Saiyuu no Ryokou: The Continuing Adventures of Yuriko
The Story So Far: Yuriko finds many mysteries to ponder in her first day with Midoriís family Ė who is crying outside at midnight? And what was Midoriís hobby in high school?
Volume 2, Issue 9
"A Brisk Workout"
Yuriko woke with two distinct sensations the words "I love your
stomach" on her lips and the recognition that her feet were cold. The first slipped
from her mind almost immediately, but the second persisted. The window was still open and
a distinctly cool draft was wafting across the bed. She squirmed, hoping to rub some
warmth back into her feet, but it was hopeless.
Yuri was now wide-awake and unusually restless. Moving carefully so that she would not
disturb Midori, she dressed and left the room, carrying a pair of sneakers.
The house was quiet. At least in this wing, there was no sound. Yuriko thought she
could hear some faint noise from the childrens rooms she decided not to
investigate. Without conscious thought, she found herself lacing her sneakers up and
heading out of the house.
It was cold outside - Yuriko shivered in her jacket and rubbed her hands together. It
struck her as odd that, just two mornings ago she had woken up to another foul, humid, hot
Tokyo morning, and here she stood, a few hours away in space and not that much further in
time, shivering from the cold and taking deep breaths of pine-scented air.
She walked randomly towards the stand of trees, scanning the area for she wasnt
quite sure what. The springy grass would hardly show footprints from late last night in
the morning dew, and even if it did, what would she have learned other than that someone
was up even earlier than she was? She looked back at the house and realized that she had
no idea which window belonged to her room, or which of the several pine trees stood in its
direct line of sight. With an expansive shrug, Yuriko gave up her nascent detective career
and started a brisk walk around the lake.
The lake was shrouded in mist, the houses silent in the morning. The crunch of her feet
on the gravel wasnt loud, but was satisfying. Yuriko picked up her pace, breaking
into a light run. She was slightly surprised at her energy she wasnt in the
habit of exercising when she wasnt required to, but somehow it felt right. Maybe it
was the air, or maybe it was her bodys way of preventing pain when she returned to
Madame Sophias gentle ministrations. Or maybe, she thought as she completed the
first lap, maybe it just feels good, sometimes, to run. She laughed out loud at the
thought. Maybe she ought to call Ruriko-sensei and let her know that her erstwhile forward
had *finally* bought into the whole exercise thing.
The sun was rising over the surrounding hills, burning the mist off of the lake now.
Yuri could make out ripples on the lake where fish were feeding, and ducks sliding across
the surface. She waved at a pair of ducks who stared impassively back at her.
On the third lap, she watched as a car pulled away from one of the houses, and briefly
wondered who they were and where they were going. She rounded the corner and headed back
towards the house at a full out run, but pulled up at the sight of someone coming towards
her. The figure was too far away to make out, but it waved and Yuriko waved back, slowing
to a jog. She squinted as the figure came closer it was male, anyway, all of the
women in the house had longer hair than that. He broke into a lope of his own that brought
them within hailing distance of each other.
"Good morning!" the voice proclaimed the figure to be Satoshi his
voice was rather higher pitched than his brothers.
"Good morning!" Yuriko replied, as she jogged the last few meters and met him
on the path.
"Youre up early," Satoshi said with a smile. "I have to admit, I
didnt think youd be a morning and exercise person. Please dont tell me
youre a health nut."
Yuriko grinned. "Only on vacation back in the city, Im a total
Satoshi chuckled. "Somehow I doubt that. I had heard that you were a bit of a
player in the past, but...oh my goodness, that was impossibly rude, wasnt it?"
He pushed his glasses up his nose to cover the fact that he was blushing slightly.
Waving away his discomfort, Yuriko nodded. "I was, but not any more." She
thought about it for a second and continued, "I suppose that kind of thing must
concern the family."
"A little, I suppose, but Sis has always been uncommonly self-reliant."
Satoshi looked around then gestured at his sneaker-clad feet. "Um, I was going to do
a few laps myself want to join me, or were you finishing up?"
Yuriko stretched her legs a little. "I think Im okay for a few more.
Id like the company."
Satoshi grinned. "And the chance to pump me for information, I bet."
"Well, yeah, that too." Yuri grinned happily. She and Satoshi set off at a
leisurely pace. "So, lets start with the basics...tell me all about Midori in
tedious detail starting with her birth."
Satoshi laughed at that. "Lets see, shes um, opinionated, competent
and a bit of a loner, I guess. Shes a born writer one of my earliest memories
of Mi-chan was of her copying my writing homework when she was like five or so. She used
to sit all of us down and make up the most amazing stories about things that lived in the
woods around here spirits and gods and animals...some of it was local legend that
she elaborated on, some she just, well, made up."
Yuriko knew perfectly well that she was grinning foolishly, but decided she was
allowed. "What do you do for a living, Satoshi-san? I know Hayao-san writes, and
Gin-san helps your father run the business..."
"Im a mechanical engineer," Satoshi smiled patiently, "and you
have my permission to let your eyes glaze over now. Im the black sheep in this
family of creative types I cant draw or write, or sing, as you heard last
"A black sheep?" Yuriko was incredulous. "Can this family even *have* a
black sheep? Youre all so...different." She thought about that, even as she
said it. There was something important there, but she couldnt pinpoint it now.
Satoshi was also lost in thought. "Its true were a diverse
bunch," he agreed. "But even so, Im the only scientist in the group. Even
the technical manuals Hayao works on he specializes in graphic programs, computer
sims, 3-D graphics, that kind of thing. I just couldnt wrap my mind around pictures
and words. But numbers...they make sense. Theyre totally predictable."
Yuriko watched in fascination as Satoshi rhapsodized about his specialty. She
hadnt realized that there were people other than her brother who thought this way.
"You know," she said when Satoshi paused, "I think youd get along
well with my brother he works in artificial intelligence...I think. I can never
quite understand what hes talking about."
"At the risk of being rude - again if you cant understand anything he
says, hes definitely a mathematician." He smiled pleasantly at Yuri.
She reflected on the easy way Midoris family had about them. Writer, architect,
engineer, they all had a simple, down-to-earth charm...the kind of charm it had taken her
years to learn. She admired and resented them all for a moment or two.
"Now," Satoshi said, breathing a little heavily, "its your turn to
tell me about Yuriko. We obviously know a lot about you but we dont know
anything about you, if you know what I mean. And Midori is my little sister
Im supposed to watch out for her."
"What would you like to know?" Yuriko felt a tense knot crawl into her
stomach. What could she say about herself to this man? She had no academic credentials, no
Satoshi mused. "I guess Id like to know about Yuriko the person, instead of
Yuriko the persona." He ducked his head. "When we heard that you and Sis were
together, we..." he paused and bit his lip, "we only knew what we had heard, you
know, and we were concerned. Shes made some rash choices before."
Yuriko nodded sagely. "Havent we all?"
They jogged on in silence for a short while. Yuriko shot the man beside her a quick
look and decided to lay it all on the line. "Look, Im not exactly the deepest
person on the planet, Im a pop idol. I act, I sing, I do stupid game shows and
advertisements and Im at the beck and call of my agent, my manager, my fans and
whoevers writing the check that week. I cant claim to be anything special. But
I can tell you this Midori is the most important person in the world to me..."
she stopped speaking, her throat tightening up of its own accord.
She cleared her throat and continued. "When left to myself, I like to read,
preferably something with depth, I have an inordinate fondness for string quartets and
cello concertos, and I like to dance."
"The last we knew," Satoshis voice was pleasant, but Yuriko blushed
"Yeah, the TV thing. Im sorry about that...it was kind of complicated."
Satoshi waved her concern away. "I figured that it had something to do with the
tabloid story about you and the teacher." He glanced at her quickly. "That
wasnt true, I assume?"
"Not at all," Yuriko spoke with fervor. "So, to abruptly change the
subject, how about heading back and getting some breakfast?"
"Good idea. Yuu should be up and I know the kids all are..."
"Your children are very..." Yuriko groped for an appropriate term,
"energetic." They stopped on the lawn and began stretching out.
Satoshi barked with laughter. "You dont know the half of it you met
them after a long day of swimming and playing. They were downright laid back. Thats
one of the reasons I jog I have to be able to keep up with them! And it
doesnt help that my wife is an ex-athlete. Im behind my desk all day, to make
Yuriko seized on the bit that she found intriguing. "An ex-athlete? What did she
"Soccer. She played forward. Made the national team one year." He didnt
bother keeping the pride out of his voice.
As they walked back into the house, Yuriko tried to fit the mental picture she had of
Yuuka with the image of a star soccer forward. She couldnt make it work.
The house smelled of pancakes as they entered. Akane went running by, giggling,
followed closely by Kurika, shouting "give it back!"
Yuriko looked back with longing at the peaceful lake, then shut the door behind her.
She smiled at Satoshi, then bowed to Ritsuko who was walking across the living room floor
muttering about coffee and noise.
"Good morning," Midori greeted her with a cup of coffee and a bright smile.
"You were up early."
Grinning, Yuriko took the coffee and squeezed Midoris hand in thanks. "I
woke up with cold feet and thought Id go for a jog.
Midori leaned forward, speaking softly into Yurikos ear. "Next time your
feet are cold, just wake me up. I can think of better ways than jogging to warm up."
Yurikos face colored. She glanced covertly around, and realized in a moment of
intense clarity just what it meant to be part of a big family. Three adults were busy
chastising two different children for several different transgressions. The living room
was filled with people in various stages of dress, some still non-verbal before coffee or
tea had revived them, others chattering a mile a minute. Not a single person was paying
any attention to them at all. Yuriko felt dizzy with the sensation of too much happening
at once to follow.
A small warmth made Yuriko glance back down at her lover. Midori had placed a hand on
Yuris arm. Yuriko grinned. "Ill remember that tomorrow morning."
Saiyuu no Ryokou, all characters and situations, copyright E. Friedman.