Shoujoai ni Bouken: Adventures of Yuriko
The Story so Far: Yuriko's dinner with Sayaka's family has been
pleasant, maybe more so than she expected. Having chosen the "schoolmate as honored
guest" option for the evening, Yuriko is facing a barrage of amusingly personal
Volume 2, Issue 8
"Well," Akaishi Miyuki said, "we've covered career, I guess next on the
list should be your future plans, but..." she gestured at Yuriko, "this is
pretty much your future, so we'll skip that."
Yuriko grinned, "It seems rather strange to say that my future consists of going to
high school," she nodded, "But my producer tells me that initial test reactions
to the show are very positive and that it should be a hit." She sighed loudly.
"It looks like I'll be back in school for a while."
"That's good news," Sayaka said suddenly. When everyone turned to look at her,
she blushed slightly. "Well, for us it is."
Narrowing her eyes, Yuriko gave the girl a long look. "I guess I shouldn't complain,
eh? It could be worse - I could be with a touring circus as a clown or something."
She turned back to Miyuki. "So, next question then?"
"I guess next up in order of intrusiveness would have to be personal life."
"Mother - you wouldn't."
"She would and should. Now hush you," Yuriko said. "Your parents aren't the
only people with embarrassing stories about you."
Sayaka blinked a few times. "This is a conspiracy!" She sat back heavily on the
sofa, pretending to pout. "Fine!" she said, affecting a mood, "I was only
trying to protect you." She laughed as she gestured towards her mother. "Do your
"We know what the press says about you..." Miyuki began, then stopped, and
cleared her throat. "How much of that is actually true?"
"All of it," Yuriko answered immediately with a completely straight face.
"All of it?" Kyuusuke asked, surprised.
"Every last word." Yuriko sipped at her sake. "I'm very careful to be open
with my life, since the press have no regard for privacy anyway." She shrugged.
"It's a lot less stressful in the long run."
"My," Miyuki said. "So, then you don't have a...anyone special in your
"Nope. No one important person, just lots of important people."
A moment of silence met this comment. Miyuki refreshed her cup of tea, without drinking
from it. "I must say, you aren't anything like I imagined. I assumed you were a wild
type of person, rebellious and out of control. Instead you seem very in control of
Yuriko shook her head. "Not at all. Sayaka-san and I have talked a little bit about
this - I can't be in control of everything, so I try to be realistic about what I can and
cannot control. The rest - I let it flow most of the time."
"Very intelligent of you." Kyuusuke said.
"Do you have any impertinent questions you need answered?" Yuriko shot him an
"Yes," he responded, "just one. I've heard some of your songs - what kind
of music do you listen to when you're not belting out pop?"
"Mostly classical - I prefer strings, especially cello. Biber, Dvorak, Elgar, that
kind of thing."
Kyuusuke nodded, satisfied and lapsed back into role of observer. The conversation veered,
then, as if they had all come to a tacit agreement and ranged among various topics. As
time passed in pleasant conversation, Yuriko came more and more to like this family. And
more and more, she found herself wishing she didn't.
The evening passed quickly. Later, perhaps, than was decent for a school night, Yuriko
found herself making her farewells to the Akaishis and thanking them for a wonderful
dinner - and a small taste of their family life. Miyuki slipped on shoes, and accompanied
Yuriko to the front gate. The night was crystal clear and cold, and the two women stood,
shivering slightly as they talked.
"I want to thank you again." Yuriko said, "I realize I gave you very short
notice and your hospitality is greatly appreciated."
Miyuki waved her hand in dismissal. "I'm home all day - it's easy to cook for one
more. I should thank you for coming. Sayaka has talked so much about you since you arrived
at school. I admit to more than a little," here that lovely smile crossed her face,
"curiosity about the big idol at my daughter's school." Her smile disappeared
and her mouth tightened for a moment. "Please don't take this the wrong way,
but..." She paused, trying to find a way to express her thoughts. "I think we'd
all like it very much if you'd come back again. I suppose I'm trying to say that...we
aren't a big family, or a rich one, or in any way special, but sometimes we all need a
family, no matter how small."
Yuriko could feel her eyes fill with tears before she had a chance to respond to the
offer. Her throat tightened and she had to clear it twice before answering. Bowing, she
expressed her gratitude. "I don't know what to say," she admitted, almost
Miyuki spoke quickly. "You've obviously learned to live with yourself, I admire that.
But if you ever need a home-cooked meal, or...anything..." she finished lamely,
"please remember us."
Yuriko felt the tears spill over onto her cheeks. "Thank you," she said
hoarsely. "Thank you so very much." She bowed again, not having any idea what to
say to this woman, whose simple offer had so profoundly affected her. Taking her leave of
Miyuki, Yuriko stepped out onto the street, waved once, and walked off into the night.
Yuriko walked for some time, drying the tears that threatened to come again when she
thought of Miyuki's words. Without knowing exactly when, Yuriko found herself holding her
cell phone, finger poised over the buttons, ready to dial. She looked down at the phone
and thought about the number she still knew by heart, knew the ring of the phone, the
number of seconds it would take before it was answered...with a jerk she slipped the phone
back in her pocket. Not tonight. She was too tired. There would be time later - when she
was more herself.
She hailed a taxi and let the smell of musty upholstery and smoke carry her thoughts away
It was almost midnight before she entered her own apartment. As the
door closed, something inside her loosened, something that had been clenched all night,
despite the good humor and the sake' and the amusing conversation. Yuriko sighed with
relief. She glanced at the answering machine with resignation. Three flashes.
"Yuri, it's Mariko. We need to talk. Call asap." Mari always used the English
term "asap" and Yuriko laughed to hear it. Mari was sounding much better. She
thought about calling her friend, then decided it was too late.
Kishi's gravelly voice filled the answering machine tape. "When you get home from
wherever you are, call me." Her agent sounded weary, but then, Kishi always sounded
The third beep sounded, but no voice spoke. Yuriko was reaching for the "erase"
button, when a shifting sound could be heard and she stopped her motion, allowing the tape
to run. This didn't sound like a wrong number, or an obscene caller. There was another
shifting noise then a clearing throat.
"Uh..." the voice was deep, unrecognizable, "watch your mail for something
important." Then the sound of a phone being hung up. Watch for something important?
Yuriko grabbed up her mail and sorted through it quickly. Bills, a few junk mail offers, a
fan letter package forwarded by her office. Nothing special. What did the caller mean,
Yuriko replayed the message, listening for any sounds that might give her a clue to his
identity. She could hear faint traffic sounds - he probably used a phone booth. No point
in having the call traced. He didn't sound particularly violent or angry - it didn't
*sound* like a threat. Did he mean a mail bomb? No, if anything, the caller sounded
embarrassed, uncomfortable. Yuriko shook her head and popped the tape out of the machine.
She'd take this to Kishi the next time she was in the area - let her agent deal with it.
Yuriko yawned so hard that it hurt. Now was not the time to worry about such things. She
Before she fell asleep, Yuriko did think to jot a note to Ryo, asking him not to pick up
the mail on his way up the next day.