Chapter 5:

5. cigarettes in space

the color of shattered dreams

It doesn't glow anymore, the staff. Sato warns, "Don't touch it," as though she expects me to chew it or something. To be fair, I can't fault her for stating the obvious this time, given recent events...

We stare at it. It doesn't stare back because it doesn't have eyes or is alive, which reminds me: to what extent can we violate the laws of physics, and for how long? Magical girl institutions have glass domes with regulated temperatures and air pressure, so it's safe to say that the answer isn't 'forever'. "So," I say. 

Instead of So-ing me back, Sato fidgets. Her pastel pink hair falls to the nape of her neck at its longest, but it mostly frames her face. She wears a fuchsia hairband that perfectly matches the bows and ribbons on her dress, which is varying shades of pink and white. She kind of looks like a cake, to be honest. The other pink girls might've had the same color scheme, but their hairstyles and level of resemblance to pastries vary.

To my left, a pale blue dot glows faintly at the distance. To my right, there's nothing but silver below, black above. No mountains, no domes, no rabbits. 

I sit. 

"S-Saki?" Sato questions, pleads, maybe threatens. 

I pat the spot next to me. "Haruto is fine. How about you? What's your full name?"

For one reason or another, she complies, and thus we sit in the middle of nowhere, to contemplate nothing. It'd be cool for the sun to hang above us, but I suppose the lack of atmosphere would make it so bright that even if our biology-defying bodies could stand its presence, our eyes would not—or mine, at the very least. I don't like squinting. 

I run a finger through the dirt next to me. It's thin, like underwater sand. "Sato Shio," she replies, at least. "Please don't laugh."

Sato... Shio. Sugar salt. "Oh. I won't, but. Oh, wow. That's the most magical girl name I've ever heard."

And then she's the one laughing. It's breathy, but it's there. "Yeah. That's why..."

"That's why?"

"Um. Sorry."

Well then.

"That's why I wanted to be a magical girl," sugar salt explains. "I know you're not supposed to... I guess you wouldn't know, but it's kind of an unspoken rule that if you want to become a magical girl, you won't be chosen." She waits for me to say something, I suppose, but there's not much to say beyond 'wow, that's fucked'. "Yet I was. Maybe it's because of my name."

I have nothing to say to that, either, but she finally spoke up. So. "Well, I didn't get picked up because of my name, so there's that."

"Oh, we don't know that yet."


She gestures at the misandrist stick. All this while, she'd been hugging her legs, chin pressed against her knees. Conventiently-placed frills prevent her from flashing anything unnecessary. "It had already chosen your type. You could've awakened, maybe, if you hadn't... spit on it... or called it an, um. A. That."

Magical girl dildo. "Wait, how? Wasn't it glowing red?"

"Yes, but that's... so... how much do you know about us?" I shrug. Sato uncurls. Her skirt falls just a little bit. "Usually there's... your color depends on your type, right? So the yellow ones are sociable and nice and stuff, the blue ones are loyal and nice unless you argue with them, purple ones are... they don't talk much. But they're also nice after a while. Pink ones supposedly—supposedly—are leaders.  And then finally, there's the red ones. You would've been one of those. Neither my type nor yours is nice, so."

Based on what I saw from the two pink witches, I believe her. And those are supposed to be the leaders? Those at the top are always the same, aren't they? "So yellow is bubbly, blue is headstrong, purple is bitch, pink is late-stage capitalism, and red is...? What?"

Sato neither confirms nor denies the allegations, but to the last part, she responds, "Dangerous."

"Ah." Figures. 

"T-that's fine, though. Reds aren't common and they're always under supervision, anyway, so that's fine. That's fine. Also, you can change colors later."

So I can go from dangerous to bitch if I really believe in myself? "Good to know."

Sato nods. She's picking on one of the bows of her skirt. Her shoes are navy blue. I wish I'd never noticed. This will bother me until the end of my days. Until maggots have feasted on my corpse. Until the sun swallows us. "You seem more purple to me," she says.

"Oh?" And I thought I was being talkative. "You seem more... blue?"

She blinks, glancing at me. "How?"

"You just do."

"Not pink?"

"Not pink."

"Oh. Okay. That's... good." Sato smiles. "I didn't even wanna be pink, to be honest. I dunno why I got that type. Everyone was surprised because—oh, right, I forgot to tell you before. Most of them aren't pink at the start. You have to 'earn' it or something. But I didn't, so... yeah."

I guess that explains the animosity towards her. As to why the dildo chose pink... well, I don't know enough to extrapolate yet. Speaking of which, it's still there, dull and unmoving. It might as well be a movie prop. "What are you planning?" I ask. "As in... what'll happen once you go back?"

"Uh. Um." Sato shrugs.

So I try the following: "Ramen."

"H-huh? W—" 

As I swish the straw, a sparkly rainbow appears before us, swirls, then dissipates, leaving behind my favorite brand of cup ramen. "Nice," I opine. "How about... a lighter and cigarettes?" Those pop up, too. "Hot wate—"

Both Sato and I leap as a scalding stream pours out of thin air. The worst part? That it freezes before touching the surface. We're left with an avant garde sculpture and activated fight-or-flight responses. We exchange glances. Sato says, with the expression of someone who almost got turned into soup, "Please don't do that again."


"I dunno how you can summon stuff like that without training, but please don't—"

"—do it again. Yes, I know. I know." I stare at the sculpture. I'm crossing my arms over my tits again, but it's whatever. "I know. I just wanted to..."


"To..." I sigh. "So? What are you going to do now?"

"To what?"

"Just turn me in. It's not like they'll kill me or anything. We can just pretend I coerced you and blame everything on me being red. How about that?"

"To what?"

"Forgot," I lie. Sato drops it after that. She's having another staring contest with the floor. It's like kicking a kitten, but worse. "Sato, let's just... go back. Before it gets any worse."

"You were the one that got us here," she reminds.

"Mistakes were made."


"What, you don't think it was a mistake to spit on the staff and run?" Sato takes far, far too long to respond. "You don't?" Still nothing. "Do you want to g..." Sato shakes her head. " you don't want to go back. For now? Or forever?"

"You wouldn't get it."

Oh, if only she knew. "What'd happen if we stayed here forever, then?"

"I'm not saying we will, just that... yeah. Can we not think about that for now? Please? O-or, um, was there something you needed to do?"

"Breathe?" I reply. 

"That's fine. Right now. Once it wears off, we'll hear sparkling."

But of course. "And then what? We die?"

"No, just... sit down. Let's sit down again. Please. We'll think about it later. Please. Promise."

It's not the first or last time I meet someone like this, of course, but it's not often that I feel like shaking their shoulders rather than humoring them. It's not even the time limit, or this being her fault, or this being my fault. I don't know.

I don't know. 

And because I don't know, I sit back down. Sato follows, failing to hold back a smile. Despite it being so cold, we can breathe, and we can talk, and our blood flows instead of freezing, and it doesn't boil and evaporate due to the lack of atmosphere, and thus we're alive, and we sit on the surface of the moon, contemplating the floating blue sphere we should be inhabiting. 

When I reach out for the lighter and cigarettes, she doesn't stop me, though she's probably thinking the same as me: it's not going to work.

It doesn't. Because space. No combustion. If I say 'fire' whilst waving my straw-staff, I might not like the consequences.

"Allow me," Sato says. She takes a cigarette out of the box, taps it, then hands it to me. It lights up. I take a drag as though none of this matters, because none of it does. Halfway through it, she tells me, "It's the only thing I do well. Fire."

"Lucky me."

"Yeah. Lucky you."

Mario Nakano 64
Steward McOy
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