Chapter 19:

Murasaki's Plan

Purple Prose

Murasaki spent the rest of the afternoon fussing over her big day tomorrow with her new boyfriend Issei, fearful over the possibility that her appearance was no longer adequate, and how her behavior may convince him she’s not mature enough. “No, Issei’s not like that,” she told herself. In fact, the only negativity Murasaki has ever heard from Issei had been towards himself–more than once.

How could someone so talented and wonderful have such a harsh opinion of himself? What did Murasaki not know that she needed to know?

Then again, Murasaki could count how many times they were together on one hand, and though each moment was a priceless memory, the fact they promptly decided to start going out despite how little they knew each other was…

She couldn’t say it. Were they rushing how they felt? Should they have waited until–at the very least–a month before confessing? Murasaki knew Hamada more than Issei, and the man acted like a satellite half the time.

Yet they held hands, caressed each other, and to Murasaki, it was a night she’ll remember forever.

It all felt right for one clear-cut reason: she simply did not hear any ill intent from Issei’s heart.

Murasaki could guess what people were thinking and how they would act by how their hearts moved. The sudden jump in heart rate, the gushing of blood pressure, and even the sudden, wayward tugs in the heart caused by stress, all this came before a person’s actions. That’s why Murasaki knew all along how Issei felt. Ever since she sat next to him in Proteinium Records, hearing his heart skip and hover when she joined in his love for music made Murasaki realize Issei might be attracted to her.

Though she hadn’t fallen for him just yet, just a couple days later smashed that resistance completely. The way Issei sang through her phone’s mic so suddenly, yet with such silkiness, how he spared no effort to listen to her troubles at his house and comforted her: it made Murasaki’s own heart flutter.

At his house! Issei took a woman home, and all he did was cook food and give her advice. That’s how Murasaki knew she could tell him anything. That’s why she felt safe sinking into his shoulder. That’s when she appreciated how physically and emotionally-strong Issei is…how wonderful his face was.

And that’s why Murasaki’s eyes darted up and down her computer screen, whole paragraphs and comments a blur as she searched for the perfect first date ideas. Lunch and dinner were obvious–they were going to be hungry no matter what they did, and with that body of his, the only question was if they should tack breakfast on the list too.

Issei’s body…the vision she saw in the locker room sprang up and attacked Murasaki’s mind. She shook her head vigorously, but it held on tight. “Stop it!” She yelled out loud. “Focus!”

Then her stomach rumbled. “Oh, this is hopeless–I can’t concentrate!”

At a time like this, there was only one option: eat first, plan the date later.

She punched in the numbers of her friends Kaoru and Rin. What better way to relax than to have lunch with your best pals?

Murasaki packed her purse, then boarded a train from Takko up to Aomori. Though Murasaki tensed at the thought of traveling ever closer to Mutsu, the place she’ll never visit again, she would be with her friends in a big city. Skyscrapers came into view, towering even higher than what people can see. Yet Aomori was great in that despite these monsters overshadowing the whole city, Nature was still in droves and surrounded by old, historical wonders. You didn’t have to be a tourist to enjoy Aomori.

Murasaki’s phone jingled in her purse, and she pulled it out. Her thumb flipped through the dozens of blocked messages until her eyes lit up: Issei, who now had a heart next to his name, had sent her an image.

He and his band were in an office. Issei and Takao were grinning with an arm around each other while Kanka bear-hugged an unfortunate man who must have been their agent, his hands begging for a donut that had fallen to the floor.

<Just signed the contract.>

Murasaki tapped the corner and saved the picture. I’m sure he won’t mind. What should she say? Would it be too corny and mushy to text the first thing that came to her mind, or should she hold back? Maybe just a little.

<What a great photo! I’m proud of you.>

What she couldn’t add was how great she thought his smile was.

Murasaki got off the station and followed directions to Flowery Nectar, a tea house with traditional roof tiling that sold sweet treats as well as meat buns. There, Kaoru and Rin waited for her. Kaoru, who had long, dyed blonde hair with a long, pointed face, waved her down.

“Hey you two! Thanks for hanging out with me!”

Rin, who wore a neat and proper bob of black hair, crossed her legs as she picked a block of mochi from the plate. “You know we’ll do anything for you, Murasaki. Is your family picking on you again?”

She sat down, stomach grumbling as she snatched a skewer of dango. “Not this time–I just wanted to eat with my friends before I start working hard next week.”

Kaoru gasped. “That’s right! You’re gonna be Miss Rockstar, aren’t you? I can’t believe one of my friends will be a real, honest-to-goodness musician.”

She smiled. “Yup! We just learned the ins and outs of the studio today, but on Monday, the real fun–ah.”

She had her phone in her other hand, and it buzzed.

“Hey now–no phone at the table!” Kaoru said.

“Can’t believe you would invite us just to talk to your other friends,” Rin said, her face drooping.

“Sorry, sorry, let me just…” Murasaki got another text from Issei.

<I was thinking about what we should do tomorrow. Any ideas?>

Murasaki froze, and when she caught four eyes staring daggers into her, she quickly thumbed on the keypad.

<Lunch and dinner for sure, do you want to go somewhere open?>

Somewhere open, what does that even mean? But she had to type something quick and shove her phone into her purse before they got suspicious.


Too late: Kaoru stole a peek.

“I saw that! Rin, Murasaki has a boy on her phone! He had black hair and they were really close!” Her head pivoted. “And don’t try to deny it either!”

There was nothing to be embarrassed about. After all, they confessed their feelings and were going on their first date tomorrow. That’s as official as it gets.

She drew herself up. “Alright, then I won’t.”

Rin put a hand to her mouth as she choked on a piece of mochi. Kaoru dropped her jaw, then leaned forward and slammed her hands on the table. “Alright, that’s news to me! When did this happen?”

As much as she tried stowing her giddiness, Murasaki’s voice cracked, her chest feeling weightless as she remembered how it began. “Just last night.”


Heads turned in surprise and shock, and Kaoru, hearing the irate voices around her, drew back. “What do you mean last night?” She hissed.

Feeling her face get hot, Murasaki waved her hands. “Nothing like that! Issei was just having a hard time, so we talked for a bit, and…” She gulped. “We hugged, and we both said how we liked each other, so we agreed to go out.”

“So his name’s Issei?” Rin asked. “What’s he like?” Rin was less aggressive than Kaoru, but she still had both arms resting on her chin as she leaned in close.

“Well, he’s a musician like me…we met at the same venue. He’s talented, funny, and a hard worker.”

“Let me see the picture Kaoru saw!”

Sighing, Murasaki dug her phone out and showed her the photo she saved to her wallpaper: their moment together under the streetlight before she got on the train home.

Kaoru craned her neck to get a better look.

“Well he’s at least a looker,” Rin said. “He seems completely surprised it even happened.”

Kaoru frowned. “Oh…he’s muscular. I don’t really like muscular men.”

“Why not?” Murasaki said, feeling insulted for Issei.

“Well, don’t you think all muscular men do it for vain reasons? Like, they think they can pick up girls if they were strong–or maybe they’re in a gang trying to be tough.”

Murasaki pouted. “Issei’s neither of those things.”

“I can see where Kaoru’s coming from,” Rin said, putting a finger to her lips in thought. “Plus those muscles look all bulbous and gross to me.”

This was an act of war to Murasaki’s relationship, and she would have none of it. Feeling the fire rise in her head, she puffed out her cheeks and stood up.

“Well if you saw the ass on him, you’d think differently!”

Even more heads turned, some recoiling in shock of what they just heard. “This is not proper conversation at a tea house,” she heard an old woman mutter. “Promiscuous girls, what has this world come to?”

The fastest, best defense she could think of for Issei, and she immediately blurted out one of the most embarrassing moments in her life.

Rin looked just as stunned as the crowd. Her fire quickly turned to steam as Murasaki sat down and buried her head in her arms.

“So you saw his ass did you?” Kaoru asked while snickering behind her hands.

“N-not on purpose! A-and he had shorts on. Oh God.” Murasaki groaned.

She felt Rin pat her on the head. “Alright, that’s enough teasing. So we know who he is, but we still don’t know what he’s like.”

Neither do I, to be honest.

“I’m more interested in what you like the most about him!”

Murasaki glanced up to find Rin inches from her face. Kaoru looked devilish as she stared, as though waiting for another line of attack. “I thought you were done teasing me…”

She took a deep breath and thought of all the moments they shared together. What drew her to Issei in the first place? There was no question what that was.

“His voice…”

They perked up. “You like his voice the most?” Rin scratched her head. “Is he part of a boy band or something?”

Murasaki shook her head. “He’s in a Progressive Metal band. But his voice is insanely good. I can’t explain without having you listen to a clip.”

Say, that’s a good idea, the devil in her head thought. Let’s get Issei to record his voice on your phone! No. That idea was dangerous.

“You’re not convincing me,” Kaoru said.

“His voice is like warm, melted chocolate dripping from a confectioner’s spoon, the silky sugar piling up in layers before it’s wrapped and sold as a gift–because it is a gift.”

Even Kaoru blushed. “That’s…quite the imagination you got.”

Murasaki hid her face again. “And I know I wanted to eat lunch with you two, but all I can think about right now is our first date tomorrow, and I don’t want the day to be ruined. What if it goes horribly wrong and he won’t like me anymore? Can you guys help me?”

“Come on now.” Kaoru rubbed her shoulder. “If you say Issei isn’t vain or trying to act tough, then he’s a good guy. He wouldn’t let something like a bad first date sour the mood.”

“And it won’t be a bad first date either!” Rin closed her fists with fire in her eyes. “Let’s get you dolled up, Murasaki! We’ll trim up your hair and find you a nice dress to wear. You’ll knock Issei’s socks off!”

“Pants too.”


Murasaki sobbed and laughed at the same time. At this rate, she’ll never live this down.