I have to be careful...understand everything first before I make that leap and decide what I'll do with these feelings tormenting within me. I'm...certainly not ready for that right now just as Taylor-sensei told me.
As I was engulfed in my own thoughts...She then took out a small box from her coat jacket. It was bright purple and threw me off guard for a moment. Mari-san then stood up and walked over to me. Her model figured towered over me now.
"Thank you, Madoka...for hearing me out. I wanted to give this to you for your birthday...but seeing Hana get something today left a bad taste in my mouth."
I adjusted myself to face her properly now. As I gazed up at her she opened the box...revealing a wonderful necklace...
"You said you couldn't afford it last week so I skimmed off the top of my budget and got it for you."
It was none other than that Shiva brand necklace...the one that fit with all kinds of styles. The one that I really wanted...but couldn't afford. Mari-san...remembered? Mari-san remembered that brief detail from the chat we had a week ago on Cultural Day.
She took it out, it shined with a plum color that caused my heart to swoon. With a click of the back, she skillfully wrapped it around my neck. How soothing her touch was as she finally stood back. Mari-san took out her phone's mirror and in it...was Nakagawa Madoka. But it wasn't just the dolled-up version that came out today with Mari-san...no, she was...perfect now. That's when my eyes began to water...
My feelings wanted to pour out...I wanted to confess....all these balled-up emotions in me now. I was so happy that...this was the gift I received from Mari-san. I wanted to cry now...and not out of joy or happiness...but out of sadness. It was true...
I really am in love with Mari-san...
These feelings couldn't be denied any longer...I love her air of mystery...her protective behavior, her kindness...gentleness...how attractive she is...and now...how she is when she's honest and vulnerable. It didn't matter that she was a woman anymore...or it never had, had it?
But this...would be the extent of where my feelings can go right now....or may ever be.
"Do you like it, Madoka-san?"
I mumbled....in a panic, facing away from her. But then I did my best to speak up, to drown out those strange words that I hoped she didn't hear...
"I love it....so much, Mari-san."
"...Hehe, I'm glad."
That's when she brought up her hand and looked towards the front. The waitress who kindly waited at the door approached and made her way over.
"Ma'am...it's my stepdaughter's birthday so we're going to order a bunch of food."
Mari-san teased while sitting back in her seat across from me.
"So Madoka-san, order whatever you want."
The menu stared at me stubbornly...I didn't know what to do. What to say...what I wanted...No...of course I knew what I wanted...and it wasn't food...So, I gazed up to her...causing my heart to chip slightly.
"Ah...what do you suggest Mari-san?"
She smirked that devilish smile of hers that I found charming now.
"Let's get a helping of naporitan. It's my favorite here."
Mari-san took charge and ordered the rest of the meals. With that charismatic smile of hers, she led the path to our dinner. Once the food finally came she lifted her utensil in front of me. The strains of noodles dangling out.
I questioned as she slowly approached my mouth. That's when the flavors of ketchup keenly crafted melted into my mouth. It was warm, blissful...calming...so delicious that I didn't even taste it. Mari-san...was feeding me.
"Good, isn't it?"
Why do the Koda's...have such a bad habit of feeding others?
"It's...good...it's so good."
My chest ached so...badly. The pain was like a hammer pounding on my chest. It was so unbearable that all I could do was...smile.
"It's delicious, Mari-san!"
This was unfair...Mari-san...is so unfair. Here all I want to do is cry and she's showering me with kindness. Rapturing me in love...making my heart blaze with glee to the point that I felt sick.
But this was the test I set out on. To understand my feelings. Right now...I can't say anything. I still have too much to consider before I confess to her. So much regarding my feelings, the trauma that made me stick by her...what might have happened between us that even ...Mari-san might not want to explore right now...
Like Taylor-sensei said...
...I have time to consider all of this before I confess what I learned today...
There is no doubt I, Nakagawa Madoka, am in love with Koda Mari...
But who will I be willing to hurt...to tell her that?
With our meal finished and stomachs full, we made our way out of the restaurant. The crowds seem to have died down making the mall feel less like an ocean of people and more like a casual stream. My finger couldn't stop touching that plum gem around my neck now. It was an accessory that I wanted before I even found the outfit I wore at the Cultural Festival. I wondered...how much did this cost Mari-san? She went out of her way to find it...and buy it to...make me happy.
I giggled still wrapping it around my thin fingers. It wasn't just an accessory...this was the first gift I received from Mari-san after my coma. This...was something I plan to cherish for a long time. Even if my feelings don't come to fruition...there's no doubt that I will keep this day in my memory. The day when Mari-san laid down her heart to me...and gave me the best gift ever.
"All ready to head home, Madoka-san?"
I want...to do something similar for her though. But how? All morning we've been running around doing errands. But there wasn't anything I could do to help Mari-san out. All I did was watch her work...invade her space and tower around her as she did all the heavy lifting. I...I want to show my appreciation to Mari-san...
As we walked away I turned back to the restaurant. The Red Roses as it was called. The food was delicious and I would love to stop by here again one day. That's when a sign that broke the mood of the establishment caught my eye again...
It was the "Hiring Now" sign that allured me. Now that I thought about it...I wasn't doing basketball anymore. That part of my life was behind me...no...not just that...a lot of my past life was behind me now, wasn't it? Maybe I should try...just a little...to start moving forward. As in our relationship here...I want to move forward and be able to one day not look back at this time as something terrible where all my emotions were rampaging about but as a time that I began to change.
"Here you go, ma'am!"
Mari-san joked as she opened my passenger door for me again. Not sure if she was just teasing me by this point but I curtsied like a proper English noble and stepped inside.
With a big sigh, Mari-san concluded.
"All done. Hehe..."
She smiled like a child ready to play with her toys.
"Thanks for taking me with you, Mari-san."
"Hm? No, thank you for coming along."
With that, she started the engine as we rolled our way home. We didn't talk much during the drive. Not as though I was shy or afraid of what I might say...no...it wasn't anything that simple.
All kinds of powerful emotions knowing how I felt were finalized in my chest. Despite all of that...there is one thing I want to do...I wanted to get Mari-san a real present soon. Not like the lemon scent at the arcade before...No, I want to get her a gift that she'd treasure as much as I'll treasure this here...
Mari-san cried out as we entered our home.
Hana-san cried out. On the screen was another one of her animes. This one had a man with a green head brutally killing a bunch of people. Even though Hana-chan was so innocent her taste doesn't mirror her looks.
"Okay girls, mom's going to pass out on the couch so..."
Mari-san cried as her feet dragged to the living room. She plopped down on the sofa and kicked off her heels. One ruggedly hit the wall and lazily sat at the foot of the door. Now I know why things are always lost in this house. It's because they don't get undressed properly. But even if that irritated me slightly...I knew how hard she worked today and all the emotions that went through her.
...I would love to caress her dark hair and whisper..."you did a good job," in her ear.
"...Hana-chan your game is over here."
Hana leaped up and rushed over to me! Before she could take it from me I reached out and pulled her cheeks!
She cried flipping about like a fish out of water
"Next time you put me on a mommy training course you give me a heads up, sis!"
"Eeehhh?! What do you mean."
I let go as she rubbed her cheeks now in frustration it would seem. She crossed her arms and put her nose up.
"I've been planning the mommy training course all day! It's not ready yet but...it's getting there..."
"You've been planning it?"
I questioned then I whispered in her ear.
"Wasn't it you that told Mari-san that I wanted to join her on her errands?"
Hana looked at me like I was senile...and she might have been right because I was starting to doubt myself too.
"Mari! You're setting a bad example for Hana! Go get undressed before you laze about on the couch!"
"Nnngng...but Ayumi...my feet hurt."
That's when mom entered in, arms crossed. With her finger, she nudged Mari-san's sides causing her to tense up. However, she only sank further into the couch...
But then mom did something else...She leaned down and pet her soft hair...then she connected her warm lips to Mari-san's.
It wasn't a short kiss either. Mom on her hands and knees met Mari-san's lips. She tenderly melted with Mari-san. She fed her lover all her passion, like nurturing one another with blissful love. A sense of innocence wrapped around my mom as she gently stroked that black hair...forbidden to me. After what felt like hours...but likely only seconds...mom leaned away revealing Mari-san fast asleep. As if her kiss had the ability to put the one she loved into a blissful coma. They were...perfect together.
"You did a good job, Mari..."
Mom spoke...the words I wanted to moments ago. As if she dug in my heart and scraped them from me...replacing them with her tender voice instead.
"Hana, could you bring the blanket out here for your mom?"
Hana-chan jumped up and raced into their room now without hesitation.
There they sat together...happily on the sofa.
I wordlessly watched as mom carelessly snuggled up to her lover. She removed her stockings and wrapped the blanket around both of them. It was time for them to spend a moment together...and nobody had the right to shatter that love...
"Thanks for helping out Mari today for me."
My stomach sank...It was...mom who set this up, wasn't it? She called Mari-san...and that prompted Mari-san to call me...Does that mean...Mari-san only did this...because mom asked?
No, no I won't diminish all the effort Mari-san put in today...to make me happy.
She smiled brightly at me. It hurt more than any pain I could imagine. Why...wasn't I not dead yet? Isn't it possible to die of a broken heart?
"I hope everything worked out between the two of you."
I abused the bottom of my lip...how dare I...encroach on this? What kind of....daughter am I?
"Oh, do you want to watch a movie with me, Madoka? Since Mari is fast asleep...I'm not going anywhere for a while."
"Ah...no I...I have homework to finish, mom."
This...was the perfect moment for the two of them...it shouldn't be tarnished by my impure feelings. So, I raced up to my room and shut the door gently. I searched deep in my heart and made sure that I'd stay strong. Even if I have these feelings for Mari-san...she loves my mom and mom loves her. I...have no right to evade in their perfect relationship.
I opened my mouth and cried...silently. Short coughs escaped....how I wanted to scream from the top of my lungs as these hiccups assaulted my body. My stomach hurt now...but I held my head up. I can't allow this to overtake me again. I have to push forward and discover what I need to. I...can't break down and cry.
"I'll...find time to chat with mom about my trauma soon..."
Yes, that should be my next goal. To find out who my mom truly became while I was asleep. When did she fall in love with Mari-san? What did my trauma have to do with how she's acting now? Maybe...she's hurting too and I just don't know it yet? But she won't tell me because I'm still her baby girl. I...have to show her that I'm changing, don't I?
The guilt crept in me as I walked over to my computer...
That's when I typed in that delicious restaurant's name...
The Red Roses...
The only way mom will trust me with the truth is when she doesn't see me as her little girl any longer. So, it was time for me to take the next step in my goal to mature. I want to become more independent...show that I'm not the girl before my coma who relied only on her...Lucky for me my school doesn't have any regulations regarding students having a part-time job. No, it's actually encouraged as long as we keep our grades up.
"I want to talk with Taylor-sensei more too..."
I want to explore these feelings deeper with sensei as well. Tell her all the feelings that are bottling within me. So, I searched the mirror and a mature, business version of myself stood back. This...is who I wanted to become. But in order to do that...
...I will become stronger.
Because right now...I'm showing weakness...
My heart is being ripped apart thinking about Mom and Mari-san...
And there's nothing I can do about it but suffer in silence.