In the Morning, I'll Say Hello - Chapter 9

"In the Morning, I'll Say Hello" is a yuri comic I wrote. But I can't draw, so you'll have to make due with the scripts. Here's chapter 9 (of 82!). Enjoy!

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

Chapter 9

"Hidden Scars"

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

Kami-sama: "I cannot delay any longer. She is needed here tonight. There is a job that must be done."

Eriko's mother: "You know what this will do to her. Do you truly support her?"

Kami-sama: "Whether I support her or not is of no concern. There are responsibilities and she has hers."

Eriko's mother: "Yes, but you also have yours."

Kami-sama: "I bear that burden more so than anyone."

Eriko in her bed. It's the middle of the night. She is somewhat tangled in her sheets, asleep. Above her the bright blue light sphere begins to form. It starts shooting out tendrils of energy in contact with Eriko. She stays asleep, but also starts arching up towards the light. As it lifts her out of bed, she wails, silently, in pain, but doesn't awaken, continuing to be shocked by the intense energy of the sphere above her. Slowly the sphere expands and engulfs her then shocks out of existence leaving only the empty bed behind. Heizo rolls over on his futon.

Yuka is sleeping soundly in her bed, surrounded by stuffed animals and cute pillows. Hatsue and Aiko are asleep in their respective beds too. The night is slowly passing as they all sleep.

It's almost dawn now, the sphere forms above Eriko's bed again, the energy tendrils again start lashing out, slowly tracing the outline of a body as Eriko re-appears. She is bloody and bruised, cut and in pain. She however is not awake. She lays there in an almost fetal position, blood staining the sheets.

Slowly the sun rises and eventually Eriko wakes. She sits up slowly, dizzy and in pain. She attempts to stand, all wobbly, bracing herself against the bed frame, looking over her beaten body. Ultimately, she doubles over and throws up.

She pulls herself together, washes up, gets dressed, brushes her teeth, and leaves the house. The sun is still low but is bright and crisp. She's got some bandages on some places, but other spots are still visibly bruised/scratched. She walks through the empty streets in the early morning light. No one is out, the sun's rays cut through the gaps between buildings. She makes her way down to the river bank again, and lays on the grass looking up at the sky and the clouds passing. Slowly she begins to drift back to sleep.

Yuka's house in the morning. Yuka in her pajamas. She's sitting all funny on the couch (like a little kid) watching some anime. Suzu is in the background making breakfast.

Suzu: "Breakfast is ready Yuka."

They sit at the table. They say thanks (Yuka silently praying)

Suzu: "Thanks for the food" (ed. note: "Itadakimasu")

They eat breakfast. Some shots of them smiling at each other, eating the food, etc...just a lazy weekend morning.

Suzu: "What do you think about going shopping today? I've got to run a few errands."

Yuka vigorously nods 'yes.'

Suzu: "Okay, hurry up and get dressed then, you can't go in your pajamas!"

All black panels with narration.

Narration: "What am I doing here? I can't see anything. It's so cold and damp all around. The air is so still and no one has been here in eons. I can't feel anything...I...I don't feel anything anymore, like all the sensation has been leached out of me... am I anything? Maybe I am nothing...just emptiness...just a there even a 'me?'"

It continues to be all black. But in the blackness some sounds of rippling water.

Sound effects: rippling water and drips.

Etching itself into the blackness are some pale ripples where the drips are falling. It's faint.

Narration: “ that sound?...I hear that’s coming back...the cold, the dampness...there is a here...this is somewhere.”

There is a small light far away in the darkness. At first like a pinpoint, but ever so slightly growing.

Narration: "Is that light? Is it something I can get to? I have to try! I can’t lose all feeling again, I can’t lose 'me' again. I have to get to there; that has to be the way out of here. Here? This is a place! That’s right, this is someplace. If this is someplace then there is a place that's not here!"

We see faintly visible steps in the darkness with bare feet, slipping, and hands reaching out, grasping, but the light never getting any closer. The viewer never sees a full person, just shadows and glimpses of the body parts searching in the dark.

Narration: "Why isn't it getting closer? But I feel like I've been going forever, like I'll be here forever. I can barely breathe, I'm suffocating, the light is so far, so far! Why can't I get any closer? I can't breathe, I can't breathe!"

Eriko sits up in a panic from her sleep. She’s sweating and disoriented. She's still on the grass by the river. The sun is much higher up now and the clouds have cleared. She looks over her beaten and bruised body. There’s a little cat looking at her with its head tipped to the side. Eriko glares at it. It just sort of nonchalantly shrugs and moves on. Eriko watches it lick it's paw, chase a grasshoper, and then walk away.

Eriko (to herself): "What's wrong with me? So many awful things keep happening to me at night, but I can’t remember them in the morning. And these horrible dreams...I feel like they're telling me something...some maybe if I can just get to the end of the dream, I’ll have some answers to who I am...who I was before Arishima-san found me. ARGHHHH! Why can't I remember anything!?”

Her stomach rumbles.

Eriko: "ughhhh, I shouldn't have skipped breakfast..."

She gets up slowly, in pain, wincing as she moves.

Eriko walks into the town, trying to just blend in, not be noticed, as she walks down the street. Every now and then someone stares at her, a kid points, she tries to hide some of the bandages by placing a hand over them. She looks into shop windows, into cafes, sees people with their loved ones in their own little worlds. She looks down at herself, her bruises and cuts, her shabby clothes, and just can't bring herself to enter anyplace. Her stomach keeps rumbling.

Eriko (to herself): “I can’t go in like this, but I don’t want to go home...there must be a convenience store around here somewhere...”

She turns away from the window and from a distance she sees someone that looks like Yuka.

Eriko (to herself) “Is that...?”

It’s clearly Yuka and Suzu that are coming down the street. Yuka is looking up at Suzu and they're both laughing, Suzu is carrying a bag. Eriko immediately blushes at recognizing Yuka, panics, and turns around and starts walking faster away,

Eriko (To herself): "I can't...she can't..."

Eriko's shirt is grabbed from behind by a little hand. She whips her head around and grabs the arm instinctively and with an aggressive look in her eye (like she was on the attack).

Eriko: “Don’t...!”

But it's Yuka looking up at her smiling. Eriko’s wide-eyed face softens. She blushes again and looks away noticing that she’s still holding Yuka’s slender arm. She lets go of the arm. Suzu rushes up behind them, panting a little. He puts her hands on her knees at first while catching her breath, then looks up to greet Eriko.

Suzu: "I've never seen her run so fast. Hi, I'm Yuka's sister, Suzu."

Eriko is just looking at the two of them and looking uncomfortable.

Suzu: “You must be a friend of Yuka’s, right?”

Suzu (to herself): “I hope so anyway, she sort of looks like a thug...I hope Yuka knows what she’s doing.”

Eriko: "oh, um... Arishima...Eriko...nice you."

Eriko gives an awkward, almost imperceptible little bow.

Suzu: “Pleased to meet you too.”

Suzu (to herself): “hmm polite, but sort of awkward for someone so tough looking.”

Yuka tenderly touches a scratch on Eriko's arm. Eriko winces a little and jerks her arm back. Yuka looks up in a pleading face as if to ask "What happened to you, are you alright?" (but obviously she doesn't, since she doesn't talk). Eriko turns her head away a bit defiantly.

Eriko: “It’s...It’s nothing...”

Suzu (to herself): “Hmmm, what’s she hiding?”

Eriko glances back at Yuka. Yuka still has her furrowed-brow face on, but then an idea comes to her and she turns and looks excitedly at Suzu. Suzu understands this and asks:

Suzu: "Why don't you join us? We just finished some errands and were about to go window shopping."

Suzu (to herself): “It’ll give me time to size you up a bit more.”

Eriko: "I don't want you...thank you anyway."

Eriko is doing a slight bow and turning to leave.

Suzu: "Bother us? Of course you wouldn’t be. Please join us."

Suzu (to herself): “She talks almost as little as Yuka does...interesting.”

Yuka is tugging on Eriko again and giving her a pleading face (almost like a little puppy dog).

Suzu: “Can’t say no to that, can you?”

Eriko blushes again, turns her face away slightly/shyly.

Eriko: "If...if you're sure... I wouldn't be troubling you...?"

Yuka grabs Eriko's hand and starts pulling her along.

Eriko: “Wait...”

Suzu (to herself): “Interesting...I’ve never seen Yuka like this with anyone. Not even with Aiko-chan. Who are you Eriko Arishima-san?”

The three are peeking into different shop windows, Eriko is standing slightly behind and not really participating. Suzu and Yuka are having a blast pointing out different cute and pretty things to each other. Periodically Yuka turns to Eriko and points at something in the window with a big smile on her face. Eriko usually turns to avert her eyes from Yuka’s glance, but nods in agreement which satisfies Yuka.

They end up entering a little jewelry store. They're looking around, picking things up. Eriko is standing, awkwardly watching. She watches as Yuka picks up a cute little hair pin. Yuka tries it on, she looks so cute, she's posing and sparkling in the mirror. Yuka We have the heart beating sound effect from Eriko.

                Sound effects: "Ba-dump, ba-dump."

Ultimately, Yuka takes it off and places it back. She moves to another part of the store. Eriko looks around (as if to ensure that no one is noticing her), and moves over to the pin. She picks it up and checks out the price tag. She takes her wallet out (and it’s as if moths fly out of it), she only has a few yen. Not enough to buy it. She sighs, and puts it back.

Eriko (to herself): "What was I going to do with it even if I could afford to buy it?"

She walks away from it. We see someone else reach for it and remove it from the display stand (we don’t see who this is though).

Eriko is looking around absentmindedly. Yuka comes up to her and holds up a necklace to her, then turns her back to Eriko but stays in place as if expecting something. Eriko is embarrassed.

Eriko: "Wh...What? Do you need help...putting it on, I mean?"

Yuka turns her head around to Eriko and nods and smiles vigorously and hands Eriko the necklace. Eriko takes the necklace, and Yuka pulls her short hair back off her neck exposing her slender neck.

Eriko (to herself): “Her beautiful...I...I can’t do this, what am I doing here anyway?"

Eriko blushes at the sight of her neck. At first she's reaching out, but then pulls her hand back. Yuka is just standing there still, being patient. Eriko takes the necklace and reaches around in front of Yuka and begins to pull the necklace around towards her back. Eriko notices a slight scar on the right side of Yuka’s neck.

Eriko (to herself): “I wonder what that’s from?”

Eriko’s fingers glance over the scar as she’s pulling the necklace around. The instant Eriko touches it, there is a searing pain, a bright flash and a quick image of blood splattering. Eriko is shaken for a second. And stops putting the necklace on.

Eriko (to herself): "what the hell was that!?"

Yuka is still waiting patiently with her back to Eriko. Eriko looks down at Yuka's neck, with the hair pulled back and the necklace almost around. She doesn't finish, but instead takes it back off and hands it to Yuka. She says quietly to Yuka:

Eriko: “ it yourself.”

Eriko is still blushing and flustered a bit. Yuka looks at her quizzically, but doesn't push it as she notices a small tear forming in one of Eriko's distant eyes. She just takes the necklace softly from Eriko's hand and looks up and smiles kindly and knowingly, nodding slightly as reassurance. Eriko just averts her eyes.

Eriko: “I...I need to go...”

Suzu comes up to them.

Suzu: “I’m tired of this place, ready to go?”

Yuka nods yes with a big smile and grabs Eriko’s hand and drags her out of the building.

Eriko: “Wait...I...”

Eriko is waiting on the sidewalk, idle, distracted, uncomfortable, while Suzu and Yuka are looking in another shop window.

Eriko (to herself): “What am I still doing here? I didn’t want to be with anyone today...”

She turns to look at Suzu and Yuka who are looking at something. Eriko looks up and her eye catches a really pretty dress in the window (it’s simple, but a bit longer than a sun dress, a touch more formal, but understated). She’s just staring at it for a while, looks down at her own simple/grubby clothes, gets sad, and looks up again at it. Suzu notices this and comes over to her.

Suzu: “I think you’d look really beautiful in that Arishima-san.”

Eriko blushes and stammers.

Eriko: “What...I wasn’t...”

Yuka lights up at this and grabs Eriko’s hand and starts pulling her into the shop.

Eriko: “Wait, no...stop...LET GO!”

She shakes off Yuka’s arm. She’s just staring in anger at Yuka, her eyes panicked and wild, but notices that she’s made a scene and others are staring. Suddenly her stomach gurgles and she turns bright red. Yuka and Suzu burst out laughing at this, the tension completely gone.

Suzu: “Jeez, you must be starving, were you on your way to eat when we stole you earlier?"

Eriko: "Umm..."

Suzu: "No wonder, come on, let’s get something to eat. I know a great place.”

Eriko begins to take her wallet out of her pocket.

                Eriko: "I don't..."

Suzu: "Don't worry about that, it's my treat. It's so rare for Yuka to make new friends. I've got to get to know you better and see what all the fuss is about."

The three of them are sitting in a restaurant, eating their lunches, There is some awkward silence. Yuka is playing with her food a little. Making sculptures and twirling things, like a little kid. She turns to Suzu and gestures. Suzu nods, and Yuka gets up and goes to the ladies room. When she's gone, Suzu addresses Eriko.

Suzu: "There are some things I'd like to ask you, but I imagine, there are some questions you have for me as well."

Eriko is startled by Suzu's directness.

Eriko: "ummm, yes... I guess..."

Suzu: "It's okay, just ask."

Eriko (to herself): "Is it really okay to talk about? This might be my only chance."

Eriko: "Well...why...why doesn't she talk?...I mean...can she talk?"

Suzu: "Right to the point! I love it! The truth is, I don't know anymore. She hasn't spoken for a very long time, not since our mother left when she was five. Maybe her voice is still in there... I'd like to hear it again..."

Suzu sort of drifts off, looking off to the side out the window and into the distance. Eriko drops her eyes and head.

Eriko: “I’m...sorry...I shouldn't have...”

Suzu returning to reality and ignoring the apology.

Suzu: "So that's it? That's the only question? Although I suppose it was the most important one."

Suzu laughs a bit as she's finishing that thought.

Eriko: "Um...That’s all...I guess."

Suzu turns a knowing eye to Eriko.

Suzu: "Well then, it's my turn. How do you know Yuka?"

Eriko, taken aback.

Eriko: "We...we met at school...a few weeks ago. I just...I here."

Suzu: "Moved? From where?"

Eriko: "I don't...I mean, I can't..."

Suzu (to herself): "Hmmm, suspicious..."

Suzu: “With your parents?"

Eriko: "Oh, um...not exactly..."

Suzu: "Who are you living with then?”

Eriko: “Arishima-san? He’”

Eriko is really fidgeting and looking uncomfortable.

Suzu (to herself): "Maybe that's enough for now, at least it seems she's being honest."

Suzu: "I’m sorry, I shouldn’t ask such personal things. You don’t have to answer.”

They sit in silence for a bit, Suzu nibbles on a French-fry.

Suzu: “Yuka didn't come home one night recently. I was really worried about her, she’s never done anything like that before. Aiko-chan found her, said she was looking for someone. I didn't think she had any other friends. It wouldn't happen to have been you she was looking for, would it?"

Eriko looks up in shock at this, having not known about the event.

Eriko: "What...what do you mean? I...I didn't know Kiyoura-san went missing."

Suzu (to herself): “She really does seem surprised, she must not know.”

Suzu: "Hmmm, alright then. Last question. What's with all the bruises and cuts? Are you some sort of criminal or gang member or just a street punk? Should I be worried about what you'll expose Yuka to?"

Eriko gets visibly upset and heated at this and bangs her hands on the table pushing up slightly towards Suzu.

Eriko: "I'd never...I’d never do anything to hurt her!"

Eriko (to herself): "At least, not on purpose..."

Eriko becomes self conscious of her loud voice, seeing a few people turn and stare. She sits down, lowers her voice to barely a whisper, turns her head to the side and down in embarrassment.

Eriko: "I...don't know where these injuries come from...they just..."

Suzu puts her hands over her mouth in shame for having pushed so hard on something so personal.

Suzu (to herself): "Oh god. I know better than this."

Suzu: "I'm sorry, I shouldn't have asked, but...if you ever need to talk about it...if you need..."

Suzu drifts off into thought. She gets a flashback of a younger Suzu (age 15) being hit by someone. There is a scream in the background

Voice: "Suzu-chan!"

The flashback is over. In the restaurant, Suzu comes back from being lost in thought.

Suzu: "Anyway, Yuka clearly thinks highly of you, and I'm just honestly glad to see her making friends. Yuka's world just seems so small, even with Aiko-chan. I’m glad to know there’s someone else in it, really."

Eriko (to herself): "Okumura-san..."

Suzu takes something out of her purse, it's the little parcel that was bought and wrapped in the store (a small box in a drawstring bag). She hands it to Eriko.

Suzu: "Here, this is for you."

Eriko: "Wait...what? I...I can't possibly...I’m sorry..."

Suzu: "Please, I want you to have this."

Eriko: "You don’t have don't know me...I’ve just...I’ve only...”

Suzu: "HAHAHA. For all your rough looks and the tough exterior, you're much more shy than I would have thought. I like that side of you!”

Eriko blushes. Just then Yuka comes bouncing back from the bathroom towards the table. Suzu leans over and whispers to Eriko.

Suzu: “Don't let her see. You’ll understand. Treat Yuka well and that will be your repayment to me."

Eriko takes it and quickly shoves it in her pocket. Suzu nods.

Yuka sits down next to Suzu again. She looks quizzically at Suzu and Eriko noticing the awkwardness, like she just interrupted a conversation about herself that she wasn’t supposed to hear. Suzu turns to Yuka.

Suzu: "Finish up if you want desert!"

Suzu winks at Eriko who blushes.

(to be continued)

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