Yukata And Wishes


emily4_icon.gif julie_icon.gif

Scene Title Yukata and Wishes
Synopsis Determined to make the most of the Matsuri, Emily tries to start her night out with Julie with a little cultural tourism.
Date October 25, 2018

Yamagato Park

Harvest Matsuri

7:45 PM

"Come on, you have to admit, you look adorable right now."

Practicality aside, money sense aside, ever having an excuse to wear the get-up again ALL aside … she thinks Julie looks fantastic in the yukata she's wearing. Emily's wearing one of her own, of course, black and grey and white with painted pink and maroon carnations, but this wasn't about her!

They were walking down one of the closed streets filled with vendors — with hanging lights and the sizzling sounds of food all around. Emily's practically leading the charge she's so taken by the experience, and it's a wonder she doesn't stop at every single stand.

“Hold— ” Julie stammers, “hold on these sandal things are,” she wobbled a little, “weird shaped. I'm fine.” One hand swats in Emily’s direction. “I'm fine.

In contrast to the muted colors of Emily’s yukata, Julie’s is a vibrant red that is sharply contrasted by ink black autumn branches down the arms. The color scheme is inverted for the obi around her waist, made from black silk and printed with chromatic red fall leaves. Her blonde hair is wound up in a bun behind her head, but her choice — insistence — of wearing traditional wooden geta instead of shoes was her downfall. The wedge platform sandals can be awkward to walk in at first, and Julie seems to have two left feet.

“I'm fine,” Julie reiterates, regaining her balance as she tucks her clutch purse between obi and yukata, looking back over her shoulder down one of the crowded streets as she does. “You shouldn't go so fast,” she mildly chides, motioning to Emily’s crutches, “you're going to wear yourself out.”

Emily jerks her hand back from helping with a grin … that inverts quickly at the motherly comment. She tilts her head forward slightly to give her a look out the top of her eyes, bangs sliding forward across her face. She looks away afterward with a sigh and a twinkle of noise from the charm dangling out of the tight bun bound at the back of her head. Everything is looked at with a bit more care than before, like she's mentally ticking a few items off the list of the must-see attractions this evening.

"I can take it easy when the festival's over." she replies dismissively, even though she's not moved from her spot since Julie passed the comment. Emily looks back to her with a wry grin, shuffling to stand a little bit closer by her cousin's side. "And I'm not entirely sure your motivations aren't a little selfish, Jules." she teases. "You sure you don't need me to help you walk in those?"

I'm fine.” Julie insists through clenched jaws, stamping her way over to Emily’s side. She sucks in a sharp breath through her nose, then exhales a visible sigh in a gout of silvery steam, wrapping her arms tightly around herself in the yukata’s wide sleeves.

Julie’s blue eyes alight to the tops of skyscrapers, to violet neon lights contrasting against the pinks and greens of the aurora overhead. She squints, briefly, and then looks back to Emily with a ghost of something like guilt across her face. A ghost quickly exorcised. “Are we going in there?” She motions to the steps leading up to the shrine grounds’ entrance.

"I mean…" Emily looks down to the shrine, failing to conceal her interest despite the obstacles in their path.

"Yeah, I'd hoped." she confesses with a shrug, stubbornly continuing in the shrine's direction. "This is probably the only shrine thing in the entire States. It's like going to Japan without being there." Which, for her, summarizes the entire festival. It's a vacation that otherwise was close-to-impossible.

"So, yes." she reiterates, much less confidently, at the base of the stairs. "And then we can get something to eat from one of those vendors—" She had her eye on whatever 'yakitori' was, in particular. "And if it's not too late, I want to check out some of those games!" The idea of the plan is such that she starts grinning again without realizing it. It all sounds wonderful.

Emily’s hopeful eagerness is infectious. Julie can't help but manage a smile in the face of such stubborn positivity, and its with only a small measure of reluctance that she steps over to Emily’s side and lays a hand on her shoulder. “Okay,” comes at first as a whisper, “alright, you've beaten me. I'm defeated. White flags waving!” A crooked smile crosses her face.

“Shrine,” Julie nods to the stairs, “food,” she concedes, hungrily, “a break,” is her one term, “and then games.” One blonde brow raised, Julie lays out her one mitigating term with a playful gleam in her eyes.

"A break to eat, duh." Emily agrees almost dismissively, save for the quick flash of a grin. "Come on, let's see who falls up the stairs first." It doesn't appear she has a lot of faith in Julie's balance with those shoes. She leans forward into her crutches as she mounts the first wide step, exhaling a short sigh.

The process of climbing the steps gives her more time with her thoughts than she'd like. It's not long before she's talking again, as a result. "I'm sorry I've not been home as much lately. I should be more, now that I'm done studying for the GED."

A brief flash of guilt crosses Julie’s face as she keeps intentional pace at Emily’s side. “It's… it's ok. I haven't been home much either, honestly. Sasha has some… some things going on and his mother— ” She makes a noise in the back of her throat and then shakes her head. “It's— anyway, it's mostly been work. Mostly.”

As they reach the top of the stairs, a winding path of flagstone cuts beneath dozens of red-lacquered torii gates some ten feet high. Julie looks up at them with momentary silence and uncertainty before turning her attention to Emily. “Is it school?” Julie suddenly asks. “Or is it… someone else?” She raises one brow, presumably teasing.

Emily can't disguise the disapproval of Sasha that's conveyed in a single glance. Its edge is considerably less when Julie explains the nature of getting entangled with him again. Maybe it was fine, if they were helping out his mother. Maybe.

At the top of the stairs, her breath catches as she sees the gates … a whole corridor of them. The lights on the ground shining up the poles of the torii are impressive now that she sees them, and she finds herself pausing until Julie's nudging at her again with her words. "No," she scoffs, almost scolding, but she doesn't look back, walking under the first of the gates. "It's… I've been studying over at those kids' place." She says, as if they weren't the same age, some of them. "The ones I'm not sure aren't a part of some kind of gang?"

That's going to instill confidence, I'm sure. Emily shakes her head, distracted from the sight momentarily. "The ones I went to the fireworks with. They're not terrible, though. The one I've been spending the most time with lately, Brynn, she's — well, deaf." is explained awkwardly. Her voice is light afterward. "But she's been teaching me how to sign. And it's just…"

She looks down as she takes her next step, seeming uncomfortable not with the path, but with the realization she's come to upon it. "I don't know, it's been nice. To not be alone as much."

Emily's beaming brightly as she looks up again, trying to quell any lingering on the subject. "So at the shrine, I guess you can make a wish. They've got different ways you can do it. You could… toss a coin, ring a bell, write it out on a little wooden board… Want to make one?"

There's always an ease with which Julie adopts a judgmental tone. “Wishing?” She realizes how it sounds as soon as it's left her lips. She makes a noise in the back of her throat, then looks down at the ground and backpedals through the conversation.

“I'm glad you're making friends,” sounds sincere, and it's something Julie had been pushing Emily to try and do for years. “They're not bad people, either. They've been through a lot of shit, the ones I know.” Which is a smaller number than she assumes. “Just… try not to push yourself?”

She realizes how that sounds too.

“So…” is Julie’s attempt to move past it, “the uh… what kind of wishes?” She sheepishly asks, looking over to Emily as they walk.

If it were anyone but Julie who had made the suggestion, Emily would probably recoil or at least snap at it. It being her cousin, she takes it on the chin. "I know." she says quietly, aware of just how much she has overdone it lately. It was only a matter of time before it would come back to bite her, but she was determined to push through until then. There were a lot of things to enjoy right now, and she didn't want to miss out.

The wishes. Right. "Uh… yeah." she says distractedly, blinking as she tries to right her train of thought. "Like … I don't know, prayers or some shit." It's her turn to sound sheepish now. Her voice is a little more careful now as she hesitates on speaking too much on something she hardly has familiarity with. "Things you want to happen. People you want to be looked out for. Asking for direction. I don't know — anything, it sounded like."

Her eyes light up as she sees two statues guarding the path ahead — stone foxes adorned with bright red scarves. "Whoa. Get a look at that." she murmurs conspiratorially. "They're wearing clothes."

They think they're people,” Julie says in a faux-fawning voice, hands clapped to her cheeks. After a kick of one brow up at a fox statue, Julie starts to briskly move by one, then stops and looks back at Emily.

“So… this is basically like flicking pennies into a fountain?” Julie has the ability to strip the glamour off of everything, if she so wishes. She looks to the side, toward one of the torii gates, then back to Emily. “It's kinda…” Childish? Naive? Stupid? She chooses not to narrow it down, though in spite of how not into it she seems, there's a glimmer of curiosity in her eyes and anxiety in the way she bites her bottom lip.

“Are you gonna?” Julie asks, looking back to the fox statue.

"Mmmmmm…" Emily squints, pausing behind Julie to look up at the statue thoughtfully. "Maybe. Same but different. Fountains aren't made for wishes, specifically." Sound logic, right?

Her gaze softens as she looks Julie over, head shaking to herself. If she didn't know any better, she'd suspect her cousin's a little superstitious of it. "Come on." she says gently, jerking her head in the direction of the shrine. Grip adjusting around her crutches, she presses on. They're almost there, after all.

"Yeah… I think I will. I mean, it's only got as much power as you give it, right?" The question is less rhetorical than it comes out. "So, why not. When in Rome-agato…"

As the pair approach the shrine, Julie looks increasingly uncomfortable. Not because of the surroundings but rather, as Emily’s become aware, from her cultural blind-spot. Julie knows almost nothing about Japanese culture, and as a person, she’s uncomfortable in situations she doesn’t understand — or think she understands. “S-so… we… do we have to… ask?” She flicks her stare over at Emily, slowing her pace down so that her cousin is ahead.

For all her pride, Julie is at her core insecure. Insecure about her lacking social skills from having grown up isolated from people her own age. Insecure about gaps in her education. Insecure about coming off as young or inexperienced. She’s never confessed any of this to Emily, but Emily has inferred much of it through their years together.

"We just…" Emily starts, the sentence unfinished as she's still processing. Her cursory searches online didn't prepare her for the entire thing, after all. Pretending she knows what she's doing herself only takes her so far, though she exudes more confidence than she has. The pause sounds natural, even, accompanied by a nod toward the offering box in front of the altar. She's taking a step in that direction when an arm from a short, elderly woman is suddenly barring her path. Her facade of confidence wavers, brow furrowing as she looks down. "Um, excuse me."

The elderly Japanese woman only smiles. She figures herself to be some kind of cultural guide, possibly self-appointed. "First, you must wash." the woman explains, and then she's gesturing to a small stone basin (with more stylistic foxes overlooking it, because that's apparently a theme here), with wooden ladles presumably used to assist in that endeavor.

"Of course there's a catch." Emily murmurs under her breath, flashing a quick smile to indicate she understands before looking back to Julie with a shrug. Learning experience for both of us. She doesn't let the small confrontation get her down, annoying as it is to have to take another detour. She is worried about her cousin maybe losing her nerve, though, so she wastes no time in leading them both over to the stand.

"Yeah, looks like we have to ask the fox." she leans to whisper to Julie before rolling up her sleeves, glancing at a man on the other side of the basin who's doing whatever ritual they're supposed to also be partaking in. Wash one hand … then the other… then wash off the handle? Weird. But okay. She nods Julie forward, working her way through the motions and letting the water spill off her hands and onto the stones outside the bin.

"This is something else," she whispers. Practically being caught by the arm and told 'No, do things in the right order' was turning her tourist stop from something lighthearted and uninformed into … well, not exactly a somber experience, but something she was being forced to appreciate had some weight to it. Emily spins the handle of the ladle around to rinse it in the stream of water before laying it back aside. "Better make sure I think of a good enough wish for all this trouble."

“That doesn't look warm,” Julie says quietly as she moves up to the basin once Emily’s finished. Here in this moment of awkward cultural exchanges, Julie seems her age. There are no airs she can put on the act worldly, mature, or put-together when anxiously presented with such a situation. Instead, she fumbles through the steps just as much as Emily did, highlighting their similarities rather than their differences, in ways that they usually don't get to see of one-another. Julie, ever the caretaker and ostensible adult, brought low.

Once finished, Julie clearly looks like she wants to just stuff her hands under her arms to warm them up instead of being wet in the cool October air, but she hesitates just shy of actually doing it. “You go first,” she urges Emily, walking up just beside and behind her and bumping into her with a shoulder. She needs someone to show her what's expected.

Though she knows Julie probably hates it, Emily appreciates the opportunity to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with her cousin. Even if it happens to be in an evening chill with their hands doused in equally cold water.

At the nudge, she glances back with a small shrug. "Okay, I'll go first." she mumbles her reply, nudging her right back with an elbow. She slips cautiously toward the altar, eyes wandering for context clues to help her through the situation.

Right, right. The prayer thing. Getting derailed had distracted her from the thoughts she had been forming. What exactly she wanted to wish about … or remember.

Leaning her knee against the tall box to help with her balance, she slips a hand into the small bag hanging from her opposite wrist, fishing out a quarter and looking down into the slatted box. Nodding self-assuredly, she tosses the coin overhand at the box, and once it falls through below with a tinny echo as it hits the bottom, Emily looks up to the thick rope hanging above the offering box.

She hesitates after placing one hand on the rope, peering up at the cloth-adorned bell hanging high above. Eyes closing, Emily holds her thought firmly in mind and heart before giving the bell a good shake, waiting for the jangle to settle before gripping her crutches properly again and slowly stepping back.

Maybe it wasn't exactly the right way to do things, for all she knew — but nobody had come running out of the woodworks to yell at them about doing it the proper way this time.

Emboldened by that, Emily looks back to Julie with a grin.

Nervously fidgeting, Julie looks over at her cousin, then over to the wall of ema shingled many layers thick from the earlier memorial ceremony. This particular ceremony was less straightforward, in her eyes, even more ritualized. She’s uncomfortable with the motions, uncomfortable with the unfamiliarity. She obsessively watched Emily go through the motions, and as she moves up emulates what her cousin did step by step, with a few beats of thoughtful hesitation between each moment. Emily is left to wonder if Julie had the spare space to think of a prayer in that moment of silence before she rings the bell. But when she steps back from the swinging rope, looking at it with wide eyes, there’s a briefly overwrought look on her face.

Swallowing audibly, Julie wipes at her eyes with her sleeve, then looks down and away and steps back to Emily’s side. “Okay,” Julie says in a hushed voice, the single syllable sharply exhaled as though it was a battle to speak at all. “So…” she looks up, glassy-eyed, at Emily. Now what goes unspoken.

Emily's still smiling, a bit more furtively, as Julie comes back to her. She leans toward her, side of her head briefly resting on top of her cousin's. "I think we did great." she murmurs emphatically, encouragingly, leaning her head away from the impromptu half-hug to see if that's helped at all.

Seeing Julie this upset was a surprise, and something Emily's not entirely sure how to comfort. Not in the open, anyway.

"Thanks for coming with me," she adds in an even softer voice. If she'd not had someone with her, someone trusted, to root back to in case she lost her nerve, Emily's not sure how far she'd have made it tonight… and the number of people she could trust with supporting her through something similar to what Julie was going through was small.

Count on one hand small.

Maybe even one finger.

And she'd upset that one person inadvertently. Fuck.

"You want to pick where we eat?" Emily asks hopefully. Maybe returning a bit of control to her would help. "Any place you want. I'll eat it, even if I think it's weird." A lot of it looked weird to her. Skeptical-head-shake-no-thanks weird.

“There’s a bodega up the street,” Julie says as she scrubs the heel of one hand at an eye, then looks over to Emily. “Let’s buy a tub of cheese balls and two bottles of wine and go back to the apartment.” Her brows furrow, a grimace crossing her lips, and then blue eyes avert to her feet. “I’m tired, and sad, and think it’s high time you and I have a drink together.”

Then, as she looks up to Emily, Julie steps in and wraps one arm around her shoulders and pulls her into a tight embrace. “Thanks for taking me out,” she whispers against Emily’s shoulder. “I needed this.”

Emily did say anything. And cheese balls for dinner was weird, but not octopus balls level of weird. It had a brand of familiarity to it.

If she's disappointed the night's being cut off early, she does well at not letting it show. She has a smile for that frown, hoping strongly Julie would be wearing one soon too. When she pulls her in for the hug, Emily presses her lips into her hair and returns the embrace just as firmly.

"Me too." she murmurs. "Been in need of a night like this." A night for just them.

Emily was just as happy to spend it at home wine-drunk covered in cheese dust as she was taking selfies in the festival light while they explored the foreign matsuri.

Though she might have them stop just one or two more times for pictures on their way out of the Park. Something to remember the night by, or at least how they looked in it.

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