Monitoring: Yuka Sato
Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture, Japan
4:35 p.m. Japan Standard Time
Monday, January 6th, 2014
7:35 Coordinated Universal Time
Monday, January 6th, 2014
Miyoko’s nose isn’t just broken. “Smashed” may be a better description for the state it is in right now. Or “crumpled,” like Miyoko herself, laying on the ground.
“I’m s-s-sorry,” she half-mumbles, half-blubbers. “I won’t, I won’t do it again.”
Yuka turns to Miyoko’s friend and cohort, Honoka, who is still where she was, back against the wall and eyes wide with fear. “Please don’t do this, Yuka. No more,” Honoka begs, but Yuka shakes her head and Honoka shrinks further away. If Honoka is hoping for anyone to save her and Miyoko, then maybe they shouldn’t have followed Yuka down an empty street. Maybe they should have noticed when she stopped crying.
Or maybe you should have listened when I told you to leave me alone, she thinks.
“Come here,” Yuka says, extending her hand. “It’s your turn, or I’ll do to Miyoko twice as much as I would have done to you.”
Miyoko trembles, and Yuka is startled to see the range of emotions that play out on her face… First a flicker of hope coupled with guilt, then both resignation and relief as Honoka remains immobile, if not impassive. Yuka finds herself…annoyed to see that her tormentors can care for each other enough to be torn by their mutual desire to not be the focus of Yuka’s attention.
Yuka is about to turn back to Miyoko when Honoka, finally with some willpower in hand, swallows nervously and takes a step forward. “Please don’t hurt her anymore.”
“Right,” Yuka replies. Her voice becomes toneless then, like it often becomes in response to their treatment of her. “Honoka, what did you say to me this morning?”
Honoka mutters something, too low for Yuka to hear, and Yuka gestures in Miyoko’s direction. The other girl seems to take the hint and answers again, louder this time. “Y-You smell l-like leather.”
“Don’t stutter,” Yuka ordered, but it took two more tries for Honoka to do it to her satisfaction. “What did you say back to her, Miyoko?”
Miyoko does better, and there is no need to correct her. “She can’t help it. You can’t wash out the smell of the tannery.”
Yuka holds her hands behind her back as if in thought and the girls slowly seem to relax, perhaps thinking that she has forgotten her promise to deal with Honoka as well. “Get eaten by birds, burakumin maggot. Don’t get your stink on my shoes, eta filth.” There is nothing in her manner of speech to betray her thoughts. She could be making small talk about the weather for all that it belies.
Why didn’t you leave me alone?
She holds out her hand once more. This time, at least, Honoka does not hesitate. Yuka pulls her closer, leads her a few steps further, then whispers in her ear, “Kick her.”
Yuka’s power may be compelling, but it does not prevent tears from welling up in Honoka’s eyes. “Do it again,” she says, and Miyoko makes a sound like a broken dog as she curls up around her stomach. “Do it until I tell you to stop. Do it faster,” she commands.
“I-I’m sorry,” Honoka sputters. “I’m so-sorry, Miyoko,” but the only response that Miyoko makes, if it is a response at all, is to stop making noises.
“It isn’t your fault. Does that make you feel better? My heritage wasn’t my fault. For a long time I didn’t even know,” she says calmly. “Stay there,” she says and Honoka freezes. If not for Yuka’s hand, she would fall over. “Sit,” she orders, and Honoka sits down amid scattered books and papers. Her expression is dull, as though she is only half-aware of what is going on.
Is this how I looked?
“Given how badly you smell,” Miyoko had said earlier that day, “you must spend an awful lot of time in the tannery. I guess your parents need all the help they can get.”
It isn’t true. Her parents aren’t living hand to mouth. They aren’t tanners, or sewage workers, or butchers, or…criminals.
Yuka is, though. Isn’t she? It is less than a week after she was blessed or cursed with this power, and she is already abusing it. Does it matter that she resisted for a few days, or that she was under so much pressure? A buddha would not have been tempted, let alone broken.
If this is, or was, about justice, then the demands of justice are surely satisfied. If Yuka is in the right, then that will remain so only so long as she does not go any further.
“I’m going to leave you alone now.” Honoka nods. Miyoko doesn’t move. “Do the same to me, and never tell anyone about what happened here. Or I will show you that I can do even worse than this,” she adds, hoping that the bluff will ensure their intimidation and silence.
“Never talk to me again,” Yuka says as she picks up her school bag. Her hands appear clean, but she can’t help but feel that they are polluted in some way. It might be that Miyoko was hurt by her own fists, but it was Yuka’s will that lay behind the act.
She will have to think about this.