A Shibuya Fairy Tale | Pinker By Ash Warren

Sometimes the most unknowable of races, is the one you belong to…


A Shibuya Fairy Tale


By Ash Warren

For The ‘Others’ Award


The girl was not beautiful, not like the girls who could usually be seen in the fashion magazines. Her face was long, almost like it had been stretched somehow. Her eyes were roan, their blackness flecked with tiny golden lines, the hairs on her alabaster arms were margarine yellow and her hair, done up in a bob, a lit up drunk-tank pink that screamed ‘Hey! Look at Me!’

And they did, of course. Ever since Eri had been in school, she’d borne her nickname (‘The Alien’) with a something akin to a sense of purpose. She’d been isolated, laughed at, and the only friends she’d been able to make were amongst the other Aliens, that is, the nerdy, the shifty, the anti-social, the ones that hid in their rooms for years and whom even their relatives had forgotten. These were her friends, but mostly they just mailed each other.

She’d never cared much what anyone thought though. Ever since she had left school (at the earliest opportunity) and been scouted one day by a modeling agency as she’d been strolling down Dogenzaka in Shibuya in her usual Full Pink Lolita ensemble, she’d been in demand. The camera loved her, the ad agencies kept calling and asking for her (You know the one I mean, the pink one, yeah, her…) and the work had been pretty steady. She’d even been on TV a couple of times, but just the usual stupid variety shows.

But now she felt she owned Tokyo, or at least a tiny slice of it, the long fashionista street they called Omotesando which flowed rather incongruously from the huge shrine commemorating the Meiji Emperor (whoever the hell he was) straight down the hill and up the other side to Aoyama and which was lined with every brand name fashion shop in creation. All she had to do was just twirl for the camera, and put her finger to her lip and it was all her pink playground now, and she was queen.

It was late one autumn afternoon, when the last of the sun was turning the leaves on the zelcova trees into liquid copper, when the crow crashed onto the pavement straight in front of her.

It lay there, a writhing mass of blackness, like something fallen from another planet, trying to get up. It staggered about on the ground stretching out its wings as if for help and causing the crowd of people heading for Harajuku station to make a wide arc of empty space around it. A couple of women even screamed and headed for the other side of the road. It seemed unable to stand, let alone fly. She figured later that it had just flown into the window of one of the buildings, that sort of thing happened a lot actually.

Yet for one long moment, as they made eye contact, the bird seemed to calm itself slightly.

Eri found herself crouching down in front of the crow.

She said, ‘Are you ok?’

And the crow stretched out a wing toward her and held it in the air, as if waiting. Eri reached out and touched the soft black feathers with one of her long, jewel-encrusted, hot-pink nails. The bird cocked it’s head and looked at her with something akin to gratitude.

And that was when Eri, strong in her own defiant loneliness, felt for the first time the essential loneliness of all creatures. She looked around at the faces gathered around her. They were all strangers and they were all aliens and they were all from different planets and all of them were alone and unknowable. That there was compassion, held for each other, and that this, in the end, was the only response she could give to what was the innate and defining reality of such solitude.

She heard the sharp intake of breath from the crowd as she reached forward and picked up the stricken bird. She held it close, and the satin blackness of its feathers against her dress made the colour seem to flush even pinker.