Happy New Year everyone! I hope you've all enjoyed your holidays. I'm sorry if the next two chapters are a bit longer, but they are my favorites. There was not much back story about Makoto's parents except that they died in a plane crash when she was ten or so. Since I found it a bit unreasonable that a 14-year old lives alone, I tweaked the story a bit. I hope it does not ruin the reading experience.
Things to look for:
Les Vesinet: Suburb near Paris.
Hattori Nutrition College and Le Cordon Bleu: Culinary schools in Tokyo. The former got quite famous after being featured in "The Iron Chef".
Tottoro: An animated movie made by Studio Ghibli. Studio Ghibli has made movies like "Kiki's delivery service", "Princess Mononoke", "Ponyo" plus many more.
Sagawa Express: A major transportation company with its headquarters in Kyoto.
Coming up now is Sailor Jupiter! What is going on now for her?
Chapter five: The sailor of thunder and courage.
My eyes then glanced at the list of those I had to send New Year's cards to. 'Grandpa…grandma…my uncle…my employees at the bakery…the sailor girls in Tokyo…wait a second' I thought when I noticed something. Hotaru's envelope had no address on it. 'Pretty sure she moved out of Tokyo for a couple months ago. I better text her' I thought as I pulled up my cell phone. 'Hello Hotaru. Could you please send me your new address? I don't have it on my New Year's card list. Xoxo Makoto' I typed in.
'Great' I thought as I laid the last card in the envelope. My husband had taken the children to the cinema while I could enjoy a peaceful night. Don't misunderstand me; I love to have my family around. But it can be a bit noisy sometimes. I felt a small sting in my chest when I remembered my own parents.
They died in an airplane crash for about 15 years ago when I was just ten years old. I then moved to my grandparents who lived in another part of Tokyo. They rented out the apartment to save up for later. When I turned 14, they both retired so I volunteered to move to a small apartment in Tokyo. My grandparents were a bit reluctant but I knew it would be better for them this way. The childcare services agreed on two conditions. One: I had to visit my grandparents during the weekends as well as the major holidays. Two: I had to share an apartment with an adult that my grandparents knew.
That adult was one of my older cousins who worked as an executive in a catering business. I had always loved cooking, but it took off from then. Not to mention that I met Usagi a couple weeks later. My mouth then turned into a smile when I remembered how my life changed back then.
A couple of months after Galaxia had been defeated, Rini went back home. She had now officially finished her training as a sailor scout. The sailor scouts had very few to no missions after our worst enemy so far had been defeated. I found this to be a good thing because we only had two years left prior to our university entrance exams. When I started on my second year, I became the president of the school's cooking club together with one of the seniors. Usagi joined the cooking club a little later and we had a lot of fun together. But I can also recall going clubbing, singing karaoke plus having slumber parties with the sailor scouts. There was one time where we had a 'super-karaoke-showdown' at Christmas where the winner would get a gift card at the jewelry shop where Naru's (AN: Molly in the American dub) mother worked. It was a pretty intense showdown (I had lost in the first round against Minako) but the finalists were Minako as well as Michuru. The latter came out as the winner after a close call.
I also decided to join the athletics club due to my need to exercise. It was something that was apparently in my blood. My parents were complete opposites physically. My dad looked like the average Japanese man colour-wise; he had pitch black hair with matching brown eyes. But that was when the similarities stopped. He was a whopping 180 cm (AN: 5 feet 11 inches) tall with a rather burly muscle build. My mother on the other hand was a petite 158 cm (AN: 5 feet and 2 inches) tall with a slim body built. She did however have emerald green eyes plus naturally curly fair hair. It was darker than Usagi or Minako's but lighter than my auburn locks. My grandmother told me that my father had a third dan in judo and had trained since he was merely nine years old.
One of my major worries about entering university was the costs. All of my grandparents were fortunately still alive but my maternal ones lived in Kyoto. Two of my uncles already had a family while my aunt did not have much of a connection with me. The main reason for this was because she taught Japanese in Les Vesinet (I only saw her once a year or so).
My paternal grandparents told me they had saved up enough money to afford a two-year course. Mamoru told me that I should attempt to get an orphan scholarship since he had done that when he started studying at university. His scholarship had apparently paid half of his year abroad studies and I decided to give it a go.
There were not a lot of culinary schools to choose from in Tokyo, so I decided to apply for all of them. I started to attend a public cramming school in physics as well as mathematics in order to improve my grades a little. The reason for this was that all of the schools required a copy of my high school diploma. In my spare time, I helped out my cousin in her catering business in order to practice my cooking skills. The last year of high school was my most busy year but it paid off. Even though my first school of choice (Hattori Nutrition College) had turned me down, Le Cordon Bleu had accepted my application. I was not the only one to get accepted into a school. Rei had been enrolled into Bunkyo Gakuin University, Usagi was now accepted into Toita Women's College, Ami would continue her education at Tokyo Medical and Dental University while Minako was now a student at Soka University. All of us would stay in Tokyo during our further education but not at the same school.
Studying at a culinary school was like a dream come true for me. My grandparents were ecstatic and so were I. Another plus was that I got an orphan scholarship that would pay my first year plus the equipment required. This meant that I did not have to worry about the financial part, which was a HUGE relief. There were about 20 students in each class but some had a bit more. The downside was that I did not know any of the students in my new class; some of them were already out of their teens. I had decided to go into pastry since I loved baking cakes more than anything else. The first year was where we learned the basics on how to make French pastry. Some of the stuff on the curriculum were how to make sour dough for brioche, logic thinking of how to use ingredients as well as how basic cream should be made. The schedule was all right; I had Wednesdays off so I could spend some time catching up as well as exercising. I enrolled at a local karate club to continue my training. My skills were a bit rusty because I did not train them that much when I was a teenager (you don't have time to exercise when you're busy fighting against evil aliens).
Culinary school was a bit harder than I had expected due to the logical thinking. I was more of a practical person who learned more from doing rather than reading or solving equations. At least I had a lot of practice thanks to my hobby cooking plus the time I had worked for my cousin. My teachers gave me nice feedback in cases where we had to bake cakes mixed with fruit. I have to thank Usagi as well as Ami for this one; they both loved my cherry pie as well as my strawberry shortcake.
I had put romance on the shelf after I had turned 17 due to my focus on getting into university. Plus that I have had my share of unlucky encounters through my teens. One of them was Tiger's Eye while another had been the host of a star seed. But this changed when I was put on the same group with a guy during a baking event at the end of my first year. His name was Tatsuo Kimura and had just changed class (he was studying bakery). One thing that made him stand out was his height; he was an incredible 178 cm (AN: 5 feet and 10 inches) tall with a somewhat lanky body. He claimed it was due to his high metabolism.
Tatsuo was a relatively nice guy who did not seem to be put off that I could carry heavy boxes without too much struggle. His father was the executive of a foreign bakery chain while his mother was working as a senior hairdresser. Another thing was that he was not as unreliable as some of the guys I had dated. I remember one particular occasion where I was too ill to attend school. Tatsuo was nice enough to send in my assignment plus picking up my uniform at the laundry service on campus. We started dating in October that year.
But I could not let this get to my head; my second year was a lot more challenging than the first one. Our new curriculum had things like the French petite fours plus introduction to bread baking. But one of the hardest new things was how you could create things with chocolate. Using chocolate in bakery was not easy; we had to learn different dipping techniques for example. Not to mention that it was quite delicious as well…thank Kami that we were under strict supervision. Another new thing (which was more fun) was the artistic part of our cooking. Let's just say that I have never thought of a cake piper in the ways I did during the decoration process of a cake.
Despite that the second year was busy, I tried to find times to spend time with Tatsuo. Some of the things we did were to watch Jackie Chan movies since we were both fans of him or visit the library. I then decided to ask him to be my boyfriend right after I had turned 20. To my huge relief, he said yes. We continued to support each other through my third and last year. Some of the main things we had to learn were how to personalize our cakes plus combining all that we had learnt so far. These things were not as hard as I had feared but I struggled a bit with the former. I had to go through my mind in order to come up with a style. My choice then felt on my sailor scout colours plus my symbol. This was right in time for our graduation exam where we had to show our work. I was quite nervous at that day to say at the least. But the chefs who were examining us were satisfied and I was then handed my diploma. I was now an official pastry chef!
Tatsuo was on his last year of the program while I had started to work as a novice pastry chef in a cake-baking company. The pay was a bit low, but I knew I would get paid more once I became more experienced. My senior was a nice woman named Yuka who had been in the business for nearly ten years. Some of the tasks I had to do were to help her clean up (not unexpected but still boring) as well as sharing some of her workload. The latter proved out to be quite helpful since the company had all sorts of cakes. One particular experience I remember was when I had to help making a wedding cake for a winter wedding. I had to mix the peach filling plus decorating the cake with white chocolate. The executive pastry chef gave me a number of tips that I made sure to write down in my tips-book. This book contained a lot of advices and tricks that people had given me (I still have it). It felt good when the cake was sent to the wedding nine days later. What made it more amazing was when the newly-wedded couple sent us a thanking card for making the lovely cake. All of it had apparently been eaten up. Afterwards, I was given more responsibility in the baking process. A majority of these were "easier" cakes that people had ordered for birthdays or company events. I was also given the chance to participate in making more complex cakes such as wedding cakes or cakes ordered for anniversaries.
I swallowed a small lump in my throat when I remember the first cake that I made from scratch. It was a birthday cake for a girl who was going to turn 13. The cake itself was made out of a thin layer of white marzipan with a sprinkle of cocoa powder at the top. She was apparently so pleased with it that her parents had recommended it to their friends. Tatsuo graduated at the end of that year plus that he had gotten a job in Tokyo. But the hitch was that this job would only last for about a year…what was he going to do afterwards?
He told me that he had plans to work at the new café that his fathered had planned to open in Kyoto next fall. I thought a bit on that as well because my contract would expire in two years. His family then invited me to join them on a two week holiday to Paris. I said yes immediately for two reasons. One: I could visit my aunt. Two: I could possibly fit in a cooking class there. Even though the flight was long, it was DEFINITELY worth it. My aunt was thrilled to see me because I had not seen her since my college graduation.
The holiday also gave me an opportunity to discuss my relationship with Tatsuo. He was going to move next year and I told him that I was willing to move with him. We had been together for nearly three years plus that we were adults with steady jobs. My nerves were on the high end but my boyfriend agreed. But there was a hitch; I had to find a job there. I called my grandparents once I was back in Kyoto plus that I sent heaps of job applications to the city. I then landed a job at a company that delivered cakes to various bakeries in the city right before my 25th birthday. The payment was the same as the one in my current job but I could advance a little faster due to my experience. When the following summer arrived, I packed my things to move into the two-room apartment Tatsuo had found (I let him be in charge of that part). My grandparents gave me my parent's old apartment since I had a steady job. I decided to rent it out because I was going with Kyoto with Tatsuo. Kyoto was an exciting city despite that it was smaller than Tokyo was. My boyfriend had gotten an all right internship while I started out as a semi-fresh pastry chef. But it was not as fun as I had thought it would be since I got a higher number of tasks outside of my comfort zone. The work paid off though since I became an executive pastry chef two years later. Tatsuo was elated and so was I. But there were more surprises to arrive…
The first sign was when I missed my period. I thought it was just stress because of the hectic time at the bakery. But when I started to feel nauseous close to my 27th birthday, it was time to take action. I booked a doctor appointment to make sure I had not gotten a disease or something. Vomiting on the job was by no means any fun because the cakes had to be bacteria free. The results arrived eleven days later…I WAS PREGNANT! I had always wanted to have a child (or two really) but I had to discuss this with Tatsuo because he was the father.
He was a bit in shock when I told him that I was carrying his child. My boyfriend told me that he would need a couple of days to think about this. After three days, he told me that he wanted to keep the baby if I wanted to as well. I was over the moon…I was going to be a mother!
The first trimester was a bit tough due to my morning sickness. One of my colleagues told me that using ginger as well as peppermint in my diet could work. Another advised me to get plenty of sleep plus avoiding strong smells. I tried out all of them and they worked perfectly fine. The rest of my pregnancy went relatively well apart from my egg cravings. Plus that I felt a little sad when I could not train karate as much as I liked to.
But I was not the only one who was expecting. It appeared that the whole sailor scout circle was getting pregnant together. We had a baby bash at the 5th of May since it was children's day. Usagi had about a month left, Rei was on her sixth month while Minako and Ami were three months along.
My baby girl then announced her entrance to the world in the middle of June. I was at home, so I called the ambulance straight away. Tatsuo arrived five hours later because he had been in Yokohama that day to meet a friend of his. It was a good thing that I was in good physical shape or else the birth would have been harder. A nurse then handed me my baby girl after about eight hours of pushing. She had inherited my eyes but she had without a doubt her father's nose. We decided to name her Masami after my paternal grandmother. My grandparents as well as my boyfriend's parents were ecstatic when they heard about this.
The first two months were a bit hectic because my daughter had a sleeping rhythm that was a bit out of the kilter. We decided to sleep on shift until her bedtime got a bit more sensible. Ami came to visit me a little bit later to see how I was doing. She was a bit anxious herself, but I cannot blame her since she worked in a hospital. Masami was a relatively healthy baby who did not cry that much and Tatsuo went back to work six weeks after her birth. I was a little anxious being away for ten months because of my executive position. But my boss ensured me it would be fine. I started working 50% ten months later and became the tutor assistent of two new pastry chefs who were both fresh out of school. Both of them were girls who had just graduated from a new culinary school in Kyoto and were eager to start working. Tatsuo and I then discussed if we should become owners of the place where he worked. The money I had earned via renting out my apartment would give us a nice start. An accountant was currently renting my apartment (he had a two year contract). We spoke with my boyfriend's parents and they both agreed as long as we kept some of the staff members like the accountant plus the cleaning staff. We said yes and we then discussed if we should give Masami a sibling. We tried out and I became pregnant again.
This pregnancy went better than the first; I did not have any morning sickness. Tatsuo kept working while I cut down my job percentage to 50-60% until my eight month. It was hard to keep a business going but at least we had some experience. My baby then arrived to the world close to Chinese New Year's eve and it was a boy. We decided to name him Toru after Tatsuo's maternal grandfather. My baby boy slept a bit more than his sister but he demanded more food. My boyfriend joked that he had probably inherited his appetite. I found it good was good because Toru would probably be bigger than average thanks to our genes. Masami entered kindergarten a couple months later while I returned to work ten months after my son's birth. We both worked 50% until Toru became two years old. It was not easy to co-ordinate our work but at least we were more in charge of our working hours. Toru entered kindergarten about a year before Masami was enrolled into elementary school. She had apparently inherited my love for martial arts according to her P.E teacher, so I signed her into judo lessons. Toru however was a bigger fan of kendo (no surprise since his father trained it as well) and started his lessons quite recently. Our café is doing just fine; we get a steady stream of costumers. We decided to let our family use my Tokyo apartment as long as they pay a small fee to us for it.
A small 'bip-bip-bip' rang through the room. I picked up my phone and noticed that Hotaru had replied. 'So that's her new address huh…not a bad spot to live in' I thought before I wrote down the address at the envelope. A smile formed onto my face since that was my last envelope.
"MUMMY!" shouted two voices that came from the entrance. A smile formed onto my face when I realized that my family had returned. "How was the movie?" I inquired after I had given them a hug. "It was AMAZING!" exclaimed Toru with wide hazel eyes. "Mhm! I had no idea what sort of movie Tottoro was until I saw it! I really liked it!" replied Masami with a gleam in her forest green eyes. "Good to hear that…I really enjoyed Tottoro too. Why don't you two throw your laundry in the laundry basket while I make some omelet for evening food?" I suggested. "Do we have to?" groaned my son. "Yes, you do. I can't clean your clothes if they're not in the laundry" I answered. Both of my kids went upstairs while my boyfriend returned with a huge smile. "Guess what Mako-chan?" inquired the guy. "What?" I asked. "We just got two nice orders from Sagawa Express! They want us to make two cakes for their event in five weeks!" exclaimed Tatsuo. My eyes widened in joy. "REALLY? That's AMAZING!" I yelled before I hugged my boyfriend. Jupiter had given me the strength I needed to fulfill my degree, being a good girlfriend plus giving birth to two lovely children. And strength was a vital quality to have in order to get through life.
I hoped you liked the chapter! Please read and review! I appreciate constructive reviews. They don't have to be long but one-liners are a bit too short in my opinion.