Implication 10: Turmoil

“Ugh . . .” I mope when I see myself in the washroom mirror.

My eye bags are horrible, and I have no one to blame, except for Azuma and myself. The walls are particularly thin, and his bedroom happens to be where I study in the kitchen. Throughout the night, I can hear that girl’s groans and shrills. She seems to be calling out someone’s name. I can’t exactly hear whose name. Then, there are the low grunts and huffs which are presumably from Azuma. 
I feel so ashamed that I have to endure this torment, and I know I can escape these noises by relocating to my bedroom. However, I stay put in my chair telling myself that I have to finish this one chapter. Usually, I like to write at the kitchen since the natural sun light will shine in. It’s the evening, though, so I don’t know why I am doing this. I don’t know why I am curious or even . . . jealous? For some reason, I want to see how long they can go on like this, and in the end, I pull an all-nighter for no reason. After all, my word count has not increased ever since the start of those noises.

I can almost picture their naked bodies, and I feel myself wince. I can’t forget that stare of his when we see each other in the hallway. That was one awkward encounter. I hope he doesn’t think I am rude for staring too much. I think I was just in too much shock. From what I remember, I believe that girl had a boyfriend. Did she break up with him already or . . . has she always been with Azuma? I know I shouldn’t care, yet I find myself pondering this question in the early morning. 

I think I need a shower and hurry to school. At this rate, I will be late for class and will have to skip breakfast. I also have to meet Ran over lunch to discuss the newsletter; it’s really my fault for becoming rather inspired and then emailing her to tell her that I will be able to show her one of my new works the next day. In fact, I only managed to finish a chapter. After all that noise last night, my inspiration jolted. I’m not even sure if I can continue writing for this male lead.

Luckily, I force myself to speed up my routine and make my way to where Sen works. As soon as Sen takes note of my presence, he waves at me ecstatically and calls out, “Hi Sumi! Hi, hi, hi! How’s the . . . oh my, Sumi, you look awful!”

I mutter and reach for any of the buns beside the counter, “Thanks.”

“No really,” Sen emphasizes and even leans forward to examine me. “What happened? You look like you didn’t sleep all night!”

“You’re right,” I agree while handing him the exact change. “I didn’t sleep.”

“Why not?” Sen wonders.

“Ugh . . . my neighbour brought over a girl, and so . . .”

“Oh . . . that sucks.” Just as I’m about to leave, Sen shouts, “Hang on! Grab a bottle of tea or something to drink before you leave! You need to replenish yourself with water!”

“You sure? I mean, I’m really—“

“My treat,” Sen utters. “I feel bad for you. Hope you have a good day and don’t forget about Sunday!”

“You too!” I wave at him and hurry to the station. “And I know! I’ll be there! Thanks!”

I don’t know why I am caring so much about Azuma and her. It’s really none of my business, yet images of couples remind me of the two of them. My mind is so worn down that during the important meeting with Ran, I tune out. I don’t know what to offer, and Ran even comments, “Maybe . . . we should do this another day. You seem pretty out of it.”

“Oh no,” I rapidly inform her. “I just didn’t get much sleep last night. Noisy neighbours.”

Ran makes a delayed ‘O’ with her mouth. “Oh . . . I see . . .”

Clearly, she doesn’t believe me, so I decide to admit to her, “Actually . . . I’m not really sure why I can’t concentrate.”

“What’s wrong?” she kindly asks. “Boy problems?”

I shrug my shoulders, unsure if I can label this a boy issue. Do I even like Azuma like that? I barely even know him. The way I feel about him is completely different from how I felt towards Takeshi. With Takeshi, I knew instantly that I was in love with him. My heart skipped way too frequently. I would constantly think about him. I wanted to search for him. My whole mind was preoccupied by him, yet with Azuma, it’s like a hidden parasite that irks my mind painfully from time to time. He’s feeding on me. I know it, and I’m not really sure how to get rid of him. He’s the sort that’ll be stuck on your mind and you wouldn’t even know it until much, much later. 

Do I have it badly then, I wonder to myself.

No, I don’t. I’m just bothered by his sexual act with her. That’s all. If someone else were making love to another lady, then I’d feel the same way. It’s really just the act that is pestering me, and so, I reassure Ran, “It’s nothing really. Honestly . . . just lack of sleep and a neighbour issue. Nothing huge.”

“Okay, good,” Ran says. “Now, I think it would be quite interesting to feature a chapter of your story once a week. What just needs to be changed is that you’d write it as a fan fiction, so we’ll pick a pairing for you. I think that way, people will also start to appreciate . . .”

I half listen to whatever Ran discusses, and I also share my input. Next month will be the first issue of the manga newsletter, and next week will be the first meeting for the club. Ran says there are more interviews that need to be conducted for the leftover executive positions, and that is why our meeting is delayed till next week. Moreover, Ran expects me to have at least two more chapters completed by next week. Since we will publish a weekly newsletter, I have to be ahead to make sure that I have enough time to think about my story and that there is room for editing. 

Her request, however, is going to be very difficult to fulfill now that I feel like all of my inspiration has dissipated. I’m not really sure how I want to portray my male lead. I don’t know how to progress my story. He isn’t who I thought he was? Did I beautify him in any way? Did I place him on a pedestal or was I so blind that I could only see his good sides? Maybe he only revealed his best traits to me? I don’t know. I really don’t know, and I’m going to get a headache if I keep thinking about this at the current state I am in. 

A sleepless night is mentally draining, so I don’t need to add on any other factors. Licking my bottom lip, I realize how chapped my lips are. I look in my bag for the drink that Sen gave me while heading for my next class: Latin American literature. I crack open the bottle cap and take a quick sip of water. The cool water slides down my throat and ices my stomach, awakening me in the process. I feel slightly better and less groggy. Thank goodness Sen gave me this treat. I’ll be sure to pay him back another time. He’s a good guy. If he’s that nice to his friends, then he probably treats his girlfriend like a princess. Lucky girl, I think as I swipe the remaining droplets of liquid on my mouth with my sleeve.

Ring. Ring. Ring.

Quickly, I retrieve my phone from my bag and answer, “Hello?”

“Oh morning, Sumiko! It’s me, Rei! How’s everything going? All settled in now?”

I’m almost near the building to my English class as I reply, “Oh hi Rei. Everything is . . . fine. I’m still sort of unpacking, but I’m getting there. How’s everything for you?”

“About that . . .” Rei mumbles over the phone. “I was wondering if you could take my shift this Saturday? Like instead of you doing the morning to early afternoon, you’d take the evening?”

“Oh. How come?” I use my other hand to push open the door.

“My boyfriend just got promoted at his job, so we want to go out and celebrate. We haven’t really had time to . . . you know . . .”

“All right,” I agree, knowing how much Rei focuses on her boyfriend. “Just this time, okay?”

“Yay! Thanks Sumiko! You’re the best! Love ya! Bye!”

Rei hangs up just like that, and I let out a smile along with a sigh. I guess this is what happens when you have a boyfriend. Everything about him seems far more important than all the other things your life. I wonder . . . if I’d be like that when I’m in love. Will I push aside everything for that one man? Is it even worth it? What happens if the man discards you in the end or doesn’t see you the same way? Are you supposed to say that love is all about giving and sacrificing? Is it too much to ask to take more than you give?

Suddenly, I feel something or rather someone bump into my arm. “Oh, I’m so sorry!” I hear a sweet, high-pitched voice say to me. I look ahead and realize that it’s her. It’s that girl that is always with Azuma. 

“It’s . . . okay.” I try my best to sound nice and proceed to move onto find my class. 

Unfortunately, the girl seizes my forearm, and with large, doe-like eyes, she begs, “C-c-c-can you help me find my class? I’m taking Latin American literature and—“

“I’m taking that too,” I calmly tell her.

The girl flashes me a wondrous, cute smile while grasping both of my hands now. “Oh my god!” she shrieks. “Me too! What a coincidence! Let’s be seat mates then!” Before I can even say anything, she continues to sputter with brightened eyes, “I’m Ishikawa Ayane! Nice to meet you!”

I have no choice but to answer, “I’m . . . Kuhara Sumiko. Nice to meet you too.”

Ayana finally lets go of my hands to skip ahead of me. Turning back to grin beautifully at me, she remarks, “Let’s find the class together! It’s room 107 right? So that should be on this floor!”

I watch her scavenge the area with much attentiveness. I am simply following behind her, letting her do all the work. Actually, I think I’m just trying to understand her. I’m not sure why I would even do that. Why am I concentrating on her anyways? It’s not like I will use her in my story. Nevertheless, I observe her every move. I still remember the first time I saw her with him. I had an idea as to why he would fall for her, but watching her so closely, I can fully understand how she captured his heart. She’s like a work of art by Botticelli. There’s this goddess feeling that I get from her. She’s also always smiling and spreading her happiness with everyone around her. There doesn’t seem like a thing that could bring her down. She is overloading in sweetness, and that reminds me very, very much of that double chocolate mousse Sen recommended. She seems like the sort that would enjoy that taste. After all, she embodies that aura.

“Harder, baby. Harder! Ah! Ah! Ah!” she screams as he rams into her body.

I flinch at the image and voice that flash in my head. What am I even visualizing? What am I even doing?

“Sumiko! I think I found the place!” Ayane skips in delight as she greets me enthusiastically.

I give her a weak nod and grin politely. “That’s good,” I utter.

Then, I reach for my water bottle in my purse and take a large gulp this time.

This . . . tastes more like me.