It took a moment for me to register what Sensei said. Because I rarely use Conway-san’s given name it took me out of the experience for a moment but then like a string of cord dangling from a puppet being pulled my head poked up in attention.
“…Yes. I love Sophia…I love her so much.”
Taylor-sensei has feelings for Conway Sophia-san? The aggressive shark that threatens to break my face nearly every day? But then I thought back to that time when we were stretching together. How Conway-san did her best to comfort me...
Suddenly she pushed my back hard and leaned on me. I could feel her slender chest press up against my back. It was a tad embarrassing…
“I’m sure everything will be okay.”
Her voice was tender…even comforting despite how Conway-san is normally.
There was certainly a different side to Conway-san that I haven't discovered yet. Maybe Taylor-sensei had found that hidden gem and fell in love with it? But certainly, unlike me, she said it with force. She must have already accepted who she was long ago. There was certainly a level of difference in our feelings that I could clearly see. She set her cup down and sighed deeply before looking back towards me.
“But father and mother found out and sent her to Hiroshima Japan.”
My mouth opened slightly.
"Conway-san was sent to Hiroshima Japan?"
Her golden hair waved as she nodded. Melancholy rained over her expression as she relentlessly tapped the ends of her tiny teacup.
“But it was my fault…Conway-san doesn’t feel the same for me…But I couldn’t help but find her…even though dad warned me not to.”
I could never have imagined that Conway-san had this sort of problem. Could it be why Conway-san acts the way she does…out of rebellion for being sent here by her parents? Could it be that Conway actually doesn't like it here in Japan? Before I could verbalize my questions, Sensei closed her eyes and proceeded without hesitation. As if she'd already accepted all the facts. Nothing like how I was moments ago.
“We’re from an extremely wealthy family, Nakagawa-san. We want for nothing at most times. Mom and dad own a successful business and are the face of their company. Mom and dad also planned to have us, Sophia and I, inherent the company...but they since abandoned that idea for me.”
Unable to hold her teacup steady it seemed, Taylor-sensei set it to the side. With a deep inhale, she cleared the mood momentarily.
"Sophia and I have known each other since we were toddlers. We are as sisters as any blood relatives...even though we don't share any blood. In the eyes of the public...in the media...we'd be no different than if we were related by blood."
Her hair bobbed to the side as she crossed her arms.
“Now could you imagine the political suicide it would be if their daughters were lovers? And not only that, these pseudo-incestuous daughters own this large franchise? All the sharks who want to find scandals and belittle my parent's business would destroy them. It would make the Conway name a joke.”
I pictured them side by side. Conway-san has dirty blonde hair but Taylor-sensei's is brighter like the morning sun. Their heights are completely different too. But this wasn't about them looking similar or different. This was more in the line of lineage, wasn't it? There is only a backlash because of who they are. Staple daughters of important people.
Taylor-sensei then did something I wasn’t expecting….She laughed…dryly. That was a new kind of pain I only recently encountered. The kind of grin that hurts so much that one can't help but smile to hide it.
"Father and mother hate me for loving Sophia."
“…And...I don’t know what to do, Nakagawa-san. So, I just decided to figure that out when I found her, Sophia, in Hiroshima Japan…”
We sat in silence as the humming of the heater rumbled in the background. It echoed in my ear like a march of people slowly approaching us causing me anxiety. Breaking my tension, Taylor-sensei exhaled.
“You could ask me, Nakagawa-san, who will I be willing to hurt to love Sophia? The simplest answer I could give you would be…”
With a charming smile, she confessed in tears...
That was a different kind of determination that I certainly couldn’t measure up to. In a way…it scared me how absolute her feelings were. As if I was looking at a wall made of diamond. There was nothing to make malleable any longer. She's been through the fire and came out as a gem.
“…But…I actually don’t mind if we can’t be together, Nakagawa-san…”
"You don't, Taylor-sensei? But don't you...love her?"
"Yes, I do. But...sometimes loving someone doesn't mean you should be with them, Nakagawa-san."
How honest those words were, they struck a chord in me. With a shake of her head, Taylor-sensei concluded. That’s when I saw it, the sharp tear cutting down her cheek.
“I-I just have to be there when Sophia finally finds someone to move on... So, that way I can send the person I love off with a smile. That way I'd know that her happiness is secure!”
Her trembling hands touched the table. Doing her best to keep a brave face as she appeared to have I'm sure.
"I want Sophia's happiness to be first."
How strong does one have to be to accept that things may not turn out the way they want? Sensei was on a completely different level than I am. That’s when I decided it was best I do this.
I reached out and took hold of her hand. I gripped it tight, entwining our fingers together. That same hand that grasped me moments ago now was on the receiving end. There we shared this moment and we searched each other’s eyes. Our bond couldn't have been more fated, could it? What were the chances that two people from different parts of the world found themselves entrapped with strange feelings?
I remembered what she suggested to me the other day. In a way, Taylor-sensei and I are stuck in a similar situation. We both are tangled in feelings that she never be. Although I’m still skeptical of my love for Mari-san, there’s no doubt about it. Taylor-sensei and I can support one another nonetheless. Her frown broke into a bright beam, casting a warming miracle on the damp day.
She never said yes, she just nodded relentlessly. We could be emotional support for one another. Two people who had no merit on the other's lives could share our pains without the worry of damnation. For the remainder of the day, I rested with Taylor-sensei. She informed the staff that I was having a hard time dealing with my trauma and they suggested to her that I rest and chat about my coma. There I confessed to her about how others were hiding things from me. Like Mae-chan was, Mari-san, and mom…Before I knew it the dawn arrived, and I felt that much stronger knowing that I wasn’t fighting this strange battle alone anymore.
I have a partner with whom I can talk and open my feelings with.
Her name is Taylor Linda-sensei.
The angel that descended from on high and guided me to the path. Here I am now walking not alone but beside someone. I contemplated on this as I rode the train back home. How I didn't want to go back to that place...That world where my emotions were spiraling out of control. A sense of shame and guilt eroded me as I approached my home...