Petal 06 - Dawn's Light
Ichiko did not change much out of her clothes since that day, for all she had done was wallow in her room curled underneath the covers of her bed. She ignored all cries of her family until she yelled out to them that she demanded utter loneliness. She refused all manner of food, but realistically she could not refuse water. Still, she would not allow her parents and grandparents to take advantage of that. By the grace and goodwill of her little brother whose room was next to hers, she requested that he transferred bottled water either through late night exchanges through the windows or by cracking open the door.
In her delirious lethargy she tried everything to forget about her mother, but even when she looked at pictures of naked girls or naked men she downloaded off her computer, the lovely image of her was still so fresh that she felt sick enough to throw up. Yet she didn't actually throw up, for she had no food in her stomach.
It's not right, she kept on repeating to herself. It's not right. I'm not supposed to be in love with my own mother. But who am I really in love with? Rei the unsavory woman, or Rei my mother? Mother or Rei?
"Hey sister," said Kenji.
Ichiko bolted up, and saw the shadow of her brother filling the bottom crack of her door. It was late at night, and she knew that a few days had passed. She also knew that that had now just missed a school day on Monday.
"Kenji," said Ichiko. "I'm sorry I put you up to this."
"It's all right," said her younger brother. "The female mind is quiet an interesting specimen, if you pardon my comments."
"Even I don't understand myself. How is everyone?"
"Still worried about you."
"Has anyone come and visited this house?"
"Why do you ask?"
"Kenji, please answer my question."
"None that I know of."
"Did you have an argument with someone?"
"You can say that?"
"Was it a girl?"
"And is she your girlfriend?"
Ichiko bit her lip. She was not expecting her young brother to be so direct, if not perceptive.
"I don't mind if you're a lesbian," said Kenji. "Just to let you know. I think it's wonderful that you do. Maybe you're tired of hearing this, or that you don't want to hear it, but you can't stay here forever. You're going to have to come out and apologize to your girlfriend sooner or later. You may break up but that doesn't mean you have to end it on a bad note. You may even be friends again."
"I guess you're right."
"Good. Judging by your growling stomach that keeps distracting me even up until now, I brought you some snacks for you to eat."
The snacks were shoved through the crack. They were breakfast bars.
"Thanks Kenji," said Ichiko.
"It's no problem."
"Please tell everyone I'm sorry. It hurts me to know that I am troubling them greatly."
"Oh, I think they know already."
She wasn't yet ready to come out, but at the very least she changed out of her clothes she wore from the date. It was now Wednesday morning, and she had accepted a regular breakfast cooked by her grandmother that she ate on her desk.
Yet even with her emotions settled, she was still not over the gross act she had committed, and even her lust for her own mother still lingered. It was frightening to her, yet she felt so eerily calm.
The window was being tapped at the outside, and Ichiko slid it open.
"Kenji," said Ichiko, "you don't have to give water to me this way anymore."
Kenji's window was closed. Then Ichiko felt a stick poking her breasts. She turned and was startled to see Rei, still with a bandaged nose, perched on a tree branch like a cat while holding a long stick in her hand.
"Yo," said Rei. Suddenly, she lost balance and slipped from the branch. She fell on her butt, and looked up to see her daughter looking down with an anxious face.
"What are you doing here?" Ichiko asked.
"I've come to talk to you," said Rei. "I know I'm not allowed inside, so I thought I'd sneak in. But I don't want to risk cracking my butt again, so instead I'll have you jump into my arms."
"I'm not going to!"
"I'm not dressed!"
"I won't drop you! I promise!"
She had enough hesitating. Otherwise Kenji and the rest of her family would discover a tall and strange woman standing in their yard. Ichiko timidly braved stepping out of the windowsill of the second floor and fell.
Rei cradled lovingly with a smile, and it made Ichiko's cheeks blush red and her heart flutter rapidly. But no! If she remained, the attraction would increase and the situation made worse. She slapped Rei, and Rei pulled her arms away, allowing her daughter to plop onto the ground, thereby hurting her butt on some rock.
"Damn it," grunted Ichiko as she rubbed her behind. "Why did you do that?"
"Are you trying to break my nose again?" Rei complained. "I come here for the second time and I get this shit?"
"You were here before?"
"Well, yeah. I walked right up to the front door to have a talk with you, but I couldn't get any further. I didn't like the way your stepmother was looking at me the entire time."
"Did you have to use the tree to get to me?"
"Either that or I storm in with guns blazin'."
"You have guns?"
Rei extended her hand out to her fallen daughter. Instead of taking it, Ichiko brushed it aside and got up on her own.
"I'm not as weak as I appear to be," Ichiko huffed.
"I'll say," said Rei as she touched the tip of her bandaged nose.
They walked the streets with distance and silence between them. Sometimes Ichiko was ahead, and sometimes it was Rei. Within them were the uneasy thoughts that formulated into the uneasy questions and statements they could say to one another if they mustered the courage.
They realized that they were at the beach, the sight of which excited Ichiko that ran onto the sands barefooted and dressed in her sweater and sweatpants. Rei kept her distance behind her as Ichiko stepped into the water.
"Cold," said Ichiko.
"It's still winter," said Rei.
No one was around, and it was the perfect time.
"I'm sorry," said Rei. "I didn't mean to upset you regarding Sumiko. It really was a misunderstanding, for I was showing her a takedown move she had not been trained with by her family. Really, she should have known that.
"Also, I apologize for interrupting your date with Kazuko. Maybe you could have handled it, but I felt a little overprotective... and jealous.
"But perhaps my true crime was seducing you in the first place. I guess overdid the Alpha Lesbian Effect."
Ichiko turned around. "It's not your fault!"
"It's not! I'm the one at fault because I am in love with you."
"You know that's wrong."
"I know it is! The feeling won't go away no matter what I do. I can't stop thinking of you. My heart beats fast for you. I get wet when I see you, and my nipples harden when I think of you. I can't stop touching myself when you're in my mind, and now they you're here with me... you're making me cry."
Ichiko fell to her knees with her face buried in her hands to wipe off the tears.
"Why does it have to be you?" wept Ichiko. "I wish I hadn't find out about our relation to each other."
"Then I shall leave," said Rei.
Ichiko sprang up and grabbed onto Rei's bosom.
"I don't want to leave you either!" Ichiko cried. "It'll only make it worse!"
"Then what should we do?" sniffed Rei, who was also beginning to cry.
"I am a rational being Rei. I can get over this if we work this out slowly. Admitting the problem is the first step, so now all we have to do is restrain ourselves both physically and mentally."
"It's not going to work."
"It will work! That is why you can't leave me, because I know I'll find you."
Rei wrapped her arms around her daughter and held her tighter.
"I don't want to leave either," said Rei. "That's the truth. That is because you're the only family I have left. That's why... that's why I keep bothering you."
"I don't care if you bother me every minute," said Ichiko. "I don't want you to leave. Never!"
Apologies were in order, and so on the same day after normal school hours, Rei and Ichiko dropped by at Kazuko's house where Kazuki greeted them at the front door.
"Whoa, you're one hot mama!" Rei cried.
"That's Kazuko's father," Ichiko corrected.
"He is? Marry me."
Kazuki giggled. "I am flattered, but my late wife is the only one for me, and that would betray her, my daughter, and me. Besides, I am seeing someone at the moment."
"Kazuko! Ichiko is here!"
Coming from the room was the tall and tomboyish Kazuko, but to Ichiko's surprise Sumiko accompanied her.
"Sumiko?" asked Ichiko.
"Well, we were friends," said Sumiko. "Kazuko had been feeling down since you ditched her, so I'm here to cheer her up. And to help her with her homework that you are sorely missing."
They decided to have their conversation at the park, and to their fortune it was empty since the sun was dipping down the horizon. No young children and their parents were present, and luckily there were no street gangs prowling about.
During their walk, Sumiko confirmed to Ichiko that the situation that she found her and Rei in was in fact true.
"That's the kind of move serial rapists like to use," said Sumiko. "I had your mother teach me that so that I can tell my older brother who is investigating such a case."
"But it's still a perverted takedown move."
"Well sorry! I thought you would have known since you hang out so much that you're practically girlfriends. Also, I wanted to apologize to you about the incident, and maybe to apologize for taking her away from her. I never chance thought because you're always shunning me off."
"Could that be why you were stalking me?"
"Of course! But you're also at fault at punching your own mother right in the face. I find that really appalling, and you should apologize to her right now if you haven't already."
"I will make a note of that."
"Oh, and before we forget..."
Sumiko rummaged through her bag and procured make-up schoolwork for Ichiko.
"Kazuko's been collecting that since that day," said Sumiko. "Please don't let it go to waste."
Ichiko and Kazuko sat at the ends of the same bench facing the playground and sandbox where Rei and Sumiko were happily conversing as they climbed the geodesic monkey bars. Five minutes had passed when they did not talk.
"I did not mean to do that Ichiko," said Kazuko. "I was very frustrated at that time... and horny."
"You're forgiven," said Ichiko.
"It's a good thing your mother came along."
"I could have handled it. I would have punched you just like what I did to Rei."
"I heard from Sumiko that it was painful."
"That incident was the reason I clung onto you. I wanted to forget about it."
"I suspected that it was the case, but no matter how much I convinced myself I was so happy that you were by my side. I do not mean to change the subject...
"Do you consider me to be beautiful?"
"You are a woman after all."
"I still do love you Ichiko, and I intend to win your love no matter what."
"You have a chance," said Ichiko, looking at Rei. "I'm not seeing any girl at the moment."
"Any girl huh? That is a relief."
"But I feel that we have to spend some time apart, a week maybe."
"We can still talk at school, and I can still assist in the basketball team. We just can't be intimate."
"That's impossible for me."
"Kazuko, you don't have to protect me from the world and make every decision for me. I can fight for myself."
Ichiko stood up. "I think that is the reason why I can't return your feelings."
"One week then..."
"Yes. One week."
Despite making up with her real mother, Ichiko did not resume her regular schedule to her apartment. Like a good daughter, she came right home to her parents' and grandparents' home, and had her dinner meals almost every night. To their relief, she resumed school and caught up with her schoolwork and her club duties.
But when her parents were out and when her grandparents and her brother sleeping at night, Ichiko, in her best street clothes--which wasn't too reserved or too whorish--climbed out of her bedroom window and descended through the use of a collapsible emergency ladder that could be purchased from the store. She cleverly used a branch cutter pole to put the ladder back into her room and close the window. On the method on how she would get back in--that was something she would have to figure out once she got back home before dawn.
She took the bus to the edge of the seedy red light district, which did not turn out to be full of crime. Instead, it just had drunkards, prostitutes, a couple of small groups of street gang members loitering about, and a few mob goons on the lookout. No one was on the lookout for Ichiko, but even though she seemed like easy prey she was confident that she could defend herself from all the training she received from her mother.
To see her mother waiting at the corner in her black leather jacket made her even more confident. Happily she ran to her, but did not embrace one another upon sight. The restraint they imposed on themselves still existed, but it was still not wrong for them to be together.
"Are you ready?" asked Rei, who had finally gotten out of bandage. She was fortunate that the punch she received fro her daughter did nothing to harm her beauty, and she used that incident to boast about Ichiko's strength and aggression.
"I am already used to going here," said Ichiko.
"Then let's have some fun."
The remaining petals of the girl's sunflower remained, but the stem was now bent and crooked.