"JIHAKU." takes place on June 22nd, 2013.
Read an excerpt below!
The swivel chair screeched as Haruka scooted farther away from Reina. She doubted it was because of the smoke. “I wasn’t talking about that!” Haruka sounded so flustered that she was bound to fly away on the next draft. “I’m not sure how I’m supposed to forget that.”
Reina smirked as she watched her cigarette smoke snake into the air. “It’s a rare woman who forgets being with me…and wasn’t drunk at the time.”
“That’s a bit conceited.”
“Don’t I have a right to be conceited?” Reina knew her prowess. There was a reason women rarely forgot spending a night with her.
Reina hopped up and deposited some ashes into the ashtray. More laughter drifted through the wall – hysterical laughter, by the sounds of it. God only knows what Aiko is telling all of them. She decided she should change the subject before Haruka clammed up and made the evening more uncomfortable. “So you want to go to an onsen, eh?”
Haruka glanced over her shoulder. “Why not? Don’t you?”
“Eh, I can take ‘em or leave ‘em.” Aiko was the one who liked hot springs. If Reina wanted to get naked and sit in a pool of scalding hot water, she would take a bath at home. More comfortable than “natural” rocks and pebbles jamming into her ass while aunties stared at her, waiting for her to stand up to see if she were male or not. “My wife is the one who wanted to do this. We can’t afford vacations after our honeymoon.” She hoped they wouldn’t have any financial emergencies in the coming year.
“We can’t either. We’ve never gone on a vacation together.”
“Kawai sou,” Reina lamented.
“I know. Three years together and no romantic getaway. It’s depressing.”
Reina turned her head so she could hide her rolling eyes. “At least your girlfriend has her own place, so you can have some privacy.” Such an arrangement was a premium in Tokyo. Kaori probably had a tiny one-room abode with thin walls, but it was better than living with her parents when it came to sleepovers.
“I guess. But it’s not the same. There’s no excitement or romance to it.”
Gag me. Excitement Reina could understand, but romance was another ordeal. “What you should do is take her out on a whim. There’s a gay restaurant down the street from here that caters to that romance stuff.” Aiko may have dragged her there once or twice.
“Those sorts of places are expensive…”
“Well you can’t really do anything for free in this city.”
“I know.” Haruka spun around in the chair, hand reaching out to catch herself on the desk. “It’s tiring because she only has this one-person futon in her place and she’s always worried about the neighbors hearing.” The moment she looked at Reina again, she returned to being a strawberry. “I mean…I shouldn’t be sharing such things.”
Reina extinguished her cigarette. “Take her to a love hotel then.”
The swivel chair screeched as Haruka spun to gape at her. “What’s romantic about that?”
“Well, it would solve the being noisy and small bed problem. There are romantically themed ones, but those are expensive. Take her to a cheap one and go crazy.” Reina couldn’t believe she was handing out such advice to the girlfriend of her coworker – let alone the girlfriend she once took to a love hotel and bedded herself. “Sometimes mixing up where you fuck prolongs your relationship.” Reina would know. She wanted to do it everywhere.
Haruka opened her mouth to speak, but bit back whatever words gathered in her throat. She seemed to chew on them while she also chewed on Reina’s suggestion. “That’s your coworker you’re talking about, you know.”
“Don’t remind me.”
The chair eked back and forth with Haruka’s dandling knee. “She still doesn’t know that we…you know.”
“I believe the technical term is ‘fucked.’”
Reina waited for more laughter to die before continuing. “That’s your problem then.”
“It would be your problem too if I told her.”
True. If Kaori found out that Haruka slept with a certain coworker while they were broken up, the office would turn into one giant pit of tension. While not the same caliber of awkward as if Reina herself slept with Kaori, it would still create a rift between them. Seeing as how they worked in close proximity for nearly nine hours a day… fuck that.
“I hope we can win this sort of game,” Haruka continued, her countenance falling. “We’re at a severe disadvantage compared to you and Aiko-san.”
“Well, we’ve only been together three years, and you’ve been with your wife for how long? Twenty years?”
“Maa, it doesn’t make that much difference.” In truth, Reina worried about making an ass of herself in front of those women. Odds were they were asking questions like, “What is Aiko-san’s favorite meal to cook?” which Reina would never be able to answer in a million years. Food? But it seemed like the exact sort of question Haruka would know about her girlfriend. “The key to these sorts of games is to go with your gut. You know more about your lover than you give yourself credit for. You have to prepare yourself to go out there and give a big jihaku.”
Haruka frowned. “Jihaku?”
“Yes. You have to give the most truthful confession you can. To a bunch of strangers. Asking you all sorts of personal questions.” Reina wondered if she unnerved her competition.
“See, you know so much more than I do…”
Ain’t that the truth.