A Hostess to Lavender (Hanako Bad End Continuation)

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Skelly
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Joined: Thu Aug 20, 2020 12:37 am

A Hostess to Lavender (Hanako Bad End Continuation)

Post by Skelly » Thu Aug 20, 2020 1:03 am

A Short Foreword

The idea for this fanfic came when someone in a discord server jokingly brought up the idea of Hanako working at a hostess club.

I thought it was silly at first but something about it made me latch onto it. The idea of someone so shy harboring a desire to grow out of her shell alongside holding a certain level of hatred (This is bad end Hanako after all), letting both grow through working to appease men into drinking lots of alcohol seems like a catalyst for lots of drama, introspection, and growth (good or bad) and so I started writing this!

As of my writing this note, I'm not sure if I'll need to include a lewd or NSFW warning though I'll be sure to update this if that ends up being the case.

Very excited for people to read this and more excited to receive criticism and develop a strong voice and storytelling skills so feedback is greatly appreciated.

A thanks to everyone who takes the time to read this and offer feedback, I'm looking forward to seeing what people think!

***

Here's the fic itself, starting from scene 1. Hope you enjoy!

SCENE LIST:
SCENE 1: A LITTLE BLACK ROOM
SCENE 2: KICKSTART
SCENE 3: GOLD AND VIOLET
SCENE 4: HER TICKET TO THE TOP OF THE WORLD
Last edited by Skelly on Sat Sep 12, 2020 11:03 pm, edited 6 times in total.

Skelly
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu Aug 20, 2020 12:37 am

Re: A Hostess to Lavender (Hanako Bad End Continuation)

Post by Skelly » Thu Aug 20, 2020 1:08 am

SCENE 1: A LITTLE BLACK ROOM

For a sickening while, home for her was a white, sterile burn ward that only left memories of a disinfectant smell amidst other things that the mind didn’t care to recall.

In the brightest years of her life, home became a beige dorm room, filled with solace and a feeling of sunrise, like the best of times peering over the horizon and waiting for her to meet them. Home was the loving arms of the yellow-haired goddess of motherhood that her sole friend had been to her. Into this home came hope when a messy haired boy looked at her like she never thought she could be.

Home now, a short two years later, was a little 4x4 meter black cubicle with a computer and a futon. The walls of her home didn’t meet the ceiling so that the dozens of others in little black cubicles all around her were joined in a network of occasional tiny noises of sniffs and coughs. This was her experience of humanity, the only thing that she could call even close to family. These insignificant noises from strangers alongside her home in the cheap room of an internet cafe, lost in the lights of the city.

July was here. It would be her 20th birthday soon.

Her entire life came in little plastic bags of ramen, crispy snacks, and instant meals. Go down the hall, into the kitchen, little red button for hot water and a microwave for frozen meals. Day after day after day after day.

Birthday. Birthday. A thick feeling sat at the back of her throat and swirled in her stomach for days and was only getting stronger as the 10th approached.

The computer was her only friend. News, games, conversation, it all happened there. All of her human interaction was through the pixels and cables of a computer. Sometimes, she’d play chess with strangers online. Sometimes she’d get into arguments about the inane just so that she had someone to talk to. Sometimes she’d get so frustrated at nothing that she just had to take it out on someone, though she’d never have the courage to do such a thing face to face.

If asked about her favorite soda, she could write a dissertation on the subtlest of flavor differences, difference in time spent carbonated, how the fizz affected each brand's flavor… That was too much knowledge of nothing from a person who drank too much of the same thing for too long. She usually went with water. That way her savings would last longest.

Savings. There was enough left behind from her parents. No. That money wasn’t left for her. That money was left for the bright young lady with a future that she almost was. That money was left to finance a bright life, an education, a career. She should’ve been spending it on textbooks, nights out with friends, memories that she’d hold close. Instead it financed a tiny life in a tiny room in some internet cafe. Every bite of ramen was a hand of judgement on her back from her late parents and a little voice whispering venom at her. You didn’t deserve that money. It would’ve been better off in a sewer.

That’s alright, she thought. The money is almost gone anyway.

She remembers her closest friend’s voice on the phone telling her that she needed to start taking her future more seriously, telling her that she needed to go to university or develop some skill or anything so that she could start on her future. She was glad that she wouldn’t have to face anyone from her past now, she couldn’t imagine how she’d explain all of the nothing that she’s done.

At night, it was hard not to think of the friends of her past that slipped away, going off to live their own lives or driven off by the bitterness she had inside of her. There wasn’t much else to think about in her life besides that. That and her family. The family so far gone in her memory that she could barely remember their faces. She was hoping that the family she’d lost wasn’t the end of things, that the real family you have in life is the one you forge with those around you who care about you and who you care about. Whether or not this was true, now she was alone.

The butterflies in her stomach and the ones at the back of her throat were getting restless.

One time, a sweaty faced boy met her eyes while she was going for a drink. He looked away and apologized for it. Apologized for looking at her. As if he were apologizing to her for daring to violate her hideous face with a gaze or apologizing to himself for offending his own eyes. As if she were so strange and fragile that even a wrong look could break her or so ugly that it needed a double take and an apology.

He could go to hell. She’d spent enough time looking down and away from others to learn to hate it, to hate them. All cowards or monsters, either too scared of damaging even a single petal on the most delicate of flowers or so superficial that even looking at a deformed thing like her as a person was out of the question.

Lilly. Lilly looked at her like a person. Held her close. Believed in her. What happened to her? Where’d she go? Scotland. She left for Scotland. God, if she could only lay her head in that woman’s lap one more time.

No. Never again. That condescending silken voice still creeped into her ears. That voice that said “What a little baby! You need protection don’t you? Did the big, bad world hurt your little feelings? Don’t worry, mommy’s here, little girl.”

I don’t need that, she thought. I don’t need anyone.

It was 3:26 am and she stumbled out of her room to the washroom as these awful feelings ballooned in her throat and pushed against the back of her eyes. 3:26 am, July 10th. How had so many days gone by so fast?

What about that other one? That boy. Hisao was his name. That lanky thing with messy brown hair. Him and his constant reminders of what a broken little tea cup she was. “I’ll fix you, you pathetic little thing! I’ll glue you back together and put you in a glass case so that nothing can ever hurt you! I’ll shield you from anything because I’m such a valiant knight. Nothing will ever touch you and you’ll be my pure, perfect little broken thing!”

It was late so luckily she was all alone like she’d hoped. Some greasy haired girl with sad eyes was staring at her in the mirror. Deep grey rings under red eyes from staring at a screen day in to day out. T shirt and sweatpants hung on her body. Had she always been this thin?

She took a fistful of her hair in her scarred right hand and pulled it back from the corresponding side of her face. Discolored skin was stretched taut and strange around her right eye, down the cheek, to her jaw, continuing into her shirt. The skin over her eye seemed to dip too low over the eye socket so that it was locked into a frown, the outer part of her right eyebrow was burned away, the entire thing looked as if someone had taken a match to a wax sculpture of a face to let it melt a touch before allowing it to settle again.

She wanted to rip the scarred flesh away, to tear her hair out and scream. The girl in the mirror with the burned face had tears in her eyes now.

A million questions whispered then screamed in her mind. How did I get here? Why did this happen? Why can’t I do anything? Why couldn’t I build a life? Why does nobody talk to me? Why don’t I want to talk to anyone? Why do I hate everybody? Where did Hisao go? Where was Lilly?

She slammed her open hands against the countertop of the sink pathetically, flailing her arms up and down with her eyes shut tight so she wouldn’t have to see her pitiful display in the mirror. Other people in the building were surely waking up. She didn’t have the mind to care.

She wanted the embrace of her mother, unconditional love to shephard her through all of this pain and hold her high. She hated to admit, she also wanted the embrace of Lilly again, that kind voice that would stand by her and guard her from the harshness of the world. She didn’t want to be treated like a child yet here she lay crying and thrashing like one.

She hears the door handle to the washroom turn and the door creek open.

“Oh. Wow…” She thinks she hears a woman’s voice say, Soft and groggy. “Hey, what’s wrong?”

Most times that she was around others, she had the stinging awareness of how she looked, how she behaved, down to the way she breathed. This wasn’t a time like that. She continued in her childish wailing, this unfortunate and sad thing draped over the sinks.

She feels a hand on her shoulder and silk against her hand. “Here. It’s alright…” She looks down to see a handkerchief being pressed into it. Looking further away from this woman, she takes the cloth and presses it against her eyes.

An arm around her back and a hand gentle against the side of her head both pull her into an embrace. Gentle at first but tighter and tighter until the warmth of this woman becomes the world.

“It’s gonna be alright. It’s alright…” The words are soft and melodic like a lullaby, almost too quiet to hear. She wants to push away, away from the eyes and touch of another, but that part of her seems to drift away as her body goes limp and she melts into the embrace. She doesn’t know how much time passes but she’s stopped crying.

“Mayumi.” The voice says, finally breaking the silence. “You can call me Mayumi and you’re going to be alright. Do you wanna tell me your name?”

“I- Ike- Ikezawa…” She says. “H- Hanako…”

NEXT CHAPTER: KICKSTART
Last edited by Skelly on Thu Aug 20, 2020 1:34 am, edited 1 time in total.

Skelly
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu Aug 20, 2020 12:37 am

Re: A Hostess to Lavender (Hanako Bad End Continuation)

Post by Skelly » Thu Aug 20, 2020 1:16 am

SCENE 2: KICKSTART

“...and you’ve been living there how long?” the woman asks her, words underscored with judgement, yet with an overtone of concern. Like a big sister.

“I think a f- few… a few months.”

3:30 am on her 20th birthday and Hanako was trailing a strange woman for tea with red eyes, puffy cheeks, and a shrinking lump in her throat. She was no stranger to crying over her situation, nor was she a stranger to the odd things that grief and sorrow can make one do.

As strange as Mayumi was for helping a stranger cheer up, she looked ironically ordinary. Half a head taller than Hanako herself and a few years older at most, light brown hair flowing down her back, in the front stopping at bangs to frame a tan, friendly face. When she wasn’t looking, Hanako could take a good look at her eyes and see dark rings under them.

The way someone dresses at 3 am didn’t say too much so Hanako didn’t pay mind to the woman’s hoodie and sweats, she herself being dressed frumpy for comfort and lack of self respect.

“Why not an apartment? Money that tight?”

“No,” Hanako lied. “I just… it’s lonely.”

“I think I get that. A little room with no one to talk to. At a place like the computer cafe, you’re at least bound to meet people who are into tech stuff like you, right?”

No response

“So do you have any friends I can take you to? After the tea?” She stabs Hanako in the chest with the unfortunate truth of her isolation.

“I d- don’t really… um…”

Hanako knew some people, though she knew them through screen-names and endless, meaningless internet debates. There was more venom in her online dealings than she was willing to share which ruled out ‘friends’ to be taken to.

Mayumi was looking at her like a kicked puppy. The frown on her brow made Hanako want to declare hatred for the pity she saw, turn on her heel, and leave. No, she thought, I don’t need you to look down on me like that. I’m better than that.

Fortunately for the both of them, deep in the pit in her stomach and the ache in her chest, Hanako knew that she needed the kindness of this stranger despite that boiling red feeling growing in her. Two years is a long time to spend aimless and alone for her.

“Oh, I see…” Mayumi finally connected the dots and broke Hanako’s silent turmoil. “Well, hey, sometimes we get low like that. You’re a tough, pretty lady though, you can get back up on your own, yeah?”

She flashes a smile at Hanako as they walk. Empty encouragement. But it was better than pity.

“I- I don’t know… I really don’t know.” Hanako was afraid of spilling her heart and guts to a stranger while seeming like some broken thing but the years of isolation were weighing on her more than she could’ve expected.

“Aw come on! We could head back to that internet cafe in the morning, get you on some job seeking website?”

“I d-don’t really know what I could d- do”

“Work a convenience store..? Delivery person..?”

Speak to people day in and day out. Endure stares and disgust and pity and judgement.

The early early morning summer air suddenly felt colder and bit through her clothes as the two walked the empty sidewalks under golden streetlamps.

“Maybe… P- People… Lot’s of people are just… I don’t think so...”

“You’re giving me a lot of ‘I don’t know’s and ‘don’t think so’s, huh?”

“I’m sorry, I- I’m… sorry.”

“It’s no biggie, really. So not that good with people then?”

No answer was all the answer she needed.

“I could order your tea for you if you want,” Mayumi assured. “What’re you in the mood for?”

“N- No tea… Probably coffee inst- instead.”

“Well make up your mind before we get there, I’ll hold ya to that much!” Mayumi continued. “There’s plenty of jobs where you don’t have to talk to people, especially in computer stuff- Hey, why not do that!? You must be good with that kind of thing right?”

Computer stuff, Hanako thought. I wish I saw the world through such simple eyes.

If she wanted to pursue ‘computer stuff’ then it would take time and effort. The time it’d eat up would burn through the rest of her savings before she was earning anything and the effort was harder and harder to find no matter how deep Hanako dug in herself.

“Not r- really… But I guess I could tr-”

“THAT’S the spirit! See? You’ve got this. How’re you gonna make money ‘til then though?”

Another wrench in the plan.

“I don’t know…”

“Man, we need a swear jar of ‘don’t know’s from you. Get me rich or you more confident.”

If she had the strength to and weren’t coming off of years of self-pity and isolation, Hanako would’ve likely run off by now. This is the most she’s talked to anyone or been talked to in years and only fatigue and loneliness fought that burning anxiety in her.

“Hey maybe it’s not my place to say but,” Oh no, here comes something. “Maybe you haven’t pushed yourself as far as you can go yet, y’know? You can’t live life in a little bubble forever. Sometimes we’ve gotta talk to people even if we don’t wanna, cook food when we don’t wanna, get outta bed when we don’t wanna. Before you know it, the load’s not lighter but your shoulders are stronger.” Mayumi seems to realize how long she’s been talking at Hanako, “But, y’know maybe that’s just me, maybe I’m strange, maybe my life’s really easy. I dunno.”

“It’s too much,” Hanako felt swelling behind her eyes again. “It’s all just t- too much. If I w-wanna do an- anything I have to push so hard… And if I d- don’t the w- world just… j- just moves on…”

The switch is flipped and the tears are flowing again. Hanako has stopped and cries into the balled up fabric of her shirt collar. The welling in her eyes flows through her body and she goes weak at the knees. She doesn’t want to fall over, ball up, and cry again but her body seems to make the choice for her.

Before her legs can give out, Mayumi is at her side, hand on her shoulder and arm around her, a support beam to Hanako’s weak structure. Unlike the last time, the urge to push this strange woman off and run is smothered by warmth and she much more easily lets herself go again in Mayumi’s caring embrace.

She brings Hanako’s crying eyes to her own shoulder. For a while, she supports her and the two stand there together under a golden glow while more sorrow is spent. Hanako can feel Mayumi’s fingers, her long fingernails, brushing down her hair over and over, rhythmically.

Once again, she found herself crying with her face buried in the comfort she longed for. First it was the maternal comfort of someone who she used to love. Now, she wasn't quite sure what this was yet.

After some time, The sobbing fades away. “I- I’m so- sorry about y- your shoulder. It’s w- wet.”

“Who cares? You feel better?”

“I th- think…”

“I know how scary it can be. I really do,” Mayumi speaks softly, nearly into Hanako’s ear. “But you do get stronger. Weren’t you weirded out by me when we first met? 20 minutes later and you’re melting into me.”

Hanako appreciated the tears for the excuse they gave to her flushed face.

“We’re almost there by the way. You know what you want?”

A long moment passes between them for Hanako to regain her composure to at least an acceptable level.

“I- I think I wa- wanna try ordering m- myself… maybe…” It was a shock to both of them, but an optimistic one. “just… g- give me a minute.”




continued...

Skelly
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu Aug 20, 2020 12:37 am

Re: A Hostess to Lavender (Hanako Bad End Continuation)

Post by Skelly » Thu Aug 20, 2020 1:19 am

...continued

***

Ordering was strange not only for the fear that came with entering a short conversation with a stranger. After a good couple of minutes of trying to work out a strange menu with a fiery unpleasantness burning in her chest, Hanako had managed a ‘normal sized normal coffee.’ She wanted to ask for whipped cream but wanted more to cut the interaction short. Baby steps.

She was too occupied in working up the nerve to order and the subsequent fallout of dropping anxiety and satisfaction to see what Mayumi had ordered for herself. Some kind of tea. It was light brown and had honey in it. Yeah… some kind of tea.

The two sat in the ghost town of a shopping center at a table outside, warming up from the cool air with their drinks. Hanako almost reached the point of not looking like she’d just been crying. For the first time in a while, she felt more content than not at all.

In the zig zagging bricks under their feet, Hanako’s sneakers were tapping at the harsh angles where the bricks met, where the lines between them turned sharply. She tapped the tip of her shoe on one, then the next, then the next, until she couldn’t reach further. First horizontally, then vertically. Sip, tap, tap, tap, sip, tap tap tap.

“What’s that?” Mayumi finally broke the silence.

“Huh? Sorry-”

“I should start a ‘sorry’ jar as well.” She was smiling a genuine smile. Now that they were sitting, Hanako could take a good look at her. She had a maturity about her, like she’d seen people this upsetting or been like this herself and so she knows that it’s worth helping someone cheer up from. “The tapping I mean.”

Hanako was suddenly self conscious of every bit of space her body was taking up and how it occupied that space.

“It’s j- just… I don’t know, it’s… just silly.”

Mayumi’s smile didn’t falter. She looked down at her own loafers and found herself tapping at the angles in the bricks between drinks as well. She couldn’t be out of her late 20s and she’s still going this far to help someone she just met. It felt warm to be cared for by someone so considerate.

“Can I ask you a hard question, Ikezawa?”

Blood rushed to her face, anticipation surged through her. She nodded.

“Do you really have nowhere to go?”

That is a hard question. Hard in how easy the answer came.

She shook her head.

“Did you lie about money not being tight..? Is it that bad..?”

There was too much shame to shake or nod her head

“Don’t worry about it, just means you didn’t want me to worry.”

Sip, tap, tap tap, sip, tap, tap tap.

“One more question?”

She nods.

“Think you wanna do this again sometime soon? I wouldn’t mind the company.”

Another hard question. Hanako didn’t want to spend her time with someone who was with her for pity. Then again, what was harder, being pitied or being alone. Even so, there felt to be more to Mayumi and the way she had about her than just pity for a lost girl.

A coffee and a chance at something good wasn’t the worst 20th birthday present.

“Okay.”

***

Depending on how she looked at it, she’d either been scrolling through job listings for two hours or for five weeks. Mayumi had an effect on her, and it continued the more they met. It was strange and nice to speak to someone face to face again.

The first couple of meetings, the air was still thick in spite of the kind woman’s efforts, yet she’d managed to set Hanako off on a shockingly long tangent when she’d made the call to ask if she’d been reading anything lately.

There wasn’t much else to do with her time outside of the computer so the answer was a 20 minute ‘yes’ through which Hanako stuttered and stumbled her way through jumbled explanations of plot points, character analyses, thematic exploration, all culminating in a near inaudible “Y- Yeah, I’ve been reading a b- bit.”

It was the most that she talked through the month that the two met bi-weekly for tea and coffee, as much as Mayumi tried to set her off again. There was something in that tangent, however. It confirmed that Mayumi was, indeed, listening. Even if she didn’t know much of what Hanako was saying, she respected her enough to listen.

What’s more is that spending time with her was no free ride. She truly wanted to push Hanako and test her limits so that she might continue to grow. One of the first questions out of Mayumi’s mouth every time they met at that little coffee shop near the internet cafe was “How’s the job search going?” Regularly, she would have Hanako order for her, so she would have to talk to someone else. Sometimes, she’d have her ask the barista for more sugar or honey, only for it to not even be used.

For all the kindness and encouragement that had been shown to her over the last month, it would only translate to guilt when scrolling through these listings. She’d be so sure that she was ready to try something out, to go out and take the next step, yet when it came time to sit down and make a decision, all that motivation and hope would dwindle into excuses and justification.

That’d be too hard.

I’m not strong enough for that.

I don’t think I could talk to so many people for hours at a time.

I read the bosses are very strict there and I don’t want to be yelled at.

How pathetic. All of this support and affection that she’d yearned for and she couldn’t find even a single job to apply for.

Maybe the time just isn't right.

As per her routine, she took a little cardboard bowl of instant ramen and made her way down to the coffee machine for hot water.

It was still an ugly little existence that she led, cramped in her tiny room with strangers all around who didn’t so much as say a word to one another but there grew new hope in her. There was a middle aged man in front of her at the machine filling a cup with hot water for tea. A strange idea came to her.

Don’t think, just try it and it’ll be easier the next time. Say something.

“What k- kind of-”

“Eh? Sorry?”

He spins around to face her.

“S- Sorry I was just- What kind of… teaisthatyou’remaking?”

“Oh. Jasmine.”

“Okay…”

A long moment passes, she may as well be billowing steam from her ears for her embarassment.

“They also have green tea here… yeah.”

He looks at her, back to his cup, and back to her before deciding to finish filling it.

“Anyway, see ya.” He finally says, taking his leave.

“Thanks.” She blurts out, a bit louder than she expected, or probably should have.

She wasn’t quite sure what that was or why she’d decided to do that but in any case, there was pride alongside the anxiety that surged through her with every heartbeat, slowly dying away as she tore open the lid to her dinner and got to preparing it.

Her face was red but there was a smile there as well. As the noodles went soft, she brought her hand to her face and felt her upturned cheeks before making her way back to her cubicle. It’d been a while since she really felt a smile.
A hopelessness seemed to dwarf her little victory as she sat there eating and scrolling through more unlikely job listings.

She was going somewhere, but she was hungry for a change. She just didn’t have the courage on her own to kick one off.

Her savings were nearly run dry. She wasn’t sure what she would do in another month.


continued...
Last edited by Skelly on Thu Aug 20, 2020 1:21 am, edited 1 time in total.

Skelly
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu Aug 20, 2020 12:37 am

Re: A Hostess to Lavender (Hanako Bad End Continuation)

Post by Skelly » Thu Aug 20, 2020 1:21 am

...continued

***

“Do you wanna stay at mine until you’re back on your feet?”

Mid-swallow, Hanako jets coffee into her nose and down her windpipe, fuelling a coughing fit louder than anything she could’ve said with her voice.

Mayumi had the foresight to grab napkins so Hanako takes to cleaning the mess that her face had become.

While she did, Hanako came to see the offer for what it was. Once again, she was a poor stray animal being picked up and sheltered and cared for. No, she thought. I’m not living my life under someone who will lose their respect for me as a person. That’s not happening again.

“I do have one condition, however.”

Oh boy.

“I’m not in the place for charity work. Not long term anyways.” Mayumi begins. “If you do stay, you’re not gonna waste away there like you have been. You’ve gotta try to get somewhere. Even if it scares you and it feels like you’re going nowhere and the world’s crushing ya, you’re gonna try.”

Hanako felt a familiar fear. The feeling that she’d gotten whenever a test was coming up and she understood what it meant for her future. The feeling she’d had when that yellow-haired girl from her past would tell her ‘I believe in you, I know you can do it.’ The feeling that she was scared of and avoiding during all that time she spent wasting away in that little black room.

Responsibility.

Responsibility for herself, for her future, everything that she would have going forward held in her own hands. She was afraid. Afraid that she’d squander it, make a fool of herself, wish she never tried… All of this was lost in those two years she lived aimlessly after graduation and now it was coming back.

“W- Why have you been so k- kind to me? Really..?” Hanako asked.

Mayumi took some time to think, to really think. She took one final swig of her tea and set it down with assuredness.

“I don’t know.”

Quite the cocksure attitude for such an unsure answer.

“A lot of ‘maybe’s,” She continued. “Maybe I’ve been where you are. Maybe I’m putting myself in your shoes just a bit too much. Maybe I’m seeing something in you that isn’t really there. I don’t know. But I do know that it’s a shame to never have a shot at something. It’s a shame and it’s too easy to do. Everyone deserves a shot.”

The two meet eyes and for once, Hanako doesn’t look away

“You deserve a chance at being happy.”

She wants to say that she isn’t. That she’s a bitter waste of space that doesn’t believe in herself but that would be letting this kind woman down. Underneath that obligation, though, she feels something else, something deeper. She feels, truly, that it would be letting herself down more than anyone else.

More tears are coming. Better tears. Not dread or loneliness or bottled-up negativity.

“I think…” Hanako begins.

The few final tears that would be shed are coming now. They’re not pure happiness. They’re taking one’s life back into their own hands. They’re knowing that what comes next is frightening yet being ready to meet it anyway. This is a good change and she’s not going to let another good thing slip through her fingers.

“...l- let’s do it.” She answers, finally.

Hope. They’re tears of hope.

“Don’t get too sad over a good thing, now! We’ll bag all your stuff up after the coffee then? I can give ya the house rules on the way?”

“O- Okay…”

She doesn’t believe in herself yet, she isn’t doing this because she feels she’s worth it, she doesn’t have a vision of happiness in front of her, there’s almost a cynical expectation of failure in her. Under all of that though, deep in her chest, she knows that she’s ready to try and for her, that’s good enough for now.

Yet, though that hope exists in her, it’d be naive to not see how clouded it is in fear and doubt and uncertainty. The hard part is yet to come and she’s signed up for it and waiting for it to collide with her. Things are going to get worse and they’re going to hurt, that ominous haze hangs over any readiness she feels in her.

“Alright, this time I mean it. One more question?” Mayumi asks to ask.

“S- Sure.” Hanako was smiling.

Mayumi took a long look at the right side of Hanako’s face, the burned side, hidden under those unkempt bangs. Dread takes Hanako like a deer staring down oncoming headlights.

“Nah, nevermind. We’ll get there eventually.”


NEXT SCENE: GOLD AND VIOLET
Last edited by Skelly on Thu Aug 20, 2020 1:36 am, edited 1 time in total.

Skelly
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu Aug 20, 2020 12:37 am

Re: A Hostess to Lavender (Hanako Bad End Continuation)

Post by Skelly » Thu Aug 20, 2020 1:25 am

SCENE 3: GOLD AND VIOLET

In the drab back room of a convenience store within bicycling distance from Mayumi’s apartment, both of Hanako’s legs were shaking up and down in a little mock run of anticipation while a skinny, black-haired convenience store manager took one last look over her short resume. She learned to be silent when her legs were restless, not letting her heels hit the floor when they went down so that her anxiety was near absolutely hidden.

There was a pride in her that she tried to grasp and hold on to in this moment. Mayumi had said that Hanako would have three weeks to start paying rent if she was going to stay at her’s. Hanako had the job interview lined up in two. Living with someone who wants you to work is something entirely different from seeing them twice a week for tea and coffee.

She reminisced on how politely Mayumi had tried to tell her how bad her futon and most of her laundry smelled. It was an embarrassing thing to hear but Hanako was glad for the honesty, as reluctant as Mayumi had been to give it to her. She was hoping to goad Mayumi into being more honest with her feelings in the future. It’s what she needed now.

Hanako had forgotten just how good she could feel after taking a good, long shower and putting on fresh clothes. That body wash and detergent smelling haze that surrounded her made her feel like the sunshine followed her even indoors. She’d spent hours after just reading and taking in the scent of her now-silky hair.

Mayumi had a shocking amount of body washes, scrubs, moisturizers, masks, conditioners, shampoos, and lotions. It was no wonder, after taking a look at her bathroom, why the woman was practically glowing half of the time.

Hanako felt good. Good enough to stare down this beast of judgement that was a job interview.

It had gone smooth to a point that she probably did herself more harm than good in drilling herself for expected questions.

What are your strengths? Hardworking when given a task and perceptive.

What are your weaknesses? I hope to improve my customer service skills.

What will you bring to this store? A dedicated member who wishes to provide the best experience to customers through a clean and organized shopping experience.

All that worry for a job that a teenager could work.

Another thing that Mayumi had in her home was a surprising amount of alcohol. Fancy looking wines, whiskeys, vodkas, gins, the odd champagne, all decorating an impressive display in her kitchen. She said that she always tries to drink little and responsibly but that it can be hard to manage with her occupation.

Her occupation...

“It’s Thursday today?” The store manager finally asked.

“Y- Yes, today is… Thursday…” Hanako replied.

“Mhmm…”

Mayumi, with no hesitation or shame, had explained early to Hanako that she currently worked as a hostess at a club in the city.

With little knowledge or background outside of pop culture, there grew a new trepidation around moving in with this woman, though Mayumi, surely having heard the same concerns dozens of times, was more than ready and willing to explain away any worries.

No, it’s not run by Yakuza. No, we aren’t expected to have sex with customers. Yes, it’s made to be very safe for us. So on and so on.

Hanako’s naivety was almost cute to her. She even offered to take Hanako to see the club itself one weekend, though she only made it to the front door before she was too intimidated to go further.

It was a strange world that was too grown-up for her, Hanako knew. Still, she was surprised at how expensive the club looked. It was smaller than expected but, from the windows, she could see the tables and bar shining and glowing in gold and amber. It captivated her for a long moment before she decided that she didn’t have the nerve to go inside. It was strange to now be tied to such a place by her new roommate.

It was a bit scary to her but Mayumi had been so welcoming and caring otherwise that it completely offset the-

“How would it work for you to open up on Monday?”

Hanako snapped back to attention.

“Thi- This Monday? As in f- four days from now?” Hanako confirmed, shocked.

“If it works for you, it works for us.”

It was hard for her to believe that she’d just crossed such a threshold. Was it this easy to start working again the whole time? Was it really this close to her?

She tried hard not to smile too wide as to scare the manager but soon she was grinning like a fool and nodding to where it looked as if her head could pop off her neck if she nodded any harder.

“M- Monday would be g- great.”

Hanako had a feeling that Mayumi would want to take a celebratory drink when she broke the news, as she usually did when things went particularly right in a day.

A glass or two couldn’t hurt. She was a proper adult with a job now.

***

Monday. A dreaded day of reckoning. A timid, skinny girl stood awkwardly behind the counter of a convenience store wearing the blue employee polo shirt over a long sleeved, purple shirt so that the skin of her arms didn’t show.

She’d meticulously gone over the area of the little store three times by now, not a spot of dust or dirt was seen. She’d scanned the shelves of the store to ensure that the proper amount of inventory was on display as per store opening instructions. The place was spotless, stocked, unlocked, and the girl at the counter was ready for her first customers.

The orange rays of morning, rising in their brightness, poured in through the glass wall of the front of the store. Hanako had just stopped grinning to herself in pride when the door chimed, opened, and let in the first customer of the day.

She continued to stand at attention as the young man made his way to the coolers, picked out a can of cold coffee, made his way to the snack aisle, picked out a brownie, and finally began toward the counter.

Hanako became extremely aware of the fact that she’d been staring at him shopping the entire time and so diverted her eyes to the floor. There was a fire in her chest that was growing with each step the young man took toward her.

“D- Did you find everything a- alright?” She mumbled, making a mental note to speak more clearly.

“Yeah.” He replied, reaching into his back pocket for his wallet as he placed the items down on the counter.

Her hands were shaking when she took the items, one after the other, to scan their prices. She dropped the brownie on the counter and apologized like she’d just ended the world but the young man reassured her and she saw that the world was still there.

He placed a few bills in the little plastic tray on the counter, she took them, made change, placed the change in the tray for him to take, and just like that, the first transaction of her job was done.

When she told him to “Have a nice day!”, she really meant it.

***

And so, Monday went on and on for hours until sometime soon after midday. The fires of her worries rolled lower and lower in her until they were quelled almost completely and she was simply doing her part as a gear in keeping peoples days moving.

The bike ride home was like a hero returning from war and Mayumi greeted her with the ceremony she deserved for a smooth first day. She cheered and raved for Hanako quietly making her way into the apartment to the point where Hanako herself wanted to join in and mimic this explosive energy. She certainly wasn’t lacking for pride. As Mayumi’s treat, the two went out for dinner that night to celebrate Hanako actually being able to pay rent now.

Sick of noodles, Hanako ordered some greasy, delectable ensemble of little dishes of meats and vegetables. No more cheap ramen.

After the meal, taking tiny bites of some chocolate-ice-cream-brownie-dessert-mound, Hanako found another feeling she thought she’d lost in that little black room. A sense of belonging. It seemed an eternity ago that she’d turned 20 and had been found crying in that bathroom, nothing ahead of her, nothing to move toward or live for. It was a small thing, a starter job and a place to live, but to that girl who thought that she’d live forever forgotten in her misery, it was the world.

“I read some of that book you lent me, by the way,” Mayumi said, stealing a bite from Hanako’s victory dessert. “I don’t really get it. I mean, wouldn’t the lion just get hungry and eat the boy?”

“I- It was a tiger…” Hanako replied. “I guess s- so but… I th- think you should keep reading… It m- might make more sense”

“I guess but it’s just so… like… why do books have to always be so sad? I mean, did his family really have to all just die like that? And the zebra dies and the monkey...”

“Yeah- no- It’s… it wouldn’t be interesting if th- things just... went well would it?”

“Nah, I don’t get that about a lot of movies and books and stuff. It’s just people disagreeing and getting hurt and bad crap like that and it stresses you out for hours.” Mayumi went into a sarcastic melodramatic voice. “Why can’t things just work out? Can’t we all just get along!?”

It was a little bit funny to see someone who’d seemed so mature and wise unable to wrap her head around why a story was upsetting.

it seems she just really didn't like sad stories.

“...Y- Yeah,” Hanako replied. “B- But things go wrong sometimes… But they usually end up h- happy so thats g- good.”

“So there’s a happy ending? Wow, spoiler alert.”

“I didn’t- I- It might not- no- sorry I-”

“I’m just teasing. Don’t worry, it’s weird enough that I can’t think what’ll happen next, maybe the tiger does end up eating the boy.”

“Yeah,” Hanako teased back. “That m- might still happen.”


continued...

Skelly
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Re: A Hostess to Lavender (Hanako Bad End Continuation)

Post by Skelly » Thu Aug 20, 2020 1:27 am

...continued

***

Mayumi was good to live with and a part of Hanako did its best to accept that Hanako was good to live with as well.

She got the impression that Mayumi did a lot of drinking and watching TV when she wasn’t working so broadening her horizons with literature was a welcome change. Even if Mayumi didn’t get the stories at first and even though she doesn’t at all like conflict, Hanako could tell that she was enjoying the little stories that she was being introduced to.

In the three weeks after Hanako had started working, Mayumi had stumbled her way through two books that Hanako didn’t hesitate in talking her ear off over.

Mayumi enjoyed when her new roommate would talk for long stretches about these stories that she was so passionate about. Reading for Hanako was the least she could do.

Neither of them were the best cooks, Mayumi for lack of trying and Hanako for lack of recent practice, though that didn’t stop the two from trying their hardest together and muscling their way through mediocre home-cooked meals side by side as often as they could. They still had a long way to go.

There was a question growing in Hanako. A few questions, in fact. Mostly to do with Mayumi’s occupation.

For once, Hanako woke up first and made her groggy way from the futon next to Mayumi’s bed to the kitchen to brew her the usual morning blend. Hanako still wasn’t one for tea anymore and had coffee in the mornings. When she was done, Mayumi was up and making her way through her morning routine. She took the tea with a neutral-faced ‘thank you’ and went on with her morning.

Mayumi wasn’t a morning person.

The question burned in her as Hanako searched for the moment to ask. She went on with her own routine which was done much sooner, hers not being nearly as full of makeup and clothing.

While Mayumi was carefully applying eyeliner, Hanako finally asked, “Wh- Why do you work as a hostess? I mean- just- what do you g- get from it?”

Mayumi looked at her from the mirror, breaking the trance that she was in.
“Aside from paid?” She smiled but could tell that Hanako wanted something deeper.

“I think…” She continued quietly, intimately, working her way back into the eyeliner. “I think that I like to make people happy. That’s what we try to do. Men come in to be happy and desired so that’s what we give them. I’m sure most people only see money but I like to think that making someone feel like they were wanted is the real reward.”

Hanako was satisfied but she could feel that there was more to it. Mayumi was a simple woman but Hanako couldn’t help sensing that there’s more to her than she lets on.

***

“What do you think? Is the red too much?” Mayumi stood against the sunlight pouring into the bedroom window and made little mock poses. She wore a long, black, silk dress with a low cut v-neckline and a slit at the bottom that went to her right knee. Over the dress, she wore a small red leather jacket adorned all over with zippers and buttons.

This was the first time she was taking a good long look at her roommate in the morning. Her light brown hair cascaded down to her full figure displayed in tight black silk. Her breathtaking tan face, mature with the subtlest of lines. Her controlled, yet alluring mannerisms as she stood first with a hand on her hip, then moved into a little spin, giggling to herself.

Head to toe, front to back, she looked ravishing. Especially with the red jacket.

“I think the jacket l- looks good… really good...” The response drew a laugh from Mayumi.

“Well thank you. It’s hot out anyways so I can take it off if I’m really not feeling it.”

It was hard to believe that she met this striking pinnacle of radiance and beauty when she was without makeup and in a hoodie and sweatpants. Mayumi looked like a different person from that night, more bewitching than comforting, still unbelievably attractive.

Yet, there stood Hanako, ready to go into work in a blue polo over a black long sleeve shirt.

A familiar feeling of inferiority crept into Hanako. She thought of those bottles in Mayumi’s apartment, how high-class they looked. She thought of the inside of the club that she’d been taken to, those polished floors and tables, everything either richly colored wood or porcelain that drank the golden light. A glowing neon purple sign hung over the doorway, shining out the words 'The Lavender Room.'

Hanako wasn’t sure if she liked the name but there was a grandeur she’d never seen before in that building, in Mayumi’s lifestyle. The two lived modestly otherwise in what they ate, wore, and did but there was some gilded feeling of superiority and class in what Mayumi did for a living. Just within reach, yet just out of her grasp.

***

On the bike ride home from another day, Hanako couldn’t help but consider a twinge of boredom that had underscored her day.

There was still fear in dealing with others, there might always be that fear. That horrible awareness of their eyes on her, their judgements, and at worst, their disgust, yet already it was becoming routine, and almost painful at that. The same actions over and over, the same low fear again and again, each customer doing the same thing, making her feel the same thing.

When she made it back to the apartment, she spent time alone, as she usually did, before Mayumi made it back.

She thought of the Mayumi she’d first met, walking the chilly early morning air in baggy clothes and without makeup.

She thought of the Mayumi she saw this morning, that monument to beauty that seemed to emanate sunlight. She wondered what she would look like in that dress if she tried to wear it. Maybe if she looked more like that, the fear would go away. Maybe she would find herself.

She tried to read and put her mind elsewhere but strange thoughts continued to nag at her. She knew it was odd and wrong but nevertheless made her way to Mayumi’s room and found herself looking through her closet.

All manner of unbelievably alluring clothing stared back at her and she began looking through them, wondering and wondering. Eventually, she took a deep purple dress from the closet and held it in front of herself in the large mirror of the bathroom. She put it aside and looked at her own figure, then to the dress which somehow managed to be more shapely than she was despite being a piece of cloth.

She ran her hands along all of the makeup that Mayumi had kept, picking up and inspecting concealers, primers, mascara, eyeliner, eyeshadow, foundation, endless instruments to make one beautiful from endless companies too rich for her.

None of them were quite right for her skin tone, Mayumi had a deeper complexion and Hanako hadn’t been too friendly with the sun recently.

She heard the front door unlock and open and so rushed to replace everything as close to how she found it as possible, hanging the dress and standing up all the beauty products to the way they were before rushing to her futon and snatching a nearby book she’d already finished.

Mayumi peeked into the bedroom and, from the look she gave, could tell that something was strange but didn’t mind it.

“Hey, little lady. I’ve got a surprise for you.” Mayumi made her way into the room with a hand behind her back.

Hanako sat up from her futon at attention and Mayumi revealed a bottle of wine. Taking a good look at the label, it looked fancy but Hanako knew little about wines, or alcohol in general.

“I know what you’re thinking and the answer is yes, we’re gonna share.”

“A- Are you sure? If it’s yours I d- don’t want to-”

“Don’t sweat it,” she reassured. “It was a gift from a customer. Plus it’s pretty good stuff. Not the best but pretty good. Do you drink?”

Technically, she’d drank once but that was a long while ago.

“Not really…”

“Well then this’ll be a good introduction. C’mon I’ll teach you how.”

How much could there be to know about drinking?


continued...
Last edited by Skelly on Wed Aug 26, 2020 2:48 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: A Hostess to Lavender (Hanako Bad End Continuation)

Post by Skelly » Thu Aug 20, 2020 1:30 am

...continued

***

There was, in fact, something very important to know about drinking and that was how much one could handle, which Hanako did not have a good grasp on. Luckily, Mayumi was good enough to keep her from falling over herself but it was safe to say that Hanako couldn't stand straight if she tried.

The two still managed to talk for a long long while about things they could barely remember minutes later, at least Hanako could barely remember them, Mayumi seemed much more accustomed to drinking.

The conversation was strange and too friendly at times but they’d been living together long enough to allow it. At the moment, Hanako didn’t seem to mind.

“I’ve been meaning to ask,” Mayumi began, “and don’t feel like you have to answer but I’ve been meaning to ask how it is you ended up where you did when we met?”

A chill went through Hanako and she suddenly felt as if she were on stage in front of thousands, bright lights bearing down on her. She took a deeper sip of her glass and Mayumi poured her another before filling her own. The bottle was reaching its end.

She did want to answer the question. She just wasn’t sure where to begin and was too inebriated to discern the best starting point. She decided to just talk and see where it took her.

“When I was little I… lost my family. I… don’t really w- want to talk about that. I didn’t know m- many people after. I wasn’t good at making fr- friends. Maybe that was my fault.

“In high school… My first real friend, she… she was a g- good lady. She wanted me to be h- happy and I was happy for that… but she didn’t r- respect me. I’m sorry, I don’t know if that makes sense. She thought I was a wounded l- little girl who needed to be p- protected. She couldn’t h- help but look down on me. She l- left the country for f- family. I d- don’t know if I m- miss her.

“There was another p- person. A boy. A sad b- boy. I thought he was g- good for a while but… H- He didn’t respect me either… everyone just treated me like some pitiful little th- thing… Maybe that’s what I was... I remember… I remember yelling at h- him for looking down on me… He d- didn’t talk to me after that…

“Maybe it w- wasn’t good how I treated him… I don’t think h- he treated me good either. I stopped t- talking to my other friend… I didn’t know h- how close I’d always been to b- being alone but… but now I was alone…

“There was a lot I’d wanted to do before b- but now there was just… just… it was l- like a blanket was over me and weighing me d- down and I couldn’t do anything g- good anymore. I wanted to b- be good at school at least so I c- could do things in the future but… that didn’t h- happen…

“When I g- graduated, I was alone a- and my grades weren’t good and I had spent s- so much time in my room with th- that blanket over me that I d- didn’t have anywhere to go… I tr- tried one last time when I tried to g- get into a good university but I didn’t make it… then th- that was it…

“I l- lived off of what my… what my parents left me. I did have a j- job before at a delivery company. I j- just moved b- boxes around but… I g- got yelled at a lot for d- doing things wrong and I just… I couldn’t k- keep doing it so I quit… I stayed in a small apartment f- for a while but I was running out of m- money so… I couldn’t st- stay there…
“I wish… I wish things could’ve g- gone different… I wish I had the st- strength to get back up after all th- that but… I didn’t have it in me so I st- stayed in that cheap l- little room waiting for…” She pauses for longer than usual, “Waiting for I don’t know. I’m sorry I talked so long…”

“Don’t be sorry, Hana...” Mayumi had glossy eyes that she wiped with her sleeve before taking another sip of her wine. “I’m sorry all that happened… You don’t deserve all that. You’re a beautiful, kind, sweet girl who-”

“I don’t th- I’m sorry. I don’t think I am… I think… I think I’m afraid of myself. How low I’ve been… when I look at p- people I just… I think I hate them… in my core, there’s th- this ugly hate inside me… I don’t want to but it’s just been s- so…” She doesn’t know how to finish her statement and goes quiet.

Mayumi doesn’t know how to respond for a long minute. Hanako becomes horribly aware of the silence she’d just created and frantically searches for another topic of conversation.

“What- What was your life like? Why did it m- make you so happy?” She asks, taking another sip. Mayumi decides that this glass should be her last.

“Who said I’m happy?” Mayumi looks sincere for a long moment. “Nah, I’m pretty happy. I’m… I’m alright. I’m glad you told me all that, y’know? It’s good to tell people things, and I like getting closer to you.

Hanako, through her insecurity and how foolish she’s sure she’s made herself seem, manages a smile.

“My life story.” Mayumi begins. “I’m nothing special, I mean… I got out of high school, didn’t take it as seriously as I should have but there are other ways to live. I wanted to be a nurse for a while but it’s a lot, to be a nurse. You’ve gotta do a lot and the things you have to deal with… It’s a lot…

“Those people hold a lot of sadness back. There’s a lot of things in the world that’s hard and those people fight it and that’s why I wanted to be a nurse. In the end, though, I couldn’t cut it. Parents weren’t too happy about that. Maybe I wasn’t strong enough.

“I worked some jobs here and there. Little ones that came and went like nothing. I met lots of people, still wanted to do what I could for the world, y’know. I haven’t really kept up with people though… not many people keep up with me either.

“I really do think people deserve to just be happy so eventually… well the first job that I think really stuck with me, I… I danced… I was a dancer… It wasn’t something I could keep doing. It was too… impersonal. I tried though. For a while, I really tried, like with nursing. There’s a lot more to dancing than just flaunting, you know. There’s… intimacy… people feel good… warm… wanted…

“Eventually, I found the Hostessing job and it’s kept me happy. I really mean it! I wake up and I feel good, y’know?”

It could be the lighting but Mayumi looks much more mature right now in Hanako’s eyes. Almost sad.

“I don’t know if I un- understand you… May...” The drink had brought honesty from Hanako that even surprised her.

Mayumi smiled. “It’s just good to make people happy. I’d probably work as a clown if I didn’t look so damn good.” She chuckled at her own joke for a bit longer than normal. “Y’know… people can be mean… people can be meaner than they want to be. Most people just look at other people and they see what they wanna see or what they can get from them… A lot of people don’t get a second look if they can’t offer something that someone wants… Even family can forget about you if you can’t give ‘em what they want in you…

“It’s a bad thing, to be unwanted… a sucky, crappy, bad thing… Why shouldn’t someone- everyone feel cared for? Listened to? It’s too easy to be forgotten and left behind… way too easy and way too bad of a thing to be that easy…”

“Y- Yeah…” Hanako agreed, quietly.

“You’ve been asking me a lot of questions about my job, huh?”

Maybe it was the wine but Hanako found it almost easy to ask the true question underneath all her interrogatives.

“Do you think,” She finally asked, “that I’d be good at it?”


NEXT SCENE: HER TICKET TO THE TOP OF THE WORLD
Last edited by Skelly on Sat Aug 29, 2020 9:43 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: A Hostess to Lavender (Hanako Bad End Continuation)

Post by Hanako Fancopter » Sun Aug 23, 2020 8:57 pm

If I had to say one thing about this story it's that it takes too long to get to Hanako actually being a hostess. That's the initial pitch, but from everything posted so far, she still hasn't actually started working as one yet, though it seems like it's not far off now. That aside, the story is well-written, and it has the potential to go somewhere if you keep working on it.
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Re: A Hostess to Lavender (Hanako Bad End Continuation)

Post by Hacksorus » Fri Aug 28, 2020 2:39 am

I think this is a good start! Nothing wrong at all with taking time to build up to the main premise. After all, with an idea as outlandish as Hanako working in a job like that, I think this much buildup was necessary to make it believable.

I like how you're not relying too much on the source material, as well. Hanako feels like a different person, as she would after having gone through all that she had, and I like the dynamic she's got going with Mayumi. It seems inevitable that this story will need to have some new faces soon, so I'm interested to see how that goes. I'm not as experienced a literary critic as some of the forum's other regulars, so that's all I can think to say at the moment.

Sooner or later, if you continue this I'll be sure to check it out!
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Re: A Hostess to Lavender (Hanako Bad End Continuation)

Post by Skelly » Fri Aug 28, 2020 5:10 am

Thank you both for the feedback!

I will say, I agree that the buildup makes sense but I do admit that I picked a hell of a thing to build up to so I get that it can feel long. Hoping it flows better when the full story is all out there and there's no waiting for updates.

It does feel good to take the character in this direction since I can really make it my own, explore uncharted territory, all that. I'm glad it's as entertaining to read as it is to write

Scene 4 is incoming soon due to my awful slept schedule!

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Re: A Hostess to Lavender (Hanako Bad End Continuation)

Post by Skelly » Sat Aug 29, 2020 9:39 pm

SCENE 4: HER TICKET TO THE TOP OF THE WORLD

There was a hand on her thigh.

Mayumi sat at her left smiling and nodding to an innocuous story being told by some stranger, unfamiliar women greeted and charmed unfamiliar men in the golden room around her, not a single sober voice could be heard, and there was a hand on her thigh.

Maybe, she thought. Maybe this means that I’m finally doing my job well.

Technically, as per the rules of conduct, the man who the hand belonged to could be given a warning or even asked to leave because of where his hand was. Technically below the belt.

Hanako wasn’t sure if she should tell him or not. This was the first customer that she’d actually gotten to buy a drink without May’s close help.

Just weeks ago, she was looking in the mirror at some violet goddess that May had insisted on turning her into.

She’d said things like “You don’t know how good you can feel until you’ve seen how good you can look” while they rooted through dresses, jackets, coats, blouses, earrings, bracelets, and a whole galaxy of expensive looking beauty products suited to Hanako’s tastes and skin tone. The 'normal' skin at least.

That sickly yellow part on her right still had to be hidden behind hair and clothes.

She was shocked at how welcoming a quality hairdresser could be. The smiling woman standing behind her chair with scissors recommended something shoulder length which May endorsed. She didn’t even question the request to keep the right side of her bangs long enough to cover her face.

There was no shortage of ego-boosting flattery when May got a look at Hana’s shorter, cleaner hairstyle. “Who’s this mature and elegant lady and what’s she done with my friend? Don’t do too well with customers, you’ll probably make me jealous of them.”

When the ensemble came together and she saw the beauty that she could become, there was an invigoration lit inside her that screamed to be seen.

Silken dark hair stopped at her shoulders leading to a deep wine colored turtleneck dress that hugged her figure and reached down to just above her knees.

Looking at herself, she couldn’t even see her scars. The long sleeves, high neck of the dress, the dark sheer tights over her legs, and the hair styled down past her right eye masked those points of trepidation that clung to the right side of her body.

“It’s not strange? The hair o- over my face?” Hanako asked.

“It’s cute. Makes you look all mysterious and reserved.” Mayumi encouraged.

It’d been years since she’d worn anything so flattering. She’d gained some weight back since moving in with Mayumi and it only helped how she filled her dress out. She felt like a woman, not that sad, skinny thing in cheap sweatpants and baggy t-shirts she’d been.

The job interview for being hired into The Lavender Room made her glad she’d rehearsed so readily for the convenience store.

The convenience store. It seemed a lifetime behind her now.

In a blink, she was on her first shift as a hostess, greeting and seating customers for an evening of fine drink and good conversation amongst a choosing of beautiful women to accompany them.

She almost felt like she belonged amidst these beautiful women. That she was one of them.

There was a voice inside that told her she wasn’t ready just because she looked pretty. Unfortunately that voice had been right.

Right enough that, for weeks, she’d only been able to hold a customer’s attention as an inferior at Mayumi’s side. Right enough that keeping a conversation going enough to do her job well was a rare blessing that never seemed to come to her.

Right enough that she couldn’t bring herself to take the hand off of her thigh.

“Usually the girls working at clubs like this are so rehearsed and disingenuous,” He said to her, squeezing his fingers lightly around the fabric of her tights, “but I know for sure I’ll be coming back to see you again.”

She could only blush at this.

This was the first time a customer had given her a genuine compliment. Not some awkward platitude out of pity. This was the first time that anyone had said anything like this to her ever.

She wasn’t sure what she’d expected when she started. The barrier between her and the people around her was still as strong as it had been before she dressed herself up and she was still the little shy girl that was to be disregarded and pitied.

Customer after customer would flock to May out of the two of them. She seemed the perfect foil to Hanako, brighter and outright voluptuous while able to hold a conversation and make people feel heard.

On lucky days, Hanako could only hope that the customer she’s with disregards her or simply speaks at her rather than with her. It didn’t feel good to be used as an earpiece but it was a better thing than to be trapped in the hell that was a two-way conversation.

The farthest she could take it was “So what do you do?” followed by “Oh that’s interesting, could you tell me more?” If she was daring, she’d try “So what do you do for fun?” All in that terribly stilted manner of speaking that she’d learned to hate.

One night after work, Mayumi came in on her practicing tongue twisters and cursing at herself whenever she stuttered. She sat with Hanako for some time trying to tell her that people would love her the way she.

If that was the case, why bother wearing makeup?

At the worst of times, she would catch them stealing looks at her face, the side she’d tried so hard to hide behind her hair. Sometimes the looks were of pity, sometimes they were disgust, one customer took a look at her close and didn’t talk for so much as five minutes before requesting another hostess.

All of them saw the same thing and tiptoed around it in the worst ways she could’ve expected. She’d tried to hide the discoloration with heavier makeup but there was no covering the way the burns changed her skin. The strange, rough texture of her cheek. The melted look it gave her brow.

Getting close meant that these things would be seen by anyone who cared to look.

Looking meant disgust. Not looking meant pity.

Hanako hadn’t felt more judged and alone and stupid and incompetent in her whole life.

So many customers in the short time she’d been working, all inspiring such inferiority and frustration in her, yet this one had connected so well with her, the conversation flowing and flowing and enrapturing the two with each other.

Hostesses were paid on commission for the drinks they were able to sell and she’d made more tonight than any other night that she’d worked so far off of him alone.

He was some salaryman with tired eyes behind sharp eyeglasses and a mature face. He didn’t look to be older than his late-20s.

He made some off-handed comment on some book he’d read and so the two rambled to each other about increasingly obscure literature for hours while the drinks came and came.

He was a nice enough man but after a few drinks, he wasn’t afraid to step on what Hanako was saying to speak his mind over hers. She’d be upset if she weren’t so drunk on the attention and the little cocktails he’d kept calling over.

He was the kind of man who more enjoyed hearing his own thoughts aloud than a dialogue with another.

Go ahead and interrupt me, she thought. You’re the one paying for drinks.

And now his hand was on her thigh.

It felt wrong. Too much too fast. Like a stranger involuntarily pressed against her on a crowded train. Then again, was that what she was here for? A quick fix of fast affection and attention?

It was wrong but she knew she was wanted and there was a power in being wanted that she held onto and swallowed with the last sip of some sparkling liquor and juice glass that’d been ordered to her table.

She’d made her decision on the matter of his misconduct and placed her shaking hand onto his, wrapping her fingers around it as the two kept talking.

She wasn’t going to be some scared little thing too shy to keep a conversation going. She wasn’t going to live in the shadow of another, too scared of the sun to show her face.

She was a woman who could stand alone if she wanted to. At least that’s how she felt as she gripped the man’s hand on her leg.

Saito, she remembered. That’s his name. Call him by his name, make him feel your interest even if it doesn’t exist.

“Y- You’re a very intelligent man, Saito. I haven’t met anyone l- like you before.” She flattered him.

“And I don’t think I’ve ever met a woman working a club who’s as well read as you are. I’ve not had a conversation this in-depth in years, I think.” He continued in his educated superiority. “It’s refreshing. How long have you been working as a hostess?”

“N- Not long. I actually just started this month.” Hanako answered.

“Well you’re the most cultured one I’ve met. Just don’t tell your friend I said that.” He chuckled. She liked the praise but he was mocking Mayumi. His words were like sugar melted in snake venom.

“I’m glad you… chose me then. It’s nice to talk to someone a- also interested in this kind of thing. I feel like I b- bore most people.”

“Then most people are idiots who don’t know a good talk.”

She giggled at this. It was a harsh thing to say but she felt it deep inside herself.

“Do you think you’ll be at this job for long? Is it to your liking?” He asked.

“I like it, I’m just n- not the best at it yet. Talking with so many people c- can be a bit much. Maybe I just need more time before I-”

“Ah, that makes sense…” He cut her off.

Just what makes so much damn sense? She thought, raising a hand to her right cheek instinctively.

“You should challenge yourself. I think,” He continued, “with a mind like yours, you could become one of the best if you tried, and I mean that”

She smiled. A strange part of her ego was fed. A part of her that she was discovering more and more as she squeezed his hand under hers.

“And I doubt that someone as beautiful as you has much to be afraid of when it comes to conversing with so many people, as you say.”

He took her chin in his other hand and looked into her left eye. The moment lasted forever as she looked back at him.

This was the goal of the drink, she figured. This quick infatuation.

Hanako looked into his eyes in a way she’d never looked into the eyes of another before. For once, in the shortest of moments, she found herself looking down on someone.

“Your eyes have a very nice color.” He said in a low voice.

May would’ve told a joke to decompress the situation if she felt Hana was uncomfortable but she was still busy talking with another customer. Though right now, Hanako didn’t feel the need to be saved.

So many customers had already put her in so many situations in which she didn’t know the right thing to say but right now was different.

She didn’t avert her eyes. For once, she didn’t look away and finally she realized why that was.

He wanted her, and that want gave her power. Looking up at him, the sharp smell of alcohol on both of their words, she finally had some semblance of power.

As wrong as the hand on her thigh was, as wrong as the fingers on her chin were, and as wrong as they made her feel down to the bone, she knew that she finally could truly stand above another.

That was the true gift of this new occupation of hers. For once, she had the right and the means to be the one looking down.

They see some scared, harmed little girl? Now they could be proven wrong. Maybe not to them but to her.

They see some scarred, disfigured monster? That's what the left side of her face was for. Maybe not everyone will be drawn in but enough will.

Even if they refuse to see anything but some shy thing to be saved, why stop them? Let them see what they want to see and buy drinks for whatever woman they choose to find in her. Who wins then?

Their desire was her weapon. Why the hell should someone who’s desired be afraid to say anything?

Fearlessness wasn’t the only ingredient to alluring conversation but it was a high stepping stone and she was damn ready to explore those places unknown to her, nurturing their desires right into her ego and her wallet.

“I think…” She finally said, “that w- we should order another drink and see where it takes us.”

It wouldn’t take them anywhere, she knew. But he didn’t

And he did. No hesitation, no question. For as sharp and superior as he was, he took his hands off of her and ordered exactly what she asked for when she asked for it.

How’d I say that? She wondered. Am I getting braver? More bold? Is it the drink?

A cocktail of very good clothes, many beauty products, a burning inferiority, deep frustrations, and more alcohol than she ever thought she’d drink was boiling and swirling inside and around her. Like a cocoon spun and shed in seconds, again and again, letting out a bolder woman each time.

My ticket, she thought. This is my ticket to the top of the world.


continued...

Skelly
Posts: 11
Joined: Thu Aug 20, 2020 12:37 am

Re: A Hostess to Lavender (Hanako Bad End Continuation)

Post by Skelly » Sat Aug 29, 2020 9:48 pm

...continued


***

The sweaty, hefty man in the softest suit she’d ever felt had been rambling about the financial state of the country for god-knows-how-long.

The character that Hanako had found herself playing was working wonders.

“...and so investments in real estate will see a boom in the coming years that we’ll want to be on top of. At my firm, this is something that we’re keeping a steady eye on.” He rambled.

Head just barely tilted down so she could look up at him with larger eyes, she continued her routine of nodding at everything he said.

“Wow…” She almost made herself cringe. “I’m glad someone as smart as you d- decided to come in and speak with m- me. You know so much…”

Mayumi put a hand over her mouth to stifle the laugh that was creeping out of her. She hadn’t gotten used to seeing Hana like this yet.

“Ain’t it a fair trade?” He took his glass in his hand. “I get to ramble, you get to listen, we all get to drink?”

He chuckled at his own joke.

Hana put a hand over her mouth and gave a near silent laugh that the big man seemed pleased at. May had caught her practicing that same laugh in the mirror, hand over the mouth and all.

“I w- wish more men were like you, y’know,” Hana told him, quiet enough so that Mayumi’s customer wouldn’t hear. “You’re just so… smart and reliable. You seem like you c- could protect someone you cared about if you had t- to.”

He flashed the same look of quiet pride that Hana had seen on at least a dozen faces by now.

“Sadly,” He said, chin held high, “most men aren’t like me. Most are still boys, you know? They can’t provide or protect worth a damn.”

“I’m g- glad you care about me then.” She put a hand on his arm. “Y- You do, right?”

He smiled and put his hand over hers which was all the answer she needed.

“You know…” She continued, “there’s this drink that’s too expensive for me but I’ve always wanted to t- try here but… Nevermind, it’s silly…"

“No, which is it? I think something nice for you would be a good end to the night.”

She smiled to him, though mostly to herself, and picked out the same upper end glass of champagne that she’d had six times previous from six other customers.

She was starting to feel as good as she looked.

***

“Liquid courage works wonders on you, huh” May worked her arms through the sleeves of her jacket in the dim club, prepped for closing.

“Maybe I’m just g- getting better at this.” Hanako shot back.

“Hey, don’t underestimate the drink. People who own these places sure don’t.”

Hanako was gathering up the last few glasses on their table into a plastic bin, doing her bit in closing. She lifted it and made it all of three steps before a man closing with them stepped in and took it from her.

Only after her hands were empty did she realize she’d almost fallen over.

“Woah…” May began toward Hanako. “Nori, you got her?”

“It has to be said,” He replied, placing the bin on the bartop, “She’s gotta stop drinking so much. It’s, what, nearing her second month, coming in from not drinking at all previous?”

"I've h- had alcohol before I started working. I’m fine.” Hanako wasn’t aware of how quiet she was speaking.
Nori put a hand on her arm in case she stumbled again. “It helps. It’s s- scary to talk to so many p- people but it helps.”

“The drinks are mostly juice and soda usually anyway, right?” Mayumi tried desperately to lighten the situation. “It’s really hard for her to do all this. Honestly, I’m really proud of her for doing as well as she-”

“Watered down or not,” Nori cut in, “she’s drinking too much. Especially when you let her finish yours.”

“P- Please don’t fight...” Hanako whimpered out. “I’m sorry… I just... it helps. It's nice-”

“I’ve been meaning to tell you by the way, you can’t let her keep doing that. I thought it was just once in a while but I saw maybe four of your drinks today you let her take from”

Nori, being the manager during their shift and being a man on the larger side with grey at the sides of his hair commanded enough presence to shrink May’s usually optimistic demeanor.

“I didn’t know it was that bad…” She looked to Hanako, who looked back at her and right through her with barely focused eyes. “I’m sorry, I thought it might help her adjust better.”

“Just keep a better eye on her. We don’t want her to black out on a customer or worse.” He looked genuinely sympathetic for the both of them. A look that Hanako still, after all the empowerment she’d been finding, hated to her core. “I’ll finish up here. You two can head home. Don’t worry about it too much and make sure she’s feeling alright, yeah?”

“N- No…” Hanako stuttered out.

The two looked at her. She may as well have been under two spotlights.

“I w- wanna help. I’m fine. I c- can work fine and I’m d- doing good.”

“Hanako c’mon. Let’s go home. He's right, you should lay down." Mayumi tugged at Hanako’s wrist.

Without a word, Hanako pulled herself from May’s grip and made her way to the plastic bin full of glasses on the bartop. Nori resigned himself to her decision and made his way to the back room to finish his closing duties.

Hanako brought the bin to the kitchen before making her way to the bar where Mayumi was overturning stools atop the counter.

Hanako walked steady enough to one of the stools, bent down to lift it, and a horrible churning found its way into her stomach and up into her throat.

She dropped the stool on it’s side and put a hand over her mouth, staring at the floor and waiting for the feeling to pass.

“Hana?” Mayumi took a step toward her. “You okay, sweetie?”

The churning grew and swirled in her, further and further up her throat and she rushed to the bathroom, throwing open the door and perching her head over the toilet.

May rushed in close behind her and pulled her hair back behind her head. The cold air against the scars on her face only made Hanako feel more sick.

“I’m sorry.” May said to her. “I should’ve… I should’ve known better. I’m sorry… I’m sorry…”

The feeling inside her overflowed and the drinks from the past 8 hours all came back up horribly while Mayumi continued her tearful chant

“I’m sorry. I’m sorry. I’m sorry.”


To be continued...

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Hacksorus
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Re: A Hostess to Lavender (Hanako Bad End Continuation)

Post by Hacksorus » Fri Sep 04, 2020 3:48 am

Nice update! Alcohol really can bring out new sides from people, and I like how it interacted with and brought out some of the lingering insecurities and anger she's been bottling up along with the newfound confidence.
I go by Snowman in most places now (SnowmanSSB if I have to sometimes). If you run into me somewhere in the internet feel free to say hi!

Hanako Fancopter
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Re: A Hostess to Lavender (Hanako Bad End Continuation)

Post by Hanako Fancopter » Sat Sep 05, 2020 1:52 am

Good update I agree! Showing the conflict between Hanako wanting to mean something to someone, but not necessarily liking the things she has to do to get there.
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