After that, she went looking for Chikane. She couldn't find her so she went back to the station to see if she was there. She wasn't, so she figure she might be there waiting for her at the tent. When she got to her tent, she saw Chikane sitting there with a ball of Christmas lights on her lap.
"Sorry about that Himeko, but that's all I can get from the guy."
"Don't worry about that Chikane-chan. Oogami-sensei has quite a few Christmas decorations, and he's willing to let us use them for the orphanage, but thanks for the lights anyways."
"No problem, anything for you, my sweetheart," Chikane chimed.
Himeko blushed easily. However, there was something important that she wanted to bring up. "Why did you run away from the meeting? Does it has something to do with Sister Miyako?"
Chikane was taken a bit at this, "How did Himeko know about this?" she wondered. "Yes, I saw her there, and I had to leave without her noticing me."
Himeko couldn't understand why Sister Miyako made her run like that, "What did she do to you?"
Chikane looked back at her with certain amount of sadness in her eyes and said, "The question you should be asking is what she didn't do for me. She was one of the nuns at my orphanage, but she never reported the beatings or the sexual assaults going on over there. She didn't stop anything from happening over there. She's a part of them," she added while tears began to swell up on the corner of her eyes. "If she sees me, she'll report to them that I am here, and then she'll have me sent back to Our Lady of Sorrows. You know I don't want to go back there Himeko!" she balled profusely over the fact of having to return to that madhouse, but there was an even greater fear that brought her more into tears. "And if that happens than I won't be with you."
Himeko saw that fear in her eyes, and she slowly pulled Chikane to a comforting embrace; reassuring her that nothing will happen to her, and that nothing will change between them.
"Chikane-chan, you will never go back there, and nothing will tear us apart, so please don't let that get to you," she pleaded while soothing her with her soft left hand stroking Chikane's head. "I also don't think that Sister Miyako will send you back there. She seems to be a nice person who cares about other people."
Chikane, who thought that Himeko was being very naïve, responded, "Himeko, you don't know Catholic nuns as well as I do. They can appear to be caring and sweet but they can also have ulterior motives," she said based on her own terrifying experience. "And maybe she won't report me, but we can't take that chance, you understand."
Himeko wished she could talk her out of it but she felt like it would be futile. Plus, she thought that Chikane might be right, so she nodded "I understand." Then something came up in her mind, "Oh there's something important I need to tell you, I made you the Virgin Mary for the play."
Chikane was very shocked at this revelation, and she immediately jumped off of Himeko. "What! Sister Miyako will see me. And even if she doesn't report me, other people within the church could spot me."
"I'm sorry Chikane-chan, I didn't know."
"It's okay, I know that you didn't know. I could play the Ghost of Uncertain Future at the other play."
"But I'm playing that role," she noted.
"Himeko, we need to switch. It is very imperative that we do." That made Himeko feel even more insecure, "I know you can do it Himeko. If you can believe that you can get the show running then you can play the Virgin Mary. Besides, the role is perfect for you; you're sweet and innocent. Whereas the Ghost of Uncertain Future is perfect for me; dark and mysterious."
Himeko knew that Chikane had a valid point, but she wasn't sure of herself that she can play the Virgin Mary. Chikane saw her nervousness and said, "Don't be afraid of disappointing them. It's not the first time you've face a crowd. You did it before at the convention and you just did at the meeting. It's not that much different."
Himeko didn't see that she had much of a choice, so she reluctantly agreed, "Okay, I'll do it," but this time she had a small protest about it. "But why am I forced to be in these situations? Why do I have to do these things that make me feel uncomfortable?"
Chikane was surprised to see this side of her, but then she remembered what Himeko told her a few weeks ago at that memorial night in the park. "Because leaving your comfort zone is the only way to grow."
Himeko knew she was using her own words, more or less. "But I was talking about sharing, not leaving your comfort zone."
"In order to share, you have to sometimes leave your comfort zone," she said with a sly smile. That made Himeko smiled a bit, knowing that Chikane got her on that one.
"You're right. I'll be the Virgin Mary, and I'll be the best Virgin Mary there ever was!" she elated with a new sense of confidence. Chikane grinned and then afterwards she gave Himeko a loving hug.
A week has passed, and the project is going well. The orphans were excited to be a part of it, and they helped with the decorations. Decorating the building was a bigger task than what Himeko expected, for she found out the place needed some renovation. Realizing that, she divided the tasks among other people that included Natashi and his men. Girochi also lent a helping hand, and it was a good thing since he carried the heavy items that no one else could. Some of the orphans were not familiar with some of the Christmas music, so Himeko then assigned the job of training them to Chikane and Hana. Fortunately the priest was able to obtain more money, he didn't say how he did. That meant they could do more decorations and renovations for the building. What was also surprising was how well the 'delinquents' were able to work with the homeless. They were certainly bonding with each other, and that made the priest and Himeko proud.
Then came the gifts. Himeko had Kazuki in charge of the gifts. Souma and Girochi helped him in getting the gifts. Then Kazuki had the other homeless volunteers, including Hana's girls wrapping the gifts. During that time Himeko assigned Sister Miyako and Makoto to promote the show. Sist1\er Miyako told other members of the church about it and some got excited. Makoto shared it with her friends at school and on the social networks. She posted it on her blog and on Craigslist as well.
One thing they didn't get around to was getting a new tree. That was taken care of during the week when they were decorating the building. Himeko, Chikane, and a few of the orphans were making decorations and ornaments for the Christmas tree. They were all singing Christmas tunes. They even dressed for the part, as they were wearing Santa hats. Yeah
it's not Chikane's thing, but somehow, Himeko was able to talk her into wearing it.
One of the young orphans came up to Himeko. "Should I put more sprinkles on the angels?" she asked.
Himeko looked at it a bit carefully, "No, this is good enough."
"Okay," she smiled and as she was about to hand it over to Himeko, a loud grumbling noise from outside rattled everything in the room. They ran outside to see what was causing it. As they arrived, they could see a large 16-wheeler not too far away.
The truck honked once again. BEEP, BEEP! "MAKE WAY!" Nekoko shouted from the passenger's window, as she was trying to clear the path. Most got up and moved, but there were still a few drunk lying on the street. Nekoko got out of the truck and dragged them out of the way.
After Nekoko tediously cleared the path, the truck finally reached the orphanage; everybody saw a huge pine tree on the truck bed. It was around 12 feet tall and the leaves were still very green. She got a new tree for the orphanage! As soon as the truck stopped, Nekoko got out and met an excited Himeko.
"Hey there Hime-chan, I hope you didn't put all the decorations and ornaments on that old bush already."
"Well we did, but not a lot, so we can move them. Wow! Where did you get that tree?"
"I got this one direct from Siberia, nya! I met a guy who sells Christmas trees from one of my shows. I told him about your project and he actually had a few overstocked. As you can see, the tree still has its roots, so after Christmas time, we can have it planted in the back."
"This is great! Thank you very much Neko-chan!" Himeko hugged Nekoko.
"No problem. Anything for a good friend."
Himeko suggested, "Hey, let's get it inside and start decorating it!" The orphans cheered and the driver with a few of his co-workers put the tree inside the building. Then everybody started adding the decorations and ornaments to the new tree while moving the remaining ones from the old tree, all of this while singing classic Christmas carols to fill the jovial mood.
As they were adding decorations and singing music, Chikane observed how Himeko interacted with the children. She saw how joyful Himeko was when she was with the kids, and the kids really enjoyed Himeko's presence. In fact, it seemed that the kids saw her as one of them. All that made Chikane realized how truly wonderful she was, 'She would make a great wife. There's no doubt that she's great with kids,' she thought.
The show finally began with Makoto being the host. First, some of the orphans and some of the members in the group, including Hana, sang some Christmas songs followed by Souma and Makoto's play, 'The Gift of the Magi.' Their performance was so moving and endearing that it brought tears to some of the audience, even to some of the Yakuza, thought they wouldn't admit it. Then Hana came on the stage with his girls as the backup singers, and performed 'Give Love on Christmas Day.' They all sang it in falsetto much to everyone's amusement. Nevertheless, the crowd was impressed and gave them a wonderful applause in return.
The next play was the Charles Dickens classic, A Christmas Carol. It wasn't as emotionally moving as the first play but it wasn't any less entertaining. The audience applauded for the performance. After that was a solo performance of Oh Christmas Tree by Corona. Always the show off, she even sang a verse of it in German! Still in her costume, Chikane shook her head in disbelief. Himeko saw her expression and couldn't help but to quietly chuckle.
The third and final play was the Birth of Jesus Christ. The play didn't go out as planned at first, when Himeko nervously stuttered and stumbled on some of the lines. The audience saw how nervous she was. But eventually she got comfortable and her nervousness went away. It seemed that everything was going fine until the birth scene when she dropped the baby. Luckily it was a plastic fake baby. She was expecting some boos and jeers from the audience, in particular from the priests and nuns, but instead she got some laughs from it. Even thought the performance wasn't perfect, people still applauded at the performance, and at Himeko in particular. Finally the performances came to a close with a few more songs, capping it off with everybody involved in the show singing We Wish You a Merry Christmas.
But before they did the final song, Makoto had a final conclusion, "We'd like to thank all you for coming out to watch us when you could have been doing something else this Christmas day," The audience applauded then she continued. "However I would like to say that this show, along with the gifts and the decorations were made possible because of one girl's amazing vision and tireless determination. That girl is none other than the Virgin Mary herself, Kurusugawa Himeko, giver her big round applause everybody!" Himeko was stunned a bit at first but she didn't get much time to recover from her state, because Chikane pushed her to the front of the stage, and then Makoto grabbed her.
When she finally got to the center of the stage, the audience gave her an even louder praise in the form of cheers, whistles, and a standing ovation. She bowed in appreciation of their support. This was just amazing to Himeko. To her it just seemed to be just too good to be true. She couldn't believe the amount of praise she was getting. Himeko appreciated this much more than at the convention, because she felt this accolade had been earned. The happy feeling made her choke up in tears.
The show was a success and although it didn't bring any money in, since it was free, it got quite a bit of publicity. After the show was done and most of the audiences were gone, the priest wanted to thank Himeko for the show.
"Thank you so much Kurusugawa-san, you don't realize the full spectrum of how much of a difference this show, and the improvements have made!"
"What do you mean?" she questioned unknowingly.
"Not only did it had an effect on the orphans but it also had an effect on the Yakuza as well. It was them who had this area cleaned and made safe because they were inspired by what you were doing. This is also the only time that day laborers volunteered to help."
Himeko was in total amazement now, "Really?"
"Yes! And I just got word that the Japanese Catholic Review is planning to publish an article on this for next month's newsletter! We've never been mentioned in that newsletter before. This is simply marvelous, all thanks to you! I can't ever recall a moment of my life something like this ever happening, not even the day I finally left the favelas!"
Himeko was excited at first, then she remembered what the publicity could do to Chikane. "Please Father Tadeu, don't let them print our names or show images of us, please!" He understood their situation, so he agreed to her request. "I Understand. I'll have a talk with them before they publish anything."
After he told her that, Himeko was smiling for the remainder of the night while helping out clean up after the show.
Chikane meanwhile, had changed from her costume. Sister Miyako thought it was the perfect time to approach her. "Miya-san, I know it's you. Do you have a moment to spare?" Chikane was shocked to hear her voice. She turned around head and saw Sister Miyako, still in her 19th-century clothing. Miyako continued, "It's good to see you again."
"So that you can bring me back to that hellhole. Like hell you are!"
"No Miya-san, It's not like that!"
"You won't send me back there!" she panicked.
"But Miya-san, I-"
Without waiting for Sister Miyako to complete her sentence, Chikane bolted from the room like lightning, knocking her over. As soon as she got up, Miyako started to chase her, "Miya-san, wait! Please come back, please!" But it was useless, for Chikane was much faster and she was able to escape.
It was two in the morning when Himeko got home. She was tired but still jubilated with joy. She couldn't believe how much her project made a difference in people's lives. As she went to sleep she finally realized that it was her who made the difference and not the project. This was a new and exciting revelation to Himeko, one that will be etched in her memory for as long as she lives. What she doesn't realize is that there will be plenty of more to come for her.
Himeko and Chikane: Their Story 12 - Part 2 of 2