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The Road to Tranquility

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Claudine and Maya had been planning to see the opening night of a certain musical for months. It was a women’s only production of Phantom of the Opera. They bought tickets right when they became available, and had been counting down the days ever since, the excitement only growing as it grew closer. 

 

Now, it was mere days away. Maya couldn’t keep a smile off her face all week because of it. It seemed Claudine couldn’t either; that is, until two nights before the big day. 

 

She had mysteriously stepped away during dinner. Now, as she re-entered the lounge, her excitement had seemed to deflate quite significantly. She approached Maya, who was sitting on the couch, seemingly reading about people’s reactions to the preview performances of the production they planned to see. Claudine bit her lip. 

 

“Maya? There’s something I need to discuss with you.”

 

Maya eyed her curiously. 

 

“May I inquire as to what?”

 

“Just come with me.”

 

Claudine took Maya’s hand and brought the girl into her room. She shut the door behind them and had them both sit on the bed. She sighed before finally speaking. Maya watched, more confused than anything. 

 

“I’m so sorry…” Claudine let go of Maya’s hands, and gazed into her eyes sadly. “I can’t make it to the show Saturday.”

 

Maya just stared at her: shocked, speechless. And then her eyebrows furrowed in both thought, and what Claudine hoped she was wrong to pinpoint as irritation. 

 

“Why not? We’ve been planning this for months. How could something so important come up so suddenly?”

 

Claudine sighed. She knew Maya would be upset, but predicting it and hearing it were two different things entirely. 

 

She glanced down at Maya’s hand, contemplating taking it in her own; however, she ultimately decided against it. 

 

“I have to return to France for the weekend. I leave tomorrow.”

 

Maya’s shock grew. 

 

“To… France...? So suddenly?”

 

Claudine looked anywhere but Maya’s eyes. 

 

“Yes. Something’s come up—”

 

“Something’s, ‘come up,’ you say? And this, thing, requires you to drop everything and rush back…?”

 

Claudine nodded. She finally looked up at Maya, and was shocked at the expression that was returned to her. 

 

Anger. 

 

“What kind of ’something’ could be more important than this!”

 

She hadn’t heard Maya raise her voice in so long—aside from playfully, anyways. Claudine couldn’t prevent the anger from growing in herself, because what kind of selfish reaction was that? She had made it clear that something awful had happened, hadn’t she?

 

...hadn’t she?

 

“Tendo Maya?! Are you serious? I can’t believe you.”

 

“I can’t believe you!” Maya’s voice began to rise in volume. “We plan this for months, and it seemed we were equally as excited. And now, two days before, you suddenly can’t make it! Two days before and you’re suddenly leaving the country!”

 

“Maya…”

 

“I thought I mattered!” Maya looked down at the bedsheets. Her voice dropped, and her anger drained. All that remained was sadness. “You made me think I actually mattered…”

 

Claudine didn’t respond. She just sat there, shocked, angered. She debated leaving the room all together, before remembering it was her room they were in. She inhaled, steeling herself, before replying. 

 

“You are many things, but I never knew you to be this insensitive.” 

 

I’m insensitive? You cancel our plans so suddenly like this, knowing how much I—no, we—were looking forward to it, and yet I’m the one who’s—”

 

“My mother’s in the hospital!”

 

Now that, that cut off Maya’s response instantly. Finally, the truth had come out, and it left Maya speechless. 

 

And full of regret. 

 

“Saijou-San…”

 

“So am I still insensitive?! Am I still unbelievable?”

 

“Saijou-San… I’m so sorry—”

 

“Oh, are you now?”

 

Maya was distraught. She now recognized how grand of a mistake she had made. She longed to fix it; and soon, so she could hold Claudine in her arms. The blonde looked as distraught as Maya felt.

 

And she had every reason to be. 

 

“I’m such an idiot.”

 

Maya lifted a hand and dropped her head into it. For her to acknowledge that in herself and speak of it so easily, she must’ve really felt awful. That much was also clear in her expression, her tone of voice. Claudine responded in a similar, annoyed manner, but there was a newfound softness to her voice. 

 

“That you are, very much so.”

 

Maya chewed on her lip. 

 

“I deeply apologize. I overreacted… I- I was selfish! Claudine, please, please forgive me.”

 

Maya sent her a saddened, questioning glance. Claudine only responded with a gentle nod of her head. But even at that, Maya deflated with relief. 

 

“I suppose I could’ve explained myself better initially—”

 

“Stop right there. You have absolutely no reason to apologize.” Maya finally took one of Claudine’s hands, and placed her other hand on the blonde’s shoulder. Claudine looked up at her curiously, but didn’t seem to oppose what Maya was initiating. 

 

So she leaned into Maya’s touch. Hesitantly, she allowed Maya to pull her into her arms. 

 

While there was still tension between them, it was fading by the second. And despite it, Claudine easily slipped into Maya’s embrace. She let out a long sigh against Maya’s collar. 

 

“I spoke with my father after dinner,” Claudine began, unprompted. “He said that… my mother, she had collapsed, during rehearsal for a play.”

 

Claudine felt Maya tense. 

 

“Ah, but she’s doing alright now. She may even be discharged by the time I get there. But even so, I need to be there.”

 

Maya circled her arms tighter around Claudine, who curled further into Maya’s chest in turn. 

 

“That must have been distressing. I completely understand why you have to go, Saijou-San; I’m so incredibly sorry for—”

 

Claudine cut Maya off by covering her mouth with a finger. 

 

“I refuse to accept the same apology twice. I understand where you were coming from, too.” 

 

Maya bit her lip. She still felt guilty; she didn’t like how easily Claudine had accepted her apology. She didn’t feel she deserved that sort of response, after the scene she had caused. 

 

“I’m sorry. I know how much you were looking forward to it.” Claudine sighed. “I was too…”

 

“Please don’t apologize. Family is more important—most important,” Maya corrected herself. “While I may not… understand that sentiment on a personal level, I still know it to be true for most.”

 

Claudine felt her heart clench at that. She finally returned the embrace, circling her arms around Maya’s waist, stroking her hands across Maya’s back.  

 

Their conversation didn’t continue from there; they just sat there in each other’s arms. For the first time that night, Claudine felt even the slightest bit relaxed. And, to combat the tension Maya had caused, she kept Claudine in an embrace, being the secure support that Claudine so desperately needed. 

 

They could discuss the details later: when Claudine’s flight left, how and when to get tickets for a different performance of the show they’d be missing. But for now, they were content with being silent and tranquil in each other’s arms.