Teen Heart Manga Stories presents:
a Dear My Shoujo production
1000 Cranes For Love
Fourth Fold: "Argument"
"She can't be happy going on like this," Girl A said.
"But what can we do?" Girl B asked.
"All they need is a good knock-down argument. They never really argue, you know."
Junko raised her eyebrows.
"Uh, both of you are talking about Aihara and Seriko, right? They're always bickering at each other, so much so that they wouldn't know what to do if they stopped bickering at one another."
"Huh? No, we're talking about Akari and Hitoshi, from Love's Labor Found," Girl A said. "Haven't you been watching it?"
"Oh. Sorry, haven't had time for watching dramas lately. Besides, otosan hogs the television set when he's home." Junko apologized.
"Still, you could say the same thing about Aihara and Kajika," Girl B said, pushing up her glasses with her thumb.
"True, but you've never seen them have an argument where they end up not speaking to one another, or avoiding each other. At the end of the day, they still go home together, and they still talk to one another."
"That's true, it's almost unnatural. They're building up so much undisclosed anger, that it's bound to blow up someday. Just you wait."
Sakimoto put her hands to her head.
The blow up in question, in fact, happened on a Thursday.
Seriko had been up late last night, working carefully, ever so carefully to finish another three origami cranes. She creased, and re-creased until her eyes ached from the strain of squinting past the shadows cast by her desk lamp. She had nodded off, until finally, she sat the work aside on top of her open diary, turned off the light, and jumped into bed, chased by shadow cranes behind her eyelids.
Suddenly she remembered her latest origami attempt, left on top of a certain notebook! Where had she left it? He definitely, definitely, must not find that in her room! She took off running for the house with a determined look on her face that scared other students with its intensity.
"Ah, Seriko, Ryu-kun's upstai…" Her mother began, but Seriko was running for the stairs before she could finish her statement.
Sure enough, the door was open, and the sound of shuffling items wafted through the hallway. Ryuusuke was already at work.
Seriko felt mortified.
"Ryuusuke!" she shouted barging through the door. "Ryuusuke!"
She caught Ryuusuke with an origami in one hand, and a notebook -a blue notebook!- in the other. Running up, she smacked him across the cheek, shocking him into dropping crumpled crane and notebook as one.
"What was that for?" he growled.
"Why can't you leave things alone for once, and let me have my room the way I want it?" Seriko demanded.
"Why don't you clean up after yourself for once?" Ryuusuke retorted. "I can't always be picking up after you, you know."
"Why should I when you're oh so willing to do it for me?"
"Ah? And what happens some day when I'm not here to pick up after you and your precious origami failures? What do you do then? Find some other boy to do your dirty work?"
Seriko grew red in the face.
"What do you mean by that?"
"What do you think I mean? Just that!" Ryuusuke gestured with an unclenched hand.
"Baka! Baka baka baka!"
"Is that all you have to say? If so, you'll have to excuse me, I'm busy."
"You will not lay a hand on one more item in this room, Aihara Ryssuke!" Seriko all but shouted.
"Oi! Why do you think I do this, anyway?"
"I don't need you to clean up after me, I'm perfectly capable of doing it myself!"
"Then why don't you do it? It leaves one less chore for me." Ryuusuke said, suddenly tired of the arguing.
"Ryuusuke, you're the worst. Just go!"
"Fine, I'll leave," Ryuusuke said, slamming the door.
For a while, Seriko simply stood there alone in her room, shaking. She eventually yelled into the air, with tears in her eyes.
"Ryuusuke no baka!"
For two days Ryuusuke stayed away from her house. He was angry. He was ashamed. He was not going to give in to her petulance, not this time. She wanted him to stay away? Fine, he'd stay away. She could stew in her own clutter for as long as she liked. Let her clothes, her books, and all those pesky origami shapes of hers pile up on the floor or the shelves. What did he care, anyway? It had always been a chore imposed on him by obasama. Let her come crying to him to clean up her mess, again, if she dared. It would be a long time, and take more than a simple apology from her before he'd agree to do that again. No matter what obasama said, he would not be moved from this stance.
And it worked. The next couple of days Ryuusuke walked to school alone. Seriko was either still asleep or had gone on ahead. After the third day he stopped calling at Seriko's house before school. He felt freer than he had in years. And yet, he felt there was something missing. He chided himself, what could he possibly miss from having to clean up after such a ditz as Seriko? He had far better things to do with his time, didn't he? He might meet Seriko at the shoe lockers, but she ignored him. She ignored him at lunch also, which was fine with him.
"Ne, Aihara-kun, did you have a fight with Seri?" Junko asked on the 3rd or 4th day.
"No. Why do you ask?"
"Because you never come to school together any more. She always arrives first, and you come straggling along later."
"Look," he said. "She doesn't want me cleaning up her room, so I'm obliging her."
"Are you sure that's all right with you?"
"It's perfectly all right, I was tired of always picking up after her anyway, only I could never find a way out of it. Now I'm free. No regrets."
And yet, that afternoon he found himself opening the storage shed door and staring at a stack of boxes with Seriko's name on it, and half an origami crane taped to the side of the middle, and a list of dates next to the crane. He stared at the topmost box for a few minutes.
"Baka," he said to himself, before turning around and turning off the light.
Tsuzuku / To Be Continued