In the Morning, I'll Say Hello - Chapter 7

In the Morning, I'll Say Hello is the scripts for a yuri manga-inspired comic series I wrote. But since I can't draw, I'll have to be content sharing the story this way. Hope you enjoy!

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

Chapter 7

“A Week's Worth of Lunches - Part 1”


Lunchtime in the classroom. Aiko is looking tired, hot and distracted

Aiko: "Ahhh, It’s so hot in this school. I need to get out of here. Yuka, let's eat outside today."

Yuka gives a big smile and nods vigorously. They walk past Eriko who has her head down on her arms like normal on her desk. Yuka looks back at Eriko as they pass to see Eriko peeking up at her between the locks of her messy, fallen hair. Yuka gives Eriko a big smile. Eriko blushes and  turns her head back into her arms.

Aiko and Yuka are sitting on a bench under a tree in the center front courtyard of the school. They have their bento on their laps. Yuka picks up a hot-dog octopus with her chopsticks and starts it making little dancing motions and then sticks it in Aiko's mouth. Aiko blushes, but chews it. Yuka laughs (silently) and as her mouth is open, Aiko shoves a tamagoyaki (omelet roll) into her mouth. Yuka starts to cough due to being caught off guard. Aiko is laughing at her and Yuka laughs back after she catches her breath.

Eriko is watching this exchange out the window. Hatsue is sitting with her friends (the popular girls: Satomi, Kaori, and Chitose) who are fawning all over Hatsue like normal. She's the center of attention.

Satomi: "...tell me about him Ha-chan! Your boyfriend's so hot! You never talk about him!"

Hatsue: "He's not my boyfriend, he's just... Tetsu-kun."

Kaori: "KYAA!!! so cute! Come on, tell us all about him. Have you guys done it yet?"

Hatsue blushes and stammers.

Hatsue: "What are you talking about in school? No no, nothing like that."

Chitose: “You know what they say about people who protest...”

Her three friends are all laughing. Hatsue is blushing. Eriko gets up in a huff, slams her chair into her desk and walks out the room. Hatsue looks up at the commotion.

Satomi: “What’s her problem?”

When Hatsue notices Eriko is leaving, she discretely moves her lunch back into her bag, she turns to her friends and says:

Hatsue: "OH! I forgot to bring my lunch, I'm going to run down to the cafe to buy some bread."

Kaori (to herself): “That’s weird, I was sure she had it with her.”

Eriko is in the cafe line buying some cheap bread to eat for lunch.

Eriko (to herself): “I have to remember to thank Arishima-san...I’m living there for free, he gives me money for long can I really take advantage of his kindness? I’m sure he thought my memory would return by now.”

Lunch lady: "Oh my, dear, you're so tall!"

Eriko just shoots her a look as she takes the bread and pays. She replies coolly.

Eriko: "Thanks."

Hatsue comes up behind Eriko. She's sort of bouncy and sparkly.

Hatsue: "Arishima-san, I never had a chance to introduce myself properly the other day. I'm Hatsue Fujimaki. It's a pleasure to meet you. Have you gotten used to getting around the school yet?"

Eriko: "Huh? Oh, yeah."

Eriko turns to go. Hatsue quickly pays for a bread from the lunch lady and runs to catch up to Eriko.

Hatsue: "Arishima-san, wait up! Looks like we're the same, buying bread to eat for lunch"

Hatsue says that very kindly with a big smile.

Eriko (to herself) “What, did you forget your gold-plated lunch-box in that guys car? Or maybe in his kitchen."

Eriko half-heartedly mumbles an affirmation, dismissively.

Eriko: “mmmm”

Suddenly Hatsue’s friends come up behind them.

Chitose: "Ha-chan! Are you okay? You were taking so long to come back, we got worried."

Chitose turns to Eriko.

Chitose: "Are you bullying her?"

Then back to Hatsue.

Chitose: "Is she bothering you, Ha-chan?"

Hatsue: "What? Of course not. Arishima-san and I were just talking."

Satomi: “What on earth could you be talking to that delinquent about?”

Eriko (To herself): “Why does everyone insist on calling me a delinquent? I show up for school every day, don’t I?”

Hatsue: “Nothing really. We’re friends, right Arishima-san?”

Eriko: “Uh....”

Kaori: "You're so funny Ha-chan! Wait! Is she going to hurt you if you don’t call her your friend?"

Kaori turns to Eriko.

Kaori: "Are you threatening her! You might be in a gang or whatever, but you can't get away with threatening students!"

Eriko looks stern, with a dark look in her eyes, she could kill with that look.

Eriko: "You want threatening?”

Hatsue just puts a hand on Eriko’s arm to calm her.

Hatsue: "Hahahaha. See you at lunch tomorrow Arishima-san!"

Hatsue and the girls walk off leaving Eriko.

Satomi: "What's gotten into you? You should stay away from her, she's dangerous, she nearly killed stupid little Kiyoura-san!"

Hatsue: "Why do you have to talk about her that way? I'm going now." 

Hatsue turns away from her friends and leaves them in shock at her frankness.

Chitose: "What was that? Does she think she’s better than us now? She may have a rich boyfriend, but that's no excuse to talk to us that way."

Kaori: "Forget it. Let her have that freak."

Satomi (to herself): “She has seemed different lately...maybe something is up.”

As Eriko is walking down the hall and back to the classroom, she passes some windows and is able to see Yuka and Aiko still eating, talking, laughing, and having fun outside. She looks down at her newly purchased bread, and sighs. Some younger (first-year high-school) girls are passing by, they see Eriko out of the corners of their eyes. They sort of shy away a bit as they’re talking to themselves, leery of her. Eriko just shoves the bread at them as they are trying to discretely pass her. The girls are caught off guard.

Eriko: “Here!”

The girl meekly replies to Eriko as Eriko walks away without even acknowledging them. Eriko still has a dark aura about her.

Girl 1: "Th...thanks"

Girl 2 (whispering): "Was that her?”

Girl 1 (whispering): “I think she was that transfer student who’s been beating up the second-years. I heard she’s in a gang.”

Girl 2 (whispering): "I can’t believe you spoke to her and you’re still alive! Do you think it's safe to eat?"

The girls giggle to themselves and scamper away.

It's sunset. Eriko is hanging out in the shopping district again, sitting in the alley (the one where she was first found by Heizo), still in her school uniform. There is a person begging, some people playing music on the street, a couple of punk looking kids as well as young good-looking adults milling about. She's sitting and slumped against a wall watching the world pass by. Looking up at the sky as the sun goes down and the stars come out. It's become late now.

Eriko (to herself): “I told myself I wouldn’t keep coming back here. I wonder if my stupid memories will ever return. They must be in here somewhere. I must have a family somewhere. But why aren’t they looking for me? Did I leave them or did they leave me? Maybe I don't want to know the answers, maybe it’s better if I don’t know?”

Eriko sees a couple walking down the street, talking, eating something, laughing. Eriko thinks back to the scene of Yuka and Aiko laughing together over lunch, Yuka feeding Aiko. Yuka’s smile.

Eriko (to herself): “Why does everything remind me of her? They looked so happy together. pisses me off for some reason. Arghhhh!!!!!’'s not for me, those things aren’t meant for me.”

She punches the brick wall, bruising her hand.

Heizo Arishima (Eriko's guardian) is sitting at the table of his house with a bowl of rice in front of him and a small piece of fish, there are other dishes on the table as well. His head is down, almost in prayer, his eyes are closed. Another bowl of rice is set across from him, but no one is there, the chair is empty. Then the sound of someone coming in the house. Heizo looks up.

Eriko: "I'm home"

Heizo brightens up.

Heizo: "Welcome home Eriko-chan. Are you hungry?"

Eriko sits down without saying anything.

Eriko and Heizo: "Thank you for the food" (ed. note: “Itadakimasu”)

They eat their food in silence.

Eriko (haltingly): "Th...thank you, for the lunch money.”

Heizo: “Oh, you’re quiet welcome, dear, no need to thank me. I’m glad to have the company after all these years.”

More silence, they finish eating. There is some food left uneaten.

Heizo: “Oh, looks like I made too much tonight. I suppose it will keep.”

Eriko says, very quietly, and blushing as she does so:

Eriko: “Um, tomorrow...a bento?"

Heizo: "Hmm, what was that?"

Eriko: "Nothing. Thank you for the food.”

Heizo: “Did you want to get in the bath first, it should be ready?”

Eriko declines with a small head shake.

Eriko: “It’s okay."

Heizo: “You look like you’ve had a long day. I’m a night owl anyway, so I’ll be up for a while longer.”

Eriko: “I’ll go first, then.”

She gets up, puts her dishes in the sink and walks away. With a concerned look on his face, Heizo says softly:

Heizo: "Goodnight Eriko-chan."

Heizo (to himself): “What are we doing? This strange pair. I wonder?”

Eriko in the bath. Memories of watching Aiko and Yuka eating together and laughing, closeups of Yuka's laughing/smiling face. Eriko sinks under the water.

Eriko (to herself): "What's wrong with me? Why can't I stop thinking about that little nothing of a girl? I’ve got bigger problems..."

Her eyes close while under water. She's in the dark "cave" dream. All black panels.

Narration: "So hard to breathe in here. The air is so stale. It’s like no one’s ever been here. Am I all alone? But who am I? I don’t know where I am, who I am, what I’m doing here? What am I supposed to do?”

There’s a small point of light in the distance.

Narration: “What's that flicker in the distance? Is that a way out?  Is that where I'm supposed to go? It seems so far away."

Then a scream:

Scream: "NOOOO, don't touch her!"

Eriko gasps and sits up quickly in the water, as if she had fallen asleep under the water and is surfacing from the dream above. Her hair flying, spraying water as she emerges gasping.


Lunchtime on Tuesday. Eriko again has her head on her arms on her desk. She's staring out the window. Hatsue comes up and drops off a bread for her. Pulls a chair around to the front of Eriko's desk and sits down with her own bread.

Hatsue: "Here you go. I thought you might want to avoid the same scene as yesterday."

Eriko glances towards the open door.

Eriko: “Your...friends?”

Hatsue: “Oh, don’t worry about them. I’m not sure they’re really my friends anyway. More like fair-weather fans I think!”

Hatsue (to herself): “I hope I’m doing the right thing, I can’t risk loosing them, but they wouldn’t hesitate to turn on me if they knew what I'm hiding...”

Eriko isn't taking the bread, she's staring at it though.

Hatsue: “Here, go ahead, take it, really.”

Eriko turns and looks up at her.

Eriko: "I...I forgot my money...I'll...I'll pay you back."

Hatsue: "It’s fine, it’s fine. Besides, it's the least I can do to apologize for those idiots from yesterday."

Eriko: “You’re not...what I thought.”

Hatsue just starts laughing, a slight happy tear wiped away from her  eye from laughing so hard.

                Hatsue: "Thanks."

Hatsue (to herself): "More than you, or anyone knows...”

Eriko puts her head on her arms again, and turns slightly to look out the window. We see Aiko and Yuka enjoying their bento again outside on the bench. Eriko tears off a piece of the bread to eat.

Hatsue: "You really want to be out there with them, don't you?"

Eriko coughs and chokes and sits up at this and half yells.

Eriko: "Wh...What?!"

Hatsue is laughing and smiling kindly.

Hatsue: "It's okay, I won't say anything to ruin your violent image!"

As this is going on, the three mean girls are walking past the room, looking in at Hatsue and Eriko eating together and talking.

Satomi: "That's what was so important she had to ditch us?"

Kaori: "What the hell? How rude, neglecting us for that criminal two days in a row, and after she talked to us that way yesterday!"

Chitose: “Why is she so popular anyway?”

Back to Hatsue and Eriko talking.

Eriko: “I...I don’t...I mean...I'm not...”

Hatsue: “You’re so funny. You’re like this big, strong, silent type from the movies. You could beat up anyone and yet you’re so shy you can’t get your words out. If you were a guy, you’d totally be my type!”

Eriko blushes at this.

Eriko: “Uh...thanks....I guess.”

Eriko (to herself): “What’s with this girl, she’s sort of weird? I thought she was supposed to be an idol or something.”

Hatsue just smiles kindly, Eriko is shocked, but then gives a small smile back.

                Hatsue: "Oh my god, you can do that?"

                Eriko: "Shut up."

There's a slight pause, then the two of them start laughing in their shared moment.

At the Arishima household. Heizo is at his workbench fixing something. Eriko walks past. She stops.

Eriko: “Umm, Arishima-san?”

Heizo: “Ah, oh, Eriko-chan, done with studying? What is it dear?”

Eriko: “Umm....I’m going you need anything?”

Heizo: “Ah, thank you for asking. No, I think I’ve got all I need.”

Eriko: “Oh, okay.”

Heizo: “Don’t stay out too late, okay? I’m hardly a very fitting guardian the way I let you break curfew! Ha ha!"

Eriko is confused by this at first, then understands that it was kind humor.

Eriko: “oh, umm, mmm-hmmm"

Heizo (to himself): “Where will you go tonight? Will you come back?”

Street scene at night with markets and shops in the old neighborhood where she lives. Eriko is in a grocery store, buying eggs and hot dogs and vegetables.

Eriko (to herself): “He was worried about me...I don't understand. Why did he even take me in? Why does he let me stay there? What’s in it for him? But...It feels kind of have someplace to go back to...”

Eriko checks out and walks out of the store onto the street. Suddenly we see a tall, long haired girl getting sort of backed out the door of a neighboring liquor store by an angry man (at first we don’t see clearly who the girl is).

Aiko: "Don't put your hands on me! I told you it was for my father!"

Eriko (to herself): “Wait! Isn’t that...”

Clerk: "Get out of here, you know you can't buy any here! Do you want me to call the police?"

Aiko: "Don't you know who my father is? He'll come down here and..."

Eriko is whisking her away by the arms as she says this, her long hair trailing behind. Aiko finally shoves Eriko off her after they are a bit away from the store.

Aiko: "Get your hands off me! What the hell are you doing?"

Eriko: "You were...making a scene."

Aiko: "I had it under control."

Eriko walks away from her, leaving her there.

Eriko: "Whatever."

Eriko: (to herself): “Why did I even bother getting involved, anyway?”

Aiko is just standing there yelling after her.

Aiko: "What's your problem!?"

Eriko is walking towards home now. She briefly thinks of Aiko and Yuka happily eating together. She looks at the food she's bought and just throws it out while walking home.

Eriko (to herself): “What am I doing buying this stuff? I’m so stupid, to think...”


Lunchtime in the classroom. A bread is shoved under Eriko's nose by Hatsue. She replies grudgingly, but reaches out for it without hesitation.

Eriko: "Thank you."

But Hatsue yanks it away (teasingly), with a big kind smile, before Eriko can take it.

Hatsue: "Not so fast. If you want this, you have to come with me."

Eriko looks up from her arms with devious eyes and a slight, sly smile, and jokingly says:

Eriko: "Didn’t you know...I’m a yakuza? You shouldn't order me around like that."

Hatsue (to herself): “I think that's the first time I've ever heard her make a joke. Comedy suits her.”

Hatsue: “Oh, so that’s how you’re going to play this, huh? Fine, I’ll just eat this myself then.”

Hatsue feigns starting to open it up. Eriko just reaches out and tries to take it from her.

Hatsue: "Nuh uh! We’re going somewhere first.”

Eriko: “Where?”

Hatsue: "Do you want lunch or not?"

Eriko: "Sigh, Fine!"

Eriko (to herself): “Why does it feel so easy around her?”

They are walking down the hall, down stairs, talking (mostly Hatsue), suddenly they come upon the door to the courtyard. Eriko sees that she's been led to the spot where Yuka and Aiko are eating. Yuka looks up and sees Eriko in the doorway and gives a big open mouthed, closed eye (squee) smile. Eriko blushes and turns to leave.

                Eriko: "I'm going back."

Hatsue grabs her arm and drags her out.

Hatsue: “Not if you want any lunch!”

Hatsue leads Eriko over to Aiko and Yuka and sits down next to them. Eriko looks around embarrassed, then sits down. The four are sitting in a line, Eriko on the end

Hatsue: "I'm Hatsue Fujimaki, pleasure to meet you. Can we join you for lunch?"

Aiko: "Everyone knows who you are. I can't stop you from eating here."

Awkward silence. Yuka and Aiko are eating their homemade bento. Hatsue is eating her bento, Eriko is eating the bread that Hatsue bought for her. We see all the delicious foods in their bento. Yuka looks at Eriko eating her simple bread, Eriko is staring off to the side looking into the distance, not engaging with anyone. Yuka looks sad when she looks between her lunch and Eriko's bread.

Hatsue: "So, um, Kiyoura-san. Where did you go to middle school?"

Aiko: "She and I both went to N-middle school."

Hatsue: "Oh, you've known each other for a long time then?"

Aiko: "We've been together since elementary school."

Hatsue: “Wow, that’s so great! I didn’t know anyone when I started here.”

Hatsue (to herself): “Although that was completely on purpose.”

Aiko: “I’ve always been by Yuka’s side.”

Yuka hugs Aiko's arm, and smiles an appreciative smile, looking up at her. Aiko looks down at Yuka's face and smiles a kind, motherly, smile.

Hatsue (to herself): “They look really close.”

Hatsue: “Ha, so cool! It’s like you’re her knight in shining armor!”

Aiko: “I’d do anything for her.”

Aiko just glares at Eriko. Eriko sees her look, shoves the rest of her bread in her mouth, gets up and leaves without saying anything. Hatsue rushes after her.

Hatsue: "Wait, Arishima-san, don’t go yet!”

Aiko: “Whatever, at least we can have a peaceful lunch again.”

Yuka looks at Aiko. Aiko looks down.

Aiko: “I’m sorry Yuka.”

Aiko (to herself): "I know it’s okay for you to have other friends, but why her? Someday I’ll have to let you go. I know that, I'm just not ready yet."

Eriko is storming down the halls of the school. Other students are getting out of her way quickly, there is a dark aura around her. People can tell she’s fuming.

Eriko (to herself): “I know what she was thinking. She’s just like everyone else. Well, maybe I am a delinquent, maybe I am dangerous. I don’t care, who needs them? What was that stupid Fujimaki-san thinking anyway. I let myself get carried away.”

Hatsue is running down the halls after her.

Hatsue: “Arishima-san! Arishima-san, wait up!”

Girl in hallway: “Who’s that?”

Girl 2 in hallway: “Isn’t that Fujimaki, the 2nd year everyone loves?”

Girl in hallway: “Why would she be chasing after that freak, isn’t she scared?”

Eriko turns around to face Hatsue with a dark look.

Eriko: “What?!”

Hatsue stopping in front of her, panting after running, trying to catch her breath. Her hands on her knees.

Hatsue: “Wow! Those long legs of yours. You move so quick, I had to run to catch up.”

Eriko: “You didn’t need to.”

Hatsue: “What happened back there?”

Eriko: “Nothing. I wasn’t hungry.”

Hatsue: “Well, don’t worry about it. I know you and Okumura-san don’t exactly get on, but I’m sure she’s not all bad. She’s friends with Kiyoura-san after all!”

Eriko: “Whatever.”

Hatsue: “Well, we’ll just have to try again tomorrow!”

Eriko: “Why are you doing this?”

Hatsue: “Because...”

As she's saying this, Hatsue's friends (Satomi, Chitose, Kaori) are coming down the hall. Satomi interjects.

Satomi: "Ha-Chan, why'd you ditch us again for lunch with that ... that giant beast. Don’t you care about your friends anymore?"

Hatsue: (to herself): “She’s not a giant, I mean, I guess she is tall.”

Hatsue: "Of course I care about my friends. Let me introduce you, Arishima-san, this is..."

Satomi swats down Hatsue's hand (which is gesturing towards them).

Satomi: "I don't care what her name is. You're too good to be hanging around with trash like that."

Eriko forces Satomi against the wall by her neck, her eyes dark.

Eriko: "If you ever touch Fujimaki-san again, I'll..."

Hatsue puts a hand on Eriko's shoulder.

Hatsue: "It's okay."

Eriko grudgingly lets Satomi down. Chitose and Kaori are in shock at the attack. Satomi and the rest are running away with Satomi saying as she’s leaving:

Satomi "This isn't over! You hear me? This isn’t close to over!"

Chitose: “Come on, let’s get you to the nurse.”

Satomi: “I’m fine, I’m fine, she’s not that tough.”

Eriko is somewhat embarrassed. She looks away from Hatsue.

Eriko: "Sorry...about your friends."

Hatsue: "HA! It's fine, it’s fine, don’t worry about them. They’ll get over it."

Hatsue turns away a bit, lost in thought.

Hatsue (to herself): "Or will they? Maybe now I can stop pretending..."

Eriko looks at her questioningly and then noticing this, Hatsue returns to the present.

Hatsue: "Hey, you remembered my name. I guess we're really friends now!"

Eriko (to herself): “Friends?”

Eriko at home, laying on her bed. It’s evening.

Eriko (to herself): “Friends? What does that really mean? Why would she want to be friends with me, anyway? She’s so popular. Everyone idolizes her. Why would she ruin her reputation to be friends with me?”

Eriko rolls over. She thinks of Yuka smiling at her before lunch.

Eriko (to herself): “Friends...Is that what I want from her too? Is that why I keep thinking about Kiyoura-san? How can I really be friends with someone when I still don’t know who I am? Or where I belong? What is there to be friends with...?”

She drifts off to sleep.

The all black panels with the white lights representing Kami-sama and Eriko’s mother.

Kami-sama: “It is time. There is work to be done, balance to be restored, wrongs to be righted, burdens to be lifted.”

Eriko’s mother: “Not tonight. She’s doing so well. Can’t you give her some time?”

Kami-sama: “What is time to us? Eons are but moments, they pass before they arrive, they arrive before they are conceived.

Eriko’s mother: “I ask that you give her all you have promised her to see what she may do with it.”

Kami-sama: “Then, for tonight at least. Her duty may wait.”

(to be continued...)

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