This is a summary of a story in Confidential Confessions called Mistakes which deals with teen prostitution.
“‘Even if you are forced to be apart, you should still want the one you love to be happy.” I thought that was one of the most beautiful thoughts in the world. If we love each other, we don’t have to see each other all the time. But now I wonder. As long as we’re living on this earth, the time could come when we meet again, in a way we least expected it, right? So I have to keep trying to make myself a better person. Every time I remember Ryo, even though we’re apart, my heart warms at the thought that I was able to meet someone who felt that way. Ryo, I will treasure what happened that summer for the rest of my life.”
I don’t really understand much how this kind of prostitution works in Japan but from what I gathered, there’s like a board where people leave messages so girls could call them. Can someone explain? Anyways, the story starts with a girl on a payphone holding a card that says ‘Ring Ring Club, Women Only Toll Free Service’. She introduces herself as ‘Reina’ to the guy on the other end of the line. The guy asks her where she is now and that he’s outside holding a yellow shopping bag. He asks her to yell out if she sees him. When she spots him, she remebers the guy from last week who deducted the cost of the love hotel from her pay. She decided to pass on the guy and called another number. She introduces herself as ‘Nao’, a highschool senior. The guy remembers her voice, said ‘Never mind’ and then hang up. She got dumped.
She gets really frustrated ‘coz she can’t get any guys. She goes out to a more open space and sits to freshen up and rest. She notices a guy next to her strumming his guitar, singing. A street performer. His lyrics catches his attention, “Love, Freedom, Dreams, Future.” “Yeah, right”, she thought.
We are taken back to her childhood where the landlady/lord is knocking on their door asking them to pay three months worth of rent. The landlady/lord shouts at them saying that the gas and the electricity are turned off and tells her mom to think about her kids and just go to welfare. While this is happening, her mom is sitting having a drink. She tries to get her mom’s attention but her mom tells her to shut up. For a second I thought her mom was going to hit her with a bottle but she doesn’t. I thought she passed out but she mumbles how she thought she was gonna get alimony and child support from her husband but she never got anything. Apparently, her parents divorced when she was in 5th grade.
At the school cafeteria, she collects the leftover food. Her classmates see her doing this and we learn that her name is Yoshioka. Her classmates then gave her brand new stuffs like erasers, pencils, a shirt. They say they formed the “Save Yoshioka Foundation”.
One day in 6th grade, she gets home and finds his older brother and his friend hanging out at the house making a mess. While insider her room, one of his brother’s friends went inside and made him touch his penis. Her mom started working at night. She got her first period on the 7th grade but didn’t have any money to buy tampons or sanitary napkins. She ended up shoplifting but got busted. Some of the older girls learned about what she did and showed her the “right way” of shoplifting. She fell in with a bad crowd. She stayed at a friend’s place and would blackmail someone when she needs money for food. She would end up getting busted from time to time.
She argues that she doesn’t think that committing crimes is cool. She does it because she’s hungry. When she’s not hungry, she just hangs out. It wasn’t fun for her.
In 8th grade, she sold her virginity to a man in his fifties for $175. When he asked for her name, she told him it was ‘Ayumi’. This is when she started using different names. She used the money to go shopping. When her money runs out, she makes a call with a toll-free phone card and 2 hours later, she’ll have more. She failed the highschool entrance exams and tried to enter a beauty school but quit after 3 months.
One of the older girls who taught her how to steal was Sakura. She was kinda like the leader of the gang. Her boyfriend, Eiji, paid Yoshioka for oral sex and word got out. She ended up getting beaten and shunned from the group. She left her hometown and went to Susukino (not sure where this is). In the afternoon, she window shops. At night, she flirts around or “cruise the party lines” to get a guy and then stay at a love hotel. She did it for two months.
Right now, all she has is $3, some clothes, cigarettes & a phone with a dead battery. As she decides to go call the “party line” again, the guy’s lyrics catches her attention: “If you’re wounded and wandering down the way side like a kitten who’s gotten lost in a crowd, then come to me. Because I will protect your smile. Go ahead and cry on my chest.” She listens some more. She was startled when the guy asked if she’s been listening the whole time and thanks her. He starts to pack up and asks if she’ll be listening the next day. She ignored him realizing that it was too late for anyone to take her in tonight. He asked if he’ll be taking the last train too but she started walking away heading to the park. She told him she’ll be sleeping outside tonight. The guy asked her if she would want to spend the night at his place instead.
At his apartment, Yoshioka took a much-needed shower and told him that her name is ‘Sherry’ thinking she’s going to tell him goodbye the next day anyways. He thought about a song called ‘Sherry’ by Yutaka Ozaki. She was looking at the CD while the guy proceeded on telling her about Yutaka Ozaki. She wasn’t really listening though. As he talks about the singer, she lays down on the bed and asks him if he wants to have sex. The guy was caught off guard and told her No. She asks why he took her home then. Afterall, men only sees women as sex objects. She told him that since he wasn’t an old man, she wasn’t thinking of taking any money from him. The guy told her that he’s “not just a man.” He’s a person. He introduced himself as Ryoichi Sakai. “You’re the same way, right, Sherry? You’re a person… not just a ‘woman’.” He told her goodnight and laid out a futon on the kitchen leaving her to sleep in his room.
This was surprising to her. If he didn’t want to have sex then what did he want then? She thought maybe he was a volunteer at some society that helps homeless girls and he took pity on her. Oh well, what does it matter, right?
When she woke up, he was on his way to work and left his key. She asked if he’s sure he could trust her with his key. Ryo simply told her that he has good intuition and that she doesn’t seem like a bad person.
While he was out, she checked every nook and cranny of his place but couldn’t find anything he could steal to sell. She saw his guitar and decided to sell it thinking that in this day, he shouldn’t trust anyone. She used the money to stuff herself with food. While walking around, he saw another street performer playing his guitar. But this one’s a very bad singer. She saw the place where he first met Ryo and some of the things he told her while they were together flashed through her mind. She went back to the pawnshop asking for the guitar back. Unfortunately, they already sold it to someone. She went back to his apartment (not really knowing why) and told him what she did. He was speechless at first. She gave her the rest of the money she got from selling it and was about to leave when Ryo told her that it doesn’t matter since he can still sing even with the guitar. That surprised her. “If it was any other guy, at a time like this… I’d try to manipulate him with sex, but…this guy is different.”
Ryo took her to a fast food restaurant to eat. While eating, she told him “I’m sorry” and then went straight to the bathroom. Apparently, it was the first time she ever said those words. On her way out to the bathroom, she found Ryo talking to some of his music buddies who was surprised that he lost his guitar. It was handed down to him by someone and they were asking him to explain what happened. He laughed it off and his friends seem upset about it.
Yoshioka wanted to get the guitar back. An apology from her wasn’t enough. She put up flyers/ads asking the person who bought the guitar to sell it back to her. But then she had to earn some money. She was about to call the “party line” when she decided that she can’t buy Ryo’s guitar using the money she earned from selling herself again. She tried to apply for a decent job but got rejected several times because she wasn’t qualified. She didn’t need to get “qualifications” when she was just selling herself, being a woman was enough. It was already raining but she hasn’t achieved anything. Ryo found her in the streets and she apologized again, telling him she’ll get his guitar back. Ryo told her it was ok, and that they should “go home”.
She was still guilt-ridden but Ryo told her that it’s fine and that the person who bought the guitar is probably making music with it too. Maybe that person would even be a famous musician one day and when he/she does, he/she would talk about his precious guitar on tv. Besides, something doesn’t have to be right next to you to be able to treasure it. “I felt like Ryo’s words built a path out of what I once thought was a dead-end.”
Yoshioka asked him why he took her in that night if he didn’t wanna have sex. Instead of answering, he sang her a song pretending he has a guitar… “There’s a flower by the wayside that no one notices as they pass. Yesterday, a cat avoided stepping on that flower as it walked by, and you watched over it today. You probably didn’t even notice it but you made me so happy. Those cigarettes don’t suit you. Does their smoke fill the gaps in your heart? Imagine if all the people in the world felt “happiness” at the same time. Just one second is enough. As long as that moment appears, it’s enough. As I watched you coming out of the phone booth, I thought… If there comes a time, if there comes a moment when you smile, then why won’t you show that moment to me? Come on, smile for me, Sherry.” She couldn’t believe Ryo wrote that song about her. He made it while on break from work the day before. Yoshioka felt that she didn’t deserve it. Teary-eyed, she hugged Ryo so hard they almost fell. She told him her real name. Satsuki Yoshioka. They kissed and made love with Ryo calling her name. It was the first time she had sex using her real name.
While they were out, Ryo talked about the line in his song. “The moment all of humanity feels happiness” He was amazed that Ozaki (singer who sang ‘Sherry’) wrote about it too. Satsuki told him that there are countries at war and people who are sick. Ryo agreed that it would be impossible to happen for everyone to feel happy at the same time. But it would be great if something like that happens. Even if it’s just for half a second. He told her how sometimes, when he feels a moment of happiness, he looks around and feel like everyone else is happy too. He wonders if “that” might be the moment when EVERYONE is happy. Satsuki argued that there’s no way that’s gonna happen, she sees a couple and points out that at the moment, there’s a couple fighting. But she takes a second look and finds them making up. “It just might be possible. It’d be amazing if it did happen”.
Ryo and Satsuki continue to live together looking very happy. “The happiness you get from a full stomach eventually ends, but… the happiness you feel in your heart continues day after day…”
One day, Satsuki receives a call telling her that she has the guitar. She hurries up to meet the person only to find Sakura with a bruised face. She saw her ad/flyer about the guitar and recognized the number so she called her up and disguised her voice to lure her. Sakura was asking her for money. She needs to give her new boyfriend, Ken, some money so he wouldn’t leave her for another woman. How pathetic… Satsuki asked her if her bruised face was courtesy of Ken ‘coz if he really loved her, he wouldn’t hurt her like that. Sakura dismissed her and told her that she seems to have changed. Sakura saw her walking with Ryo the day before looking happy. She blamed Satsuki for what happened saying that her life went downhill after the thing that Satsuki had with Eiji. She got angry and burned her with a cigarette and demanded her for money telling her that she could make a lot of money with just 2 customers. Satsuki told her how she stopped selling herself and that she could earn money some other way like getting a job. Sakura wouldn’t hear of it telling her that all she could possibly get are crappy jobs and Satsuki could get the money she needs in one shot if she sells herself. It shouldn’t make any difference since she has had hundreds of customers before, right? Sakura started begging her telling her if Satsuki does this for her, she’ll forget what she did (the Eiji incident) back then. She ended her argument with a threat. Sakura told her that if she doesn’t do this for her, she’ll tell Ryo about her past. Satsuki got scared. She didn’t want Ryo to know.
Satsuki called a number and told the guy that she’ll meet with him. They spot the guy and Satsuki approached him. She gave him her price and went with him. But instead of bringing her to a love hotel, the guy arrested her for prostitution and takes her to the police station. There, she learned that her mom has put in a request to search for you. They took her to a small, dark cell but her mom never showed up. Her mom said that she was too much trouble and couldn’t take care of her anymore so she was to be sent to juvenile hall. She thought they would eventually let her go. She argued that even if she can’t go home to her mom, she does have a home with Ryo. One of the officers told her that they called Ryo and told him that she was arrested for prostitution.
Satsuki was forced into a car just as Ryo arrived calling her name. He asked the officers not to take her away and that he can be her guardian. A man tells him that it’s not just a case of being a runaway but she was arrested for prostitution. And it wasn’t the first time she did it. Ryo argued that there has to be a good explanation why she did it this time. The man tells him that the only explanation is that she loves money and sex. He tells Ryo that once a girl gets into prostitution, her life is practically over. He told the man that Satsuki was not like that at all. All this time, Satsuki was inside the car, crying. He tried to tap on the window but she didn’t look at him. The man tried to stop Ryo as the car left.
We then see Satsuki giving a sorta speech at a school or a facility. “Until the very end, I could never bare to face him. It was the first time I ever felt ashamed of myself. I didn’t want him to find out about my past, or about selling my body that night. The moment the officer showed me his badge, I remember thinking, ‘Why? You’re arresting me? Is what I’m doing really so bad? But while I was being questioned, it finally hit me. I wasn’t arrested because I was the victim. I was arrested because I was the suspect. Up until then, I thought that only the men who bought me were the criminals. I thought, ‘I can’t live in that house with my mother. I’ll live on my own’ and I did whatever I wanted. I thought that if I ever got into trouble, I could go back home. Since I had a home to go back to, I felt safe no matter where I went. So when I heard that my mom refused to be my guardian, I felt very lonely. But if my mom had gone to pick me up that day, I think I would’ve gone back to his apartment. Now, I’m just going on with my life pretending that nothing happened. I made a lot of mistakes.”
After her speech, the person in charged asked if she could share the story again for another meeting next month and she agreed. We learn that she was put in temporary custody division before and spent 2 months there. She would’ve already been released and her mom even asked her to live with her again. But before her release date, she saw a girl trying to escape from the bathroom. The girl told her not to say anything and Satsuki tried to stop her but instead of listening to her, the girl tried to get her to go with her. She told her no and tried to stop the girl from escaping. They got caught and the girl told the people in charge that it was Satsuki who was trying to escape not her. She was setup and got transferred to a reform school which was tougher than juvenile hall. There were so many rules and they weren’t even allowed to exchange letters with friends. They were allowed to go home on summer and winter break but she never leaves the dorm. Ryo visited her mom over and over and every time he would ask her to tell him when she’ll be released but she didn’t know. She spent a year and a half in the reform school. Right now, she works at a men’s clothing factory and has not seen Ryo once. But when she thinks that Ryo might be wearing the clothes she makes, it makes her happy. “When we made love that day, I was just a “woman”. But now I feel like I’ve become a ‘person’ names
The story clearly shows how a girl could be driven to such a life. Satsuki started shoplifting to get what she needed and eventually got into prostitution. She thought that she could get anything she wanted from a guy as long as she has sex with him. It’s a sad way of life. Not really knowing what true happiness is. I mean, what happens when she gets older and guys would no longer pay her for sex? She was fortunate enough to meet someone who would love her and accept her. I hope there are more “Ryo’s” in the world.
It never crossed my mind but I really liked the thought of everyone in this world feeling happy at the same time. Wouldn’t that be great?
I really liked Satsuki’s speech in the end especially that bit about her finally realizing that she was not a victim but a suspect. Though it was a pretty good ending with Satsuki slowly picking herself up, I wish she met Ryo again. It left me feeling sad about it. But I guess not all endings can end perfectly. All I can do is wish that she meets him in the future.