Author's Note: This is the next story that I promised to make. This is actually another Jenruki story and this is to get back for publishing a Rylice fan fiction. The one I just finished was just an experiment in the fan fiction world.
Right now, I'll be happy if you will read and review this story. It means a lot to me now that I'm back to writing a Jenruki because Christmas break is fast approaching and I got all the time that I needed to write again. Thank you very much! :D
Chapter 1: Second Chance At Life
Inside a hospital, an auburn-haired girl was lying on the hospital bed. She was diagnosed with leukemia and she was already pale with her lips turning a bit blue. Her hair was draped around her shoulders but there was no life within them. It was as if she was losing her strength gradually.
"Rika, dear… Please! Don't leave us yet!" Mrs. Nonaka sobbed as she saw her dying daughter before her eyes. "We love you so much!"
"Mom…" Rika said, trying her best to speak even if she had a hard time already. "Whatever happens, I love you and Grandmother."
Then Rika closed her eyes forever and draped her hand on her white blanket.
"RIKAAAAAAAAAA!" Mrs. Nonaka cried harder as she started mourning for her deceased daughter. "RIKAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAA!"
At present, a young auburn-haired woman was sitting in her office and writing something in a small red notebook. Her hair was tied in a nice pony tail and she applied some makeup on her face while she was wearing a red short-sleeved blouse with a pair of black slacks together with maroon flat shoes. There was no single trace of her past in her face as she was writing something.
She was very much alive right now and was back to her old life once again. After she was given another chance, she then chose to live her second life to the fullest. But now, even if she was having the second chance, she was still trying to figure out the puzzle of love. If she was given another chance, how could she find the old love that she turned away because of her presumed death?
Where was he? Rika thought wistfully as she wondered about her first love.
Her thoughts brought her back to the past. She was diagnosed with a rare blood disease and she did not tell her boyfriend about it because she did not want to see him suffer because of him taking care of her and how would he react if she was finally gone.
I missed you, Henry, Rika thought. I hope that you'd forgive me for what I did.
When she actually died, according to her mother, they were still in denial with the fact that she was truly gone. But in reality, Rika had been in the purgatory for just three hours because of her death. She had been given another chance to live by the creator of her life just because it was not yet really her time and seeing the pain of her family when she left.
Rika woke up and felt the unusual energy surging through her. She did not feel as if she got totally sick and died.
"Mom?!" Rika asked. "Grandma?!"
At that point, Mrs. Nonaka and Grandma Seiko could not believe what they saw.
"Rika?!" Mrs. Nonaka hugged her. "You're alive! Thank God!"
Right now, her main goal was to live her life to the fullest for real. After her recovery and survival, she studied in a university in Tokyo, became a librarian's assistant during her free time in order to support herself financially because at that time, her mother got accepted in a job in America and easily landed a job in order for her to earn for a living. Even if she was successful with her life right now, she was regretful with hiding what happened to her as well because he was so kind and devoted to her. And until now, she did not know where to find him.
Currently, she was an editor for a magazine in which she applied what she studied in college. But aside from proofreading other people's works, she was halfway finished with what she was writing. She wrote something related to her personal life but used fictitious characters as well. And now, she was still indecisive with the ending of the story since she herself had not found it yet.
"Girl kisses boy and they live happily ever after," Rika pondered as she was tapping the pen on her desk. "Too sappy!"
Even if she had a boyfriend of her own in the past, she still labeled the relationship as sappy and he understood it since she was still grasping the fact that she was in a relationship. But now, she longed for that feeling again: someone who could love her despite her imperfections.
It's kinda sappy for me since I don't really know how to end this story… Rika thought as she read the last paragraph once again. Because I'm still trying to find my missing happy ending as well… I wish I had my inspiration to do it.
For several minutes, her head was on a blur. She was thinking of what she would add when she heard her boss calling her.
"Rika," her employer called her.
Rika turned around and saw her employer, Naomi Kitara, who was clad in a traditional white long-sleeved buttoned shirt and a black skirt that went along with a pair of black flat shoes. She did not know why was she there or why was she standing around her cubicle.
"Yes, Ma'am?" Rika asked, surprised yet laid the pile of papers that she edited hours ago before she shifted to finishing what she was currently writing.
"I commend you for your endless dedication but please… don't stress yourself too hard," Naomi remarked. "You told me that you're given a second chance but you're not taking care of your health either."
Rika puffed a little air sheepishly at her employer's remark. "Sorry."
"I know you're sorry but that won't replace the hospital bills that you'll have when you get sick, Rika," Naomi joked.
Apart from her mother and grandmother, the ones she had told about her miracle revival were Mimi Tachikawa and Zoe Orimoto as well as her boss. The two young women used to be Rika's classmates in college and at the same time, her colleagues in the company. Well, Naomi became Rika's boss for two years and since the former did not have a child of her own, she treated the young auburn-haired woman as her daughter and even understood her idiosyncrasies as well.
"Anyway, long story short… You're going to be a candidate for promotion in the associate editorial position. So you're going to be a rank lower than Chiako," Naomi continued.
"Uhm… What about Mimi and Zoe?" Rika inquired.
"Mimi and Zoe are still writers," Naomi said with a laugh. "And besides, seeing your performance for the past two years, I think you deserve to get promoted."
Rika thought of the idea. "Hmm… I won't mind. I'm only adding a responsibility to my life as well."
"That's good," Naomi answered as if her voice was praising Rika as well.
However, Naomi saw what Rika was writing since the auburn-haired woman was holding her notebook and pen while talking to her.
"Rika, what's that?" the employer asked, pointing to what Rika was holding.
Rika's eyes went to the notebook. She felt nervous since she was finished editing the papers for the magazine so she ended up finishing her story as well.
"Uhm… It's nothing, Ma'am," Rika denied blatantly. "And I was done proofreading the papers submitted to me."
Naomi only raised an eyebrow. "Rika, it's alright. I'm not going to fire you for that. Seriously, what is that you're writing?"
Rika, feeling embarrassed for having her boss knowing her secret, slowly gave the notebook to her employer so she could explain. Suddenly, Rika's reaction turned from embarrassed to surprised since her boss mentioned the word "writing".
"You know?!" she asked in surprise. "You know that I write?!"
Naomi let out an amused laugh and held the notebook. "Of course, Rika. I knew that little black notebook for a long time already. I knew you're writing something inside and…"
Rika placed her palms on her face. "Don't say it, Ma'am Kitara…" she mumbled.
"And I read it," Naomi continued casually as she flipped its pages.
"And she did say it," Rika mumbled, feeling embarrassed for what she wrote. "Gosh, it's embarrassing."
Naomi smiled in an unorthodox manner. "No, Rika. It isn't embarrassing."
Rika snorted as she heard the comment. "Then what is it?" she asked.
"It's beautifully written," Naomi answered positively in order to cheer her ward up. "I read it a few weeks ago when you had coffee with your friends and it happened that I passed by. Apparently, you forgot to keep it so I somehow looked at your work-of-art. But don't worry about what I read. What's inside is really safe with me."
"Really?" Rika was surprised and amazed at the same time. "I can't believe it."
"Yes. And your illustrations really amazed me," Naomi answered until she had a suggestion. "Why don't you publish it as a book instead? You'll earn some and present a new genre to some readers, you know?"
Rika thought of the idea for a moment. Earning money and fame due to her published romance? Now that was something new. And for a cold hearted girl like her? Truly it was something new!
"Besides, it's not you who had seen it already. Zoe also saw this one. But I'll think about it, Ma'am…" Rika answered as Naomi returned her black notebook. "Besides, it's not yet finished. It hasn't got an ending yet."
Naomi laid a hand on the young woman's shoulder. "Don't worry, Rika. Find an inspiration then you can finish it in no time. Besides, you're the first employee here in Shinjuku Publishing who might end up turning her story into a book."
Rika smiled dryly and pondered the words of her employer and mentor. Before, she used to give her superior cold treatment because of the latter's cold behavior but it turned out that the reason behind Naomi's coldness was her frustration of not having a child. Now, Naomi managed to balance her neutral attitude and kindness towards the other people.
"Gee, thanks, Mrs. Kitara," Rika answered, actually did not know what to say because of Mrs. Kitara's encouragement.
"You're welcome," Mrs. Kitara replied and smiled at her.
When she heard the woman walking away noisily, Rika began to bend forward towards her desk as she thought about the matter. She gave a sigh as she massaged her temples.
Well, aside from working, maybe I guess it's time that I focus on something else, Rika thought. I've been stressing myself with nonsense when all I have to do is to enjoy my life.
Eventually, she pulled her bag which was located on her desk. She fished out another notebook that was hidden inside it. There she saw what she listed from the time she was sick. It was written in a yellow sticky note which was stuck at the first page of her planner because she was not sure if those were getting true at all. These were as follows:
1. Finish schooling
2. Get a job
3. Party All Night
4. Spend Money
Rika snorted as she realized how immature her plans were. She was only reading it whenever she opened her notebook. But because her first love invaded her mind for a couple of moments once again, she was even more determined to find him once again and apologize to him for not showing up for the past six years due to her lingering disease.
"Maybe it's time that I changed these wishes and turn them into reality," Rika remarked as she pointed what she wrote with her index finger. "After all, it's been six years since I last wrote these."
Rika eventually had an idea after she realized how long she had last wrote there. Since the four plans were only written in a sticky note, she decided to write all of her plans inside the actual pages of the notebook so she would have a logical proof that she had truly accomplished them. She grabbed her red pen and wrote everything what was in her mind right now in a scratch paper.
See My Friends
Go on a Vacation
See My Mom and Grandma
Find My Missing Happy Ending
"That's all I can think as of now." Rika sighed as she could not think of anything else yet she was not writing actually. She could have done so much if Jeri and Alice were here but they lost contact with each other for so long already. She did not even know where they went after graduation in high school.
Then the idea proposed by Naomi Kitara struck her again. She was in a quandary as well. Why not try giving her story a shot?
"Okay…" Rika concluded as she decided to add the publishing of her story to her plans in life. "Publishing a book… You're going to be here…"
When she rewrote everything to the blank page, she felt satisfied with what she had already.
1. See My Friends (My True and Best Friends)
2. Go on a Vacation
3. See My Mom and Grandma
4. Publish a Story
5. Find My Missing Happy Ending
"Finally…" Rika mumbled and noticed her watch. It already read as 4:30 P.M.
She looked again to verify if the time was true. When she saw the clock hanging on the wall, it was indeed true. It was 4:30 P.M. and she had been focused on paper for the past two hours.
"Hey, Little Miss Candidate for Associate Editor!" a cheerful female voice exclaimed.
Rika looked to the left and saw a blonde standing in front of her cubicle. It was Zoe Orimoto, a writer in the company. Gone was the young girl who had a lavender-colored bonnet for a hat. Now, she was wearing a simple short-sleeved and V-neck dress that went along with black pumps.
"Hi, Zoe!" Rika acknowledged as she saw the person in front of her. "Stop with the label. It's Rika, you know?"
Zoe Orimoto used to be her college friend in the University of Tokyo along with Mimi Tachikawa. At first, Rika found it hard to fit inside the circle but she managed to get in because Zoe had been always including her in girl-related activities, girl talks and other things that girls around their age would like. They first got bonded together after a huge fire destroyed Zoe and Mimi's dormitory which caused Rika to adopt them and make them as housemates. When they graduated altogether, the three of them applied at Shinjuku Publishing at the same time while Mimi and Zoe got reunited with their parents. They now live in the street just a few blocks away from Rika.
"Okay! Hey, Rika!" Zoe chirped as she saw the piled up work standing on Rika's desk. "Why so busy?"
"Oh nothing…" Rika denied. "It's just… there are so many things that are needed to be proofread. But I'm already done with the proofs."
Zoe smiled brightly. "Wow! Do I envy you!" she exclaimed. "What about your story? Is it finished? I can't wait to see what will happen to the girl if the boy tells her the lovey dovey!"
Rika snorted. Of all hopeless romantics she had as friends, Zoe was the worst and weirdest one ever.
"Uh… It's not yet finished, Zoe," Rika answered casually. "And you know what's worse?"
"What?" Zoe asked with a pout in her lips. "What do you mean what's worse?"
"Mrs. Kitara offered me to publish it as a book once it's done," Rika answered, recalling the quandary that she had earlier.
This sent Zoe into a never-ending state of giddiness as she learned the news.
"Really?!" Zoe exclaimed and this amplified her screaming voice once again. "That's nice!"
The blonde eventually ran towards Rika and gave her a bone-crushing hug.
"Zoe? What was it?" Rika asked, surprised because her friend just hugged her until she could hardly breathe.
"I'm so happy! Now my favorite story is going to become a book!" Zoe exclaimed in happiness.
Rika suddenly became frustrated because of she told about the suggestion of Mrs. Kitara. Curse me and my stupid mouth.
"I'm still not sure," Rika answered, trying to clear the situation that was impending in her system.
"And the writer who happens to be my idol will be the Associate Editor!" the blonde added cheerily. "You're so lucky!"
Rika only let out a sheepish smile because she did not want to be referred as that.
"Not yet. Besides, about the book… I'm still not sure," Rika answered while pausing. "But I placed it as my plans in life."
"Aww, Rika! You're such a downer!" Zoe replied as she and Rika broke away from each other. "You're so much of a talent! You can write and can even draw! How I wish I'm like you!"
Rika scratched her head as she heard that. She did not want anyone else to be like her.
"Uhm… Thanks?" Rika answered with uncertainty.
"You're welcome!" Zoe answered with a smile. "You're really my idol!"
How did Rika got to loosen up for Zoe and Mimi before? It was simple. The two reminded Rika of Alice McCoy and Jeri Katou. Well, it was not easy adjusting but she worked so hard on it.
"Anyway, have you eaten now?" Zoe asked.
"Not really," Rika answered as she compiled all her finished work on her desk. "I'm really not in the mood to have coffee or eat. I'm just tired."
"Oh…" Zoe mumbled. "Hmm…"
"What about you, Zoe?" Rika asked with interest. "What are you going to do after work?"
Zoe immediately turned bright red after hearing it. "Oh? Me? I'm going on a date with Koji tonight!" she squealed.
"Really?" Rika asked with interest. "How long have you two been together?"
"It's been three years, girl!" Zoe answered happily and began pointing the issue to Rika. "I'll get married once you get to have a boyfriend!"
Rika felt the unusual thing behind her single status once again.
"Oh I don't know about that, Zoe," Rika answered. "All I know is that I'll be waiting for the right man and right time for me."
Zoe sensed the answer. "You're such a virgin and a prude!" she stated with a laugh.
"What's wrong with it?" Rika asked, shrugging. "It's not yet the end of the world, you know?"
Zoe only shook her head in amusement. "I don't know about you but I'm gonna start finding one! Our female anatomy is waiting for a guy who'd be willing to exercise his male anatomy and spread his genes as well! You're too beautiful to be single!" she declared.
"If you're thinking about setting me on a date then I'm gonna pass," Rika answered as she waved her two hands. "I'm not into blind dating and I'm certainly not into dating as well. Not for now!"
Zoe shrugged in amusement as she heard her friend.
"Okay, Rika! Suit yourself! But don't tell me if you're in your thirties and you're still single!" Zoe chuckled.
"Of course I won't!" Rika answered in amusement as she took her bag and placed it on her shoulder. "If I'm meant to die a virgin, so be it!"
Then the young blonde went away from Rika's cubicle and walked towards her table.
"Okay," Zoe answered and saw the auburn-haired woman carrying her bag already. "Anyway, I'll see you tomorrow for our work!"
"Okay! I'll see you," Rika answered back as she walked outside her cubicle.
When Rika walked towards the hallway, she saw Mimi Tachikawa who was printing an important publication material on a photo paper.
"Hey, Rika!" Mimi greeted cheerfully. "Leaving so soon?"
Rika glanced at her watch and saw that the clock marked 5:00 P.M.
"Yes," Rika answered as she was walking. "I have so many things to do than just everything here."
Mimi seemed to understand since she did not know what to do when multitasking arises.
"Okay! Bye!" Mimi bid her goodbye. "Take care!"
Meanwhile, when Rika finally got to the elevator, she remembered her past life. She could not easily let go of the past especially when it was connected about him. Unfortunately, she could not focus once the thing was brought up.
Her thoughts were ruined when she met a young man in which she recognized as Junichi Madoka. He was a supervisor of the company who happened to have a tiny crush on Rika ever since she started working there.
"Hey there!" Junichi smiled at her upon seeing her.
Rika was surprised after she had to see Junichi standing in front of her.
"Uh. Hi?" Rika stammered. Oh no. Not again!
"Where are you going?" Junichi asked her in curiosity.
"I'm going home," Rika replied straightly. "I'm tired."
Junichi seemed not unfazed by the young woman's actions. "Do you want me to take you home?"
Rika eventually shook her head after she realized that she heard a tinge of chivalry inside the young man's body.
"No, thanks!" Rika refused politely. "I'm going to meet someone else before I get home so I'm really sorry."
Junichi only smiled like a gentleman towards her. "No problem!" he exclaimed. "Take care, okay?"
Rika only nodded since they were in a public place and she did not want to get branded as a woman who flirted with her superior. Actually, it was the superior who was trying to make advances towards her.
Stupid Junichi, Rika thought as she saw him walking away. Always barges in when I'm starting to think of something!
Eventually, when Rika saw that the young man was totally out of her sight, she continued walking towards the main door so she could hail a taxi and go home. She was already expecting traffic on her way home because it was already late in the afternoon and behavior of vehicles would not improve as of this moment.
As she stood in front of the main door of the office, she waited for a taxi until she saw one that pulled in front of her. She opened the door and hopped inside carefully. When she sat down, she saw that it was her mother calling.
"Hello, Mom?" Rika answered. Wow. After so many months, she called me in the phone!
"Hey, Sweetie!" Mrs. Nonaka greeted. "How are you?!"
"Mom, I'm gonna go home so I could set up the video conference. I really need to talk to you about something regarding money!"
"Money? I thought you're doing well with your current job?" Mrs. Nonaka asked from the other line.
"That's what I thought too," Rika explained and let out an unusual chuckle. "Well, I'm going to call you so I can update my process. I have so many news to tell you right now, Mom."
"I'm looking forward to it. It's kinda lonesome without your voice, Rika. Oh, and Grandma says hi!"
"Just send her my regards, Mom. I missed the two of you already!" Rika answered back.
"Me too! Your grandma and I miss you too! I'm gonna call you if it's time for you to get here in America."
This sent Rika into pondering once again.
"Okay, Mom. I'll call you once I get home." Rika sighed as she hung up the phone. "Bye."