Saiyuu no Ryokou: The Continuing Adventures of Yuriko
Saiyuu no Ryokou: The Continuing Adventures of Yuriko
The Story So Far: A long week doesn’t seem to be getting any shorter. Yuriko and Midori come home to find a distraught Ritsuko on their doorstep.
After a spat between siblings, Yuriko’s ready to call it a night.
Volume 3, Issue 13
Yuriko carried the tea tray into the living room for the second time that night. After
serving everyone, a thought occurred to her. "Perhaps, Ritsuko-san would like
something a bit more relaxing than tea?" she asked meaningfully.
Midori asked the question of her sister with a glance, who answered with a much
relieved nod. "Id love some wine if you have it."
"I think I do, but if I dont will sake serve?"
Ritsuko made a face but answered in the affirmative.
Midori returned with a bottle of red wine, which she opened with alacrity.
"No thanks," said the singer. "Ill stick with tea for now."
She checked the clock on the mantle and thought about her schedule for the morning, as
Midori poured out two glasses of wine. As she drank, the idol wondered if the world would
end if she simply didnt go in the next day. With a silent, resigned sigh, she
decided that it would.
Ritsuko thanked her sister, took a long drink, then sat back on the sofa with a sigh.
"A long time ago," she began with the usual fairly tale formula. "At least,
it seems that way to me." She sipped at her wine for a moment. "When I was in
school, I became fascinated with Kutaniyaki," she said for Yurikos benefit.
Midori nodded, remembering her sisters early interest in pottery. "Id
travel to shows, galleries, museums, whatever I could get to, to see different artists,
different periods. I met him, Nokoru, at a gallery. He and I happened to be standing in
front of the same piece and we started talking, you know, about the feeling of the piece.
Ritsuko looked back and forth, her eyes red and puffy. Midori nodded briefly. "So,
when he asked me to join him for a drink, I said yes." She looked down at the glass
in her hands. "I knew he was older, and married he wore a ring - but you know,
I was a senior in high school and flattered that an older man would find me interesting
enough to talk to." Her cheeks colored. "I know how it sounds, but it
wasnt like that he didnt proposition me. We talked about art and had a
few drinks, then he walked me home and that was it." Her voice was forceful,
as if she needed to convince them.
"The next time I went to a show, I was, you know, looking for him. There
werent many people interested in Kutaniyaki in school, none in fact, and he was
" her shoulders dropped with resignation. "When I say it all aloud like
this it sounds like every soap opera ever, but it didnt feel that way. When I was
with him it was just
nice. It wasnt high drama, or passionate love or anything
like that. We just liked each others company."
Ritsuko turned her gaze towards Midori. "He never even made a move on me! We were
meeting about once a month by then and I was wondering a little about it. So, over dinner,
you know, if he
was interested. And he looked so surprised that I felt
embarrassed. Like it had never even occurred to him." She finished off her wine and
leaned forward to pour herself more.
"When I told him that I was leaving to study Kutaniyaki in Kanagawa, he took me
out for a really nice meal. He was always really honest with me he had told me he
was married, even though it was obvious, and that he had children
" she became
lost in some memory for a moment, then pulled herself back to the present. "But I was
leaving soon, and I
" she paused. "So, yeah."
"Ever since then, wed see each other when we could not so often that
is became annoying or embarrassing, but enough that it was
a habit, I guess. When I
came back home, I was pretty focused on trying to build my career as an artist. And Nokoru
was so supportive he gave me business contacts and helped with setting up shows and
when I started coming to Tokyo regularly, he rented an apartment, where I could
stay." She looked up defiantly. "I told Aoi and Father that I was staying with a
friend and he was a friend, so it wasnt a lie."
"But?" Midori prompted.
Ritsuko smiled bitterly. "Recently, hes been acting strangely. For a while
now, he hasnt had much time to see me and Ive been busy, so
wasnt a big deal. But there have been more excuses recently and, when we do see each
other, its like hes avoiding me or he cuts our time short with really
banal reasons. Last night I came to town and he said that we wouldnt be able to get
together at all. So, I asked him if it was over."
"Admirably blunt of you." Midori sounded genuinely impressed.
"Right and I wouldnt really have cared so much if he just said yes,
you know?" Ritsuko dashed tears from her eyes angrily. "But the stupid jerk lied
and said that he was falling in love with me too deeply and that he didnt want to
hurt me and
oh god, I feel like a total ass for being this upset about it." She
hunched over as sobs once again wracked her body. "I mean, hes obviously a
loser," she said between spasms. "Im better off without him." She
slapped her wineglass onto the table and rubbed her face. "I feel so utterly stupid.
Why couldnt he have just told the truth?"
"Nothing is easier than self-deceit. For what each man wishes, that he also
believes to be true." Yuriko commented sotto voce. When she realized that both
women were staring at her, she stuttered an apology. "Its a quote from
something someone told me a long time ago." Her stomach clenched
momentarily when she realized that it had been her father who had been in the habit of
quoting classical philosophers clearly, he had been born in the wrong time and
place. Yurikos thoughts wandered off for a moment, envisioning her father as a minor
feudal lord, as she realized just how out of time and place he had truly been. But her
attention was drawn back to the drama in front of her by Ritsukos bark of laughter.
"Yes, I guess thats true. Hes probably sitting at home right now,
feeling righteous for freeing me." The girl looked as if she wanted to spit. "I
was perfectly happy with us the way we were I dont want to get married, I
dont want to have children
why couldnt he just leave it the way it
Midori patted her sister on the hand. "Thats the eternal question isnt
it? Why are things never just good enough the way they are?" She shot a look at her
lover, who was lost in thought once again.
Ritsuko finished her wine and stood abruptly. "Im really tired. Is it okay
Midori stood quickly. "Go ahead and make yourself at home. Well try and be
quiet in the morning, but no promises."
Ritsuko shook her head, an understanding, if exhausted, smile on her lips. "No,
thats okay. I have to get over to the gallery early anyway. If I dont, the
owner will do something weird with the set-up. Im not sure why, but they always
do." She took a step towards the bathroom, then turned around quickly. "Im
really sorry for being so inconvenient and bothersome."
Midoris lips tightened and she rolled her eyes. "Shut up and go to sleep,
"Thanks, and good night."
Yuriko was on her feet, before the girl had reached the bathroom. She accompanied her
lover into her bedroom, sitting on the bed, her mind far away in place and time, as she
thought back to random scenes from her childhood.
"Isnt it funny," she said airily, "how other peoples lives
seem so predictable, but your own seems so
Midori made a noise of agreement. Seating herself next to the idol, she leaned her head
on Yurikos arm. "Mmm. Ritsukos story is pretty obvious, from our
perspective." She lifted her chin, staring into the middle distance. "It seems
so bizarre to me to think of my little sister carrying on an affair with a married man for
all that time. But I guess Ive been fairly self-absorbed these past few
maybe longer than that. My whole life, probably. Ive never been good at
being there for other people running away always seemed like the best option. And
there was Ritsuko, grabbing life with both hands, and I missed it, completely."
"I was thinking," Yuriko laughed self-deprecatingly, "about me
speaking of self-absorbed. As I listened to Ritsuko-san, I couldnt help but think
what my life might have been like if I had looked for Fumie or even just sat her
down and told her about myself at all. When I look back at my childhood, there were so
many signs that my parents didnt approve of me, that they really disliked and
distrusted me. And I guess I treated them like the enemy all the time. We fought all the
time, about everything, until I stopped talking to them altogether. Its not all that
surprising that they threw me out when they did, when I think about it. Id been
pushing every button for so long I guess my sexuality was the last straw."
"Thats not how Mariko-san tells the story, you know." Midori smiled at
the look on Yurikos face. "Shes your biggest fan from way back
before there were other fans."
"I know," Yuriko said, warmed by the thought. She put her arm around the
author and pulled them both back onto the bed, where they lay, staring at the ceiling.
"Even though its awful to think this, Im a little glad," Midori
said quietly, "that Ill never have to meet them. Im not sure that I could
behave if they treated you like that, because Im your fan, too." She rolled
over and kissed the idol soundly.
"And Im yours," Yuriko said, returning the kiss.
"What are we going to do about her?" Midori asked, gesturing with her head
towards the living room.
"Same thing sisters always do in novels," Yuriko responded, "youre
going to let her cry herself sick on your couch for a week, then throw her out, causing a
rift between you for years, until you both forget why youre angry at each other, but
still wont talk."
Midori groaned, laying her head on Yurikos chest. "I hate those kinds of
books," she said with a quiet laugh.
Saiyuu no Ryokou, all characters and situations copyright E. Friedman and Yurikon LLC. All Rights Reserved.