A NAIVE AFFECTION
There's this drunk girl outside my window. Eight stories up, I look down at her. She's peering up at me, smiling and waving. I guess that she's smiling, I can't make out that tiny dot of a face. But I'd know that girl anywhere. Countless photos of that same girl, shared over the internet in exchange for mine for the past few years. This girl who I haven't seen since sixteen, is waiting for me.
Outside in the heat, a sudden visit, downstairs waving in the dark…
I don't wave back, just leave the window and make my way down to her. I hit the outside air with a start, stopping just short of running into her. She backs up instantly, hands behind her back and a bright grin. She tips back and forth on her heels as she waits.
Round-toed, black stilettos she's scuffing as she makes a nervous fidget.
I'm staring at her shoes when I should be looking her in the eye. But I can't. I have a new hesitance, I don't want to deal with her tonight. Maybe morning would be better, but I know she's not going to wait for it. Something so pressing as this and I leave…She'd have my head. I watch her feet stop suddenly, they shine in the lamplight. I wonder if I really care about this girl. I must, because I look up when she says my name, so solid I wonder if her high is fading.
"Ishida Yamato," she holds out a hand, I take it, "you're taller."
I expect anything but a shake, but that's exactly what she does. It's firm and I give her a raised brow look of surprise. She smiles, lets go of my hand. She looks at me with wide, eager eyes, waiting for a similar observation of herself. I don't have one for her. I can't push any words out of my mouth, nothing seems to want to come. I could tell her she's the same, maybe taller but she's got those heels on…
"I'm taller too…but these," she bends one knee and taps at the heel of one stiletto, then stomps it back in place, "Well you'll just have to take my word for it."
She's laughing now, running quick hands in and out of her bright pink hair in a second. It falls about her shoulders, a fuller appearance than before. Her hair's shorter I notice, if straight it'd only come a few inches past her shoulders when just yesterday it fell waist-length. The ends are curled and they bounce and fall off her shoulders as she takes one hop closer.
I can't help a laugh at this.
She's smiling up at me with glazed over eyes, still waiting. "You…are the first person I've come to see tonight. Be flattered."
"You'll be even more flattered…because you're the only person I've come to see. Actually."
"More than a privilege."
"What's more than a privilege?"
She takes a moment, then says dreamily, "I'm beyond a privilege for you, Yama, I'm your birthday surprise."
"My present then."
"A gift of the heart, my simple presence in this very country, standing in front of you right now, just for this single day of sweet July. I'm yours for today, this…humid night."
"Just this night."
"You'll be gone tomorrow."
She nods. "America's waiting…all my American friends that are so fond of me…" She laughs for a long while at this, then pulls as straight a face as possible before saying, "My dad…my mom and dad expect me home soon. Soon as two more days I mean."
"And Tachikawa Mimi's here— Japan, just to see me on my birthday?"
"Today…you're turning twenty, it's a special occasion. I had to be here. Make sure you had a day…not just any day, but a day worthy of you."
She's just smiling like all this is completely normal, everything she's saying is fact and I'm to believe it all without question. I don't question, I just return the smile and give into this urge I've had for months now. A simple touch to her cheek, a kiss to her curved lips, no leaning because she's as tall as me in her heels. She tastes of fruit and alcohol concoctions. She locks her arms around my neck, gets closer.
The kiss doesn't last long; I pull back, still trapped in her loose arms. This, kissing her on the street, feels wrong. Like it's not supposed to happen. It's impulsive, it's odd, it's something we've been talking about for the past two weeks. It's happening when we never thought it would. I feel her hands at the back of my neck, fingers moving up into my hair. I'm waiting for it all to feel right.
She grins because it's all right to her, this is just another day and I fit in perfectly.
"I thought that would last a lot longer…" she whispers, another kiss but chaste at my cheek before she lets me go.
I know she's drunk because of the message she left me to look out my window, but now, now she only seems like herself. Or at least what I remember of her. Right now, I feel as though I don't know her beyond short messages, random pictures, and distant memories of that little girl in her pink cowboy hat. I look at her now and she's anything but that little girl so long ago. She's grown up, she's drunk, she's effervescent.
"You'll make up for it later." She takes my hand again, this time only holds onto it gently. "Right now I want you to come here."
I hold her hand tighter when she tugs me forward, willing to do anything with her right now. She's charming even when inebriated, if not more so and she's the only present I've gotten today, by anyone. How could I refuse the only one to have shown a care?
"Just in the light…just here," she mutters, stopping us both directly under the street light. She frames my face in her hands for a moment, then slides them down to stop at my chest. She grips the black fabric of my t-shirt there and squints her eyes.
"You're paler than I thought," she says.
We laugh, soft and fleeting, both looking off into the space between us. Her fisted hands relax and lay flat against me, smoothing out any small wrinkles she may have created. I don't check for any, I don't care, my eyes are on her hands. Black polished nails a stark contrast to her fair skin under the light. When they stop their trivial task, I see that they're shaking slightly. I look up to find her eyes but their hidden under thick black lashes. I wonder for a moment if she's stuck on fake ones, or if she's laden them with ten layers of mascara.
I press her chin up with my hand, run a light hand down her cheek. "Just as pale as you…"
She shakes her head, puts on a smile when she meets my eyes. "No, because I have a tan. Can't you tell?"
She looks disconcerted for a moment, says with a bit of humor in her voice, "Well it's fake." A smile, "Maybe it faded."
I smile because she looks out of place, like she's waiting for me to make her feel like this is right, make her feel like this is rational. That being here with me is everything she's fooled herself into believing, and worth the long trip. I'm not sure how to do that.
I only think to tell her, "I'm glad you came."
This seems to work for and against me at the same time. Her smile brightens, but she blinks back tears. Drops catching at the corners of her eyes, never slipping.
"I knew you didn't want me to do anything for your birthday but…well I couldn't resist seeing you again."
She nods. "Yes. And I have something for you."
"I thought this was it. Just you."
"No…no, I have something else too."
She steps back, takes the large bag off her shoulder and searches in it for a while. She mumbles something I can't make out, knits her brow for a second, then grins. "Ah…" she shoulders her olive-colored messenger bag and adds, "a more…traditional gift for you, Yama."
I stare at the small box in the middle of her outstretched palm. I glance back up to her, see her optimistic smile, then take the package. She bounces up and down like a small child, as if it's her own present, clutching the strap to her bag.
"Open it, Ishida, go on."
I laugh at her sweet-toned impatience and tear away the perfect blue wrapping along with the small silver bow on top. As soon as it's off she holds out both hands to retrieve the ruined paper. She takes it, crumples it up into a ball and stows it in her bag since there's no trashcan around us.
I open the box and find a small black creature, LOVE written in red across its forehead, and fat red hearts for eyes. I have no idea what it is. She sees the look on my face and offers,
I make another face. She grins.
"USB flash drive…thingy."
I stare at the odd thing, still in the box, and forget to say thank you. She takes it out of the box and pops the top off (half of its head and bear-like ears), showing the connecting part, then snaps it back into place. "It's cute, right?"
It's not such a bad gift, just strange, I give her a grin when she places it in my hand and stashes the box in her bag. I slip it into a front pocket of my jeans and remember my manners,
"You're welcome…" she steps forward, kisses me with her smiling mouth, twice, "you're welcome."
I try and catch her arm but she steps away before I can get hold of her. My hand clasps air and she laughs, folds her hands behind her back again. I stuff my hands in my pockets and we watch each other like that for a while, soaked in the golden light of the lamp behind us. She shakes her head very slightly at one point and opens her mouth as if to speak, something sweet I'm sure, that doesn't make it out. She waits a few more moments, then blurts out,
"I've actually been in Odaiba for three hours."
I want to laugh at this, but don't. She's ringing her fingers with a most distraught look on her face. She's completely serious.
Realization dawns and I give her a smile as if to say 'it doesn't matter to me', because I don't feel like I need to say that to her. But it's not enough, she just frowns.
I give a shrug. "Three hours you go out, party, and get wasted. Your first trip back home in years and you have some fun." I try another smile, a grin even, because it's all pretty humorous to me.
She sighs and tells me, "I couldn't come over here and see you…"
"You're here right now. That's good enough."
She doesn't seem to think so. She places her hands on her hips and looks almost angrily at me. "You don't get it." I gesture for her to go on and explain. She takes a deep breath, crosses her arms and says in words I have to lean forward to hear, "I was afraid to see you. I couldn't."
She actually smiles then, but it's brief. "I came straight here…I was just outside your building, here, and…" her eyes search the pavement separating us.
"Well, I left. I waited here for ten minutes just trying to get up enough courage to call you to come down and see me…" she smiles an embarrassed smile and rocks back and forth on her heels again, "I went out for a few drinks and I finally find that courage I was searching for..."
With her confession she can't seem to look me in the eye anymore. Her cheeks are pink and she fidgets with her hands, black nails biting into the skin at her arms.
"More than a few drinks, right?"
She gives me an annoyed glance but smiles anyway. She shakes her head and starts with her feet again. My attention is brought back to her stilettos, and as they kick more and more into the hard cement, I'm sure they'll be ruined. I wonder if she realizes this because I'm sure she would care if she was sober. I start laughing. Never did I think I'd see the day of a drunk Mimi. I realize she's probably been drunk before, who knows how many times, back in New York.
I don't want to think about this though. The Mimi I know is pure and innocent. She doesn't get drunk, she doesn't do drugs, and she doesn't party for hours. But here she is…and I can't ignore it.
"You were scared…you still are." She doesn't say anything to this, her eyes on her shoes. "You're shaking."
She lets out a breathless laugh and hides her hands, her blush intensifying. I immediately regret my words. I just made her situation worse when she probably didn't think it possible. She stops moving completely, doesn't even blink as she stares downward. I don't expect her to speak but she does.
"You never seemed like you really wanted to see me again…you never said anything about meeting. I didn't know if you'd care…" She finally gives me a tearful glance and my breath catches. "I wasn't sure if you'd really come down. I know it's sudden…" she wipes at her eyes quickly and takes a steadying breath, but her words are still shaky, "I thought you might ask me why I was here."
"I thought you'd know better than that…we're friends, we talk all the time."
"Just talking, never about much and never for too long."
"I don't think that matters."
I shake my head. "You flew what, fourteen hours just to see me on my birthday...that's all that matters tonight."
She seems relieved, gives me the sincerest smile I've seen tonight. I see her sway just a bit, and I remember her state. I close the distance between us and put firm hands at her waist. She presses against me and puts her arms around my neck again, hiding her face in the crook of my neck. I don't feel her trembling anymore. I smile, press a kiss into her newly pink hair. She smells of vanilla and cigarettes.
"You're crazy for doing this, you know…"
I hear her muffled laugh but she doesn't say anything.
"Almost midnight, and you're in Odaiba, Japan, when you should be at home in America... Your parents will be pissed."
"They already are."
"I have this urge to call them and tell them you're okay."
Another laugh and she lifts her head to give my neck the quickest of kisses before resting against me again. "I don't care about them."
I let my hands slip to her back, wrap my arms around her and squeeze her tighter. "You should." Touching her is making me sweat, I feel my shirt dampen as I hold her with minutes passing. She's sweating too, I feel the buildup at my neck where her hands rest. We should know better than extended hugs on hot summer days. But we don't care.
"You really shouldn't drink, Mimi. Not to the point of drunkenness."
She giggles softly, and I'm thrilled for this laugh.
"I won't do this again, I wont."
"Thank you, sweetheart."
"You really like your gift, Yamato?"
"I have one just like it…I thought it was so cute when I saw it. I think I forgot you were a guy when I got an extra one for you."
"It's just fine."
"You'll use it?"
"Good…it cost sixty bucks American."
"For that little thing…"
"Adorable things are worth everything." She giggles and pulls back to look me in the eye. I notice they're faintly bloodshot, free of tears, but glinting with something else. "That's why I came to see you."
She moves back, aligns her body with mine and lays her head to my shoulder. "My friends said this was a bad idea…but I don't regret it..."
She trails off and I think of one friend who was probably against this. A face I'd seen just last night in a photo, a close-up of her and Mimi at some nightclub, glowing smile, glowing nails, glowing top. I try and remember the name of the girl. Mimi had told me, but I can't remember. Sarah…Sonia…something. Her hair had been as outrageous as Mimi's, white with blue highlights.
"Oh!" She pulls away suddenly, breaking the lock of my arms around her. She reaches for her bag but stops short. "My phone's dead." She looks at me. "Do you have the time?"
I shake my head. "My phone's upstairs."
She looks anxious, grabs my hand and starts off for the doors of my building.
"The time," she says, "I have to see the time…"
We end up running through the building, to the elevator where we make a sudden stop. We have mirror looks on our faces as we see floor twelve lit up. It'll take forever for it to get down to us. She decides the wait is too much, pulls me down the hall towards the stairs. I groan when we burst through the door together, not wanting to do this at all.
The time can not be this important. I stop on the third step.
She stops on the first landing, looks down to me. "What? Come on."
She rushes down the stairs, grabs my hand again and tugs me up with her. I give in this time and run up the stairs, two at a time when I see her doing so. We're together most of the way but she falls back after a while, takes it one step at a time. I guess it's her heels and reach a hand back for her. She smiles and lets me pull her up the three stairs to mine. When she lands, she sways again, nearly falls back but I grab both her arms tight. She laughs and bends to slip both shoes off. Black shiny polish on her toes as well. We start up again, shoes gripped in her free hand.
"We're almost there…" she breathes. "Right?"
Two more flights. My legs are killing me once we finally reach my floor, thighs and lungs on fire. Mimi's doubled over beside me catching her breath as I fumble with my keys.
I get the right key to slip in this time. "Worth it I hope?" I twist the key and handle at the same time and look back over to her.
She stands up with a grin, flushed even more so than before and I can only imagine my face right now. "Yes," she pauses and pushes wet hair out of her face, "Yes, it'll be worth it."
The apartment is cooler than outside and we both breathe a sigh of great relief as the air rushes our skin. I lean my back against the closest wall and watch as Mimi goes for my cell phone lying on the couch. She plops down and picks it up, the screen illuminating her face as she presses a button.
A smile spreads across her face, she glances up to my watching eyes.
"11:51," she says. "Perfect."
She only gives a nod and starts looking around the apartment. Her eyes stop at the cigarette pack on the coffee table. She gives me a very stern look and picks them up.
"You really shouldn't smoke, Yamato."
I take a deep breath, let it out. "I know."
Her face turns to concern and she looks unbelievably cute like that, sitting there worrying about my bad habits while the time ticks away…I remind her of it with a point to my bare wrist. She starts.
"Oh…" She looks around more, then rests her eyes on me. "Well you must have a lighter around here somewhere, right?"
I move to get it, and as I do, I hear her shuffling through her bag, muttering to herself again. I think it might be about me smoking, but I don't dwell on it. I snatch the silver lighter from the kitchen countertop and come back to her, forgetting not to take my time.
I stop and look up when I hear her soft voice. She's sitting there barefoot and cross-legged on my couch, holding a cupcake in her hands with a single blue candle on top. She's looking so pleased, I swear she's glowing.
As I do, I hand her the lighter. She holds the flame to the wick until it ignites, then sets the lighter beside the cupcake's clear container on the coffee table. The small flame is a brilliant one, being the only light in the dark apartment. Chocolate with vanilla frosting…
"Five till midnight…" she says, "Happy birthday."
She smiles and looks at me with her bright brown eyes above the flame. Mascara smudged eyes and so hopeful it makes me feel a sickening guilt for earlier…for everything else. Right now I only want her to remember today and nothing beyond it.
"Hurry up, Yamato…it'll be midnight soon. Make a wish."
My eyes refocus, I smile and blow the small flame out. Smoke drifts up between us and she lowers the cupcake, hands resting at the gray skirt covering her thighs. I find myself staring at it there, I feel her eyes on me, look up to find her watching me intently. I wonder if she's waiting for a 'thank you', but she acts before I can say anything.
She gets up, puts the chocolate cupcake back in its container, and returns to me on the couch. She gets closer, kneels on the cushions and takes my face in her warm hands. Her fingers a soft caress as they move on my skin.
The kiss is slow, even hesitant somewhat at first, but firm and lasting. I wonder for brief seconds if we'll ever get to that point beyond sweet kisses, if we'll ever really reach fervent. We teeter on the edge, so close to something more, passionate even but she stops suddenly.
I rest my forehead against hers for a moment, feel her warm breath brush my lips as she exhales and I touch a finger to her chin. We lock eyes and I find her smiling faintly.
"Your wish Yama…what did you wish for?"
For a second I think that telling her will make it happen. I kiss her lips just once and light.
"You." She leans forward, breath held in, and I press a kiss into the soft flesh just below her mouth, "Another night with you, Mimi-san…"
x. My friend kept laughing at the Mimobot thing, but it is real and you can get one from Mimoco. com...
x. Besides the bot, I hope you enjoyed this. I realized I had never written a story with Mimi having pink hair…and I love her pink hair, so thus this story was created.
x. Present tense is hard for some reason. I hope I didn't slip up too much on this…
THANKS FOR READING