A simple story - their story (01)

(DATE: YEAR 2007)

The loud slamming of the door startled everybody in the makeshift canteen. Like everybody, Rika quickly looked around. When she failed to find her friend who had said was getting another plate of salad, she began to worry. She knew her friend had left the room, and had slammed the door when she did; perhaps she hadn’t like what she had heard. In fact, nobody else did, and somehow, the person who everyone thought possessed the best composure had been the most affected.

Not wasting another moment, Rika stood up and bolted after the escaping girl. Out of the canteen, she shouted when she saw the tall girl striding down the corridor on the left.

Half-running Yossi stopped and turned back. “What?”

Rika hastened her steps to catch up. “Where are you heading?” she said, paying extra attention to Yossi’s facial expressions as if it would tell her exactly what her junior was thinking right now.

“Toilet,” Yossi said, her tone sounding calm. When Rika said nothing, she turned and continued on her way to the washroom. She slowed down her pace though as if expecting Rika to join her. Rika did; she quickly caught up and they walked side by side. Although Rika had tons of things to ask Yossi, the latter’s body language told her that she had no wish to engage in any conversation, at least not at the moment.

She quietly followed Yossi into the ladies washroom that was located inconveniently at the furthest end of the winding hallway. Once inside the privacy of the washroom however, Yossi’s cool demeanour took a sudden change. Resting both her palms on the sink counter, she dipped her head below her shoulders and sighed loudly. Rika anticipated it; Yossi wasn’t taking the news too well.

“Why do I feel that my graduation is a jinx?” Yossi said under her breath.

Rika walked up to Yossi. She raised her hand, hesitated before putting it back to her side again.

“Why can’t she hold on to it? Is it too much to ask of her?”

Rika tried to speak, but no word came out of her mouth. When she saw Yossi’s raised head in the reflection, her heart tugged; those beautiful eyes were red. There weren’t tears, nonetheless, there was pain, or was that anger?

“I hate to see the group reduced to this state. I don’t know why bad news keeps coming. I don’t know what’s wrong with everybody. Why are they doing this? We don’t used to be like this…”

Rika knew exactly what Yossi was saying, or why she had felt sad or angry. “But people do change.” she said.

Yossi turned, looking deep into Rika’s eyes. “You didn’t. I didn’t!”

When Rika averted her eyes, Yossi turned back to face the mirror. When she saw Rika still looking away, she turned on the tap and placed her hands under it.

Silence ensued, except for the gushing sound of running water.

Rika spoke after a while, “you know things will never be the same when Tsunku-san started graduating us one by one—”

“I don’t care about them graduating!” Yossi said, looking up again, catching a glimpse of Rika in the mirror. “I just hate him for putting me in the group for seven years. Seven long years. Two years longer than you.”

When Rika remained quiet, Yossi looked back down. “I hate being a leader. I never liked to lead. I never liked to be in-charge. I never liked to make decisions. I was never good with all these. You should know better…”

“But you did a great job, didn’t you? Everyone loves you.”

“The HELL I had to go through just to do this great job! I hate it!” Yossi gripped the tap tightly to turn it off. “Why? Just when it’s time for me to pass it on she pulls this feat.”

Rika was rendered speechless; she couldn’t agree more. But she hoped Yossi would understand that not everyone shared their same way of thinking.

“I tolerated it for two years, yet she couldn’t even last for two weeks. And she makes it look like it is ALL my fault again.”

“She’s just careless. As long as, I mean, it’ll soon blow off,” Rika tried explaining.

“Shouldn’t she have known better?”

Rika looked up, appalled. “Do you mean you already knew about it?”

Yossi turned to face Rika. “No! Isn’t that ironic? That the tabloids know before us? US! As in everybody else who is supposedly close to her.”

The sound of a flushing toilet startled them. Rika and Yossi looked at each other, visibly alarmed. They had been careless to assume that they were the only ones in the washroom. Before someone would come out from the cubicle, they mustn’t make the same mistake again…

When the part-time staff stepped out of the cubicle to confirm her guess for whom the speakers were, she found the washroom already empty.

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