Petal 10 - Cirrus Confrontation
"I'm coming in."
The beautifully feminine Kazuki entered in to his daughter's bedroom with a tray of a hot meal balanced on his right hand. He ceremoniously placed on the desk, and then turned around to see Kazuko underneath the comforter staring back at him.
"You still won't tell me?" he asked.
Kazuko shook her head.
"I see. Remember, that I am always here for you, no matter what."
Kazuko smiled, but her father could not see. He then left the darkened room and returned to the kitchen to attend to his current fling taller yet a bit older than him.
"Still no go?" asked Frankie.
"No," said Kazuki, sitting down next to Frankie to drink his tea.
"It's been a couple of days since she hadn't left the room, almost as if she was taking a vow of silence. I wish I could be more help since I know her friend, Ichiko. Are you sure she wasn't raped?"
Kazuki shook his head. "I don't believe so, but Kazuko must have seen something that horrified her in way we can't even imagine."
The call won't go through. Ichiko dialed twelve hours later during her lunch break at school when she alone occupied the fenced-off roof. Once more after just one ring, Kazuko's carrier indicated that she could not be reached, which surely indicated that her phone had switched off. That, or the battery had run dry.
Ichiko had called her house. Only her father answered, and at subsequent callings the symptoms were the same. Kazuko was suddenly mute and psychologically attacked by something she had seen. She would not get out of her room save for regular bathroom breaks.
Ichiko now felt at fault for being so harsh towards Kazuko, but telling herself that it was her fault could not erase the guilt. Before running into her on that weekend, she had mused severing all ties for the good of them. Now, she was at a loss on how she could bring her childhood friend from the pit of depression. She would hate herself for all eternity if there were no positive resolve if they were to part.
"You hang out here very often," said a voice. It was Sumiko, and Ichiko had already felt her presence emerging right behind her in this cloudy afternoon.
"I have a thing for high places," said Ichiko.
"You and Kazuko sure do love to climb trees back then. Can't believe I wetted myself that day when I tagged along with you two at that field trip."
"Although this is fairly high, something else is bothering me so much that my agoraphobia is of no concern."
"Kazuko's still absent."
"And it's all your fault."
Sumiko forced Ichiko to turn around so she could receive on hard slap across the face. It wasn't strong, but it was enough to leave a mark.
"Why do you persist on hurting her like this?" demanded Sumiko.
"I didn't intend to," said Ichiko. "If you know, she's been doing this to herself."
"I don't care about that! One of you has to fix things! Do you realize how much she has loved you since I joined your group? You don't know the pain of seeing the one you admire go through much pain when she could not confess her feelings to the one she loves, and that object of desire does nothing but give her the run around. Right now, that object is just torturing her!
"You know, I would be glad if Kazuko was happy with you, but it seems that you're just like that girl I met in middle school. No, you're no rival. You've turned into something worse."
There were clearly tears in her eyes, and Sumiko did everything to restrain it. She wiped all remnants with her handkerchief, and walked away just as the school bell rang.
Later, her other classmates Motoko and Haruko asked Ichiko where she got the mark on her cheek.
"She's still moping about?" asked Rei at the other line.
"It's the third day already," replied Ichiko, who spoke on the cellular phone just outside the school gates.
"If she's still alive, then there's no urgent problem, right? Unless she's planning on shooting up the school, then we have to take her out beforehand."
"Kazuko wouldn't do that. She would rather kill herself before she would ever do, but I am going there now to make sure."
"Don't worry. I'll make it back just in time to cook dinner. Or at the very least cook a late one."
"I should accompany you."
"Just wait. I'm closer to her house than you are."
"It's not even that far from my place."
"You really want to come, don't you?"
"I have to. I have to protect my daughter."
"I can protect myself."
"...If you so choose, then meet me over there. Just notify me before you arrive."
It was indeed arrogant for her to say such things, but then again having company and a traveling companion, if one was their own blood relative and lover, was welcome. In some way, being with her lover increased Ichiko's strength tenfold, even if it meant she would have to protect herself and her mother.
Thankfully, Rei was not there at Kazuko's house, so Ichiko was allowed to settle the problem from one childhood friend to the other. She knocked politely at the front door, and Kazuki answered. He mumbled a hello, for he well understood the reason Ichiko was here.
He stepped aside to let her pass. "I'll bring in some tea later," he said.
Ichiko went down the hallway, and caught an instant glance of Frankie sitting by the kitchen table reading the newspaper. Frankie noticed her, and made a subtle wave at her that caught Ichiko surprise. She had heard from her adoptive grandfather that Frankie was seeing someone, but she did not expect it was Kazuko's father (of course, Ichiko had lessened her visits to the flower shop and her former home). She smiled and waved back, and went on her way to approach Kazuko's bedroom door.
"I am here Kazuko," Ichiko announced.
She could knock, and she could even walk right in since the door had no lock installed. She looked back at the end of the hallway towards the entrance and sought Kazuki's approval.
"It's fine," he said.
Ichiko nodded. She cracked open the door enough for to slip in quietly. The room darkened once more right when she closed the door, for the curtains of the lone window were closed and pressed against the wall as much as possible. It was still bright enough for Ichiko to see that nothing had changed much since she last spent her time here save for the general mood. Kazuko was stirring underneath her covers with her short hair messed up wearing but a loose tank. She squinted once at Ichiko, and then rolled away from her.
"Please don't do this to yourself," said Ichiko.
"Face it," said Kazuko. "I've been dropped."
"You're my friend. How can I ever drop you?"
"Your mother's your friend... and your lover."
Ichiko's lips twisted. Had she been found out? At least that was her thought.
"That's absurd," Ichiko lied. "I would never have sexual relations with my own mother."
Kazuko turned back around and stared dead-on at her friend. "I know, Ichiko. I know."
The eyes were telling the truth, and it made Ichiko back away until she sat on the desk chair.
"How could I have been blind?" winced Kazuko. "Then again, it wouldn't be absurd that you've only gotten friendly with your real mother since she came back to your life. Now that I realize it, it was her that caused us to drift apart."
"No, it wasn't," said Ichiko. "It was really my fault. I confessed my love to Rei, and she reciprocated in kind."
"Stop calling her Rei! She's your mother! She should have been the one responsible for restraining your feelings and hers as well!"
"I'm sorry I did this to you. Truly, I did not mean to this happen, but even you are somewhat at fault."
"Am I now? How is it that I have driven you to fall in love with your own mother? I've done nothing but love you and take care of you!"
"Please stop. I still can't return the feelings you have for me, but as your friend I want to help."
"Kazuko! I am not giving up!"
"You really think I am going to kill myself? Is that it? If I did that, it would be quite convenient for you two since the secret your share with your mother will be sealed."
"Don't say such things! Besides, even if you were gone somebody will find out eventually."
There was a knock, but it didn't sound like it came from the door. Ichiko was slightly startled to see a tall silhouette of a longhaired woman past the covered window. She drew open the curtains and faced Rei. Then she opened the window.
"Why are you here?" hissed Ichiko.
"You told me to come, didn't I?" Rei smiled as she climbed inside.
"But you look like a thief right now. Why can't you just use the front door?"
"Not my style. Didn't want to disturb Frankie and Kazuki's moment anyway. So this is where she was holed up?"
"Well, I have no clue how to get her out of her depression besides force and sex. I'm starving Ichiko. Let's go home."
"Is dinner all you can think about?"
"But I miss your meals!"
"I can't. I need to spend time with Kazuko."
"Then let's invite her over. How about that?"
Rei moved over and pulled the sheets off of Kazuko, who had been overwhelmed by the sudden light of twilight and outside air entering her room. Ichiko blushed in embarrassment when she saw that Kazuko was half-naked in her tank top and panties.
"My, you look sexy," grinned Rei.
"Hey," mumbled Kazuko.
"Get up. You do not want to miss my daughter's wonderful cooking. Especially the dinner part."
"You cook dinner for Rei as well?"
"I do," said Ichiko. "Didn't I tell you that before?"
Kazuki was almost in happy tears to see his daughter up and dressed, yet Kazuko was still somber.
"Don't worry pretty man," said Rei. "Ichiko and I will cheer her up."
Or perhaps silence her. Ichiko kept a close eye on her mother and her best friend, as if she would strike them if they were ever to blurt out the secret they all shared. They bade a farewell to the effeminate father and his male companion, and then took a short bus trip to the apartment home that was still small as ever. It was fortunately enough to fit three people in the living room that doubled as a dining room, and nothing more.
Kazuko took the hour of cooking to observe this mysterious place she had often heard about but had never traversed in. It was cramped yet homely, and cleaned as best as possible. Sure evidence of Ichiko's presence was present in the anime video discs and manga books stuffed into the few bookshelves, and contrasting that was Rei's collection of lesbian porn she had often watched with her daughter.
Right now, Rei was laying down watching a comedy variety show and laughed as she drank her beer. At the same time, Ichiko diligently tossed up stir-fry vegetables and noodles from the range cooker as part of her multitasking routine. The scene was excruciating idyllic, and Kazuko could only wonder if this was just an act or the daily life of a mother and her daughter.
Food was served Asian-style, complete with a crackpot filled with the main meal inside a bubbling broth in addition to small casserole of rice. Food was eaten using bowls and chopsticks of amiable yet inexpensive quality.
Even the meal transpired like an idyllic dream for Kazuko, and she even felt she wasn't even there. Both Rei and Ichiko talked with another with complete frankness about their lives and their daily lives. They were somewhat like a comedy duo, with Rei playing the fool and Ichiko as the straight man, especially manners of Rei's constant flirtations with men and women, her perverseness, and her general laziness. In the end, as usual, they would always make up and blatantly talked in front of Kazuko on how they were going to have sex.
"At this rate, we'll put a hole in the wall again," said Rei.
"Oh, yes," nodded Ichiko. "We really got to move to a bigger place for our romps."
"We could always do it here though."
"I might knock over the TV. We really can't break things when we're on a limited budget."
"So a love hotel then?"
"How is it that you can laugh like this?" cringed Kazuko. "Are you even fully aware the sins you have committed?"
Rei and Ichiko stopped smiling, and then set their bowls back down.
"Um, would you like more rice?" asked Ichiko.
Kazuko pushed her own bowl away. "No thank you. I am finished."
Somberly, Ichiko and Rei cleaned the table and set off to hand-wash the dishes.
"Why have you brought me here?" asked Kazuko.
"Ichiko wanted to watch after you," said Rei. "She is a good friend."
"Are you planning on silencing me?"
"If you think we are, then you shouldn't have tagged along. Or is it that you want to say something to me?"
Rei was right. Kazuko clenched her fists and stared at the empty table as she controlled her fury and sadness. It was then that Rei finally sat across from her.
"So?" she asked. "What is it that you want to say to my face?"
"Why didn't you do anything about it?" Kazuko asked. "You're supposed to be the responsible one."
"Oh, I don't know. I don't see myself as such. That's why I have Ichiko around."
"How? How is it that you two fell in love?"
Rei shrugged her shoulders. "It just sort of happened."
"It's the truth," said Ichiko. "Then again, I sort of fell in love with her before I knew she was my real mother."
"We both know it's wrong, but we have accepted each other as we have wanted. This is a decision we both made."
"A mother and daughter in love with each other is a disgusting thing!" Kazuko yelled.
"Is it any more disgusting as two women having a consensual sexual relationship?" asked Rei.
"Stop spinning it your way Rei! This is not about blood relations. You're destroying the sacred role of mother and daughter. There are responsibilities you should have carried. Lesbian incest is something no one but you two can stomach."
Rei grinned, and then she chuckled.
"What's so funny?" asked Kazuko.
"Is that it? You're scared because me humping Ichiko is scary?"
"I am serious! How can you face Ichiko's father and her family?"
"You mean Ichiko's foster father?"
"You're not related? Ichiko, this is no reason to have sexual relations with your mother!"
"Why don't you drop the act girl? I don't believe that you're offended by what's going on here."
"Of course I am!"
"You're only venting your anger at me because you lost to me. That's the real reason why you're frustrated."
In some ways, she was right. Kazuko cringed even further inside, and she would not admit that was the reason for her depression.
"I have known Ichiko longer than you," said Kazuko. "What gives you the right?"
"Because I am her mother, and that we get along," said Rei.
"It's not fair."
"No, you just lost your chance. If you confessed your feelings when you were in middle school, then maybe I wouldn't have put my moves on Ichiko."
"Back then, I was afraid of being taken out of the team, and that my father would be disgusted. I didn't want to ruin Ichiko as well."
"No, you're just rationalizing. Oh hell, you even had your first year of high school to tell her."
"So? You two are rationalizing your own relationship as well."
"That may be the case, but we chose to have it because we are in love. This isn't something we can brush aside easily you know. I mean, we get very anxious when we're apart, and we're so comforted when we're embracing. This could be a heightened act of a love between love and daughter, and despite all the sex it could still be platonic."
"Kazuko," said Ichiko, "I am truly in love with Rei. That is something that even I can't change."
"So there is no convincing you otherwise?" asked Kazuko.
Kazuko wiped what little tears she shed as she rose to her feet. "The food was good though."
Slowly the mother and daughter escorted Kazuko at the bus stop and waited with her.
"I don't really care if you tell others or not," said Rei.
"Mother?" said Ichiko.
"You're not worried at all?" asked Kazuko.
"No," said Rei. "We will deal it when we receive a response."
"I won't do anything to jeopardize your livelihoods, even if it is immoral. I am only keeping my mouth shut in the hopes that you'll cease this fantasy."
"I don't see it as such," said Ichiko.
"I know. Then again, I am not you, and I never had a real experience with a mother. You're lucky because you have two."
Ichiko hugged her childhood friend, and it was a possibility that would be last time she would be doing so. Then they parted solemnly, but an earnest smile remained on their faces.
"Ichiko," said Kazuko. "I still believe that your relationship with your mother is wrong, but I am happy that you're happy with her. And yet, I am also happy that Rei is happy with her daughter."
"So you will be all right?"
"I believe I can pull through. I am still going to live so that I won't sadden my father."
The empty bus finally arrived, and Kazuko climbed in.
"Goodbye," she said. "For now."
She then sat by the window exchanging waves of goodbye at Rei and Ichiko, the former of whom had her arm wrapped around her daughter's shoulder.
At the very least, the confrontation relieved many things weighting on Kazuko's heart, and it felt she had been set free. Those were her thoughts as she rode back home, and yet she was still saddened that Ichiko chose her own mother over her. No feelings of disgust about their relationship had remained, or perhaps it remained within her as a throbbing numbness.
From the bus stop closest to her home, Kazuko soon made it and was surprised to see Sumiko coming out of her house after saying goodbye to her father. The two girls soon met face to face at the sidewalk under the shining street lamp.
"What are you doing here?" she asked her.
"I had to drop off your homework assignments," said Sumiko.
All of a sudden, Sumiko balanced herself on her toes and planted her lips onto Kazuko's right cheek.
"Call me sometime," said Sumiko.
As if to titillate her further, Sumiko brushed her arm against Kazuko's as she ran off towards the bus stop.
Kazuko later learned from her father that Sumiko had been frequently visiting her house since her self-imposed isolation.