Story: Estrogen (chapter 2)

Authors: Juxtaposition

Back to chapter list

Chapter 2

Title: Chapter Two

[Author's notes: Disclaimer: The following is a complete work of fiction, should any events mirror real life, it is of pure coincidence.  The characters and plot belong to me, please do not reproduce unless permission has been given.]

Estrogen - Chapter Two


"Yes, that would be me."  She answered smoothly, that grin was sinful on her lips.  "How can I help you?" 

And you wanted her to fuck you senseless? 

Fujimaru-sempai's words repeated themselves inside my head once again and my already reddened face only served to grow redder.  Control.  It was all about control right now.  That was not a good thought to have at the moment!  Control! 

"I'm sorry!"  I declared and bowed from the waist, a formal bow that I haven't done in the longest time.  This day was the worst!  "And, I mean, thank you!" 

I'm sorry for backing into you, and thank you for catching me. 

That's what I envisioned myself saying in my head, but somehow, when the words actually came out, there were so many syllables that were omitted.  I wanted to kick myself for this display of utmost awkwardness.  Chikaru was right, I was just clumpsy without another excuse. 

Hoshimaru-sempai laughed, I heard it and didn't know whether I should rise from my bowing position or stare at the ground hard enough to melt a hole for myself to sink right into. 

"It's okay and you're welcome, now you can relax already."  I saw her hand move and then felt it pat the top of my head.  The pathetic thought of I could die happy now passed through my head, and I slowly straightened myself up.  Thankfully, I realized that my natural eye level was at her shoulders.  Upon reflection, it just meant that she was that much taller than me. 

"Was there something you came here for, or...?" 

Oh right! 

Snapping my head up, I quickly nodded and shoved the papers in my hands forward.  My gaping eyes could only stare at her, telepathetically telling her all about the project and the meaning of these papers.  

Hoshimura-sempai looked at me and then at the papers in my hands before reaching for them.  I couldn't help but notice how long her fingers were, how her nails were clipped short, to not interfere with playing basketball, no doubt.   

"Ah!  These are designs for the team's jersey."  She spoke with a tone of realization, and I nodded my head immediately and utterly. 

She took her time looking through every single piece of paper, examining them up close and far away.  I took the time to soothe out my own breathing, focusing on the phenomenological moment and experiencing being in her presence.  I've never been this close to her, so close that I could smell whatever product that she was using for her hair.  It was a clean smell, like the spring air; the summer breeze. 

It felt warm, just being in her presence. 

"So you can breathe again."  She commented after the last piece of paper, I blushed underneath her gaze and offered her a sheepish smile with a nod.  She returned the smile and reshuffled the papers before handing them back to me.  "I like all the designs, but I think this one is the best."  Her index finger tapped the design at the top of the pile, and I took them back to look at the one she mentioned.  "Did you make them?" 

"Oh no, no."  I shook my head.  "The team leader did them.  She's so talented, isn't she?" 

Hoshimura-sempai's smile widened and she gave me a playful wink.  "She is.  However, let me sound arrogant and say that I've seen better." 

My eyes rounded and I looked at her with defiance in my eyes.  "Forgive me Hoshimura-sempai, but I cannot imagine anyone better than the team leader at this!"  When I think back on this, I wanted to bash my head against the nearest wall.  Whose gut did I borrow to speak back and negate Hoshimura-sempai's statement like that?! 

A little taken back, somewhat surprised, Hoshimura-sempai blinked at me for a moment before nodding and then shrugged.  "There is nothing to forgive.  Perhaps I'll show you my number one's designs some day, how about that?" 

"Yes.  I'd like that." 

She nodded and paused slightly.  "You... are from the drama club?" 

I nodded. 

"Ah, is the club's first play finished already?" 

"Ah no, no, it's still in the preparation stages.  We're working towards an early December production, right before the exams." 

She whistled lightly and shook her head.  "You're going to be very busy then." 

Slowly, I had to nod.  Perhaps I've never thought about it, but she was right, we were going to be very busy starting from here on.  Between preparing for the play and preparing for my own exams, I wasn't sure if I'll even have time for work.  With a mental sigh, I could only pray that Fujimaru-sempai would be lenient during this period. 

On the way back, my heart did backflips in its cage, and just down right danced when the entire team celebrated the success of having been approved.  Though it was the work of the leader alone, but somehow, it seemed like an accomplishment for the entire group.  Though the production team seemed to have been skeptical and somewhat cynical regarding this achievement.  Perhaps they were just afraid that their wardrobe wouldn't be completed on time. 

The next couple of weeks were hectic, to say the least.  Between the wrapping up of the play and the upcoming exams, I barely had time to go to Fujimaru-sempai's place for work.  Thankfully, though she may be a little fastidious at times, she seemed understanding of the predicament.  Of course, I took it a step further and even invited her to come and see the play. 

You think I have nothing better to do? 

I could only smile dumbly before exitting her place.  Indeed, she has better things to do than watch some senior high school's play. 

Every day after school, I can still hear the fangirls' squeals and screams over something Hoshimura-sempai did or another.  After that initial encounter with her, I've not been able to speak with her.  Perhaps it's for the better.  Every time I pass by the court on my way to the drama club, my feet would unconsciously slow down for me to linger just a moment and see if I could catch a glimpse of her. 

She was magnetic. 

It seemed like everything she did had such a lure to it that bait cannot help but grab onto it themself.  Of course, in this context, bait would be girls like those who are crowding the court door and someone like me.  Too afarid to approach closer, but still want to be part of the excitement and the glory. 

The magic was in her every move and look.  The way she would toss her hair aside after gaining a basket, the way she would jog backwards while pinning her gaze on her opponent.  And finally, the somewhat lazy, half smirk that would grace her lips if she made a slip up. 

Anything and everything drove them insane. 

She just drove me more insane than I already am.  It's unhealthy, I've told myself that numerous times.  The play was nearing its end, the hours after school preparing for it just grows longer and longer.  Not to mention right after the play, I'll be entering into mid-term exam sessions.  All eight courses at once, and sometimes, late at night, I just want to throw those books outside the window and pretend like everything is alright. 

And then, I'd get a message from Erika.

The content would be similar to what she's been sending me ever since the first day, but even the simplest line of "good night" had such a calming effect over me that I couldn't even describe.It was in these moments that I looked forward to her message, like my cocaine fix, trusting that it would calm me down. 

One day, I promised myself, one day, I will thank Erika properly for this! 

Early December, two days before the opening of the play, everyone was that much more irritable.  Anything could have unraveled the most calm and send them snapping.  The sky outside was turning dark when I finally began walking out of the school building.  Dark enough that during the summer, you'd think it was ten o'clock at night.  I paused on the doorsteps of the school building and looked on almost numbly. 

The walk to my house wasn't particularly long, but at this time, the busses would be so crowded that even getting on would be a wonder.  Though, I sighed and hung my head slightly, I wasn't looking forward to the idea of walking home by myself.  I lived in an area that had just been erected, to say it looked empty was a compliment.  Other than a few houses that have residents, the rest were either empty or still in construction. 

And of course, there were no street lights. 

Let me tell you, my mind can work miles per second when it comes to imagining the worst scenario possible.  Thus, when I finally began to move, the voice next to me nearly gave me a heart attack. 

Until I whirled to see Erika next to me. 

"You scared the shit out of me!" 

For a second, she looked stunned, perhaps she had not expected such a vocal reaction out of me.  After all, I was known to be the one who would blush first as a response before anything else.  Then she laughed and stepped closer.   

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to scare you." 

"What are you doing here still?  I thought you guys were given the night off to rest before the final take tomorrow." 

She shrugged and nodded for us to walk and talk.  My body certainly took a liking to that idea, and suddenly, the dark didn't seem so forboding.   

"It's not safe for a young girl to walk home by herself." 

Now, here, I did blush.  I know my cheeks reddened and I could feel the heat emanating from my skin.  I wasn't particularly good at dealing with people, especially not when they're explicitly expressing concern or care towards my well-being.  Not even if they're my friend. 

"Ah, how is your preparation coming along for the play?" 

So, in an awkward attempt, I changed the topic to something that we could both speak about freely.  Cause, when I really think about it, there isn't really much we have in common.  Just a couple of things, the play, the school, and of course, our group of friends.  However, the last one could hardly count as something to talk about if we didn't gossip. 

And truthfully, Erika didn't seem like the gossping type. 

"It's coming along."  She offered a shrug, we had already turned out of the school gates and are heading towards the direction of my house.  "Just have to memorize those lines and get into character." 

"Oh I can never memorize those lines!"  I waved a hand in an embarrassed fashion, knowing my own failing memory very well.  "It must be tough!" 

"Mmm, I think getting into character is the most important bit."  She replied, glancing over at me thoughtfully once in a while.  "Once you get into character, you sorta have a feel for what she is going to say next.  So the lines flow a lot more and won't be like memorizing equations." 

I made a noise of realization, nodding my head along with her words.  Inwardly, I gaped at Erika's strength.  She seemed so ready for this and so much more! 

"You said you want to be an actress?" 

"I will be an actress." 

Momentarily, I was stunned.  The confidence that she exuted and the determination in that tone overwhelmed me.  In that moment, she was magnetic and radiant.  For a split second, I placed and equal sign between her and Hoshimura-sempai in my head; they were people who belonged in the same group. 

"But, that sounded arrogant."  She then offered a laugh and a wink.  "It's my goal, that's for sure.  I figured I might as well sound confident just so I don't go back on it." 

Her laugh was contagious, I had to laugh along with her as well.  It seemed to have brightened up the atmosphere exponentially, I no longer experienced the initial tension when we first started talking and walking.  I suppose, even with the people I am most familiar with, there is always some sense of inhibition.  Even with my parents, I feel that I could not truly be one hundred percent me. 

"What about you?"  She turned her head to look at me.  "You're in the wardrobe department for a reason, no?" 

I nodded in agreement, and I know my eyes must have sparkled with hope. 

"One day, I hope to be a successful fashion designer."  Unlike Erika, I didn't even have the guts to sound arrogant, not even in a joking manner.  "Someone like Fujimaru-sempai, but... obviously without being a model as well." 

Hey, what can I say.  I'm barely 160cm and am not exactly the thin ideal that plaster covers of magazines.  So I'll be happy with contributing to this glamarous industry, behind the scenes! 

"I hear she is tough." 

"Oh she is!"  My eyes widened in utter agreement.  "Her mouth is the worst!  I swear she can kill someone with her words alone!"  Then I coughed, furrowed my eyebrows and gave Erika the best impersonation I could master.  "What?  You think I've got nothing better to do?!" 

Then the two of us dissolved into laughter. 

I prayed that Fujimaru-sempai wasn't right behind us, for then, I would certainly be dead on the street the next second. 

The trip home was shorter than I remembered it to be.  Slowly, I saw the Erika who could send me messages every night before she went to bed.  Although she always appeared serious and proper, it was refreshing to see that she could have a light-hearted and almost clumpsy side to her as well. 

I wish I could keep her around for my entire life. 

I remember thinking that way somewhere during our walk, but it had appeared just as quickly as it disappeared.  Even 'till I die, I think I'll never truly remember one thing.  That night, I didn't even offer for her to come inside with me. 

It's dangerous for a girl to walk home by herself. 

She had said that and walked me to my front steps, and then, she turned and disappeared into the night, no doubt, walking home to her front steps by herself. 

Two days later, it was show time.  The sooner it grew to show time, the more headless we became.  There was shouting, yelling, and just down right screaming at the very end.  Last minute wardrobe arrangements, hair touch-ups and too many girls fixing their make-up.  There was also the occasional wheeling in of flower baskets and cards for the various actresses who will be taking on the stage tonight. 

I answered to anyone and everyone's orders.  One minute, I was holding up the train of someone's dress, the next, I'll be running to get water for someone else.  It was hectic, but everyone wore a smile on their face.  This was cinema, fashion, and entertainment.  At the smallest scale, but it was a taste of what we all wanted to accomplish in the long run. 

"Ne, ne, did you hear?  Some girls said they saw Hoshimura-semapi and Ito-sempai in the audience!" 

My feet slowed when those words floated past me in the hallway, I unconsciously glanced back at the gossiping and giggling girls as if to make sure that I heard them correctly.  I still remember how I had ran into Hoshimura-sempai not long ago, but there was also the nerve wrecking factor of possibly seeing her again. 

Seven pm, the curtains peeled back and voices were hushed.  From behind the scene, we all watched as the girls dazzled with their talent.  Although many were still young, there were a couple who were ready to graduate this coming year.  They had the leading roles, but for the entire evening, my eyes were glued to Erika.  I just knew that in the future, she will be the pillar of this drama club. 

"Erika, you were great!"  The praises just could not stop coming the moment Erika stepped off the stage, fanning herself and receiving the compliments with a smile.  She deserved every word of it, having completely stolen the show with a character who wasn't even given too much time on the stage. 

So when the audience was filing out, we felt the strings loosen and the excitement and knowledge of a job well done settled in.  Cleaning up was slow and unmotivated, we huddled in circles upon circles, talking animatedly about every little detail, recalling the happenings over the past couple of months. 

"Congratulations on a great performance tonight!" 

The new voice at the door had all of us turning around, unhidden gasps rang out in the room as our eyes focused on Hoshimura-sempai and Ito-sempai at the door.  Ito-sempai dressed casually but with an air of indifference where Hoshimura-sempai wrapped herself in the latest fashionables.  Her clothes weren't feminie, and I swear I recognized a couple of items that were similar to the latest men's apparel.  From the tie to the wrist band, she was like a model who walked right out of a magazine. 

"Hoshimura-sempai, what are you doing here?" 

"Well, to thank you for designing that lovely team logo, I figured we might as well show up here to express our appreciation."  And cue in that smile, affecting just about everyone in the room.  When her eyes landed on me, I swear my face could have melted with the heat emanating from my cheeks. 

Thankfully, there were those who were more suitable for speaking with her. 

They had brought along drinks and food for us, a lovely distraction for me to venture towards when everyone else seemed to be attached to the star of the basketball team.  Turning around, I leaned against the table and lifted the cup of pop to my lips.  Cool and soothing, my heart rate was finally beginning to return to normal. 

I watched the proceedings without really taking in anything, but the unanimous exclaimation of disappointment brought me back to reality. 

"So soon?  But you just got here!" 

Apparently, the star was ready to make her exit. 

"Sorry girls, Hoshimura-sempai has to get ready for a practice match tomorrow."  Ito Shina, manager of the national basketball team, announced to silence the girls' protests.  Hoshimura-sempai just looked all too smug at the attention that she was receiving. 

Then her eyes rolled over the crowd and landed on me, immediately, my gaze widened and my heart felt like it was going to stop.  Every cell in my body froze as she made her way towards me.  "We met the other day, do you remember?" 

I nodded mutely, keenly aware of all the eyes on me.  How can I forget?! 

"Well, I realized after you left that I never got your name." 

"Ah.. it's Ookina.  Ookina Megumi."  I chipped out immediately, stuttering over my own name. 

"Ah, Megumi-chan is it." 

Megumi-chan?!  My face flushed immediately. 

"It was nice to meet you, I'll see you around sometime, yeah?" 

"Yeah."  I nodded meekly, agreeing to everything Hoshimura-sempai said without a conscious mind of my own.  If she had asked me to jump off the roof at that moment, I might have even followed.  

"Great."  She gave me a smile before turning back to the group.  "Have a good night my girls, and good luck with your exams."  Then, she made her exit, with the continuous bidding of good night from everyone in the room.  Ito-sempai followed after her, but not without a nod in my direction to acknowledge me. 

This, is going to be a long night. 

Turns out, that was the shortest night I would experience for a long while.  A day after the wrapping up of the play, we were all immersed in our books.  Not that I've neglected my studies, but after the high I experienced, it left me addicted and craving for more.  The textbooks held no sway over me and I found myself daydreaming most of the time. 

I still remembered the way Hoshimura-sempai approached me and her voice when she uttered my name. 


My face never failed to flush at the memory of those few seconds, I didn't think anyone could put such a ring to my name. 

And then, all my daydreaming came to an end after I walked out of my first exam.  It was hellish and I swear I didn't even know my body was moving.  You know you do that thing where you flip through the exam question booklet and find the one question that you know you can answer to get yourself started?  Yeah.  Except, I flipped through the entire booklet from the beginning to the end and didn't find one such question. 

I was screwed. 

That night, I wanted to cry and murder someone at the same time.  There were seven more courses and I began to fear that every single one of those courses would be like this!  What if I fail all of them?  And then what do I do? 

Near midnight, and I still couldn't sleep.  I've read through my notes again and again, but each time, it feels like I'm learning something new and never truly grasped anything.  First year of senior high and I'm already feeling this?  Can I even survive the rest of senior high?  And what about university? 

Then, the soft chime of my cell phone broke my thoughts and I glanced over at it.  Upon flipping it open, I realized that it was Erika, bidding me a good night.  She was going to sleep.  For a long moment, I sat holding the cell phone, reading and re-reading the text message.  Then, my fingers moved and instead of reply I pressed call back.  My heart beated in my throat as I waited for the line to connect. 

I knew that she was going to sleep, but... 


At the sound of her voice, I cracked, and my own voice wavered and edged on tears.   


"... Megumi?  What is it?  What's wrong?" 

"I don't know."  And then, I sat there, clutching to the phone and had a verbal diarrhea of all the things that I was worried about.  From the exams to what I'm going to be wearing tomorrow in my hair to the weather to the busses that will be running and finally back to the exams.  She listened without saying a single word and I ranted as the most selfish person in the world. 

"Can you get out of your house?" 


"Will your parents get mad at you if you left your house in the middle of the night?" 

"It depends..." 

"I'll meet you outside your house at five thirty.  Don't do anything else tonight, just go to sleep and wake up on time, alright?" 

"Okay."  But I was still unsure. 

"Good.  I'll see you later then." 

And just like that, the line was cut.  I lowered my phone and looked at the mess on my desk.  Erika was right, there was nothing else I could do tonight, so I dragged a half numb body and fell into bed.  Five twenty, my cell phone went off.  It doubled as a communication device and my alarm clock.  Still groggy and confused, I almost forgot what Erika had told me hours ago and nearly turned it off. 

Thankfully, my brain was able to retain something at least. 

Exactly five thirty, I closed the front door softly behind me and locked it.  Then, I stood and waited for a brief moment just to make sure that my parents are not charging down the stairs and ready to murder me.  Turning, I saw Erika at the bottom of the stairs and she offered a smile, to which, I returned with one of my own. 

"Where are we going?" 

"You'll see." 

The day was slowly breaking, the faintest slither of light peeked through the clouds, but the streetlights still guided our way.  We were mostly silent on our trip, I trusted that she knew where she was going and she trusted that I would follow.  Contrary to me, Erika looked refreshed and collected as usual.  Not a single strand of hair was out of place, and she walked with certainty.  Part of her reminded me of Fujimaru-sempai, always presenting the perfect side of herself to the public. 

It makes me wonder, just who are the people lucky enough to witness a side that's not so perfect? 

"Come on, we're going up." 

Looking up, we're standing in front of a deserted building.  My mind went through all the horror movies that I've watched and my feet remained still on the ground.  Even though day light was coming in a matter of moments, they say the night is the darkest before dawn for a reason!  


From meters up ahead, she stopped and looked back at me.  First there was question in her eyes, then confusion and then finally realization and understanding.  "Come, I promise nothing is going to happen."  She held out a hand for me and I looked at her, then at her hand, then back at her and finally decided to take those steps and take her hand.  Her fingers were cool, but so were mine. 

One step at a time, she led me up the stairs and onto the rooftop, she never let go of my hand.  And with each ascending step, more light broke through and spilt across the pavement in front of us.  

Then, I understood. 

Because the moment that first blinding ray of light broke through, my breath hitched in my throat and I could only watch in amazement.  Beside me, Erika shifted closer and squeezed my hand.  At that moment, I was filled with gratitude, so much gratitude that I didn't even know how to say thank you.  However, I had a feeling that she understood either way. 

You can cry today, tomorrow, the day after; but one day, you will smile and face the world again.  Tomorrow, is always a new day. 

I remembered those words from somewhere, and at this moment, they could not be any more true.

To be continued...

[End notes:

Author's Notes:

Thank you to all who have read and reviewed thus far, I would appreciate any and all feedback to make this fiction (and my writing) better along the way.  I actually have this written 'till the end of the next chapter, as for beyond, that will certainly require inspiration among many other things.


Back to chapter list