Author: Stephane Richer PM
You don't know me; you don't wear my chains.Rated: Fiction T - English - Angst - Nana - Words: 1,188 - Favs: 1 - Published: 11-12-12 - Status: Complete - id: 8698618
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: I own niether Ai Yazawa's Nana nor Augustana's "Boston".
The grey rain beats down on the London streets as usual, a tired timpany that accompanies the man as he walks. The usual mix of salarymen, children with nannies, vagrants, and tourists moves against him toward the underground station, and he makes his way over to the small cafe, and under its awning there is shelter. An Asian woman with long blonde hair is already there, smoking, and she notices when his lighter fails to spark for a fifth time, and silently offers her own. It's white (bad luck, he thinks) but he appreciates the effort and he won't let it go to waste. Her hands, he notices, are perfect: well-manicured, and as he brushes his own against them they are soft, as if she's never had to do any manual labour in her life. Her hardened expression seems to contradict that, but she's smoking these expensive cherry cigarettes from Japan.
Nothing escapes her gaze. She knows he's staring at the red box, and her voice, surprisingly light for a smoker, replies to his rudeness. "Something wrong with my smokes?"
She's got a hint of an accent. "No, I've just never seen that brand before."
"Blast," she replies. She takes another drag and winces. "I can't stand cherry," she mumbles, seemingly to herself.
Still..."Why do you smoke them, then?"
A noncomittal shrug. "One of my...friends back home. He smoked 'em. I haven't seen him in maybe ten years."
"Why don't you go back?" Silence is the reply. Shit. He must have died or something. "I'm sorry-"
She...laughs. For a fleeting moment, the hardness seems to leave her face. "It's all good." The hardness returns, moreso than before. "I just can't. I can't see any of them again."
He won't push. This could end badly. Still, he can see that she wants to tell him. She wants to say something more.
"Come by Y's bar tomorrow night. I'm singing at eight," she says, flicks the ash off the end of her butt and stomping it underneath a shiny heel. She saunters away in a manner that doesn't quite suit her appearance.
He's got nothing better to do when the next night rolls around, so he ends up looking up directions online and, seeing as it's not terribly far from his flat, decides to go. The bar is a hole-in-the-wall type place, but the interior is shiny and glittery, like the inside of a disco ball might be. The patrons range from young people on dates to seedy-looking middle-aged men in trench coats to normal people like him. He takes a seat at the bar and orders a gin and tonic. There's a man at the piano, playing some kind of vaguely classical piece (not that he'd know which one it was, which era or which composer or anything) that maybe he's heard somewhere before. He checks his watch; it's ten to eight. He sips his drink slowly. Soon enough, though, the curtain parts.
She comes out, wearing a pink sleeveless dress that stops a few inches above her knees. Her limbs are wiry, not muscular or bony or fat, and she's got some kind of colorful tatoo on one shoulder. The people clap dutifully and the piano man nods at her, and begins to play something kind of jazzy. She starts singing after a bar or two, and...whoa. Her voice isn't perfect, it's technically flawed but she carries emotion in every word, every note, and she sings with such expression. He's blown away, and all he can do is just stare for the next hour as she sings one song after the other, all slow and rich.
He waits for her by the back entrance. It's cold, and just to keep from shivering he's burned through a whole pack by the time she gets out. She seems a bit surprised to see him, and he makes a move to take her arm but she flinches. Nevertheless, she walks with him, as he moves back toward the flat.
"It's just like home," she says.
"You sang back at home?"
She nods. "But that's not quite why. Just, people waiting in the back for me...like Misato did. She was a nice kid. A bit misguided, but everyone's a fuckup." Once she's started she can't really stop, the words spilling from her mouth like oil from a leaky pipeline in a rural area. "You know, th elast show we did together, all of us, the Christmas show when Nobu was a senior in high school. He got wasted and passed out, but he always did. Yasu took him home. Misato got me some Vivienne Westwood, and someone knitted..." she takes a deep and long breath here "...Ren a scarf with his name on it, and we took the train back and took a bath together and that was the last time it was really okay. Because then he moved to Tokyo. He went with Trapnest, with Takumi and all of them. Then, you know, I had to follow him, a few years later, when I turned 21. And then Nobu and Yasu moved up, and we found Hachi and Shin, and it was almost as good. And I found Ren again. And it was just like you could never imagine. Have you ever loved someone so much? So much you can't stand it? I was so dependent on him, and then..." tears stream down her cheeks, and she stops, looking up at the grey night sky. "And then I lost him, and I had to. I just had to get out of there, so I ran here. It's almost like my hometown, all grey and cold and sandy. Sometimes, sometimes I think I'll see them coming through the door, sometimes it feels like I'm in Nobu's house and..."
His head is spinning. Who the hell are these people? Obviously, they mean so much to her but she's not really quite explaining what it is they do mean. She's just letting her mouth run. When was the last time she talked to someone? Never? Back when she was at home with these people? And he is still figuring it out when he sees she's gone, and he knows he'll never see her again, no matter how often he haunts the coffee shop or how long he stays at Y's with his gin and tonic. He doesn't even know her name; he doesn't know her at all. He probably, come to think of it, doesn't even want to.
Maybe he's imagined the whole damn thing. Wouldn't put it past himself. Still, for a very long time after this, every time he sees long blonde hair he does a double take.