We see Yuka's legs dangling happily while she sits in the chair next to Eriko.


Eriko: “...I just don’t...get it!”


Hatsue: “Hahahaha!”


Yuka moves closer to Eriko and starts to point at something and write.


Eriko (to herself): “Her face is so close...her smells the flowers that day in the field...”


Yuka starts tapping the pencil impatiently on the paper while making a fake stern face at Eriko. Eriko breaks out of her reverie and realizes that she wasn’t paying attention to the tutoring. Hatsue can barely stifle a laugh.


Eriko: “”


Aiko grits her teeth at the sight of their intimacy, and turns away back the way she came.




Tuesday night. Yuka in her room, studying at her desk, she looks up at the bulletin board above it, with pictures of Aiko and herself, and Suzu and Aiko and herself (the same ones that are in Aiko’s room). There’s also a picture of her with Eriko in which Eriko is both shy and grumpy. Yuka runs a finger over that picture. Then she takes a photo of Aiko off the board. She’s holding it in her hands when tears start falling onto her open book. From through the closed door:


Suzu: “Yukaaaaa! Dinner’s ready.”


Yuka shakes her head and wipes her eyes and pins the photo back up on the board and leaves her room to join Suzu for dinner.




Tuesday night. Aiko's room, at night, on the phone.


Aiko: "...yes, Saturday would be fine. I'll see you then."


She hangs up the phone.


Aiko (to herself): "You wanted this father. Fine then, I'll go on your little set-ups. I'll be the daughter you always wanted, even if it's only to get what I really want!"


She takes a swig straight from a liquor bottle. Sitting, as always on the window seat in her bedroom, looking out.


Aiko (to herself): “After all, I’ve got to fill up my time with's not just time...will you be able to fill this hole in my chest?”


She takes another long drink. It’s empty.


Aiko (to herself): “Time to go out.”




Wednesday. School, lunch-time, this time they're eating in the room. Yuka, Hatsue and Eriko are all getting their lunches out. At the door, Kiko appears.


Kiko: “Aiko-chan, are you coming?”


Aiko gets up, gathers her things, turns to Yuka and Hatsue and says:


Aiko: “If you’ll excuse me.”


Aiko leaves with Kiko. Yuka is watching her leave.


Hatsue (to herself): “She’s having lunch with that girl again. This is almost every day now. Is this all about Yuka missing the match?"


Eriko unwraps her lunch. It’s pretty basic. She looks over at Yuka’s bento which is amazing, as always. Yuka turns back from watching Aiko leave and notices Eriko staring. Yuka reaches over and takes something plain out of Eriko’s lunch and eats it. Eriko’s eyes widen. Yuka holds up her lunch to Eriko.


Eriko: “You mean, I can try something?”


Yuka nods 'yes,' Eriko tentatively takes something out and eats it.


Eriko (to herself): “It’s so good. If we were...together...would I get to eat her cooking every day?"


Eriko: “Um, thank you.”


Yuka gives a small smile, it’s clear she’s still upset about Aiko but she’s trying. Eriko blushes a bit and turns back to her lunch.


Hatsue (to herself): “Oh my god, they’re so cute it’s almost painful to watch. I just wish they’d get it over with already! What are you so afraid of Eriko-chan? Why won't you let her in?"


Eriko and Yuka are eating.


Hatsue: “We didn't come up with any clues this summer, but we need to keep trying to figure out your past, right?"


Eriko: “I...I guess.”


Hatsue: “Well, what about a sleep over after we get back on Saturday, and we can go out Sunday looking for clues?”


Eriko: “Saturday? Sleep over?”


Yuka is also looking up quizzically at the two of them at this, like what are they talking about.


Hatsue: “Yeah, haven’t you asked Yu...”


Suddenly a message comes over the loudspeaker:


Loudspeaker: "Will Aiko Okumura-san please report to the staff office. Will Aiko Okumura-san please report to the staff office."


The girls (Hatsue, Yuka and Eriko) look up at each other.


Hatsue: "Sigh, Come on, let's go."




They're waiting outside the staff office when Aiko emerges. Aiko says to the staff as she exits the office:


Aiko: "Please excuse me."


She slides the door shut after saying that to the staff. She turns and sees the three of them waiting for her.


Aiko: "Did you need something?"


Hatsue: "Is everything okay?"


Aiko: "It is, but even if it wasn't, it wouldn't be any of your business. Good day."


Yuka begins to reach out to take Aiko's hand to stop her, but Aiko turns and walks away leaving Yuka in the lurch.


Hatsue: "What was that about?"


Hatsue looks at Yuka who is watching Aiko walk down the hall. Yuka has a small tear forming in her eye. Hatsue turns to look at Eriko. Eriko turns her head away from Hatsue and starts walking the other way.


Eriko: "Lunch is almost over."


Hatsue rushes up to Eriko and stops her, grabbing her arm. Eriko turns around quickly and a bit angrily.


Hatsue (to herself): “Yikes! I forgot who I was dealing with for a second!”


Hatsue (whispering to Eriko): "Come on, now's the perfect time."


Eriko: "Now?!"


Hatsue: "She needs a distraction, she needs you."


Eriko: " But...I''s my..."


Yuka has turned and is inquisitively looking at Hatsue and Eriko having this whispered conversation. Hatsue shoves Eriko forward.


Eriko: "Hey!"


Yuka is looking at Eriko, Eriko blushes.


Eriko: "Um, this Saturday...if you're not busy...I mean...Ha-chan needs my support...she's going on a date with Ishihara-san...and..."


Hatsue (to herself): "This is so pathetic! Where’s the confident, tear-them-a-new-one Eriko?"


Eriko: "Well, I...I was wondering...if you're free...maybe we could go too...I mean, to help Ha-chan?"


Yuka brightens at this, gives her a big smile, takes Eriko's hand and shakes her head 'yes' vigorously. Eriko blushes.


Hatsue (to herself): "Way to go Eriko!"


Hatsue: “Okay Team 'Eriko-chan-must-pass,' time to hit the books!”




Aiko is rushing into her mom’s room at the private psychiatric hospital. The doctors are all there. Her mom is surrounded by nurses and doctors, there are more tubes, more beeping machines.


Aiko: “What’s going on here?!”


Doctor: “Your mom had another significant stroke. As a result she temporarily stopped breathing.”


Aiko: “But she’s breathing now?”


Doctor: “Yes, we were able to resuscitate her, however she was without oxygen for a prolonged period of time.”


Aiko: “What are you saying?”


Doctor: “While we have her breathing on her own at this point, what little higher brain function she had is now absent. Her basic bodily functions are continuing, but anything beyond that appears to be all but non-existent now.


Aiko: “So she’s not going to come out of this coma then?”


Doctor: “I’m afraid not.”


Aiko: “Then why did you bring her back?”


Doctor: “We couldn’t reach your father for instructions. It is our standard practice to resuscitate patients in these situations.”


Aiko: “So she’s just a shell, an empty body with no thoughts?”


Doctor: “That’s one way of putting it.”


Aiko (whispered but to herself): “When will your suffering end?”


Doctor: “Excuse me?”


Aiko: “Nothing, thank you for your help.”


We see the doctors and nurses finishing up while Aiko waits in the corner off to the side. When they all clear out, she goes over, sits next to her mom, and takes her mom’s hand.


Aiko (to herself): “You’re hand is still warm.’s so thin, it doesn’t feel like you anymore. Is that because you aren't really here anymore?"


Time passes, Aiko continues sitting next to her mom, holding her hand. Eventually she falls asleep in the chair. A nurse who comes in sees this and places a blanket over Aiko.

(to be continued...)

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