Chapter 18 Fragments and Mec chen House
Carolyn was first to her side. He supported her neck and lifted her gently. I had only a moment to be reminded of Nathans treatment of Ami before Kimi roused and squirmed away from us across the floor.
She panted and tapped the wall behind her, as though looking for a hidden switch. Carolyn was crouched on one knee, a small, pale towel in his hand. He looked at me and asked, How did someone manage to name her Kimi?
I wouldve liked to give him a sheepish smile but instead I barely noticed his question. I crawled closer to Kimi and asked, Are you okay? What happened?
Kimi looked at me and around the room. I could tell the look. I wore the same one not too long ago. I reached a hand out. Kimi tried to climb the wall.
I tried speaking. Jamie! Its me. Its okay.
She looked at me, then at Carolyn. She seemed so small, even though she was actually taller than me.
After a few breaths, she spoke. Her eyes still darted around. What? No. Nothing happened. Im okay.
Carolyn cleared his throat and leaned closer. Anime eyes dont lie.
Kimi scrambled to her feet. Get away from me
Get away from me.
She crouched low along the wall until she got to her feet. She didnt look very steady. We both gave her a wide berth as she plopped down in a chair near the window and covered her face in her hands. Her shirt seemed to be tenting.
I leaned to look around her arms. I shuffled a bit and peered. I felt a sickly-warm sensation in my stomach as I looked at Kimi. At the sensation, I patted my chest to assure myself. I was still flat.
Her shirt wasnt tenting. It was pressed out by the shape of her flesh. The bottom of the shirt lifted and curled upwards, flashing a hint of her midrift. From this angle, the chest itself took on the appearance of an advancing ridge with a soft pinnacle. Part of me felt entranced just to look at Kimi and the other part shouted that this was a male friend I was looking at.
It didnt take Carolyn long to realize what I was looking at. He dipped his soft-serve tentacles of hair and smiled. Wow. I never thought my ex-boyfriend would have bigger ones than I ever did.
Kimi leaned back. The ridge shifted and deformed like a fault-line under her shirt. She looked down and formed, No! with her mouth-line. She tried to press the soft shape. It resisted her. She squirmed in place.
Carolyn dusted himself off and said, Relax. I know a place where you can buy a bra.
Kimis head twitched. No! I dont want a bra! Never! Get me an ace bandage!
Carolyn shook his head. Do you really expect to hide something like that?
Kimi flattened her chest to the point of pain, holding her breath. She still looked like a girl.
Releasing her chest, she gasped out, I have to do something! These are too big! They feel
I cant even
She trailed off, trying to stand from the chair. Kimi held onto it for support. She shuffled carefully.
Im sure theyll go away
Somehow theyll go away. She pressed again but the protrusions showed no signs of following Kimis wishes. Kimi smacked a hand into the chair and then the nearest wall.
She slid down the slick surface. When she plopped down on the floor, her chest gave a little quake, as did her fanned hips. She curled in on herself, hiding her eyes. Her head soon darted up and she said, hoarsely, It all smells different, and I cant get this scent off of me.
Kimi took to pulling on her breast, but that seemed even more painful than her attempts at pulling her hair out at the roots. Kimi grunted, clutching them protectively. She sat still for a moment then looked up.
She looked at me and said, I look like a girl. A girl that Nana or Hitomi or whoever wanted to make me into. And Im a freaking C-cup!
Carolyn snorted. Oh come on, youre not as small as a C-cup. Youre clearly a D-cup.
He shook his head. D. As in denial.
Her hands shook and probed her chest gently. This protrusion
Its comparable to what you had.
Carolyn walked over and said, Stand up, Kimi.
Jamie! MY NAME IS JAMIE!
He rolled his head back with a sigh. Why you defend that name
Ill never know. Just stand up so I can look at you and settle this.
Jamie looked away. I dont want to
why should I? Why should I have someone feel around this
Im not going to grope you, Carolyn assured her.
Your words. Not mine.
Carolyn threw up a hand. Listen. It seems you want it like nothing has changed. Ergo, this protrusion is nothing to be worried about. You just stand up, pull your shirt taut, and I do some estimation. Im just assessing a growth.
Jamie pressed her legs together and stood slowly. Her hands remained pressed against the chair until she looked sure she wasnt going to tip over. She tugged slowly on the shirt, setting her feet, and created a valley between two, shaded pinnacles on her chest. A hint of what was underneath peeked through.
Jamie looked away, embarrassed.
Carolyn leaned left and right and finally decided, That settles it. Youre absolutely a D-cup. Maybe even a double denial cup. Oh wait. I keep forgetting
the sizes are different here. Youd probably be more like an F. For female.
Jamie looked down at her body, darting lower every so often, and said, But
Im not really a girl
I just look like one. No matter what happened to my body, Im still who I always was
Carolyn finished his size-check and shot Jamie a look. Do you really want that?
What? Why wouldnt I?
Carolyn cracked his neck and peered out the window at the occasional passerby. You had your share of shortcomings. I blame most of it on your family. I could never stand your sister. If you want to be who you were, then youre just some aimless, disengaged, and emotionless ronin trodding in silent steps through life, living only for petty opportunities.
Jamie stood straighter. So thats how you really feel about me? What about you, AriSU? You like this compared to the slacker boy? She looked over at me.
I didnt respond to her glance.
I am not something to manipulated and remade and expected to just accept it. I will fight it in my heart with everything I have! And if that
whatever it is
thinks it can change me with trippy visions
it has another thing coming!
She clenched her mouth-line closed tightly and said, Trippy changes, I mean. Whats been happening here
It was a poor lie by Jamie. I called her on it and said, Thats not it. You saw something
Something happened to you when you passed out for a moment. Was it like what I experienced? Tell me as much as you can.
Jamie flapped her hands in front of me. Its nothing! Forget it. I already have.
I reached for Jamies shoulders. It could be really important. Remember what you said?
I was the only one experiencing these strange clues. But now youve experienced something as well. You cant just shrug it off
What if its something that could help us to change our circumstances?
She tried, half-heartedly, to bend out of my grasp then slumped a bit. I really dont want to talk about it. She glanced away with her eyes narrowed.
What could possibly be so bad?
Jamie glared at me.
I let go of her shoulders as a silent compromise. She paced slowly. Carolyn shoved the boxes back into a crude tower of clustered collectables but held onto the turtle. He passed it to me, and I tried looking it over. Jamie grimaced. Keep it away from me!
I took a step back so there was some distance between the two of us as I held the turtle. It looked like a simple, mud-colored ceramic turtle. I looked on the underside but found nothing remarkable about it. I passed it back to Carolyn, who set it on the counter.
Jamie crossed her arms over her chest. She shuffled with careful steps across the tile floor. She had to correct herself several times and pressed her chest in frustration again.
She muttered, softly, This is the worst
I cant stand this. I feel so fat and bizarre. I feel utterly grotesque. Her voice rose to a high indignation.
I slipped my hands on my padded hips and rephrased, How could it be so bad that you cant even tell me about it? You do acknowledge it could be quite important?
Jamie stretched one leg far ahead and the other back and said, I said I didnt want to talk about it. But I know it probably is important. I mean it
confirmation. But Id need to check it out.
I prodded my finger into that little opening she offered me. Check it out? How? Check what?
She shuddered and turned. I cant say really but
now I have a real reason to visit the library.
That was an even bigger opening. I had to ask, Whats at the library?
Its just an idea I had. Theres probably nothing to it. But if there is, then
well well talk about it when we get to that point.
I was utterly mystified. Carolyn sprayed from a bottle of water on a colorful set of plants near one of the mirrors.
Jamie seemed to settle on an arm placement which covered enough of her changes. She turned a little and looked in the mirror. I thought the pose made her look particularly feminine, like an image for a cosmetics magazine.
I urged Jamie, Cant you tell us anything more?
She glared and spoke deliberately. I told you I dont wish to talk about it. The only use for what
may have happened is as confirmation or denial of assumptions and theories.
Why are you doing this? I couldnt help but feel personally offended by Jamies tone.
Jamie sent a tremor through her hair with an arm-brush. Doing this? Dont I have a right to keep certain things confidential? Its a right youve exercised a lot lately. Or am I excluded from that? Dont you realize how much Ive told you? I said I had
Back on the path! She glanced over at Carolyn suspiciously.
Carolyn watched us. I didnt know how long hed been watching, but he had a curious look on his face. He moved closer to Jamie and smiled. Well, well, Kimi. Youre reduced to stammering. What could that mean?
Jamie set her feet, grimaced a little, and said resolutely, I am not, nor will I ever be, Kimi. My name is Jamie.
Carolyn grinned. And I thought you loathed that name.
I found something I loathed more.
He rubbed at his lips with a prying gaze. You remember what you said?
Last we talked. I was thinking about it. I called it your fatal flaw.
Jamies shoulders slumped. You know, I really cant recall. But I assume you had some point. Care to refresh it?
Carolyn rubbed his hands and took some rather slow, but playful steps back and forth. You said I will never be connected, now or ever with a man in any intimate sense. But it was the way you said it. I could sense it. I said it was your fatal flaw. A little overdramatic, but do you know what I mean now?
Jamie glared. I have no clue what youre trying to get at.
Carolyn pouted in an exaggerated fashion. Aww
so theres no lucky boy youve met?
He gained a half-grin. A very strong and cute reaction from a girl.
NOT ACTUALLY A GIRL!
dont see how this is important. You clearly dont have anything useful to offer us except for weird comments.
He went back to pouting. Ouch
Jamies mood rumbled. You brought it on yourself. If you cant cut our hair, then youre really no use to us. Youre just an obstacle in our way. Can you prove to us that Hitomi or whoever didnt intentionally put you here because youre a hindrance?
I couldnt stand by with that. My steps flared in a way even Katsumi would be proud of. My words blazed.
STOP IT! Its not Carolyns fault we came here. If you want to blame anyone, blame me! I thought of coming here. And you didnt think it was a bad idea. You wanted to get your hair trimmed. Just because Carolyn cant cut your hair doesnt mean you can be nasty to him! And here I thought, with all that happened to change us, that you were different.
Jamie stomped back with her hands on her hips. Just because I get girl parts doesnt turn me into a sweet and cute girl who is nice to everyone!
Carolyn smiled. Ahh, idealized notions of women. As if I havent heard that from my customers so many times
I wouldnt ever think Jamie here could manage sweet and cute. Thats Nathans territory. But boy
you just ring true as a girl.
Jamie looked alarmed. Wha? No. Thats bull! Do you have one iota of proof that Im anything like a girl?
Carolyn cracked his knuckles and said, singsong, Demeanor and mood, your whole attitude, posture and the way you carry yourself. Its clear youre a girl to any youd pass on the street, from the top of your head
all the way down to your feet. You piss and you moan about everyone that you meet. You argue and declare with long silky hair, where youre going and why. And fair also to say, if any get in your way, your claws will come out as a treat. And with the presence you emit I can say, though it may be cliché, if ever there was a girl, you are it!
Id known Carolyn to break into a rough, rhyming melody only once before. It was when she and Jamie had an argument about musicals, and she did it to shut him up.
Jamie seemed to get the reference. She massaged her temple and replied, Those are pretty weak reasons.
Oh well, its hard to put it like that and express all the facts clearly. Basically, Ive hinted at it before but the three of you all felt like girls to me. And I know girls. The real jerks especially. Not to imply anything about any of you
Jay-Kay. Theres just something to a girl, again to touch on cliché. Like a pheromone or a mood or something. I can remember it vividly despite there being new associations for me.
Jamie flopped her hair a little. I really have no idea what youre talking about
He leaned close. It means, despite how much I still like boys, your body prompts a reaction from my new body.
Jamie stumbled, flailing for the chair behind her. Um
Carolyn chuckled. I bet. So what about a guy who has
caught your eye?
I dont care about those sorts of things. We have more important concerns.
I chimed in, Like keeping vital information from one another.
Jamie lobbed back a reply. Not as though thats anything new. For some people.
Carolyn held his hands out to each of us. Now girls, dont make me have you both sit in the corner on your hands. Thats something my mother did with me and my female cousins when we started being
to one another.
Jamie slumped into the chair. Her whole body shuddered. The crystalline tears began to flow behind carefully-positioned hands. Carolyn sighed and sat next to Jamie. He put a hand on her shoulder.
Listen. I didnt mean to upset you. You can hit me if you like.
Jamie took him up on that offer and gave a hearty slug to Carolyns side. He grunted, laughed a little, and said a raspy, Good one
I approached, not sure what to offer Jamie in the form of comfort, knowing close contact just upset her. A slug wouldnt seem right, so I crouched near Jamie and spoke, Please
Im sorry for what I said. But I need to know
at least a little bit of what you experienced. It could be important.
Jamie didnt look at me at first. She dried her eyes with rough rubs of her hands. She turned to Carolyn.
Im not going to talk to you about whatever sensations occurred or anything like that. Add that to whatever tally you make about boys and girls. I have my secrets about whats inside me, and I intend to restrict what others know. So forget an outpouring of girly emotions or romantic imaginings or any of that other junk my sister tossed around. I dont have any of that. Think however worse of me you like. I cant stop that. Im not angry at you. But emotions that
slip in like this suck. I hate them
Then he turned to me. I dont have to tell you about what happened to me. And I accept your apology, though it was quite unnecessary. Still
you have a point. There could be vital information. For now though, I have no reason to believe it. But
in the interests of a compromise, I can
offer some minor parts. Things I saw which you might be interested in. Parts that dont unsettle me as much. Would you accept that?
I didnt see why she couldnt just tell me but I said, I accept. What can you tell me?
I remember a housecat.
Housecat? What kind?
I dont know breeds of cats. It was just a furry cat. It looked annoyed.
I pried Jamie for more about the cat. Did it look anything like Sumis cat?
It was a tomcat.
How could you tell?
I just knew
That sounded ambiguous but I pushed a little more. Did it have any distinguishing marks? Collar? Color?
Jamies eyes were dry. She looked unsettled but better than a little while ago.
Its fur had a weird sort of color. Kinda reddish but dark. Fluorescent? I dunno. I remember it had brilliant, green eyes. Like glowing gems. And the tip of its tail was tilted towards it at the end, like someone broke it. She started hyperventilating and shivered a little. Thats it. I cant say more right now.
It was something at least. I thanked her. Carolyn offered comforting words and tea. Jamie urged out a quiet thank you but said, We really need to get to the library before I forget the important stuff.
Carolyn rustled around in a drawer and pulled out a pad and pencil. Here. You should write it down. If only for yourself.
Thats almost as bad as talking about it.
Carolyn shrugged. Still, you should take it. Here. Ill put my contact information on here
just in case you already lost it. She made a few marks on the pad.
Jamie huffed, Of course I didnt lose it!
Good for you. You get a free notepad as well. She held the pad and pencil out again. Jamie took them and fidgeted to stuff them in a pocket, which had been flattened by the changes in her hips. She stood cautiously and brushed her hands.
If thats all
Carolyn added, You should definitely buy a bra as soon as possible. I silently agreed. Backtracking would be wasteful.
He wiped his hands and said, I guess thats it then. You two take care. And do keep out of trouble. He winked at Jamie and smiled.
Jamie turned to leave, her hand at the door. She stopped before opening it and said, Same at you. Then carefully walked out.
Carolyn looked pleased, gave me a little wave, and added, Ill remember to keep an eye open for anything out of the ordinary. I thanked him and joined Jamie outside.
Her arms were in a protective position over her chest. She shuffled along the cement, keeping a distance from everyone else.
She muttered, That was very much unpleasant
You gonna be okay?
Jamie brought her arms closer. As soon as we get to a place with
bras which arent lacy or any of that junk.
I assured her, Im sure well find something.
What had Jamie seen in her vision which upset her like this? I wondered.
I looked back at the fading, colorful lines of Carolyns barber shop.
We didnt have to travel far to find a womens clothing boutique. The building was cramped, more the sort Id expect in Japan. Shelf-space seemed to be at a premium. It was a background-artists dream and nightmare. Clothes were all over and covered in loving, careful detail. Some were askew and walking revealed new, same-quality rows of clothing. The floor was detailed with what looked like zebra-stripes. Bar-like fluorescent lamps glowed overhead. I saw an off-white ceiling fan making slow-circles.
Jamie kept her distance from a set of blouses with flowers and kept closer to the girlie-jeans on a counter. We worked our way to the back and were soon ambushed by a sales clerk. Jamie leapt back, keeping a firm hand on her new assets.
I shuffled around Jamie. The clerk bowed to us and asked, Can I help you ladies with anything?
She looked sweet. But her eyes caught me off-guard. They were shimmering crimson, like a white lab-rat. It was a fairly-common color in anime, but it looked unsettling to see in person. She smiled gently.
Dark-brownish hair framed her head, but a lengthy, tightly-drawn ponytail flowed down her back with a pink ribbon near the end. It was about the same length as Jamies locks. It looked like a thick rope.
She wore a long-sleeve, lime-green top tied and bunched tight at the neck. She rubbed her hands together. She was about our size but with subtler curves than Jamie. She wore a pink skirt which crinkled like flower-petals around her. Her legs looked very muscular.
A thought floated through me. She considered us girls just like herself. I felt a quick shiver. Jamie looked annoyed as she sighed and said, Im looking for a good bra. Something durable. Something to make things
less obvious. And which hides well. Simple. No fancy stuff.
She nodded with each of Jamies words then took a step back. If youll follow me, I can show you a few things. Do you know your size?
Jamie said softly, Uh
I havent checked lately
and I grew. It could be near
She gave a laugh which didnt sound quite like anything Id heard from a girl. No worries. I can measure you just to be sure. She turned to me. Will your friend need any help?
I formed an answer for her, but I happened to look down. I felt a warm sensation. The air blurred a little and the incidental shape of the front of my shirt took on more deliberate contours.
They were more than pecs but not by a lot. I tried not to stare at them for long. I looked back at the clerk, trying my best to keep my composure, and said, Id like to
the same. Yeah.
The clerk made a soft, hm-like noise with her mouth, bowed again, and led us through snaking counters and displays to an area in the back of the store, opened a door, and ushered Jamie inside.
I waited. A pop song with a bouncy rhythm played off an overhead speaker. I couldnt make out the words, so I just enjoyed the sound to fill the silence.
Jamie came back with the clerk-girl behind her. Jamie looked trembly. She leaned against a wall with a mirror. I gave her a look but she didnt seem to see it.
The clerk asked, You need measuring too?
I nodded and she ushered me back. There was nothing special in the room. She picked up a tailors tape measure and told me to hold out my arms. I did so. She lifted my shirt a little and sighed. No bra under for you either
Are you alright with your shirt off?
This mustve been what Jamie went through. I couldnt even imagine what she said to the clerk. I nodded and lifted my shirt over my head. I looked at the mirror in front of me. I was worried it would look like something out of a hentai. Rather, it looked matter-of-fact, simple, like someones nude sketch. The female upper-body rendered in art.
The clerk slipped the tape around me and measured below my chest. My nipples were the same size as before, but the flesh around them had risen outwards. Not by a lot. I felt a strange sensation of disappointment. Not to say that I wanted something huge. But maybe a little bit more.
Her next measurement sent a shiver through me, but at least the tailor-tape was slack. She asked if that hurt. I shook my head and gave her a friendly smile. My nipples felt much livelier than before. She measured once more, this time further up.
She told me to slip my shirt back on and handed me a piece of paper. Youre a Sixty-Five B. We have a couple of items you might like. Depending on how you want to look. Have you bought a bra before?
I wondered if that was meant to be a trap question. If I was a girl this age, then I was sure to have owned a bra at some point before. I came up with an idea though.
Ive never BOUGHT a bra before
She answered for herself, Ah! Sisterly-hand-me-downs. I know that. Its always good to have sisters. Sisters take care of each other
I didnt add anything to her words. I made sure my shirt was on comfortably, and she led me out. She gave me a place to look around in my size range and took a slow-moving, head-lowered Jamie to another area of the store behind a display of silken dresses in all colors of the rainbow.
I searched through the offerings. None of them really caught my eye and I wasnt much for the lacy adornments. Like Jamie, I wanted something simple and effective. On the end, I found a few which looked more like sports bras or at least werent covered in flower-designs and little bows.
They were in my size, but I didnt have the first clue how to put them on. I figured that would definitely draw the suspicion of the clerk. I took a handful in colors I could live with. I held them up to myself. I felt like I was doing something bad. I glanced around to see if anyone was watching. I had to remind myself that a girl holding a bra was normal.
I checked the price-tags next. I cringed. Perhaps we shouldnt have stopped at the first store we found. At least we just needed to buy one to wear for now.
Jamie and the clerk came back. She pointed. The changing rooms are back there. Ill be around here if youd like to check out or if you need anything else.
Jamie and I weaved our way in the direction shed gestured. Id seen the doors when she took us in to measure but I didnt know they were changing rooms. They were simple, the type youd find in any mall. Jamie took one, and I took the other. It didnt take long before I heard groans of irritation through the thin divider. I knocked on Jamies door and asked, Do you need help?
There wasnt an immediate answer of NO! through the door. After some fussing, Jamie answered, Its not a big thing. But
I opened the door. Jamie was topless with a bra, undone and laid over her chest. It was uneven at her shoulders. She faced away from me, one arm guarding her front.
I dont get these things.
I looked at the work Jamie had done so far and announced, Well first, I think its inside out. We worked together to invert it. Jamie slipped it on and looked over her shoulder.
Button it up?
The enclosure wasnt buttons but it looked simple, two sets of three loops on one part and three catches on the other. I supposed that meant it was adjustable. I hooked the loosest first and asked Jamie how that felt. She didnt seem pleased. The straps slid around and the back was riding up. I tried the next set of hooks but it was still riding up.
It feels lousy.
We should try another one.
Jamie groaned. I loathe shopping for clothes. Particularly in places like this. She told me that all these are minimizers. Theyll make this stuff look smaller and theyre supposed to leave less of a trace under a t-shirt.
Fortunately, the next bra was a much easier fit, it settled on Jamies shoulders and the band looked right as well. I hoped I was doing it correctly. I didnt know any secrets for fitting. I wished I had Ms. Ishida around to help.
Jamie stretched her arms and bent a few ways. Alright. Thisll do. Umm
You need any help yourself? I caught a glimpse of her flowing front wrapped in a soft sheen of tan polyester before she grabbed her shirt like a cloth shield.
I picked a bra out of my hand and set the others and my top aside. I turned my back to Jamie and slipped the bra up my shoulders. I tried first to think of a back brace but the analogy soon failed me as new parts of my anatomy were covered by the cups. It felt like a strange, small drape till Jamies hands worked at the back. It took her a little longer than me but it soon felt secure. I checked the straps and the back.
I was lucky. The first one I put on felt like a good fit. Nothing felt pinched or strained in any way. I moved my arms. I didnt have any complaints in spite of the strange sensations.
I edged over to the mirror. I saw myself in the mirror. At least, what I had become.
Seeing it all together was a different matter. A few red locks landed on my bare neck and few near my straps. The image in the mirror was lovely, a cute anime girl with my large glasses still perched on her tiny nose. The shape of my chest complimented the dive my waist took and the slow, outward-flow of my hips. It was a girlish form with just a trace of cleavage between the cups.
With discomfort on her face, Jamie joined me in the mirror. Where my form was a work of feminine subtly and softness, Jamies form looked like it was at the point of saturation. The minimizer bra gave her a nice, high valley of cleavage over her covered chest. She did look smaller with the bra on, but not by much.
She slipped her shirt on and turned her upper-half left and right. She pressed on her chest a little and grimaced. Its tingly but itll do, I guess. I wish I didnt need it. After a moment, she whimpered and looked to me. So you gonna get dressed so we can buy these and go?
The clerk didnt have a problem with us wearing the items. She just scanned another pair of the same type and price. The final tally was a bit more than I was hoping to pay. Jamie and I haggled with one another a bit.
You still owe me for train passes yesterday.
Does that mean youll pay for todays passes?
She paused on that, reaching for the train pass Kazu had given her in pocket.
After a minute of murmuring, and what seemed like mental math, she nodded and said, Deal.
The clerk had turned around and was putting some items away. I looked at her back. The long ponytail she wore was actually clipped to her. It wasnt a part of her hair. I was intrigued.
She turned back and smiled her practiced smile. I told her I would pay for both and added, Thats a lovely ponytail you have.
She touched it a moment, like a reassurance. Oh! Why thank you! You both have lovely hair as well. She looked at me, then Jamie. You have vibrant color and I totally adore how long your hair is. I could do amazing things with hair that long.
Jamie gave a forced smile and said, Im sure.
She rang up the purchases.
I hope you dont mind me asking, but are you two related?
We looked at one another and I answered, Were not.
My apologies. Just a hunch. Mine are more often wrong. Four-thousand yen total.
That pretty well halved my money.
I paid but with a slow hand to give her the yen bills. I asked, Why do you wear a clip-on ponytail?
She accepted the money, placed it in the register, and printed up a receipt. She seemed to consider my question and answered, Its a memory. A special one. Thats all I can say. I only wear it some days. I cant wear it when I jog or at the beach, which is a shame. But
She shrugged and quickly changed gears. Oh! Do you know about the cherry blossom viewing? She held up the same flyer the little girl gave us in the morning. We nodded together. I hadnt paid much attention to the flowers since then. There did seem to be more in other direction.
She handed a receipt to me and smiled, Truly, its so uncanny. You two seem so much like sisters.
Jamie gave up holding her tongue. Will you just stop it? We arent sisters. Any talk of it is just inane prattle.
The clerk looked over at Jamie, who added, So are we done here?
The girl bowed respectfully and gave us another sample of her practiced smile. That was rude of me. Please accept my humble apology for that.
Jamie had turned her attention to the door. Okay. Well, umm
thanks for your assistance. Jamie walked to the door. I followed her, only looking back once at the female clerk. I didnt know her name but I felt a moment of empathy as she rose back up and caressed the length of her ponytail with her hand.
Things felt different when we were outside. I noticed the tufts of blossoming trees from behind buildings, peeking around corners. I somehow knew they had been there before but now my attention was drawn to them. As I looked back, I was amazed at how many we had passed. They looked to be in full bloom with the warmth of the day.
I decided to call Jamie on what shed said. Whyd you snap at her?
Ive heard just about enough about oh you are like this or that. Ill be the one to tell others what Im like. Ill tell them who I am.
Still, I dont think she meant anything by it.
She paused mid-step. Oh really? And who says shes not just some mouthpiece of all this
I couldnt disprove it. But it led back onto the slippery slope of who to trust.
Jamie kept her hands near her chest but seemed to have found an easier stride. I found I could keep up without feeling uncomfortable. I didnt fight her statement. She ended the discussion with, Im not out here to gossip anyway. I dont care what some weird girl with a five-foot memento thinks or what my ex-female girlfriend thinks. I just care about figuring all this out and stopping it
so I can get my freaking life back.
We walked the rest of the way to the elevated train in silence.