ヒドンライス (Hidden Lies)
The way Reira would text would slightly annoy me. It was always in this overly-cute, emoticons style text with words that were incomplete. While it made sense for girls around our age to do stuff like that, I never saw the point. Of course, I always had to put on an act during interviews and act super cute for the cameras. After the straightener was hot enough to fry an egg, I fixed up my hair and make-up like always. Guess there was no use trying to break the habit.
Once I was finished I decided to smoke a cigarette seeing as how I still had time to kill. It gave me a chance to clear my mind and think a bit. Reira seemed to enjoy playing with my feet. While that was not the strangest fetish I had seen it just made me wonder though… what other secrets did she have? Did she only like feet? Was she more open to girls than guys? Part of me was a bit jealous of her as she seemed to have a pretty normal life. She had the freedom to do what she pleased and date whoever she wanted.
Idols, on the other hand, could not date anyone of the opposite sex, more so anyone of the same sex. Idols had to stay pure, that is just how it was. If an idol was caught in a relationship with someone then their career was burned to hell. Once that happened, there was no getting back into the business. You would just be thrown out like last week’s trash. It was the sad and dark truth of being an idol. We were nothing more than a toy doll to the company, a toy that could be sold around the world. In a way, I felt robbed of my life.
Many young and impressionable girls wanted to be idols. They would kill just to be one of the top idols. Honestly, almost all the idols I knew would kill just to leave. It was understandable though why many decided to go the idol route. While most idols that made it into the business were lied to and offered a life under false pretenses, other girls just did not have much else going for them. Of course, the media and companies were the ones to blame for all of this, They build up this false image of what an idol is to the point that young girls think it is the greatest thing in the world, but no, it was darker in reality… being an idol was hell.
Putting out my cigarette, I made sure I had everything ready to go and decided that this time I would try something different and wear my glasses. I was starting to enjoy how much more comfortable they were than the contacts the company had me wearing.
Once everything was packed up and ready I headed out the door and made my way down the morning commute. I waited there in the same spot for Reira as birds chirped in the distance. Reira looked tired as always, as if she could pass out at any second. I noticed that she had tried to fix her hair just like mine, however…
“I take it you had a fight with a leaf blower?”
(Ha-ha, very funny. I tried to make myself cute but…)
“It doesn’t look… that bad. I can fix it up for you.”
(You are so sweet! Thank you!)
“You should just be yourself though no point in trying to copy what has already been done.”
I took out my phone from my bag and checked the time.
“Damn, we won’t have time to run back to my place. We would just end up being late. Sorry Reira.”
She smiled and shook her head. It did not take words on paper for me to understand that expression. I tried to do what I could with her hair while we walked to school but sadly, in all my years of being an idol nothing could have prepared me for this. We finally made it to the school gate and I looked over what I had done. It was not the best but it was better then before. Reira seemed happy enough with it though as she just smiled and thanked me. It was nice knowing that I could make her happy. I turned to face the entrance only to notice Chizaki making her way out the front of the building. It was strange not seeing Emira with her. She greeted the two of us as per usual and asked me to come with her, alone. Reira seemed a bit sad but she went on ahead while Chizaki continued to stare out to the abyss with a lifeless, dull, blank expression until the bell rang. She stood there a few minutes until the two of us were the only ones left outside.
“Uh… Chizaki, you know the bell rung, right?”
Her head tilted to the side with a puzzled look.
She turned to the door and started to head inside. I followed behind her. We both removed our shoes at the our lockers and proceeded into the school as always. Chizaki’s movements and thinking were always, methodical, as if she were playing a high-stakes game of shogi or chess… or maybe she was completely unaware of the world around her. Once we slowly made our way to the second floor we walked down the hall until we came to a nicely crafted wooden door. She opened the door to the student council room to reveal an almost barren room. Aside from a bookshelf, and a large wooden table with chairs around it, there was not much else to the room. A plain room, as plain as that girl named Jane that Americans seem to make fun of a lot. The only decoration was a photo on the wall with a group of girls on it.
Before stepping into the room Chizaki removed her slippers at the door, putting them against the wall. She told me to do the same. Not sure why she made people do that, perhaps she just wanted to protect the hardwood pine floor. My only other guess was that she had a foot fetish like Reira, but of course with her there was no telling.
Chizaki took a seat at the middle of the large oak desk, sitting in the metal folding chair in a peculiar manner. It kind of reminded me of one anime where a smart guy helps the police to catch a killer. I stood there before Chizaki in the middle of the room as she sat there staring at me. It almost felt like she was a queen on her throne.
“I want you to start an idol club,” she said with a sleepy, monotone voice.
“This again? I already told you Chizaki that I did not want to have anything to do with being an idol.”
Why could she not leave me alone about that? When I first applied to this school I wanted to do so under a fake name so people would not know it was me. It was actually surprisingly that her mother was fine with me coming to her school under a fake name. Then again… I think I know why they did it.
“Why not? You could help this school more then ever, you know?”
“That is not my problem,” I said shouting slightly.
“You know my mom helped—”
“I know… I know. Believe me when I say I am thankful, however, you have no right to hold that over my head.”
Silence filled the room for a minute. That minute felt like an hour with her.
“Hm. Very well, then I shall do this…”
Chizaki stood up from her chair and made her way over to the window near the back. Staring out of it at the lone school tree for what seemed like minutes, she finally spoke.
“If you do not start up an idol club in one week, I will announce to the whole school that Mikyu Haruna, the famous idol, is here at this school.”
She turned to face me. It took me a second to realize what she just said with that monotone and deadpan expression of hers. She could not be serious, right? The tension in the air was like a biting into a stale cookie, so old and stale that it would break a tooth. She stood there staring at me as if to say, checkmate, you lose, and I fear that it was indeed the case. I could not do anything…
“If you can get three other students, I will personally see to it that the club is allowed to do what is necessary to reach the goal.”
Even with her expressionless tone of voice, I could tell… I could tell she was desperate. There was not much I could do now. Dropping out of school was an option but I did not want to do that. Damn it Chizaki… you got me.
“Fine, give me a month to actually find three people and then another month to train them.” I made my way for the door as I walked out partly annoyed by what events transpired. Chizaki tried to call out to me but I had already left down the hallway. I suddenly realized that I had forgot my slippers. After going back and getting my slippers I slowly made my way to our classroom. Taking out my phone, I checked the time. It was time for math class.
Walking into a classroom of silence was always nerve racking. All eyes stare at you as you walk in, many of them wondering why you are late. Even when I was an idol, millions of fans staring at me on stage always made me anxious. All eyes on you; one mistake could haunt you for the rest of your life. Not many people can deal with that kind of stress, and I was no different. I just always faked the feeling of happiness and buried it with a smile. The more I lied to myself the more I believed it. Truly, being an idol was hard.
Miss Matsutoshi was in the middle of teaching a lesson, however, I could tell just from the first few minutes of the lecture and the notes on the blackboard that it was something I already understood. As I made my way to my seat I noticed Reira was copying down notes and trying hard to understand, but it was as plain as day that she had no idea what she was writing. Once I took my seat Reira handed me a note.
(What took you so long?)
(Oh, the president just needed to talk with me, it was nothing, do not worry about it.)
I honestly did not want to talk about it. The only thing I knew was that I needed a cigarette and I needed it now.
“Miss Hatsumi, can you tell me what this formula means?”
Looking at the equation I knew it was the Euler’s formula that described two equivalent ways to move in a circle. Most of the students here seemed impressed that I even knew what it was. I took my studies in math and science seriously. For me, those two subjects were always important. It made the difference between a well educated, intelligent person and a person who was unintelligent or ignorant of knowledge. Looking back on it, it was pretty amazing that I could study all those concepts even with me being overworked as an idol. Then again, I was always a pretty smart child, maybe not as smart as the well known Doctor Rikyu Velzarian but I was smarter than most children my age. One could say that my twin sister and I were child prodigies, learning concepts that seemed far beyond our level of understanding. However, if you were to ask me or my sister, we would both say that we did not care about being smart or better then people. We simply wanted to learn for ourselves how the world worked.
I noticed Reira staring at me trying not to be obvious. It was strange, I did not feel anxious like I did with other fans that would stare at me. Then again, I had a pretty good idea what was on her mind. Slowly slipping off a shoe I found Reira’s reaction quite adorable. She blushed and tried to hide her face. As classes continued on I realized that maybe… Tali was right. Perhaps I did not care for men and just preferred girls over guys. If we were to categorize this by societies standards, I would be a lesbian. Maybe I was, but who cares? Biologically, dating is just created with simple chemical reactions of the brain. Logically, my traumatic experience with a guy drove me to being fine with girls, even if I was an introvert. In fact, I think it is possible to say me being a lesbian would have stemmed from that day…
When school was over, Reira and I made our way to our shoe-lockers. I noticed that it was starting to rain outside. It was rather unfortunate due to the fact I had not brought my umbrella. The two of us decided to wait for a bit to see if it would clear up, however, the rain only became worse. It showed no signs of letting up. After some more time passed I heard footsteps coming our way. Looking over my shoulder, I noticed Chizaki.
“You two are still here?”
She looked puzzled. Of course, the same could be said of me. Why was Chizaki still here? All of the students should have gone home aside from the teachers and maybe a few that were in clubs.
“The rain impedes us at this moment.”
“Oh, I see.”
I was hoping Chizaki would see that I was joking by trying to impersonate her but it seems she did not. Without another word Chizaki headed back the way she came. I was not sure what was running through her mind but while I had this chance I decided to ask Reira one question out of the many I had.
“If you had a chance to be an idol, would you take it?”
She quickly nodded with passionate eyes. If I had to start an idol club I would like to have someone that I knew was passionate about it. I could teach her about being an idol, what to look out for, and hopefully, steer her in the right direction. Of course, there was still the problem of her being mute. She could become a fashion idol or a model, however, being a music idol that dream was shot. After nodding to my question, she gave me a puzzled look almost like Chizaki.
“I was just wondering, that is all. Is it wrong for me to know more about my friend?” I asked with a smile.
She shook her head, and had a cute, adorable smile across her face. I know she would join the club without question but this only lead me to my next question. Where would I find other members with the same passion as her? After some time had passed I figured the rain would stop, however, it was still coming down as hard as ever. Like a kunoichi in the shadows Chizaki returned without a sound holding a black umbrella in her left hand.
That was all she said as she handed me the umbrella.
“You don’t need it?”
Taking the umbrella, I thanked her and headed outside with Reira following. After opening it the two of us huddled together under the somewhat small umbrella. Rain was beating down hard as the sounds of raindrops hitting the ground could be heard. It was quite calming. As we made our way down the street, we did our best to avoid the large puddles while the sounds of our footstep against the smaller puddles could be heard.
As we continued it became harder and harder to avoid the larger puddles. When we came to Reira’s street it looked as if there was a large moat keeping us from her place. We would have to jump it. I looked to Reira.
She nodded. I counted to three and then the two of us jumped over the river. Sadly, as my foot made contact with the slippery pavement, I fell, trying to hold out my arms to stop the quick acceleration of my fall. Alas, I ended up scraping my knee up, to the point it was bleeding and hard to walk with. Reira helped me to my feet and supported my weight as we slowly made our way to her place.
Reira removed her shoes and then helped me remove mine once we got into her apartment. Supporting me gently, she managed to get me to the restroom and sit me down on the stool as she tried to get to stretch out my leg. Intense pain shot up to my knee as I tried to relax it. She got a first aid kit and patched it up. My knee was still super sore and would take some time to heal. I was glad that Reira was taking care of me and more happy when she started to lightly massage around my leg to help it. Once we dried off, Reira went to change into a different pair of clothes while I continued to try and dry off my uniform. Reira came back with a clean pair of clothes in her arms and handed them to me.
“Are you sure?”
Leaving me alone in the restroom I begin to strip. The clothes Reira picked out for me seemed quite cute, however, I was surprised when I saw the shirt. It had the logo of my more recent album. The art was of a cute blond haired girl with headphones on to drown out the world while her dress style was causal with a simple hoodie she seemed sad but also calm.
She more then likely bought this shirt online. A part of me was happy that she had supported me this much. While the shirt Reira had given me was far too large the shorts were so short that it looked as if I was only wearing a shirt. Oh well, not like I was going to be leaving anytime soon. The rain was still pouring down without mercy. I decided to untie my pigtails and let my hair breathe this time around. Being an idol, my hair was almost always in pigtails. Seeing me without pigtails was like seeing the face of a deity… which was never.
When I came out to the living room Reira was sitting on her couch with her laptop. I recalled the song she was listening to quite well. It was a song I sang live when I toured the United Kingdom. Sitting down next to her I remembered all those times in the U.K, especially that one time with Tali. The rain did not show any signs of letting up. It looks like I would be staying here a while. Damn it, I did not even bring my cigarettes with me. Suddenly, I noticed Reira writing something down on her notepad.
(Are you okay? Your leg is shaking a lot.)
It was at that moment I noticed my right leg was bouncing up and down fast. Figures, my body just cannot seem to go without a cigarette. What should I tell her though? Thinking about it, there was nothing I could do aside from tell her the truth. Part of me wanted to trust her with this secret as I was tired of hiding it all these years. Still, it was hard… even though I was out of the idol world that did not mean I could just go around doing as I pleased. Reputation was a big thing within the idol community. There were some perks to being a popular idol, like getting a free pass to a theme park or getting clothes from stores at a discount. I always found it odd for people to give me discounts on things just for being famous. It always made me feel horrible as I did not want special treatment just because I was an idol.
Letting out a sigh, I decided to face this demon head on and tell Reira the truth. Even though we had not known each other that long it felt like we had been friends for a long time. I needed to tell her.
“The truth is… I… smoke cigarettes, and drink alcohol. It is a bad habit that I regret getting into but I needed a way to deal with the constant stress.”
I leaned forward staring at the floor below me, and decided to reveal my true self.
“The truth is, being an idol is not all it is made out to be. Sometimes, I even wonder how I made it so far without just breaking down. Then again, idols learn to bury their emotions and feelings and create a facade so others can be happy.”
Turning to Reira, she looked a bit upset. If people knew the truth… they would lose hope. I continued to explain to Reira about my life and the stress each day weighed on my body and mind. Lying to my fans, and faking being happy just to make them happy. Holding back every single tear while I was worked to the bone with music, modeling, and tours. Before I had time to think, I just continued to pour my heart out to Reira. Why? Why was I pouring my heart out for someone like her? What made her different? Who knows…
“—and finally… the reason why I quit being an idol…”
It was hard to talk about this part but I needed to get everything out.
“I was… almost raped by a guy…”
I could feel my heart sink a bit. Was it a mistake to open up to her? Without warning I Reira wrapped her arms around me, embracing me gently. Words could not describe the scene between us. She held me, patting my head. It felt… nice.
“Please, do not tell anyone…”
(Don’t worry, I am a mute.)
She smiled gently. Was that supposed to be a joke? I could not help but laugh at what I had read. It was horrible yet somehow humorous. After things seemed to settle, I realized that I could still hear the rain, just as loud as ever.
(It looks like it will keep raining.)
“Yeah, I am not sure what to do. I need to make sure my school uniform is dry and then figure out what to do about getting home.”
(I can throw our uniforms in the dryer and you know, you could just spend the night, if you want to, of course.)
This was the first time I was nervous about something in a long time — it caught me off guard. With a simple nod it was settled. Reira threw both of our uniforms into the dryer and started it up. While our school uniforms would be fine there was still the question of the umbrella that Chizaki let us borrow. It was bent slightly. I guess I would just have to tell her the truth.
(So, what would you like to do?)
Part of wanted to tell Reira that I was starting up an idol club… well, more like forced and blackmailed against my will, but I could leave that part out.
“I am starting an idol club, would you like to join?”
Without even a second to lose she shook her head yes. She was so happy that I had asked her which mad me feel happy too.
(But why are you starting an idol club? I thought it was stressful?)
As much as I would love to tell her the truth I was pretty sure Chizaki would not want me spreading around what she told me. Plus, she would probably kill me if I did.
“I just thought that it would be great to pass along my knowledge to girls that wanted to be idols.”
(But then people would wonder how you know so much about idols.)
“I can lie and just claim to be a fan.”
(Would that really work?)
“Of course, just don’t tell anyone I am Mikyu Haruna and it will be fine.”