Story: Estrogen (chapter 17)

Authors: Juxtaposition

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Chapter 17

Title: Chapter Seventeen

[Author's notes: Disclaimer: The following is a work of fiction, any events that mirror real life are of pure coincidence.  The plot and characters are properties of mine, please do not reproduce unless permission has been given.]

Estrogen - Chapter Seventeen

January air was chilling to the bone when we returned and human relations were more chilling than nature’s tempers.  When we parted at the airport, my friends chose to go in one taxi, Hoshimura-senpai in another, leaving Erika and I with our own.  I stood on the side walk and watched them depart with a heavy heart, as if something in my stomach was attempting to pull down my heart.


“It will be okay.”  Erika said next to me, her fingers were just as cold as mine when they closed around my digits.


She said that, but I wasn’t sure if I believed her.  I wasn’t sure if I believed myself.  My friends and I have been through so many years, it seemed rather harsh of them to distance themselves just because of whom I chose to date.  I was angry and sad at the same time; angry that they were so shallow, and sad at the idea that I might never be able to go back to how things were with them.


Was it worth it?

Between the dreams of the evening, I had the desperate thought that to stay with Erika might mean denouncing the entire world.  Or, the flip side of the coin stabbed at me, I choose the entire world and forsake Erika. 


One week later and we were sitting in the same classrooms with the same surrounding and similar lessons.  We greeted each other normally, but I could see the discomfort in their subtle expressions. 


“Before school work picks up, do you want to hang out?”  I gathered up my courage and summoned a smile to face my friends; asking them as if nothing has changed.  Fuyu stopped packing and looked at me with wide eyes before glancing over to the other two.  No one knew quite what to say.  “Come on, we’ll go to the café shop that we all like!”  My cheeks felt painful and my smile felt numb, it was like a face off before war.  Why was it like that?


“Well…”  Hitomi spoke up finally; uncertainty laced her voice.  “… I don’t know, I guess…”


“Megumi, are you still here?”


Behind me, Erika’s greeting was natural and casual.  However, my eyes that were looking at the three others in front of me saw the exact opposite of that.


“I was just asking them to hang out after school.”


“Oh?”  Erika lifted an eyebrow and looked towards them.  “Are we going?”


“Actually, you know, it’s really quite cold today and I don’t feel like walking in the cold for too long.”  Chiharu finally said with a quick smile.  “Perhaps another time, yeah?”  Grabbing her bag from her seat, she brushed past us with a smile and a nod; Fuyu and Hitomi followed suit.  It was only when I had to exhale did I realize that I was holding a gulp of breath all along.  Before I asked, I was prepared for a rejection, and thought that I had talked myself into accepting it with a smile on my face.  However, reality and imagination obviously differed and I was left starring at the empty desks.


“Give them some time.”  Erika placed a hand on my shoulder and massaged the immediate area gently.  “They are just in shock, I’m sure they will come around.”


If the time came for it, will I be able to abandon the entire world for Erika alone?  At this moment, I find that I really wanted Fujimaru-senpai’s sarcastically reassuring words, but she was no where to be found.


For now.


It became shooting three separate movies all at once, in my opinion.  In front of my family, I tried my best to act as if nothing was wrong.  When they brought up my friends, I would make up some sort of an excuse as to why they haven’t been around recently.  In front of my friends, I have to smile readily, act as if nothing was wrong and that the relationship between Erika and I are extremely normal.  In front of Erika, unconsciously, I wanted to show her confidence in the situation right now.  So much so that I couldn’t even tell which one was the real me and which one was just a mask.


Fujimaru-senpai called in the middle of January and told me that she will be back before the month was up.  Of course, it was a business phone call that stated many assignments that I was to finish before she landed.  Fujimaru-senpai sounded tired and surprisingly cold.  Then again, her father was still hospitalized and she has to shoulder the entire business by herself.


So I excused her behaviour as expected without another thought.


It wasn’t until one evening when I was watching T.V. with my family that I realized everything had been ticking for so long without my knowledge.  The news report talked about how even though it was high season for basketball teams, Hoshimura-senpai still found the time between games to escort this lovely lady to and fro many different avenues.  The news report spun it in such a way that placed Hoshimura-senpai in an irresponsible light.


To me, it was a completely different tale that I saw.


When the night was deep and everyone was quiet asleep, I couldn’t help but call Erika regarding what I saw.


“Do you think Hoshimura-senpai is cheating on Fujimaru-senpai?”


“I don’t know.”


“Erika!  At least sound a little interested!”


“I’m sorry, Megumi, but I really am not even a little bit interested.”  I pouted at her calm tone and tossed that thought aside.  “If you are so curious, why not just call her yourself?”


As always, Erika’s words struck a nerve without reserve.  So I looked at my cell phone and flipped through the contact information of both Fujimaru-senpai and Hoshimura-senpai.  Like that, ten minutes passed before I finally pressed connect.


“Ito-senpai, this is Megumi…”  What?  Were you truly expecting me to have called either of the two involved?!  I wasn’t that brave!


“Megumi, is something wrong?”


“Well… I’m not sure if you’ve seen it, but… tonight, there was a news report on the national team and…”


“And Hoshimura-senpai, right?”




“Just ignore it.  Hoshimura-senpai is not slacking off and has been doing her duties.  These people seriously have nothing else to do.  It’s so frustrating at times.”


“I… actually… was curious about something else.”




“Between Fujimaru-senpai and Hoshimura-senpai… did something happen?”  There, I asked!  The second of silence that followed after seemed to have stretched out for an eternity and I could only hear the blood rushing in my ears.  I grasped onto my phone with both of my hands and wondered if I had crossed a line.


“They…”  Ito-senpai started quietly, hesitation could be heard in her voice.  “They broke up over the holidays.”




It was a cry that was loud enough to wake up the entire house but I could care less.  My posture dropped and my heart raced for an entirely different reason than being nervous.  Ito-senpai carried on and said that Fujimaru-senpai called the stop on their relationship when we were in Canada.  It was why Hoshimura-senpai had come back with us when in reality she had already asked for a month off just in case.  Apparently there was a reason, but Hoshimura-senpai did not elaborate.  Even ‘till the very end, Hoshimura-senpai had smiled and said that Fujimaru-senpai had her own hardships; so she could understand why Fujimaru-senpai wanted to stop.


She understood, but I could not understand at all.


That evening, I hung up the phone numbly and closed my eyes numbly.  I think I was angry and disappointed and most definitely sad.  I was sad for Hoshimura-senpai to have just accepted the break up without another word.  I was disappointed to see such a fitting couple dissolve their relationship.  And I was definitely angry at Fujimaru-senpai for doing something like this.


Eight days before her return, I was already thinking about how I should act to her.


On January twenty-sixth, Fujimaru-senpai returned.  She had not even had a change of clothes from her flight and was already on the phone with many of her associates here in Japan.  It would appear that the situation in Canada had been stabilized enough for her to come back and deal with the unfinished business of her own career.  I walked in when she was nearing the end of a phone conversation.  I glanced at her and noted the rushed appearance of a pair of jeans, a simple shirt and her long hair pulled back into a loose bun.  I’ve never seen her dressed like this before.


Yet when I remembered Hoshimura-senpai, a frown could not help but appear on my face.


“Megumi, go get me another cup of tea.”  She waved her tea cup in my direction without even looking up from the papers that she was reading.


“I thought I was here to assist you with your work and not to be your servant.”  The words left my mouth in a frenzy before I could even think about what they sounded like.  It was probably the boldest I have ever been in my entire life, and to someone whom I respect… respected?  I wasn’t quite sure whether that should be a present or past tense there. 


Fujimaru-senpai paused visibly and looked up at me slowly.


“It’s not like you haven’t done it before.”


“That doesn’t matter!  You shouldn’t be using people around you!”


“What are you talking about?”


Truly, what was I talking about?  It wasn’t like I’ve never gotten her tea –amongst other things- before; and it wasn’t like I ever complained.  For some reason, today, nothing seemed right to me.  So my lips moved but nothing came out, I didn’t even know what to say.  Fujimaru-senpai looked at me calmly, and I knew she was trying to contain her impatience and her temper as well.


“You know exactly what I’m talking about!”  Without thinking, I circled the desk and moved to her side.  Reaching out, I pushed at her collar and saw a bare neck.  At that moment, I knew Ito-senpai was indeed telling the truth.  After I knew about the meaning behind that necklace, my habit was to look for the necklace first and then look at the person.  Somehow, that necklace had been equated to the love that they shared.  The reality of finally seeing one of the two people involved without it stunned me and my hand was frozen.


Until my hand was slapped away.


“I’m not in the mood to deal with your harassment, move aside.”


Have you ever had that feeling before?  More than your own relationship, someone else’s break-up hurts you more?  It was like watching a drama and your favourite couple had just been separated.  You know it wasn’t real, yet you could not help but ache and lose sleep over it.




“Why what?”


“Why did you break up with Hoshimura-senpai?”


This time, the silence was longer than previous and Fujimaru-senpai did not meet my eyes until a good two minutes later.  When she did, her face was expressionless and she spoke softly.  “There are some things in this world that, Megumi, no matter how much you want to keep, they just cannot be kept.”  Even when my mind was clouded by disbelief and grief, I could hear the defeat in her voice as well.  “Why I broke up with her really… is none of your business though.”


“But why, Fujimaru-senpai?!  You’ve been together for ten years!  There are no good reasons in this world that can break you two apart after ten years!”


“Time is not a measure of love, Megumi; time is only a witness to many things.  Time was witness to us having dated and it was witness to us having to separate as well.  You cannot burden time with any of the decisions that have been made.  Like the saying goes, time can heal but time can also take away.”


“And time can also be used as a convenient excuse.”


I would never know whether Fujimaru-senpai had indeed used time as an excuse or not, but the temporary stun showed on her face and I was torn between feeling triumphant and frightened.  The most inner part of me ached for Hoshimura-senpai even more when I saw Fujimaru-senpai’s nonchalant face.


“When you get to my age, you will understand that there are more important things in the world than love or a relationship.”


An ice cold wind seemed to have seeped through my very being.  Fujimaru-senpai sounded as if she was speaking about someone else’s relationship; it sounded as if she didn’t even care about her relationship.


“How could you do this, senpai?”  My voice croaked and I’ve forgotten everything but wanting to express grief.  “Even though I’ve not known Hoshimura-senpai for as long as you, but it is evident to me that she loves you very much.  How could you just dump her like that?!  Are you really lacking a heart?!”


Fujimaru-senpai’s hand slapped down on the table with her pencil still between her fingers; the wooden writing material slammed against the glass table and the sound reverberated throughout the entire first floor.  The sound jolted me out of my trance and it seemed like my mind cleared immediately.


“Who are you to be questioning me like this?  Natsuki didn’t even ask these many questions.”  Her voice was restrained and I realized she was holding back her temper.  “Don’t you think you should be focusing on your own relationship instead of mine?  Weren’t you asking for advice a month ago about your own relationship?  What?  Did it suddenly become obsolete?  Just because you think two people should be together doesn’t mean they have to be together for your sake.  They have their own lives and their own thoughts; they are not your puppets!”


It was the first time that I’ve witnessed Fujimaru-senpai’s temper.  I’ve been used to her sarcastic remarks, but to see her stare at me with such intense eyes was unsettling.  So much so that I unconsciously took a step back and darted my eyes away.  The two of us remained in silence for a long moment, starring; then she dropped her gaze and returned to her work.


You know how you experience that ah-ha moment in life?

I just had one.


“I’ll get you tea.”


The sentence left my lips as a quiet mumble and I picked up the cup she had set down on the table earlier.


She was right; it was none of my business. 

But it was just so…


… it was like a fairytale had just come to an end. 

To be continued...

[End notes:

Author's Notes:

Just as I was about to edit this chapter earlier today, I saw some distasteful news that left me feeling quite betrayed.  The mood still lingers no matter how ridiculous I feel.  Love is such a shapeless thing that cannot be touched or seen; the only way is to feel it and yet it is precisely our feelings that need to be protected the most.

I hope this won't affect my writing.

And thank you to everyone for your support and reviews.


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