Story: Estrogen (chapter 5)

Authors: Juxtaposition

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Chapter 5

Title: Chapter Five

[Author's notes: Disclaimer: 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 Five


“Sorry.”  Both of us uttered as our fingers touched when we bent over to pick up Hitomi’s dropped eraser at the same time.  I withdrew my fingers immediately and Erika went on to pick it up and placed it on Hitomi’s desk.  My eyes were forced to glue onto my books and I didn’t allow myself to look sideways.   

This was the second week since Erika confessed to me, and needless to say, we were still adjusting.  No, it’s more like, I was still adjusting.  That night, in front of my door, I gave her no answer.  In fact, I was too shocked to even say anything.  Although I questioned whether I had a crush on Hoshimura-sempai due to my responses, I had never thought of pursuing anything with her.  To openly state that one likes girls takes a lot of courage –to face the rumours, to face the discrimination and the ridicule-, and I didn’t have that courage. 

I was scared when Erika had asked me so directly.  She seemed to have no problems with saying it aloud to me.  But I… really didn’t know what to do.  She was a great girl, a great friend, but I wasn’t sure if I ever would want to carry our friendship further.  Heck, I wasn’t even sure if I liked girls! 

Hoshimura-sempai was different.  She was an idol, someone who everyone looked towards.  So that was more acceptable, and I knew that no one really would go out with Hoshimura-sempai anyways.  It was just a fun game to play.  However, Erika was different.  She was my friend, she was attainable and she would go out with me if I had agreed to her. 

This had been stewing in my head for the past two weeks, and shamefully, I’ve tried to avoid Erika as much as I possibly could to not sir up anything.  I felt bad, and she had stopped texting me at night as well.  I knew that I placed her at a hard spot, and I knew she was hurt as well. 

I snuck a glance towards her and wondered just what she liked about me.  Part of me wanted to cry, I was scared.  I was scared that we would lose everything if we behaved in such a manner, and I was scared that I would lose her as a friend forever because of this. 

After school, I had found some excuse to leave late.  Chikaru, Fuuyu and Hitomi looked at us with concern.  They weren’t used to this silence between Erika and me.  Erika didn’t say anything and just packed up her bag silently before leaving.  When the school was empty, I ventured to the back of the school and dropped down before a picnic table.  I sat there and enjoyed the cool breeze brush me by.  The silence allowed me to think and I starred off at nothing, I attempted to sort through everything in my head. 

“What are you doing here?” 

Startled out of my own trance, I turned to find Hoshimura-sempai at the door that led back into the school.  She was dressed in casual clothing with a duffle bag in hand; it looked like practice was over.  For once, my heart did not immediately start its beating and I didn’t know what sort of face I should put on for her. 

Hoshimura-sempai looked at me from afar before coming over to sit next to me at the picnic table.  Her bag was hoisted up onto the wooden surface and left there. 

“What’s wrong?” 

“I don’t know.” 

“Then why are you sitting out here alone?” 

I was silent, and Hoshimura-sempai didn’t press on either.  At length, my mouth opened and I figured maybe she could have better advice than my fried brain right now.  “Hoshimura-sempai, what would you do if your friend asked you out.” 

“It would depend on the friend.” 

“What about if it was a girl?” 

“Well then, it would have to depend on if she’s pretty or not.” 

“Sempai, I’m serious.” 

“What’s wrong with that?  No matter whether if it’s a girl or a guy, their feelings are what you should be responding to, and not the gender, right?” 

I looked over at her and saw her serious face, her lips weren’t curled up into that usual smile, and I knew that she was going to have a serious conversation with me. 

“But… I don’t know whether I like her.  I mean, I like her, but I don’t know whether I like girls.”  If Erika had been a guy, I probably would have said yes without a second thought.  But, Hoshimura-sempai was right, it was the feelings that I was responding to.  However, before that, the barrier of being the same sex just stood thicker than anything else. 

“I can’t tell you whether you like girls or not.  However, if she is a friend, then you should at least be kind to her.  Even if you reject her, you should still treat her with kindness.  It’s hard enough to come out and say it; it would be tougher if she would be shunned afterwards.  Am I right, princess?” 


The ending did not fit with the beginning and I looked up at Hoshimura-sempai before following her line of gaze to see Fujimaru-sempai standing not far from us.  When did she arrive?  I did not know. 

“Fujimaru-sempai, what are you doing here?” 

“Do you know what time it is?  You were supposed to be at work an hour ago.” 

And then I realized that I had work today, and I have a test tomorrow, and my life came crashing back onto my head, now I really wanted to cry. 

“Also, don’t listen to this one here.”  Fujimaru-sempai carried on and I saw her indicate towards Hoshimura-sempai, who tried to look offended.  Carefully, Fujimaru-sempai sat down as well, her clothes were out of sync with the surrounding, but she was still herself.  “This is why she’s always had people chasing after her left and right.” 

“Oi now, let’s not talk about me.” 

Fujimaru-sempai rolled her eyes and turned back to me.  “If you don’t like her, then tell her so clearly.  Don’t drag it on, don’t give her hope, but don’t be rude when telling her the truth.  The worst thing you can do is to give someone kindness at a stage like this.  Kindness gives them hope, it makes it seem like they would have a chance when in reality you just pity them.  That’s the cruellest.” 

“But princess, they were friends to begin with.  Can you just turn your back on a friend?” 

“Your majesty, not everyone is good at playing different roles in front of different people.  It’s the easiest to just cut it short and get to the point.  That way, the short term pain will give away quicker and both parties can move on to find someone better.  Long term pain will just drag on and on until the point when one cannot even differentiate between pain and life anymore.” 

“Even so, there is nothing wrong with offering a little kindness.  To show that even though they could not be lovers, they could still be friends.” 

“Do you really think so?” 

“Think what?” 

“That they can still be friends?  Don’t be ridiculous.  No matter how nicely she says no, their friendship is still going to be ruined.  Mark my words.” 

I looked from one to the other, wondering if I should interfere even though they were both talking about my situation.  They were scary!  In all seriousness, both of their arguments were sound, and I wondered how much pain I was causing Erika unintentionally. 

“Thank you, sempai.”  I stood up and bowed to them deeply.  Although my head was still a mess, I knew that both of them were trying to help me.  If anything, they at least offered me different perspectives of looking at this issue.   

That afternoon, Fujimaru-sempai excused me from work and by the time I was heading inside, I was already feeling better.  From inside the door, I couldn’t help but turn around and look out at them again.  They were still sitting in the same spots, talking with one another.  There was no way I could hear their topics of conversation, but part of me wondered if they were still debating about my problem. 

If Hoshimura-sempai and Ito-sempai looked suitable for each other, then Fujimaru-sempai and Hoshimura-sempai were made in heaven.  Both were radiant people and it would seem that they were only fitful with one another, no one else. 

Suddenly, I wondered what their relationship was.
Neither was surprised when they heard that Erika had confessed to me.  In fact, they both spoke as if they’ve had much experience in this field.
Could they possibly… is that even possible?  Given both of their popularity, if they indeed were, surely it would be all over the news right now. 

With both of their advices in mind, I made up my decision slowly.  It was confusing and a little scary, but I reminded myself of Erika and what she must be going through right now.  Perhaps it was taking my own experiences with Jun-kun and superimposing them onto Erika, I understand that unrequited love was a bitter pill to swallow. 

So it was appropriate that on March 14th I approached Erika with my resolve.  It’s been a month since the last time we spoke with each other.  This morning, I left home earlier than usual as I’ve become familiar with Erika’s morning schedule.  It was in the auditorium that I found her.  Erika once told me that she liked to come to school early to practice her lines in the auditorium so she could adjust to the size and magnitude to give the performance the best she could possibly give. 

I pushed open the door and saw her sitting on the edge of the stage.  The creaking shut of the door behind me seemed to echo throughout the entire space and Erika looked up at me from her script.  From this far, I couldn’t read her expression, and on cue, my heart started pounding.  Each beat grew in force as I stepped down the stairs to draw closer to her.  The closer I moved, the more I realized that she looked at me with an expression mixed of guilt and longing. 

Why haven’t I ever noticed this before? 

As I stopped in front of the stage, she put aside her script and jumped down to greet me.  The two of us looked at each other from across a modest distance for a long while. 

“Megumi, I’m sorry about the other day.” 

I shook my head and looked down at my clasped hands; the fingers squeezed one another to give me the kick start that I needed.  “No, I’m the one who should apologize, Erika.”  Taking in a deep breath, I lifted my head and looked at her.  I tried my best to be like her and starred at her eyes, much like how she had done a month ago.  “I should not have brushed you aside like that without a proper response, because no matter what, I am grateful for your feelings.” 

This speech has been prepared many times in my head and in the showers for the past two weeks, although my voice still came out small and shaky. 

“I cannot say that I return your feelings, but I can say for certain that I really love spending time with you.”  She looked at me and waited for me to continue, she was considerate enough to give me this time to regroup my thoughts.  “If you would… if you would like, I’d very much like for us to return to how we were.  At the same time, I promise that I will consider your proposal continuously.” 

From the moment we met each other ‘till she confessed, I’ve always looked at her as a friend and didn’t think of her actions and words as anything more than a gesture of friendship.  For the past month, I’ve reviewed all that I could remember, slowly I could piece out the differences she had treated me with. 

It was my turn to wait for her again. 

“Megumi, it’s okay.”  She spoke quietly, and for the first time, I saw a helpless expression on her face.  “You don’t have to force yourself; I can understand that you feel disgusted with me.” 

“No, no.”  I quickly shook my head and took a hasty step forward, as if wanting to convey my sincerity.  “I don’t think that you’re disgusting, I just wasn’t prepared and didn’t really think towards another direction.  I… “  This was not part of my planned speech, so on the spot, I had to improvise.  “Do you remember when you asked me if I’d be with you in ten years’ time?” 

She nodded. 

“In ten years, in twenty years, in thirty years, for the rest of our lives, whether as friends or…”  I blushed and glanced down “… anything else, I want to be by your side.” 

Do you understand me? 

Erika studied me for a moment longer before she moved and caught me in her arms.  My eyes widened and I could only stare at the curtain behind her in shock.  When my breathing returned to normal, I found myself moving to return the hug.  Like I had wondered before, but never thought it to be possible, I was the one to witness Erika’s weakness.  

“Thank you, Megumi.”  She murmured against my neck.  “Thank you.” 

Against me, I felt her body tremble.  Then I realized that she was scared as well, her pulse was a mirror image of mine.  Erika was just another young girl who’s just confessed to her love after all. 

Much to Chikaru’s, Fuuyu’s and Hitomi’s relief, everything seemed to be back to normal.  They didn’t want to give us a reason, but we already knew, for their joyous outlooks.  That night, the five of us spent hours in a karaoke room and shed all our worries and concerns.  It was White Day, and although the confession I wanted to give to Jun-kun received no reply –since I never gave it-, but at least Erika’s confession had been settled.  Now, I truly opened my eyes and looked. 

I noticed the little things that I’ve always taken for granted before.  Erika’s always offered me her food when I mentioned how much I’ve salivated over a certain dish, and she’s always silently eaten what I hated.  In class, she would make sure to have perfect notes just because she knew that I would zone out once in a while. 

After school, it’s always been her notes that I’ve borrowed. 

Beneath her somewhat aloof exterior, her every movement carried such warmth that I didn’t think existed previously.  Sometimes, I would wonder if this was how a relationship was supposed to feel.  Even though I knew that I was being selfish, basking in her kindness without having promised anything in return, I couldn’t help myself.  In the end, I leaned towards Hoshimura-sempai’s advice and even took it to a further level. 

Once in a while, Hoshimura-sempai would catch the two of us together, but she wouldn’t say anything about that afternoon.  I couldn’t read Hoshimura-sempai’s eyes, partly because I was still having trouble looking at her in the eyes.  Fujimaru-sempai never mentioned another word about what was discussed that day.  Sometimes, I would think back on what they’ve said and wonder whether they were reflective of their own lives. 

Fujimaru-sempai had alluded to Hoshimura-sempai’s popularity and the popular conception that she was the type who liked to leave girls hanging.  Then, what about Fujimaru-sempai?  It was hard for me to imagine her ever having been rejected or hurt bad enough to have answered that way. 

I wanted to know both of them better. 

For now though, I enjoyed the feeling of being spoiled.  Although Erika could not offer any material goods, I sometimes find myself thinking that, perhaps, just her presence would be enough. 

To be continued...

[End notes: Author's Notes: Thank you to everyone who have been following and leaving comments for this story, I much appreciate the support.  From here on, it may seem the events are trivial, but it's always the little things that define a successful relationship.]

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