Keiko’s apartment was dark, her only source of light was the setting sun’s rays through the small cracks in the blinds. She sat on the sofa, looking directly at the wall across from her. She didn’t move, didn’t say anything. She just sat there, staring at the white wall. Her breathing was barely audible, and if it hadn’t been, she would have seemed dead.
‘Hahahahah …’ Keiko laughed in her mind. ‘It figures that my sexuality would have been my death. Sad thing is, I’m happy that I kept Sarah’s full name to myself. I couldn’t let her get involved. I love her too much to risk that. Gods, how I love that woman.’
Keiko still sat unmoving, on her sofa. The only thing besides her breathing that told anyone that she was still alive were the tears streaming down her cheeks. Finally, out of hatred for their presence, Keiko lifted her arm and used her shirt sleeve to wipe the tears away.
‘I miss you.’ Keiko’s mind screamed. ‘Gods, how I miss you, Sarah. Don’t go dying for my sake. Live on and find yourself a happy life. You don’t need to die; you’ve got too much to live for.’
Keiko’s silent musings were broken by a loud knock on her door. She rose to her feet, albeit slowly, but she rose. She pulled the heavy door open to reveal Yuuichiro’s solemn face. He held up a couple of boxes, and gave a weak smile.
“I brought the okonomiyaki you said you thought would suffice,” He said softly. He saw the wet, and puffy redness of Keiko’s eyes. “Sarah wasn’t the only one crying.”
“You saw Sarah?” Keiko asked; her surprise evident. “Why?”
“Because I’ve stood on the sidelines a little too long during this mess,” Yuuichiro replied. “I’m setting the wheels in motion to get you two clear. I’ve already left Sarah at the park around the corner. She’s waiting for you there with a car and some money. Put some clothes and some personal stuff in a bag, then take these okonomiyaki and get going. No arguments. It’s all set up at your back window.” He pulled the key for the lockdown anklet out and knelt down. He unlocked the pad and then placed it on a doll he had in his pocket. “You’re free to go now, no one will know a damned thing for at least six or seven hours. Go already.”
“Yuuichiro you --“ Keiko started.
“I don’t want to hear it. I’ve already done everything I believe to be right.” Yuuichiro said seriously. “All I want you to do is go, and only look back in letters. Dye your hair, get it styled differently, and buy something to change how you look enough to ward off attention. I love you like a sister and this whole mess is killing me, Charla, Rei, you, and Sarah. I want it to end, and I want that end to be a happy one. So this is my way of making that happy ending come about.”
“Thank you,” Keiko said tearfully. She ran into her room, gathering clothes, her reading glasses, her money stash and put it all into her sports bag. She went into the bathroom, grabbing her personal toiletries and then came back into the living room. She kissed Yuuichiro on the cheek and gave him a bear hug. “You are the best male friend I have ever had. I will NEVER forget this. I’ll be back, and I’ll pay you back for it all. I love you as a brother, and I can’t say that I’ll be back soon, but I’ll be back. Thank you, Yuuichiro.”
“Yeah,” Yuuichiro whispered, returning the hug. “I know. I know it all. You take care. I’ll be waiting.”
Keiko broke the hug and ran to the only window in the rear of the apartment. She gave Yuuichiro a final wave and climbed out. Yuuichiro smiled sadly and walked out the front door. He locked it as if she was still in there and made his way back to his police cruiser. He knew that what he was doing was right, his job and reputation be damned. Keiko was worth it all. She deserved to be happy, and now she had that chance. Yuuichiro grabbed his coffee and downed it in a single gulp. ‘Now you can find out how much of each other you can stand. I’ll be waiting for you to come back, Keiko. No matter how long that wait is.’
Sarah sat in the park waiting. She was hoping that this whole thing went off without a hitch. She was so nervous that her body was trembling wildly. She was ready to cry, but held firm. She sat on the bench closest to the center of the park. She watched the street leading to the complex Keiko livid in with apprehension. Her stomach was flip-flopping with anxiety. Wringing her hands, she stood and began to pace.
“Keiko, I can’t stand waiting.” Sarah whispered to herself. She cast another glance to the street and her heart leap into her throat as a figure ran in the direction of the park. She stood still, hoping that her heart was right. Hoping that god didn’t look down on her and Keiko with disgust, but with love. “Gods, if you grant me just one wish in my life, let it be this one. Please grant me the gift of Keiko. I need her as I need air. Hear my wish and judge me now.”
Sarah’s small prayer had already been granted as Keiko made her way into the park at breakneck speed. She ran as if the world was chasing her. She ran through the empty street, praying that Yuuichiro wasn’t lying. She ran until her lungs were about to burst. She saw Sarah and nearly leapt in pure joy. She ran through the park and tackled Sarah in a hug.
“Gods I thought Yuuichiro was pulling my leg!” Keiko wailed.
Sarah burst into tears and held onto Keiko as if they were dying. “Gods, Keiko, I was so worried you wouldn’t come!”
“I came, and I couldn’t be happier,” Keiko said, her eyes wet with her own tears. “Lets go, we’ve got a life to show our love.”
Grabbing their things, they made their way around the park looking for the car Yuuichiro had prepared for them. Sarah pressed the keypad on the ring at every car, and each time nothing happened, her fear grew. After they had made it a third of the way around, they heard a chime as Sarah pressed the keypad for what seemed like the millionth time.
“Oh thank you!” Sarah exclaimed. “We own Yuuichiro for everything now.”
“I know,” Keiko agreed softly. “We’ll come back and give him the just reward. I swear that here and now. If I could, I’d make him my brother legally. He’s too good a friend. I owe him a lot more than a few meals now. C’mon love, we need to head off into the sunset. Our new lives await.”
Sarah gave Keiko the keys and climbed into the passenger side of the newer looking Pontiac. She didn’t know the make, but she knew that it didn’t come cheap. She could care less about the car though. She was with Keiko now, and that was all she needed.
“Alright,” Keiko sighed as she started the car, “we’re about to start living life on the run.”
“I don’t care if we’re on the run,” Sarah said firmly. “As long as I get to be at your side, I’d go anywhere. You ARE my life Keiko. I’m sorry I wasn’t there when you needed me.”
“If you had been,” Keiko said as she pulled onto the road, “we’d both be locked down and this whole idea wouldn’t have gotten off the ground.”
“I guess it was a good thing then,” Sarah said sheepishly. “At least we’re together now, when it matters.”
“Yeah,” Keiko said softly. “We’re together now.”
They drove in comfortable silence until they had left the city and made it to a rest stop on the highway. Keiko pulled over into the parking area for small vehicles and grabbed her sports bag. She pulled the okonomiyaki out to find them still warm. ‘He bought the boxes for this earlier. He wasn’t in this half way. Thanks for everything, Yuuichiro. I can’t thank you enough for all of this.’
“Here,” Keiko said, sitting at a small table in front of the restrooms. “Yuuichiro bought these okonomiyaki and the warmer for us. I think he remembered our favorites too.”
“He wasn’t playing around in this getaway plan was he?” Sarah asked, still reeling from the feeling of surrealistic feeling of the whole situation. “He did all of this for us, not even upset that if it was discovered he was involved he’d be discharged from service.”
“I know,” Keiko said solemnly. “I told him to worry about his family and forget me, but his heart’s too damned big for his own good.” Keiko opened the boxes of okonomiyaki to see a note in each one on the cover over the food. “What’s this?” She took them out, reading her name on one and Sarah’s on the other.
“Looks like Charla’s handwriting,” Sarah said, looking over Keiko’s shoulder. She grabbed the one with her name on it and open the envelope with a measure of caution. Pulling out the letter, Sarah’s eyes bugged out as she read.
Hey, I’m sorry that you had to go through all of this. The council is wrong in their persecution of the people like you and Keiko. You’re no different from anyone else. The only reason that you’re singled out is fear. Fear of change, fear of homosexuality being the future.
You two don’t deserve this. You’ve done nothing wrong, yet you’re marked for life. I only wish I could have done something sooner. Rei’s so sad that her grades are falling. We hope that our efforts to set things straight can garner your forgiveness. I care for you both as if you were my sisters. I hope that you can forgive me for not saying anything at the hearing. If I wasn’t such a worrywart, I would have jumped in and defended Keiko as if I was the one on trial.
I guess this is goodbye for a while, but I hope we aren’t forgotten. We’d like to hear from you guys no and then. You can send us the tales of the adventures you guys are having. Please, don’t forget to write Rei and tell her that you two are okay. She’s fond of you both. I hope to hear from you soon.
Tears fell from Keiko’s eyes as she finished letter; one nearly identical to Sarah’s. “Charla,” Keiko whispered, “I’ll always remember what you’ve done for me.”
“Sister,” Sarah added. “That’s what she’ll always be. A sister to the both of us.”
“Let’s eat,” Keiko said suddenly. “I know Charla’s cooking when I smell it. Let’s not let the hard work be wasted.”
“Right,” Sarah agreed, nodding. They ate the okonomiyaki, and savored every bite. They finished as the sun finally set on the western horizon. They sat in each others arms, and thanked the Gods that Yuuichiro and Charla were their friends. They were blessed, and it showed. They’d survive it all, and they’d do it together.