Story: Estrogen (chapter 4)

Authors: Juxtaposition

Back to chapter list

Chapter 4

Title: Chapter Four

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

Estrogen - Chapter Four


When school started again, I dutifully noticed that even on a short walk I could see my breath.  Momentarily, I wanted to cry and wonder when this winter season will finally be over.  In the middle of January, the school ambience didn’t change from a month ago.  It was still bustling with activity when I stepped past the gates.  There ranged students in their school uniform, teachers and those in their sports wear.  I almost wanted to pause and just admire the view.  This school will be my home for three years and from afar, I could already see my friends entering the building. 

Over Christmas, I received the best present I’ve gotten in a long while. 

Bright and early on Christmas morning, the entire house was still slumbering when the door bell rang.  No one moved for a long while before my sister finally got fed up and charged down the stairs, while muttering words that had me cringing.  So she wasn’t a morning person.  I figured that I might as well get out of bed since I didn’t think I could go back to sleep either way. 

Minutes later, I was still lounging around my room in my pajamas, the door swung open without warning. 

“Manami!  Knock before you come in!” 

She gave me the longest blank stare before holding out a large gift bag for me to see.  “For you.”  And she opened her hand to let it drop on the floor. 

“Eh?  Really?” 

Moving forward, I pulled the bag open and pulled out a large gift box that was wrapped in typical Christmas wrapping paper.  There was no indication of whom the sender was, so I could only find one end and rip the wrapping away.  Under both of our eyes, the words Vivienne Westwood stood in glaring light.  Manami and I looked at each other before I opened the box.  Underneath the tissue paper there lay a jacket that could cause bankruptcy with even a glance.  I gasped and recognized it as the jacket that I was looking at secretly a few weeks ago. 

There was a small card attached and I quickly flipped it open. 

Merry Christmas.  I expect you back at work as soon as possible. 


She loves me.
She loves me.
She loves me. 

That sentence flashed through my head again and again as I starred at the card.  That morning, my entire family was forced out of bed by her present and my persistent screams of joy while clutching onto the jacket. 

I have the best boss! 

It’s been a couple of weeks since that time but I still could not conceal the grin as I walked into the school building.  Along the way, it attracted more than a few glances and I knew that some of the girls recognized it immediately.  Inside the classroom, my friends starred at me with slack jaws. 

“That is not.” 

“Oh yes it is.” 

“Did I just die and go to heaven?” 

“I think that’s my line, since I’m the one wearing it.” 

“I could kill you for it.” 

“Even if I’m a ghost, I will not let it go!” 

Erika looked more than amused at the exchanges of words; she sat beside me and appraised my wear.  Still giddy, I even twirled a little for her to see, she clapped before offering a mock salute.  

“You lucky little bitch, where did you get that?!”  Chikaru hit me in the arm before running her hand over the sleeve of the jacket. 

“Fujimaru-sempai.  It’s my Christmas present.” 

And the jaws dropped even further, that was within my expectations.  They’ve all heard many of my horror stories involving that top model, but something like this was unprecedented and even Erika looked mildly surprised. 

“I guess she isn’t as bad as you say, huh?”  Erika commented idly. 

“No, she is not.”  I turned to her; I swear my eyes have been sparkling.  “She is the best thing in this world!” 

She loves me! 

That was my affirmative. 


[Afternoon – Work] 


I wanted to skip into her house with happiness but thought that I should at least contain myself a little bit.  When I took off my shoes, she was just coming down the stairs, her gaze ran over the jacket and I didn’t even bother hiding the smile. 

“Fujimaru-sempai, thank you so much!” 

“I regret it.” 


“I regret sending it to you.  It’s wasted.” 

That bucket of cold water hit me but I didn’t feel it, I was still on my own cloud nine.  “I don’t care what you say!  This is mine!  That’s all that matters.” 

But Fujimaru-sempai wore a smile and she even came round to pat me on the shoulder lightly.  Fujimaru-sempai has always been aware of fashion, both because of her designs and her own modelling career.  She’s always appeared flawless and her clothes coordinated with her accessories, nothing was ever out of place.  Today, when she was close enough to me, I noticed one little glitch that was so unlike her to over look. 

“Fujimaru-sempai, what is…” 

It was hard to see, but I saw it.  There was a see-through necklace chain –old, worn and definitely no where near expensive enough for her taste- that was around her neck.  I could not see the pendent for it was deep within her clothes, but just that alone was enough to shock me.  That thing didn’t fit with any of her clothes! 

“What are you doing?”  She slapped my hand away before I even reached it.  “Just because I gave you a jacket does not mean that you are now allowed to molest me.  If you crave for fornication so much, I can always tell you where the brothels and host clubs are.” 

My lips twitched and I pouted at her retreating back. 
I had only wanted to see what that was! 


[Wednesday – School] 


The drama club –including the stage setting, wardrobe and make-up groups- sat around the auditorium and debated for the summer play.  Many suggestions were thrown out but more were rejected than accepted.  I sat quietly; these things have never been my strong point.  Some of the upperclassmen readily gave out names of what seemed like influential plays, but I’ve only heard a few. 

Ah, this was certainly not my domain. 

Half way through the discussion, the back door opened and everyone turned to look on cue.  Suddenly, it was as if half of the students here gained energy that was previously nonexistent. 


The star of the basketball team lifted a hand as a wave and walked down those steps closer to us.  The girls closest to her all but stopped breathing as she drew closer, I saw that famous grin she carried.  Hoshimura-sempai was not in her team uniform; it appeared that she had just gotten here.  Her hair was still styled perfectly, and I picked out the different brands of clothes that she wore. 

Yep, this was more of my forte. 

“Afternoon, ladies.  I hope I’m not interrupting.” 

She was never interrupting. 

“Did you need something, Hoshimura-sempai?” 

“I actually have a favour to ask.” 

Before she even told us of the offer, affirmative answers were already given.  Beside me, Erika looked aloof as if this entire ordeal did not involve her.  On my other side, Chikaru seemed a little too enthusiastic. 

“It’s Shina’s birthday on the weekend, so I was wondering if you could possibly help me throw her a party.  Of course, the entire drama club is invited and there will be friends from outside of the school as well.” 

So that was the start of our mini project, the choice of a play was put off in favour of planning for Ito-sempai’s birthday.  I swear there was the illusion that we must work harder at this than at our own plays, but it was only an illusion.  When Ito-sempai’s birthday came around, January only had one week left in it.  Although school hasn’t picked up its pace, I could already see it rear its ugly head. 

That weekend, the school’s auditorium was more alive than normal.  True to Hoshimura-sempai’s words, there was the entire drama club and then there were people from outside of the school as well.  The basketball team was there as well, these girls were all so tall! 

“Happy birthday, Ito-sempai!”  We wished her together, and clicked our glasses together for a toast.  The older girls all had their glasses of alcohol while we stuck to our non-alcoholic beverages. 

“Thank you, everyone.” 

Besides Ito-sempai Hoshimura-sempai smiled at her kindly, maybe her hair was just a touch shorter now.  I couldn’t help but notice how they seemed to fit together suitably.  Ito-sempai’s usual neutral and sometimes blank expression was softened tonight. 

“You girls did a great job.”  Hoshimura-sempai stepped closer and clicked each of our glasses in turn; I thought if we really did have alcohol, Chikaru might just have thrown herself at Hoshimura-sempai. 

“Sempai, when will we get to see a game?”  I asked boldly, perhaps the atmosphere has infiltrated my senses. 

“Ah, that is…”  She started and then paused, slowly she glanced towards Ito-sempai, it was clear that she needed help.  And Ito-sempai’s smiling face dropped, her gaze narrowed.  On cue, Hoshimura-sempai stepped closer to me and I smelt her perfume before I felt her warmth.  My face heated up immediately at the contact, I wanted to hide behind my glass of drink. 

“It’s in May.”  Wow, Ito-sempai’s eyes looked like they could kill. 

Hoshimura-sempai laughed and waved off that silent threat before turning to me, perhaps she was eager to get away from a possible lecture.  “It’s a long time, huh?  But that means we get all the time in the world to prepare.  Megumi-chan,” I shivered when she put her arm around my shoulder and leaned down to peer at my face “you will come and cheer for me, right?” 


I glanced up at her timidly, my heart was beating faster and it choked me of air and words alike.  She took my silence as hesitation and widened her eyes as if heartbroken at my reaction.  “Is that a no?” 

My eyes darted around for help; my friends looked like they were enjoying this too much.  Erika was the only one who looked concerned enough to have taken a step forward.  Oh Erika, I knew she would come through! 

“Still playing with girls’ hearts, your majesty?” 

But Erika didn’t get her heroic chance, for another voice had cut in and the auditorium went silent for a second before excited murmurs rose.  To me, that voice just sounded more familiar than I had remembered last.  Both Hoshimura-sempai and I turned our heads. 


There she stood, near the entrance. 

“That’s really Fujimaru-sempai?”  Chikaru whispered to me and I could only nod, still in shock at her appearance.  I tried to recall my last conversation with her; she didn’t mention anything about attending this party. 

“Is that Fujimaru?”
The Fujimaru?”
“The model Asura?”
“Tomorrow’s Fragrance?” 

Amidst all the murmurs and speculations, she offered them a nod and a smile before heading towards us.  It was January weather, but she was in a dress –Gucci, I identified it- and underneath the lighting, she was captivating.  Witness, the radiance of the number one model in the nation right now. 

“Getting a little sloppy with your choices, no, your majesty?”  Then I realized that she was addressing Hoshimura-sempai.  It seemed like they knew each other. 

“Oh come now, princess.”  Hoshimura-sempai was unfazed and she even squeezed my shoulders just a little bit more.  Besides me, I felt someone’s fingers around my hand and I looked to see Erika standing beside me.  I was thankful for her support as I was trapped, unable to move.  Maybe I didn’t want to move either.  “How can you say that?  Megumi-chan is adorable!  Here, let me introduce you two, this is…” 

“I know who she is.”  Fujimaru interrupted with a small smile, although they talked about other people but their gazes never moved from one another’s.  “She works for me.” 

“Oh.”  Hoshimura-sempai was mildly surprised before she let go of me and glanced over.  I took a step back and felt Erika’s hand still around mine.  “You are the Ookina who works for her.” 

“Yes.”  I nodded and quickly bowed to Fujimaru-sempai. 

“Wow, this is a small world.” 

From that little piece of information, it was logical to deduce that Fujimaru-sempai and Hoshimura-sempai certainly know each other outside of school.  It seemed that I was once a topic of conversation as well. 

Now, I was just dreadfully curious about their relationship. 

Fujimaru-sempai took the moment and stepped forward to hand over a gift bag to Ito-sempai, whom took it with a small bow. 

“Happy birthday, Shina.” 

“Thank you, sempai.” 

“If you don’t know how to wear it, let me know.” 

Ito-sempai paused and looked up at Fujimaru-sempai before looking down at the present, this time with some apprehension.  “What… is it?” 


Just like that, Ito-sempai’s face flushed a deep red, and Hoshimura-sempai didn’t bother concealing her laughter.  Fujimaru-sempai looked a little too smug standing there as if nothing had just passed over here.  We looked at each other and wondered what sort of expression we should be having. 

“Sempai…”  That sounded forced and through gritted teeth as well. 

Fujimaru-sempai lifted a hand to dismiss her words; it was a sight to see that Ito-sempai could be reduced to a statue with a few words from Fujimaru-sempai alone.  “Alright, now that the present is here and I’ve shown up, it’s time for me to leave.” 

“So soon?”  I looked over at her in surprise, she glanced over and nodded. 

“I have a photo shoot, I’m leaving right now.  You don’t have to come in for work tomorrow, come at the end of the week instead, I’ll be back then.” 

“Yes, I will.” 

Her eyes surveyed the rest of the group and they all quickly bowed to acknowledge her gesture, even Erika bowed lightly, she seemed to be in light awe.  “See you around, have fun.” 

“I’ll escort you out, princess.” 

Fujimaru-sempai looked over at Hoshimura-sempai before resuming her departure.  Hoshimura-sempai handed me her drink before following after Fujimaru-sempai.  It was obvious that they were exchanging words, and from glance to glance, I saw their smiles for one another. 

“Ito-sempai, you know Fujimaru-sempai?”  Erika was asking Ito-sempai. 

“Ah, yes.”  Ito-sempai has already shoved the present aside and was looking more composed than previously.  “When I was in first year, Fujimaru-sempai and Hoshimaru-sempai were both in their last years.  I’m sure you’ve heard, at that time, the two of them were the school’s stars.  Everyone looked up to them, and their popularity can still be remembered.”  Yes, in the form of gigantic pictures in the school’s main hallway.  “I worked as the basketball team’s manager and that’s where I met Hoshimura-sempai.  I was also in the student council; Fujimaru-sempai was the president for all three years there.  At first, I thought they didn’t know each other, but it turned out that was wrong.” 

Yes, that indeed made more sense.  It would be unlikely that these two popular stars never even knew each other.  And tonight, it was evident that both of them seemed quite comfortable with one another. 

“How long has it been?”  Ito-sempai sounded nostalgic in her question as she tapped her chin in thought.  “I hear that they started communicating with each other in the second year, so it’s been about ten years now.” 





Erika and I strolled home aimlessly; perhaps both of us were still digesting the news that was handed down in one night.  It seemed almost impossible, but at the same time, it made absolute logical sense.  I wonder why I never thought of that before. 

“Ten years.”  She started, and I looked over at her.  She was looking up at the half hidden moon.  “I wonder where we’ll be in ten years.” 

“Yeah.”  I couldn’t help but echo with her. 

“Megumi.”  I turned to look at her.  “In ten years’ time, will you still be with me?” 

My feet unconsciously slowed and she matched my pace.  I processed the question and wondered why it left such a pang in my heart.  My face slowly reddened and I couldn’t move my eyes from her face. 

“I don’t know.”  At length, I finally answered.  “I hope I will.” 

I really did.  There was something about Erika that was captivating in her own right.  She wasn’t dazzling like Fujimaru-sempai and Hoshimura-sempai, but she was beautiful in her own way.  I could see that she will be successful in her life.  But, what about me? 

“Megumi, I…”  She started but stopped.  It was unlike her to be so hesitant. 

“What is it?”

 For a long moment, she merely stood and looked at me.  Part of me thought something was going to happen, my heart thrashed in anticipation, but in the end, she just shook her head and smiled.  “It’s nothing, let’s go.”  I pouted at the sudden conclusion but followed her nonetheless.  “Fujimaru-sempai is beautiful.”   

I looked over and nodded my head.  “She really is.” 

“I wish I could be like her in the future.” 

“You are a different type of pretty from her though.” 

“No, not like that.”  Erika shook her head and her long hair spilt over her shoulders.  “I wish to be as popular and influential as her.  So I can use my powers to do something that will be beneficial as well.” 

Like any other night, Erika walked me to my door and left.  The house beside mine was quiet and I glanced over out of habit.  During the break, our families sat down and had dinner together.  Jun-kun talked like an adult, acted like an adult and I couldn’t help but glance at him.  At the beginning of January, he packed up his stuff and left for university once again.  Now, at night, the light in his room would no longer turn on. 

I knew that it will be another few months before I see light again. 

After that interlude, it seemed to have brought us closer with the national basketball team.  The members were introduced to us and they were great people who acted more childish than us at times.  Ito-sempai no longer glared at us when we would crowd the doors, instead she would look over to acknowledge our presence before turning back to the practice at hand. 

Hoshimura-sempai was as how I’ve always known her.  She ran and jogged, paused and started, half of her time was spent flirting with random girls.  Now as I look at her, I wondered if she and Fujimaru-sempai keep in touch regularly or was it just an once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon that happened the other night. 

Sometimes, I would use the time to glance at Erika carefully.  She wasn’t particularly into the Hoshimura-sempai fan club, but since we wanted to come, she would tag along with us.  Once in a while, she would catch my gaze and share a smile with me.  I didn’t know why she would make me feel this way.  It was uncomfortable, it was pleasurable, and it was almost like a secret guilty habit. 

Inside me, my heart kept on telling me that something was about to change. 

Just like that, January came and went; we were already a good distance into February.  Days before Valentine’s Day, I had stopped before a chocolate shop and looked at the gorgeously wrapped gifts.  I’ve changed so much since my junior high days thanks to the people I’ve interacted with in senior high.  I wondered if I could possibly push myself a little harder.  So I went in and bought a box of chocolate. 

“You bought what?”  Fuuyu questioned for my friends at lunch, when I picked at my food listlessly.  “But why?” 

“I don’t know, I just… I wondered… I mean…” 

“But how is that possible?  He’s all the way in university!” 

I knew that argument as well, but I still couldn’t help it.  There really wasn’t a strong urge to be with him, but it was like a need to fulfill a wish so even if there was a rejectiont, I could at least say that I tried. 

“Give it up, it won’t work.”  Erika got straight to the point and it startled me, along with her almost harsh tone.  “He doesn’t think of you that way.” 

“Erika…”  Chikaru tugged at her sleeve quickly. 

I looked at her, somewhat stunned, but at the same time, I knew that she was probably right. 

That day, I walked home alone.  Changed and went to work alone.  Unlike me, Fujimaru-sempai’s place was filled with chocolates.  As her assistant, I was instructed to bring in all the chocolate lying outside her door and squished into her mailbox.  She took the time to look over each chocolate and its sender, but she ate none of them.  In the end, a pink and lovely Valentine’s Day ended when I threw out all the chocolate that she received. 

Ah, how our lives differ. 

The chocolate I bought was still in my bag and even on my way home, I wondered if I should knock on Nagataka-san’s house to inquire about Jun-kun’s address. 


At my door, Erika was leaning against the low wall.  I paused underneath the steps and looked up at her in complete surprise.  After her blunt answers at lunch time, we haven’t really spoken with one another.   

“Hello.”  I offered her a meek smile and watched as she stepped down to be on the same level as me.  Her face was half hidden by the darkness and half illuminated by the street lamp on the road side. 

“How was work?” 

“It was okay.  Fujimaru-sempai made me take in all her chocolate only to throw them away later.”  I didn’t know why I had to say that, or why it was even needed to be brought up. 

She smiled and shuffled her feet slowly, and there it was again, my heart started thrashing in anticipation.  “Megumi, I’m sorry.” 

“What for?”  Part of me already knew the answer. 

“At lunch time, I was rude; I shouldn’t have said those things.”  She started and I was already forming a smile, the words of it’s okay travelled to the back of my throat, but she carried on.  “I was just jealous.” 

That little bit was unexpected and I made a noise of confusion. 

Erika took a moment and lifted her head to look at me directly; I was almost scared by the naked truth in her eyes.  How her gaze didn’t even blink when she continued.  “I like you, Megumi.  Would you consider going out with me?” 

To be continued...

[End notes: A.N.: It took a while for this story to reach this stage, where it can now finally match with what I've placed for its summary.  I had anticipated that this stage would come sooner, but reality is different from my imagination after all.  From here on, I'd like to say that the true growth and maturing of this story will continue on.  Thank you to all who have read and reviewed, I much appreciate it!]

Back to chapter list