In the Morning, I'll Say Hello - Chapter 71

 "In the Morning, I'll Say Hello" is a yuri manga I wrote. But 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 71

"One Foot In Front of the Other"



Morning at school. Aiko is standing at the door to the classroom. She's watching as Yuka, Hatsue and Eriko are socializing.


Aiko (to herself): "You can do this Aiko. She's the only one who knows why I was gone..."


She watches as Yuka touches Eriko's hand. Eriko blushes, but doesn't pull away. Hatsue is talking, they're all laughing. Lots of warm glances between Yuka and Eriko showing their connection.


Aiko (to herself): "They're really together, aren't they?"


She takes a deep breath and walks into the room.


Hatsue: " at the aquarium, it was pretty awesome."


Eriko (to herself): "I wonder if Kiyoura-chan would want to go somewhere like that?"


Yuka is drawing, she holds up a silly looking fish. Hatsue laughs.


Hatsue: "HAHAHAHA, we didn't see anything like that!"


Suddenly Yuka's eyes widen.


Hatsue: "What's wrong?"


Yuka and Hatsue turn to see Aiko walking up to her desk, then placing her bag on the holder on the side of her desk, and sitting down in her chair. She brushes her long hair behind her ear and sits down quietly and properly.


Aiko: "Good morning."


Yuka is carefully watching her every move.


Eriko (to herself): "Kiyoura-chan can't take her eyes off of Okumura-san."


Hatsue: "Okumura-san! How was your trip?! I can't believe it's been a month already. And doing work for your dad, way to show us all up!"


Aiko: "It was a very productive venture. Thank you."


Eriko (to herself): "Something is different about her."


Aiko notices Yuka staring at her and nods her head at Yuka. Yuka blushes at this.




Lunchtime. The girls are taking their stuff out. Aiko opens her bag, there is a bento in there; she looks at it but doesn't take it out.


Aiko (to herself): "I don't think I'm ready for this yet. I'm not really sure I can pretend."


She closes her bag and gets up.


Hatsue: "You're not going to join us for lunch? We haven't heard about your trip yet."


Aiko: "I need to go to the cafeteria, I didn't bring a lunch."


Hatsue: "Oh, okay, maybe when you get back?"


Aiko: "If we must."


Eriko (to herself): "She's calmer somehow than before. Did something happen on her trip?"


Yuka's eyes are following Aiko as she leaves the room. Longing to ask her, longing to connect.




Aiko is in line to buy some bread at the school cafeteria. She hears some girls talking behind her.


Kiko: "...and then he said...wait...Aiko-chan?"


Aiko turns around and does a little head bow to Kiko.


Kiko: "You're back! How was your trip?"


Aiko: "It was fine."


Aiko turns back to face front.


Kiko (to herself): "She seems distant..."


Kiko: "I've got to get to the student council meeting, elections are coming up, but maybe we could get coffee after school or something?"


Aiko: "I apologize, I have plans today."


Kiko: "Oh, okay, maybe sometime else then."


Aiko: "Of course."




Aiko is in a waiting room, with a few other people.


Secretary: "Okumura-san?"


Aiko: "Yes?"


Secretary: "Dr. Yamada will see you now."


Aiko and Dr. Yamada in his office.


Dr. Yamada: "I understand this was your first day back at school?"


Aiko: "Yes."


Dr. Yamada: "How was it?"


Aiko: "Like any other day."


A pause.


Dr. Yamada: "I think you explored triggers as part of your inpatient program. What was that like today at school?"


Aiko (to herself): "Triggers? It's all a trigger...seeing her...watching them...the expectations..."


Aiko: "Fine."




Aiko sits at her desk in her bedroom. She surveys the top of the desk, sees the application for the other school. She picks it up, then puts it into the drawer of the desk. She takes out some stationary and begins to write.


Aiko's note: "Dear Kishi-san, I've never written to anyone before. I've never really opened up to anyone before..."


We get a flashback of Aiko's time at the treatment center.



Aiko walks into breakfast at the treatment center cafeteria. She's half-heartedly pouring herself some coffee, bleary eyed.


Kishi: "You look like hell."


Aiko turns around. Kishi is smiling broadly.


Aiko: "Last night..."


Aiko (too herself): "The blanket..."


Kishi: "Yes?"


Aiko: "Nevermind."

[Flashback ends]


Back to Aiko writing the note in her bedroom.


Aiko's note: "...Today was my first day back at school. I felt like a stranger, like a ghost, like everything was happening around me but I wasn't part of it..."



Aiko is reading in a lounge at the treatment center. Kishi sits down next to her somewhat exaggeratedly, making a scene of sitting down. Aiko pretends not to notice.


Kishi: "So what are you reading?"


Kishi tries to see what it is, (we briefly see that it is Sonezaki Shinjū*), but Aiko closes it and gets up to leave. Kishi gets up and stands in front of Aiko, blocking her way.


[*Ed note: "The Love Suicides at Sonezaki" by Chikamatsu Monzaemon]


Aiko: "Excuse me."


Kishi: "You don't talk in group."


Aiko: "Your point?"


Kishi: "Do you really want to get better?"


Aiko: "Like you can talk."


Kishi: "Low blow, but you're right. So what's your deal then? What makes your shit not stink?"


Aiko: "I don't owe you an explanation."


Kishi: "No, but you owe yourself one. You can't keep it all in, it'll just explode. You're here, so it probably already did once. Trust me, I know. We're not as different as you think. I had a life once too, I had a job, I had a future, I had people that cared about me."


[Flashback over]


Aiko's letter to Kishi: "...I saw her today. I saw them today..."



Aiko in bed at the treatment center. She's tossing and turning, sweating in her sleep, agitated. She's dreaming. In her sleep she's screaming out.


Aiko: " off...stop...!"


Kishi busts into Aiko's bedroom. Aiko is screaming still in her sleep.


Aiko: "Stop...stop!"


Kishi shakes her awake.


Kishi: "Okumura-san! Okumura-san! Wake-up!"


Aiko wakes with a start, see's Kishi there, tears are streaming out of Aiko's eyes. She looks up, wide-eyed at Kishi, and just embraces her tightly. Kishi starts stroking Aiko's long dark hair, calming her.


Kishi: "It's okay. I'm here. You're safe."


[Flashback over]


Aiko's letter to Kishi: "...I still don't know how to face her, but at least I'm trying, right? I hope you are doing well. Write when you can. Aiko."




Tayama on the couch in a very luxe apartment. He's ostensibly watching a news broadcast. However, he keeps glancing down at his cell phone which is on a coffee table in front of him. He reaches for it, stops himself, resettles on the couch, tries watching news, groans, looks at the phone, reaches, repeats. He starts rubbing his head. Finally he gets up and starts pacing around the room. He's looking back at the phone.


Tayama: "Come on Kijuro, pull yourself together. She'll call when she gets out. Right?"




Aiko is getting out of her town car at the front of the school. She shuts the door, and starts walking up towards the school. There is a faint dusting of snow on the ground, not much really, just enough to leave footprints (but melted away in warmer areas).


Aiko (to herself): "I still don't know what to to start things over..."


As she walks up the front walk, she sees Yuka squatting down, pulling what little snow there is into little piles, and making a very tiny snow man. Sitting on the bench watching this is Eriko. Just as Yuka finishes one and opens her arms to show it off to Eriko, Eriko raises a foot and stomps on it. Aiko is immediately alarmed and enraged. But then sees Eriko let out a smile and Yuka fall back silently giggling. Then Eriko makes a sloppy little snowman and Yuka acts like a giant monster rampaging and squashes that one, they both start laughing at this, Eriko trying to stifle her joy out of embarrassment of acting silly. Aiko sighs, recognizing that they are playing around together joyfully. She continues to walk on in.


As she gets near them, Eriko notices her, and gives her a brief eye, this prompts Yuka to turn and notice Aiko as well. Aiko stops, bows to Yuka. Yuka quickly pulls herself together and bows back. Aiko then rises and keeps walking into school. She sighs again.


Aiko (to herself): "I could do that much today, at least..."




Lunchtime. The girls are getting their lunches out of their bags. Yuka is watching Aiko. Aiko takes her lunch out and stands up to leave. Eriko is watching Yuka.


Eriko (to herself): "I want to know what you're feeling?"


As Aiko starts leaving, Hatsue leans over to Yuka.


Hatsue: "Go on."


Yuka shakes her head 'no' slowly. Kiko shows up at the door.


Kiko: "Aiko-chan! Are you free for lunch?"


Aiko: "I was just leaving."


Kiko: "Want to eat together?"


Aiko: "That's fine."


Aiko (to herself): "It gives me an excuse to run away from her."


Kiko (to herself): "Still so's like you were reset."


Kiko notices Yuka looking at them. She bows her head slightly to Yuka before leaving with Aiko.




Kiko and Aiko are eating lunch high up in the stairwell.


Kiko: "What is it about this place?"


Aiko: "It's quiet."


Kiko: "Is that really a good thing?"


Aiko: "hmmm?"


Kiko: "I just mean, when you're alone, you only have yourself to listen to. It might be good to get out of your own head sometimes."


Aiko: "Well, you're here."


Kiko (to herself): "A joke? Maybe she hasn't been totally reset?"


Kiko: "Speaking of which, you won't believe the student council drama."


Aiko continues eating in silence, not taking the hint she's supposed to ask, or intentionally not asking.


Kiko: "Well, anyway, the student council president is graduating, nothing new there, but the vice president is transferring schools!"


Aiko is still eating in silence, not taking the bait.


Kiko: "AND we all assumed she'd be running for student council president. So with her out of the picture, the election it totally wide open and everyone is freaking out."


Aiko (sarcastic and dry): "Really, everyone?"


Kiko: "Well, the student council anyway."


Aiko: "So why don't you run?"


Kiko: "What?! No way, I'm going to have enough on my plate just trying to get my grades up and study for entrance exams next year. Besides, the thought of having to argue with the board and the chairman...ughhh..."


Aiko (to herself): "Don't I know someone who knows the chairman...?"


Aiko: "Well, someone will run."


Kiko: "Yeah, I know, I was just might be you?"


Aiko coughs on some food. She pauses, cleans her mouth, composes herself. Then says calmly:


Aiko: "Thank you, but I'll decline."


Kiko: "Come on! You'd be amazing at it. Look what you've done for our team? This is an important year coming up for the school. They're talking about renovating the building, you could totally make sure they listen to the students."


Aiko: "I appreciate your faith in me, but I'm not interested."


Kiko (to herself): "It's time to play dirty."


Kiko: "But wouldn't it be a good experience before you take over your dad's company?"


Aiko turns and looks at her with wide eyes under a scowling brow.


Kiko: "Think about it, okay?"


Kiko puts her bento box back together, wraps it up, gets up and hops down the stairs in a good mood, leaving a speechless Aiko behind.


As Kiko turns the corner of the hallway she passes by Yuka who was standing there, with a hand on the wall, listening in.


Kiko (to Yuka): "See what you can do with her, okay?"


Kiko winks and leaves Yuka. Yuka sits down against the wall near the entrance to the stairwell. Aiko comes down the stairs, turns the corner and trips over Yuka and falls. She starts yelling before seeing that it is Yuka.


Aiko: "What are you thinking? That's a dangerous place to sit, I could have's you...sorry."


Aiko picks up her bento, stands up, brushes herself off.


Aiko: "Did I hurt you?"


Yuka shakes her head 'no.'


Aiko: "Did you need something then?"


Aiko (to herself): "This isn't what I want to say. Why won't the right things come out?"


Yuka looks off to the side, then turns and faces Aiko with a determined expression.


Aiko (to herself): "What's that look?"


Yuka points to where Kiko left and then grabs Aiko's arm and lifts it into the air, as if to make her raise her hand to answer a question or volunteer.


Aiko: "You heard that?"


Yuka shyly nods 'yes.'


Aiko: "I'm not interested."


Yuka lets her hand down.


Aiko "I'm going back to class."




In the classroom at the end of the school day. Aiko packs up and leaves pretty quickly. Eriko sheepishly says to Yuka:


Eriko: " you want mean...could you help me"


Yuka scrunches her face into a sad/apologetic expression. She takes Eriko's hands but shakes her head 'no' and points to the hallway.


Eriko: " have something to do..."


Hatsue kicks Eriko under the desk. Eriko shoots her a look, and Hatsue gives a head nod towards Yuka.


Eriko: "...I could...wait...for you?"


Yuka smiles and shakes her head 'yes.'




Eriko is standing in the hallway outside the staff office waiting for Yuka.


Eriko (to herself): "I wonder what she's doing in there?"


Yuka steps out, turns and bows to the staff, and closes the office door.


Eriko: " everything...okay?"


Yuka shakes her head 'yes.' Eriko stops leaning on the wall, straightens up, turns her head away from Yuka but sticks out her hand. Yuka beams and takes it and they walk hand in hand down the empty, afterschool, hallway.


Eriko (to herself): "Like I promised, little by little."




By the shoe lockers in the morning.


Aiko: "What's this?!"


Aiko shoves a crumpled paper at Kiko. Kiko takes it and opens it up. It's a poster announcing three candidates for student council president in the upcoming election. One of them is Aiko.


Kiko: "You're running? I'm so happy!"


Aiko: "Knock off the act."


Kiko: "What are you talking about?"


Aiko: "I didn't sign up."


Kiko: "Wait? You think I signed you up? I don't have a death wish you know."


Aiko: "Then who?"


Kiko shrugs.


Kiko (to herself): "Good job Kiyoura-san."



In the classroom. Eriko is laying on her desk, her arms draped over the whole thing, head right on the surface, not even on her arms.


Eriko: "Ughhh...Friday at last."


Hatsue: "Hahahaha"


Yuka laughing silently at her as well.


Hatsue: "Any plans?"


Eriko: " said the aquarium was good so..."


Hatsue: "Are you guys going on a date?"


Eriko looking up horrified.


Eriko: "Shhhhh...not so loud...people might...might..."


Yuka looks a bit sad at Eriko's outburst.


Eriko: "'s not that I..."


Hatsue: "I'm sorry, I should be more careful after the newspaper thing."


Eriko: "I just..."


Hatsue: "Really, it's okay, you're right. Right Yuka-chan?"


Yuka gives a little smile and nods. Right then Aiko walks in forcefully, sets her bag down and says to Yuka.


Aiko: "Can we talk?"


Hatsue and Eriko give each other a shocked look.



Out in the hallway. Aiko hands Yuka the poster for the election. Yuka takes it and looks at it.


Aiko: "Did you do this?"


Yuka nods 'yes' slightly and cautiously.


Aiko: "Why?"


Kiko walks up behind Yuka, putting a hand on her shoulder in a friendly and confident way.


Kiko: "Because she wants the best person for the job, right Kiyoura-san?"


Yuka turns to look up at her in surprise, sees a radiantly smiling Kiko, confident in her friendship with Aiko. Yuka turns to Aiko and nods 'yes' with one deliberate affirmative head movement.


Aiko: "You forged my name?"


This time, Yuka nods 'yes' sheepishly.


Kiko: "And that's not all, she's volunteered to be your campaign manager, right?"


Yuka looks up in shock at Kiko who winks back.


Kiko: "With both of us helping, you won't have to do a thing."


Aiko: "I'm not running."


Kiko: "You're running away, it's time to stop it."


Aiko: "What are you...?"


Kiko: "You're running from this opportunity, you're running from me, and you're running from her. Get over yourself and accept that we're your friends and we're going to help you win this thing!"




Aiko busts into the entryway of her house, slamming the door behind her. She's storming into the house, throws her bag in the living room.


Aiko: "How could she...why did she...what are they...ARGHHHHH!!!"


She looks up to see the liquor bar in front of her, it's been completely emptied of everything.


Aiko (to herself): "They don't trust me...I don't trust me..."


She sits down on the couch, puts her head in her hands and takes some deep breaths.


Aiko (to herself): "I don't understand. I confessed to her, I did horrible things, I pushed her away, and still she did this? What is she thinking? I don't understand how she can...arghhhh....I need...I badly..."


She looks up at the empty bar again. She puts her head down. She then stands slowly and solemnly. She puts on her coat and starts to open the front door when her phone rings, a text is coming through.


Text from Tayama: "Are you back in town yet?"


Aiko (to herself): "Tayama-kun..."


Aiko drops to the floor, breathing heavily.


Aiko (to herself): "What was I about to do? I...I almost..."


Some tears are dropping on the marble floor. After a pause, she opens her phone and replies to the text.


Aiko text: "Yes."

(to be continued...)

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