So Samuel finally left mid-afternoon. He’d handed me to an invitation to a friend’s party before he left. It was for the next day and all I had to do was meet him at his house. I’d decided to plan an outfit that night. I know this sounds ridiculously girly but I have a slight confession. I’ve never been that interested with social occasions. When I was younger and I still lived in Japan my mum would coach me and give me pep talks. Back then I learnt a great tip. My mum once told me that these social events were nothing but a stage. People would judge us there and that stages were for performing on. So that if I was ever shy later on in life I could adopt a persona and it wouldn’t harm anyone. Since my mother died I’ve found these social events harder, especially when my father started showing signs of mental decay. I remember one time I had to leave my dad behind and travel all by myself. Everyone was amazed how independent I had become. Inside I could feel my heart screaming as I heard people whispering. All of them were judging my dad. Belittling him, for sending me all on my own to the other side of the globe. But on that day, I never once stopped smiling. Since then I’ve used clothes to build personas around. My princely attitude around women and at formal events is all a façade.
Do you remember when I said that I’d never been that close to a girl before? Well I lied, all to cover a painful memory. I must have been no older than six when it happened. We were at an event, where all the aristocrats of Japan had gathered. It was hosted by Uruha’s parents. A lot of the other families were eying both me and Uruha up on that day. They were trying to make bargains with our parents to have their children marry us when we were older. I’ve never felt so many eyes upon me since that day. Thankfully my mum was politely rejecting all of the offers. She thought that it was unfair for this to be decided for me and that I was far too young. I owed my life to my mum for that. One of the families’ children had approached me when I was getting some fresh air. We were away from everyone else and I hadn’t realised she’d followed me at first. She’d caught me up by the time I’d reached the open roof garden of Uruha’s family home. She’d tried to kiss me up there, I’d been so nervous all evening that I threw up all over her after she’d kissed me. I wasn’t interested in any of the girls at that time (it was long before I’d discovered yaoi and that men could love other men,) and I wanted to scream at her. But before I’d had chance to explain that I was nervous, she’d ran away. I returned to find my parents being shouted at. The girl’s parents were furious, with me and said that I’d disgraced them. We were forced to leave the event and I remember my mum running as soon as she’d gotten out of the building. I could still hear the girl’s mother cursing me and condemning my family. So since then I’ve used the princely persona to prevent another such incident.
After returning to my room I’d started to search through my wardrobe contemplating about what type of party this would be. I’ve always kept reserved outfits in my wardrobe because it makes it easier for surprise events like this. As I’d gotten to the back where all the princely outfits were kept, I heard my door click open. “Masahiko?” It was my sister. I just realised that I was supposed to be talking to her right now.
“Masahiko are you ok? You came straight up here. I was wondering if you had forgotten.”
“Oh no… sorry sis, Samuel just sprang this party on me and I have no idea what to wear.”
Behind me my sister giggled. “That’s probably the gayest thing I’ve ever heard from you.” Emilie crossed the room and sat on the chaise longue. As she sat there was a creak behind her. She jumped, startled and looked behind her. Behind the chaise’s cushion there was a book. I felt my face flush as she flipped the book over in her hands. “The ultimate guide to the language of love: Poetry. With examples for the great masters of poetry.” My sister flipped the book open to the first chapter. “I never knew you wrote poetry?”
“Yeah,” I stuttered, flushing more. “I was a bit rusty so I started reading that book.” My sister began flipping the pages. I could feel my heart racing and it stopped as a thin sheet of paper fell out from beneath the pages. I leapt forwards and crumpled the paper as I picked it up. I casually threw it over my shoulder as Emilie looked up at startled. From somewhere inside me escaped a nervous laugh. “Never mind that book, how about we get some green tea and then we can talk.” Emilie put the book down beside her as a smile crept across her face.
I ducked through the beaded curtain with a fresh pot of green tea and three cups on a tray. Elizabeth was curled cat like into a rattan chair, tapping a pen against her book as if she was trying to recall something. Her steady breathing was blowing one of her long, white ponytails. (I know it’s weird for me to pay this much attention to a female, but there’s something mystical about albinos. When I first met her I could have sworn she was of elven blood.) Emilie was sat upside down, suspended in the chair both her and my mum loved so much, with her pony tails trailing on to the floor. She dropped her book and spun to sit, already reaching out for the fresh green tea. As I passed her a cup I heard Elizabeth stir behind me. I turned to offer her a cup, just as she bolted upright. She seemed more confident than her usual self.
“I have the answer!” With that she leapt forwards and ran towards the front door. “I’ll be back soon!”
“Well that’s probably the most energetic I’ve ever seen her,” I said as I sat on the small cushion on the floor beside my sister.
“She does usually become really shy when your around, I’m sure she’s just come up with one of her amazing ideas.”
A few hours later I was lying on my bed connected up to a dozen wires, and a laptop. Elizabeth had come back with a bunch of science stuff and demanded I’d sleep for her. (Yes you heard that right, ‘for’.)
“I’ve always wondered what you do when your not here Elizabeth. To be honest I’m not quite sure still, and why it is you want me to sleep.”
Elizabeth pulled one of my hands toward her and slipped on a bizarre looking finger clip. “This will monitor your heart rate, and these wires,” she tapped them with her pen and slipped on a lab coat. “They’ll let me monitor your brain. And what exactly did you think I did with my time Masahiko?” She had a confident and strong sound to her voice, but I couldn’t help noticing she sounded slightly bitter as she asked me that question.
“I thought you cosplayed as characters from Zelda or Lord of the Rings and worked at a comic book store.”
I saw a small smirk appear at the corner of her mouth. “Well I do work at a comic book store, but I usually where Lolita clothes. My manager seems to think it brings in more business. Maybe I should give the elven look a go.” I could tell she was trying hard to keep a straight face. “I’m actually studying for my master’s degree in neuro-science.”
“Ah, well I hope I’m not a boring sleeper for you then.”
“If what you’ve told us about your nightmares is true then I really doubt it. Professionally speaking that is not from a fan girl perspective. I can’t see that on the screen.” She blushed slightly as I snuggled down under my duvet. In a way I was kind of glad she couldn’t see what I was thinking. I tried to focus on an image of Samuel’s face to help the nightmare surface.
I woke from the nightmare-ish dream with a jolt. I sat up straight and looked around the room. I realised I had been clenching on to my sheets so hard my knuckles ached as I let go. My legs were furiously entangled with the duvet and I was panting hard as if I had been trying to run away from something.
“Masahiko. Its ok! You’re safe now.” My sister leapt towards me and flung her arms around me. Deep within my stomach, I felt something churned. I frantically tried to push her away. She just let go as I threw up all over the sheets.
“Aww, you poor thing,” came a voice from beside me. It was Elizabeth. “Don’t worry. It wasn’t in vain. I have some results.”
“We should probably get you cleaned up though first, shouldn’t we Liz?”
Elizabeth nodded and began to disconnect the wires whilst Emilie took away the duvet. I tossed my spoiled t-shirt towards the end of the bed out of the corner of my eye I could see Elizabeth blushing. My sister carried away my messed clothes and came back with a fresh t-shirt. After a few minutes I’d washed and re-dressed. When I came back I found my sister and Elizabeth sat on the sofa staring at the laptop screen, occasionally pointing at things.
“So what did we get?” I looked hopeful towards Elizabeth. She stood and walked over to me.
“May I?” she said whilst gesturing with one of her hands.
“Sure go right ahead,” I slid to one side to let her sit down.
“See this,” Elizabeth pointed to some readouts on her screen. I nodded hoping she’d explain all of the squiggly lines and spikes I was now staring at. “These show that you were enjoying the first part of the dream. Then this line here, this is where your happy dreams of lovemaking slipped into something similar to a night tremor. Your body wasn’t as active as I’ve seen other subjects though. And I’m glad to inform you, you did not scream. Nothing at all. So your manliness stays intact.” She smiled as she said this. She gently laid her hand on my arm and patted it. I felt the same churning in my stomach but this time there was nothing to throw up, so I smiled back.
“Although if you’re having night tremors, its more serious than just a plain old nightmare. You’re not entirely in R.E.M which is bad for you. And here,” she opened up another set of squiggly lines on her laptop, “this is where you stopped breathing completely. Now this is also very dangerous. It’s called sleep apnoea. It’s something you will have to watch. Although given the night tremors I’m guessing it’s psychological. If it is, this may only stop when you deal with your grandfather or your feelings towards Samuel. Unfortunately that’s something I can’t help you with, but at least you have more information about it now. In the meantime I’ll give you this,” she passed me a small bizarre device that looked like the finger clip. “this will alert your sister and your mum if you stop breathing.”
“Thank you so much. It’s really appreciated. It actually explains so much. It’s amazing that you can tell all of that from those lines.” Elizabeth blushed and then returned to her place on the chaise lounge.
“So Masahiko?” My sister’s voice rose from the corner cautiously. “Can we help you with your outfit problems too?” Elizabeth stiffened as if she’d been electrocuted.
I let out a short laugh. “Of course, why not? I’d be honoured.”
My sister jumped up. “Then I insist you wear this. It’s my lucky necklace.” I looked down at the small jade, cameo, bird skull pendant, and remembered why I loved having a sister so much.