Shoujoai ni Bouken: Adventures of Yuriko
The Story So Far: Yuriko has just learned that her parents, from
whom she has been estranged for years, died nearly a year ago. Her reaction is ambivalent
- to say the least.
Volume 3, Issue 3
"Death, Taxes, and the Media"
Yuriko groaned as she rolled over in bed. Her whole body hurt - even
her toenails. Her face felt puffy, her mouth dry and her chest sore. And she hadn't even
had the pleasure of a drinking bout to deserve it. With that thought, the reason for her
state popped clearly and intrusively back into her mind. She could feel her heart take a
leap in her chest and she sucked in deep breaths to quiet its beating.
Were they really dead? It wasn't some macabre and horrible prank?
She sat up, suddenly panicky and lonely. As she fought to calm
herself, she could hear Mariko's voice, and she could feel relief flood her body on the
tail end of the adrenaline rush.
Mari was here, she wasn't alone....
She rubbed her eyes gently, trying to clear them, but they burned in
her skull. Her mind warred with itself, torn between feelings of abandonment, anger, loss
Her parents were dead. It wasn't a joke. And they would never try
and come to take her away from her life. How often had she had that nightmare when she
first was thrown out? But they never had. Never tried to contact her again. Not a card, or
letter - not even when she had a number one hit single, or a popular movie. Not once. Not
a note about a birth...or a death.
They had been dead for years. Yuriko, idol and ingénue, had no
family. No older brother who had called her "Jinpaku," no older sister who had
tried to teach her to sew. No parents. No family at all.
Tears fell down Yuriko's face unbidden and she curled herself back
into the bed, sniffling and sobbing as quietly as she could so Mariko wouldn't hear.
Footsteps approached the bedroom, and Mariko knocked softly. Coming
in, Mariko sat down on the bed and stroked Yuriko's hair, murmuring to her.
"It's okay, Yuri. You're allowed to be sad."
Yuriko didn't answer. But what if she didn't feel sad? What if all
she felt was self-pity, and the vague sense of being reprieved? When the tears faded away
and all that was left was a tired and weak feeling, a heaviness in her limbs, she pulled
herself together. Sitting up, Yuriko wiped her face off and stared bleakly at Mariko.
"Mari, can I ask something?"
"When you describe me to other people, what do you say about
Mariko blinked in confusion. "What do you mean?"
Yuriko drew her knees up, crossed her arms and leaned on them.
"Sayaka asked me what you were like and I said that you were like an impish demon in
Mariko snorted. "Very complimentary. But not inaccurate."
Mari looked away then back. "I usually tell people that you
think you're the gods' gift to women...and that you're usually right."
"Funny." Yuriko said, her forehead against her knee.
"What do you really say?"
Mariko didn't answer. Yuriko lifted her head and stared at her
friend. The woman was looking right at her, her cheeks slightly pink, her eyes large and
"I mean it. That's what I say." Mariko said. She shifted
in her place, slightly uncomfortable in the tense atmosphere. "What, did you think
that I'm immune to the renowned Yuriko charm?" she asked. "Yuri you make
everyone around you, especially women, feel important, beautiful, special. Haven't you
Yuri thought about it. "I guess not. Not like that."
Mariko nodded. "Exactly. And you're courteous in a medieval
kind of way, opening doors, and bowing politely - practically no men do any of that any
"Hachi does!" Yuriko said defensively.
Mariko smiled, shaking her head. "In your own way, my dear, you
are a complete doofus."
Yuriko gave her a puzzled look.
"My Hachi was practically brought up in a barn," Mariko
said, rolling her eyes. "You know that! Everything he ever learned about manners, he
learned from watching *you,* you big dummy."
"Oh." A thought occurred to Yuriko. "He doesn't
actually, like, see me as a role model, does he?"
Mari closed her eyes. "Yes. He does."
"Oh. Well, that would explain his reaction to..."
"Why did you ask?" Mariko said, at last.
Yuriko had her head on her arms again. "I was just
wondering..." she let the sentence end unfinished.
"Wondering what?" Mariko insisted.
"What people will say about me when I'm dead."
"Yuriko!" Mari was shocked.
"No, really." Yuriko let go of her legs and fell backwards
onto her pillow. "I mean, one day, I'll be yesterday's news. And I'll get old, and
people will forget me, like they forget everyone famous. And when *I* die, who will be at
Mariko said nothing. After a few minutes, she stood, smoothed her
skirt over her legs. "Come out when you're ready."
Yuriko watched her leave the room, then closed her eyes against the
waves of pain that threatened to overwhelm her. When they didn't recede, she pulled
herself out of bed and dragged some clothes on. Taking a deep breath, she opened the door
and reentered the world.
Mariko was making breakfast and Yuriko stood for a moment, watching
her friend's brisk and efficient movements. She thought how it might be, to live with
someone, to wake in the morning to the sounds and smells of domestic life. Yuriko smiled a
little at her fancy.
"Breakfast is almost ready." Mari called out, as if in
answer to Yuriko's thoughts. "I just got off the phone with Kishi-san. She says you
can call whenever you feel up to it. But, " Mariko looked up as Yuri shuffled into
the room, and began spooning rice into bowls, "she reminds you that you were the one
that set up the studio tour for tomorrow."
Yuriko groaned. "And the interview..."
"Are you going to cancel it?"
Yuriko ate a little rice, then stared at the bowl for a while.
"I want to, more than you can imagine. But I made a commitment. I have to keep
"That's what I told Sayaka-san this morning. I'll take you over
to the school this afternoon." Mariko gave Yuri a reassuring smile, which Yuriko
returned to the best of her ability.
If she was going to be interviewed, she'd have to eat something.
With a resigned air, Yuriko ate.