After our dinner was finished we cleaned up and I made my way to my room. The first order of business was to make sure I was prepared for tomorrow. I won’t have time to change into anything fancy so wearing my school uniform will have to do.
With a sigh, I thought back to dinner…
“Hehe…she defended me?”
I was chuckling like a fool, I’m sure of it. It warmed my chest…to see Mari-san as supportive of me as I could have ever imagined. But…why? Maybe it’s because at my age she had to make tough decisions…grow as an individual faster than most. Could this be Mari-san doing her best to help me make the right choices?
I echoed her name as I touched my necklace. I usually only took it off now when I went to bed. It certainly gave me solace in its own way.
A knock on my door caused me to tense up. It was no one other than that black-haired knight that gallantly came to my rescue at the dinner table.
“O-oh it’s open!”
I cried out. Now that I looked around…has Mari-san ever been in my room? I can’t remember if she had or not. This…made my heart collide with my chest at an unnatural rate. The lobes of my ears were tingling to the point that I couldn’t even understand it anymore. That’s when the door opened, causing hot air to escape my mouth. It was just the normal Mari-san I’ve known for these past few months but her being here…in my room made for a new sensation all together for some reason.
I bobbed my mouth open as if waiting for her to hook me in like a fish.
“Are you ready for a few mock questions?”
She approached and looked around. With a slight giggle and a slant of her eyes, she turned back to me.
“I never noticed how…cute your world is.”
My arms raised in front of my chest. I could feel my legs wanting to give out.
“Sh-Shut up, Mari-san!”
Everyone always picked on me for liking idols and having cute things! I believe every girl, regardless of age, should have the right to have cute things in their room. Heck, even guys should if they like it! Cuteness makes the world go around and I was sick and tired of people making others feel insecure about their love for it!
“I’m only joking, Madoka-san.”
“You can have a seat anywhere you like, Mari-san.”
I suggested as I sat on the edge of my bed. And to my surprise, she did the same…right next to me. Not close enough for our shoulders to touch but still abnormally close.
“Oh, is here a bad place?”
She tilted that cute head of hers and her dark locks wrapped around her slender neck. With a blink or two of her eyes, she questioned while pursing out those cute lips…there I go with lips again….
“N-No, it’s fine.”
I said that but the only thing I could think of is…Mari-san is in my bed. The woman I love…is in my bed. And there might even be a chance that she…still has feelings for me too. No, I need to stop this. We’re on a good relationship level. I still don’t know the extend of our feelings for the past. If I end up getting caught up in things I could…easily ruin all this hard work so far.
“Are you going to put on a bit of makeup tomorrow, Madoka-san?”
“Well, if you do you shouldn’t go overboard with blush or eye shadow. Keep it minimal…I mean you’re almost seventeen so you naturally shine already.”
I didn’t understand why she was bringing this up…but my mind went right to her compliment like a fish on a hook. She could say the dumbest thing in the world right now and I’d find a way to associate it with praise from Mari-san, wouldn’t I?
“Now let’s get started!”
She soldiered up immediately and looked me in the eye. Her beautiful gemstones sucked in my soul…
“Nakagawa Madoka, what makes you a good candidate for this job?”
“Huh isn’t a good answer, Madoka-san.”
She wasn’t playing around…these questions weren’t coming from the joker Mari-san anymore. No, they were coming from the business version I met the other day. So, I shook my head and smacked my cheeks.
“Eh, you shouldn’t do that during your interview…”
She scorned, causing me to become a little flustered. Now that I think about it…I never did any mock interviews alone. I was so preoccupied with just keeping the interview that I forgot the major parts of it.
“Please ask the question again, Mari-san.”
With a light smile, she nodded.
“Madoka-san…the best thing you could do is relax and believe this job is for you. And if you don’t get it then there’s plenty more waiting for you. Confidence is what you need most.”
“Now, let’s get going. I’ll answer any questions you have as we go on.”
After a total of around twenty or so mock questions, Mari-san went over the psychology behind them. Like dealing with irate customers and other coworkers, defusing situations and processes to go in that determines the way one would handle situations. There was a lot going into a job process that I wasn’t aware of. It makes me appreciate Mom and Mari-san all the more because of it.
“Alright, I think my Madoka-san is ready to be CEO!”
Mari-san cried with a fist in the air.
She giggled as she stood up.
“Just kidding. You did excellent on your final round. Even the question I threw in for a loop you managed to regain your composure and systematically give me a great answer.”
She tilted her head causing her crow hair to wash over her cheek.
“Amazing job, Madoka-san.”
“Now it’s getting late. You should get to bed early.”
As she turned her back ready to leave my room my stomach began to drop. This time we had alone was going to end…and I was…so happy that she came to help me.
Before I knew it I, for the first time initiated…it. My arms found themselves around her stomach. I lied my head on her slender chest. I wonder what she thought? Why is this girl doing this? There’s no way I could tell her the raging feelings within me…begged for me to touch her. She wasn’t wearing that lemon scent today and it threw me off. No, she…seemed to have stolen Hana-chan’s. I recalled Hana-chan mentioning that Mari-san would steal her shampoos and that she wanted me to hide them from her. It…made me want to laugh.
“…Madoka-san? Is everything okay?”
I couldn’t say anything. I wanted this moment to continue for a while longer…why did she have to leave? Why did she continue to hide her true feelings from me? What happened that she…fell in love with Nakagawa Ayumi? As all these questions came to me I began tearing up.
“Oh…I’m just…ah…Thank you.”
“…Madoka-san. I’m always here to help you.”
Her words scared me. I couldn’t rely on her to guide me through these unpure feelings I have right now. No, I needed to only rely on Taylor-sensei because if I confessed to her the true reason why I’m holding her right now it’ll ruin the blissful family they created while I was gone…it will ruin everything I worked for now.
“…Thank you, again. It…makes me so happy to…have you.”
Why couldn’t I let all of these pinned-up emotions away? That’s when…she did something I wasn’t ready for. She separated my bangs…with her parted lips they caressed my forehead. The moist warmth on my skin felt like someone placed a warm towel there. It was soothing…calming…but my chest was pounding harshly. Mari-san, the woman I’ve fallen in love with is...kissing my forehead?
How I wanted to replace the location of her lips…
But no. That wasn’t right for me to dream of. She loves my mom and my mom loves her…
I bit my lip now. Doing my best not to push her away I gently let go now. All the sweetness in me has washed away with regret and envy. Two horrid emotions that had no place in this home. This haven mom, Mari-san, and Hana-chan created as I was gone.
Not only that…her kiss…her touch on my forehead…felt familiar. So familiar that it nearly took the soul right out of me.
“Oh, you did nothing wrong…It…”
“It made me happy, Mari-san.”
She gave me a smile.
“I’m glad. Hana freaks out if I give her a peck on the forehead. Good to know I have one daughter that doesn’t mind.”
One daughter. Is it true that all she sees me as now is a daughter? Could I have ruined my chance with her…when I forced myself to distance myself from her? But no, I had no chance…because she was already far away from me during my two-year coma, wasn’t she?
How I hated that sleep I was forced in now. It took everything from me…destroyed the very fabric of what I was working towards and forced me to begin anew.
“Get some rest. See you tomorrow, Madoka-san.”
“Oh…yeah. See you tomorrow.”
That’s when her figure vanished from the room. She was gone now…going back to the woman she loves. This caused my heart to rage as I lied in my bed. The night was cleaving in sharply as I rolled about the empty bed. What would it feel like to have Mari-san by me right now? Could I hold her for longer? That softness that was her body…the slenderness that is her essence….How horrible it is for me, her stepdaughter to be thinking about things like this.
I sighed deeply.
“Tomorrow I have to help Mae-chan look clubs. Then I’ll check in with Taylor-sensei…and finally, I’ll have my interview.”
I wasn’t worried about my interview at all. No, I was probably even overconfident about it because of Mari-san’s training. Tomorrow promised to be a hectic day and I was prepared for it. Even though my heart was stuck in the past, still trying to piece together its feeling for the woman who lived underneath my room…I had to move forward.
As I pulled up the sheets a hint of flowers captured my nose. I imagined it was the lingering scent of Mari-san as she sat on my bed. Her lips felt nice as they melted on my forehead. Everything about Mari-san was driving my body to become warm. There was no doubt about it…I am physically attracted to Mari-san too.
“I…need to calm down.”
I warned my raging body. It wasn’t right that I had these feelings in the first place. But to allow me to go beyond just feelings wasn’t who I was. I can admit now that I…like the touch of females. They are warm, soft, their voices are gentle and that makes my heart swoon.
“…I like girls, don’t I?”
It went from never feeling that way for a member of the same sex to liking Mari-san from an emotional standpoint. That matured to a more…physical nature. Now I lie in bed remembering her touch…I can honestly admit that…I love the feel of another woman, don’t I?
Maybe it was easier to accept knowing my mom feels this way for Mari-san. Because she was more open to that kind of thing than I was in the beginning I was able to accept it easier. If Mom was still with dad…I might have a different conflict in me but because she paved the way and showed me that it’s okay to love who you love…
I whispered, admitting again to myself. As if a mountain of weight lifted from my shoulders...I finally decided to accept who I was and...it made me feel so happy.
"I like how they feel. I love how soft their voices are...how emotional they can be...even physically...
Now my face began to warm up as I confessed all these raging feelings within me.
"I don't know when it actually happened but...I like girls...a lot. Their soft faces, cute lips, shapely hips..."
I giggled imagining girls of all kinds...Short like Sophia-san and Hana-chan, tall like Mae-chan, Mihara-san, or even Taylor-sensei...This is who I am...This is me, Nakagawa Madoka.
"I'll...tell my friends this soon. I...I'm happy that I'm finally able to admit it..."
I came to terms with this as my consciousness was beginning to fade.
“And I love Mari-san…”
Those forbidden words escaped my lips as I closed my eyes and drifted off to sleep.