Saiyuu no Ryokou: The Continuing Adventures of Yuriko
Saiyuu no Ryokou: The Continuing Adventures of Yuriko
The Story So Far: A difficult week draws to an agonizing close. Yuriko's ready for some
rest, but relaxation seems far away.
Volume 4, Issue 2
"R and R"
Late as it was, traffic crawled. Despite the air conditioning in the car, Yuriko felt
overheated and drained. She fidgeted where she sat, as they inched along the Tamagawadori
into overcrowded Shibuya.
As she removed a piece of non-existent lint from her trouser leg, Yuriko wondered at
her restlessness. A few moments of contemplation and she knew exactly what was bothering
her - she didn't want to go home.
Lately, her apartment was less of the refuge it had once been, and more of an empty
space that simply held her possessions. She attributed it to growing accustomed to being
with Midori, but the picture in her mind of her apartment, with its large bath and
miniscule kitchen made her chest feel hollow. It wasn't a place to live, Yuriko thought;
it was a place to stay.
Yuriko patted her pockets down, looking for her phone, but even as she opened it, she
shook her head. Talking with Sayaka might alleviate her loneliness, but she really
shouldn't intrude on the girl's studies just because she was bored. She sighed, and
watched the car move another five feet.
She could feel the melancholy pressing in on her, hovering just out of reach of her own
ability to cope.
Stress was catching up with her, and she knew from experience that there was only one
way to avoid it. If she didn't find away to ease the pressure, she'd find herself up too
late tonight, in a near-dark apartment, writing terrible poetry. A slow smile formed on
her face, with the memory of awakening one morning weeks ago, and stumbling out of her
bedroom to find her embryonic song lyrics crisscrossed with editorial notes written by her
lover. Not all of the notes had been gentle, but they had all been accurate, Yuriko had to
admit, and the smile grew broader. No, she did not want to be alone this evening - she
wanted to be out in the world, with superficial people who would not notice if she seemed
less energetic than usual, because they were too busy having a good time in front of
She reached into her pocket again for the phone, but her fingertips brushed something
else, which she drew out and gazed at with interest. It was a business card, printed on
one side, a hand-written note on the other. She read the note and the smile that had made
millions swoon flashed brightly across her face. She shifted forward and gave her driver
new instructions, then leaned back and closed her eyes - but the smile did not fade from
her lips. Tonight she was going to be surrounded by bright lights and bright people, who
would drive the threatening cloud of darkness away.
Tonight, she was going to party.
Yuriko ran her hand through her hair. She wasn't really dressed for this, but with the
oppressive heat of the last few days, no one would fault her for wearing casual clothes,
even for an evening affair. Well, except Sugiyama, the fashion editor of the Daily News.
His insistence on proper attire bordered on the pathological. Yuriko had been his target
more than once - he had even nicknamed the androgynous look she favored
Yuriko left the car with a wave to the gathered press, or at least those who had not
been able to gain entrance to the gallery. She chatted amiably with a television reporter
with whom she had a good relationship. At most, the spot would get ten seconds buried at
the end of the news, but Yuriko didnt mind - this wasn't about her at all.
Although this was not Yuri's first time at this particular gallery, it had been quite a
long time since her last visit. The layout of the place was much different than it had
been - the rooms were now filled with rich low lighting that highlighted the honey color
of the wood walls and displays. Each work on exhibit was bathed in slightly brighter
light, making them look as if they glowed with some inner incandescence. Yuriko barely
glanced at the pieces on display, keeping her attention on the people around her. She
helped herself to some wine and worked the room, greeting every journalist and
photographer as if he or she were a long-lost friend.
It was nearly half an hour before she managed to work her way to where the artist
stood, obviously captive in an unwelcome conversation. Yuriko threw an arm out, gesturing
at the young woman and waved. A harried-looking Ritsuko smiled with unfeigned relief and
politely disengaged herself from the young man with whom she had been speaking.
"I cannot tell you how glad I am that you're here," she began, as they moved
away from that side of the room. "If I had to answer one more historical question on
the antecedents of my school, I was going to scream."
"I'm always glad to be able to play prince and rescue the fair young damsel,"
Yuriko bowed, grinning. "Nice turnout! How is it going?"
Ritsuko spiked her hair out with her fingers as she thought. "Well enough, I guess
- more press than I expected." She shot a sideways glance towards the blonde. "I
know it - you dont have to say it."
"I told you so." Yuriko said with obvious relish. She looked around.
"So, do you have a moment? Can you take me around the show?"
Ritsuko smiled broadly, nodding. "I'd like nothing better."
It was obvious, Yuriko thought, that for all her modesty, Ritsuko was deeply proud of
her art. For the next few minutes, Yuriko let the younger woman speak without
interruption, enjoying the sensation of being in the presence of an articulate and
exceptionally talented person.
"And this one..." Ritsuko had brought them around to a slightly taller
display, one that came almost up to Yuriko's chest. Supported by a base of honey-colored
wood was a glass case, with a Lucite stand. Suspended in the stand was a delicate bowl, no
larger than the width of Yuriko's palm. The blonde exhaled audibly as it came into view.
"It's the one you were working on when we visited, isn't it?"
Yes." Ritsuko folded her arms across her chest and watched as Yuriko walked slowly
around the case.
"It's...it's...breathtaking. And heartbreaking." Yuriko glanced up into
Ritsuko's dark, measuring gaze. "There are no words to describe this." For a
moment, the two women locked eyes, sharing a private moment with the little bowl. Yuriko
glanced back down at the piece of pottery and shook her head sadly.
"I have to own it, but it should be in a museum or something. It's so very
Ritsuko reached out and laid a hand softly on Yuriko's arm. "I wont take
your money, Yuriko-san." Her voice was very quiet as she stepped closer, pitching it
even lower. "But it's yours."
Yuriko shook her head again, more forcefully. "No, I can't accept it. Not like
The young artist opened her mouth to answer, but just then a nervous middle-aged
gentleman interrupted them and Ritsuko was forced to turn her attention to him. She shot a
glance at Yuriko, but the blonde had already moved off to engage another journalist. As
she pulled the editor of an arts column for a daily paper over to see the little bowl,
Yuriko could just make Ritsuko out, smiling and bowing at two men in expensive suits.
The last light went off in the gallery. Yuriko pushed herself off the wall and stood
with her hands in her pockets, as the middle-aged man and Ritsuko concluded their business
with many smiles and bows.
Yuriko gazed outside, where rain was beginning to slap loudly against the pavement. She
was going to get soaked.
Ritsuko and the gallery owner met Yuriko at the door. More bows and thanks and
formulaic words were concluded and the two women were left alone, huddled under the
"The car ought to be here any minute," Yuriko said vaguely.
Ritsuko nodded, but she wasn't really paying attention. Her eyes were focused on
something far away. The glow in her face was enough to attest to the fact that it was
clearly a successful future upon which she gazed.
Yuriko wanted to engage the young woman in conversation, to see that future with her,
but her bones ached with exhaustion and she had a headache in the middle of her forehead.
Petulantly, she blamed it on the weather, but it probably had more to do with the wine she
Ritsuko practically jumped up and down where she stood. Waves of adrenaline-fueled
energy poured off her.
Yuriko smiled at her and said, "It was a good night, huh?"
Ritsuko nodded, her eyes bright. "It was great, really. More than I had hoped
for..." her eyes wandered to the street. "More than I could have ever imagined,
"I'm really glad for you, and I know that Midori will be too."
Ritsuko couldn't take it anymore - the nervous energy that filled her finally won out
over prudence and she jumped out into the street.
"It was great!!!!" she shouted, spinning in place as sheets of rain drenched
Yuriko grinned as the young woman ran back and forth and spun with joy.
"It was absolutely GREAT!" Ritsuko said, her arms over her head as he came to
the end of a spirited pirouette.
"Congratulations," a voice said.
Yuriko whirled to face the speaker, as Ritsuko's arms fell to her side. In the middle
of the street, a hundred feet away or so, a figure - a man - stood hunched under an
The man cleared his throat and spoke again, a little louder. "Congratulations - I
hear it was a really impressive opening."
Yuriko looked at the stranger, who hadnt moved, then at Ritsuko, who had taken
three steps backwards, then back at the man. Even before the artist spoke, Yuriko was
pretty sure she knew who he was.
When she did manage to get a word out, Ritsuko's voice was tight. Her fists clenched by
her side, her hair flattened on her head by the rain, Ritsuko stared at the figure in the
middle of the street.
"Nokoru?" she said.
Saiyuu no Ryokou, all characters and situations copyright E. Friedman and Yurikon LLC. All Rights Reserved.