Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Reikoku Part 1

"...Koukishin Shinzou." I finish writing my name on the blackboard. "You can call me Shin-tsu, if you want to."

I guess this is quite easy to explain. I got nicknamed Shin-tsu at one of the schools I've attended because the kanji at the end of Koukishin is the same as the one at the beginning of Shinzou. The "tsu" is the result of the Japanese pronunciation of two, I guess. I'm not so sure now. And it's not like I came up with that nickname myself.

When I turn around to face the class, I meet the gaze of those who will, from this point on, be my classmates. They all seem friendly, and happy to see a new student from abroad. Strangely, I can't help noticing they are all girls. Every single one of them. Now that I think about it, I haven't seen a male student since I got here. It sounds weird, but I don't think I want to ask any questions that could lead to a harem development right now...

In the midst of the curious looks, I see Ryo waving at me from her chair at the back of the class. She looked particularly beautiful in her school uniform. . She radiated a wave of happiness that seemed to pass through the whole class and reach me, and I could feel an extension of her smile forming on my lips.

The teacher coughed and brought me back to reality.

"You can sit in that empty chair at the back, the closest to Kouma-san." She pointed to the back of the class where I could see the chair she assigned me. I would sit between Kouma Yon and another empty chair. Looking back at my teacher, I noticed that when her gaze fell on the second empty chair she seemed suspiciously displeased. This was only confirmed by a whisper, so low I was most likely the only one that could hear it. “Interesting.”

A girl with braids raised her hand quickly.

"But that's Minato's place, Reikoku-sensei!"

The teacher just shook her head in denial, but her brown hair didn't move a single millimeter. Almost as if the hairspray had made it as solid as a rock. She probably spent hours working on that bun, and it was certainly a practical hairstyle. It made her look serious and could defend her from a meteor falling from the sky.

"I'm afraid not." She pressed her temple. "Not anymore. I was informed this morning that Minato's family just moved, due to her father's new job in a big company."

It sounded like everyone in class had decided to talk (or rather, scream like caged monkeys at the sight of a banana mountain) at the same time. They all seemed so surprised with the sudden departure of their colleague that I felt like I had become old news already. The ear-shattering noise went on for a while, but it was so solid I felt like it would go on forever.

The teacher raised her open hand and started to close it slowly, finger by finger. A few students noticed the quiet countdown and started warning the others as quickly as they could. They seemed to be truly afraid of what happened at the end of the countdown. Before she reached the number four, the class was silent once again.

Ms. Reikoku lowered her hand and gazed at me. At that moment I realized that she had already told me where I should seat and I was in the way of starting class. I hurried to the empty chair, without knowing exactly what I was afraid of. Now that I think about it, it's much scarier when you don't know what the monster looks like.

The desk I ended up with was in the last row, located by the window. I sat by Kouma's side, and smiled shyly at her.

"Hello..." I try to think of a proper honorific to use, but I haven't been in Japan for a while and this is harder than it seems. Sometimes it's hard to remember that I'm actually Japanese; I've spent most of my life living abroad. In the end, I decide to go with a neutral honorific. "...Kouma-san, right?"

She simply looked at me without a trace of expression on her face and made the V sign with her fingers. After that, her attention went back to the person sitting on her other side: Ryo. She just kept talking to Ryo like I wasn't even there, and then she kept blocking my way when I tried to talk to Ryo. It looks like she’s jealous or something. This Kouma girl is literally between me and Ryo.

Ryo managed to look at me and give me one of her cat-like grins when the girl with the razor cut fringe was distracted. It was just a simple gesture and nothing more than one of the oldest forms of communication known by mankind, but it meant more than words to me.

After that small yet significant commotion about the girl who transferred, the day was calm. It took me a while to get used to the kanji used in class, but Ryo helped me with that and said that it was only expected since I'd been living outside of Japan for a while. When the rest of the class heard Ryo say that, they started to ask me if I needed any help and stuff. I felt a little bit like a foreigner in my own country (which is partially the truth, anyway), but they were all very helpful. So in the end, it was a great start for a first day and everyone in class was pretty much nice to me...

...and everything felt alright until lunchtime.

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