RECOMMENDED FOR MATURE READERS
The sun had not yet risen when I dressed for school. Slivers of orange over blossom colored clouds cast the suburbs in hues only half-awake. Shift workers returned home on the first trains as a handful of others boarded, and I with them.
Every moment between stops dripped with agony, but I kept my composure.
Commuters came and went, passing like sand through fingers. An hour after stepping onto the yellow line saw the first students boarding, from mixed schools and co-ed, divided by class and grade as much as they were by gender.
I clutched my satchel in my lap, out of place in white and tan amidst the navy sea. They snickered and laughed, mostly about cartoons and dramas, or even worse about each other. Though we had been born to the same era the world of my peers was so much smaller than my own.
Then he stepped on board.
Worlds sat in the difference between Yamaguchi Genkai and the Platinum Doll. In him the high cheeks were exchanged for a hard chin, though his mouth remained petite with lips like plums. His natural definition filled his uniform; tall, toned, with a mop of hair parted to the left.
I turned my head to the floor, catching him in glimpses behind my glasses. Did he notice? He made no sign.
Yamaguchi hung on the rail, swaying with the movement of the carriage, with buds in his ears and focus on the book in his hand. Every so often he would turn the page from right to left; the title was written in letters I could not read. To think that the would-be Platinum Doll was an overachiever.
Every so often my view was obscured, mostly by grade schoolers as they crowded the carriage. As they multiplied I pushed through, making sure not to lose sight of him.
Suddenly a boy, likely a junior, blinked as I passed him. “Hey, I recognize that outfit. What are you doing here? Are you a transfer student?”
I whipped around and glared. Who did he think he was to talk to me in such a way?
The trained hissed and the doors opened. Where was Yamaguchi? He was outside, a head above the crowd, with his satchel thrown over his shoulder. When did he slip away?
Grunting like an animal I had to all but leap to make the exit in time. The doors snatched my skirt, nearly tearing it from me, though my grip on the fabric won out.
Soon the train was in the distance, and I stood by the cobblestone road as a school of black clad students migrated toward their goal. Though I followed them for some time I did not manage to find Yamaguchi again; the starting bell rang to signal my futility…
Or at least it would have if he weren’t waiting.
Yamaguchi leaned by a wall and kicked his loafer in the dirt. He did not smile as his wide eyes met my frames.
“I almost didn’t notice,” he said. “You have the skill of a natural predator.”
My hands dropped to my side, and my shoulders arched.
“Is that supposed to be a compliment?” I asked.
“An observation. Though why you would select me as your prey has me at a loss. Perhaps you’re a stalker, or pervert, or both; or perhaps it’s something else. Who’s to say what business a shortstop has so far from her own district?”
The glasses came off and I put them in their case. “Let’s not pretend. You and I are above these games.”
Yamaguchi huffed and kicked away from the wall. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Then the name ‘Grenier’ means nothing to you.”
At that he stopped, caught his breath, and clenched his fists. “So you’re not from a rival gang,” he reasoned. He turned to face me, and bore down with what he supposed was ferocity. “Who are you, and what do you want?”
“Just when I thought that nothing could get under your skin.” A sneer cracked the corner of my grin.
“What,” he repeated, “do you want?”
I matched his gaze, not once blinking. He thought he was strong; he didn’t know what strong was.
“You tell your group, Shiro, Hiroshi, and Daisuke, that they are not to make a contract with the wolf. Evil spirits are the realm of others more experienced even than you… Platinum Doll.”
He paused, broke our gaze. Did he doubt my words?
“And if I don’t?”
“Then they will all die,” I told him, “each in ways more bloody than the last; one… after… the other.”
A bonfire raged in Yamaguchi’s eyes. Spray flew from his teeth. “You don’t play games with my girls,” he hissed. “Any business you have begins and ends with me.”
“That depends entirely on your crew,” I said.
His eyes went wide and his shoulders slack. The appearance of one of his classmates was ill-timed on his part.
A girl with long hair and glasses stood in the open yard and tilted her head. She was a real girl, of that there was no doubt; who was she to Yamaguchi?
I huffed. “Funny, I had you pegged as a faggot.”
The moment he shifted I stepped away and bound onto the wall of a nearby garden. I lingered, prepared for a street fight, but he wasn’t game in front of the other student. More was the pity.
“Tell your crew to stay away from the wolf,” I hummed. “This is not a threat from me, but a warning. You’ll be doing them a favor.”
With that I turned away and sprinted toward the train station. Behind me was a flurry of awkward questions from the girl outside the situation; perhaps she thought I was a romantic rival.
Perhaps I had acted out of turn to approach Yamaguchi, but it was for the best. Despite their name, the part of ‘doll’ was destiny for a scant few.
To be continued…