Arrival [updated 10-31-18]

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Lap
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Arrival [updated 10-31-18]

Post by Lap » Fri Oct 12, 2018 1:41 pm

Part I: Yamaku
Part II: Yasuda
Part III: Venturing Out
Part IV: Shopping
Part V: Nurse

Can also be read on Ao3.

____________

Mama Ando once said that I should just ignore all the teasing at school.
Mama Ando said that true beauty came from within.
Mama Ando said that those bullies who teased me were the truly ugly ones.
Mama Ando said that going to Yamaku was the best possible thing for me.

I wasn’t really sure I could trust everything Mama Ando said.

Yet here I was. In front of huge ornate gates marked Yamaku Academy, my two small battered suitcases holding all my worldly possessions at my feet, the cab driving away behind me. For a moment I wanted to run after the cab, tell the cabbie to take me back to the train station, flee back to the orphanage and Mama Ando. But I didn’t.

For one thing, I didn’t have enough money for a train ticket back.

For another, Mama Ando had made it pretty clear that I was done with the orphanage. “Tough love,” I think they call it, though it might have been simple exasperation and relief at finally seeing quit of their oldest and longest residing orphan. They probably threw a party after I left.

And, for another, the cab was already too far away for me to catch.

I sighed, and picked up my suitcases. The letter of admission I’d received had included a map of the school grounds, which I’d studied intently, determined to not get lost in this new place. But the map did not show all the gently rolling hills, and the topography made matching the buildings to the names I’ve memorized a little difficult. But I found the administration offices after only one false turn, which gave me some small sense of accomplishment.

I dragged my suitcases into the lobby of the building, and entered the main office. There was a long counter between the front of the office and the back, and behind the counter sat a plump and matronly looking woman at a desk. She was squinting at a computer screen and carefully pecking away at the keyboard. I stood there and waited for her to notice me—surely she must have heard the door to the office open when I came in? Or maybe she was just ignoring me in the hopes that I’d go away, not complicate her day by making for more work. I shifted my weight from foot to foot, feeling both foolish and restless, but I was too shy to say hello, or even gently cough to get her attention.

Eventually, she made a small disgusted noise and shook her head, and turned her attention away from the computer. When her gaze fell on me she gave a little jump. “Oh! I’m sorry, I didn’t see you there. Sorry, have you been waiting long?” She smiled at me, and her smile seemed genuine. Either she didn’t notice my scars, or perhaps she was used to such disfigurements, working here.

“N-no, not l-long,” I said. “I…I’m a n-new…student?” I didn’t know why I phrased that as a question, and I looked down at the floor.

“Oh. Are you coming to check out the school?” She stood up and moved around her desk to stand at the counter opposite me. “Would you like a tour? We usually schedule campus tours ahead of time, but I think I could find someone to show you around.” I shrank in on myself a little as she approached.

“I…I’m m-moving in?” Isn’t this a boarding school? Why would I be here to just check it out? I risked a short glance up at the woman. She was frowning slightly.

“Move-in day isn’t until next Monday,” she said. My heart sank. Today was Friday. “I’m afraid we’ll have to ask you to go home and come back then.”

I wondered how I could have gotten things so wrong. “I th-thought…move-in s-started on…Friday?” I should have realized something was wrong when I didn't see any other students on campus.

Classes start on Friday. Next Friday, April first, but move-in starts on Monday. I’m sorry if there was any confusion in your admissions letter.”

I pulled my admissions letter out of my coat pocket. I looked at the relevant paragraph near the bottom of the page, and my heart sank. It said exactly what she’d just said. Stupid stupid stupid! How could I have mixed that up so badly?

“Oh.” I stared bleakly at the letter, wondering if I could possibly sink into the floor and disappear. I closed my eyes and struggled not to cry, my embarrassment fighting with my self-recrimination for dominance in my emotions. I wanted to flee, to run away from this kindly looking old woman, but I had nowhere to go.

“I’m sorry, are your parents still here?” she asked gently. “If not, we can call them to come pick you up, if they have a cell phone. They can’t have gone far.”

“I…d-don’t have any…p-p-parents. Any m-more. I’m…an orphan.” I always hated saying that out loud, even though it had been a truth in my life for almost eight years now. I’d been an orphan almost as long as I’d had parents. I shuddered at the thought. Some grim part inside me wanted to calculate the exact date I would topple over the edge and I’ll have been an orphan longer than I had parents, but I shoved that thought aside.

The woman behind the counter looked distressed. “Oh, you must be…Miss Ikezara?”

“Ikezawa,” I corrected quietly.

“Ikezawa, right. I’m sorry, dear. I’m Mrs. Noya, I’m the head secretary here at the school.” She puffed out her cheeks for a moment, looking thoughtful, then she plastered a smile onto her face again. “Well. In that case, we’ll just have to get you settled in a little early, won’t we? At least you’ll beat the rush for moving in.”

“I d-don’t want to b-b-be any…trouble.” Although if she didn’t help me find a place to stay, I didn’t know what I’d do until Monday. Sleep in the park?

Mrs. Noya waved a hand at that notion, airily dismissing it. “You’re not the first student to make this mistake, you won’t be the last.” A fact which should probably have reassured me somewhat, but it didn’t. “And we have three students who stayed with us over spring break, for various reasons. They can take you under their wings until Monday.”

I quailed at the thought of meeting three new people at once, but…it would probably be easier than meeting the whole school full of students at once, come Monday. Mrs. Noya went back to her desk and opened a file cabinet and flipped through the files for a moment. “Ikezawa, here we go.” She pulled out a folder, and skimmed the enclosed pages. “Hanako. That’s a pretty first name. You’ll be in room 226. Let me get your keys, and we can go get you settled in.”

“I d-don’t want to b-be any extra…trouble. I’m sssure you have a lot of w-work to do. I can…find my room.”

She ignored me with a wave of her hand and disappeared into a back room. She emerged a moment later with a couple of keys on a keyring. She let herself out from behind the counter by way of a swinging gate, and grabbed the handle of one of my suitcases. “Come on, dearie, let’s go see your new home.”


______________________________


An hour later found me sitting on my bed, alone in my room. I stared at my suitcases, waiting to be unpacked, but the thought of unpacking just then felt exhausting.

It was the first time I'd had a room to myself since—well, since the hospital room I'd spent too many months in, after. It felt odd, not having to share my space with other girls. I could open or close the blinds whenever I wanted. Decorate the room however I wanted. If I wanted to swap the positions of the bed and desk, all it would require was a bit of work. I didn't have to talk to anyone about it. The possibilities seemed endless.

But having all these options, I didn't want to do anything.

Of the three students who were here over spring break, only one was a girl, and she hadn’t been in when Mrs. Noya brought me to the dorm. “Her name is Takeko Yasuda, she’ll be a senior this year, I’m sure she can help you figure things out. She’s downstairs in room 108. Most of the students who have difficulty walking are on the first floor.”

I wondered why she had difficulty walking, but was too shy to ask. I assumed it would probably be apparent when I met her.

“I’m afraid the cafeteria isn’t open until Monday, but there is a small market down the hill and a few affordable tea shops and restaurants too. Do you have enough money to feed yourself for the weekend?”

I nodded, even though I wasn’t sure how long I could feed myself with what I had. I had a little over two thousand yen, money for lunch on the train and the cab ride that Mama Ando had given me before I left. I’d so rarely had spending money of my own, I really had no idea of how much food I could get with that. Well, a day or two of hunger wouldn’t kill me.

“Your scholarship includes a monthly allowance, which we’ll put in your mailbox on the first of each month. You’ll also be issued a full set of school uniforms, which you can pick up on Monday during the move-in. Do you need any help unpacking?”

I shook my head. Mostly I just wanted her to go away. This was the most interaction with another person I’d had in weeks, aside from Mama Ando and Sumika, and it was exhausting.

“No. Th-thank you. I’ll…be f-fine.”

Mrs. Noya nodded, “Very well. If you need me, I’ll be in the office until six, or until I get the new student paperwork finished, which probably means until midnight. If you need any help after hours, there’s always someone available at the nurse’s office, which is down the hall from the administration offices.”

I nodded, and tried to say thank you again, but the words got stuck in my throat.

After Mrs. Noya left, I just sank down on the edge of my bed and stared at my suitcases. There were bed linens in a neatly folded pile sitting next to me, I could make up the bed and take a nap, but that felt like too much work.

As I sat there, I found myself missing my old room at the orphanage, something I’d never imagined possible. Sumika, my most recent roommate, hadn’t been as nasty as some girls I’d roomed with over the years. She’d mostly just ignored me, which had been a relief.

The orphanage hadn’t always been pleasant, but at least it had been familiar. And Mama Ando had been nice. I wondered if I should write to her, let her know I had arrived, but she probably didn’t care. I was out of her hair now, and the less I bothered her, the better.

I lay down on my side on the bare mattress and curled up in a little ball. My stomach rumbled at me, reminding me that I hadn’t eaten on the train. I needed to find the store Mrs. Noya had mentioned if I wanted to eat, but the idea of setting foot outside my door was terrifying. I’d made it this far on adrenaline and sheer determination, but those had finally given out. I pulled the bare pillow from the stack of linens and rested my head on it. Just a little nap. I would unpack my bags after a nap. It wasn’t as if there was any rush, I had until Monday.


______________________________


I was awakened by someone knocking on my door. I was confused at first, looking around the room, wondering where I was, before I remembered. Yamaku. The dorm room. My dorm room. I sat up slowly and tried to get my bearings, and whoever it was knocked again.

I stared at the door, wondering who it could possibly be. Mrs. Noya, returning to tell me there’d been a mistake, and I had to leave? No, it was probably the other girl in the dorm. What was her name again? Yasuka? Something like that. I stood up and approached the door, but didn’t open it, suddenly nervous. This was my first meeting with another student here. What kind of impression would I make? Would Yamaku students be used to people who looked like me, or would I still be seen as a monster, an ugly freak, a perpetual outsider? I froze, unable to make myself open the door.

There came a third set of knocks, then I heard a girl’s voice through the door, “I guess she went exploring or something. We can catch up with her later.” A muffled boy’s voice responded with something I couldn’t quite hear, and the girl laughed. Were they laughing at me? Already? They hadn’t even met me yet. I heard their footsteps recede down the hall, sounding vaguely arhythmic.

I slumped and leaned my head against the door. This was supposed to be my new start. My chance to fit in with other students who had…issues, like me. And I’d just frozen like a mouse in front of a cat. I sighed. Maybe it had been stupid to think that I could change. That things might be better here.

I turned away from the door and bent to lift a suitcase onto the desk. The effort strained the skin on my right arm, reminding me that I’d not put any lotion on it or done my stretching exercises for a few days now. I’d have to remember to do that. Later.

My pitiful collection of clothing barely filled two of the four dresser drawers I had. Well, perhaps my school uniforms would fill out the rest. I rather liked the notion of uniforms, of looking like everyone else. I wondered what they’d look like.

As I unpacked a worn pair of only slightly too small athletic shoes from the suitcase, I was surprised to notice a slip of paper folded up inside one of them. I pulled it out and tucked the shoes in the small shoe cubby by the door. I sat down on the desk chair and unfolded the note.

I recognized Mama Ando’s handwriting at once, although there really wasn’t anyone else who might have written to me.


Dear Hanako,

I hope you are unpacking and settling in well at Yamaku. I know this is a large change for you, and changes can be frightening, but I truly do believe that this is the best possible opportunity for you. I wouldn’t have spent so many months fighting and arguing with administrators and bureaucrats to get you funding for tuition to the school if I didn’t.



She did what? I paused, startled. I had just assumed…well, to be honest, I had not really thought about where the money for the school had come from. I had assumed it was like being shuffled from one orphanage to another, just a matter of paperwork. But apparently not.


It may seem scary at first, but I think if you give it a chance, you will find that Yamaku has a lot to offer you, and you have a lot to offer to it. And to your fellow students. I know you have a kind and gentle heart hiding behind your shy and retiring facade, and I hope that once you settle in, you can finally find a way to let the rest of the world know just how wonderful you truly are.



I snorted and shook my head. Me, wonderful? I had a lot to offer? Not likely. But the words warmed my heart a little nonetheless.


I always worry a little when one of my children goes out into the world on their own, not because they were adopted. But you’re heading out even younger than most. So I worry more. Please write to me from time to time and let me know how things are going.
Fondly,
Mama Ando



I stared at the letter for a long while, not quite sure of what to make of it. I guess they hadn’t thrown a party when I’d left after all. I gently refolded the note, and placed it in a desk drawer, all by itself.

I finished unpacking my few things, and shoved the suitcases into the back of the closet. I raised the window blinds, blinking at the sunlight suddenly streaming into my room. The window faced west, and the setting sun was bright and warm on my face. I looked out onto Yamaku’s campus. It was still and quiet for the moment, with no students around, and any groundskeepers presumably already gone for the weekend. It was early spring, so there wasn’t much color, but I could see a lot of neat flower beds where there presumably would be color soon.

I sat back down at my desk and pulled out the small stationery set I had been given for my birthday a few years back. A cruel gift to give to an orphan, I’d always thought—who did I have to write to? But now I had a letter to write.

I clicked the ballpoint pen a few times and stared at the blank page before bending over to write.

Dear Mama Ando…
Last edited by Lap on Wed Oct 31, 2018 10:02 pm, edited 8 times in total.
Current KS Stories:
Akira's Surprise: Akira pays a surprise visit to Lilly, Hanako and Hisao on Christmas eve. S9 Entry.
Arrival : Hanako's first days at Yamaku
Home: Hanako & Hisao at University, sharing an apartment with their friend Lilly (on Ao3).

Hanako Fancopter
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Re: Arrival

Post by Hanako Fancopter » Fri Oct 12, 2018 10:23 pm

I like this story! I don't know that I've seen anything dealing with Hanako's introduction to the school before.

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Mirage_GSM
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Re: Arrival

Post by Mirage_GSM » Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:29 am

I agree - a refreshingly unused story concept and plenty of small details to flesh it out here and there.
Extra credit for creating new staff for Yamaku where needed. So many authors feel compelled to restrict themselves to Mutou, Nurse, Nomiya and (occasionally) Miyagi, so I'm always happy to enounter someone new!

Is this supposed to be a one-shot or the start of a longer piece? On the one hand it feels like the start of a story, on the other hand, we pretty much know that Hanako didn't make any friends besides Lilly, so that limits the scope of the story pretty severely.

On the gripping hand that same story concept for some of the other girls, like Emi or Misha - might have more long-term potential...
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
Sore wa himitsu desu.

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Lap
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Re: Arrival

Post by Lap » Sat Oct 13, 2018 10:48 am

Thanks, both of you, for the kind words!

Honestly, not sure if I will continue. I have some vague notions leading up to the time Lilly arrives at Yamaku (need to remember/research exactly when that was), but we'll see. The OC Takeko Yasuda is slowly evolving in my mind. Not a friend, but...a foil of sorts. And a Senior, so conveniently gone by next year.
Current KS Stories:
Akira's Surprise: Akira pays a surprise visit to Lilly, Hanako and Hisao on Christmas eve. S9 Entry.
Arrival : Hanako's first days at Yamaku
Home: Hanako & Hisao at University, sharing an apartment with their friend Lilly (on Ao3).

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Scroff
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Re: Arrival

Post by Scroff » Sun Oct 14, 2018 9:39 am

I really enjoyed this, thanks for posting it!

I found it very relatable in the sense that it's a situation that most of us have dealt with - moving out somewhere new, perhaps halls of residence at university, and not knowing anyone. Of course for most of us it wasn't as big a deal as it is for Hanako!

I also found myself identifying with Mana Ando - my daughter is in her late teens and I'm doing my best to help her be ready for independent life, but I have to make a conscious effort to step back and let her make her own decisions (and mistakes!). It seems like no time has passed since she was the tiny baby I held as she took her first breaths.

Raimen
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Re: Arrival

Post by Raimen » Tue Oct 16, 2018 5:31 pm

IIRC, Lilly started as a student at Yamaku at the same time as Hanako. However, Lilly lived off-campus until 2nd year, when she moved into the dorm and was assigned the room next to Hanako's. So if you want to write up to the start of Lilly and Hanako's friendship, you'll be writing for a while.

I enjoyed the story as written. I think it was a nice slice-of-life that hasn't really been explored too much in fan-fiction. I can't write more right now though, so my apologies for my shallow criticism.

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Lap
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Re: Arrival

Post by Lap » Tue Oct 16, 2018 8:39 pm

Scroff wrote:
Sun Oct 14, 2018 9:39 am
I really enjoyed this, thanks for posting it!
Thank you, and you're welcome!
...
I also found myself identifying with Mama Ando - my daughter is in her late teens and I'm doing my best to help her be ready for independent life, but I have to make a conscious effort to step back and let her make her own decisions (and mistakes!). It seems like no time has passed since she was the tiny baby I held as she took her first breaths.
Oh, yeah, been there, done that. My youngest is a Senior in college, I'm selfishly hoping she's not going to move across the continent to be with her girlfriend...
Raimen wrote:
Tue Oct 16, 2018 5:31 pm
IIRC, Lilly started as a student at Yamaku at the same time as Hanako. However, Lilly lived off-campus until 2nd year, when she moved into the dorm and was assigned the room next to Hanako's. So if you want to write up to the start of Lilly and Hanako's friendship, you'll be writing for a while.
Thank you, I knew I could count on the readers to help me remember! :-)
I enjoyed the story as written. I think it was a nice slice-of-life that hasn't really been explored too much in fan-fiction. I can't write more right now though, so my apologies for my shallow criticism.
No apologies needed, any words of kindness are always appreciated! Glad you enjoyed it.
Current KS Stories:
Akira's Surprise: Akira pays a surprise visit to Lilly, Hanako and Hisao on Christmas eve. S9 Entry.
Arrival : Hanako's first days at Yamaku
Home: Hanako & Hisao at University, sharing an apartment with their friend Lilly (on Ao3).

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Lap
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Joined: Sun May 27, 2018 4:35 pm
Location: North Carolina
Contact:

Re: Arrival

Post by Lap » Tue Oct 23, 2018 3:04 pm

Part II: Yasuda
____________

After I finished my letter, I spent some time rearranging my meager possessions, trying to distract myself from my hunger. I could ignore the grumbling in my belly, but eventually other biological pressures forced me to leave my room. It had been over an hour since that girl had knocked on my door, so I cracked my door open carefully and listened.

Nothing.

Years of living in an orphanage, where there was always someone moving around or talking (or screaming, or crying, or fighting…), made the silence feel unnatural. But of course, I was one of only two girls in the dorm right now, and the other one lived on the ground floor. There was no need for me to worry about meeting her in the bathroom.

I hurried down the hall, stepping as lightly as I could, to the communal bathroom. After I’d relieved myself, I found myself at the sink with no soap, and no towel on which to dry my hands after washing. I grimaced, and shook my hands dry, then wiped them on my jeans. I took the opportunity to look around the bathroom a little more closely, my initial entry having been a bit rushed.

There were individual shower stalls, surprisingly spacious, each with its own dry area for undressing and dressing. That was a luxury, compared to the showers at the orphanage, and I was relieved to know that I wouldn’t have to be naked in front of anyone else. Wouldn’t have to endure the stares and questions and taunting. One larger stall didn’t have a shower, but a tub, set into the floor, with handrails and steps leading into it.

Instead of having only one accessible toilet, four of the eight toilet stalls were oversized with hand rails. I guessed that made sense, for a school that catered to handicapped students. I also noticed that all of the toilet and shower stalls had emergency call buttons. I wondered who they called. Probably the nurse’s office.

I wandered down the hall back to my room, moving more slowly now that there was no pressure. Some of the doors in the hall had decorations on them, photos and little posters and white-boards—presumably the rooms of students who were returning after spring break for the new year. The blank doors such as my own must have belonged to last year’s graduating seniors. I was puzzled to note that some of the doors had doorbells by them.

Returning to my room, I decided I should take advantage of having the whole bathroom to myself until move-in started. I gathered my nightie and towels and soap and shampoo, and even remembered to bring the lotion I was supposed to apply daily to my scars. I wondered where I was going to get more lotion, when this bottle ran out, but I supposed there had to be a pharmacy nearby. With this many handicapped students, there might even be one on campus.

It was a luxury to be able to take as long a shower as I wanted to, with no one knocking on the door for their turn. It was wonderful to be able to wash my hair fully, and let the conditioner set in it for more than a scant minute before rinsing it out. I couldn’t tolerate a hot relaxing shower, but just not being rushed was relaxing.

I had just turned off the shower, and was combing the excess water out of my hair, when I heard the door to the bathroom open.

“Hey, new girl, you in here?” called the voice I had heard before. I opened my mouth to respond, but no sound came out. I was again frozen in place, but this time I was also dripping wet and naked. I knew that being silent was silly—she could probably see my feet under the edge of the stall door—but I couldn’t get any words out. I felt myself start to tremble, and not just with the chill of the water on my skin.

Uneven footsteps approached my shower stall. “Hey there. My name’s Yasuda. Takeko Yasuda. What’s yours?”

I was still motionless, staring at the floor by the stall door, waiting for her feet to appear. I tried to speak again, but all that came out was a pathetic little squeak. I was naked, wet, and trapped in a stall with no way out except past this unknown girl, Yasuda. I closed my eyes and tried to take a deep breath, but a giant hand seemed to be squeezing my chest, making it hard to breathe.

Opening my eyes, I saw a pair of feet appear in front of my stall, wearing jeans and black athletic shoes. “Come on, don’t be shy, I can see you’re in there,” said Yasuda, sounding amused. She hadn’t even met me, and already she was laughing at me. Again. I squeezed my eyes shut and wished I was somewhere, anywhere, else.

“Hey, are you all right?” Now she sounded concerned. “You’re not having a fit or anything, are you?” I shook my head, uselessly, hoping she would take my silence for simple rudeness and just leave me alone. “Hello?” she called.

I snapped my eyes open at the sound of the stall door being pushed open. I found myself staring at a girl, shorter than me, with short-cropped jet black hair. She was missing an arm, and she had scars on her face. Not burn scars, but ragged cut lines, thin and pale.

Oh! Ah…” We stared at each other, both frozen now, her eyes almost as wide as mine felt. Her gaze flicked up and down the length of my body, and I finally found myself capable of movement, as I stumbled back into the shower section and pulled the curtain shut behind me. I heard the stall door slam shut as she stepped back.

“Uh, sorry, sorry,” she called. “But when you didn’t answer, I wanted to make sure you were okay, I don’t know why you’re here. Here at Yamaku, I mean, not the showers. Some girls have fits or pass out sometimes, and the bathroom can be a dangerous place for them.”

She sounded like she was babbling a bit, her tone embarrassed. Undoubtedly shocked at what she’d seen. I could almost feel sorry for her, having to see me, all naked and scarred and hideous. I realized I was panting as if I’d just run up the stairs, even though all I’d done was jump back a few paces.

I tried once again to speak, “I—” I tried to slow my breathing to something closer to normal, still shivering a little. “I—”

“Listen, new girl, I’ll just, uh, wait in the common room downstairs. You can get dried off and dressed and maybe we can pretend that that’s the first time we’ve ever met, okay?”

I finally managed to squeak out, “O-o-okay.”

“Oh, thank goodness you aren’t mute, ‘cause my signing sucks. I’ll see you in a few minutes, okay?” She left without waiting for a response, her footsteps still uneven.

Mute? That would almost be a relief, not having to speak. I wondered if I would stutter in sign language as badly as I do when speaking. Then I wondered if her line about signing had been meant as a joke—could she sign with only one hand?

I peeked around the edge of the shower curtain, to make sure the stall door was actually closed, and that she was really gone, then I resumed drying off. I skipped putting on lotion, I just wanted clothes covering me and protecting me as soon as possible. I pulled on my panties, then paused. I had planned to put on my nightie and head to bed, but if I was going to meet Yasuda downstairs, was that appropriate attire?

Was I going to go meet her?

Street clothes would give me the most options, so I got back into my jeans, bra, and turtleneck as I considered the question. We’d already met, in a sense, and about as embarrassingly as I could have never wished for. At least she knew what I looked like. Better than almost anyone who wasn’t a doctor.

I gathered up my bathing supplies and headed back to my room. I hung up my wet towel, and without thinking about it I pulled some clean socks out of my dresser. I paused, looking at the socks in my hand. I hadn’t made a conscious decision to meet with Yasuda, but apparently my subconscious had other ideas. I sighed.

I might as well meet her. I was going to have to meet a whole bunch of people come Monday. This way I could start out slow. Maybe get some sense of Yamaku, what it was like. I put on my socks and my slippers, and headed down to the common room. She was probably just being polite to me because Mrs. Noya asked her to. I couldn’t imagine she’d actually want to spend any time with me after seeing me—all of me—in the shower.

Yasuda was sitting on a sofa watching TV when I got there, some anime I didn’t recognize. She looked up as I entered the room, then she picked up the remote and shut off the TV. She smiled at me.

“Hey, new girl, I was wondering when I was going to get to meet you.” Apparently she hadn’t been kidding when she’d said we should pretend to be meeting for the first time.

“H-h-hello,” I said, barely audible even to myself. I tried again. “Hi,” I said, a little more firmly.

She stood up, pushing herself erect with her right leg and arm. Her left leg seemed stiff, either not fully functional, or maybe it was a prosthetic. She looked at me, hovering in the doorway, and then she gave me a brief bow of greeting that seemed a bit unsteady on her feet. From this distance across the room, I could barely see the scars on her face. It was more an impression of something being slightly off about her features, just a bit asymmetrical, as if she’d been cut up and then imperfectly reassembled. Which might not be far from the truth, I realized. I essayed a brief bow of greeting back.

“So, like I said, I’m Yasuda, except I didn’t say that before, of course, since this is the first time we’ve ever met.” She flashed a quick lopsided smile at me, that was there then gone. “What’s your name, or should I just call you new girl?”

“I…I’m Ikezawa. Hanako Ikezawa.” I was pleased I could make myself loud enough to be heard.

“Ikezawa. Cool. Pleased to meet you and all that. Why’re you here early, before move-in day?” She sat back down, dropping onto the sofa with a soft thump.

I crept my way into the room another meter. “A m-mistake.”

“Mistake? Yours, or the school’s?”

I looked down at the floor. “M-mine.”

“Ugh. That sucks. But at least you’ve beat the rush. I guess I don’t have to ask why you’re here, except of course I do, since I certainly haven’t seen the scars covering half your body.” She grimaced, and seemed to decide to abandon the fiction that we hadn’t met before. “What was it? A fire?”

I hesitated a moment, then nodded. Was this how Yamaku students introduced themselves to each other? Hi, my name’s Hanako Ikezawa, I was in a fire that killed my parents when I was eight? I shuddered at the notion.

She stared at me for a moment, as if waiting for me to speak. I considered asking her about her disabilities, but that felt too invasive, even though she apparently felt fine asking me about my condition.

“Wh-what…what are y-you—”

“What am I here for?” she interrupted, trying to complete my sentence.

One of the most annoying things about having a stutter was people trying to speed up the conversation by completing my sentences. Especially when they were wrong, like this time. I’d been trying to ask her what she was doing in the dorm over spring break, not grill her about her disability. But before I could clarify, she answered her own question.

“I was hit by a car while riding my bike a few years ago. Lost an arm and a leg, got cut up pretty badly when I flew through a storefront window.” She gestured to the fine tracery of scars on her face. “I sometimes wear a prosthetic arm, but, frankly, it’s usually more trouble than it’s worth. I can get by with one hand and my mouth for most things.” She rapped a knuckle against her left thigh, producing a thunk sound. “The fake leg is handy for getting around, though.”

“Oh.” I was taken aback by how blunt and forthright she was. I wondered again if this was usual here.

“That's a pretty bad stutter you've got there.”

I flushed with both shame and annoyance and looked down at the floor. I nodded mutely. I wanted to learn more about Yamaku, but I wasn’t sure how much more of this odd one-sided conversation I could take.

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to embarrass you. I’m told I’m too blunt sometimes.” Yasuda gave a short, slightly hollow sounding laugh. “Being rude was easier to get away with when I was beautiful.”

I looked up at her, startled by that self-assessment. She was blunt, but she was also pretty, I thought. A little unusual, with her asymmetry, but still pretty. But the words to say so got stuck in my throat, and I just stared at her for a moment before looking back down at the floor.

“So. Anyway. The cafeteria isn’t open until Monday, so I figure you probably need to buy some food, or need to know where to order delivery from, or something. You hungry?”

My stomach growled at the thought of food, but I shook my head no. I didn’t think I could stand to spend that much time in Yasuda’s presence.

Yasuda snorted. “Sounds like your body disagrees with you. Come on, Ikezawa, the guys and I were going to make a run to the Aura Mart and grab some grub.” She levered herself up from the couch again. “Well, make a hobble, anyway. Why don’t you go get a jacket while I go grab my jacket and shopping bags and we’ll head out.”

The guys and I? She was going with the other two students who were here over break? I might have managed to tag along with Yasuda if it was just the two of us, but the thought of meeting two more people just now was too much to handle.

“N-no, thank you. I’m…fine. I’ve g-g-got food in my…room,” I lied hurriedly, backing away from Yasuda. Before she could respond, I turned on my heel and bolted from the common room and back up the stairs.

“Hey! Don’t you want…” she trailed off as I fled.

I didn’t slow down until I got to my room and slammed the door shut behind me. I leaned against the door, panting, and closed my eyes. That had been a complete and utterly embarrassing mess. Though not as embarrassing as having Yasuda walk in on me in the bathroom. I clamped a hand over my mouth and giggled a little hysterically to myself, thinking that at least “the guys” hadn’t been with her when she’d burst in on me there. I wondered what she was going to tell them about what she’d seen. If she would describe the full extent of the horror that was my body. I shuddered, and slid down the door to sit on the floor. I spent a minute with my eyes closed, slowing my breath, trying to calm down.

Eventually, I looked at my bed, with the stack of linens at one end and the uncovered pillow at the other. I sighed and pushed myself up. My stomach growled at me, again, reminding me of my lie about having food in my room.

I’d make the bed and go to sleep. It would be easier to ignore my hunger if I was asleep. Easier to avoid embarrassing myself around others, too. I picked up a sheet and stared at it for a moment, then dropped it and just lay down again on the bare mattress. I grabbed the blanket from the stack and kicked the remaining sheet and pillow cases off the bed, wrapping the blanket around me. I shut my eyes and willed myself to fall asleep.

Perhaps because of my nap, sleep was a long time coming. Providing me with plenty of time to review everything I’d done wrong that day.

Welcome to Yamaku, I thought sourly to myself. Definitely off to a great start…
Last edited by Lap on Thu Oct 25, 2018 1:05 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Current KS Stories:
Akira's Surprise: Akira pays a surprise visit to Lilly, Hanako and Hisao on Christmas eve. S9 Entry.
Arrival : Hanako's first days at Yamaku
Home: Hanako & Hisao at University, sharing an apartment with their friend Lilly (on Ao3).

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Scroff
Posts: 48
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Re: Arrival

Post by Scroff » Wed Oct 24, 2018 7:40 am

Dammit you've done a brythain, written something that I like very much but didn't enjoy! Who could enjoy the thought of Hanako alone and hungry, believing that she'd messed up when in reality she'd been extremely brave to go and meet Yasuda?!

I did enjoy all the little details you included, they really add verisimilitude. Yasuda's set up to be an interesting character, I feel like they would both benefit from becoming friends, but will they be able to tolerate each other?

Hanako Fancopter
Posts: 149
Joined: Fri May 25, 2018 6:27 pm

Re: Arrival

Post by Hanako Fancopter » Thu Oct 25, 2018 3:19 am

Definitely enjoy how this is developing. Poor Hana-chan.

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Lap
Posts: 33
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Location: North Carolina
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Re: Arrival

Post by Lap » Thu Oct 25, 2018 1:04 pm

Thanks for all the kinds words!

Part III: Venturing Out
____________

Saturday morning I was awakened early by twin pains in my belly—my empty stomach, protesting the continued lack of food, and lower twinges that meant my period was imminent. I groaned to myself as I got out of bed. I hadn’t brought many pads with me from the orphanage, so I was going to be forced into finding the local Aura-Mart whether I liked it or not. Well, it was a good thing now that I hadn’t already spent all of my money on food.

I checked, and was pleased to find that I hadn’t actually started bleeding yet, so I’d caught it early for a change. I grabbed one of the small handful of pads I’d brought with me and got dressed. I went to the bathroom to brush my teeth, and drank a couple of glasses of water to give my poor stomach something to do.

I resolutely put on my jacket and hat, and stuck my thin wallet into my jacket pocket. My hunger was already nearly enough to force me to seek out the store; the additional need to buy pads pushed me over the edge to leave my room. It seemed like no matter how much I might want to hide in my room, my body wasn’t going to let me.

Once I reached the front door of the dorm, I paused. I had no idea of where the store was, aside from Mrs. Noya’s vague mention of “down the hill.” So far as I could remember, there was only one road up the hill to the school, so it shouldn’t be too difficult to find.

I wondered for a moment if I should find Yasuda’s room and ask her where it was, but I quickly discarded that notion. It was early, I didn’t want to wake her on a Saturday morning, and besides, she was probably already sick of me and my neurotic behavior. I blushed as I remembered fleeing like a frightened rabbit from her simple offer of a trip to the store. No, it would definitely be better to try and find the store on my own.

I stepped out of the dorm and took a deep breath of the cool morning air. The school grounds were quite lovely in the morning light, with a light mist still burning off in the rising sun. I was relieved that I couldn’t see anyone else, so I could relax and look around at the campus more closely. I had been nervously focused on finding my way to the administration building yesterday, and had not paid much attention to the appearance of the campus.

I made my way past what my memorized map told me was the boys’ dorm, and found the gate out of the school grounds. The road leading away from school had no commercial buildings on it, but the market had to be close enough for Yasuda to walk there and back. It didn’t look like walking was all that easy for her, so it couldn’t be too far, right?

I strolled down the winding road, checking backwards occasionally to make sure I would know what landmarks to follow on my return trip. Not that it would be easy to get lost, as all the side streets were obviously narrower and residential, making the road back simple to follow.

A couple of young boys on bicycles flew by me, enjoying the speed that the downhill run lent them, and I briefly wished I too had a bicycle to ride. But then I considered the return trip, all uphill, loaded with groceries, and decided that walking was probably the better option after all. Aside from those boys, I only passed two other people, out walking their dogs, and I ducked my head down low as I passed them so they couldn’t see my face.

After about fifteen minutes, my stomach was churning with tension as well as hunger, and I was regretting my rash decision to strike out without getting directions. Just as I was about to concede defeat and turn around, a small commercial district appeared around a bend in the road. I breathed a sigh of relief. The familiar logo of an Aura-Mart was easy to spot, just a half block away, and I headed directly there.

When I got there, I peered through the window and saw that there was a longish line of people, waiting to buy their morning teas and coffees and pastries. I bit my lip, then continued walking past the store. I could come back in a little while, when the store would hopefully be less crowded. In the meantime, I could explore the neighborhood a bit, find out what other shops were available.

The town wasn’t very large, which meant that there wasn’t too much foot traffic, much to my relief. A couple of times I had to cross the street in the middle of the block to avoid other pedestrians, but by and large there weren’t too many people around.

I spotted a small tea house, and hesitated a moment, considering. My hunger wrestled with my awareness of my scarce resources. I knew it would be wisest to conserve my money for groceries and supplies, but the thought of a cup of hot tea and some rice was incredibly alluring. Surely that couldn’t cost too much, could it? It would mean interacting with a waitress, but my hunger was enough to make even that challenge seem surmountable. I took a deep breath to steady my nerves, and pushed the door open.

It was surprisingly empty inside, and I pause for a moment by a “Please wait to be seated” sign. I wondered if they were open for business yet. I hadn’t seen any hours posted by the entrance. Maybe the door had been left unlocked by mistake? I was about to turn and leave when a young woman in surprisingly formal attire darted out from the back of the restaurant and stumbled to a halt in front of me.

“Welcome to the Shanghai!” She bowed so quickly and deeply that her glasses fell off her face, and she caught them mid-air with a swipe of her hand, which made me think that this wasn’t the first time that that had happened to her. Righting herself, she offered me a slightly frantic looking smile as she put her glasses back on. “I’m so sorry I wasn’t here to greet you when you came in, please, sit wherever you wish, I’ll be with you in a moment to take your order!” She waved a hand with a broad flourish at the uninhabited room.

I tensed as she addressed me, waiting for her to flinch or her smile to fade at the sight of my face, but no reaction came. She continued to smile at me, almost trembling with nerves, but I was oddly certain that this was her normal state, and for once not a reaction to my appearance. I nodded to her, and walked over to a corner booth, where I wouldn’t be easily seen if any other customers came in.

As soon as I sat down, the waitress was beside the table, bowing dramatically again. “Can I take your order?”

I looked around the table for a menu, but couldn’t see one, and she didn’t have one in her hands. I really didn’t want to order anything without knowing the cost—I just wanted whatever was cheapest. I forced myself to ask, “M-may I please s-see…a menu?”

The waitress looked panic stricken at my request. “I…think we have one? Somewhere? If you want to wait a moment, I’ll see what I can find.” She darted off without waiting for an answer.

I blinked at the fluttering curtains she darted through on her way back to the kitchen. A restaurant without a menu? And a waitress who seemed even more nervous than me? I felt a little light-headed from hunger, and had to repress a giggle at the notion. It had been twenty-four hours since I had last eaten, my last meal at the orphanage. I’d been too nervous to eat much, even though it had been my favorite breakfast, tamago kake gohan. I sighed as I remembered the food I’d left behind on my plate.

The waitress darted back out of the kitchen, and bowed again. “I’m sorry, the owner is going to be getting new menus printed any day now, but if you tell me what you want I’m sure I can make it for you.” Her smile looked plastered on, and she seemed to be on the verge of tears.

I found myself in the rare position of feeling sorry for someone else, and that made it easier for me to admit, “Actually…I j-just want s-something…inexpensive. I d-d-don’t have much m-money.”

“Oh! I know what that’s like, even working two jobs, I don’t always have enough money to eat after paying rent and buying textbooks.” This oddly personal confession actually seemed to cheer her up a little. She leaned in closer to me and whispered confidentially, even though there was no one else around to hear us, “The onsen tamago is the most filling for the least money, only two hundred yen.”

That was more than I’d hoped to spend, but the rice would be filling, and the egg would provide nutrition. I decided to forego the tea to save on money. I nodded to her. “Th-that sounds…good. Thank you.”

She beamed at me for a split second, then whirled around and dashed back to the kitchen. I felt myself relax at being alone again. I was always a little on edge when dealing with other people, but her nervous energy made me even more tense than usual.

In less than five minutes, she came back out with a tray of food and tea, the tip of her tongue stuck between her teeth as she concentrated on carrying the tray. I bit my lip as she set it down in front of me. “I’m s-sorry, but…I d-didn’t order tea,” I protested weakly, not wanting to incur another expense.

She smiled and said “Tea comes free with all meals.” Then she leaned in and whispered again, “Well, technically, with all meals over five hundred yen, but I made an exception in this case.”

“Oh. Itadakimasu.” The formulaic thank-you seemed especially appropriate in this case.

“You’re welcome! Please enjoy your meal!” She stood frozen and smiling at me for a long moment, as if waiting for me to begin eating, then she bowed again and scurried back to the kitchen.

I felt my shoulders drop as she disappeared. What an odd woman. She’d mentioned textbooks, and didn’t look to be much over twenty, so I guessed she was a university or college student. I wondered what her other job was.

I picked up the chopsticks and dove into the meal. The bowl was filled almost to overflowing with rice, and I wondered if it normally came with two eggs. For the price, I’d only expected one. I felt a flash of gratitude to the strange waitress.

It might have been the hunger making everything taste better, but it was the most wonderful meal I’d had in a long time. I tried to slow myself down, not inhale it all at once. I could just hear Mama Ando admonishing us at meals to mind our manners. Mrs. Kojima had sometimes also scolded us, “No one will ever want to adopt a child with poor manners!”, but Mama Ando had never stooped to that.

I slowed myself down, stopped and chewed, and interspersed sips of tea with bites of food. Even so, the food disappeared in almost no time, and the generous portion I’d been served was enough to finally quiet my stomach.

I sipped at the last of my tea and considered what I’d do for food for the remainder of the weekend. I’d have to see what I could get for cheap at the Aura-Mart. Even if it was just instant noodles, I hoped I could stave off starvation until Monday. Then I realized I had absolutely no idea how much noodles or pads cost. I'd helped Cook shop for groceries sometimes, but had never paid any real attention to the prices, since I wasn’t paying. And the orphanage had always just had boxes of pads in the girls’ bathroom. I hoped I hadn't just eaten the difference between being able to afford them and not.

“Would you care for anything else?”

I flinched at the sudden reappearance of the waitress next to me. For someone so jittery and nervous, she moved awfully quietly. My flinch made her jump back a half step with a quiet squeak. She began to bow repeatedly, almost looking like a guilt-stricken bobble-head doll. “Sorry! Sorry! I didn't mean to startle you!”

“N-no, I’m sorry, I d-didn't—I was j-just…lost in thought.” I lifted my face enough to attempt a reassuring smile at her, my right hand automatically covering my facial scars.

She returned my smile, somewhat tremulously. “Are you finished?”

I nodded. There wasn’t a grain of rice or drop of tea left. She swept my empty dishes away, and returned a minute later with a small tray holding the bill. I pulled out my wallet and put two hundred yen on the tray.

She smiled and said, “Thank you for dining with us!” I wondered who the “us” referred to, because she seemed to be the only employee present. I wondered if her cheeks hurt by the end of her shift from all the smiling she did.

“It w-was a f-feast,” I said, the ritualistic expression of gratitude accurate for a change.

As I slid out of the booth, the waitress asked, “Pardon me for prying, but—are you a student at Yamaku?”

I almost asked her how she knew, but then I realized how stupid that question was and stopped myself before I could voice it. I raised my hand defensively to cover my face and simply nodded.

She beamed at me. “Then maybe I'll see you again sometime! My other job is as a librarian there.” Her smile faltered. “I mean…assuming you like to read?”

“R-read?” My lips curled up in an involuntary smile. I hadn’t stopped to consider Yamaku’s library. A whole new selection of books for me to explore. New titles, new authors. I had run through so much of my old school’s library that I was desperate for new things to read. “Oh, yes,” I said, with genuine enthusiasm. I could escape into a book for hours, and forget my troubles for that span of time. Books had been my refuge ever since the hospital, and now I had a whole new library to explore.

“Are th-there a lot of books in…Yamaku’s library?” I asked eagerly.

The waitress—or waitress/librarian, I guess—seemed taken aback by my sudden enthusiasm. “Well, I like to think so. We’re well funded, which does make me wonder why the staff is a so underpaid, and we have the largest collection of Braille and audio titles in the prefecture.”

“W-where is it l-located?” It must not have its own separate building, or I would have noticed it while I was memorizing the campus map.

“It’s in the main academic building, on the second floor.”

“Is it…open this w-weekend?” I didn’t own any books, so I was currently without reading material. Having something to read would make this weekend go by much faster.

“No, it opens on Monday.”

“Oh.” Nuts, I would have to wait to explore the new stacks.

She bit her lip at my crestfallen expression, then offered, “But…I’ll be working there all day tomorrow, getting ready for the new year. If you wanted to come by, I mean, I’m sure it’s not really against the rules, I could let you come in and browse if you like.”

“R-really?” For the first time since leaving the orphanage, I felt genuinely happy about something.

“Yes, really. Just…don’t tell anyone else, okay? Just in case?”

I nodded enthusiastically.

“By the way, my name is Shirakawa. Yuuko Shirakawa, but everyone calls me Yuuko.”

That felt unusually informal for a school staff person, but she also seemed like an unusually informal kind of person. “I’m…Hanako Ikezawa. P-please…call me Hanako.” Since she’d given me leave to use her first name, and she was an adult, it only seemed appropriate.

“That’s a pretty name. I look forward to seeing you tomorrow. I’ll be there by eight o’clock. If I don’t oversleep. Or miss my bus. Again.”

“I’ll b-be there!”
Current KS Stories:
Akira's Surprise: Akira pays a surprise visit to Lilly, Hanako and Hisao on Christmas eve. S9 Entry.
Arrival : Hanako's first days at Yamaku
Home: Hanako & Hisao at University, sharing an apartment with their friend Lilly (on Ao3).

User avatar
Lap
Posts: 33
Joined: Sun May 27, 2018 4:35 pm
Location: North Carolina
Contact:

Re: Arrival [updated 10-27-18]

Post by Lap » Sat Oct 27, 2018 8:45 am

Part IV: Shopping
____________

A full stomach and the prospect of having a new library full of books to explore kept my spirits buoyed for the walk back to the Aura-Mart. I was relieved to find that my strategy of waiting a while had paid off, and there was only a single customer in the store now. I wrapped my good mood around me like a shield and entered the store.

I can do this, I tried to convince myself. Even little kids go shopping in Aura-Mart all by themselves. There was no reason I couldn’t. I grabbed a shopping basket and started wandering the aisles, getting to know what was where. First things first, I had to see if I could afford some pads.

When I got to the aisle with assorted toiletries and “feminine” products, I was overwhelmed by the number of options presented to me. I knew from advertisements that there were different shapes and kinds of menstrual pads, but I hadn’t realized there were so many. Day use, night use, regular, heavy flow, light flow, super, long lasting, the variations went on and on—and then multiply that by at least six different brands that I could see. And why was Sailor Moon on that package of overnight pads?

I had always just used what the orphanage provided, and had never thought about what “kind” of pads they were. I scanned the brightly colored wall of boxes in front of me, and was grateful to finally spot a familiar looking package. I picked it up and looked at the illustration. It looked like what I was used to using. I glanced at the price and was relieved—only 495 yen for a pack of thirty-five. That should be enough for this month. Which would leave me about thirteen hundred yen for food.

Cheered by the prospect of being able to afford food, I dropped my selection into my basket and headed toward the food aisles. I knew from various TV shows that cups of instant ramen noodles were the stereotypical cheap eats for students, and I looked at them first. There was a wide range of options, though not as large a range as for pads. The top row seemed to be “fancier” brands, single cups running from 75 to 200 yen apiece. But as I looked further down, near the floor, I found what I was looking for—six-packs of cups for 200 yen. Even if I ate two per meal, lunch and dinner, one six-pack should be enough for bare subsistence until Monday. Which left me eleven hundred yen for supplemental, tastier foods.

Searching the fruits, I found the oranges to be the most affordable, and got two. I found some edamame and a package of tofu that I could cut up and put into my ramen. And I added a piece of sweet bread I could have for breakfast.

And then I turned the corner and was in the candy aisle.

I’d never been one of those girls who madly craves chocolate when I’m on my period, but…there was no denying its allure. At any time of the month. It was an infrequent treat in the orphanage, and the thought that I was free to buy whatever I wanted was both giddying and intimidating.

I looked through my basket and mentally added up my current total, then decided I could afford a treat, a reward for having made it this far. I added a small package of chocolate pastilles to my basket and tried not to feel too guilty for the extravagance.

I glanced over at the check-out counter, not wanting to wait in line with anyone else, but the customer who’d been there when I’d walked in was already gone, and I was alone with the clerk. I walked over to the check-out and set my basket on the counter in front of her.

The clerk, an older woman with long gray hair tied up in a neat bun, smiled at me as she scanned my purchases. “Ah, napkins and chocolates, the classic combination. I remember those days. Can’t say as that I miss ‘em.” Her smile faltered slightly as she noticed my face, but then it returned, only slightly dimmed. I clenched my teeth and stared at the floor. “You must be a new student up the hill,” she said, as she scanned the rest of my items. I nodded mutely. “Do you have a shopping bag?” I shook my head. “Well, a plastic bag is ten yen, or we have reusable ones for five hundred.”

“P-plastic. Please,” I whispered. I didn’t have enough money for a reusable bag.

“That’ll be 1925 yen,” she said, sliding a tray towards me for the money.

My heart sank. I must have made a mistake in my addition, I had thought I was just under eighteen hundred—oh. Right. Eight plus seven is fifteen, not fourteen. I always make that mistake. Stupid stupid stupid! Why do I keep forgetting such a basic mathematical fact?

Removing one orange from my order would bring the total down to what I could afford, but…I should opt for nutrition, not indulgence. I didn’t really deserve the chocolate anyway. I pulled the bag of chocolates out of my shopping bag and set it back on the counter without looking up at the clerk.

“I…I’m sorry. C-could you take this…off the bill?”

“Of course.” She re-scanned the bag, and said, “That will be 1685 yen.”

I pulled my wallet out and counted out the money onto the tray. She took my bills, then presented the tray back to me with my change. There were a couple of small foil-wrapped chocolates on the tray with my coins. I looked up at the clerk, startled.

She smiled at me. “No girl should be without at least some chocolate at this time of the month,” she said kindly.

I blinked rapidly, trying to fight back the tears that suddenly threatened to well up in my eyes. “Th-thank you,” I managed to say.

“Of course, dear. You have a nice day.”

I nodded back, and tried to produce a smile for her before taking my bag and leaving.

Once I was a little way down the street, out of sight of the clerk at the Aura-Mart, I stopped and leaned against the side of a building to recover for a moment. My heart was racing and my palms were damp, but I’d successfully navigated my first trip to the store alone.

Well, “successfully” if you didn’t count my simple addition error. What a stupid mistake.

Taking a deep breath, I pushed off from the building and started back up hill.

Three quarters of the way back to Yamaku, my calves were burning and I was puffing a little from the climb. Then, just to add insult to injury, a mule kicked me in the uterus. Or that was what it felt like anyway. At least it was a small mule this time. I stopped and gasped, bent halfway over, the hand not holding my grocery bag pressed hard against my lower abdomen.

Dang it,” I hissed, since there was no one around to hear me. I could go for months sometimes without experiencing any major cramping during my periods. Why did this have to happen now?

The pain faded a little, and I tried to stand up straighter, but that just prompted another wave of spasms. I hissed again, and folded my arms across my belly. I had passed a large boulder by the side of the road just a few meters back, and I lurched back to it to sit down for a while. As I sat there waiting for the pain to pass, I brooded on the uselessness of my reproductive system.

Why did I have to have periods anyway? What good was my uterus? I was never going to use it. No one was ever going to want to have sex with me, let alone want to make a baby with me. I wished I could just get rid of it altogether, get rid of all the cramps and hormones and mess. It felt like it was just another cruel joke my body played on me, one more thing to hate about my body. It flooded my body with hormones that caused me to feel attracted to others, even though there wasn’t any chance in the world of another person ever being attracted to me.

The spasm slowly ebbed, not disappearing entirely, but it faded enough that I thought I could continue walking. I hesitantly stood up, and when the mule didn’t kick again, I resumed the uphill walk.

____________


When I got back to my room, there was an envelope addressed to me taped to my door. I pulled it off as I entered, and set my purchases down on the desk. I examined the envelope—it was just my name, no address or stamp, so it hadn’t been mailed. It had a pre-printed Yamaku address and logo in the corner. Some note from Mrs. Noya? I sat down at my desk and stared at the envelope for a moment, trying to divine its purpose, then slid a finger under the edge of the flap and ripped it open.

Inside was a handwritten note on Yamaku stationery.



Dear Miss Ikezawa,

I hear from our inestimable Mrs. Noya that you have arrived on campus early. I am the head nurse at Yamaku, and I like to meet with all new students to review their medical histories so that I might be best prepared to help you in whatever way I can.

I am on campus this weekend, getting ready for the coming year, and would like to meet with you at your earliest convenience. Please use a campus phone to call extension 4761 to set up an appointment, or you can visit the office in person if you wish.

I look forward to meeting with you.



And it was followed by a completely illegible signature. I guess nurses were like doctors in that.

I hated doctor’s visits, but…the nurses’ office would have painkillers. Which I could certainly use right about now. And since she was a nurse, not a doctor, there shouldn’t be an actual physical examination. I hoped.

I emptied my shopping bag, and realized I should have put the tofu and edamame in the kitchen refrigerator before coming upstairs. I placed the two small chocolates the clerk had given me on the built-in bookshelf above the head of my bed, saving them for emergencies.

I took the edamame and tofu and headed back downstairs. I paused at the head of the stairs, listening for any sign of Yasuda or “the guys,” but I heard nothing. It was just as silent as when I’d come in five minutes ago. I crept down and slipped into the kitchen, which was adjacent to the common room. The refrigerator was totally empty except for a single can of strawberry soda, with a sticky note on it saying “MINE!” I wondered if I should put my name on my food, but if it was just Yasuda and me in the dorm, it shouldn’t be needed, should it? Though why did she feel it necessary to put that note on her soda if that was the case? Did the staff use these refrigerators too? I wished I knew what was the usual procedure for the dorm.

I sighed and put my two items on a separate shelf. At worst, someone else would eat them, but I could survive on what I had in my room.

I went back upstairs and made use of the bathroom. Returning to my room, I finally made up the bed, then sat on the chair and looked around. The room was almost as barren and empty as when I’d arrived, my few possessions barely making a dent in its appearance. Maybe I could do something to decorate? It was my room after all, wasn’t it?

“Th-this is my room,” I said out loud. It felt odd. Assuming I didn’t flunk out or have a nervous breakdown and get kicked out, this was where I was going to live for the next three years. Alone. No roommates. That part at least was nice.

“My room,” I repeated.

It didn’t feel real. I’d been at the same orphanage for five years, and although it had never felt like “home” the way my home with my parents did, it had been familiar. Sometimes more comfortable than others, depending upon who was my roommate. And Mama Ando had been a bright spot there.

Now I was in this new place, soon to be surrounded by other students with “issues.” I wondered if there would be any other burn victims. I couldn’t decide if I did or didn’t want to meet someone else who had the same problems I did. It might be nice, or at least maybe useful, to meet someone else who understood my physical problems and limitations. But I couldn’t wish anyone else to have gone through what I had.

I wondered if other burn victims were as psychologically messed up as I was. Stuttering and nervous and shy. I found it hard to imagine anyone going through what I had without being changed, but maybe my problems were just because I was weak. Meeting someone who looked like me but who was strong and confident and social sounded depressing. Maybe I didn’t want to meet any other burn victims.

A small cramp pinched my insides, reminding me of the note from the nurse. I didn’t really want to meet her, didn’t want to meet anyone else today—the clerk and Yuuko were exhausting enough. But the promise of painkillers was attractive.

As if to urge me out the door, another cramp rippled through my body, and I groaned, more in frustration than in pain. Truly, it seemed as if every time I wanted to hide in my room, my body had other ideas. Stupid body. I shuddered to think what ailment would strike me next, if I didn’t go out. I got up and put on my jacket and hat and headed back out. Hopefully the visit with the nurse would be brief, and she’d give me some painkillers.
Last edited by Lap on Mon Oct 29, 2018 3:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Current KS Stories:
Akira's Surprise: Akira pays a surprise visit to Lilly, Hanako and Hisao on Christmas eve. S9 Entry.
Arrival : Hanako's first days at Yamaku
Home: Hanako & Hisao at University, sharing an apartment with their friend Lilly (on Ao3).

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Mirage_GSM
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Re: Arrival [updated 10-27-18]

Post by Mirage_GSM » Mon Oct 29, 2018 10:45 am

I’d forgotten about the tax. Stupid stupid stupid! How could I forget about the tax? It was true I’d rarely ever bought anything, but I wasn’t a child. I knew about taxes.
Hmm... In my experience the taxes are included in the price of the items when shopping in Japan - certainly in convenience stores and supermarkets.
In fact, I don't think I've ever visited a country where that wasn't the case...
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
Sore wa himitsu desu.

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Lap
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Re: Arrival [updated 10-27-18]

Post by Lap » Mon Oct 29, 2018 2:40 pm

Mirage_GSM wrote:
Mon Oct 29, 2018 10:45 am
I’d forgotten about the tax. Stupid stupid stupid! How could I forget about the tax? It was true I’d rarely ever bought anything, but I wasn’t a child. I knew about taxes.
Hmm... In my experience the taxes are included in the price of the items when shopping in Japan - certainly in convenience stores and supermarkets.
Oops. My mistake. Fixed! Forgot to fact-check that one with my resident expert.
In fact, I don't think I've ever visited a country where that wasn't the case...
I guess you haven't visited the USA then :-).
Current KS Stories:
Akira's Surprise: Akira pays a surprise visit to Lilly, Hanako and Hisao on Christmas eve. S9 Entry.
Arrival : Hanako's first days at Yamaku
Home: Hanako & Hisao at University, sharing an apartment with their friend Lilly (on Ao3).

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Mirage_GSM
Posts: 5775
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2010 2:24 am
Location: Germany

Re: Arrival [updated 10-27-18]

Post by Mirage_GSM » Mon Oct 29, 2018 6:10 pm

Indeed I didn't. I've visited around 15 countries in my life (not counting stopovers, because I didn't buy anything there) but the US are not among them.
You really have to add VAT to the prices on all the goods by yourself?
Our consumer protection associations would throw a fit. I think it would be considered something like misleading business practices not to put the actual price of the goods on the stickers.
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
Sore wa himitsu desu.

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