I have finally gotten published.
It took me ten years, about five million drafts, rereading the diary I kept during the year that changed my life, at least three panicked phone calls with Haruka where she calmed me down, and a massive pile of rejection letters, but Volume One of Go! Princess Precure is finally on the shelves of bookstores worldwide.
She’s coming to see me after the con’s over, for people really seem to enjoy my work. I’ve seen at least fifteen girls dressed up as her, and there’s talk of making it into an anime….
“You’re Yui Nanase, right?” a short woman in a red hat and orange dress with a red bow and white puffy sleeves asks, pulling me out of my thoughts.
You’re a Miracle Peace fan too? I loved that manga and show, and wanted to be her when I was younger.
“Yes, I am. I’d love to see the Miracle Peace booth, but I don’t want to abandon mine.” I answer, for I can catch up on my own fangirlism later.
“I’ll tell you a secret. It’s perfectly okay to close your booth for a few minutes.” the woman whispers into my ear….
“You’re….” I begin, and I can’t finish my sentence, for this is Yayoi Kise who has somehow chosen to talk to me.
She’s just a few years older than me, yet she got her work published when she was fifteen….
Um, I was inspired a lot by your comics when writing Go! Princess Precure, and I really looked up to Miracle Peace when I was younger, for I wanted to be as confident and bold as she was….
“Don’t worry, I used to be like that around people I idolized here. I really enjoy your work, Yui, and I just wanted to tell you that.” she says, and I cannot believe that this is happening right now….
“...thank you….” I manage to say, and I’m pretty sure I look like a complete moron right now.
I’m sorry, I’ll make it up to you…. do you want anything? I still have some dolls here….
“If you want to see it, my friend’s hosting a murder-mystery panel at three with her husband.”
Yayoi Kise…. this woman I looked up to for being able to publish her work at fifteen and who created one of my favorite superheroines, is inviting me, Yui Nanase, to join her and meet one of her friends….
“....she’s rarely in the country, but they’re here for a few months. Have you read anything by Komachi Akimoto, Yui?” Yayoi asks.
Key To My Mind….. she wrote that book, I think, about a man who accidentally killed someone and was so overcome by guilt that he sealed away his own memories in a key and threw it away….
“Yes…. I’d love to join you, Yayoi. See you then.” I answer as she walks away and apologizes to to a group of girls dressed as Haruka and Minami and Kirara for holding up the line.
Haruka, I can’t wait to tell you this.
“Cut! Okay, the Paradis II is going to launch in half an hour, so we’ll head to the base to watch Tsubomi go into space before driving to the airport!”
Who knew working for Fairy Drop would lead towards meeting such interesting people? Haruka still can’t believe that I work with one of the people studying the possibilities of living on the moon.
Erika Kurumi is quite possibly the most energetic person on the planet, and I have no idea how she’s able to run her own business, design clothes, and direct a variety of models while still having time to read abnormally large amounts of comics, watch movies, keep in contact with her family and friends in Japan, and get to know all of us. Itsuki Myoudouin is the only one of us who can keep up with her boundless energy, and that’s because she’s known Erika since they were kids and does martial arts in her spare time.
She must never sleep….
“We just need three tickets, right?” Itsuki asks from her chair next to Erika, and I grab an eclair and begin to eat it.
They’re okay, I guess, but I’ll always miss the donuts from back home. Miki claims that the ones from her town are amazing and she even invited that guy to cater her wedding, so I guess I’ll find out how true her statement is this weekend.
“Yes, there’s only three of us here. I thought you bought the tickets last week.” I answer, for I tried to convince her to buy some to Australia, but apparently you’re not allowed to visit where Minami is, so that went well.
“Okay! Let’s stop fretting and go! We have a spaceflight and wedding to get to, and we can’t be late to either of them!” Erika exclaims as she sprints out the door.
Well, I guess I’m on my way to watch Tsubomi go into space and Miki’s wedding. Wish me well, everyone! It’s going to be kind of weird calling her Miki Minami, but she doesn’t strike me as the type to change her name.
“So, I guess we’re on our way.” Itsuki quips as she picks up a set of car keys and a stuffed rabbit, and walks with me out the door of our studio.
“Minami, would you mind if I talked to you?” my boss asks as I hand her another set of notes from our observations of this section of the Great Barrier Reef.
“I don’t mind.” I answer, as I walk with her to a tiny house with a black and white door.
“I own this house, so don’t worry about intruding.” she answers, as she opens the door and invites me inside.
Dr. Yukishiro doesn’t strike me as the sort of person to buy a house in Australia, but I guess it makes sense for her, if we’re going to be researching this reef and its biodiversity for the next few years.
“Would you like tea?” she asks, as she pours me a cup. Ever since I came here, she’s taken me under her wing, and I have no idea why.
Is it because I am one of the few people from Japan here? Or just because she sees her younger self in me?
“When did you decide you wanted to study marine biology, Minami?” she asks, and her house is filled with photos of her and a brown-haired girl and various other people.
“I didn’t expect to be studying it, but when I was fourteen, I realized that it was incredibly interesting and that I wanted to learn about it, Dr. Yukishiro.” I answer, for I doubt she’ll believe exactly what happened to me during the year I attended Noble Academy, and learned about the magic of dreams.
“I never expected to be here either; I wanted to be a chemist, but I ended up going into marine biology instead.” she says, as she turns towards the pictures on the wall.
We’re on vacation in…. December. I’m meeting Haruka and Minami and Yui then, but is that why she keeps photos of people in her house?
“A lot of things happened when we were fourteen. I met my best friend and first love that year.” she says as she turns back to me, her voice filled with nostalgia.
“Are they the people you keep on your wall?” I ask.
“Nagisa, yes. Kiriya…. he’s dead, but there’s probably a picture somewhere, if you want to look.”
I’m…. sorry for your loss, Dr. Yukishiro….
I take a sip of my tea, and turn back towards the wall of photographs. Most of them are of the brown-haired girl who’s probably Nagisa, but a few are pictures of a dog and an older woman with dark hair. Near the back, there’s an image of a smiling girl and a pale boy with a microscopic grin, and it’s hidden by another photo.
“Were you ever a Pretty Cure, Minami?” Dr. Yukishiro asks, and I almost drop my tea as I turn towards her.
What? How do you know about this? I don’t think I told anyone about that….
“I was one too. Nagisa and I…. we started it all off, you could say.” she begins, before asking me if I don’t mind staying here for a bit longer.
I don’t mind…. I’d be interested in hearing your story, and I’ll tell you mine, I guess…..
I am now Queen Akagi…. and my parents are dead.
They said that their time in stasis was detrimental to their health, but I didn’t believe them until yesterday, when they held their funeral….
You didn’t kill them. Don’t blame yourself for this, and live in the past.
My coronation is today, and citizens of all the kingdoms near and far in this dimension have been invited to watch me become queen, and I will rule benevolently with my brother by my side. I can’t appear as a ghost or shadow of myself, or a grief-ridden girl.
I wish they could see us, Haruka and Minami and Kirara and Yui….
Kanata and I tried to open the door when we finished rebuilding, but neither of us could and it’s better if we couldn’t, for we’d be too tempted to shirk our responsibilities and leave.
“Princess Himelda is here to see you.” someone says as a woman in white takes a seat opposite me.
I need to pull myself out of this fog, if I can’t tell voices apart from one another.
“It’s very nice to see you, Princess.” I say, for she bothered to pay a visit and I need to actually pay attention to the world outside my head.
“Are you alright?” she asks, and if she can feel my grief, then I’m doing something wrong with all this….
I’ll be fine in time for the ceremony, I promise.
“It’s better if you don’t try to hide your own emotions from the world.”
“I don’t want people to see me as the same girl who killed them all a decade ago.” I blurt out.
How…. there is no way to justify that. I can better myself and improve the world, and that’s what I shall do.
“....I did the same thing. People are remarkably forgiving, and they’ve seen your actions as princess for the past nine years, but if you only see yourself as her, that’s who you’ll be….”
In another life…. could she have been me and I have been her? I don’t know her story, and she probably won’t tell me any of it, so I won’t pry.
She told me about that kingdom, Dyspear did…..
I’m about to thank Princess Himelda when I notice that she’s joined by a woman in black, who I’ve never seen before.
Who is that? Why is she here, and what is she planning on doing?
“So, this is where the ex-Cure princess meeting is? Good luck at your coronation, Towa. And you’re both invited to my wedding, whenever that takes place.” she rambles, as she passes me a piece of paper.
“Thank you.” I answer, as I begin to smile.
Today is the first day of the future, then. And I will built one that is beautiful.
Yui told me to meet her at this park, and I’m here early.
It’s fun watching people and encouraging them to dream. That’s what I want to do with my life, even if it seems overly-simple compared to everyone else’s.
Yui writes comic books, Minami’s in Australia studying dolphins, Kirara’s in France modeling for Fairy Drop, and Towa’s an actual princess…. while I’m studying to become a teacher so I can encourage children.
Kirara told me that she was coming back to Japan because a friend of hers was getting married, and that I could go to the wedding. I’ll be on my way to Clover Town tomorrow, but today is another day of motivation and sparking dreams.
“Haruka?” someone asks, and I would recognize that voice even in my dreams, but he can’t be here, for that’s not possible.
“Kanata?!” I exclaim as I spring off the bench and run towards the voice, and he’s standing in the same place we met when we were children, all those years ago….
What are you doing here?! Can you and Towa visit us now?
“I wanted to make sure that you were doing well, but I don’t know if I’ll be able to do this again.” he says.
“How are you? How is Towa? Have you-” I begin, before he interrupts my deluge of questions.
“Towa is now Queen Akagi.”
“That’s amazing! I hope she’s doing well, and you’re fine too, right?”
“....I suppose I am. How is everyone doing?”
“Minami and Kirara are chasing their dreams in Australia and France, and Yui’s writing books about us. Do you want to read them? They’re really good!” I answer, as I walk towards him, for if he’s here, I can show him what we’ve done in the ten years since he left.
“I don’t know if I have enough time…. and you, Haruka? Have you been happy?” he asks.
“I am. I’m learning how to become a teacher, so I can encourage children to follow their dreams and create hopeful futures.”
“I wish you well…. Haruka, I’m very glad to have met you.”
“I’m very glad to have met you too, Kanata.”