Saiyuu no Ryouko: The Continuing Adventures of Yuriko, Issue 42
- Late again. I suck.
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Saiyuu no Ryouko: The Continuing Adventures of Yuriko
The Story So Far: Yuriko has had a full day of repentance for her
excesses of the day before. She's too busy to be unhappy, but not too
busy to note the irony.
Volume 3, Issue 6
"Stars at Night"
Yuriko pressed the button and sighed, as the smooth notes of a solo
cello filled the room. The song was simple, sweet, and slightly
melancholic, as cello pieces often are; she smiled with pleasure and
sighed again, remembering the day she first heard a cello played like
Her parents had wanted their children to be "exposed to culture,"
something she had later realized meant, "We don't enjoy or understand
this, but we think it ought to be taught." As a child, she had been
taken to Kabuki, to a Shakespeare play, to museums, and several
classical concerts. Her parents had watched, not really touched by
anything they saw, but awed by the importance and class of it all.
Yuriko, who tended to live more in her heart than they, had been moved
from time to time, but nothing ever spoke to her directly until one
It had been one of Bachâs Cello Suites. The concert had been good, but
the cello player had been sublime. Yuriko had felt herself stirred
with each movement of the woman's hands. Her gaze had locked on the
woman's face, searching it for the message hidden in her music. When
the solo had finished, Yuriko had not been at all surprised to find
tears in her eyes. She had asked her parents if she could stay to get
the cello player's autograph, but they had only wanted to get home.
She had never seen that particular soloist again; now she silently
thanked the woman for awakening within her a love of music that had
Her hand lifted to brush the curtains aside, but she found that in
order to do so, she had to move a potted plant, a pile of notebooks
and a picture. She removed the offending items, then pulled the
curtain aside to look out over a sporadically lit landscape. Her
apartment building was no taller than the others nearby, and the view
was nothing special. But if she let her mind wander, and her eyes
squint, she could imagine the lights to be festival lights strung out
over a street, or reflected in water below.
"Maybe I should have been a musician," she said out loud, to the
"You are a musician," Mariko said, from inside her head. Yuri smiled
at the memory of the conversation. Mariko had been over one afternoon
and she insisted that Yuriko's voice *was* her instrument.
"But," Yuri argued out loud with the Mariko in her memory, "I mean
something like an actual instrument, like piano," she held her hands
up and splayed her fingers, "or maybe saxophone." Or maybe, she
thought as she contemplated the night, cello.
Yuriko let the curtains go with a sigh. They fell heavily, once again
blocking the view out â" and in. She sat in her chair with the vague
idea of relaxing. Today had been a long day, and it didnât look like
the week was going to get any easier.
She felt irritable. Nervous energy forced her out of her chair and
into the kitchen. Out of habit, she made herself cup of tea, but she
wasnât really in the mood for it. She paced back and forth, covering
the distance of the living room in a few steps, then turning and
heading back to the kitchen area.
Yuriko stretched, but her back and arms hurt, so she stopped. After a
moment of confusion, she realized that her personal trainer was
already leaving a mark on her life. She grimaced at the idea that such
light weights could cause such great discomfort.
The track on the album switched. The cello was no longer alone, but
its strong tone fronted the orchestra. The other instruments were
there simply to punctuate the cello's statement. Yuriko watched the
blinking light on the CD player as the song continued, staccato and
In a way, she was like the cello - or at least, her persona was. All
the other instruments, all the staff of the tour and the studio worked
hard to make her shine. And she knew that it was her job to shine more
brightly than anyone else, just to make their efforts worth it. The
question she had was; was she the cello, or the cello player?
It was more than a rhetorical question, Yuriko thought, as she resumed
her pacing. If she was the cello player, then it was due to a certain
measure of skill and effort that she had become a star.
â¦But what if she was no more than the instrument? What if her stardom
was just the product of other peopleâs skill and design?
Yuriko gazed across the room at her reflection in the mirror. She
smiled, then frowned, then sneered, then gave herself a longing,
bedroom-eyed look. Her clothes, her music, her words, even the way she
moved were crafted by other people. How much of was really her at all?
Once again, Yuriko resumed pacing. Looking back, Yuri could hardly
tell when her life had left her own control. One day, she had been a
homeless waifâ¦the next, a pop idol. It all seemed so sudden and unreal.
Yuriko stopped where she stood, half a pace in front of the kitchen
counter. She picked up her cup of tea and sipped from it. Walking over
to the chair, she placed her saucer on the table and her butt firmly
in the chair.
âItâs a little early to be having a mid-life crisis, âshe laughed at
herself. She knew that she was just stressed, and that her feeling of
unease came from that stressâ¦but she felt that if she did not do
*something* she might explode.
âWell,â she drank some more tea and considered. âI canât sew. I canât
write music.â Something to think about â" why hadnât she ever tried to
learn? She could read it, she could sing it â" her pitch was excellent
â" why not? She put that aside for the moment. âI could choreograph,â
she admitted. But somehow it never held much appeal for her.
âYou *are* a musician,â Marikoâs voice echoed in her mind.
She bounced out of the chair, grabbing her cup of tea as she did so,
took a mouthful, then threw herself onto the sofa with a frustrated
sigh. She drank the rest of the tea, laid the cup on the table next to
its saucer and leaned back, closing her eyes. She pulled her glasses
off and tossed them on the table; they skidded across the surface and
fell onto the floor on the other side.
Yurikoâs eyes wandered around the room, searching for something to
grab on to, something that would wash the sense of uselessness from
her. It wasnât like she didnât have good reason to stress, after all.
But she didnât *want* to sit here, alone and full of restless,
unproductive energy. She considered calling Mari, but remembered that
she and Hachi had a business dinner that night.
She lifted an address book from the table next to the phone and paged
through it haphazardly. Most of the names were female; she realized
with a start that she had far fewer friends than she had had lovers.
The book went flying across the table and landed next to the glasses
on the floor.
Her eyes continued to roam. Shelves of CDs, books, photos. The plant
from the window, perched awkwardly on a pile of notebooks.
Yuriko stood, retrieved her glasses from the floor, and walked over to
the shelves by the window. She lifted the plant once more and set it
back in its position in front of the window, then carried the
notebooks to the table.
She opened one at random, smiling at the contents. The page was filled
with notes from a high school science class, some poorly executed
doodles and a cheerful little drawing of a catgirl with the caption,
âCheer up!â She remembered the day her âsempaiâ Sayaka had drawn that
for her - and she thanked the young woman mentally, as the image did
indeed cheer her up.
With an foolish grin, Yuriko began to read the journal of her second
high school career, remembering time spent with young people who knew
her as a person, not just a star. Far happier times, she acknowledged,
than her first stint in high school.
The kitchen clock proclaimed that it was just slightly after midnight
when Midori entered the apartment. The author dropped her bag and coat
on the back of the sofa, knowing that it would drive Yuriko crazy if
she found it there in the morning. She smiled at the thought - the
singer was so adorable when she was being prissy.
Midori glanced around the apartment, jumping at the site of the blonde
slumped over her table.
Irrationally, her heart quickened as she crossed the room. There was
nothing to be worried about, Yuriko had obviously fallen asleep
reading. But in the dark, late at night, in the silence of the
apartment, the writer's imagination ran wild.
âYuri?â Midori called softly, reaching out to shake her lover. There
was no immediate response, and Midori's heart gave another leap. She
found herself panting a little, so she spent a moment breathing
deeply, trying to wrest control of her body from her limbic system.
By the time she had calmed herself, it was apparent to Midori that
Yuri has simply fallen asleep at the table. The blonde's face rested
against her crossed arms, her cheeks scrunched up against her eyes.
Yuriâs hair covered her face, moving slightly with her breathing.
Midori took a long moment to enjoy this unguarded moment, to watch
Yuriko's back move up and down as she breathed. Her lover's face
wasn't "angelic" Midori thought, at all. Yuriko's face was red where
it pressed against her arms and pale where it didn't. Her mouth was
slack. In fact, if anything, as Midori considered it, if anything,
Yuriko looked sort of slow or retarded. She made a mental notation to
never describe anyone as "angelic" when they slept, in her writing,
since it was so patently untrue. Perhaps, "simple" or "child-like"
might be more realistic.
Having made this note, the writer now noticed that Yuri was surrounded
by several school notebooks. Most lay closed, but directly in front
of her one lay open. Midori slid it closer and read the words
scribbled across the page, wondering what Yuriko could have been
working on, now that her days in high school were once again behind her.
The notes were all in Yurikoâs handwriting, some obviously writing
assignments from her time at Mitsukawa High. But a second page was
freshly inscribed. A few musical notations were scattered around the
page, but mostly, it was filled with short lines of poetry. Many were
of indifferent quality, but one or two were interesting. Midori smiled
with pleasure at them, taking the pen from the table and starring the
better lines, jotting a note or two under a few of the ideas that were
solid, but where the execution was weak. She may not know anything
about being a pop singer, but *this* she knew.
She laid pen and notebook back on the table, and ran her hand lightly
through the singerâs blonde hair.
âLetâs go to bed,â she spoke quietly into Yurikoâs ear. She grinned
with utter delight as the singer awoke and sleepily looked around.
âWelcome home,â Yuri muttered, rubbing her eyes like a child. Midori
had the singular sensation that her chest might explode, as she
watched Yuri drowsily search for her glasses.
"Come on," the writer commanded gently, "Let's get you to bed. You're
Yuri yawned and shuffled off obediently. Midori cast another glance
across the table, and followed the blonde into the bedroom.
To Be Continued
"Saiyuu no Ryokou: The Continuing Adventures of Yuriko" copyright E.
Friedman. All right reserved.