Friday, May 6, 2016

Soyokazi Stories: Lost, Found, and Indifferent


Yuko Komiyama watched as the tram slipped past her window. Jet black and glistening, it glided past smoothly and quietly. She tried to scan the rider's faces, but the angle made it difficult. She wasn't sure what she had hoped to see. Maybe someone familiar?

She narrowed her eyes and let her mind drift as she watched the people scurry in the street outside the small office space she occupied. All those people, yet she still felt so alone. So…uncared for.
She adjusted her position on her seat when she heard footsteps coming towards her and felt the cushion press into the backs of her legs uncomfortably. 
Ohayou! How is Kowai Neko today?” The loud woman peeked around the corner of the cube wall and beamed at Yuko brightly, handing her a cup of tea in a small cup in the shape of a cat face.  Her hair was short and her face round and friendly.

“Please – I don’t like that nickname. I’m not a scared cat.” Yuko accepted the tea with a small bow of her head and glanced out the window. The tram was gone.

“Oh – “ the woman said with a wave of her hand. “Just playing. You know.” She saw that Yuko wasn’t smiling and said, “I’ll stop, Yuko.” She smiled again and sat in the empty chair across from Yuko’s.  “Are we still going out tonight?”

“I suppose.” Yuko turned to face her coworker. June was her only real friend in the office. They had worked together for over a year and seemed to be the only ones that carried on non-work related conversations. This made Yuko happy, but sad at the same time. Were they outcasts? To horrid to speak to?

Ohayou gozaimasu,” came a curt and rough voice.

June and Yuko smelled cigarette smoke and knew who it was before seeing him. They both stood and smiled saying,  “Ohayou gozaimasu,” in unison. Their boss raised a hand in greeting and smiled without slowing his step. They watched him enter his office. Yuko sat back down. June remained standing.

“I’ll talk to you later.” June nodded and Yuko returned the nod before turning to face her screen again.

Her email program – open and too bright – stared back at her blankly. Yuko cursed it in her mind and adjusted the computer’s brightness.  She read the first line of the new set of emails in the inbox, but the words swam and she didn’t really think about their meaning.

Another sing song chime whispered from the computer and another email came in, this time from her boss. She sighed and moved the mouse to click, but swept past the email and around it with the curser. She moved the mouse back and forth over the email list absently with no intent on clicking a single one. Not yet.

Another chime. Another email. Again, from her boss.

She lifted her hand off her mouse and rubbed her right wrist as she turned to stare out her window again.

She eyed the sweet shop below with longing. What must it be like to work there, she wondered. The lovely little pink uniforms they wore. The friendly greetings they got to call out as each customer entered and left the store. She smiled at the thought. It must be lovely.

“Excuse me, Ms. Komiyama?”

Yuko gasped and crossed her arms before her as she jumped up from her chair. She gulped in a breath and smiled as the wave of red flushed over her face. She bowed her head and choked out, “I’m sorry, Mr. Matsueda. Can I help you?”

The man smiled politely. “Did you see my email?”

Yuko glanced at her screen. “Oh…yes. My wrist was sore. I was just about to open it.”

Matsueda looked at her wrist and made note of the redness where Yuko had been rubbing it. He frowned. “Are you alright?”

“Yes. Yes, Sir. Just a sore wrist. I’ll review your email right now.”

A voice in Yuko’s head growled, “You walking grotesque. Horrid slave driver with no skills. Let me drop everything and serve your precious needs.”  She blushed again.

“Thank you. I just needed a few pieces of information for the board member meeting.” He smiled. “Take care of that wrist.” He nodded and walked back to his office.

Yuko fell into her chair and rubbed her forehead. She clamped her eyes closed tight. When she opened them, she looked into the corner of her cube space towards the Kiki’s Delivery Service “JIJI” clock sat. The little black cat’s paws framed 8:30am. It was only 8:30?

“I should just pull the fire alarm. Make a few hours go away while they sort out the mess.” She drew in a deep breath and turned back to her screen – ignoring the mean spirited voice in her head.

The two emails from Mr. Matsueda seemed to swim on the screen. She read them and composed a reply after attaching two emails.

“Dear Mr. Monster. I’m attaching the information you requested – two emails I’ve already sent you several times before. If I were to be so absentminded, you would have fired me for sure. Sad that your superiors don’t know just how incompetent you are. Yours, Y.”

She wanted to hit send. She could end all of this and go to find something else. Something she cared about. Something new and interesting.

Something with a brightly colored uniform, perhaps.

“And I wanted to ask you one more thing if you have a moment.”

Yuko yelped loudly, the male voice catching her completely unaware. She dragged her mouse over the email she had composed and hit delete before turning and standing.

Mr. Matsueda laughed. “I’m sorry – I seem to be shocking you with every visit today. Too much coffee?” He held up his hands in mock surrender.

Yuko smiled and shook her head. “No no…sorry. I’m…” She stopped and waved her hand at her forehead. “I’m not sure I’m well. I’m…a bit ill, I believe.”

“Oh no. Well, I just needed the information I wrote you about earlier and the key to the records file, then you can go for the day if you need to.” His voice sounded soft and sincere. “I don’t want you passing out on the floor today.” He tried to smile, but looked more concerned than anything else.

Yuko blinked back at him.

“Ms. Komiyama? Are you ok?”

Yuko twitched herself free from the stare and laughed nervously. “Yes. Ah…excuse me.” She turned, leaned over her keyboard, and typed out, “The information you requested.” She double checked to make sure the first MR MONSTER draft was fully gone, then hit send before turning to face her boss again. “Information sent, Sir. Two letters we drafted last month. That should cover what you asked for.” She smiled.

“Fantastic. Thank you – that was very quick.” Matsueda smiled.

Yuko snatched a small key from a desk drawer and handed it to Matsueda. “And, the file key.” She stammered, “I…have another, so you can keep that one and I’ll have another made. I usually keep this drawer locked when I’m not here, so…” She heard her own voice and it sounded like she was going mad. She stopped herself and smiled.

“We’re fine here. Why don’t you head home, Ms. Komiyama? Ok? Get some rest. You’ve worked very hard this past month. You’ve earned the break.” He smiled, then whispered, “Off the books, hmm? No need to record this. I’m sure you’ve worked the time a few nights in the past month or so.” He nodded and smiled wider when he saw the shocked look on Yuko’s red face. “Thank you, Ms. Komiyama. I’ll see you on Monday. Get some rest.”

Yuko gasped out a thank you as her boss moved towards the records file and waved back at her.

Moments later, she was on the street staring up at the large, multi-colored ice cream sign on Seneca’s Sweet Shoppe. She typed out a message to June on her phone.

Sorry – headed out for the day. I’m not feeling well. Maybe we can meet on Saturday? Y

She looked back over her shoulder to her office window. Was Mr. Matsueda watching her to make sure she went right home? Of course not.

Yuko pushed through the pink doors of the sweets shop. A chorus of greetings came at her.

Irasshaimase!” Several young women in bright, pink uniforms smiled and bowed.

Yuko smiled back and let the sweet smell of the shop fill her.
PHOTO: From UFUNK. Click the image to visit and see more cute sweets!


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