"Fatal Exposure"

By Meara


The envelope from the University of Tokyo sat in the middle of the table where Usagi had set it down almost half an hour ago. She'd started to open half dozen times, only to chicken out at the last moment.

Usagi then decided that news like this (good or bad) always went better with a piece of Mom's chocolate cake. If she was going to have the cake, she had to have milk to go with it. So with a production that would have made Cecil B. DeMille proud, Usagi took her time to cut the precisely perfect sized slice of cake. She then took a glass and filled it to the exact top.

Savoring each mouthful Usagi ever so slowly consumed the confection, never taking her eyes off the dreaded envelope. The envelope, predictably, didn't move but at last Usagi did.

She examined it from across the room. She peered at it up close. Usagi tilted her head to the left and then to the right. Finally giving an exasperated sigh she knew there was only one thing to do. Rubbing the tips of her fingers together like a safecracker warming up for action, Usagi paused but a heartbeat. She ripped the top of the envelope open, mumbling a heartfelt prayer.

"Oh please," she whispered, "Oh please, please, pleeeeaseā€¦"

The supplication turned to joy as she read the first sentence. Her mother came in the door from grocery shopping to find her daughter literally jumping up and down. It took her a long moment to understand the frenzied words that tumbled out of Usagi's mouth.

"I'm in, I'm in, I'm in! They accepted me at Tokyo University!" Usagi danced around her mother before enveloping her in an ecstatic hug, "I'm going to college!"

Usagi's mother hugged her back and taking the letter, looked at it with her excited daughter. "It says that we need to reply to this letter within thirty days and with the attached medical forms completed." Ikuko raised both eyebrows as she added, "Along with a very large check."

Usagi stopped jumping and snatched the letter back. "What? I don't want to go to the doctor!"

Ikuko smiled as Usagi peered closely at the letter, trying to find a loophole. Her little girl had never enjoyed a visit to the family physician. All though the days of dragging a screaming Usagi into the office were gone, it was still difficult to get her to go without a minor fuss.

"I'm sure it's just routine, honey. Most colleges just want to make sure you're up to date on your inoculations and that you're not carrying some hideous, communicable disease that they could be sued over. It'll probably be little more than a blood test."

Well", Usagi grumbled unhappily, "if I have to get a little blood drawn to get into college, I suppose that's a sacrifice I'm willing to make."

Even as she said the words, a chill ran down Usagi's spine. In the years to come, she would realize that it was actually a rare flash of precognition that had disturbed her that day. The receipt of that letter had marked the beginning of the end. Her life as Tsukino Usagi would come crashing down around her in a way she could never have imagined.