He hated Sundays. Sunday was time caught throbbing in the sides of his head, droning past with the aimless scurrying of feet and the rustle of papers in the library, snaking past him in a slow dance of nowhere to go and no one to see and no one to care about. Sunday drove him to the edge of his bed, to the edge of the couch pulled out into the sun, stationed in front of the television set, curling into a tight little ball, stretching out his limbs in drowsiness, staring up at the ceiling, too tired to go anywhere, his skin a tight, ticking time bomb of the sickening desires he had no strength to carry out. Too tired. Tired of his house, of his clothes, of the sound of his breath. Tired of Sunday. He hated Sundays.
For a moment, he entertained the notion of calling the academy's repair men. There was a clock, somewhere in the house, that had not been functioning properly since late May of last year. But he couldn't remember where it was. Nanami's room, probably. Or maybe out in the dinning hall. Maybe they had thrown it away already. He really couldn't remember. Sighing, he drew a hand over his eyes. He gazed out, through half closed eyelids, as the afternoon sun caught in his skin, filtering through his lashes, little dapples of gold and cream and white that shimmered in little pockets of circular light. He fancied he could see the blue of his eyes in them, but an incessant drone was crawling up his spine and the kaleidoscopes wouldn't survive the last night in Siberia.
Touga Kiryuu blinked. The phone was ringing. What was that about Siberia? It sounded important... Shaking his head, he reached out for the receiver, pulling the antique, ivory phone into his lap. The empty air between his ear and the telephone lines seemed eternal. They probably wouldn't survive in Siberia either. They're hollow and brittle, the telephone lines. They wouldn't survive. Touga shook his head. A voice was coming from the receiver. He could barely make it out.
There... here... where... Touga, are you there...?
Ah, hai, hai. I'm here. Moshi moshi. How may I help you? He heard the voice on the other side sigh, shift the receiver onto his shoulder. Saionji.
Just wanted to know where you've been, Touga. Juri called a meeting for today, but you never showed up. So naturally Miki timed in eight worthless minutes and we called it quits. No one has seen Nanami all day, and I've called this line about ten times already and you never answered. Did you just get back?
He drew his hand over his eyes, rubbing away the Siberian kaleidoscope telephone lines. Back? Back from where? I've been here all day. Mhm hm. Haven't left the house all morning. What? No, nothing like that. But it's Sunday. I'm bored. Yeah, you know how it is. I thought maybe I'd call in the repair man. For the clock. What, Saionji? The clock? What clock? No, I'm fine. Really. Just bored. They can't survive in Siberia, you know.
Kyouichi Saionji stared long and hard at the receiver in his hand. Touga sounded mad. Drugged, if anything. Shifting the receiver onto his other shoulder, he bent down to pull at the cuff of his jeans, arranging them over his brown leather boots. He could hear Touga sigh and tell him to forget about telephone lines. Saionji shook his head. Um, Listen, Touga, I think maybe you should just stay at home, you know? You don't sound too good and... No, no of course I didn't mean there was anything wrong with you. Just take it easy for today, all right? Promise? Don't forget the meeting tomorrow. Nine o'clock. All right. See you then. The what? Clothes lines? Shaking his head, Saionji reached up to pull down the water bottle he kept on top of his refrigerator. He set it beside the backpack he had propped up on the kitchen counter and took the receiver from his shoulder. Touga's voice sounded drowsy on the other side. Touga, take care, all right? See you tomorrow.
He set down the receiver gently. Whatever was wrong with Touga, he didn't want to think about it. Not today. Today was Sunday. He loved Sundays. It was the one day when the sun could shine from the very centre of the sky and rain down over the still, shimmering puddles left by last night's rain. It was movement and clouds and nothing to do for tomorrow. Shouldering his backpack, he unhooked his bicycle from the dorm safety poles and pedalled slowly down towards the curb. It was only twelve noon. He could make it beyond the academy Arena today. With a heave, he took off, coasting across the empty sidewalk, pedals neglected as he took a sharp turn. His long, wavy green hair, drawn back in a ponytail, flickered out behind him in the afternoon breeze, whipping across his wind breaker, the crisp, autumn air nipping at his nose. Winter was coming in fast this year. Saionji frowned, taking a turn that would lead him towards the Arena. He disliked winter. The cold, the numb fingers, the days cooped inside. He wished autumn would never end.
Rounding a bend, he breezed past a set of ornamented benches, narrowly missing a water fountain. He heard a voice call out his name and his head turned involuntarily at the sound. Sitting at the bench, a sandwich at his lap, Miki held up one hand in salute. Saionji smiled, waving back. Isn't it too cold to be eating out here, Miki? He laughed as he waved goodbye, the younger man lifting up his sandwich in his farewell salute. Go back to the music room and get warm.
The sound of Saionji's bicycle disappeared into the surrounding trees, the echoes of its single, brass bell mingling with the crisp solitude of the wind. Unwrapping his sandwich, Miki Kaoru took a slow, calculated bite. Saionji was right. It was warmer in the music room. But he preferred it out here. It was Sunday, and winter was coming. Miki was impartial to Sundays. He couldn't help them, really. They just came along at the end of every week. The beginning of every week, he reminded himself, taking a sip of his iced chocolate milk. But that's just the way it is. One can't do anything more with them, I guess, than come to the park and have lunch. Ride a bicycle, perhaps.
Winter, though. Winter was different. It meant snow lying packed at the corners of the academy grounds, the world buried under perfect a white, grey skies up ahead, numb fingers and shaking to push the dials on his stopwatch. Winter was coats and boots and too many scarfs and here let me help you with those because you've just stepped into your sixth puddle that morning and your feet are numb and your books keep slipping. He loved it. He could be partial to Sunday if it was Sunday in winter.
Taking another sip from his chocolate milk, Miki pulled out his cellular, a bright green model B from Tachibana, and punched in 67-890-398-29736. It shivered twice, the bleeps and rings muffled as he chewed, before the receiver was picked up at the other end. A carefully modulated voice came through, the sound of a blow drier dying down in the background. Juri san? Miki. I'm out near the Arena. Why am I calling? Nothing in particular. I'm having lunch. I thought maybe you'd like to stop by the gymnasium later today and maybe... You would? Honto ni? Thank you. Thank you so much, Juri san. I'll bring lunch.
Miki stretched out his legs, listening attentively as Juri counselled him on not having to prepare lunch for them. He was listening, but he would still bring lunch. He knew Juri would expect it from him. She would probably forget to bring food anyway, and she always got hungry after fencing practice. He nodded and finished off his chocolate milk. Mhm? What's that? Oh, I'm drinking chocolate milk. Mou, I know that, Juri san, but I love it too much. I'm only at around fifty kilograms. He cringed at the soundof her voice. Hai, hai. I'll make us a really healthy lunch. Promise. At around four, then? Mhm. Got it. thank you again, Juri san.
Trying not to sigh, Juri Arisugawa set down her phone's receiver. She knew Miki would insist on bringing lunch, even if she told him not to. She supposed she should just give up on trying to cure him of his exuberant politeness, but she seemed too old sometimes to really give up on anything. Especially old habits. Turning back towards her mirror, she ran her silver backed brush through her hair. The curls, tight and perfect as a china doll's, would be back in a few minutes, but it relaxed her to comb her hair. On her mantelpiece calendar, the date read November 19th, Sunday. She smiled, a pale shadow that pulled at the corners of her mouth.
She had hated Sundays, when she was younger. Sunday meant church. Sitting at the back pews in a tight, orange coloured dress, hands clasped over her stomach and eyes fixed on the floor. She couldn't see beyond the heads of the people in front of her. Nothing was going on at the front. The priest's voice was coming through the speakers, clawing it way across the empty air above her head, babbling to itself. Her lips moved in step with her mommy's, but she couldn't remember what she was saying. That was Sunday. And then was Sunday when she had just turned thirteen. Juri smiled, pulling her hair back into a ponytail.
Juri could still remember the church, the hushed, cool wood and stone walls and clarestorie windows projecting the story of the saint who carried a sword along the nave. She had knelt at the feet of the Weeping Madonna and thanked her, from the bottom of her child's heart, for a miracle. The Ohtori Academy. Release. Her own world. A world where there was no mommy and no poppy, no stares and no whispers, no judgement and no demands. Studying , learning, feasting on the darkness of blind pursuit. Roll calls, books, notes, head of the class. She thanked the Madonna. She clasped her hands tightly before her and thanked her. That was Sunday then.
Looking out the window, Juri could see the blinding reds and oranges of the autumn campus. It was a quiet afternoon. The clock on her mantelpiece beeped out one pm. Picking up her phone, Juri dialled for the operator. Tenjiou Utena, please. She taped her fingers over the edge of her vanity table as the operator fiddled with her connections, a short, clipped ring announcing that the transfer was complete. The line shivered close to three times before the receiver was picked up and a youthful, coloured voice answered. Tenjiou. Moshi moshi. Juri? Juri! Of course! Hey, what's up? What am I doing...? A lot of nothing. Yeah, I know. Shouldn't waste a day. But today's Anthy's washday and I promised I'd mind Chu 'cause... Yeah. He gets into the laundry. I swear, that mouse's suicidal. Eh? Oh, at four? Wait, lemme ask...
Placing a hand over the receiver, Utena Tenjiou bent around to shout down the hall of the spacious, Victorian dorm she shared with Anthy Himemiya, her best friend and, to hear everybody else in the academy tell it, her bride. Utena didn't really mind the bride bit, but some students could get really weird really fast if allowed to ponder too much about it for too long. She was comfortable, she just wasn't sure if everybody else understood comfort in the same level she did. Yo, Anthy! It's Juri on the phone. Wants to know if you'll be done by four. You will? Great! Lemme get back to... Juri? You there? Wa, of course you are. Yeah. We're free at four. Mhm hm. where? Gym. Got ya. Can Chu...? Mou, great. We'll be there. Gym? Gym. Got it. Ja na.
Camblering up from her pretzel position on the floor, pushing aside the physics book she had brought with her from the bedroom and picking up the slumbering Chu by the tail, Utena padded towards the washroom, careful not to upset the fresh piles of laundry Anthy had set outside. She was getting more or less used to having her laundry cleaned on Sundays now. Sunday was bubble day, thousands of multicoloured orbs spinning about the washroom and down into the hall and down the stairs. She watched them drift by as she stepped into the washroom. Anthy's back was to her, her dark skin a sharp contrast to the crisp white linen bundled up in the chairs around her. Utena smiled, Chu gurgling to himself on her shoulder, following the iridescent bubbles as they drifted past him, hypnotized towards consumption and subsequent flight but held in place by Utena's grasp over his tail. Juri invited us to a fencing match with Miki kun today at four, Anthy. Mhm? What's that? Oh, I'm glad you want to go. I feel a little guilty about having so much laundry... I'm such a pig! Eh? Oh, no, really, I am.
From the hall, the phone rang again, echoing across the stillness. Between the space of Utena, could you...? and I'll get it, the receiver was cradled on her right shoulder. Tenjiou. Moshi moshi? Eh? Clothes lines...? Who's this...? Touga?! You all right? Siberia...? Ah, well, I don't know... Cold. Very cold. It's in my physics book. Yeah, physics. Test tomorrow. Eh?! You envy me?
The afternoon sunlight was beginning to dim, Sunday dissolving into Sunday night. Closer to Monday. Shifting in his sofa, Touga twirled the cord of his antique phone around his fingers and envied Utena. A physics test. It sounded delicious. Much better than telephone lines in Siberia. I wish I had something to do. Are you busy...? Oh, I see. At four. Forgive me. No, no, I'll find something else to do. I shouldn't be bothering you, really. I don't think I'm myself. Mhm? Ah. I see. Yes. My best regards to Himemiya. Laundry? Maa, that's cute. Mhm. All right. Ja na, Utena.
The phone clicked down with a hollow ring. Stretching out, Touga turned to look up at the ceiling. A galaxy of cold, blinking stars swirled slowly above him. The cool, regulated air of the observatory circled through the tips of his fingers, keeping Sunday at bay. It could be any other day, any other time, here. He held his breath, let it slowly. Just to hear it. To prove his body to his self, to the darkness behind his eyes. He heard his breath and felt the body that pulled it in, chest rising, organs contracting and dilating. He heard the soft clink of a glass.
Feeling less bored? Touga opened his eyes, a silhouette of dimmed colours playing at their corners. It moved to occupy the sofa across from his, stretching out with languid leisure, one hand reaching out to place a drink near the edge of the table between them. It's only around one thirty. Too much time between now and midnight, hm? Touga smiled, took up his drink, sitting up. It's midnight here, sir. It's not even Sunday here. He took a sip, closing his mouth over the taste as it travelled across his teeth and throat, too cold. It tasted faintly of alcohol, of something he'd never had before. He took another sip and watched the stars, the silhouette sitting across from him stretching and shrinking at the corners of his eyes, melting into the shadows and emerging again. Dark skin, empty space, silk tie, hollowed space, echoes of mirth, hallowed ground and he had to get on his knees to see if he was there. Reach out his hands and convince himself that he was there, the man, the dark skin and the silk tie, caught between his hands before it was him who was caught, before it was Touga who could feel that the other man could not really see him either. But he could touch him, and Touga could feel that man, there, at the corners of his mind, could feel his hands and his hair and his breath and his skin as he drew back the silk shirt and drew back his own uniform and slid a hand beneath the belt and the pant and he had to get down on his knees to convince himself that he had a body. The man whispered that he did have a body, a beautiful body. Touga smiled.
The phone rang. Ignore it. The phone rang again and Touga bit his lip, caught in mid thrust with the sweat in his eyes. He bent down to touch his cheek against the man's bare skin, the moment already fleeting away, his body once again melting into nothingness, into Sunday, into the darkness at the centre of him. The man became a silhouette again, snaking away from under him, pulling up his pants and combing a hand through his hair as he padded towards the phone on the table. Touga felt around the floor for his pants, his briefs, his shirt, he couldn't find his jacket and he cursed. Sunday. Sunday destroys telephone lines in Siberia. It deadens sex. It misplaces uniform jackets. He hated Sundays.
The phone rang. The receiver was picked up. Moshi moshi? Ohtori. Ah, Himemiya. Yes. Yes, I know. Very well. Thank you, imouto. Hai. See you tonight. The phone was set down, a hollow click across the room.
Standing by the window, her hands clasped at her waist, Anthy Himemiya looked out at the bright oranges and reds of the deepening evening. She had forgotten to tell him. It had been a misprint. She was certain he had told her to check, but she had been distracted. Chu. Chu had been doing the cutest thing. Dancing about with the spoon. So she had overlooked it. Saturday. Saturday November 18th. It was missing from the academy calendars. She had misplaced it, overlooked it for Sunday. Her favourite day. She sighed. She knew it didn't really matter that much. What was Saturday? A day. A calendar page. A handful of hours. What was Sunday? A day. A calendar page. a handful of hours. She loved Sunday. She smiled.
"Tomorrow is Sunday."
Author's Note from October 19th, 1998. Not a Sunday, but a Monday. 3:35pm:
This was written today from 1pm to 3:30 on an empty stomach and on the dread that the following day I had my first 20th century art test. Yep. My first test for a class, way out in October. Rather slow teacher. Ehem. Not that she's a bad person. Just slow. But I digress. I was going to thank you for reading.
I hope you enjoyed this story. I sure enjoyed writing it. Shoujo Kakumei Utena offers a nice little outlet for surrealism. Not that this was surreal. Or maybe you did think it was surreal... but I've just ruined it for you, huh?
Shoujo Kakumei Utena is © 1997 Be-Papas, Chiho Saito, and Tokyo Television.