Stop The Clock (Meiko)

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Hotkey
Posts: 68
Joined: Tue Dec 31, 2013 5:36 pm

Stop The Clock (Meiko)

Post by Hotkey » Sun May 25, 2014 10:05 pm

Stop The Clock (Meiko)

Image
Thanks to FlimFlamel for this great accompanying art!

Contains H.

This story would not have been possible without Mirage_GSM and brythain for their kind help and outstanding proofreading skills, sg1cat's excellent story 'After Graduation' which served as a guide on how to write a tasteful sex scene, all you fellow authors here that I seem to take more and more inspiration from lately, and all you kind readers.


***

"Please touch the panel."

The day has only just begun. The assistant smiles. I very much appreciate his kind attitude in finding what I want. There's something deeper to his smile, something that went undetected by myself over the last few minutes. A slight, well-hidden wryness to his lips that suggests relief at today being the end of the - and I assume his - working week. I'm sure by the evening his quiet smile will be camouflaged by a much more weary and fatigued expression. Usually, I too will look that way once the summer sky's red hue arrives, but today's a little different.

I reach out and jab the screen. My fingernail collides hard with the smooth touch screen, so I pull back a few inches to try and prod it softer with my index finger, but the computer has already accepted my input and started doing something else entirely.

After a disinterested glance at my antics, the assistant patiently waits for me to put my money in the tray. I place a folded ten thousand Yen note in, cringing slightly as I'm well aware of how little change I'll be offered back.

The till whirs into action. My feet elevate me half an inch, maybe three quarters, up in the air, enabling me to surreptitiously peek over the counter. Inside, rows of coins fresh from the store's safe are neatly lined up side by side, waiting to be scrambled messily as they're handed out to customers, of which I am the first. A uniformed worker with a mop is still drying the floor in the far corner of the shop. It is, after all, only five past eight on this golden morning.

The assistant replaces my offered payment with a small, curved paper receipt, which I take, and a few coins, which I sieve through my fingers into my trouser pocket.

Before I head out into the street through the store entrance, I take the large freezing bottle of sake, as requested by my date, off the counter and stash it within my leather teaching bag. The atmosphere is heaps too warm to enjoy the gush of hot air from the door frame that blasts my scalp.

A man walks towards me, his focus on the handle to the shop door, obviously a prospective customer. I thrust my arm out to keep it open for him. He seems surprised – no, stunned, at my generosity, and gives me a funny look.

"... Thank you."

I have plenty to be kind about, for I am a lucky man.

Outside in the street, I begin walking, and join the crowd marching and stomping down the high street. I've got classes to teach, and afterwards, a beautiful woman to meet.

***

A determined walk used to be fun. It was a rarity, just for special occasions. Like anything treasured, it loses its charm through overindulgence.

In my head I repeat those familiar words to that familiar melody I listened to as a healthy-chested young teenager, when I so desperately wanted to be a grown up adult with all the rights, responsibilities and independence it brings.

Well it's five O’Clock, I can leave the office, I can head for home on the evening train,
Can't stand my boss, and I hate the job, but I need the money, it's a real pain.


To think that I once desired that kind of lifestyle, I must have been a pretty dense teen. Considering such drudgery was my prediction for the future, I have to admit, my adult life has turned out endlessly better than I feared the reality would be.

A man with curly black hair, combed in a noticeably lopsided manner over his forehead, rectangular glasses, and thin, fox-like eyes bumps into me, or perhaps I into him. I wasn't really paying attention; instead, too busy listening to the song in my head.

Well I hate the crowd, I despise the rush, as they head for home, and they push and shove,
I should stay behind and avoid the jam, but I must get home, it's the way I am.


My legs carry me as speedily as my heart will allow, in between the bland, grim-faced salarymen. A custom-tailored suit is another luxury I cannot afford, with so many expenses each month on the salary of a junior chemistry teacher.

Usually I'd look similar to the drab workers walking around me. Today though, I took the bold step of educating jacket-less.

I even received a compliment from one of my final-year female students. She assured me that I, sporting a mere semi-buttoned shirt, was looking especially 'tope', which apparently means both 'tight' and 'dope'. That lighter-coloured clothes feel cooler than darker colours in the summer heat is a fact I suspect my class subconsciously knows, but the why (and the how) will be a lesson for the future. A kind, trendy, and now that I think about, possibly patronizing single syllable word was ample reward for myself staying behind to help Mutou's after school science club later than usual. They, of course, were unknowing of my sinister agenda: I didn't have time to travel to my apartment and back into the city for my date. Besides, the club is more fun than sitting in the Shanghai for two hours as if I'm a spare one at a wedding like last time.

That said, the passage of even wasted time is something I can honestly say I'm pleased about. My older students have been enrolled at Yamaku longer than I've been teaching, and that's a balance I'd prefer the other way.

It really is warm today.

I continue treading the congested pavement as I fiddle about in my pocket and fetch my phone. In its idle state, the display's clock tells me the evening has just begun.

Sometimes it really would be convenient if Meiko could get with the times and text me for a change. After scrabbling around for half a minute in amongst my folders, I pull out the scrap of paper I noted the time down on.

'Six-thirty'...

...and no one knows I'll be there.

I'd never had a real talk with her before, until a frozen winter's afternoon last year. Emi was expecting me at her house for dinner, when half an hour earlier she'd had to run off to hand some forgotten last minute work in. Her mother conveyed a heartfelt message of apology, and I politely said my goodbyes. "Would you mind keeping this old lady company for a little while?" I heard, as the snow gushed outside the front door I'd just opened. I complied with her wish, for the first of many times.

I spent many mornings, afternoons and weekends in between college with Meiko. She very nearly succeeded in mending my now twice-broken heart with nothing more than sweet tea and conversation. At first we talked only about my former relationship with Rin, but soon our chats progressed to life, love, and anything on our minds. The idea that I was falling for an older, much older woman, was just my imagination running away with me. I'd barely met her, but I couldn't forget her.

That surrounding mystery, the feeling that there's so much more to her than the external. It's something she and Rin both have in common, I suppose - that I don't understand either of them. With Meiko though, I feel like I'm getting to know her more and more. The way she keeps everything under control with effortless feminine cool; it's more alluring than any head of messy red hair or puppy dog smile. I longed to tell her of the feelings I had in my heart. One day I did.

Excited at seeing the woman who, with increasing frequency, has been in my daydreams lately, it's not long before I find myself dragging my palm along the same old steel double-railing I pass by every time I go to Meiko’s house.

The minor throbbing in my chest takes me back years now rather than months, to my first season of college when I nearly died. Some friends and I were jogging around town, through the parks and away from the pedestrians, when I lost consciousness and collapsed. Forty minutes it took for a medicopter to arrive, thanks to Emi pleading with the one-one-nine operator. It's a memory I'm not sure I'll ever forget.

My heart is now strong enough to withstand a fast pace over a moderate distance, but not strong enough to go without a workout on a regular basis. I'm pretty sure I'll get there quicker than a bus stuck in rush hour, anyway.

The traffic is heavy. My steps outpace its measly kilometres per hour. I feel both pity and concealed delight at all those people stuck in their dilapidating cars. Everyone is on their way home, after working late like they probably do every day.

Nothing beats a stroll. The exercise is great too, not to mention important to me. I come upon what used to be the cute little delicatessen that I really wanted to take Meiko to. She always cooks on my visits, and deserves to be treated, but I never got around to it. Now I can't. Opportunity missed. From the storefront, I can see that it's just re-opened as a bookstore.

As I'm about to pass by, I slow my hustle, and exhale what little air I have in my lungs. A large passenger bus, looking suspiciously similar to the one that parks at the stop near Yamaku, very slowly crawls by. I'm curious if the scented remnants of unsold speciality meats, seasonings and spices still linger, or whether the new occupants have replaced them with old leather.

I breathe in... and receive two nostrils full of diesel fumes.

My lungs empty for a second time, and I struggle to keep walking while nearly bent over double, coughing my heart into a frenzied beating. Fortunately, the pedestrian area of the street is mostly deserted, therefore I don't think anyone saw me make an idiot of myself.

It's time to turn away from the cars, and so I start to relax anew.

I love how the atmosphere changes. The sound of under-revved vehicle engines dies down, and the air has a stale scent, as though nothing ever really changes here. The deeper I venture, the louder the cicadas sing, and the more I dislike the coarseness of the basalt ground compared to the main road.

In the empty back alley, I behold the same old overgrown plants climbing up walls. Some of the gardens are so dense, I wonder if the owners have some other point of entry into their homes. Maybe these gardens have their own breed of inhabitants. Perhaps I could take my class here on a day-trip to search for new forms of life.

I look up to the miniature bedroom balcony, where I am to assume Meiko sleeps. Through the translucent glass, my eyes strain to recognize the lilac of the ceiling. It disheartens me every time I walk down this street, that it's what she stares at every night, all by herself.

"Six, seven," I mutter, gesticulating with my finger to the stone pillars enveloping each proud gate. "Eight!". I hop over the sturdy low-slung fencing, and step into all fifty square metres of the eternally warm and sunny Ibarazaki household garden.

Summer light shines brightly on the jigsaw arrangement of ceramic tiles. Meiko's garden floor is without a doubt the most lifelike walking surface I've ever witnessed. With chameleon-like properties, they mutate from graphite grey in winter, all the way to a snow-blinding shade of ghost white in the centre of the year, so dazzling that I'd need sunglasses just to stare at them.

The double glazing isn't thick enough to entirely muffle the music playing inside the house. Faintly, I can hear what is most likely 'T-Square', or as Meiko calls them, 'The Square', it being the music she tells me filled the void in her life as a student before meeting her late husband. Perhaps it just makes Meiko feel young. It has the same effect on me.

I hesitate for a few moments, so that I don't strike the glass in time to the rhythm beating inside and thus mute the knocks. Instead, my knuckles play a familiar, personalized, and above all, deliberately syncopated pattern of taps on the door panel.

My shirt, the sleeves unbuttoned from when I was resting over lunchtime in the staff room as usual, flaps about. The fabric is rather more salmon than coral, now that the sun has finished with it. I realise this may be a little too casual for my greeting. We're both making a big effort for tonight, so the least I can do is button my shirt up smartly.

With Meiko, what at first appeared to be a teasing sense of humour, is in fact one that enjoys the occasional practical joke, too.

As soon as I've finished alerting the woman I'm here to spend the evening with that I'm outside her kitchen, I bend down and swerve around the tall plant pots underneath the window.

One of the crocks seems more familiar than the others.

The front door swings open, forty five degrees; ninety degrees; the hinges softly guide it to the rubber stoppers in the wall opposite where I'm standing.

For the next few moments, all I hear is the song inside. The musical clarity provided by the higher frequencies of the song, previously shushed by the glass, now blares in my ears loudly.

"I know it's you, Hisao."

She caught me. I guess the knock gave it away.

"Where are you?"

One pale, bare foot, then another, heel first followed by the toes, with the confidence and style only a mature woman could have, steps onto the sandstone porch with a gentle plop. Hmm. She's as laid back as ever. It must be the summer weather, as I know she hates it. I was hoping it would be cooler indoors than out.

"I'm making stir-fry!"

I like it well done.

"... I can see you!"

I know she's lying. Her voice isn't projected anywhere near me. She's talking to the hedge. She's crazy. Meiko Ibarazaki is crazy. I'm in love with a crazy woman.

I try to sneak a peek at her through the leaves in front of my face.

Meiko's body is adorned by a deep, fiery red halter-neck dress. It hugs her slim waist rather pleasantly, and her bottom curves outwards at the top of her thighs. Above a few specks of fluff and dust on her stomach, her body expands out again, both at the sides and front, up to a tightly concealed high-cut crevice of skin just below her neck.

That wonderful ponytail lies slung over her shoulder as normal, except there's a purple swallow-beak-shaped ribbon tied around the base of the braiding, like something a Joseon girl would adorn herself with. Her signature headscarf is missing, and it's a rare chance for me, and me only, to admire the heat haze glimmering on the neat stream of barely curled brown hair. It's strange how her make-up simply makes her look more natural.

I swear her hair gets a shade darker every time I see her. Her daughter can't escape the genes she's inherited either, not that she would want to. Emi's once-blonde ponytails have gradually become a more spinsterish sandy brown.

My vision becomes a touch over-enamored with my view of Meiko. Trying a little too hard to look, my weight slowly drifts forward.

She nearly spies me, and ganders around, a slave to her poorly calibrated detective skills. I duck my head down to avoid being found.

"Ah!"

My eyes! The tiles! They blind me! I forgot the basic principle of light reflection! For a science teacher, this is quite the embarrassing disaster.

In my blind panic, my knees bump into the plant pots. Rattle rattle. I reach out and hold the edge of the smaller bowl. It already finished wobbling several seconds ago, but it's the thought that counts. Instinct is such a large part of what we do. You can only think a fraction of a second ahead in real time. At least I'm worried about its well-being.

Not wanting to get my fancy shirt dirty by falling all over nature's dance floor, I grab hold of the window pane and pull myself up. Meiko's mildly amused gaze meets me.

She looks gorgeous. Not for her age. She looks amazing for her age, but that's not what I think any more. She looks good regardless of her age. Her beauty is sufficient eye candy to compete for my male students' attention, rivalling some of their most senior female counterparts. Yeah, she's definitely looking 'tope'... Come on, I can get away with that; I'm only twenty-three.

"You're welcome to come and visit the bonsai you got me any time you like, but this is a bit ridiculous, Hisao."

I can't hide the beam on my face. "I'm here to see you, of course!"

She closes her eyes and smiles, evidently enjoying our fairly informal start to the evening. A thin mist of dust invades the distance between us, as Meiko pats her dress frantically. Either she hasn't washed that outfit before wearing it, or she's been cleaning the house in it. I hope it's the latter.

She takes a few steps backwards into the doorway of the house, obviously not wanting to dirty or roast the soles of her feet on the tiles outside any more than necessary.

"... ... ... Hisao!"

The new distance between us, combined with the music from the open door renders whatever Meiko says almost entirely unintelligible. As deafening as this noise might be, it's a stark contrast to the headache inducing thump-thump-thump I heard during my night out last week with Emi and... Rin. Yeah. Emi tried to hook me back up with my old girlfriend, or perhaps just get us together so she could sabotage my relationship with her mother.

"Pardon?"

On second thought, Meiko probably isn't able to hear my confused exclamation.

She turns to face the hallway, but realizes she's nowhere near her Hi-Fi, and spins back so she can perform a few casual cute little waving motions into her chest.

I oblige, and take a few steps of my own towards her.

Meiko touches my shoulders with her delicate fingertips. I like to imagine this can be considered a hug, but it's not a lover's hug. Neither is it one of those special hugs she reserves only for Emi.
Last edited by Hotkey on Wed Jun 11, 2014 9:30 pm, edited 3 times in total.

Hotkey
Posts: 68
Joined: Tue Dec 31, 2013 5:36 pm

Re: Stop The Clock (Meiko)

Post by Hotkey » Sun May 25, 2014 10:05 pm

I’m over-analyzing my relationships as usual. Meiko makes me forget everything when she leans forwards and lightly kisses my lips, just for a second or so.

With the step elevating her a few inches, her eyes are level with mine.

She tastes like... shrimp. Shrimp and perfume. The distinctive essence refuses to leave my taste buds. I drag my senses back to where they were, despite every organ in my body, except my brain, urging me not to, and stare into her eyes. She stares right back, but her eyebrows narrow slightly, disclosing through body language alone that she doesn't like me gawking too long. I blush a little in embarrassment, and her expression softens. Old habits die hard.

"Come on in, Hisao."

Tepidly, I head inside to join her. Already, the house is cloudy with odourless smoke.

I crouch down once again, this time to untie my teaching dress shoes. They look good placed alongside Meiko's sandals in the genkan.

Stepping into the kitchen, the music suddenly quietens down. For a brief moment I wonder if the building has some form of sentient intelligence that notices my arrival, or perhaps a floor-activated volume control system. There's always something new I seem to discover or experience here.

Disappointingly, although somewhat to my relief, it's just Meiko with her back to me, turning her jazzy music down.

Everything looks much the same as the previous time I had dinner here. A bevy of assorted dishes, pans and pots are neatly compartmentalized on the stove and many counters, steam rising out like the atmosphere of a busy Cantonese restaurant. In addition, the taste of Meiko's mouth that lingers on my tongue is complemented by the smell of hot chicken stock, fresh peppers and onions frying in soy sauce, and noodles mixed with ginger and garlic.

It's much different in the dining room however, similar to a romantic scene in a TV drama.

Only two chairs remain at the table; one on each side for Meiko and me to face each other closely. The spares are placed out of the way behind the curtains in the corner of the room. Amongst the mats, napkins, utensils and candle in a little metal burgundy dish, the table is crowded with preparation and cloth-dulled sunlight.

Very western, or perhaps European. I'm not sure what the difference is.

"Would you like some water?" Meiko calls out.

"Yes, please. Thanks."

She opens one of the wall-mounted wooden cabinets, and starts retrieving her sake set from the back. The glasses are as shapely as she is. Hang on, not yet. "Let's not get started too early."

"Ha! Can you put these on the table?"

I tightly grip both cups with my fingers in one hand, and start fumbling with the bag on my shoulder.

"That reminds me..." I mumble.

I've forgotten about the beverage inside.

Although there are a few empty spaces visible on the counter, I craftily lower my bag below the cupboards and drawers, and slide the bottle I bought this morning out from inside the zip pouch. I think it'll be more fun to surprise her than bring it out in front. As I grip it with my one free hand, I can feel it's rather warm, having been insulated in my bag under my various teaching desks all day. One may suggest that I store it in the staff room fridge; I would retort that leaving an expensive bottle of alcohol in the company of fed up teachers on a Friday afternoon might not be overly smart.

"Could you put that in the fridge for me? I mean... us?"

"Mmm! A Ya..." Meiko screws up her eyes and rotates the bottle with her hands as she struggles to read the writing on the label. Her squint rapidly turns into a grin. "Yamada Nishiki? Delightful! Thank you, Hisao. I'll put it in the bottom to chill."

The mantelpiece vibrates slightly as I step on the dining room floor, like it always does, as my date fusses with the dinnerware. I place the fancy glasses by the chopsticks on the table for later, and rub my shoulder with relief after dropping my bag on the floor by the door.

When I return to the marble counter behind which Meiko continues to prepare our meals, there's a glass of water waiting for me, complete with ice cubes within. Such luxury.

I lift the tumbler to my lips, and take a sip of the cold tap water. It's very refreshing. The cool glass is a stark contrast to the sweat around my face brought about by the humid weather and my strenuous walk to the Meiko's house.

As I wipe my face with the back of my hand, I can feel a small hair sticking up to the left of my mouth. That's right, I skipped shaving this morning to go shopping. I thought I could get away with it, or at least Meiko would appreciate a slightly more stubbly Hisao than usual. Best case scenario: this hair is going to get on my nerves and pester me all evening long. Worst case scenario: Meiko notices this sticking-out hair, realizes I don't take my morning hygiene seriously enough, and tells me to leave and never come back.

She seems hard at work in the open-plan kitchen, subtly tapping her fingers and flexing her neck as she rocks out to some horrendous '80s saxophone tune.

"May I use your bathroom?"

I hate to disturb her.

"Hisao, I've told you before," she raises her eyebrows with a smile. "Please feel at home here. Go right ahead."

She turns away, assuming that I know where it is. Fortunately, I do. It's out in the hallway.

There's a funny sound growing louder in my ears. It's the sound of the music in the kitchen overlapping with the same song coming from the empty living room, a split second delay between them as they bounce around the hallway. This must be the multi-room wireless stereo system she was telling me about a while back. Meiko sure has some fancy stuff. On the other hand, after college, I'm merely wealthy with debt.

I walk down the length of the corridor, the staircase right at the end, in the most inconvenient location imaginable, and skip up the pristinely vacuumed carpeted steps. I don't bother trying to make my footsteps as light as possible, she's not going to be disturbed over the noise of that music.

In the absence of that racket downstairs, I can just hear a little whining in my ear for a couple of seconds.

Meiko keeps her house so neat and tidy. I stretch my arms out, the upstairs corridor too narrow for me to flex them fully, and run my fingers along the walls. The surroundings may only be cheap beige drywall, but it's enjoyable to touch a part of Meiko's life and history. I pull my hands back away as I pass by the sacred articles.

Emi's bedroom, never to be entered, at her own insistence.

A very old hanging scroll featuring flowers and Chinese writing, the meaning of which I can never remember. Meiko once proudly claimed it's an original Changshuo, handed down by the Ibarazaki family and gifted to her a long time ago. I imagine it’s one of his lesser-known works.

Finally, I come across the most forbidden of objects. A big wooden door, shut fully, that protects Meiko's bedroom from the outside world. There's a vague scent in the air coming from it, almost imperceptible. It's her perfume. She must have changed into her dress and applied it not long ago.

Further down the hallway, I arrive in front of the bathroom door, half-open. Although I know the house is empty besides us two, I give it a gentle nudge, just in case there's someone inside. It opens a few inches, then a few more as I push it harder, until I can see fully inside, and that it is indeed completely vacant.

In the bathroom, I search around in the cabinets for something approaching a blade. Yes! In one of the cabinets, I spot a women's razor. Before I pick it up, I take a mental photograph of its exact position and location in the cabinet. Second shelf, top-down, blade facing the left. She'll never know.

I turn the tap on so that just a trickle of cold water runs out, dab my hand under it, and wet the side of my face. The blade feels dull against my skin. I suppose it should; a woman's skin is probably more sensitive than a man's. A tame brush of the metal down the side of my mouth, and in the mirror, I can no longer see the two or three millimetres of light brown bristle.

I think I've put it back in the right place. Maybe. Definitely. I head back downstairs into the now-quiet kitchen, and begin loitering around the counter where Meiko is working.

"You know, when Emi was a little girl, I once found her fiddling with the microwave. She thought it was a TV."

... 20... 25 years ago? It's scary to think that Meiko once stood in this kitchen mothering an infant Emi. I'm even younger than her daughter.

I wish she'd stop reminding me of the difference between us.

"She wouldn't leave it alone, so I unplugged it and let her sit on the counter all day long pressing buttons and trying to get her cartoons to appear on it."

Also, I can't wait to tease Emi about that.

"How was school today?" Meiko asks while flipping some vegetables.

Argh! She always does this to annoy me. It's easy to assume she's a little jealous that I spend all day around attractive young female students, so I always go right ahead and make that assumption.

"It's work."

"At school?"

"Yes! I work in a high school!"

"I know - calm down! What's the number for that helicopter that doesn't turn up on time when you have a heart attack?"

What mordant humour. It's something she starts to display once you get to know her.

"Eh-... listen, I'm trying to tell you now how sch-work was!" I insist, thrusting my half-empty glass of water outwards in her direction for emphasis.

The real question is 'how did my class do today'. My mind goes over whatever memories remain of each period, while taking a sip from the tumbler I'm holding.

"My students really learned a lot."

We've been friends long enough for her to know that means it was a good day, and so she must feel no response is necessary.

"Hey," I kick the conversation off again. "How was your holiday?"

Meiko is forever taking weekend breaks away by herself, now that Emi doesn't need her so much. She stays around the Pacific area, since the plane rides only take an hour or so. Her latest escapade has been Sado Island, where I'm told it's colder in summer and warmer in winter than here on the mainland.

"Ah, you remembered? It was beautiful. The weather was... just right." Meiko hates the extreme heat.

"Did you leave the hotel this time?"

She clicks her tongue sarcastically. "Yes. Well, not on the Saturday I arrived."

"You were only there for two days!"

"I went out on the Sunday!"

"To where, might I ask?"

"I sat on a lovely bench in a lovely park, and then went to a café for some lunch."

She's so lazy. "No sightseeing?"

"Taking photographs is such hard work, Hisao. I go on holiday to relax, not to run around like a gi-."

The phone beeps.

Meiko lips give birth to a smile that says 'sorry', and she twists to face the sink. The shimmering silver hoops suspended from her ears swirl around and chase after her.

She places the receiver against the side of her head with a metallic thunk.

"Hello?"

Although water has washed away the taste of the pastel kiss I received minutes ago, its memory is still fresh. She's so divine! That is the luckiest phone in the world.

"I..."

She stalls.

"I really can't. I'm sorry. I've been looking forward to tonight for an age."

...?

"Yes."

...?

"Thank you. See you on Monday!"

"I'm sorry about that, Hisao."

"That's okay. I'm pretty flattered, actually."

"Hmm," she lowers her eyes a little. "You're lucky I'm doing this on a Friday. Usually I'm a weekend girl. I don't have much time on the weekdays. I work all day and sleep all night."

She pauses, before continuing.

"My jay-oh-bee is rough on me~!" Meiko loves that line, so much so she scrunches up her eyes and smiles while delivering it. "But we can always work something out."

While she fiddles with the stereo in the kitchen, I detect something that seems slightly out of place by the wall. I hear Meiko's bare feet on the carpet walking back towards the dining table, and decide not to distract her concentration from the task at hand.

Sensing my chance, I turn around towards the mantelpiece and scan my field of vision for what it was that distracted my attention moments ago. I see the same photos as last time placed upon it. They seem different, somehow. My eyes swivel from the front to the back – the faces becoming increasingly obscured by the images in the foreground blocking them. The older pictures, the ones with her husband are still there. Meiko could never be crass enough to partake in clichés of placing photo frames face down, or even simply removing them. Instead, I notice they've been carefully rearranged in the most subtle of methods. More aged pictures are placed towards the back. The faces on them are hidden by larger, more eye-catching snapshots of increasingly golder and taller, yet always rather short in comparison to the woman next to her, Emis.

It's as though Meiko is respectfully placing her painful memories of the past behind her, but, much like her memory, she's unable to completely remove them. I wonder if some distant day an image of Meiko and me, or better yet Meiko, me and Emi will be placed at the forefront of this mantelpiece.

She catches me looking to my right, and an uncomfortable silence begins.

"I think the food is almost done. We don't want it to overcook, do we?"

As she goes off to the stove, Meiko shouts out "Please, sit down, Hisao."

She walks the circuitous route towards me demanded by the long dining room, a large serving of her freshly cooked shrimp stir-fry in hand. I must concede, it feels like I'm being both mothered and loved right now. As she bends down to gently place the bottom of the plate against the table mat, her chestnut hair lightly brushes the side of my face; intentional or not I'm uncertain.

Teasing me with intimacy? Two can play that game.

"Thank you, Mei. This looks delicious."

Oh, I got her good.

Well, that's new. The peachy skin of her cheeks has been replaced with a rosy red glow that rather matches her dress. I can't say I've ever seen Meiko Ibarazaki blush before. She's still not entirely comfortable with me using that pet name.

Meiko cheerfully retrieves the sake from her kitchen fridge. While over there, she presses a few buttons on her stereo. Music starts to pour out of the corners of the house, but it's a much more dreamy sounding song, no doubt by another one of her girly idols like Akiko Yano or Yumi Matsutoya. The glassy vibraphone tones might be unfamiliar, but perhaps that's part of their charm to me in this situation. They certainly set a more peaceful mood.

I know it's rude, but this stir-fry looks too good to wait to start eating. I'll just have a little piece while steamy heat still rises off the plate. I scoop a bit of shrimp and watery sauce into my mouth. She always gives me wooden chopsticks when she's especially proud of her cooking; apparently they don't pollute the taste of the food like metal ones do.

Ow, ow. My tongue bats the seafood around the inner walls of my cheek. It's even hotter than I thought it would be.

Her cooking is, as usual, utterly yummy.

I feel bad for not helping. "You know, I can always help out in the kitchen, if you want."

"Don't be silly, Hisao. You're my guest."

Meiko sits down and picks up her sticks.

"I used to make it for Kenichi, but Emi doesn't like it, so I don't bother any more. It was a pain acquiring the shrimp."

'Acquire'? Did she steal it? Ohhh... because the delicatessen has closed down.

I look at the small selection of trashy romantic fiction, marketed towards idle-minded housewives, on the bookshelf. Meiko's never struck me as an enthusiastic reader.

"Let's go on a date tomorrow."

"Tomorrow? Tomorrow’s Saturday. Emi will be here first thing in the morning."

"Yeah, and she won't see us, because you'll be outside on a date with me."

"Hmm. Where were you thinking of going?"

"The bookstore."

"What bookstore? Also, that's a rather dull venue for a date, Hisao. Is it one of those bookstores that sells tea and taiyaki?"

"Nope. Actually, I don't know. I haven't been there yet. It's just down the road, where the delicatessen used to be."

"I didn't know they'd turned it into a bookstore."

"Maybe you should get out more."

She looks a little miffed. Not something I see from her too often.

"Anyway, bookstores are a bit boring." Meiko retorts.

Blasphemy! I think the prospect of drinking that ten thousand yen sake is going to her head.

"We can go out to dinner afterwards, and maybe... a walk in the park together?"

She's defenceless against her kryptonite of a stroll amongst the cherry blossoms.

"Well..." Meiko fidgets about with her chopsticks some more. "I'll see how I feel tomorrow."

Good enough. I smile.
Last edited by Hotkey on Mon May 26, 2014 12:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.

Hotkey
Posts: 68
Joined: Tue Dec 31, 2013 5:36 pm

Re: Stop The Clock (Meiko)

Post by Hotkey » Sun May 25, 2014 10:06 pm

"So, how is it?" She asks.

"Good en- I mean... wonderful. It sure beats take-out."

"I thought I showed you how to cook properly?"

"Uh... yeah, I cook meals sometimes. You know, with ingredients..." One tiny fib. "A little bit." An equally minute smidgen of truth to balance it out.

She raises her left eyebrow in a quizzical fashion, scrunches her chin into her neck, and lowers her voice a few semitones to impersonate me. "What do you mean 'a little bit'?"

"If we did some cooking together I might get the hang of it a bit better."

"Hmm..."

"Honest! If you don't believe me, you should come by my apartment sometime and I'll make something for the both of us."

Now that I've had chance to savour what's on my plate a little more, this meal seems familiar. I'm sure I remember Rin making this in my parents' house when I was at college. It was the first time she'd ever cooked in a real kitchen. As with most of her first attempts, it wasn't great, and she never made it for me again. Maybe if I'd been more complimentary, told a few more white lies to her, the distance that came between us might never have entered our relationship. If I'd done that, though, perhaps I'd have both food I didn't like and a girl I'd fallen out of love with. That's the thing about trust; it distorts the memory, and tricks you into thinking you were more, or less, considerate than you really were, depending on who you are deep down.

"Hey, we haven't opened this yet," I say.

I hoist the bottle up and unscrew the top.

After filling her cup first, Meiko, in turn, fills mine.

She holds the glass up with her right hand, her eyebrow raised, examining it suspiciously. I love the way she lets the joints in her knuckles curve outwards rather than squash inwards. It's so elegant.

Feminine fingers wrap around the polished crystal container, and without warning it swiftly pivots into its owner's mouth. Meiko tilts her head down as she cleans her incisors with her tongue, and then rolls her eyes back, throwing her head upwards with a "Mmmh!"

"... Do you like it?"

"I like my sake the way I like my men - with character,” she says with a closed eye.

... It was a pretty big sip she took. I guess it's my turn. Down the hatch, like a professional.

Ooh, aah! It's cold and strong! It hurts! It's chilled the way it was while waiting for an owner in the shop.

Meiko giggles at my no doubt pained expression, and starts coughing into her glass in sympathy, before muttering "Good grief."

"It's a bit strong!" I splutter, shovelling rice into my mouth as politely as possible to cure the stinging.

I think I'd have preferred something unfiltered. The guy in the shop said it was sweeter, and therefore a better introductory flavour, not to mention cheaper. If Meiko enjoys it though, it was money well-spent. It's not surprising she would be comfortable drinking something powerful and fancy like this.

"Ha! I suppose it is. Something sweet is probably better for a young drinker. I think it has a lovely sour and tropical taste. Sake this good usually costs a lot of money."

"Yeah... I guess I got lucky."

"So, Hisao," she states, exaggerating my name. "What are your plans for the future?"

This sounds familiar. Didn't she ask me this last month?

I try to give one of my closed-mouth 'cold-shoulder' shrugs, the kind that only a miserable eighteen year-old high school student can offer, but this is a tendency four years of college and a year of teaching has worn away.

I hesitate, and remember what Nurse told me: "Just be honest with her, Hisao. I know she's a mystery to you, and me, but to her we're transparent."

"Umm... marry you?"

Meiko's emerald eyes water slightly as she stares at me. It's not a stare of intimidation or confidence, but because she can't turn her gaze away from me without making it seem obvious that she has nowhere else to look.

"... Don't, Hisao."

I shouldn't have done that. Drinking more of this freezing sake, that is. A despondent comment by your lover and painful gums are a horrible combination.

Slightly dazed, I prod my sticks, not really aware of what bouncy object they're making contact with. After a few times, I realize it's my meal. I toss some soothingly warm carrot into my mouth.

Meiko blinks away the water on her pupils with a fresh smile, and then looks at me expectantly as I chew.

"What?" I exclaim.

"What are your plans for the future?" Her voice rises in pitch throughout the sentence, making obvious her displeasure at the repetition.

This is a question gifted with thinking time, but I've spent it all reminiscing about the last time I was asked the question. I'd best answer quickly.

"I've... already achieved pretty much everything I want to do in life... right now, anyway."

"Already?"

"... Yeah. The only thing I really wanted to be was a science teacher like Mutou, and I've done that now."

"In that case, where do you see yourself in twenty years time?"

"Is that how old you are?"

Sneaky, sneaky.

"Twenty?" Her eyebrows move as if to raise halfway to the ceiling. "No. Flattery will get you nowhere, Hisao."

Darn it. She was never going to fall for that and tell me how old she really is. Let's have one last try. "I meant my age plus twenty."

"Something like that." A typical Meiko response. She winks and does a little pout at me. "That'd be like telling you my biggest secret. I'd never do that."

Out of the corner of my eye, I spy her idly fiddling with the ring she still keeps around her finger. As she slides the faded metal up and down a few millimetres, revealing a thin patch of pale skin, I worry for a moment she's going to make her soup richer. Eventually, she stops fidgeting and leaves it alone in its original location.

"Let's not... pussyfoot about, if that's a word I can use in this company."

"You can." Meiko quickly replies with a smirk, delicately swirling the sake in her glass just above the table.

"I'd like to become head of science at Yamaku."

"Oh?"

"Yeah. The idea's been growing on m-"

"Like a fungus?" She interrupts.

"... No, not really in that way."

Before I've finished the sentence, Meiko gives three, maybe four long giggles behind the glass she's holding in front of her mouth. They bounce back into her face, and seem to brighten her up.

"Speaking of which – I think that's a good goal by the way – but speaking of which," Oh boy, here we go. "Emi told me you were partying with your former girlfriend."

I start spluttering again, and recall another of Nurse's lessons to me: a mature man is confident, and decisive.

I lower my eyelids, slump back in Meiko's dining chair, and coolly respond. "So what if I was?"

"What?" Meiko looks genuinely shocked and upset. That's the last time I take his advice.

The strong tone I'd practised so many times in the classroom seems to have abandoned me. "No, I'm sorry! I wasn't! Honest! I was just joking!"

Her shoulders droop from tension relief. "Goodness, you really startled me there, Hisao."

I'm surprised how upset she was at the suggestion that I might be dating another woman.

Meiko seems to have calmed down. "I was joking, too. Emi told me about you and her and Rin and your friends going out the other night."

Huh. She means that.

"Well, Emi and I haven't really managed to patch things up just yet."

Meiko looks troubled.

"I'm not happy if she's not, Hisao."

"I'll fix things, I promise."

"I certainly hope so. I really do. I'd hate for us... to..."

She trails off.

"How is Nao-... Takagi?" This is kind of uncomfortable. After a brief pause, Meiko continues. "I haven't seen him since our double date."

That was a fun night. Before Meiko and I announced our relationship publicly, we went out for an evening meal with Emi and Nurse. He kept the atmosphere light as usual, suggesting that Emi should order sekihan, and then we all laughed at the idea of her getting a new stepfather. At the time, I don't think she knew whether we were joking it would be Nurse or me. Somehow it doesn't seem quite so funny now.

"He's fine. I don't talk to him that much any more. He's only there part time now."

"Oh?" She performs a fine impression of Nurse, with her right eye closed for a change, although somehow she manages to raise her opposing eyebrow much higher than he can.

"Yeah". My vocal agreement sounds less clear than I thought it would, so I look up and meet Meiko's stare to make my confirmation more transparent. "He works at a research facility in Ishinokami."

Meiko takes another confident drink from her glass. I notice it's nearly empty, unlike mine, and fill it up only halfway for her.

"I still see him often enough to get tips on dating you."

She gives me a little nervous look and gets out of her seat, suggesting that my humour wasn't appreciated. Neither Emi nor Meiko has said a single good word about Nurse for months now. The latter obviously amazes me more than the former. Emi seems to go about breaking friendships lately, while her mother tries to save them.

I contemplate following up on this by telling Meiko what Nurse asked me to tell her, when I had the chance, but I think it might spoil the mood a little. He's done me plenty of favours, but tonight's about me and her. Sorry, Naoki. I'm pretty sure he's told her before more times than she cares to hear it, anyway.

A serving plate full of yōkan, a traditional jellied sweet, appears in Meiko's hands, now that she's returned from the kitchen. With Emi off my back when it comes to health these days, I can indulge my appetite without fear of reprisal. Still, there's no way I can eat even half that amount.

One time, ages and ages ago, Meiko was giving me some tips and tricks in the kitchen. Up until then, I'd always wondered why she made so much food at once. Then, she revealed it to me: "Hisao, if you're going to cook, then cook a feast. Food tastes better when in the presence of itself." So, to ensure this, she insists on making more than is usually necessary, because cooking multiple things at once somehow makes everything more delicious. Frankly, I try to be sceptical of old widows' tales, but you can't argue with results.

"I'm sorry the meal wasn't home-made, but dessert is."

"You made desert?"

"Yep!" She beams.

Meiko plonks the thick china plate down in the centre of the table. It's not quite in or out of reach for either of us.

She slides a cute little fork with just a pair of tines over towards me.

"It's fun to share dessert like this. It's more... un-*Hic*-understanding." I think that's nervous Meiko-speak for 'romantic'.

After letting her go first, I prod my miniature fork into a dark ochre rectangle of yōkan; one with a couple of half-sliced azuki beans still inside it.

It melts on my tongue, without breaking apart the way nasty store-bought jelly does. My throat can taste the honey and sugars as they dissolve into liquid mélange down the back, like a lozenge.

"What time's Emi coming back tomorrow?" I ask.

"Well... she won't be here until late in the day."

That's the dangerous thing about Meiko; she talks with such conviction that it's easy to believe what she's saying is true, and I must remind myself that sometimes it's not.

These yōkan are so sugary that after three or four, or five or six, or seven, they're getting a bit sickly. My stomach or teeth aren't in the mood for any more. It's meant to be a snack rather than a full desert. I think we're both satisfied after that delicious stir-fry. Maybe I should think about calling it a night, especially if Meiko phones me when she gets out of bed at eleven-thirty tomorrow morning wanting to go book shopping. Each visit lately has been increasingly harder to conclude. I'll make it easy on her this time, so she doesn't have to bring it up.

"I was just thinking that it's getting late, so maybe I should be going." I try to break the tension with a wisecrack. "Unless you want to cuddle on the couch like last time."

"You don't have to leave so soon!" She pleads. "You haven't finished our dessert yet."

"It's tasty, but very filling. Could you put it in the fridge and save it for tomorrow?"

"... Yeah. I'll do that. But about tomorrow – I think I'd like to go."

Hearing that makes me happy. I try to conceal my delight at spending the afternoon wasting time with her. "Yes!" Meiko looks taken aback. "I mean, what time is good for you?"

"It'd be a waste to travel so far and come back again." She tilts her head up a bit. "Let's go in the morning, if possible. And that way we'll be all set for our big day out tomorrow."

Big day? "I... guess I can do that."

"It might be better to stay here tonight, Hisao. At least help me finish this desert."

I stare at the succulent and tangy dessert in front of me, now over half-eaten. It suddenly dawns on me that once I finish this, well, if she wants me to sleep over...

In three or four miniature forkfuls...

I finish Meiko's home-cooked yōkan at the slowest pace I feel can be gotten away with. Seconds pass, and I can no longer delay the inevitable placing of the final piece into my mouth. I'm trying to be as delicate as I can, wanting to make a suave impression, as if I were actually at a posh restaurant full of sophisticated onlookers.

The idea that I'm somehow in control of myself is completely dispelled by the tightness of anticipation in my body, as my mind runs wild with possibilities and ideas of why Meiko wants me to stay here tonight.

I suck, savour, and swallow the final chunks of candied desert. The fork in my hand is timidly laid down to the right of the plate. I dare not look up to meet Meiko's gaze. When I finally tilt my head upwards, I see her confidently staring right back at me.

She abruptly leans forward and blows out the candle. Her chair moves back as she stands up, simultaneously showing off her curves by wiggling in that dress too tight to mention, capturing all of my attention. She's nearly as tall I am, and towers over me as I remain sat down at the dining table.

I wonder if we're going to... or if she wants to... whether or not she wants to...

Should I let Meiko take charge? She might not like that. She might want me to be confident, like Nurse told me to be. I stand up and begin walking to her side of the table.

It dawns on me that I should helped pull her chair out first, like in the movies. "... Ah, let me... forget it..." I feel like a complete fluffhead.

"Don't worry, Hisao," she says with one eye shut. "You're still not leaving here until tomorrow morning."

She plays with the errant tassel of hair on the top of my fringe, and grins a little, closing her other eyelid.

"I've been in love before, Hisao. The hardest part is when you're in it."

I look into Meiko's olive eyes until I focus on nothing but her bright stationary pupils, and step forward a fraction. As I draw my face closer to hers, at the last possible moment before our lips meet, I see her close her eyes just before I do the same.

Our kiss lasts longer. Far longer than the first, earlier this evening.

I'm about to squirm my way in between her lips, when she moves her head back and looks away to the wall, a little sad. I think we both realize this is a romance now past the point of no return. A tear lazily creeps out of the eye I can still see, with her face turned half away from me.

She breathes out, her belly flexing noticeably.

Meiko takes hold of my hand with a gentle pull and even gentler smile, and leads me across the room toward the hallway's arch.

"-Ah!"

Her boldness takes me by surprise.

Disconnection from my surroundings temporarily overcomes me. At first, my feet don't catch up to my brain. I remain grounded to the fabric of the dining room floor, a fabric softly ruffled by Meiko's bare feet. As her tug becomes firmer, I start to move, my stomach fluttering with nerves and glucose.

The pair of us traipse into the hallway and up the stairs. Our hands ignore the heavily polished gleaming hand railings, except when Meiko trips on one of the steps and nearly pulls me over while regaining her balance.

Through the familiar corridor, we stop outside the closed door to her bedroom. She lets go of my hand, and walks off towards the bathroom, nudging the ajar door.

"Go on in, *Hic*-Hisao. I'll just be a minute." She stammers to the open room, not wanting to turn and look at me.
Last edited by Hotkey on Wed Jun 11, 2014 9:29 pm, edited 3 times in total.

Hotkey
Posts: 68
Joined: Tue Dec 31, 2013 5:36 pm

Re: Stop The Clock (Meiko)

Post by Hotkey » Sun May 25, 2014 10:06 pm

I lay my fingertips on the door to Meiko's bedroom, and gently push. It grates on the thick carpet, thicker than any other room I've entered in the house, obviously being slightly too tall for the frame. As it opens, the scent of her fragrance drifts outwards.

Meiko's bedroom is, much to my bewilderment, painfully sparsely decorated, as though all life has been removed from it. A double bed sits a few inches above the floor, the ironed lemon-coloured covers neatly made. The room is dark, late evening has fallen, and the only illumination comes from two ivory coloured cube lamps, both lit, one either side of the bed, placed on hollow, drawer-less side tables. Opposite the bed, some case-less shelves against the wall feature a few books, their spines unreadable, and a scant offering of photos on the very top shelf, their distance, height and the room's dim light making it impossible to see the faces in them. I could walk over and examine them, but if she caught me snooping I might appear rude, and decide against it for fear she will catch me in the act. I gather she spends very little time in here. Only the bare minimum; resting and sleeping. Maybe it just looks that way because my apartment is messy and I'm over-thinking the situation, or maybe my mind is just going mad because I'm so anxious.

I think it's best not to look too expectantly at the gaping open bedroom door. Instead, I go over to the far side of the room, and poke my head through the middle of the curtains like an ostrich. Out of the big windows, I can see the side of the shops I passed on the way here. Besides hectic fireflies and terraced buildings of varying architectural styles, the pitch black sky is the only thing worth looking at. Alas, it is too early for the moon and stars to make an appearance. The sisters, day and night, continue their perpetual labour.

I spin around when I hear the door moving against the carpet again. Meiko stands in the doorway, and closes the bedroom door until it clicks shut. Both of us are now inside the room with no intention of leaving. I don't think I've been this nervous since that day in December, when I had one too many cups of Meiko-flavoured sweet tea, and confessed that I loved her. I asked if I could kiss her and she, eventually, replied "I'd prefer to kiss you first."

From that day forward, our chats became dates. No longer did I need to make half-hearted, pardon the pun, excuses to visit that neither of us truly believed, like "Is Emi in?" or "Could you teach me how to cook this?" or "Yes, I'll take that spider outside for you." Instead, she knows I'm here to see her. I don't have to pretend any more, I can just admit that I'm really there to see and spend time with her.

A breeze through the window brings me back to reality, and has kept the room cool in the hours passed while we were eating downstairs. The cold air attempts in vain to absorb the sweat that has started to build up on my palms. Does she always leave the window open in her bedroom to keep the atmosphere refreshing?

"My razor seems to have a mind of its own." Meiko says to no one in particular, and walks over to me.

Uh, she's unbuttoning my shirt. Okay, okay, this is really escalating beyond anything we’ve done before. I can feel my collar rubbing around my neck as she jostles to get my arms out of the sleeves. I'm just... not certain if she really wants to..., so I wait to see if she goes lower.

She does. Meiko undoes the latch on my belt, and now, aware of her intentions and with trembling arms, I try to help out by clumsily shoving my trousers down my legs with poorly disguised eagerness.

I guess if we're going to undress, it's on her terms. I'm relieved that Meiko takes little notice of my erection; she doesn't stare at it in a deadpan manner like a certain red-haired girl used to.

Meiko flips my clothes up and around her arm in the air, the result of which is that they're somehow now neatly folded as if ready to store away. I literally have no idea how that is even possible. They're dropped carelessly onto a chair, on the back of which some shade of pastel nightgown is hung in false preparation, its exact colour not discernible in the dark corner of the room.

She reaches up with one hand to the thin strap around her neck, and unties the knot behind her head with her fingers. Her blossom dress immediately falls forwards and down her torso, landing in a small, crumpled pile on the bedroom floor a second later.

I'm blushing really badly, I know I am. The only thing I can do is look away in embarrassment, before realizing she might think I'm being rude, so I turn my attention back to her body.

"I'm allowed to be nervous too, Hisao. I won't ever look better than this, you know. I'm just a foolish old woman past her best. I'm not going to get any more youthful or attractive. You will though. Girls will be swooning over a handsome young boy like you for the next twenty... thirty years."

Meiko shakes a little, and her eyebrows tilt up in anxiety.

"Won't you resent me eventually?"

"I promise I won't leave you." I didn't even need to think about it.

"... All right, Hisao. Because it's you... I'll believe you," she rushes to the end of her sentence. "*Hic*-So you can't break that promise. Ever."

Her chest is at eye level, and it's hard not to stare. She has breasts a lot bigger and heavier-looking than anything I've ever seen before in person. Conversely, those fantastic meals over the thousand rainy days since we first met evidently haven't gone to her waist.

Meiko puts her hands on my shoulders as I sit on the plushy end of the double bed. With both of us now fully undressed, she gently pushes me back, resulting in me lying at a funny angle on the quilt.

The ceiling is as bland as it looked from the outside, but if Meiko wants to take charge, I'll oblige. While I admire the lavender paint above my head, the bed suddenly wobbles, and I feel her smooth thighs slide up along mine. She gingerly holds onto my waist, presumably for balance, and takes me inside of her.

This is the moment I've been both dreading and desperate for. Now I finally have it.

She's warm and moist, and it's making me harder. What strikes me the most though, is how heavy she is. Nothing about her is particularly strong or muscular, like I'm used to; instead she's soft and squishy. Meiko has the body of a woman who eats well and rarely exercises.

Trying to ease the struggle between us, I reach out and hold onto her. I've never put my arms all the way around her before, felt the sleek hairless skin of her back, or smelled enough of her perfume to feel nauseous. This is the first time I've ever really held her close to me.

She jumps a little at my unexpected touch, as if she's ticklish. I can feel her pecking at my face awkwardly, as if kissing me in the act is some sort of formality.

"You don't have to..."

She stops with a condoling smile and settles for rubbing her nose against mine for a few seconds before craning her neck away.

Standing on the floor, Meiko bows down slightly. She rests against the wooden bed, and begins to gently push forward. Her hands around my waist now act as a pivot, and move our hips together against the edge of the mattress.

I want this to continue forever. The joining of our bodies feels wonderful, as I strain to drive myself into her further and further. Meiko doesn't seem as into it as I am, and so it's like making love in slow motion.

Part way through, discomfort seems to get the better of her.

"W-wait..." The exhalation of Meiko's warm breath is the only thing lending amplitude to her vain command.

She tries to push me further on to the bed, and realising the futility of this, I wriggle back with my palms against the duvet, so that I'm completely laying down on my back. The sheets are very thin, ideal for the summer weather, and wad themselves into a ball rather easily. Meiko climbs up on to the bed covers and kneels above me, her legs either side of my thighs and her feet dangling over the edge on to the carpet below.

My bare chest is now horizontal with the bed, lamp light illuminating the scar, now stitch-less and faded away to a patch of rough skin. Of course, it just has to catch Meiko's attention. She opens her mouth and blinks a few times more than is normal for her, I can only assume in surprise. That uncomfortable look was pretty obvious, as brief as she might like to think it was.

I can feel my body sink into the cool quilt as she begins again, this time more vigorously.

All I can do is close my eyes, remember to breathe, and revel in her rocking me to sleep. So this is what it's like when she enjoys it too.

I can see faint traces of Meiko's movements through my eyelids. Her love is presented as my own personal firework display of swirling amber blurs, disappearing as quickly as they were drawn by her body, should I attempt to focus on them.

Her patience is soon beaten, however, by the pathetically inexperienced technique I possess, of randomly brushing my fingers against her thighs and waist, too afraid to touch the womanly figure that looked so appetising. She grabs my hands and holds them as though they're bunches of bananas. The squeeze I feel is tight, almost to the point of being painful, and I can tell how thin, rough and bony her fingers are.

Meiko's tired eyes are closed, whether through genuine pleasure or simply not wanting to meet my stare, I'm unsure. Not wanting to take my vision off her heaving body, I stare at her sweating face. As she rubs, her fingers turn increasingly bright shades of yellow due to the vice grip she has my hands in.

We talk through our fixated gazes on each other. She occasionally half-opens her eyelids to see my expression. I wonder if she wants to check my condition, concerned about my heart? I love that my well-being is at the forefront of her mind, even now, but my enjoyment in this moment is at the centre of mine. When I see her pupils stare into mine, I immediately shut my eyes like a shy schoolboy with a crush. After this routine happens several times, Meiko perhaps realizes I'm still healthy, conscious of my surroundings, and thinking straight. She slowly loosens her hold on my wrists, and just smiles at me.

Our mania becomes more and more passionate, my ears filled with our mutual heavy breathing. Mine is more ragged than hers, and is mixed with quiet calls of enjoyment, the room blurring to such a degree that I can no longer tell where exactly on the bed my body is. I keep my eyes shut tight, my heart open, and hope that tomorrow will never come, for me and her.

Meiko begins to faintly whimper as she tries to suck in more air in time with our rhythm, and I can feel her long hair starting to flail against my chest and the top of my arms. It's a little distracting and noisy.

As she jiggles herself forward and back, I catch a glimpse of her dress on the floor. I remind myself of the fact that she was wearing it, and now is not, and it drives me crazier.

Desperate for liquid, I suck the sweat off the skin of her neck and shoulders. Her feet rub against my leg like an animal. "Ah!" Meiko cries out and laughs. "Hah-... ah!"

I can no longer contain myself. If I could spare the concentration to store this memory in my brain, I would gladly do so; nothing is ever as good as the first time. She's just making me go insane. I try to shake my fingers loose from her hands so I can hold on to her body, but it's no use. Meiko moves quicker and harder, pounding me with her hips into the bed in a state of ecstasy, until I can't take it any more.

I let go inside of her.

A lonely muffled noise tries to escape my closed lips in my euphoria, as I try to verbalize my pleasure in some way. It's just a short, high-pitched sound.

We both grow reticent, our breathing now calming. Meiko continues the rocking on the bed for a short period, craving more emotional and physical bonding, before slowing down to a stop.

Stop thumping, please stop beating so loudly. For a moment I think I'm back in the city.

I still can't open my eyes. Meiko continues to softly hold my hand. It's killing me emotionally that it's now out of worry rather than love, or possibly both.

Finally, for the first time in what must have been a solid couple of minutes, I prize my eyelids apart and look at what's in front of me.

Meiko hangs her head down, not looking at or making eye contact with me. I can't remember seeing her look so vulnerable before. She rubs away a little wetness away from her eyes with her thumbs.

"I'm sorry, Hisao. It's been a long time since..."

How could she be sorry for anything? "Why?" I ask. That was... really... great. I choose not to mention that part.

"I've betrayed Emi, haven't I?".

"You did it because you wanted to." I say, trying to comfort and calm her down.

"When she finds out about this..."

She's working herself up into a frenzy. I try to inject some youthful, and therefore probably immature, reason. "Emi has to learn there are some things she can't control."

The thought of pointing out that we're talking about a subject Meiko shied away from during dinner arrives in my head. I let it pass by. I've learned over the last few years that saying certain things can get you into a lot of trouble.

Out of politeness to Meiko, I shuffle over the messy duvet to the cold side of the bed, only to feel her damp fingertips grasping my forearm.

She tries to speak, but just mumbles a vague noise of disapproval through her closed mouth, and lightly tugs, motioning me to move back to where I was underneath her.

I slowly roll back into position, making sure not to bump into and knock her off the bed, after which she pushes herself up on her palms.

Meiko makes an effort to suppress a clearing of her throat, and smiles like she's about to ask me for a favour. It's a smile I've become familiar with. "Don't leave me alone tonight, Hisao. Just for this once."

Although tradition dictates that we should sleep underneath the bed covers, tradition pretty much went out the window when I started dating my former best friend's mother. Nothing breaks rules like the twenty-first century.

Meiko wraps her long arms around me. Optimistically, I might be able to call this a lover's hug. Even with a hefty dose of cynicism, it does feel pretty special.

She snuggles her head up on my chest, her brown braid sprawled apart everywhere, and places her left arm around my waist. "Is that comfortable?"

"... Yeah." I reply with abundant fatigue.

Her other forearm swoops over my weak eyelids, and lands on the pillow above my head. She gives an apologetic smile in my general direction, not wanting to look into my eyes right now, perhaps due to a little shame about her age and its limitations.

The smell of physical exertion permeates in the atmosphere. Meiko will have to change what remains of the sheets tomorrow. I'll offer to help in the morning.

I want to do this every night. I want to see her face every night in this bed with her next to me in each other's arms.

I'm not missing you any more, Rin. Not tonight.

***

I awake throughout the night countless times as I hold Meiko's bare body in my arms. With her large, silky bosom pressed against my equally unclothed self, it's preventing me from relaxing and getting some rest. A state of tranquillity that sleep could only spoil. The view from the curtained bedroom window remained dark the first few times my slumber was interrupted, but it's now gradually grown more luminous. The breeze coming from it is slightly chilling, and I'm starting to wish I was inside the bed, rather than nude on the covers wearing a naked Mrs Ibarazaki for warmth.

It starts to dawn on me that I might be in over my head. Maybe I'm just worried about trying to impress Meiko; sometimes it's been hard work doing so much growing up for her. The subtle make-up she donned for this evening has been thawed by the heat, and exhaustion has gotten the better part of us both. I notice for the first time the weary dark patches beneath her eyes that underline the effort she made for me tonight, and the faint wrinkled lines of age on her pale neck and outside her dark smoky eyelashes.

If this is Meiko at her worst though, I think I'd be a pretty happy man spending the rest of my life with her.

Sometimes I feel her twitching as she quietly snoozes, as if experiencing some uncomfortable dream. Perhaps this is what's keeping me awake throughout the night, or perhaps it's wondering how we're going to explain this to Emi.

No matter what happens, I am a very lucky man.
Last edited by Hotkey on Mon May 26, 2014 12:55 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Stop The Clock (Meiko)

Post by brythain » Sun May 25, 2014 11:55 pm

He is indeed a very lucky man. I think you've written a sensitive piece here, with a lot of attention to detail. I've PM'd a few more things to you.

You've added something pleasing to the very limited Meiko body of literature. Thanks! (And now I know why you were asking about Meiko. :D )
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Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
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Re: Stop The Clock (Meiko)

Post by AntonSlavik020 » Mon May 26, 2014 1:08 am

That was really sweet. And the h-scene was really well done, so good job there. You were able to succeed in making it seem like a real relationship despite the age difference, which is nice considering I usually have a hard time taking a Hisao-Meiko pairing seriously. So overall, good job.
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Re: Stop The Clock (Meiko)

Post by SpunkySix » Mon May 26, 2014 1:50 am

Weeeeell, usually, this sort of pairing makes me extremely uneasy for a lot of reasons, buuuut it seems to be well written, so I'll put it on my to-read list. Looking forward to it.
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Re: Stop The Clock (Meiko)

Post by bhtooefr » Mon May 26, 2014 7:00 am

No foreplay, and it seems she didn't finish?

For shame, Hisao.
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Re: Stop The Clock (Meiko)

Post by poopooface » Tue May 27, 2014 7:01 am

Extremely well done.
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Re: Stop The Clock (Meiko)

Post by emmjay » Thu May 29, 2014 7:00 am

I've never been quite comfortable with a Hisao-Meiko pairing for a few reasons, one being that if they were to get married, Emi would have a stepdad younger than she is. That said, this was well written. Some beautiful descriptions, and a few nice glimpses into a larger story. And I like the fact that Hisao acknowledges the problems in such a relationship, while still remaining optimistic that those problems can be overcome.
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Re: Stop The Clock (Meiko)

Post by Oddball » Wed Jun 11, 2014 1:05 pm

Pretty good. Of course I really don't like the Hisao/Meiko pairing, but I won't hold that against you.

I will hold this against you though.
Clumsy Hisao is clumsy.
I just wanted to slap you for that line. Don't include bad internet memes in your stories.

Also...
She opens one of the wall-mounted wooden cabinets, and starts retrieving her sake set from the back. The glasses are as shapely as she is. Hang on, not yet. "Let's not get started too early."

"Ha! Can you put these on the table?"
Why is Hisao saying that out loud? Why does Meiko reply like she gets the joke when she'd have to be a mind reader to understand the context?

Oh and ...
"... Yeah. The only thing I really wanted to be was a science teacher like Mutou-sensei
"Mutou-sensei" is not how people in Katawa Shoujo talk. That's badly translated anime talk.
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Re: Stop The Clock (Meiko)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Wed Jun 11, 2014 3:50 pm

Why is Hisao saying that out loud? Why does Meiko reply like she gets the joke when she'd have to be a mind reader to understand the context?
So it seems I'm not a mind-reader either...
What's the joke she is supposed to get? Seems like a perfectly normal thing to say.
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Re: Stop The Clock (Meiko)

Post by Hotkey » Wed Jun 11, 2014 9:48 pm

Thanks, Oddball! I've retro-edited the first and third issues you pointed out. It's been quite some time since I've actually played KS, and I've played quite a few other officially and unofficially translated Japanese VNs since then, so that would explain the '-sensei' issue ^_^.
Mirage_GSM wrote:
Why is Hisao saying that out loud? Why does Meiko reply like she gets the joke when she'd have to be a mind reader to understand the context?
So it seems I'm not a mind-reader either...
What's the joke she is supposed to get? Seems like a perfectly normal thing to say.
It's a bit of a stretch to call that a joke; it's just casual conversation.

It makes sense to me?

Meiko gets glasses intended for drinking alcohol. Hisao witnesses this, and understands her intention. Since he's just got there, he decided it's a bit too early for drinking alcohol. He tells Meiko to hold her horses. Meiko knows the sake set is for drinking alcohol. She understands that "Let's not get started too early" in this context is referring to boozing it up, and therefore why Hisao would tell her to slow down. Being overly eager to start drinking alcohol and then being gently chastised for it is taken with light humour as a response.

I've made leaps of logic before, and failed to explain in stories why certain things occur in my head-scene, so maybe I've overlooked something here?

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Re: Stop The Clock (Meiko)

Post by brythain » Wed Jun 11, 2014 10:14 pm

Oddball wrote:"Mutou-sensei" is not how people in Katawa Shoujo talk. That's badly translated anime talk.
No, no, people in KS talk that way; it's just that it doesn't survive translation to English. :D

To elaborate: a Japanese student might think that, and would use it in speech with another Japanese student or adult. It would sort of translate to 'Mr Mutou' in English, but badly, since 'sensei' is a term of respect that literally translates to 'born before (me)'. In Asia, the Chinese equivalent 'xiansheng' (same characters, 先生) is commonly used in many environments. You can't translate it to 'Elder Mutou' either, it doesn't work. Hence KS characters don't use those terms in English 'translations'—but presumably in the KS-world they do speak Japanese and would use such terms.

Fanfic authors can therefore try to use those terms in some way, but it takes care, and it's always a little 'wrong' or 'off' — since linguistic translation is a lossy process.
Last edited by brythain on Wed Jun 11, 2014 10:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
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Re: Stop The Clock (Meiko)

Post by Oddball » Wed Jun 11, 2014 10:16 pm

Maybe I was the one reading it oddly then.

I didn't see the comment of getting started early referring to drinking, to me it seemed like a comment on him focusing on her body since the line was directly comparing her form to the bottles. I saw it as him saying it was a bit too early to start getting into the pervy sexy stuff.
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