Shoujoai ni Bouken: Adventures of Yuriko

The Story so Far: Yuriko's first week as a "senior" at Mitsukawa high draws to a close...not a moment too soon. In her first week, Yuriko has joined several clubs, has already been faced with the enmity of her math teacher and the captain of the girls' basketball team. Worse yet, she may be failing Japanese class! There are more stories than just her own, Yuriko notes...


Volume 1, Issue 8

"It Could Get Worse..."


Some days just start bad and go downhill from there, Yuriko thought. She held her book bag over her head, but the rain dripped down her neck anyway. She sped her steps, then gave up all pretense of grace and began to run for the school, as the bell for homeroom rang.

Dripping, late, and looking very bedraggled, Yuriko made her way to her desk under the gimlet eye of Abe-sensei. He didn't say a word, but disapproval at her appearance was implicit.

At her desk, Yuriko pulled sodden hair away from her face and glanced at Sayaka, who gave her a quizzical look.

"Forgot an umbrella?" Sayaka whispered.

"Forgot I had to come to school on Saturday," Yuriko muttered. "I'm not used to six-day weeks."

Abe-sensei halted in mid-word to glare at Yuriko. She flashed him a repentant grin, and folded her hands neatly on the desk. He turned back to the announcements with a resigned air.

***

"Well," Yuriko commented to her friend between classes, "today couldn't get worse. I forgot to set my alarm, so I overslept. I was rushing out the door before I thought to check the weather. Great way to end my week!" Yuriko looked so unhappy that Sayaka giggled.

"At least you have tomorrow off."

"Hunh. With my luck, my agent has scheduled me on a kids show - or "Stuntman for a Day."


***

Sawako-sensei was as foul as the weather. He practically foamed at the mouth when Yuriko failed to complete the problem he assigned. Everyone in the class was tense as they waited for the real storm to blow in. It wasn't long in coming.

Thirty minutes into class the door slid open and the PA, looking more morose than usual, gestured for Yuriko to join her. Sawako-sensei glared at the young woman and demanded to know what she wanted.

The PA looked at Yuriko, frowning, then back at the burly teacher. "Uh, please forgive me, I was told you knew. Yuriko-san has an interview..."

Sawako-sensei closed the distance between them. His voice tight with anger, he said, "Get out."

The PA recoiled, but did not move, "Forgive me but..."

"I am trying to teach a class here. Get OUT!" He punctuated the last word by taking the door from the PA's hand and slamming it shut in front of her.

Yuriko found herself half out of her seat, when Sawako whirled on her. "You - sit," he commanded her. She sat. Sawako-sensei then rounded on the cameraman and pointed towards the door. "You too, get out. This is not a studio, this is a classroom!" He gestured angrily and the cameraman began to move towards the door - albeit slowly, and while the camera continued to roll.

Sawako-sensei saw to it that the door to the classroom was shut before he returned his attention to his students. Without missing a beat he snapped, "Yamada-kun, problem number thirteen please."

The class barely breathed. The tension was so thick no one dared make a sound, or move unecessarily. Sawako-sensei watched them all with a baleful eye, but his gaze most often lingered on Yuriko. She was sure she had two holes burnt in her forehead from his stare.

Time crawled. It was so silent in class that even the squeak of chalk made everyone jump. So, it practically stopped their hearts when there was a knock on the classroom door. It slid open smoothly and the school principal stepped into the room. Yuriko could see the PA standing behind him, her eyes red and angry.

The principal gestured for Sawako-sensei to come over and the math teacher did so, unwillingly. The principal's low rumble was audible, but no distinct words could be heard. When Sawako returned to his desk, he looked as if he had eaten something extremely bitter. The principal glanced at Yuriko and nodded. So relieved was she, that she literally bounded across the room, not caring that she looked as desperate as she felt.

After math, the interview was a welcome and pleasant interlude.

***

In fact, the interview had been awful. Distracted by the tension with her math teacher, Yuriko hadn't noticed that her head had become stuffed - she had a cold coming on, probably from her earlier drenching. The interviewer was more than a little hostile, and his piggy eyes had an unpleasant look in them, as he kept drawing the conversation away from her work and back to her reputation, and her sexuality. It seemed that the end would never come.

She ended the interview with a curt nod of thanks and watched with relief as the PA hustled the man and his crew away. She sighed, and then shivered as a chill moved up her spine.

"Well, she said hopefully to the cameraman, "at least it couldn't get much worse."

He lit a cigarette and nodded. "Sure it could."

Yuriko shot him a deadly look.

***

"A 62?" Yuriko held the offending piece of paper as if it were a poisonous snake. "I can't believe it. That's terrible." She waved the test at Sayaka, who took it and looked it over.

"You're right, this *is* terrible," the girl announced.

"No, that's fine - just tell everyone why don't you," Yuriko mumbled. A sneeze rocked her body and she groaned.

"At least you'll have a tutor - you'll pass the next test," Sayaka reassured her.

"With a score like that, we'd better start today." Aya leaned forward to be heard. "Right after school."

The sound of steps made the three women turn, to see the class leader, Sato Hiroyuki, standing in front of them looking a little embarrassed.

"I'm very sorry to interrupt..." he began, obviously uncomfortable. Yuriko waved his concerns away and asked him to continue. "Uh, well, it has to do with day duty."

Yuriko watched as his face flushed. Cute kid. "Uh-huh..." she said encouragingly.

"Well, next week is your turn," he said quickly, not meeting her eyes.

"What?" she asked a little sharply. "How could that be? I just got here."

Hiroyuki bowed and stuttered an effuse apology. "I'm sorry, it's just that we're at the end of the alphabet and since you go by your given name..." he bowed again.

Yuriko laid her head on the desk and whined in self-pity.

***

Never had her apartment seemed so wonderful, so welcoming...so in need of a cleaning. Yuriko slouched in past the rumpled sofa, the ever-growing piles of love letters and unread scripts, past the unwashed dishes, and into the bedroom.

Falling face first on her bed, Yuriko moaned and groaned until all her self-pity welled up in a barrage of cursing. She cursed the weather, Sawako-sensei, her agent, the gods that apparently hated her and were punishing her for some terrible crime done in her past. When she was done cursing, she got up and muttered a few extra general imprecations for good measure. She stripped off her soaked uniform, threw it on a pile of unwashed laundry, which she otherwise ignored. Sliding the door to the bathroom open, she laid her glasses on the sink, and looked at herself in the mirror. Her normally bright - if weak - eyes were watery and her brow furrowed. She gave herself a wry smile and slid the cover off the furo.

The most wonderful thing about this apartment, she thought, as she slid in with a sigh of satisfaction, was the bathroom.

***

Yuriko slid the comb through her hair, set it down and straightened her tie. She checked the clock - she had plenty of time. The bath seemed to have knocked out the cold, thank heavens. She patted herself down, gave herself a wink in the mirror and smiled. *This* was more like it...playing school kid just wasn't really her style.

As she left her apartment she could hear the phone ringing, but decided not to get it. The answering machine would pick it up.

Continued