Arisu's break down.
“Text”= Japanese People Speaking
“/Text/”= English People Speaking
“+Text+”= American People Speaking
“#Text#”= Australian People Speaking
Emma awoke in her room days after the surgery. Arisu sat at the foot of the bed, reading to her. She read the Aussie “The Tale of Genji” to help her recover faster. She wasn’t the only one, however. Casper and Nicole came by to visit Emma. Ando snacked over her while Fujisaki tended to Damon in the living room. Heck, the whole crew came to see her—including Jack. Casper argued with Ando in the room. Simon leaned into her on the bed.
“/Hey mate, you want some spliff?/” he asked. Emma slowly shut her eyes again and went to sleep. Arisu read the Aussie more. The patient awoke to see her boyfriend holding her sleeping son in his arms. He turned and walked away. Arisu sat by her book, still reading. At one point, she leaned in close to her friend’s face. Later in the hallway, the Japanese woman made out with Sid in the hallway. She slid off his shirt. He embraced her into his arms and took her into her room with him. Even later, Fujisaki and Arisu sat at the table with Damon. Then, Emma went to sleep again.
The next morning, Arisu sat on her bed, reading to her again. She glanced up at the patient.
“Hey,” she said. Emma sat up a bit in bed.
“#Hey,#” she whispered back. “#/Where’s Sugo-kun?#”
“He was here, Em,” Arisu said.
“#Yeah, when?#” the patient asked.
“You were sleeping,” the other woman said. Emma thought about that for a moment.
“#Yeah?#” she asked. Emma looked over to her left.
“#Hey, who ate my grapes?#” she asked. She picked up the stem in with her fingertips.
“Ando-kun ate them,” Arisu replied. Emma frowned as she put down the stem.
“#Oh,#” she said. “#Well, he’s bloody grapiest!#” She shifted around a bit in bed.
“#Whoa,#” she said. “#Feels funny there.#”
“Funny?” Arisu asked.
“#Yeah, Arisu,#” the Aussie said. “#You would feel quite funny too if they stuck up tube up from your pussy to your brain.#” Arisu nodded a bit.
“#Sugo-kun knows how to change the thing,#” Emma said.
“He went to the record company,” her friend said. The Aussie frowned a bit.
“#Right,#” she said. She rolled over and took her blunt into her mouth. “#I haven’t watched him do it.#” She pulled out a lighter and lit up her joint. The woman took in a smoke.
“Maybe you should’ve stayed in the hospital, Emma-chan,” Arisu suggested.
“#Bollocks,#” Emma replied. “#I’m fine now, aren’t I?#”
“Are you even allowed pot?” her friend asked. The Aussie took another smoke. She took a puff out.
“#Allowed?#?” she asked. “#What are you talking about?#”
“You were dead,” Arisu pointed out. Emma nodded.
“#Yep,#” she said, smiling. “#Probably dead, three minutes. You survive that, a couple of dubies can’t hurt, can they?#” The Aussie took another smoke. Arisu still didn’t look too convinced. Emma shifted in bed in discomfort.
“You want me to take a look?” Arisu asked.
“#Arisu, I have a hole right by my pussy,#” Emma said. Arisu rolled her eyes.
“#Well, an extra hole,#” Emma said. She took another smoke.
“I’m seen your pussy so many times I’ve lost count,” her friend said. Emma gave her a strange look.
“#When?#” she asked.
“Like when you were using it to do that impression of Little Kitty from ‘Under My Fire,’” the Japanese woman said. The Aussie’s face lit up.
“#Oh!#” she said. “#You got to admit, the resemblance is uncanny!#” Arisu giggled. Emma took another smoke.
“Come on,” her friend said. She climbed off of the bed. Emma shifted in bed again.
“Let me see,” Arisu insisted. “We’ll fix up in no time.” She got out the kit and sat back down. Emma watched her the whole time. The joint smoked out like mad with her breath.
“Relax, Emma,” her nurse said. “Panties, please?” Emma moved them aside. Arisu wiped down her hands and got to work. The woman took a peek. She looked up at her friend.
“Looks fine,” she said. Emma nodded a bit.
“#Of course,#” she said. “#I know, what about the wound?#” She giggled. Arisu laughed with her. She ripped off the band-aid. Emma breathed in pain as she took another smoke.
“#Tell me about Sugo-kun at the hospital again,#” she said. Arisu changed the band-aid.
“He sat by your bed the whole time,” she lied. “He held Damon with him and calmed him down.”
“#The whole time? Never left me?#”
“They never left you.”
“#Not even to go for a whiz?#”
“No, he had to take a whiz, Emma. Even change Damon’s diaper.”
Arisu cleaned up the wound. Emma took another smoke.
“#Yeah, he loves me,#” she said.
“Yep,” Arisu agreed.
“#Love conquers all, do you know that?#” the Aussie asked. Arisu looked over at her.
“#Yep,#” Emma said. “#I bet it even conquers a genetically acquired subarachnoid hemorrhage.#”
“That would be good,” Arisu said.
“#Should have told him.#” Emma sighed. “#When my sister died, they said that forewarned was forearmed. If I got into trouble, they could fix it. Now, I worry about Damon too.#” She took another smoke.
“So, why didn’t you ever tell anyone?” Arisu asked.
“#I told you, didn’t I?#” Emma replied.
“#I took blood pressure pills, I had to stop it.#”
“You took a lot of other pills too.”
“#I like pills, okay? Never thought it would actually happen!#”
“There are lots of things you think will never happen. Whoa, like that Emma!”
“#Wow! Whoa there, old friend!# Arisu giggled.
“It’s alright,” she said. “I’m glad it works.”
“#Hey,#” Emma replied. She then took another smoke. Arisu rose to her feet.
“Goodbye, old friend,” she said. Emma shifted in bed a bit.
“#Uh, hey,#” she said. Arisu paused and turned to her.
“#Do why tell Sugo-kun about the…?#” she began to ask. “#About the kitty cat or… is that a secret?#”
“You shouldn’t have secrets, Emma,” her friend said. “Neither of you should.”
“#Right,#” Emma said. “#Because we love each other.#” Arisu smiled.
“Because you love each other,” she said. Then, she turned and walked away as Emma took another smoke of her blunt.
Arisu made it back to her room. Sid was still asleep in her bed. Arisu came in and lied down next to him. She ran her hand along his back.
“/Sleeping,/” Sid mumbled.
“Yeah,” Arisu said. She still rubbed his back. “You’re not ill and hiding it from me, are you Sid?” she asked.
“/No,/” he mumbled. “/I’m stupid enough to hide it from you, am I?/”
“No,” Arisu said. She cuddled up close to his back.
“/Well, I’ve got a nasty boil on my bum and I was hoping you wouldn’t notice,/”Sid mumbled. Arisu smiled and pulled back to the sheets.
“Too late!” she said. She gave him one smack on his arse.
“/Ow!/” Sid yelped. He turned to her. “/That’s not nice!/” he complained.
“No,” Arisu agreed. “Going to my exam.” Sid looked up as she climbed off of the bed. He put on his glasses.
“/Is Fujisaki here?/” he asked. Arisu took off her skeleton gown.
“No,” she said.
“/Who’s taking care of Emma?/” he asked.
“You are,” his girlfriend said. She picked up her Dir en Grey t-shirt and held it up to her chest in the mirror.
“/Right,/” Sid replied. “/What do I do?/” He rubbed his face. Arisu put on her shirt.
“Oh, just change her dressing,” she said. “She may be a bit confused. She thinks I changed it already, but I didn’t.”
“/Right,/” Sid replied. “/Where is her dressing?/”
“She’ll show you,” his girlfriend replied. “Don’t let her do it herself, no matter how much she insists. It’s a lot if someone else handles it.” She straightened out clothes and turned to him.
“/Alright,/” he said. His girlfriend gave him a little smile.
“Okay,” she said. “What do you have to say to me?” Sid blinked at her.
“/Um…/” he said. “/I’m sorry I’m such a tit./”
“No,” she said.
“/My life never made any sense before I met you./”
Sid frowned as he tried to think. “/I never really loved Casper and it was all a mistake. And I must’ve misheard when she said it was the best lay ever and she really, really wasn’t that great in bed./”
Arisu frowned and shook her head. “No.”
Sid took a moment before it finally came to him. “/Good luck on your exam,/” he said at last. Arisu turned to him, smiling.
“Thanks,” she said. Sid smiled back at her. Then, she walked out of the room. Sid lifted his head.
“/Don’t you have something to say to me?/” he asked. Arisu paused and turned to him.
“I love you forever, Sid-kun,” she said.
“/You will?/” Sid asked with a little smile.
“Yes,” she said. “That’s the problem.” Then, she turned and walked away. Sid’s smile died away bit by bit.
At school, the professor turned the timer towards Arisu and looked at her watch.
“You may turn over your papers!” she commanded. Arisu opened her exam and stared at the blank page. The professor put in her earbuds and went back to her book. The whole time, Arisu stared at her exam.
Meanwhile, Sid walked into Emma’s room. The Aussie lied sound asleep in her bed. The Englishman slowly walked inside.
“/Emma?/” he whispered. She was still sound asleep. Sid walked over slowly and leaned in close. The Aussie latched onto his arm with such a grip. Her friend gasps and then caught his breath. Emma turned to him in bed.
“/You scared me!/” he said. Emma looked at him for a moment.
“#You already, Sid?#” she asked.
“/Yeah,/” he said, panting. “/Yeah, I thought you were… Yeah./” Emma looked on at him.
“/Gonna change your dressing,/” Sid said. He began to get to work.
“#Oh, no, no. That’s fine,#” Emma said. “#Arisu just did it earlier.#” Sid patted her on the shoulder.
“/Yeah,/” he whispered. “/Of course she has./” The man went right back to work. He pushed back her sheets. Emma looked on in panic.
“#Sid!#” she wailed.
“/It’s okay,/” he insisted. “/Let me handle it./”
“#No f***g way!#” Emma said.
“/I need to,/” he insisted.
“#I’ll smack you,#” she said.
“/I’m just trying to handle you,/” Sid said.
“#I told him, he’s not listening,#” she said he kept trying to calm her down. “#Here, I go. You’re going to love this.#” The Aussie turned and punched Sid.
Meanwhile at school, Arisu stared at her test. The professor walked over to her.
“Arisu-chan,” she said.
“Yes?” the student asked without looking up.
“You are forty-three minutes into a two-hour art history exam and I’m pretty sure you haven’t written anything yet,” the professor said. Arisu kept her eyes on the blank booklet.
“No,” she said. The professor moved around in front of her.
“Arisu-chan,” she said. “Everyone else has finished their exams and started summer vacation. Here I am, running a rescheduled exam especially for you. So, are you going to write anything?”
“I’m not sure,” the younger woman said.
“What about?” the professor asked.
“How long can I put off starting to write and still an A?” Arisu replied. The professor breathed and started to walk away. The student looked up at her.
“How has power been portrayed through art and life over the centuries?” Arisu suggested. The professor turned to her.
“Sorry?” she asked.
“Question three,” Arisu replied.
“I’m not supposed to help you with your exam,” the older woman said sternly.
“I overdosed on pills and then everyone had to do what I said,” Arisu pointed out. “That was powerful for art.”
“And did you enjoy it?” the professor asked. Arisu took a moment to think about that.
“I think it was the happiest time of my life,” she said. “But then, I almost died and I decided to stop. Otherwise it wouldn’t be fun anymore.” The professor looked at her in silence. Arisu shook her head.
“You wouldn’t understand,” she brushed off. The professor walked over to her.
“You’re wrong, Arisu-chan,” she said. The student looked up at her.
“Did you cut yourself too?” she asked.
“People will do anything to…” the professor said. “People will do anything to work out why they feel bad, won’t they?”
“And did you… work it out?” Arisu asked.
“Like I said, I’m not supposed to help you with your exam,” the professor said.
“I want you to tell me!” Arisu called to her as the older woman turned and walked back to her desk.
“What?” she asked.
“How to stop bad things from happening,” Arisu said. The professor turned back to her.
“Doesn’t work, does it?” she asked. “That’s why you have to stop trying to kill yourself.”
“I fell in love,” Arisu said.
“Ah, love,” the professor said. “Why cut yourself when you can be in love?” Then, she walked back to her desk.
“You think passing an exam will make me happy?” Arisu asked.
“Arisu-chan,” the older woman said. “Passing exams generally only make life more complicated. But there’s lots of other stuff that makes life more bearable and you don’t even have to use a knife.”
“Like?” Arisu asked.
“Disco,” the professor said. Then, she turned the radio to the student and turned on the music. She began dancing around at her seat. Arisu stared at her, curious. Hearing the music from his office, Yusuke went down to the classroom to investigate. He peeked in the doorway to see Arisu and the professor dancing to the music. The man walked inside. He cleared his throat to them.
“Come on, Yusuke!” the professor called. “One dance and Arisu will write.” He nodded and got into the dance with the women. Moments later, Arisu finished her exam and turned it in.
“Bye,” she said. Then, she left. Before she went home, Arisu walked into a clothing store and shop-lifted a couple of gifts. She put her new stolen scarf on around her neck and kept walking.
“#Hey Arisu, how did it go?#” Emma greeted her on the couch in the living room.
“Fine,” the Japanese woman said. “What are you doing?” Sid stood over the stove, cooking. Emma took a smoke.
“#Well,#” the Aussie said. “#I got hungry, real hungry. And so Sid went to get stuff.#” She tried to hold back a laugh. The other woman laughed with her. Sid turned to his girlfriend with fogged glasses.
“/Hey, you finished! Congrats!/” he said. They high-fived each other. Arisu looked at his face as he took off his glasses. He had a black eye over his right eye. Arisu gave him a face of fake surprise.
“What happened?” she asked.
“#That was me!#” Emma said. “#Reflex action!#”
“Oh,” she said.
“/Yeah, seems she didn’t need her pussy arranged after all!/” Sid barked. Arisu pressed her lips together in a little naughty smile.
“/Funny!/” he hissed. Arisu still grinned at him. Sid leaned in and kissed her on the cheek.
“Thanks,” she said. “You’re cooking…”
“/Yep,/” he said. “/We’re celebrating. I’m in love, exams are over, and she’s alive./”
“#I’m alive!#” Emma cheered.
“/So, I thought f**k it! Let’s make a night of it!/” Sid said.
“How?” Arisu asked. She looked up when she heard the door open. Casper walked into the living room. The other woman frowned at her.
“/Hi Arisu,/” Casper said. Arisu turned to walk away.
“/Arisu, listen!/” Sid pleaded. “/Come on!/”
“Forget it, Sid!” she barked.
“/Arisu!/” he said.
“I’m going,” she said. “This is f***g ridiculous.” But when she opened the front door, Simon stood on the other side with a big bouquet of flowers.
“/Hi,/” he said. “/Is she here yet?/” Arisu stared at him in silence. Dinner was uncomfortably silent. Sid served Arisu teriyaki chicken on her plate. She looked up at him still not happy.
“#I’ve got to tell you, mate!#” Emma said. “#Top-notch! Mmm, it’s mega! F**g acein’! F**g A+! A double plus!#” Sid bowed his head at her and took his seat. He looked over at Simon and Casper. They quietly looked down at their plate. Sid frowned.
“/It’s the soy sauce, isn’t it?/” he asked.
“/You’re not that good with dumplings, Sid,/” Casper said.
“/F**k,/” he mumbled to himself.
“/It’s fine, Sid,/” Simon said. “/Never had soy sauce, pickled ginger, and chili powder before. Big bite./”
“#Oh great, yeah!#” Emma said. “#Uh-huh! Real good!#” She quickly took more bites. Arisu sat up straight with a fake smile on her face as Sid ate from his own plate.
“So,” she spoke up. “Old pals together, at a dinner party.”
“/Arisu…/” Casper said.
“Just like grown-ups!” the Japanese woman went on.
“/Let it go, Arisu,/” Sid murmured to her. “/Just trying to get on./” His girlfriend looked over at him.
“#You know, normally,#” Emma spoke up. “#I’d say it, these dumplings are quite thick and bland! But these, have a kick all by themselves!#”
“/It’s the chili powder,/” Sid replied. “/It was a special offer./” Emma nodded and continued to eat. A moment of silence passed as Arius played with her food.
“So, Casper,” she should spoke up. “What’s the big plan? You’re going to get back with Simon, now? All lovey, just like before?”
“/We’re trying not to make a thing of it, okay?/” Casper replied.
“Old pals again,” the other woman said. “Great!” She poured herself some sake.
“/Anyway, you and Sid, you know?/” Simon said, nodding. “/It all came out alright, yeah?/” Arisu turned to her boyfriend.
“/I’m properly forgetting that I ever saw Casper’s breasts,/” he said.
“/Yeah,/” the hippie said.
“/Or her pants./”
“/Or the funny freckle on the inside of her… I think I should stop now./”
“/Yes,/” Simon said.
“/Mostly, we’re just happy that Emma’s alright, okay Arisu?/” Casper asked.
“Yes,” she mumbled.
“#I’m alright,#” Emma said. “#Hey, everyone has seen Casper’s breasts and that funny freckle on her...#”
“/That’s not the one I’m talking about!/” Sid cut in. Emma stuffed more food into her mouth. Sid turned to Arisu.
“/Would it help if I said I love you again?/” he asked.
“/He loves you, Arisu,/” Casper said. The other woman turned to her.
“Which university are you going to if you get your grades?” Arisu asked Simon.
“/Kobe,/” he said.
“And you?” she asked Casper.
“/Osaka,/” she said.
“Wow,” Arisu said. “You two must really love each other, like hardcore.”
“/I don’t know, Arisu,/” Simon said. “/I guess we…/”
“So tell me what the point is,” she said. Simon and Casper looked at each other.
“/I didn’t apply to university,/” Sid spoke up.
“Yeah?” Arisu snapped. “Well, I did! You’re all full of shit! I’m going to bed.” She rose up from the table and walked away. Simon notioned at his friend. Sid quickly turned to her.
“/Oh, do you want me to come?/” he asked.
“Yes, Sid! I want you to come!” she said. Then, she turned to walk back to her room. Sid rose up from the table.
“/I think I’m going to go,/” Casper said. Simon quickly took a drink of his Sapporo beer.
“/I’m sorry about what happened, Arisu!/” the hippie shouted at her friend. She came back into the kitchen.
“/I f*d up,/” Casper admitted. “/Simon f*d up! Sid f*d up! Suguru has f*d up worse than any of us! But it doesn’t have to all turn to shite!/” Arisu stared at her.
“And you just put up with that?” she asked.
“/Grow up, Arisu!/” the hippie said. Arisu turned and walked away. She slammed the door behind her.
“/That’s it,/” Sid said as he stood up from the table. “/I’m never putting soy sauce in anything ever again!/”
“/Do you want me to go with you?/” Simon asked his girlfriend.
“/Yeah,/” she murmured. Her boyfriend drank more beer as Emma sat at the table confused.
“/Come on, let’s just go,/” Casper said.
“/Right,/” Simon agreed.
“#Guys,#” Emma spoke up. The couple turned their attention to her.
“#How has Sugo-kun f**d up?#” the Aussie asked. Suddenly, the front door opened and closed. Everyone turned and looked. And speak of the devil…
“Hi,” Fujisaki said. “Sorry, the train was late and…” He paused mid-sentence. Emma stared at him, desperate.
“#What have you done?#” she asked. Fujisaki stared at him, silently.
Meanwhile, Arisu and Sid sat on her bed.
“I don’t know why I am the way I am,” she said.
“/It’s alright,/” Sid replied.
“No, it’s not alright!” she snapped. “Something makes me hate everything.” Sid turned to her.
“Everything,” she repeated. Sid turned away.
“That’s what I like about you, Sid,” Arisu went on. “You never try to explain things.” He turned back to her.
“/No,/” he said. “/Probably would if I could./” Arisu turned to him this time.
“We’re finished,” she said. “Do you realize that?” Sid gave her a puzzled look.
“/Finished?/” he asked.
“Two weeks from today, we get our results and it’s all over,” she said. “We’re grown up. We’ve made it, done.”
“/That’s… That’s good, isn’t it?/” Sid asked.
“Everything ends badly,” his girlfriend said.
“/It doesn’t have to,/” he pointed out.
“No?” she asked.
“/I’ve got you./”
Arisu looked like she would cry at this point. “Do you wish you could go back to a time when you hadn’t lost anything? Everything’s in the future. More shit to happen, that’s all.” She rose to her feet. Arisu stood before her mirror. Sid came to her side.
“/I love you,/” he said. Arisu whirled around to him.
“/I’m here now,/” he said. “/That’s best I’ve got, Arisu-chan./” He took her into his arms. He pressed his forehead against hers and kissed her on the lips. It didn’t take long to lead to more. Pretty soon, they undress and started to make love. The whole time, she still had her doubts.
“That’s really,” she said. “We’re going to stay here. I don’t want to go. I might go. I might not go.” They kept doing it practically all night long.
By morning, Arisu woke up alone. She came into Emma’s room.
“He told you?” she asked. The Aussie looked up at her.
“#Yeah,#” she said.
“He tried to tell you before,” the Japanese woman said.
“#I know,#” her friend replied. Arisu came in and sat next to her.
“#It’s going to be okay, though,#” Emma said. “#Talked it through. Talked a lot.#”
“And?” Arisu asked.
“#It might work out with us being married,#” her friend said. “#We’re looking at a long engagement before everything is sorted out. And then, he and the boys will be famous, Arisu. I mean, they are going to be great. F***g mega. And then, I’m not exactly A+.#”
“You’re A+, Emma,” Arisu said. “He’s just doesn’t fully know that Damon is really his son.” She patted her on the shoulder. Emma nodded.
“#I know, I know,#” she said. “#I just didn’t want him to think that he had to stay with me because of that. Both boys are I have, so… I wrote him a letter explaining everything.#” She turned to her friend.
“#Where’s Sid?#?” she asked.
“He went to do his milk delivery,” Arisu said. “I think he likes having all of that milk.”
“#Cool,#” Emma said. “#Lots of milk.#”
“A truck load,” Arisu added. “All he can drink.”
“#Is that why he’s a lucky man?#” Emma asked. “#Non-stop chugging.#”
“He’ll be chugging it down,” her friend said back.
“#Ah, he’s milk-tastic.#”
“#He’s a milkllariore.#”
Arisu kissed her on the cheek. “Tea?” she asked. Emma nodded.
“#Tea!#” she replied. Arisu climbed off the bed to get dressed.
Arisu went downtown to buy milk for the tea. When she came home, a lady in a grey trench coat watched her.
“#Do you live up there?#” she asked. Arisu paused and turned to her. She walked back down the stairs to her.
“Yes,” she said.
“#Do you know Emma?#” the woman asked.
“Yes, I live with her,” Arisu said.
“#Are you her girlfriend?#” the woman asked.
“No,” the younger woman replied. “No, I just live with…” She paused mid-sentence. “Who are you?” she asked. The other woman looked at the apartment.
“#I just… heard something about her,#” she said.
“She was in the hospital,” Arisu replied. “But, she’s better now.”
“#She’s not better,#” the woman said.
“No, really,” Arisu said. “She’s fine.” The other woman looked at her so grimly after she glanced at the apartment. It took the Japanese woman a good long moment to realize who she was talking to.
“You’re her,” she said. “You’re Emma’s mom.” Ms. Miles looked away in shame.
“You should see her,” Arisu said. “Please? Come and see her.”
“#Her sister died,#” Emma’s mother said. “#Chelsea died. And they said Emma might…#”
“She’s better!” Arisu insisted. “She’s fine!”
“#Tell her,#” the mother cut in. “#I couldn’t stand it.#” Then, she turned and walked away.
“No! Don’t go!” Arisu called out to her. She dropped the milk on the ground.
“Emma!” she called as she ran to the apartment. She reached into her pocket and pulled out her key. The mother walked to her car and unlocked it. As Arisu went inside, the woman got into her car. Upon hearing sobbing from the other side of the bedroom door, the Japanese woman paused. The milk emptied and the mother drove away. Arisu lied on her bed, beside herself. She couldn’t tell Emma the truth.
Arisu went outside and lit up a joint. She couldn’t tell Emma the truth. The woman was already gone by the time she exhaled. Arisu stayed outside, smoking.
Later, she looked over old grade school work she did. She much praise on each page of simple sentences, math, and drawings. Her teachers paid her more attention than Jin, Fujiko, and her mother did back then.
“#Hey there,#” Emma said to her with a little smile. The other woman looked up and saw her.
“When’s Suguru getting back?” she asked.
“#Tomorrow,#” Emma replied. “#Says he wanted to think about things.#”
“You could make him change his mind,” Arisu said. “If you wanted to.”
“#Listen, Arisu,#” Emma said. “#When a man of that caliber is prepared to get his cock out for you, you don’t mess it up on purpose!#” Arisu giggled.
“How romantic,” she said.
“#Ah, I f***g love him,#” Emma said. “#That’s it. Anyway, you went to make tea six hours ago.#”
“Oh, yes!” Arisu said. “I got the milk.” She climbed off of the bed and walked to the kitchen. Emma flopped back onto the bed. Arisu paused and turned to her.
“I was talking to…” she began to say. Emma looked on at her.
“To someone outside,” Arisu finished.
“#Yeah, that’s all very interesting, but it’s not going to make my tea, is it?#” Emma said. She shooed the other woman off to get to work.
“#And girls who don’t make my tea, don’t even get to see Emma’s Magic Palace again and that is what you cal social depravation,#” the Aussie added. Arisu smirked at her and jumped on right on her.
“#Whoa!#” Emma called.
“You perverted little slut!” Arisu said with a giggle.
“#I know,#” Emma said. “#I’m a sexy, f**r!#”
“Yeah!” her friend added. “Well I’m going to wash your big f**g mouth out, you whore!” She pulled Emma up by the ear. The Aussie cried out in fake pain.
“#Ow! Jesus Christ! Watch it!#” she yelled as she grabbed onto her head. Arisu leapt to her feet in shock.
“Oh my god!” she cried.
“#Christ!#” Emma said, cradling herself on the bed.
“F**k!” her friend cried. “Emma! I forgot! Jesus! Is it okay?” Emma lied there, rocking for a moment. She rose to her feet, smiling.
“#Oh, yes!#” the Aussie said.
“Shit, you bitch!” Arisu cried. Emma turned to her, smiling.
“#I know,#” she replied. “#I’m still awaiting my tea, maidy!#” Then, she went out the door.
“Maidy?” her friend asked. Emma poked her head in the doorway.
“#Yeah,#” she said with a nod. “#Maidy-wadey-boo-boo!#” Then, she disappeared again. Arisu threw her booklet at the door.
Moments later, the friends sat on the couch, getting high off of weed giggling with their green tea.
“You’re right about American stand-up comics,” Arisu said. “They are funnier if you keep the sound down.” Emma took another smoke of her blunt.
“#Ah, yeah, they are fine,#” she said. “#Hey look, this guy is about to fall down again!#” Arisu laughed as Emma handed her the blunt. The former took another long smoke. Emma took another sip of tea.
“Oh!” Arisu said. “I forgot! I got something for you!”
“#Yeah?#?” the Aussie asked. Arisu handed the joint back to Emma and went back to her room to fetch it.
“Stole it from Candies’!” she bragged.
“#Sweet,#” Emma said. Then, she paused and looked. “#Oh, you’re going to tell me who you were talking to outside?#” she asked. Arisu returned with a blue and black mini-kimono in her hands, frowning.
“#Arisu?#” Emma asked as she sat up and turned around. Her eyes fell upon the kimono. “#Oh, ho, ho! Sweet!#” she cheered. She raced over and gave her friend a kiss on the cheek.
“#F***g A, man!#” she said. The Aussie quickly put it on.
“Emma,” Arisu said. “I’ve been thinking about secrets.” The Aussie looked up at her.
“#Yeah?#” she asked. “#I look sexy!#” She stuck a cigarette in her mouth and posed in front of the mirror. Arisu walked over behind her. The Aussie blew kisses to herself.
“Sometimes, you have to keep them,” her friend said. “In case someone got hurt.” Emma smiled at herself in the mirror.
“#Ah, I can’t wait to show this to them!#” she said. But then, she paused and frowned a bit. “#Show it to them,#” she repeated. “#Arisu?#” The woman turned to her friend.
“#Shite,#” she mumbled as she sat down. “#Mt fiance, what’s his name?#” Arisu giggled.
“Don’t be stupid,” she said. Emma took in a breath. She coughed for a little bit.
“#Spliff,#” she said. “#I feel a bit…#” Arisu looked slightly worried as Emma rose to her feet.
“#Shite,#” Emma mumbled again. She walked to her room. The Aussie lied down on the bed, sweating.
“Emma?” Arisu asked. Emma breathed and sweated harder as she rolled around on the sheets.
“Emma, are you okay?” her friend asked. Emma put her hands to her hand as another attack came on. Arisu ran to her room and dumped out her bag. She searched for her phone. Once she got it, the woman tried to get her phone to work.
“F**k! Come on!” she yelled. Emma’s attack grew worse as she Arisu kept trying.
“Please help!” she cried in the phone. “Toshima! Sekai Apartments!” The woman hung up the woman and ran back to Emma’s room.
“Come on, Emma!” she cried. However, blood and mucus leaked on the sheets. The Japanese woman turned her friend to her.
“#Good…#” she mumbled. “#Good… Sugu… kun… Good…#” Then, she just died in Arisu’s arms. The other woman sat there in disbelief for a long moment. Minutes later, Arisu packed up her things and walked out of the apartment.
In a few days, Arisu was in LA, California. She stood on the side of the road, looking for a ride. The woman walked down the street in a haze. One of the cab drivers that was playing chess with his buddies looked up and noticed her. He raced over to her.
“+Hey, where are you going?+” he asked. Arisu stopped and turned to him.
“I don’t know,” she said in her best English possible. “Somewhere nice.” The cab driver looked at her.
“+Yo, Bill!+” he yelled to his friend.
“+Yeah?+” his friend asked.
“+The lady wants to go somewhere nice,+” the driver said. His pal laughed.
“+Tell her to get the f**k out of this neighborhood!+” he said. The other driver turned to her.
Arisu looked out the window as she rode in the cab. Los Angles looked as sunny as it did in the pictures. She just came here on impulse. So many people here.
Arisu got off in the inner city. She leaned into the driver window.
“Thank you, George,” the woman said.
“+Where are you going now?+” he asked.
“I haven’t decided,” she said.
“+Well, if decide to eat,+” he said. “+You’ve got to eat.+” He reached into his pocket and gave her a hundred dollars.
“+Here,+” he said. Arisu uneasily took the money.
“+Look up there on the right,+” he said. “+Lily serves the best pies on Sundays! Mmm! Slap you right in sky!+” Arisu gave him a kiss on the cheek and walked off. George smiled to himself. Then, he turned and noticed a bystander staring at him.
“+Hey, what the f**k are you looking at, man?!?+” he barked. The man shrugged and walked off.
Arisu looked out the window of the cafe. She still sat there in a daze.
“+You should in that,+” someone said to her. “+It’s good.+” She looked up to see a man with messy blonde hair staring at her.
“I think I’m hungry, but then I’m not,” she said. The woman handed him the money. The man looked around for a bit.
“+Tell you what,+” he said. “+Skip it.+” Moments later, they headed back out into the streets. The man unlocked the door to his apartment building.
“This is so,” Arisu spoke up. “This is so nice of you.”
“+Sure it is,+” he said. The man invited her inside. The woman walked in silent. These LA apartments sure had killer view.
“+I take all of this leftover food on my shift,+” her host explained. “+Nobody wants it. Guess they know I’m from Iowa.+” Arisu turned to him.
“Why is that?” she asked.
“+Over there,+” he said as he pointed to the wall. She turned and looked in the direction he was pointing at.
“+Over there,+” he said. “+About a thousand miles.+”
“Oh,” she said. He shook his head at her.
“+Boy, you’re raw, aren’t you?+” he asked.
“Tired, maybe,” she replied. “I’m just tired.”
+Well, the bed’s through there,+” he replied as he nodded his head in that direction. Arisu looked over at where he was nodding.
“+Hey, be my guest,+” he said. “+I’m wired after work.+” Arisu nodded and went over to the bed. She took off her sweater and looked over at the nightstand. Seven photographs of a young black woman around LA sat before her. The Japanese woman looked and saw photos of the same woman on the wall as well.
She’s really beautiful, Arisu thought as she went to bed. She slept until nightfall. The woman woke up and looked around.
“Oh,” she said. After her shower, she found her new friend at his computer.
“+Hey,+” he said. “+You found the shower. I just got back.+”
“Hi,” Arisu said.
“+Oh, I how you don’t mind,+” her host said. “+You have been sleeping for two days and I was trying to get some stuff done after work…+”
“Two days?” she asked. He gave her a little smile.
“Where did you…?” she began to ask.
“+Oh,+” he said. “+Couch.+” Arisu looked on still.
“+Uh… Anyway, I’ll…+” he said as he stood from his computer.
“No!” Arisu said in a rush. “It’s okay. Please?” The man sat back down at his computer as Arisu walked over and took a seat.
“+Well,+” he said. “+I’ve just got to fix these pictures up a little and then…+” Arisu looked on at him.
“Did you tell me your name?” she asked. The man chuckled at her.
“+Yeah,+” he said. “+A couple of times, it’s Nathan. And you’re Arisu.+”
“Hi…” she said. “Again.” Nathan chuckled.
“+Hi,+” he said. Arisu looked at his computer screen. She looked around his room.
“The pictures,” she said. “Does anyone see them?”
“+No way,+” Nathan said. “+I’m just your LA cliche. Waiting, waiting.+”
“Who’s that?” she asked, looking at the pictures on the wall. “In the photos?” Nathan looked up at the photos in question.
“+Oh, um…+” he said. “+She takes a good picture.+”
“Is she your girlfriend?” Arisu asked. Nathan nodded as he looked at his work.
“+For a while,+” he said. “+Um… But she’s… She’s gone now.+”
“Nathan,” Arisu spoke up.
“+Yeah?+” he asked.
“I don’t really want to f**k you if that’s okay,” she said. The man turned to her, stunned.
“+Whoa!+” he said. “+I didn’t say…+”
“I thought you…” she began to say.
“+No!+” he said. “+I just thought you needed somewhere to sleep, right?+” Arisu thought about that for a moment.
“Yes,” she said.
“+So, it’s cool,+” he said. “+You can stay as long as you want until what’s going down is over.+”
“It won’t ever be over,” she said.
“+Yes, it will,+” Nathan said. She only looked at him for a moment. Nathan breathed out and stood up.
“+Do you like to dance?+” he asked.
“It’s two in the morning,” Arisu said. Nathan gave her a little smile.
“+You guys don’t go out, Japan?+” he asked. Club life in LA is certainly just like it is in Japan: packed and always pounding. Everyone danced around and drank. Arisu looked from side to side as she followed Nathan close behind. She tried to keep up as he danced around with different women along the path. He came back over to her.
“+Come on!+” he shouted.
“I don’t think I can!” Arisu said.
“+Come on!+” Nathan pushed. He pulled her with him to dance. The music changed to a live artist singing in the club. The crowded rocked out to him. Arisu tried to get into Nathan dancing with her. Didn’t take her long to get right into it. But then, Nathan picked her up and twirled around with her. She pounded on him with her small fists.
“No!” she yelled out. “Stop it! No!” He put her down on the ground and she ran off.
“Get out of my way!” she yelled as she fought her way out. Arisu ran all the way out of the club. She sat down on a bench outside. Nathan caught up to her. He sat down next to her as she panted.
“+Boy, you can run,+” he said.
“I’m f**d up,” she said.
“+Yeah,+” Nathan replied.
“I ran away.”
Arisu turned to him. “I thought Americans didn’t so irony.”
“+It’s Los Angeles. It’s different.+”
Arisu turned away as she fought back her tears. “Don’t want to know what I did?”
Nathan turned to her. “+Wouldn’t change anything.+”
“+So, let’s go.+” He rose to his feet to walk away. Arisu turned to the water behind her.
“Do they have boats on this river?” she asked. Nathan turned to her, smiling.
“+No,+” he said.
“There, you did it again!” she said. Both of them chuckled. Nathan walked over and kissed her on the cheek. He offered her his hand and she took it. He led her back to his apartment.
Arisu walked over to Nathan as he slept in his bed. She turned all of his photos of his ex to face her. She turned to the wall of photos.
“Don’t worry,” she said. “He’s okay, I won’t touch.” Arisu took off the shirt she borrowed from him and crawled onto the bed next to him. She pulled the sheets over herself and went to sleep.
In the wee hours of the night, Arisu woke up alone. She found a green apple and a note next to her. She picked it up and read it.
I went away for a while, get some snaps. Stay here for as long as you want. It was nice knowing you.
Arisu dropped the note on the floor and picked up the apple. She took a bite and broke down into tears. She noticed that photos on the floor were gone. The next morning, Arisu just ran through the streets of LA with no particular direction in mind.