## Calculated Risks

Fuuko: Calculated Risks

No. It’s not possible. Is it?

He pulled back to hold me at arm’s length. “Please say something, Kirisawa. I’m starting to look like a fool.” Mikagami looked nearly close to panic.

He was Tokiya Mikagami. He wasn’t supposed to fall for me.

I shook my head. “No. I’ll only hurt you.”

I could feel him turning cold. “Just tell me the truth.”

My heart was hammering in my chest. I dared to look him in the eyes. “I just want to be your friend, no more, no less.”

Because you’ll only let me go. Like you did to Aika.

He looked shattered. Something in me was breaking, too.

“I’m sorry, Mikagami.”

I rushed for the nearest exit, tears forming in my eyes.

The bell rang. Class would start any minute, as soon as Yakiba-sama entered the room. I was extremely nervous. My heart doubled in speed when Mikagami entered the room.

We had been avoiding each other since that night. I knew somehow that this was my fault. I knew he took a big step when he told me how he felt, while I was the ruthless warrior who stabbed him in the heart after he put it on the line. I desperately wanted to fix this mess. To apologize. I just didn’t know how.

Here, look here. I pleaded silently.

He walked straight to his seat on the right side of the third row.

I swallowed the lump in my throat.

Mr. Yakiba entered. “Good afternoon, class. Before we conclude our discussion on The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, I would like to make a few announcements for you young people. First, the Shakespearean Society -the university’s student organization for Language and Literature majors- is hosting a slam poetry event. As my students in Literature, you are all required to attend the event.” He paused. “My second announcement is this. I have asked all of you to compose and write a poem for the event. After screening, I have selected Fuuko Kirisawa to represent your section. She will be reading the poem she wrote on that occasion.” He looked straight at me. “Miss Kirisawa, the event is three days from now. Do your best to be prepared.”

I felt floored.

“Congrats, Fuuko.” Megumi, my seatmate, leaned over to tap me on the shoulder.

Other classmates were smiling at me as well.

“Now let’s resume our discussion of Romeo and Juliet. Last meeting, I asked you what you think is the greatest tragedy of the young couple. Ideas, young scholars?”

Satoshi answered. “Sir, I think it’s the tragedy of youth.”

“Do elaborate.” Professor Yakiba said.

Satoshi turned to us. “Guys, have you come across the English expression ‘youth is wasted on the young’? It means that Romeo and Juliet were at the peak of abundance – they were rich, beautiful, strong, and persistent, but they were not wise. They made the wrong choices, which cost them their lives. All these potentials were wasted.”

“Wait, I don’t think they made the wrong choices.” Yasu objected. “They had the right love at the wrong time. I think their tragedy was the tragedy of time. At one point, Romeo even mentions that he wished his name were not Montague if only to escape the grips of being star-crossed.”

Mr. Yakiba started pacing towards the students on the right side. “That’s a good answer, Yasu. Who else has something to say?”

“It was a tragedy of choice.” Mikagami’s deep, familiar voice resonated. My chest felt a bit constricted.

Mr. Yakiba acknowledged him. “Enlighten us, Tokiya.”

“I did my share of reading and came across John Green’s insights. Romeo and Juliet had to choose if they would be loyal first to their feelings, or to the state, or to the church.”

Mr. Yakiba straightened up suddenly. “And we all know they chose to fight for love. But what if, Tokiya, what if they doubted?”

He answered immediately, without missing a beat. “Then that would have been the death of something loftier, not their physical demise at the end of the play. There will always be risks, but I personally believe that when you choose to love, you never lose. Someone said, and I quote, love will always leave you with a stronger heart.”

Mr. Yakiba looked proud. “That was profound, but very true. Bravo, Mr. Mikagami.”

In their boundless certainty I’ve found life’s purpose.” A sophomore with green tresses brought her poem to its close.

The crowd burst into applause.

We were at the Tokyo University auditorium. There was a large tarpaulin plastered on the wall at the center of the wall that gave out the Slam Poetry theme: Metanoia.

“Thank you, Chiasa.” Azumi Hiroko, President of the Shakespearean Society, spoke enthusiastically. “And now our next artist is Mr. Yakiba’s student…”

A fresh wave of cheer ran through the hall. I guess those were my classmates.

I stood up and mounted the stairs leading to the stage. This performance would change my life forever.

My eyes quickly scanned the room to check if he was still there. I found him seated at the right side of the last few rows.

“Before I start, I’d like to say a few words about my poem. I am part of the number of people who are fierce.”

“We know!” someone’s voice rang out from the crowd. “Girl power!”

I held back a grin. “There were things I guarded from others – like my dreams, my pride, and doubts. A thief came along. Stole something precious from me. So here goes. This is The Paradox of Attraction. I hope you like it.”

I took a deep breath and started reciting the poem.

It happened one time in the month of May

Queer and mysterious, intriguing to some

A strange case to be presented, they say

For the damage was yet to be done

Unbeknownst to all, a villain was loose

And he struck and he stabbed at the heart

In speculation he led hundreds to muse

On his victims he left hardly a mark.

The witnesses called it emotion

It stirred in them quite an uproar

A taste of proverbial love potion

For love had just knocked on their door

The issue was plain and simple

An epidemic so widespread as the flu

And with it an accomplice so noble

Which captured those hearts tried and true

So what is this mystery that drove many hearts baffled?

And the mind so it no longer knew?

And in the end if you get puzzled

Can the paradox be solved by you?

You see, my love, my heart was stolen

By that thief in the month of May out of the blue

Love was the culprit of whom many have spoken

And its accomplice was you.

Someone said you weren’t a thief, Tokiya Mikagami, but you have something that belongs to me. Don’t give it back.”

I stole a glance at him. He was looking right back at me.

“You said in class there would be risks. I’m about to take the biggest one right now.” I felt tears stinging the corners of my eyes. “I’m not going to ask for my heart back, Mi-chan. I’m asking for yours. And I’m sorry. I hurt you, but please know it was all out of fear. I should have told you then what I’m telling you now. And I know I was wrong, and I’m babbling right now.” I took a deep breath. “I want to say I love you, but the words get in the way.”

The auditorium erupted in cheer.

Mikagami was up on his feet and running towards me.

“Yeah! Go get her, dude!” Satoshi held out his hand for a high five as he passed him. Tokiya slapped his hand.

“ToFuu! ToFuu! ToFuu!” Yukino’s voice rang out. Soon everyone auditorium was chanting our names.

I laughed while wiping away my tears. They were pouring down my cheeks.

Then he was finally in front of me; I was face to face with my dream, my biggest risk. I felt like I was going to explode when he put his arms around me and locked me in a tight embrace. “I hoped for this.” He whispered in my ear.

Tokiya reached for the mic in my hand and turned me towards the audience, his other arm still wrapped around my shoulders.

“I think I know how to solve her paradox of attraction.” He said into the mic.

“Kiss her! Kiss her! Kiss her!” They chanted.

The next thing I knew, his lips were on mine. Soft, urgent, but gentle. The tingling sensation took over and my knees gave way. I felt him smile into the kiss and he swept me off my feet, never breaking contact.

They cheered even louder.

He pulled away after a while. I was breathless.

“I love you, Kirisawa.” Mi-chan said.

“Ohmygosh, I just had a sugar rush!” Azumi’s voice echoed from the speakers. “We all wish you the best, Fuuko and Tokiya!”