In a dark room, they held one another. Mom in her long dress jacket being held by that black-haired annoyance. Tightly woven together in a seeming essence of bliss and passion. The true level of perfection as they tangled into one form called happiness.
“You did well.”
“Are you proud of me, Mari?”
They chanted words of praise to one another. With giggles and sharp, painful, hints of sweet playfulness they held one another in an embrace.
“Ayumi…I love you.”
Mari-san whispered to her…however it was strange. I could feel the heat of her breath trickle along my earlobe. The beat of my heart pounded against my chest…
That’s when I became aware of why…The woman, my mom…wasn’t her.
…It was me.
There I was embraced in her arms…in my mom’s clothing. A business suit and tie. But it looked like Mari-san didn’t see that. She held me just like mom…she nuzzled her nose against mine…just like mom…
Out of my lips, her tender name reached. It pulled her in as our taste nearly met our lips. My world was engulfed by her blissful lemony scent. My head began to grow foggy. This feeling wasn’t anything I’ve experienced before. Like being lifted off the ground and hovering I was taken away by this strange moment. Nobody could harm me when I’m captured by this emotion. I was…finally safe...
Mari doubted as she leaned away from me…
“…Madoka-san? What are you doing here?”
As if I was exposed, we stared at one another. Guilt came up over me and before I knew it, I blank my eyes… revealing the ceiling of my room. In bed, I now lied awake trying to piece together a fading dream…
“…What the heck…was that…Madoka?”
I scorn my strange thoughts. There I lean up in bed as I closed my eyes, bringing back to mind that dream. Her tantalizing green eyes...and full but small lips raced in my mind. Now eyes glaring to the sheets I rebuke my thoughts.
"I...can't be thinking about Mari-san like this..."
Even though I slept through the night I feel so restless. I never felt anything so exhausting before. It's Sunday, a week after the Cultural Festival so I have the chance to laze around and sleep in but...that dream might assault me again. So, not taking any chances I got up and got on a casual shirt and pants.
I heard a call from mom coming from down the steps. Opening my door I catch the sight of a little dark-haired flower rushing down the steps first. Seems Hana-chan was awake before me so to not fall behind I exited my room and tattered down the steps after her. As I looked around a certain someone with short black hair wasn’t around curiously.
“She stepped out for a bit. She had business to run since she had to take those days off while she was sick.”
“I see...she really is hardworking...isn't she mom?”
Mom only giggled as if she already knew the answer. Pointing to my seat I take her offer and sit beside Hana-san.
Ever since we had our brief chat about clothing it is apparent that Mari-san had been trying to see less of me. The only time she would approach me is when we all sat at the table together.
Any other time she would walk off with the excuse that she has work to do. We’ve never been this awkward with one another. It is grown awkwardly over the last week and has not improved in the slightest. Our relationship is…in simplistic terms, complicated.
This made me think back. I am still not sure if what I feel for Mari-san is love. I do not know my own feelings towards her, and it will be likely a while before I truly figure out the place that my mind was back then. Who we might have been together could be different than what my feelings entail now.
But then that dream assaults my mind again. The one with Mari-san...and I holding one another in a tender...passionate embrace.
Suddenly, a slice of omelet evaded my mouth. I wasn’t prepared so I turned to the flower that sprouted up while I was deep in thought. With a spoon in hand, she punished me with her finger.
“Onee-san! You better not be fighting with mom again!”
I wanted to initially rebuke her, but she was right…this made my face tense up as I turned to the side in slight irritation. So, I chewed on my meal a bit and swallowed. With its satisfying taste, I open my eyes wide and turned back to Hana-chan.
“…You’re right, Hana-san.”
Hana seemed slightly confused but instead of pressing the issue, she pushed more food into my mouth. The Koda’s have a bad habit of wanting to feed others. Mom just giggled as she sat across from us. She leaned her thin arms on the table, unbecoming of a proper lady, and watched us banter back and forth. This was a lazy, honest morning.
I haven't had the chance to confront mom more about my trauma...Mari-san and I couldn't find any time to be alone...and talk...even Taylor-sensei had been busier with work lately for us to chat all week. I gazed at Hana-san eating away at her meal. Hana-san and Mihara-san won't talk to one another on the train ride to school. It would seem everyone in my life is dealing with some personal problems at the moment...
She tilted her head at me while still pushing up her chin on her arm.
"How is school?"
Despite her openly lying to me she's been insisting to still act as though nothing in our relationship had changed. But...I wonder what is going on in my mom's world right now...Now that I thought more deeply about...do I know mom as well as I always assumed?
"Madoka, you're spacing out."
Mom pet my head across the table. I felt as though she was belittling me and I wanted to escape out of sheer annoyance.
"Are you stressing at school? Are you having trouble with English again?!"
"Huh?! No! I'm not having any trouble! M-My English isn't that bad!"
"I'm just worried, that's all Madoka."
"...There's nothing to worry about. School is fine."
That was as true as I could make it. There was nothing I was struggling with in school...everything was regarding my outside life and feelings. So, not to worry them anymore I ate with vigor and finished up my breakfast. After doing the dishes and helping clean up I escaped to my room with the idea of listening to more idol music. Once I sat down and clicked on the first song a knock at my door stopped me immediately.
At the door, Hana stood with her hand behind her back. I tilted my head when she suddenly rushed to me. She held her thin arms around my stomach as she begged...
“Are you two actually fighting?”
It took me a moment to realize but Hana was talking about Mari-san and me.
“Oh, that’s not what I meant. I’m not…fighting with Mari-san. Ah…”
Hana interrogated. She would be the only one who didn’t know what happened between Mom, Mari-san, and me…She looked at me sternly.
“Mom promised me that she’d treat you just like her daughter before I left! What happened, Madoka?”
“…Mari-san said that?”
“Yeah! And when mom promises something, she doesn’t back down easy on it. If mom did something stupid, then…then…”
Hana seems to be extremely worried about this. More than I’ve ever imagined. So, I took her hand and sat her on my bed. I sat next to her and did the first thing that came to mind. I held her soft hair in my arms. I remember back at the cultural festival I told Hana that I'd tell her what happened. Now that things have settled down a little...I think I should...
“Shhh, don’t worry…”
“I am worried though. I…don’t like the idea of you two fighting.”
This is a bit more complicated than that…But I understand Hana’s feelings clearly. So, I took her gentle hand and lead her to my bed. She rested her small head on my shoulder as I told her the truth...
“…Mari-san and I had a chat about my coma, Hana-san.”
“Hana-chan…did mom or Mari-san ever tell you how I fell into my coma?”
She pondered for a moment and looked me in the eye before shaking her head from side to side.
“They only mentioned that you hit your head…and wouldn't wake up. They...didn't go into much detail about it.”
Knowing how Mari-san might have felt guilty about it...and how she holds in her true feelings as I do...could it be that she didn't want to mention it to Hana also?
“Well…it seems that I was at an amusement park with Mari-san. And…she didn’t want to mention it.”
Hana’s mouth went wide for a bit then turned to the side.
“Mom took you to an amusement park?”
Hana brought up a good question that I still didn't have a direct answer for either. Why I was with Mari-san in the first place alluded me still.
"Yeah...I guess so, Hana-chan."
Hana pushed her way back into my field of view as if making sure I met her grape eyes.
“It’s probably because mom thinks so highly of you, Onee-san!”
“Maybe…she didn’t want you to hate her. Knowing you were so distant when you first woke up…Maybe Mom didn’t want you to hate her.”
What did she say? Her words felt foreign to me as I wrapped my head around them.
“…How did you come to that conclusion, Hana-san?”
Hana crossed her arms and looked at the floor. With a deep inhale she continued.
“Madoka, mom is actually pretty clever. I’m not sure if you’ve noticed by the way she acts but mom never thinks only one move ahead. So, I could see her wanting to wait until you were better acquaintances to tell you the truth.”
“…But isn’t that a little selfish of her?”
Hana put her head down and nodded.
“Yes, it’s very selfish of her.”
She then raised her head.
“But…you didn’t see how she treated you when you were in your coma. Mom…was an extremely selfish individual. To the point that I have never seen her act that way with anyone else.”
Hana leaned her head back on my shoulder. I could smell the freshness of her shampoo causing my own head to drift for a moment.
“I think…all mom wants to do is protect you, Madoka.”
Protect? Is that the keyword they keep sprouting left, and right? That they are protecting me from the horrors of my past? But then I thought back to what I talked about with Taylor again. Maybe there is a chance that I wouldn't be able to take the trauma that I suffered from? Maybe I should understand how they feel so I’ll be better prepared when they open up to me...
“Onee-san, my mom…had difficulties expressing herself. So instead, she tends to bottle all of her emotions up and choose what’s best for others.”
"Does she, Hana-san?"
This coming from the person in question's daughter...it had to be true now. Mari-san and I are far more similar than I once thought. Hana then did something I wasn’t expecting. She rubbed my head. For the first time...I think I was on the other end of this spectrum. Her touch certainly reminded me of Mari-san's but...it had a special kind of Hana-chan's own flare.
“If you want answers from mom, you might have to be more direct, Onee-san.”
“She’ll be more attentive if you’re more direct. When she realizes that she can’t fool around with you, she’ll calm down.”
That lines up with how she was at the park…and during our dinner. When I opened my feelings to her, she finally understood. There’s no way I’ll be able to tell Hana-chan that…I might have feelings for her mother but if anything, she’s certainly someone I might be able to talk to…to get closer to Mari-san.
“I…want to get to know your mom better. But…I don’t know how.”
Those feelings came out…But they didn’t pour out like others. No, they came out just how I wanted them to. I wanted to learn how to control my emotions better and become someone who won’t break down at the moment of hesitation. To be able to clearly convey my feelings to others.
“Then, it’s time for the mommy training course!”
“Mommy training course?”