Saiyuu no Ryokou: The Continuing Adventures of Yuriko
The Story So Far: A long day has started with an unusual outing Yuriko's gone
for a run. In the process she's gotten to know a little more about Midori and her
Volume 2, Issue 10
"Best Laid Plans"
"So," Natsumi's voice was smooth and mellow. "What are you ladies
planning for today? We're all going to the beach. Will you join us?"
Yuriko was about to agree happily, but Midori cut in, her voice morose. "I'm
afraid we can't. We've got a television interview this afternoon."
Yuriko made a face at this. She'd completely forgotten about that. "But we don't
need to be there all day, surely?"
Midori smiled. "No, that's true. Would you like to go to the beach? Or stay
Yuuka joined them, her hands resting comfortably on her pregnant belly "We'll be
staying home and having a picnic on the lawn, if that helps it's another option at
least. I get tired easily these days..." she smiled conspiratorially, "and I'd
like to be able to get in at least a little adult conversation while I'm here."
Natsumi laughed, "Funny, I come here to get some time with the children in."
She reached out and ruffled Yuuji's hair as he walked by. He scowled good-naturedly and
wished them a good morning. She smiled at the other women knowingly. "I love having a
teenager, but there's nothing like little children to give you a sense of the wonder of
Yuuka agreed pleasantly.
"Who is `we'?" Midori asked her sister-in-law, apparently more eager at the
idea of a picnic than a day of wonder with the children.
"Ritsuko-chan has something she's working on here, and wanted to stay in to finish
it," Yuuka bit the tip of her tongue as she thought. "I'm not sure if Hayao-san
said he'd stay or not. I think he was up in the air about it. And Youko-san feels the way
I do she's looking forward to a few moments of quiet.
"Well?" Midori turned to Yuriko, "what would you prefer are you
up to an afternoon with the kids or not? You can decide I'm too tired to."
"Would it be alright if we join you?" Yuriko looked back and forth between
Yuuka and Midori. "I mean, if you'd rather we not" this to Yuuka, "or you
want to swim..." this last to Midori who shook her head.
Yuuka assured them that they were welcome, although Natsumi expressed regrets at not
having their company. She gave Midori a hard look. "We don't get to see enough of
you, Mi-chan. You should come home more often."
Midori waved the idea away. "I know, I know, Aoi is always on me about that, as
well." She sighed. "I'm just so busy..."
Laying a gentle hand on Midori's shoulder, Natsumi nodded. "We know." She
patted the writer on the shoulder. Smiling at Yuriko, she said, "Maybe you can join
us tomorrow." With a slight bow, she turned and walked away stiffly.
Yuriko watched Midori's face, which had darkened slightly. She could feel the
awkwardness in the air. Yuuka clearly was not sure whether she should change the subject
or simply leave. "Well, if we're going to picnic," Yuri said cheerfully,
"then I guess we'll need to make lunch would you like us to do anything?"
She paused and grinned at Yuuka ruefully. "I suppose I should say, is there anything
simple I can't mess up? I'm not known for my skill at cooking."
Yuuka shot Yuriko a look of thanks. "We were going to stick with sandwiches
this way we can pack lunch for the beach contingent, too. Do your culinary skill runs that
"Just," Yuriko laughed. She glanced at Midori, whose face was still blank and
dark and she gestured Yuuka towards the kitchen. "Let's go see what I can ruin
it looks like Ritsuko-san has come back to life."
Yuuka glanced over her shoulder at the young woman who sat hunched over a cup of
coffee, chatting with Sakura. "It looks that way, doesn't it? Let's see if she or
Youko-san have any brilliant menu ideas."
Yuriko let the other woman lead the way, turning back to her lover for a second.
Midori shook herself visibly. Her face cleared and she smiled up at Yuriko brightly.
"I'd love to. I make a mean egg salad sandwich."
"Really?" Yuriko was delighted. "I love egg salad."
"You love food." Midori corrected playfully. "Is there anything you
Yuriko thought about that as they joined Ritsuko, who was balancing a cup of coffee and
a squirming Akane. Midori picked Akane off of Ritsuko's lap and set her on the floor. She
addressed the child.
"What's your favorite food, Akane-chan?"
"Ice cream!" Akane jumped up and down in an ecstasy of anticipation. "I
want ice cream!" She ran to Masaki who was standing with his father. "Papa, can
I have ice cream?"
Masaki looked puzzled, but agreed that she could have some ice cream when they got to
the beach. Yuriko watched with delight as Akane insisted, predictably, on immediate
gratification. She turned to Midori admiringly. "You're absolutely evil." Midori
just grinned back at her.
Yuriko gazed into Midori's dark eyes and had her second revelation of the morning, but
decided to leave it for later. It had never occurred to her to discuss it with Midori
she had never intended to, herself, but it was something they should talk
her train of thought was completely derailed by the sound of her name.
"Do you feel up to boiling water?" Ritsuko's voice was much more chipper
after a morning application of caffeine. Yuriko grinned at her and assured her that her
culinary skills, pathetic as they were, even went so far as being able to butter bread and
Yuriko stared with disgust at the pile of egg slices. "How many more eggs do we
need?" she said, trying to push the hair out of her mouth without tasting the egg on
"That should be the last batch," Youko glanced past Yuriko's arm at the bowl.
"You're pretty fast with that slicer."
Yuriko grimaced. "Thanks, but now I'm not sure I can ever look an egg in the eye
The other woman laughed. "I know exactly what you mean. Two years ago Kirika-chan
would only eat curried rice and nothing else. Even now the smell of curry makes me vaguely
"I think that's it," Midori handed a carrot slice to Youko and stuffed
another into Yuriko's mouth. "We've got all the sandwiches for the kids done, and
this will be plenty for us." She saw the look that passed over Yuriko's face and
giggled. "Not in the mood for egg salad anymore? I'll make a regular salad."
Yuriko sighed in relief. "I think I'm off eggs for a while." Turning to
include the other women in the conversation she said, "I don't know how you ladies do
it doesn't cooking take all the fun out of food?" Yuriko bore the resulting
laughter with good grace and a self-deprecating smile for her pampered ways.
The next half hour was another dance of chaos, noise and activity, as children and
adults gathered important items to take to the beach.
Bathing suits were found, missing stuffed animals had to be located, food packed and
after all was said and done, Aoi and Mishima were missing. A fifteen-minute hunt later
found them in Aoi's study, deep in discussions about a project for the town. They
sheepishly allowed themselves to be dragged out of the house and bundled into a car, under
the watchful eyes of Yuuji and Akane, who reproached their grandparents soundly for
delaying their trip.
Eventually the bags, blankets, baskets and chairs were packed and the company set off
for their day at the beach. The silence that settled on the remaining few was as profound
as a deep breath of clear air.
Yuuka sighed. "Thank god for that," she muttered, well below anyone's ability
to hear. She grinned and spoke aloud. "Who's left? Did Hayao-san decide to
"No," Ritsuko held a platter of fresh fruit in her hands. "He decided to
be a bad uncle and spoil the kids' dinner by buying them too much junk food."
"I approve wholeheartedly," Youko said. When the others looked at her
askance, she shrugged. "I'm the mommy I can't do it, but someone should."
She smiled, "Its summer and you're only young once, after all."
"Agreed!" Midori said happily. "So I think we should all go right
outside and have some lovely summer moments of our own."
The five women grabbed food, dining implements and Yuriko, being the tallest, draped a
tablecloth over her shoulder. In single file, they proceeded down the lawn to the trees by
the lake, ready enough to enjoy the bright summer day.