CHAPTER 2: The celebration of a new Selectee
It's now time. I apply a fresh coat of lip gloss, just a little bit, and then I make my way to the foyer. No one's here of course. They are all gathered in the ball room. It can fit thousands of guests. I slowly head towards a large, mahogany door.
On the other side of this door, I hear my father's voice echo through a microphone, "Ladies and gentlemen, I'd like to thank you all for attending. Today, we celebrate not only my only daughter, Mei Ella's birth, but also her transition to soon become a wife as a Selectee."
I take in a deep breath, and let it out in a rush. The doors open and I enter as gracefully as possible upon a large stage. Roars of applauding take over my ears. All eyes are now on me. All eyes are always on me.
My father looks at me then smiles, "Her selection list consists of two young men, as tradition of the Japanese culture. I'm proud to announce the candidates of my possible future son-in-laws."
The crowed stays hushed and eager.
Selections don't happen often. You have to qualify. You need to be stunning, rich, and be of extremely well known background. Why? This was a chance to be someone greater; at least it for the two people I selected and myself. To be chosen by a qualified selectee, like me, is an honor and a prize. After all, to be a selectee is horrifyingly difficult. It doesn't happen often. In fact, the last selectee was about seventeen or eighteen years ago.
The Japanese government thinks that this is an entertaining and simpler method to maintain tradition and culture. There is no option. Every year, the girls whom are soon to become sixteen must submit an application and wait to receive a letter stating whether or not they were accepted as a selectee. This year, after so long, I was the only one chosen.
Many eye me with envy and hatred; others eye me with hope and excitement.
"The first young man my wonderful daughter selected is Nakamura Kai. The son of the Nakamura Bank Of Japan which is located all around the world. He is also at the age of sixteen." My father states loudly with glee.
Many people murmur their thoughts of hate and many murmur their congratulations. Screams, cheers, and the clapping of hands echo throughout the ball room and to the garden outside in the far back. Cameras zoom in and out from my face to Nakamura-san's face. Countless lights flash here and there
I stand here with my forever perfect, blank face. There really was nothing else I could do. I was instructed to stand here like a perfect doll. I only ever have a blank expression. No one can tell whether or not I'm happy or sad. I don't know how to express feelings. I don't need to.
My father interrupts the large amount of guests, "Alright, the second young man selected is..." My father looks at me again. However, this time, with regret and pity. I wonder why...
"Miyazaki Ryoske." He calmly says into the microphone.
So that's what his name was… What a lovely name, just like his face.
Cameras continue to zoom on my reaction then to Miyazaki Ryoske-san's reaction and lights flash endlessly. I glance at the big TV screen on my far right side. He seems confused but still attempting to remain elegant. Attractive.
"Eh? Why him?" The crowd complains and whisper among themselves. Why are they fussing?
"Izumi-san," Someone calls out to my father, "Why that child? Why not mine?" The guests nod and agree. Why are they protesting against my choice? It's not my father's marriage. I chose it because it's mine. My marriage.
I walk towards my father and grab the microphone and spout with poise and boldness, "Everyone, I would kindly appreciate if you did not question my choice. No matter the reason, please refrain from insulting not only Miyazaki-san but myself included. Thank you." They watch me with anger and irritation. My father takes over.
"Yes, my daughter's choices must be respected. Anyways, continuing on, Miyazaki Ryosuke is the son of the photography industry. He is also sixteen years of age. Thank you and congratulations to the selected."
I, along with my father walk off the stage, our backs straight and heads held high.
The orchestra plays a happy tune; the people smile and congratulate me.
Why did everyone react like that when my father declared the second boy I selected? I didn't notice any flaws. What do they have against him? I know they're angered that I didn't chose their particular son but was it really necessary to react like children?
I'm surprised his father owns a photography industry. They're useful like my father said. Maybe the flaw wasn't the boy but something in his description… I learned his name the same moment everyone else did. It's my own fault for not reading over his description. I shouldn't have just focused on his picture. But looks are priority.
Maybe if I come across one of the boys I selected, I'll say hello. I highly doubt that I will within a party of nine hundred people, not including the camera crews. Or those who have slithered in.
A man with red hair and black eyes approaches me with a smile. "Mei Ella-san, I'd like to congratulate you for having been chosen as a rare selectee. Allow me to introduce myself; I'm your mother's partner in business, Fujita Hiro."
Mother? Oh yes… Where is she? She said she was to attend. "Thank you. It's a pleasure to meet you Fujita-san." I say over the loud conversations of the other people surrounding us.
"No, it's an honor to meet you once again."
"Again? Have we met before?"
"Well, when you were a child. You've grown quite quickly. I knew you wouldn't remember me at all. Nice to see you're doing well. Anyways, I must greet your father. Excuse me." He says in haste and disappears in the crowd.
I walk past many females in ball gowns and males in designer suits. Finally, I reach the garden for air. Only a few people are here at the moment. They're peacefully conversing while drinking Champagne.
It's such chaos to be a Selectee. Why can't males be selectees?
Never mind. The male's are forbidden to choose their own wife. They must only reject or accept the requests given to them. It's been a tradition since the Moijen era. Girls were property then. The least respect the government could give females was to allow them to select their own mate.
I look around as I take a seat on the edge of a fountain. A woman fashioning a simple, yet beautiful, red ball gown with pale blonde hair pulled elegantly into a bun comes towards me.
"Mother," I say in surprise.
She stares blankly and sits next to me. I think I received my lack of ability to express my feelings from her. Despite the fact that my mother is beautiful, she was raised in an orphanage until she was 14 years old. My true grandparents had created my mother at a young age. They weren't even married. So they sent her to an orphanage.
An English business man on the verge of bankruptcy, who could not make a child, adopted my mother. He merely needed a beautiful teenager to legally call his own for one reason. The reason was simple, so he could marry her off to another man's son. Just to create a business relationship of a very useful company. This company could easily help him out of his bankruptcy issue. This company was my grandfather's. The man whom my mother was to marry. My father.
That's right. My parents have no love. But act as if they do. Isn't that love? An empty, boring feeling but still interesting.
"It has been a while hasn't it? I'm sorry for my absence, darling. Business in England is quite a hassle," My mother says quietly.
"It's alright. I understand," I say in a similar tone.
"So, are you content with the two you've picked? Did your father have a say?" She said with a hint of concern.
"No, he said nothing. I decided them on my own terms." I state.
She looks at me with her honey yellow eyes. "Sweetheart, you have quite odd taste, it's beautiful. Go and greet the both of them tonight."
I knew she would understand. "Yes."
Several seconds pass by until she finally breaks the silence, "I have a gift for you. Here," She hands me a small black box, "It's been passed down on my side of the family for generations. Every first born female is to receive this on her sixteenth birthday. What makes it a little more special is that it now belongs to you, a selectee. I'm proud of you. You're now someone who can never be forgotten. Someone who can never be left alone."
She places it in my hands and I open it to find a small, diamond hair pin shaped like a crescent moon, "Thank you, mother." I say as I place it in a small hidden pocket near my waistline.
She smiles faintly and departs from my side.
I'm alone at my own party, how joyful. I hate three things: being alone, being underestimated and being bored. I'm alone and bored. That's two out of three.
Shall I go and find Aoi-kun? Ah, he must be serving food like the other servants. I suppose I'll talk to him later...
A flower floats swiftly and rests on my lap. I grasp it tight within my hand and look up at the sky. I can't help but think of Aoi-kun.
His face is so still in my mind, like a picture. What is he feeling? Is he sad? I'm not sure if I am. Sometimes, even I can't tell my own feelings. Aoi-kun has a quite attractive face. His hair is soft. He's kind.
I walk straight back inside to the table with sweets. I'm hungry but I adore sweet food, I don't even bother to glance at the people around me or the table filled with real food.
I scan the table and lock my eyes on the chocolate drizzled macaroons. Okay, wait. There's a whole crowd. You're a model. You have to think about what you're doing. I tell myself.
I grab one macaroon. They're so small so I reach for a slice of chocolate cake with strawberries around it too. Then, to show that I contain self control like a model should, I walk to the other table and place a medium size portion of salad on my golden rimmed plate. Which I will not eat. Yuck.
Satisfied, I turn to return to the garden. I wouldn't want the camera crews filming me eating foods with calories over 150. Huh? I notice that a boy with orange hair stands near but eyes fixed on my birthday cake. It's chocolate, of course, with white cherry blossoms iced on the sides and glazed with some sort of shiny coat of... syrup?
Without thinking my mouth opens, "You're still the same."
His face jerks in surprise, "Ah, Mei Ella-san! I, uh, was jus-"
"Admiring its design? It's alright. No need to fuss"
His face relaxes, "Its nice meeting you again. I suppose I should thank you for selecting me."
Thank me? "Why is that?"
He smiles, "Thanks to you, I received a great deal of money."
Oh, I see. Money. I suppose it's only natural. His father does own many, many banks. "You're the son of an international bank. You will always have money."
"No, my father will always have money," He states in a matter-of-fact tone.
"It's the same thing." I shot.
"No it's not." He shoots back.
I cock my head to the side and stay silent. What does he mean?
As if reading my thoughts Nakamura-san laughs a little, "It's okay, you'll understand another time."
"Will you tell me?" I ask like a dolt.
"Maybe a day besides this," He gazes behind me.
I twist my head to see what he's looking at.
"Oh… I see." I say at the sight of the cameras. I can't fake a smile like everyone else so I just straight out tell Nakamura-san I'll see him tomorrow and return to the garden.
Alas, I can finally eat my sweets in peace. Or at least that's what I thought. There's a fly pestering me. First people and now insects.
"Leave me alone." I yell at the fly as I wave my hand in the air frantically.
"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to disturb you. I'll take my leave then." A voice says calmly on the other side of the fountain I'm sitting on.
"No, it's not you, there's a fly…" My voice fades away as the boy turns to face me.
He smiles an angelic smile, "I see. Those things can be irritating."
"Are you perhaps Miyazaki-san?"
It stays silent for a moment.
His voice sounds like smooth water, "Yes…"
"It's a pleasure to meet you. I'm Ikeda Mei Ella." I say in my most inviting tone.
His eyes widen. "Oh my, excuse me from my informal language earlier. It's nice to meet you too." He says while looking at the ground.
"It wasn't informal at all." Does he have a much more formal way of speaking?
"Was it? I guess I'll meet you again on Tuesday… I have to search for my parents…" He smiles at me, walks straight towards the ball room then holds on to the side of the doors.
What is he waiting for?
Soon, a man with dark green hair pulled in a low pony tail arrives by his side and they emerge into the dancing crowd.
It's midnight, guess he needs to rest early to keep his face perfect. Has he even considered modeling?
Darkness of the Midnight Dawn: Thank you! I don't really understand what you're saying though. Can you see her character now? Or I still have to work on it?
Guest: Thank you!