Into the wild
She had a hard time falling asleep that night, worried about that weird feeling that she had when Hijiri hugged her that evening. But when she woke up, she felt like a fresh start. She got up from the right foot, and walked down the stairs with enthusiasm. But then, an old lady and her husband welcomed her with a gorgeous breakfast, which was a great thing, only that Maya was really surprised to see they weren’t Mr and Mrs Tsuda, who took care of her during her last visit. It questioned her somehow. Was anything wrong with them? Were them sick? She asked while starting her meal. “Not at all,” the lady responded. “They just decided to leave after this house’s got sold to Mr Kirino. “But, wasn’t the house already his?” The caretakers exchanged a glance, then after a moment, the old man said. “A-actually, Mr Kirino was just renting this place, but he finally decided to buy it for good a couple of month ago.” His wife nodded vivaciously. But Maya still didn’t understand the sudden need for the Tsuda to leave, but she didn’t ask for more details, fearing to be rude. She remained, still, highly curious about it.
The breakfast eaten, the caretaker, who introduced themselves as Mr and Mrs Sakura, went in the kitchen to do the dishes and Maya was strictly forbidden to help them. So, she wandered in the house, gazing at the pictures on the walls – all paintings or argentics black and white photographs. In a sitting room, she discovered an upright piano and smiled. Mr Kirino couldn’t live anywhere without a piano it seemed. She remembered her lessons with Sakurakoji for the part of Beth, and wondered if she could still remember the tune. By this time, her friend told her about his desire of acting with her on the same stage. And his wish would be fulfilled at last. Right, she forgot, that was why she was spending this week in this house. She has to success portraying the wildness of the wolf girl. But how to become Jane, where should she begin? She looked out the window. The whether seemed calm and even. It was perfect to spend the day out. She put her jacket on and left.
Later that morning, Mizuki was informing her chief about little changes in the Festival setting, when she suddenly looked up to Masumi and noticed that he seemed more down than ever. She asked him if something bad happened and got no reaction of any kind. The deadline was closer everyday and Isadora was still the favourite of the judges. What would happen if Maya wasn’t able to get the Award? Would Tsukikage Chigusa keep her word and forbid the young woman to compete with Ayumi? This whole story was annoying her. She didn’t like the way everyone was playing with Maya’s life as if they owned it. M. Hayami, his friend, Professor Tsukikage, the producers. It was a miracle that this girl hadn’t snap into a serious breakdown. What happened when her mother died was nothing compared to what would happen to any other girl in the same situation. Maya was really a strong person, with an amazing willpower. She didn’t exactly know when she began to admire her, but those days it was getting more and more intense. But she had to ask.
“Were you serious, Mr Hayami,” she said carefully “, when you promised to Rei that you wouldn’t try to get the Crimson’s Goddess rights from Mrs Tsukikage?” Mr. Hayami raised his head, stared at her for a second before saying; coldly “Do you really think I would give up a fight I began ten years ago just before some teenager asked me to?” Mizuki stared back, amazed by the sudden return of his legendary coldness “But, that night, face to her, you looked…” but her superior interrupted her wryly “I told her what she wanted to hear. Obviously, I will keep fighting for those rights.”
“But what if she actually tells Maya that…”
“— She won’t. She is not stupid enough to tell her best friend something that would hurt her indefinitely just because I didn’t keep my promise. Now,” he added cruelly between his teeth “if you don’t mind, I would like to think without being disturbed each time a silly thought go through your mind.”
His secretary nodded, and left. She remained doubtful. She remembered vividly that night, when he drove Maya home with his friend, and surely he wasn’t in state to think strategically. But she felt that Mr Hayami wasn’t in state to argue about his unhappy love life, so she made the wise choice to stay silent and leave the office without a remark.
The sun set two hours ago and the stars were pointing sparsely in the growing darker sky. Maya could easily spend the night out. She lied down on a large roc and admired the cloudless sky. Actually, she didn’t feel like going back to Mr Kirino’s house this soon. She had spent the whole day walking, sitting on the grass, walking, avoiding the tree’s branches and walking. She hadn’t found a single fruit, so she had to eat the only apple she took in her little bag. She was on her own now. No provision, no cell phone, nothing. And she had only six days left to find out how to portray Jane, but even with one full day in the forest, she still didn’t have a clue. In the now black sky, the stars were getting more numerous and bright. It looked now a lot like the planetarium.
Looking at the sky, all those stars far away, it always make me understand how little I am, and how insignificant my problem are, whatever they could be.
Mr. Hayami…what would you say if you would see me this way, not knowing what to do. Surely you would be disappointed.
I’ll also be expectant of that 1%. I believe in you.
No! She straightened up quickly, surprised by a betraying tear that ran away from her eye. Why was she thinking about Mr. Hayami right now? And why was she so sad all of the sudden? She had more important to think about. She fell asleep during the middle of the night, tired by this first useless, yet exhausting day.
The second day looked difficult at the second Maya opened her eyes. The apple had been burned long ago in her organism and she was now starving. She looked up. The sky was now clouded, and she couldn’t see the sun to now in which time of the day she was then. Her inside clock was telling her it was about noon. Her first goal of the day: finding something to eat. She couldn’t find anything on the grassy ground, so she tried to climb a tree to get another fruit but she couldn’t find anything either. She spent several hours searching before finally finding a bush with some bitter berries on it that didn’t fully filled her stomach but let her wait for later. She really hoped that she could find something else on her way later in the day. She just had to bear with it for now.
During noontime, alone in his big apartment, Hijiri was prey of doubt. He couldn’t stop himself from remaking the argument he had with Masumi over and over again in his mind. He knew it was wrong, that he shouldn’t think this way, but part of him – the biggest part, wanted Maya not to forgive Masumi. He didn’t want them to make up. Because he couldn’t ignore the bond that linked Maya to his friend the same way he couldn’t deny the fact that the day those two would make up, it would be a matter of time until they start dating, and this idea was simply unbearable to him. But most of all, the worse, would certainly be if Maya would happen to discover the truth. Just imagining her horrified look toward his betrayal was a nightmare to him. What had got into him that he was so upset about this story?
A clap of thunder made him startle. He looked at the window. A few drops fell, then quickly, a cold, heavy rain poured down the street, soaking the surprised passer-by. Hijiri sighted. Maya…
Maya hadn’t found anything else to eat but some more berries. She felt like even her bones were soaked and her wet hair were making her shivering. She didn’t know if she was cold or hot, the only thing she was perfectly sure of was that she was terribly hungry, and weak. She had to find a shelter.
When she opened her eyes, the night was dark. She was completely soaked, lied down on the floor. All her body was shivering, yet her head was burning her. She must have fainted. Her stomach wasn’t staying silent, claiming for something to burn, but she had nothing. Her legs were weak, and she was thirsty. She found some rain water gatherer in the hollow of a flat rock, and she sucked it up with big gulps. She was now feeling a bit better, but not much. She had completely forgotten her notion of time. The sky was still clouded. She found a little cavern in a meadow going a little underground where she went, wanting to rest during the night. There, strangely, she found some fruits and little bones strewing the cold ground. She threw herself on the fruits, and noticed that some had already been bitten by other kind of teeth, but she didn’t mind, seeing how she was hungry. She at and then, completely exhausted, she felt dizzy again and lied down to rest a little. Feeling cold and hot again, she curled herself, her knees on her chest, and closed her eyes, a shiver shaking her back.
When she woke up again, the twilight was letting place to the beginning of the night. Did she sleep during a whole day? How long was it since she left the house? She raised her head, her mind clouded by a dark and heavy dream. The fever seemed to be gone now, even if she still was feeling a little weak. She was hungry again, and looked around her to see if they were no other fruit, but then she froze. A couple a wolves were in the cavern with her. She couldn’t believe her eyes. It was the first time she was seeing real wolves. It didn’t seem like a whole pack, there were just four of them - a mother with three little ones, so it seemed. She couldn’t believe the mother didn’t attack her. Maybe she looked too weak to be a potential threat for her children.
Maya tried not to move too much, constantly staring at the mother, but still amazed by the young ones that were truly cute, like puppy. Crouched on the floor, barely breathing, she felt fully awake and full of energy. One hour later, the little family went out, and Maya decided to follow them. Behind the last wolf-cup, still crouching on the level of the grass she moved as silently as she could not to be noticed by the mother. By a moment, the mother found a fox, not too far and crouched before attacking. Maya was amazed and scared to see the fastness and the cruel grace that the wolf had when she got her prey that didn’t stand a single chance in front of the pitiless yet beautiful predator. The night was darker than ever, yet Maya could perceive every single move, guess them, and feel them in the change of the air. When the fox got down, the wolf-cups threw themselves on it remains while the mother was watching over them carefully. Maya sighed. A sigh that she wasn’t the only one to hear: the mother startled and raised its head toward her. Maya’s heart skipped a beat as she stared at the wolf with horror. Just one second, and its head was just a few inches from hers. She could feel its hot breath on her face, and try not to take any sip of air. She squealed without noticing it, her back and her head were cold as ice and shivers shook her again, she couldn’t help but trembling. The wolf was just in front of her, its yellow eyes penetrating hers. To protect herself, Maya tried to crouch as flat as possible on the floor. Too scared to bear it longer, she closed her eyes, waiting for the mother to attack her. But nothing happened.
Her eyes closed, froze, she waited one long minute during, but then, astonished to realise that nothing was happening to her, she opened her eyes. The little family was gone, and so was the dead fox. The mother spared her. She was at its mercy, and yet it spared her. How unbelievable! Someone really wanted to see her show upstairs! But then the rush of adrenaline that was keeping her awake those three hours disappeared as fast as it appeared, and she fainted again.
Her eyes opened suddenly and she felt completely, vivaciously awake. It was daytime, and she hadn’t the slightest idea of the exact hour of the day it was. But she didn’t care. It was a brand, new day, and despises everything that happened the day before, she was calm and relaxed. She was thirsty, and knew that she had to get up eventually to find some water and something she could use as a breakfast, but for now she just admired the cloudless, bright, fair blue sky. She could let her mind wander. The experience with the wolf, the day before, was the most vivid thought she had in mind. Everything else was blurring. After a moment, she decided to get up to start searching for her meal. It was, actually, the only thing she could do there. In this wild, thick and green forest, where she came a half week ago, she had the feeling that, alone, besides trying to stay alive and sleeping, there wasn’t much to do. After an hour walking patiently she started to hear a lapping far away. Indeed, she found a river after adding half an hour walking. She threw herself on the water and drank until she could feel that her entire body was about to explode. Then, and only then, she raised her head, and paid attention to the incredible picture right in front of her.
On the river, slightly deformed by the undulating water, a visage was staring back at her. Barely human, the face was owned by a girl, which hair was in a terrible mess and dreadfully dirty, with the edge of her hair soaked, and several locks stuck together with dirt. Her face was showing an expression of high surprise, yet her eyes were blanks. The whole picture was exactly what one could imagine, trying to picture wildness. It took a full minute to Maya to realize that she was staring to her own reflection. Then her surprise got even bigger. This was her face, yet it didn’t look like her at all. She could barely recognize herself, and it was frightening, in a way. She sat on the riverside, her mind completely blurred. Slowly, she remembered why she came here in the first place. She had decided to go out to the forest to be able to portray Jane, the wolf girl. Maya took another deep look to her face, amazed. She had succeeded. As she was right now, she was Jane. She had completely forgotten who she was. She didn’t know when it started. Maybe when she woke up in the cavern and saw the wolves. Or maybe it started just two hours ago, when she woke up. She didn’t know. But now, an incredibly great feeling of triumph was overwhelming her. She succeeded! She could go back to the mansion, now! She burst into laughing.
In his office, Masumi would have done anything to be able to concentrate during one full minute. He couldn’t keep his mind from tormenting him about the dangerous imminence of the two rival plays. Isadora’s premier was five day from then, while the Forgotten Wilderness’s was in one week, yet, as far as he knew, Maya was still not ready to play her part well enough to surpass Isadora’s super production. She might not be able to win the prize. She might have to give up her dream of becoming the new Crimson Goddess. And then, what would she do? Play other parts, while Ayumi’s performance is on every lips? After been going through a failure like that, any other role would seem pitiful and worthless to her.
But he shouldn’t loose his faith. After all, Maya ended up succeeding her parts. She had only a preparation period longer than any usual actress would have. And the fact that everyone was according to was that Maya wasn’t any usual actress. Yes, eventually, she will succeed. She had too.
It took her the end of the day to make it to the mansion. Strange thing, she knew exactly how to come back. Four hours of stroll and she was there. Mr and Mrs couldn’t restrain their gasp of surprise and horror when she walked trough the doorway, completely covered of mud, her blue jeans tattered and some leafs tangled in her hair. Her face, while dirty and soaked with sweat, was lightened by a beyond satisfied grin. “I’m home!” she scanned happily. The couple exchanger an awed glance, and finally the old woman stammered “W-welcome home…” Maya had a short breath, but she couldn’t help but asking “What day is it?”
The caretakers shared another worried look, and the husband said “err…Friday, why?”
Maya widen her eyes with surprise. She spent only four days in the wild and thick forest, while she thought it was more than that. But her astonishment didn’t last long, because all her attention got swallowed by the delicate aroma that was escaping from the kitchen. The sent awoken a pain in her stomach that reminded her that during those four days, aside from a couple of fruit and some water, she hadn’t eaten much. And to know that soon, she would feel full, heavy and warm, was making her even happier. She sighted of pleasure.
“When do we eat? I warn you: I could eat an entire horse!”
The old lady put her hand on her hips and raised an eyebrow “And I warn you, that there is absolutely no way that I would let you grab a pair of chopsticks in such a state. In the bathroom immediately, young lady!”