No real warnings this week, other than some thin allusions to sex. Otherwise, don't think there's anything.
Reina received an incoming international call whilst on a smoke break.
“Un.” She answered with the cigarette still in her mouth.
The line crackled, like bubble wrap passed between two obnoxious kids. “Un? Is that the greeting I get? What if I had been somebody in control of your financial fate?”
Reina took out her cigarette and blew smoke all over her cell phone. “I’ll greet you however I want!” She smiled. “How are you? You in town yet?”
Michiko took her time responding, as evident by the humming she did in the background of the crackling phone – 2012 and technology still hadn’t yet caught up with cell phones and international calls. “I’m fine. And no, I’m just calling to warn you that I’ll be in town next week. I have a show and I want to visit my grandmother.”
“Oh, okay.” Reina checked her watch to make sure she didn’t get back to work late. “What day are you coming? When can I see you?” She was aware she must have sounded like a child pining at candy…Michiko had that effect on her, even after so many years. “And are you coming alone or…?”
“Slow down!” Michiko laughed, her voice as teasing and arousing as it had been twenty years before when they first met; Reina felt her heart lunge into her stomach and then spring up again into her throat. “I’ll be flying in the Sunday of Golden Week. Alone.” Sometimes Michiko liked to bring her significant other with her, although Reina could never remember her name or what she looked like, beyond knowing how she had a good time. “Are you available? Or are you and Ai-chan going on a vacation?”
Reina took another drag of her cigarette as she thought of her “plans” for Golden Week, the nationwide vacation week of mid-Spring. Reina got nine blessed days off, and although she and Aiko would take a vacation somewhere sometimes, neither of them liked the crowds of everyone else on vacation too. “No real plans. Ai-chan wants to go to Nikko with her brother one day but I’m not going.” That guy hates me more than he hates sticking it in his wife. “I mostly plan on just doing my thing.” Whatever that really meant.
Another chuckle. Michiko always thought everything was so humorous. “So that means you have time for me on my time off.”
“I always have time for my Mi-chan.” Reina could feel her everything literally warming to the idea of having Michiko in her arms, even for a small bit of time. “But I thought you were…unavailable.”
“We have an understanding.”
Reina nodded, and checked her voice before she spoke again – she didn’t want to sound like a giddy schoolgirl fraught at the thought of a date. “Well, whatever. I’ll follow your lead.”
“Or create your own.”
“Hey now!” Reina finished her cigarette and extinguished it in the designated place. “Well, just let me know when you get in. I’ll keep a day open on Golden Week for my Mi-chan.”
They parted cordially, with unspoken but subtle promises. When Reina disconnected and put her phone away she thought of all the wonderful things she wanted to do with her best friend – at least two of them could happen outside of a bedroom. Reina didn’t care what kind of arrangement Michiko had with her significant other so long as it meant being together. It couldn’t have been different from Aiko having sex with the neighbor on rainy afternoons.
Reina must have had some sort of stupidly smitten look on her face when her coworker, Nakamura, stumbled out of the building to take his own smoke break. He took one peek at Reina’s face and commented, “Wow! You have a nice smile!”
Said smile turned into a grimace as Reina looked back into his wrinkling, pale face. Nakamura was older than even her, a bachelor with a half-bald head and glasses twice as big as his eyes. Reina had an inkling she knew why this man was still a bachelor: inside the office he was as polite as expected, but outside he had a tendency to talk-down to and extrude general creepiness to every woman he came across…including Reina. Even now she could smell his breath mints permeating in his pocket near her face. “Um, thanks.” She nodded in practiced politeness.
She stood and attempted to steal back into the building to resume work before she got in trouble with her section chief, but Nakamura was apparently not going to let her get away that easily. “You should smile more. It makes you look like a woman for once.” His words were mangled on his cigarette as his hands fished for his lighter.
“Uh…” Reina felt something – disgust? – run down her spine in little pricks. Just like him. “Thanks…I have to get going.”
“I bet the section chief would like a smile or two sometimes.” Nakamura pulled out his cigarette from his mouth as Reina opened the door. “Keep it up and you’ll be prettier than the errand girls.”
Reina slammed the door against his endless chattering. She thought she tasted bile in her throat.