Shoujoai ni Bouken: Adventures of Yuriko

The Story So Far: Yuriko has received a letter from her sister and brother – she's not sure what to do about it yet. More importantly, she's going to be slammed with homework tomorrow.


Volume 3, Issue 13

"Diving In"


Yuriko hit the answering machine button and flopped down on the sofa. The machine beeped.

"This is Ryo. Do you want me to come over tomorrow? Give me a call or leave a note for me at school."


"Yuriko-kun, this is Miyamoto Hideaki. I heard from Kishi-san of your loss. My condolences. Please call upon me if there is anything I can do." Nice guy, that Miyamoto-san. Yuriko waved her thanks at the machine.


Silence. Throat clearing. Sound of a body moving around, then a voice, rough and tired-sounding. "Ahem, uh, yes. Yuriko-kun, this is Abe Daiichi." Yuriko sat up, looking at the machine, her mouth open in surprise.

"I'm sorry to call you so late." Throat clearing. "I'm sorry to call you at all, I suppose. I was just, I was wondering if I might impose upon you for a few minutes of your time. Please call me back, no matter how late at..." he rattled off a string of numbers, that Yuriko scrambled to write down on a scrap of paper.

"I'm probably disturbing you, but..." the teacher cleared his throat again, "I don't know who else to talk to." His voice rose on the last word, it sounded as if he was close to tears. The phone clicked.

Yuriko leaned over and hit the replay button. Abe-sensei's voice once again asked her to call him.

Yuriko leaned her head on her arms and stared at the phone. It was late, she had had a long day. No one would blame her if she didn't call him. But, as Mariko always said, there was nothing like other people's problems...she picked up the phone.


The café was overlit, trimmed in a putrescent green neon. Yuriko glanced at her reflection in the window and hoped it was the light that made her look like that.

"Nice," she said out loud. "Red eyes and green skin. I'm all ready for Christmas."

She could see a man making his way towards her, so she turned and stood to bow at Abe-sensei as he joined her. He bowed, then again, before seating himself.

"I apologize for being so inconvenient," he began, then stopped as the waiter approached. They placed their orders, then sat in an awkward silence after the waiter left.

Yuriko gave Abe-sensei the once over. He looked not much worse than he had the last time she had seen him, but not much better, either. He had most certainly lost weight, but she supposed the color of his skin was the result of the lighting in the café.

Abe-sensei waited until his order arrived, then fiddled with his coffee, stirring the milk in long after it needed.

"I'm sorry. I'm wasting your time," he said lamely. "Maybe this was a bad idea."

Yuriko put out a hand and touched the cuff of his jacket lightly. "What did you want to talk about?" she asked, keeping her voice gentle.

Abe-sensei gave her a piercing look. "You've been crying," he said with some surprise.

Yuriko was taken aback by the teacher's complete lack of manners. Reflexively, she answered, "Uh, yeah. I recently found out my parents were killed some months ago. I visited their grave today."

The teacher didn't even blink. "I'm sorry. That must have been difficult. I assume," he said, looking out the window, "that the relationship was not a good one." He sighed. "My parents died when I was very young."

"So," Yuriko used this opportunity to bring the conversation around to why they were here, "they never learned that you're gay."

Abe-sensei flinched, but nodded, as he continued to stir his coffee. "No. They never did. I have no idea if it was a good thing or not."

Yuriko sipped at her own coffee and made a face. It was bitter and lukewarm.

"You knew immediately, didn't you?" Abe-sensei asked. Yuriko nodded. "It terrified me, you know." He laughed with no humor. "I have held that job for nearly ten years and have lived in fear every day of that decade."

Yuriko pushed her coffee aside and clasped her hands. "It sounds like a terrible way to live a life."

"It's no way to live a life," Abe-sensei agreed. "When you came, my...lover...and I had been having problems for some time. He's younger than I am, more open – "out" as they say." He put the spoon on the saucer's edge and took the cup in his hands. "He wanted me to stop hiding our relationship."

Yuriko was pretty sure where this was going.

"Your arrival scared me half to death. I could tell you knew – and if you told anyone...I could lose my job." Abe-sensei lifted the cup, then placed it back in the saucer without tasting the coffee. "I told Fuji, my um...lover, that I wouldn't be coming out any time soon. He gave me an ultimatum. We had a fight."

Abe-sensei ran a hand through his thinning hair. "He left the next week."

Yuriko made soothing noises. As she had suspected. She wondered what this over-sensitive man would do if she told him that his story was predictable.

"Will he come back?"

Abe-sensei pursed his lips. "I don't think so. He took all of his...things." He shot her a tired, embittered smile. "Some of those things were ours, I thought."

"But," Yuriko was thinking out loud, "why did you disappear from school?"

"Disappear?" Abe-sensei asked, with some surprise. "I took a leave of absence – the Principal knew. It was all very above board."

Yuriko shook her head quickly, puzzled, then laughed. "We all thought you had disappeared – no one ever tells the students anything."

Abe-sensei smiled ruefully. "I've been taking some time to get my life back together – finding a new place to live, cleaning house, so to speak."

"Ah. So, I guess you'll be coming back soon?" Yuriko could not keep the regret from her voice. She was getting used to having Shannon in her life again.

"Yes." The man seemed oblivious to Yuriko's emotion. "Tomorrow. I wanted to tell you..." Abe-sensei stopped himself and bowed slightly at the blonde. "I wanted to thank you. I've decided..." he took a deep breath, straightened his shoulders, and exhaled. "I've decided to be more honest about myself."

Yuriko gave the closet case in front of her a big, insincere smile. "That's great! I'm glad for you."

"No, thank you, for listening, for being a role model for more than just the students."

Yuriko kept the smile plastered on her face as Abe-sensei talked. All of a sudden she was exhausted right down to the bone.

They parted at the café door, Abe-sensei looking better than he had in weeks, she supposed, while Yuriko dragged herself back to her apartment and, at last, her waiting bed.