Shoujoai ni Bouken: Adventures of Yuriko

The Story So Far: Yuriko has, at last, made her peace with her parents. At the cemetery she found a letter addressed with her real name. Mariko holds the letter in her hand, along with Yuriko's future.

 

Volume 3, Issue 12

"Message from the Past"

 

"Dear Yuriko,

You have no idea how long it took me to write that. 'Yuriko,' as if we've talked every day for the past seven years. I can't make the image I see in the media – the tall, dashing, charming woman – fit with my memories of my little sister, our Yuri-chan. She was tall, like the Yuriko on the posters, but she gangled and had no grace. She wasn't
the smiling woman I see on television, hear on radio, laughing and teasing. The Yuri-chan I knew was a loner, sullen and private. No, that's not true, either. But I'm rambling...because I don't know how to say what I have to say.

I suppose I should begin with an apology...

I came home that night and found Mother and Father sitting in the dark. I walked in and knew something was terribly wrong. They looked like death – I thought it was a death. In a cold voice, you remember how he would sound when he was angry, Father told me that you were gone. That's all he said – you were gone. And then he said that your name was never to be mentioned again in his house. That was it. No explanation, no comment. I went to your room. It was empty. Empty – they had taken everything. I don't know what they did with it.

I ran to Takeshi's room, but he had gone to work that night.

And that was it.

The next day I skipped class. My boyfriend and I drove around town looking for you. We tried everywhere we could, I swear! I suppose we could have tried harder, but we didn't know where to look. You never told us, me, much. I didn't even know the names of your friends, although later I learned what happened, and where you had gone and why. Maybe if I had been a better sister, but then, maybe if things had been different you wouldn't have...

I'm rambling again.

I'm sorry, Yuri-chan, I am so very sorry.

I was scared. Scared for you, scared for myself – mostly for myself. I lived at home and needed Mother and Father to pay for college, for my marriage...I'm married now, with a daughter, Momoko-chan. She's beautiful. You probably don't care, but if you're still reading, then maybe you do care, after all.

I never even knew if you were alive, until one day I was listening to the radio while I did my homework - and I heard your voice. Years had passed, but I knew immediately that it was you. Except that you were singing. It made me think of a day, years before, when I saw you with a friend. I suppose, thinking about it now, it must have been your girlfriend, that girl Junko. You and she were outside singing and I was surprised that you had such a good voice. I couldn't remember ever hearing it. The next time I heard it was on the radio and you were already an idol.

I rose from my spot at the table to turn the radio up, when it was switched off. Mother had come into the room, and heard – she just turned the radio off. I think I understood then, what had gone on between you. How horrible – to think that for years I had lied to myself, telling myself that it had been you – it couldn't have been them, that my parents wouldn't, couldn't do that to their daughter. I ran to Takeshi's room again. All he would say was that for your sake, I should say nothing, not as long as Mother and Father were alive.

Last week, we talked about this, about you, for the first time in years. How...embarrassed we've been, how we've hidden from you, as if you were the one to cause us this pain...when all along, it was our fault. We failed you, didn't we – I could have found you, if I had tried harder... I could have contacted you, once we knew where you were, I could have sent a letter to you.

Why didn't I? I ask that over and over. Because I was paralyzed – with embarrassment, with fear, with self-pity. And after you became famous, well, it was obvious, wasn't it? No one would blame you if you told your agency to ignore any attempt at contact from the family that had rejected you. So we, I, did nothing.

If you're reading this, you know what happened, how they died. The paper didn't report that it was sudden, painless. They died instantly.

I won't apologize for not contacting you then. I couldn't. After years of ignoring you, how could I justify suddenly appearing in your life once again?

Last week I called Takeshi and we had a long talk. He told me, finally, what I had figured out a while ago. Why didn't you tell me, Yuri-chan? I would have listened. I think I would have. I don't know, it was such a long time ago now.

My daughter just came in and asked me who I was writing. I told her that I was writing her aunt and she became excited, wanting to know all about you..

I asked Takeshi to add a few words to this letter, but he said he wasn't much of a writer. I made him jot a note down on his business card and included that. He lives in Tokyo now, maybe one day you can visit him.

I suppose that's all there is to say. I'm not a child any more, neither are you. Maybe now that Mother and Father are gone, along with their horrible, unreasoning hate, maybe we can be a family again.

Fumie"

 

Mariko put the letter down. She wiped the tears from her eyes and blew her nose. Yuriko sat with her face in her hands, her shoulders shaking slightly. Mariko stood, walked over to Yuri and embraced her. The two women cried in each others arms for a little while, until the tears passed.

Yuriko sat up, rubbing her red eyes, and smiled grimly. "I've cried more in the past few days than I have in years. I'm getting tired of it."

"This is the last one," Mari reassured her. "It gets better from here."

"Does it?" Yuriko asked.

"What do you mean?" Mariko said. "Of course it does!" She looked at Yuriko, her eyes narrowing. "You don't mean you won't contact her, do you?"

Yuriko shrugged.

"Why?"

The blonde did not look at her friend. "I'm not sure."

Mariko put her hand on Yuriko's shoulder and squeezed. "You don't have to be alone anymore Yuri. Isn't that what you want?"

Yuriko looked up. Meeting Mariko's eyes, she said, "No. I don't. I've remade myself – you read the letter, gangling, sullen, no singing. I don't want to be seen like that. I'm not sure I want to remember I was ever like that at all."

Mariko said nothing, but walked back to her seat, took up the envelope and pulled out a card. She placed it in front of Yuriko, then left the blonde where she sat.

Yuriko watched Mariko make coffee, then reluctantly turned her attention to the card. On one side it said, "Tsuchiya Takeshi, Chief Engineer, Motoslave Enterprises" address, email phone, fax, and pager. She flipped the card over.

"Don't call – just drop by." The handwriting was sloppy and casual. Despite herself, Yuriko grinned.

Mariko set a cup of coffee in front of the blonde. Yuriko looked up from the card with a wry smile. "Takeshi. He always knew exactly what to say."

Continued