Footprints in the Snow - A Fanfiction

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AwryZephyr
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Footprints in the Snow - A Fanfiction

Post by AwryZephyr » Mon Jul 29, 2019 6:15 am

Howdy all! If you happen to notice my account creation date, don't worry! I am, indeed, a newcomer! Now, I know you weren't going through the fanfiction section just to read an author's note, so I'll get straight to the point. I've been a big fan of Katawa Shoujou for a long time now. I've spent countless hours reading fanfiction, playing the game, mourning the loss of KS2. You know, typical KS fan stuff. Anyway, after years of it, I've finally decided to try my hand at this. Now, I don't hope to immediately stand up with the greats. I've got no aspirations to be Tomorrow's Doom, and I don't hope to match the writing ability of any of the psuedoroutes. All of this is a work in progress. I've got the story outlined, but I won't lie to you, what I've got posted here is all I've got written so far. That'll always stay the same. And, with the way I intend to take this, there's a lot more to come. Now, I know how hard it is to get into an unfinished piece of literature. I also will not make any promises to you that there'll be any consistency in updates. After so many false promises from authors who never finish their work, you eventually get tired of it. Who's to say the same thing won't become of me? It could. And I'm not going to lie and say that it couldn't. But I will promise you that I'll give it my all if there's anyone left that's interested in giving it a read. That being said, I know there'll be a few things that could be a bit standoffish for a fic. For example, the main character is an American, something done in a ton of OC fiction for seemingly no reason. However, if there's anything that seems strange, or falls into the realm of 'edgy oc,' I ask that you stick it out for just a little longer because, in all likelyhood, I can see it too and I wouldn't have put cringe in the story if it didn't have plot relevance. That being said, this post will also function as the hub for the story where all of the chapters will be linked. Like the psuedoroutes, this story will also be broken up into acts and scenes, if only because I like that style. Anyway, thanks for giving me a chance, and enjoy the show!

Changelog #1: Thanks to Mirage's input, I've edited the first to chapters to place Ethan as actually being a senior. On top of that, I've fixed a few grammatical issues, along with adding some flavor text involving his adaptation to using the Japanese language, along with adding a slight amount of foreshadowing about an upcoming character. It's nothing that requires a re-read, and I'll try my best to keep edits like this from having to happen in the future. Finally, after the first chapter, if something written, read, or spoken is bold, that means that it is in 'English.' Also, dots in brackets, {...}, will mean a word in Japanese that Ethan wasn't able to understand.

Act 0
Prologue - LINK

Act 1: Adaptation
Arrival - LINK
Last edited by AwryZephyr on Wed Jul 31, 2019 5:21 am, edited 8 times in total.

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Mirage_GSM
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Re: Footprints in the Snow - An OC Fanfiction

Post by Mirage_GSM » Mon Jul 29, 2019 6:23 am

Welcome and good luck!
One tip I always try to give new authors:
I've got the story outlined, but I won't lie to you, what I've got posted here is all I've got written so far.
...Don't feel oblieged to immediately post any new chapter you've written. Try to keep a buffer of two or three chapters. Often you will run into a situation when writing chapter 8 that it would work much easier if X had happened in chapter 6 instead of Y, and it will be much easier to react to such a thing if chapter 6 has not been posted yet.
Just as an example, there might be a birthday party in one chapter, and while writing that you might think "Wouldn't it have been a good scene if they went shopping for presents? But that would have had to happen two chapters ago..."
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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AwryZephyr
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Re: Footprints in the Snow - An OC Fanfiction

Post by AwryZephyr » Mon Jul 29, 2019 6:29 am

Act 0: Prologue

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The air was still. The birds were silent. The sounds of September went quiet as they watched the world fall out from under Ethan Taylor, and his life was forever changed.

Earlier

Much like the days before, Ethan Taylor allowed a grunt to escape him as he haphazardly climbed from his dented Nissan Altima and pushed the door closed behind him. A swift click of his key fob from his pocket resulted in a loud honk of the car’s horn that drowned out the surrounding chatter of high school seniors for only a second. The air was hot and thick against his skin and he tried desperately to ignore it as he made for the cafeteria. Hot, even for Georgia. The thought had slipped through his mind more than once in the past month, but today it was the truest it had ever been. His hand moved to the pocket of his jeans and grasped around for a few moments before returning with a pair of old silver headphones twisted into too many knots to count. Rolling his eyes, Ethan set to untangle them as he made his way to the back doors of Woodside High along with the rest of the early risers. Just before his feet fell upon pavement instead of dirt, he managed to place both earbuds in his ears and connect the end into the top of a similarly colored iPod nano. Finally graced with music, the first hints of a smile graced his face as his thumb moved to hit the ‘shuffle’ button just as his other hand moved to push open the door. However, just as he always seemed to, he somehow managed to miss the handle by a few centimeters. Without the door open, he barely stopped himself before colliding with the door and sighed. Trying once again, he managed to open the door easily enough. Appropriately, with his first steps into the building, the opening riffs of Guns N’ Roses “Welcome to the Jungle” began to play.

His grey-green eyes flickered down to his watch: 8:00. Twenty-five minutes before class. Making his way further inside, the general roar of the school population talking at once to their friends in the school cafeteria rose slightly above Ethan’s music, so he turned it up until it wasn’t. He didn’t bother looking for Lillie in the crowd, Woodside was too big a school for that. Instead he made his way to the nearest wall and leaned his weight against it, gazing lazily out across the crowd as the sweet smell of processed maple syrup drifted from the kitchen for those select few that would choose to eat breakfast at school. With his iPod now back in his jeans, he rubbed the palms of his hands together slowly, kneading at them. The heat always seemed to bring back those tell-tale pins and needles of a shoddy circulatory system, but at least it wasn’t anything major.

Five minutes flew by, followed by ten, “Welcome to the Jungle” having long died out to make room for other songs, all of which were some form of classic rock. Eventually, the first of the bells rang and, with it, the majority of the student body started to make its way to the doors leading to class. Ethan did the same and, soon enough, the hallways were filled with the everyday chatter of a public school. He nodded to a guy he’d met two years ago in algebra and accidentally stepped on the back of the shoe of the person in front of him before playing it off on the guy beside him. Eventually, most of his classmates had made it to their classes, but the few who had classes at the back of the hallways carried on. And at the very end of it all was chemistry, a class that Ethan had come to know very well.

As Ethan approached the room to the classroom to the tune of a fading song, Dr. Terry Carter stood in the arch of the door, just like he did every other morning. And, just like every other morning, he motioned for Ethan to take his earbuds out, to which he complied. “Honestly, Ethan, it’s been a good few weeks, you should know better by now,” His voice was light and nasally, strange for his tall, imposing form.

Placing his earbuds back into his jacket, along with his iPod, Ethan offered a slight shrug, “Gotta have a little music in the morning, sir.” With those words he brushed past and moved to his normal seat next to a tall, lanky, black haired boy. “ ‘Sup Frank?” Much like the rest of the year prior, Frank only offered a slight nod and turned back to the board, to which Ethan did the same, brushing his ashen brown hair from out of his eyes. A mindless hand went to scratch at his beard, well trimmed, as the warning bell rang and his day came to a start.

---------------------------------

The school day passed much like the others, with no interesting events occurring. Like always, he paid extra attention in chemistry and mostly ignored everything else. He made idle chatter with the people that sat next to him but ultimately meant nothing to him and made it through the ensuing boredom. Eventually, the end of the day rolled around and Ethan gathered his things and set out for his car.

As he left the building and started the long trek to his car at the far back of the parking lot, music blaring in his ears, the distant, familiar sight of long crimson hair and freckled skin drew a smile from his face. His pace quickened and his thumb went to rub over the silver ring on his finger, not a statement, but a promise. In no time at all, his lips met the curves of Lillie’s and his hands moved to her waist, the only music in his ears made from their encounter. The boredom of the day melted away and as he pulled back, his eyes gazed deep into the emerald of hers as she spoke.

“Ready to go hiking? I’ve got snacks in the trunk. If we leave now we can be back before sundown to get dinner,” as she spoke, they’d both moved to opposing sides of the Altima and, soon enough, they were inside, the A/C on full blast and backpacks in the back seat.

Ethan glanced to her as he kicked it into reverse and started to drive. He finally spoke as they drove past Lillie’s old tan Malibu, “As long as you don’t make me carry you again, I’m fine with staying a little longer.” A giggle slipped past Lillie’s lips and they finally drove out of the parking lot out onto the open road, the course set to the rural area just outside Atlanta.

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The outskirts of the concrete jungle known as Atlanta held the same amount of wonder that the heart of downtown did. Buildings traded for trees and asphalt traded for rivers offered a relief that many rooted deep within the downtown life had long forgotten about. On the faded leather console of his car, Ethan’s hand sat, lightly holding Lillie’s as he drove to the ambient engine noise and quiet undertones of Jeff Buckley’s cover of “Hallelujah.” It was moments like these that he’d come to expect with his girlfriend. Quiet. Contemplative. Whole. Content. The paving of the road changed and the sound of tires upon rugged asphalt entered the background as he officially left the city of Atlanta, escaping the confines that the concrete jungle silently imposed on them. It was like having a weight lifted from your shoulders. Liberating, in a sense. He’d come this way many times before, and the drive was second nature to him. Before either of the pair realized it, they’d arrived at the state-sanctioned hiking trail through the thick Georgian woods. He turned his head towards Lillie, a small smile beginning to grow on his lips, “Ready?” The nod she gave back was the only thing he was waiting for.

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A few hours into the hike and even more bottles of water later, the sun had begun to set, shining warm orange rays through the thick treeline. Sweat running down his brow and drenching his shirt, Ethan saw as much and called out to the girl that always seemed to be a few steps ahead of him, “It’s getting late. Wanna head back?” Even though he’d said this, he continued walking onward, wincing as he misstepped yet again and his ankle twisted before he could catch himself. It wasn’t immobilizing, but doing it every five minutes was starting to get annoying, and he’d started to put a good amount of weight on the rigid, dead branch that he’d found a ways into the woods. It offered a good degree of balance that he’d probably not have had without it right now, and silently he admonished himself for getting tired so easily. As Lillie turned and began to speak, he could see that there was barely any sweat on her body.

“Guess so,” She smiles broadly and runs back towards Ethan, calling out and she moves to push him playfully, “Last one back to the car has to buy dinner!” It is in this moment, however, that Ethan Taylor realizes that something has gone terribly wrong.

Given how much weight he’d been putting on it, the branch he’d picked up off of the ground had already started to crack in multiple places. Lillie’s shove was playful, and there was hardly any force behind it, but it was far more than enough to destroy what little balance Ethan had in him. It was all he could do to put all of his weight on that branch and the resounding crack echoed through the air told him that it was too much. The branch split in two at the middle, and Ethan found himself toppling swiftly backwards towards the steep, steep slope that had been to the right of them during their hike. It took less than a full second for it to all happen and, as Lillie cried into the evening in shock, the Earth fell out from under Ethan Taylor, and his life was forever changed.

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I’d always wondered what it would be like to die. Everyone has, at some point. But I don’t think, in all of my imagination, I would’ve ever thought it would be so… bland. That is, if I’ve actually died. Looking back on the hike, it really seems like that’s the case. The fall. Lillie’s scream.

God, I feel bad for her. I hope she doesn’t blame herself.

There’s not really much else to do here, other than think. There’s this… murky darkness surrounding me, weighing down on me. It feels like I filled a pool with jell-o and jumped in when it was halfway done solidifying. Then again, it also doesn’t really feel like anything at all. There’s no real way for me to tell, seeing as I can’t move. One thing I can tell, though, is that it’s definitely not a dream. There’s this ever present beeping that comes every few seconds that sounds far too real for any dream to make, and sometimes I think I can hear low mumbles, but I can’t say for sure.

I don’t know how long I’ve been like this. On one hand, it feels like the hike was minutes ago. On the other hand, I’ve got no real way of keeping track of time in the jell-o pool. As far as afterlives go, I guess there are worse things than being surrounded by a decent food.



I kinda wish I could taste it, though.

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I can’t tell how long its been when the first sign of light peeks through the dark. It is strange, though. This whole time, I’d felt like I was watching myself from the outside, as if I was observing myself float through the void. I guess there’s no real reason to think about a point of view when you can’t really view anything, but that’s how I’d thought of it at least. So, when I finally manage to open my eyes, pain flaring in my head instantly with how bright the lights are and causing me to shut them quickly, the experience is kinda disorienting, to say the least. In a way, it felt like I’d just been shoved back into my own body all at once, however confusing that may seem.

Before I can open my eyes again, I notice a few things. For one, the beeping that I’d heard for who knows how long is still there, louder now. Another thing is the all-too-familiar smell of antiseptics, and I can immediately tell that I’m in a hospital. Better than being dead, I suppose.

In some ways

I finally manage to open my eyes, but I still wince when the light invades my view. It takes a few minutes for the bleariness to subside and, just as I had thought, I’m surrounded by beige walls and various medical machines. I suddenly notice, though, just how weak and hungry I feel. There’s no one else in the room other than me, and the sky is dark through the window. I don’t recognize the rooms, though, which means I’m probably not in Atlanta anymore. I try not to think of what’s going on. Right now, I just need to talk to someone.

Out of reflex, I squirm to the edge of the bed, surprised by just how much effort it takes to do so. I move to throw the blankets on top of me off, but I fumble, somehow managing to miss the blanket’s edge. I grumble angrily, but another try and the blankets are off, heavier than I thought they would have been. In the process, I accidentally tear a needle from my left forearm, and I wince as blood begins to flow from the wound. Still, I throw that in the back of my mind and move to stand, throwing my legs off of the bed in one movement. Without hesitation, I move to lift my weight from the bed, grabbing on to the metal bar that holds an IV bag near my bed.

It doesn’t go very well.

I begin to realize something is very wrong when my footing betrays me and I topple to the floor, crying out in pain as my elbow collides with the linoleum flooring. I try to stand again, but I don’t even manage to make it halfway, the IV stand sliding around far too much to provide any actual support. My hair falls down around my eyes and I suddenly realize it’s a bit longer than I last remember. I feel fear begin to take hold and I open my mouth, hoping to call out and catch the attention of any nearby staff, “N-!”

I furrow my brow and open my mouth once more, “N-Nu-!” Try as I might, I can’t seem to get the whole sentence out. My voice is too shaky to form even a single word. The fear in the pit of my stomach starts to grow, my eyes begin to burn, and I open my mouth to try one last time, “N-!”

Before I can even struggle with the word again, the door clicks and swings open slowly, revealing a woman in a lab coat, raven hair falling down around her shoulders. Tears spring to my eyes as I instantly recognize my mother, though her gaze is on a clipboard for the moment. There are dark bags under her green eyes, but, as she looks up and makes eye contact with me they seem to fade away as water begins to brim in them. The clipboard falls from her hands and she rushes forwards to my side and, suddenly, I feel like everything is going to be okay.

The next few weeks pass by in a blur. When I fell, Lillie called the emergency line, which was about all that she could do. I’d fallen so far that it took a few hours to find me. I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve been told that I’m lucky to be alive, that I could’ve had more happen to me than a coma that had lasted for, apparently, two and a half months. In some ways, I guess that’s true. Still, though, the decently sized scar on the back of my head that only just barely manages to hide under my hair is a constant reminder of what had happened.

But that isn’t the real problem.

After a few days of recovery, both the doctors and I begin to realize that my inability to both walk and talk stemmed more from just my coma or any related head trauma. For a while, they didn’t have the slightest clue as to what was going on. Suddenly, I’d found myself subject to an insane amount of tests, all the while everything was only getting worse. At one point, I’d woken up without being able to see out of my right eye, but I couldn’t tell anyone. My voice didn’t work, no matter how hard I seemed to try, and my coordination was far beyond being able to write on a notepad. Two weeks had passed as I stewed in that hospital room, unable to do anything, before they finally found the words for it and rushed for some sort of treatment. From the looks on their faces, though, I could tell that the damage had already been done.

Multiple sclerosis. Severe, oh-so-severe multiple sclerosis that had been gnawing at my body for longer than anyone had realized. They’d come up with the idea that my body’d had an ‘attack’ that they hadn’t been able to detect during my coma, which were just fancy words for saying that my body had been tearing itself apart more than usual for a three month coma. I’d remembered learning about myelin sheaths in anatomy a year ago, but I couldn’t be bothered to pay attention to the doctors as they explained everything to me. I got the gist of it anyway.

From what I knew, it was a form of an autoimmune disease that usually only reared its ugly head in older patients. The immune system began to see the myelin sheaths around the nerves as threats to the body and would start to attack them, eventually gnawing them away into scar tissue. And, just like a wire stripped of its rubber casing, it wouldn’t work quite right after that.

They call it ‘the snowflake disease’ because of just how differently it manifests in everyone diagnosed with it. Two cases are almost never the same. Usually it’s just a mild inconvenience to whoever’s diagnosed with it. Something that flares from time to time but dies back down, given time. It almost never affects the average lifespan of someone. When my mom asks about my case in particular, though, all I get in return are looks that bury a nauseating feeling deep in my gut. I know that there’s a few different types of MS, though they won’t tell me exactly which I’ve got yet. The looks are enough to tell that it’s definitely not the one that eighty percent of those diagnosed have.

“A diagnosis in someone so young almost never happens,” one of the faceless doctors had told me. At some point, I’d seen too many, “And for a case as severe as yours, well… We think you developed it when you were much, much younger, but no one noticed.”

Looking back, I see the signs far too clearly. The troubles I’d always had with balance. The constant fatigue. The trouble with the doors at school. All because my body had decided to attack my own nervous system, and it had gone unchecked for so long. During my coma, I’d had an ‘attack’ so to speak, in that the progression of it increased rapidly. Usually, the signs of an attack are clear as day and they can treat it before any real damage is done. Usually, the ‘attacks’ burn themselves out after a week or two. But, for some reason, the doctors just love to tell me how unusual my case is. The word puts a bad taste in my mouth, even though I can’t say it. My mom’s been asking a good few questions in my stead, though, and it’s gotten plenty of answers for me that she probably already knew. The scar tissue has already started to form on my nerves in place of the myelin, and there’s no going back from that. It took too long to catch. They say I’ll have some trouble walking from here on out, which I’ve learned is doctor lingo for ‘a ton,’ and I try to avoid looking at the cane that’s suddenly always present in my room.

They’ve started to pump me full of drugs that they say will help with my voice. At the very least, the vision in my right eye didn’t stay gone for too long. One less problem to worry about.

Before I know it, two more months have passed. Eventually, my voice does come back to me, and I regain my ability to write with a pencil. Like they said, though, I still can’t walk without support, and even with the sad aluminum cane that my mom brought me, I have too much trouble with it. I’ve lost track of how many nights I’ve spent crying, angry at the world and all it’s done to me.

Lillie hasn’t come to visit me a single time since I’ve woken up. Probing questions to my mom result in looks that tell me it’s probably better if I leave it alone. With so much on my plate in way of recovery, I decide it’s best to do just that. Every day is spent in some form of physical therapy. Some of it is an attempt to regain the strength I lost in my coma. The rest of it is spent learning how to walk again.

One night, after all’s said and done, I’m alone in my room when the door opens. My gaze drifts lazily away from the TV towards the door, and I lock eyes with my mom. Through it all, despite all her business, she’s been with me. I do notice how tired she looks, though, and a twinge of guilt runs through me. Either way, I offer a small smile. She returns it as she walks towards me and sits on the bed, turning towards the TV, though I know she isn’t paying any attention to it. I shrug and follow suit.

A few minutes pass before she speaks up, and, despite it all, there’s still that same joy in her voice that’s been there my whole life. If I hadn’t cried so much in the past few months, it’d bring tears to my eyes, “We got Jeremiah’s tumor out, safe and sound. He’s doing great in recovery. Should be out within the week.”

“That’s nice,” I say, absentmindedly. I don't know Jeremiah. She’s always loved telling me about her patients, even though I’ve never met them. I know it’s her pride showing through, but I don’t mind. She’s earned it, after all. With her being a neurologist, I sometimes wonder if she blames herself that I got this far. I’ve told her a few times not to, but seeing as I fall under her field of expertise, I know she’s too proud to just take it at that.

A heavy sigh from her end pulls me from my thoughts, and I’m suddenly reminded of just how much older she seems than she really is, “Listen, Ethan... I want you to let me talk. And I don’t want you to say anything until after you’ve listened to everything I have to say.”

I widen my brow and look back to her from the TV, only to realize she’s been staring at me for the past few minutes. Suddenly realizing that I’m probably not going to like where this goes, all I can do is nod, causing her to sigh again, “I know it’s… hard to come to terms with all of this, and I don’t expect you to any time soon. I know it’s been hard, too,” Her voice waivers a bit, but I don’t see any sign of tears in her eyes. She’s always been good at holding it in, “School’s probably the last thing on your mind right now, and that’s okay! Right now, you just need to focus on getting used to… everything. But,” She sighs yet again, and I suddenly realize just how much she’s been doing it tonight, “...Eventually, you’re going to have to get back into it. You’ve already missed too much to finish your Senior year, and… I don’t think it’d be a good idea to go back there anyway.” I open my mouth to reject what she’s saying, anger flashing at the fact that I'll have to repeat what was supposed to be one of the easiest years of my life, but a pointed look shuts me up, “There aren’t that many options as to schools that have really good care that you’re going to need, and the options that there are aren’t in America.” I suddenly see where this is going, and my stomach drops, “I’ve read into some places and…” She pulls out a pamphlet of information, the very top of it emblazoned with the words ‘Yamaku Academy,’ “I… think that this is our best bet. It’s… It’s in Japan, and... Erik,” she takes a deep, shaky breath and pauses for a moment and I furrow my brow at the unfamiliar name, but she continues before I can ask, "No - never mind, it's not important right now. All you need to know is that I've looked into it and this is the best option for both you and me. I promise that you'll be in good hands."

I stare quietly down at the pamphlet, a myriad of emotions running through my head. At first it’s things like horror and anger but, as I look up, I see just how deep the bags under my mom’s eyes are. How bloodshot her eyes are. How tired she must be. I understand that this is probably the last thing she wants to do, that I’m one of the very few people that she can confide in and if she didn’t think sending me away was for the best, she wouldn’t have brought it up. It’s probably not easy for her either. So, I sigh and put on a brave smile for her, no matter how sad it is, “...Okay. I understand. I’ll do it.”

Surprise covers her face almost instantly, and I see a few tears well up, even though she refuses to let them fall. She laughs quietly and her hand moves to rummage through my hair. It almost threatens to make me fall over in the bed but I hold up the best I can for her, “That’s my little trooper.”

There’s a sadness in her words.

When she’d said that, January was just coming to a close. Yamaku’s school year starts in April, and two and a half months really isn’t all that much time to learn one of the hardest languages for a native English speaker to learn. Especially without any prior knowledge whatsoever. Probably because of this, I had pretty much no free time for the next few months. I stayed in the hospital for all of it, the combination of physical therapy, the need to test more medications, and seeing if I would recover any more than I already had were just the few things that made it necessary. I think some of it was probably because my mom liked having me so close to her place of work, but I never brought it up.

To help me learn the language as fast as possible, my mom hired a native speaking tutor to come to the hospital and teach me. He’d said that, in order for me to be speaking it well enough to go to a school and take classes there in such a short time, I’d need to spend at least ten hours a day studying it with him. Money’s never really been an issue with me and my mom, despite her being the only parent in the household, but I still can’t imagine how much all of it must have costed. I try not to think about it.

Eventually, I fall back into a decent schedule of studying for ten hours a day with the tutor, going to physical therapy and related things for five hours, and sleeping the nine hours left in the day. After being able to actually talk to someone via my tutor, I realize just how stir crazy I was starting to go. I hadn’t spoken to anyone other than medical staff since I’d gone into a coma.

I mostly try not to think about Lillie.

I’ve stopped wondering why she never came to see me. Maybe it was the guilt of everything. Maybe it was an easy escape. Either way, it’s clear that she’s out of my life now and I can’t help but to grow bitter when I think about it. So I don’t, though it’s easier said than done.

As the period until April grows smaller and smaller, I can’t help but to grow excited about getting out of the hospital. My Japanese is surprisingly good, or so my tutor says, and he claims that it’ll be plenty good enough to get by, though even I can tell that my accent is noticeable. It’s never been southern, even though I grew up in Georgia, but it’s distinctly… American.

I’m a little worried about how that’s going to play out, but the excitement of getting out of the hospital washes it away.

In the weeks before it’s time to leave, my mom takes care of all the paperwork needed, and I get briefed on the workings of Japanese culture. It’s a little harder than I thought it’d be, but I manage.

Soon enough, it’s time to go. The goodbye with my mom at the airport is a tearful one, but she assures me that my phone plan is international, and that she’ll be making plenty use of it once things calm down at the hospital. I smile and tell her, “I know,” before boarding the airplane and heading off towards Yamaku Academy.
Last edited by AwryZephyr on Wed Jul 31, 2019 4:14 am, edited 1 time in total.

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AwryZephyr
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Re: Footprints in the Snow - An OC Fanfiction

Post by AwryZephyr » Mon Jul 29, 2019 6:32 am

Wow Mirage, that was fast. Thanks for the warm welcome! And, honestly, I'll probably take your word on that. For now, though, I want to get some substance into the story before anything. Once I hit chapter four, I'll probably start to keep a backlog of chapters. And bear with me while I try to get this bbcode sorted out. It's... been a while.

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AwryZephyr
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Re: Footprints in the Snow - An OC Fanfiction

Post by AwryZephyr » Mon Jul 29, 2019 6:52 am

Act 1: Scene 1 - Arrival

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The bus ride to Yamaku Academy from the airport in the nearest city is a decently long one, and I spend most of it observing the unfamiliar Japanese countryside. Thankfully, since Yamaku’s move-in times for new students span for a week before the academic year actually begins, they’ve provided full transport to the academy itself. A few conversations with my mom before I’d left revealed that the school’s economic pool was nothing short of enormous, no wonder given how much tuition costs, but such thoughtful treatment is still nice. The sun high in the sky, I realize that many attendees might not do so well with difficult travel.

Even with such a beautiful day around, my mind grows dark as I realize that I could be considered to be among those with that problem.

Shaking my head, I throw sidelong glances around at the other riders on the bus. They’re few and far between, and I don’t count more than six people. Still, most of them seem to know each other, and I’m the only one sitting alone. I sigh, my right hand idly moving to thumb at the scar on the back of my head. My hair’s been freshly cut, and not even stubble sits on my face anymore. Even still, it does nothing to hide the fact that I’m American, and I can’t help but to wonder if that has anything to do with how quiet this ride’s been for me.

Suddenly, buildings begin to pop back into view, and something flutters in my chest at the thought that we’re getting close. Someone sitting in one of the two small groups that’ve formed says, “I wonder if Yohei’s already here,” all but confirming my thoughts. It’s still strange to hear Japanese and not much else, and even stranger that I can actually understand it.

The bus lurches slightly as it finally comes to a full stop, and without warning, all of the kids around me start to get up and gather their belongings. For a moment, I consider doing the same, but I catch a glimpse of my dull aluminum cane out of the corner of my eye and I decide that I should probably wait.

Eventually, everyone begins to file out and I finally stand up, both hands gripping the seats behind and in front of me for balance. I shuffle awkwardly for a moment trying to get out into the isle, making sure my cane’s in reach the entire time, and by the time I can finally support myself without holding onto anything other than my cane, everyone’s already gotten off. I sigh, trying not to immediately fall back into self-pity, and work my way towards the front of the bus.

Finally nearing the front, I lock eyes with the bus driver in the rear view mirror and he offers me a smile. It’s all I can do to weakly smile back before his voice, soft with age, breaks the awkward silence, “You’ll do fine.”

I stare for a moment, not really sure how to respond, before sighing yet again and turning to look at the ramp -- thankfully not stairs -- that lead to the sidewalk, “I sure hope so.” Without waiting for a reply, I move to step out of the bus, taking a good few moments for added security, and brace against the chill of Spring.

My eyes immediately settle onto what must be Yamaku’s main gate as a few people file into it, from its bright-red bricks to the metalworking, it’s maintained better than I thought it would be. Still, I can’t help but to think that it’s more pompous than what it should be for what it is. A few tall buildings peak above what the gate hides, and I can catch glimpses of the lush school grounds.

I close my eyes and take a deep breath, the handle of my cane all-too real in my left hand, and I hear the bus doors close behind me before it drives away.

‘It’s all right. You heard him, you can do this,’ I think before letting out what I convince myself will be my last sigh of the day. My eyes open, and I set out towards the gate.

----------------------------------------------

Eventually, after a lot of searching and asking a few people roaming the school grounds, I end up standing in front of the auxiliary building that is supposed to house the school nurse and, apparently, a pool. Looking up from the bottom of the stairs at it, it’s not that tall. Other than that, though, it’s about the same as all of the other buildings around me.

‘Step one: Make it here. Step two: Talk to the head nurse. Step three: Find my room,’ I move my hand to check the right pocket of my jeans and, just above my phone, I feel the key to my room. Thankfully, my mom arranged to have all of my things delivered before I arrived so I wouldn’t have to worry about unloading boxes, ‘Then I’m home fr-’

A loud ‘click’ from my right pulls me from my thoughts, and I suddenly realize how long I’ve been standing here. I turn my head and my eyes widen as a camera lens comes into view, along with a girl dressed in what I recognize as the school uniform.

Seeing that I’ve noticed her, she lowers her camera, short dyed-blonde hair falling from the strap around her shoulders as it shifts, and she offers me a smile, “Ah, sorry! I didn’t mean to scare you or anything…” She furrows her brow, “Wait, you’re new here, aren’t you?”

I blink, deciding to ignore how quickly she shifted topics, “Y-Yeah, I am.”

She nods and lets the camera in her hands fall down to her stomach, held in place by that same strap, “Thought so, I haven’t seen anyone… like you around here before,” The word ‘American’ crosses my mind and, when she speaks again, I can't help but to notice that she's started to speak more slowly, if only slightly. It's almost something I appreciated before I realize it's just another form of pity. What makes it worse is that it actually helps to understand her some, “Nevermind that, though.”

She walks closer to me a offers out a hand and a smile, “I’m Naomi Inoue, good to meet you. And don’t worry, I’m taking these {...} for the newspaper club so we’ve actually got something to work with on the first day,” she wrinkles her nose distastefully, “Unlike last year.

I pause for a moment, missing a word before realizing that it must have been 'picture.' Good to know.

I take her hand and shake, making sure not to lose my balance, “Ethan Taylor. Glad to know I don’t already have a stalker,”

She tilts her head, “Now, did I say anything about what the club’s going to do with the pictures?” I widen my eyes before a small giggle escapes her, “God, I’m kidding!” I breathe a sigh of relief, still not quite at home here.

“For now.”

I immediately look back up at her, but all I catch her doing is looking innocently down at the screen, eyes scrunched up to try to see past the glare that I’m sure the sun is casting on the screen, “Woah, these turned out good!” She looks back up at me, “Wanna see?”

I tilt my head slightly, “Uh… Sure, why not?”

She nods and moves closer to me, turning the camera around so that the screen comes into view. She moves her left hand to cover the glare, accidentally bumping my shoulder in the process. I try to ignore how off balance it almost makes me. What I see on the camera, though, makes that pretty easy.

I can hardly believe that it’s me, and I suddenly realize how little I’ve paid attention to mirrors or pictures in the past months. My hair, though still brown, is now tinted slightly from sun-exposure that sends me back to how much time I'd spent outside studying with my tutor, and I begin to realize just how much weight I’ve lost. The old Guns ‘n Roses t-shirt that I’m wearing fits a lot looser than it used to, which is both a good and a bad thing. I think a lot of it has to do with how I’m clean shaven, but that’s not the point. She did catch me off guard, and there’s a blank look on my face, along with… something else that I can’t quite put my finger on. My cane is only barely in view, but it’s still there. A constant reminder.

“So… What do you think?”

Naomi’s voice breaks me from my thoughts and I turn to look at her, only to nearly get a faceful of her hair as she turns towards me too. “G-Gah!” Is about all I can manage as I stumble backwards slightly, only barely able to keep my footing, despite how little I’ve moved.

Naomi widens her eyes, but they soften when she sees that I’m okay. A nervous laugh breaks past her lips and one of her hands moves to rub at the back of her head, “Sorry! I didn’t mean to scare you. I… get a little too into this kinda stuff sometimes.”

I break my code and allow myself to sigh again, “It’s okay. I’m okay,” I shake my head, “A-Anyway, it was good! You’ve got my permission to use it wherever you need to.”

With a look that tells me I’m probably going to regret saying that, she smiles, clearly not about to let me take it back, “Thanks, I won’t let you down!”

Not really sure of what to say next, I just stand there. Naomi seems to have the same idea, though, and just copies me. The silence doesn’t take long to start to get awkward.

She’s the first one to break it, “...Right. Well, I better get back to it. One picture isn’t going to be enough. It was good meeting you, Taylor!” She offers another smile.

I pause for a moment, confused as to why she's calling me by my last name, before realization suddenly hits me, “Ethan’s fine. It’ll be hard enough to get used to all of this without having to learn to respond to my last name.”

Her eyes widen, “Oh, so you are American! In that case, Naomi’s fine with me.”

I smile, “Then thank you, Naomi. I’m sure I’ll see you again.”

“I’m sure you will,” and with that, she seems satisfied and turns to walk off. Doing the same, my eyes widen as I realize just what exactly is in front of me. As fast as I can, I turn back around.

“Hey Naomi!” I call out, and she turns back around, only a few steps away. I tilt my head towards the stairs behind me and my voice drops a few octaves, “...Mind giving me a hand?”

She glances towards my cane and offers me a knowing look before walking back up to me and offering me her arm, “No problem.”

I smile and link my arm through hers, “Thanks.”

------------------------------------------------------

After a bit, I finally find myself standing in front of a heavy-looking wooden door with a sign that says ‘Nurse’ on the wall next to it. The stairs were easy enough with someone else’s help, but I’ve noticed that the numbness in my palms has started to slowly return. I clench my fists slightly and release a few times, but it’s still there, no matter how many times I do it.

Eventually, I realize just how badly I’m stalling and sigh. The words from the bus driver from earlier echo again in my head, and a new resolve grows within me. Slowly, I move my hand towards the handle of the door, but it clicks before I even get the chance to grab it.

Thankfully, the door opens inward, and I don’t find myself smacked in the face with it. Instead, as it swings open, a pale face comes into view, and I find myself gazing into deep red eyes. I’m lost for a moment, unable to look away myself until the girl I’m effectively staring at calls out, “Oh… Pardon me.”

It’s a quiet sound, soft and fragile, but it marks the moment that she brushes past me and begins to walk down the hallway that I’d come from. I can only watch on as her white hair flutters behind hair, even in the braid that it’s in.

“And you must be Ethan Taylor,” says a voice from my right, and I finally manage to move my own head for once, turning it to look into the room. The man who’d called my name stands a few feet within, leaning against a desk lined with medical supplies.

At his call, I move to walk into the room, making sure to shut the door behind me with a slight amount of trouble, “That’s right. That mean you’re the nurse?”

He nods and finally moves, shuffling some papers around on his desk, “That’s what most people call me, at least,” he moves to push his desk chair my way, and it stops just in front of me. “Please, have a seat,” he says, offering me a wide smile.

“Thanks,” I manage as I move to sit down, trying my best not to knock it away from me. It shifts slightly, but I manage to sit without much trouble.

Turning back to his papers, he begins to look through them before eventually pulling one from the pile, “Ah, here we are. I hope you’ll understand, but I don’t have much time right now with everyone settling in. After we’re done here, though, you’re welcome to come back anytime. My door’s always open.”

I offer a nod and he continues, “I had a talk with a few of your doctors a few days ago over the phone. And, while the translator did struggle a bit with the technical things, we did come to a few conclusions,” he looks down at me, still standing where he had been before, “For now, we don’t think {... ....} is too much of a necessity. I do, however, need you to come in for a weekly checkup with me.”

Again, I seem to miss two words this time. My brow furrows, something that Nurse apparently notices as he calls out soon after, "Something wrong?"

I run my tongue across my teeth, considering what to say. For a second, I'm worried that missing something like that in such a casual conversation would be something to cause concern for my ability to learn here but, after another second or two passes, I somehow get the feeling that Nurse isn't the type of person to care about such things, "I just... didn't catch what you said after 'we don't think' a second ago..." I trail off, though I don't miss the knowing look that he gives me before he speaks.

"Ah, that's right, you're new to the language, no?" I offer a nod and he smiles, "Don't worry, from what I've heard it's easiest to learn a language when it's the only one spoken in an area. You'll catch up quickly, no doubt! And, given some time, you might even be able to get rid of that accent of yours," After saying this, he stands and moves aside to a bookshelf. Before long, he pulls a thick book from it, and I catch the words 'Japanese to English' before he opens it and starts thumbing through the pages. After a moment, he stops, recognition dawning in his eyes, before moving over to me and offering the book to me. Without hesitation, I look to where his finger is pointing to read the words 'Physical Therapy' in English, right next to its Japanese variant.

I test the words out a few times, trying my best to commit them to memory. After a second, I look back up to him, "Thanks."

Offering another wide smile, he moves to return the book to the shelf before moving to where he'd been standing before, "No problem, but I believe we were talking about your condition. Specifically, the weekly check-ups." I sigh, not really excited for more reminders about what’s become of me. Nurse must not have liked my reaction, though, because his smile drops almost instantly, “When I say that, I mean it. There’s always a chance that your symptoms could clear up within the week, or that this is the worst it’ll ever get. But, to tell you the truth, we’re still not sure about the extent of your Sclerosis or how bad it could get in the future, especially with how far it’s gotten so quickly. When we have an idea, maybe I’ll make it monthly but, until then, there’s no room for discussion.”

My eyes bulge as I look up at him. “Alright,” I say, dejected, “I get it.

His smile returns fast enough to give me whiplash, “Alright, good! Next,” he moves to put the paper down before turning back towards me, “I came up with this one, but your mom in particular seemed to enjoy the idea,” I tilt my head, “I think some exercise would do you well,” I open my mouth and move to shake my cane at him, but he continues without stopping, “Now, I’m not asking you to go out to the track or visit the weight room. I know how that’d be. But,” he emphasizes the but, “We do have a pool in this building that’s never too crowded. You’re free to use it. I think it’d help you a bit with finding your balance. On top of that, trying picking up a hobby! You'd be surprised how much painting or playing an instrument could help with your coordination.”

I pause for a moment, furrowing my brow. It’s true that there are worse things, and I’m tired of just sitting around, inactive. I miss hiking, but I have always wanted to try the guitar...

After a moment a nod slowly and turn back to him, “Okay. I’ll try some things out, but I’m not promising anything.”

His smile widens as he speaks, “Great! That’s all I could ask of you for now. Other than that, just make sure you take your medicine and get used to everything around here. Like I said, don’t be afraid to drop in if you need me, and make sure you meet me back here in exactly a week.”

I nod and, satisfied with the conversation, move to stand up. As I do, Nurse moves to hold open the door for me. Muttering a brief ‘thanks,’ I move to exit the room, but Nurse’s voice calls out again.

“And Ethan?” I turn towards him, leaning a bit on the cane in my hand, “Try to make a few friends. I know that you’re probably worried about fitting in, more so than the usual crowd, but a few kind words and smiles can work wonders.”

I offer him a small smile, “...Thanks, Nurse. I’ll see you next week.”

He nods and, with that, I leave his office.

-------------------------------------------------------

Upon exiting the auxiliary building, I’m ashamed to see that there’s a ramp to the right of where the stairs are, and I offer a silent apology to Naomi for asking for her help and apparently not needing it. Now that she’s brought up, though, I begin to wonder what year she’s in. I know from my mom that I’m in class 3-3, the third year of high-school apparently the equivalent to senior year here. I'm still not happy that the time I'd already spent in senior year has gone to waste. Not only that, my birthday had passed during the November I was in my coma, meaning I'm likely older than everyone here, if only by a few months. Still, yet another thing to make me stand out from the crowd doesn't exactly excite me.

Finally escaping my thoughts, I realize that, after the long trip here and all that’s happened, the sun’s started to set and the sky’s started to develop an orange hue. Looking down at all the people roaming the grounds, a good few of them have started to head towards a decently sized building with a few floors, about as wide as it is tall. ‘Oh damn, I’ve got no clue where the dorms are,’ says an irritatingly correct voice in my head. I shrug and move to descend down the ramp, heading towards where the small groups are going. I figure that it’s either the cafeteria or the dormitories, and, to be honest, I’m fine with either.

The building is nearby, and doesn’t take all that long to get there. As I approach the doors, a guy wearing an eyepatch runs ahead of me and opens the door, stepping to the side while he does so. I offer him a quick thanks and a smile that is quickly returned. As I walk through the doors, though, my eyes widen and turn down to my cane as the concrete beneath my feet turns to tile. ‘It couldn’t be because… Could it?’ The thought makes my stomach drop and churn, only until I realize that, without his help, the entire situation would’ve been much harder on me.

Either way, the moment's over and, as I escape from my thoughts yet again, I look up to see that the building I’d entered was, indeed, the cafeteria. It’s not that crowded, and about half of the tables are empty enough for me to sit on my own. ‘Relief enough, I guess.’ It doesn’t take long for me to come into view of where most people are gathering to grab their own food, and I head there.

The wait isn’t all that long and, at the end of it, I’m holding a tray of rice, what I assume is low-sodium soup, and some kind of fish. Even if it does look a little bland, it’s far beyond anything I’ve seen in an American school lunch and even further beyond my expectations. Therefore, I am happy.

I find a seat away from the crowd easily enough, just like I’d thought I would. It’s as soon as I sit down, however, that I realize a major problem that’s sitting on the side of the styrofoam tray.

Chopsticks.

Not only do I have no clue how chopsticks are supposed to work, I also suspect that learning at this point in my life would be statistically impossible. In fact, even if I had known how to use them… before, I still doubt that such information would be very useful to me now. It’s while I’m thinking this, though, that a fork wrapped in plastic enters my view and a familiar voice calls out to me, “I figured you’d need this.”

Looking up, my eyes lock with the deep reddish-brown of Naomi’s as she offers me a smile that I can’t help but to return before I speak, “Well, you’re right about that, at least. I don’t think I’ve ever actually picked up anything with chopsticks before. Where’d you get this?”

She points over her shoulder to a shelf on the wall lined with a ton of things that I can’t see from here, “Just over there. You’ll find anything you need over there, be that salt or ketchup or any type of silverware.” It’s as she’s saying this, however, that I notice the person standing beside her. Noticing my gaze, Naomi widens her eyes, “Oh, that’s right! Ethan, this is Natsume Ooe. She’s in the newspaper club with me.”

Before I can speak, Natsume continues, light glinting off of her glasses that, I can’t help but to notice, sit in front of one golden eye and one brown one, “Just Natsume is fine. Naomi told me you were American,” she turns her head towards Naomi as she continues, the same slow tone that Naomi had used when she'd figured out I was American present in her voice, “Speaking of, thank you, Naomi, for stating the obvious!”

Naomi rolls her eyes, “Jeez, sorry for trying to be helpful.” Despite their banter, there are smiles on both of their faces, and I can tell that they’re both good friends.

I offer a nod towards Natsume as I lean my cane against the table, making sure it won’t fall over before letting go, “Well, Natsume, it’s good to meet you.”

She nods back, “Likewise.”

Naomi pipes up again after we’re done with introductions, “That’s right! Ethan, would you dare say no to us sitting with you?”

I try to hide the hints of a smile from my face as I turn slightly away, “...Well.”

I see Naomi gasp playfully, bringing a hand to her mouth, “Ethan!”

I laugh as I turn back to them and I can’t stop the broad smile from growing on my face, “No, of course you can sit with me,” I gesture around towards the empty table before moving to open the plastic fork, though it takes me a few tries. Any depression that would’ve given me, though, is soon wiped away when I look at the two people in front of me, “If you haven’t noticed, there isn’t much of a line for it.

Almost immediately, the two move to sit down. I notice that Natsume stretches her hands a few times when she lets go of the tray, but I turn my head back towards Naomi as she begins to speak again, “Well, don’t you worry, I’m sure that the Ethan Taylor fanclub will be popular in no time!” She moves to tap the camera still hanging around her chest with her left hand while she begins to work at her chopsticks with her right hand with a dexterity that makes me far more jealous than it should, “Especially when they see your picture in the paper! {...} is what makes an idol, after all.”

Well, the word she just said seems to fit with exposure. I don't really feel like interrupting the conversation for it, though, so I keep it to myself.

Natsume fiddles with the same kind of fork that I’ve got, and it makes me wonder why she’s here. Of course, I don’t ask, and she speaks up as she removes the plastic, “Oh yeah, Naomi showed me that picture. She’s right, it’s a good one.”

I turn my glance between the both of them, but I can feel my smile shrinking into something more sad than what it was before. ‘I wonder… How would this feel if Naomi hadn’t been so welcoming?’ I turn my head down towards the table to look into my food.

“...Thanks, you two.”

From the very top of my peripheral vision, I can see them look at each other, though I can’t tell what their expressions are like. Before too long, though, they both turn back to me, Naomi’s voice a bit quieter than it was before, “No problem, Ethan.”

The rest of dinner passes by pretty quickly, and the sky outside grows darker with each passing minute. The entire time, Naomi, Natsumi, and I all talk amongst ourselves like old friends catching up. It’s refreshing, and I’m surprised I’ve got the energy in me after so long without any social interaction. But, eventually, just like it always does, that same old fatigue that I’ve been dealing with for the past months, years even, hits me like a brick, and I find myself struggling to keep my eyes open. My body feels like it’ll fall out at any given second, and apparently it shows on the outside, because Naomi says, “You okay, Ethan? You look tired… really tired.”

I yawn and blink blurily, moving to rub at my eye, “Uh… Yeah, I’m okay, but… Do you think you guys could show me where the dorms are? I think it’s time for me to get some sleep.”

The pair look between each other again and nod, almost at the same time, without a word of warning, Natsume moves to grab my empty tray, “I’ll be right back and then we can go.”

Before I can object, she’s already on the way to the nearest trash can. I move to stand up, but Naomi puts a hand on my forearm before I can, “Don’t. You look like you’re about to pass out on the spot. The dorms aren’t too far away.”

Turning back to her, I sigh. She’s right after all.

Quickly enough, Natsume returns without all three of the trays and looks down at the two of us, “You both ready?”

Both Naomi and I offer a small, “Yep,” of confirmation before we stand up. As I stand up, though, my cane slips a small bit and stumble. Not enough to fall, but enough to be noticed. Apparently, though, it’s enough for Naomi to rush over to my side and grab my arm, just like she did when she helped me up the stairs. Looking over, I meet her eyes only to see them filled with concern. Her face, though, is incredibly close. So close, in fact, that I begin to blush a small bit that, thankfully, neither of them seem to notice, “Naomi, what-?”

“Save it. I’m not taking any chances. I’ll let you go when we get to the dorms and not a moment before.”

I begin to object, but there’s a resolve in her eyes that I know I don’t have the energy to overcome, so all I do is nod and say, “Alright.”

As I turn back towards the general direction of the exit, I can hear the smile in her voice as she speaks, “Good boy. Now, come on. It’s getting late.”

Just like they’d said, the dorms aren’t that far away, and we manage to make it there in about ten minutes even though I’m moving pretty slowly, though we do have to pass through a decently sized park-type place to get there. When we finally stand in front of the dorms, this time there are, thankfully, no stairs to climb. Even with help, in this condition, I’m not sure that I’d be able to.

Naomi’s voice breaks me from my thoughts for the last time tonight, and I turn, seeing that Natsume’s already started to head off in the direction of, what I assume to be, the female dorms, “You gonna be okay? And there’s no point in lying to me. The only thing it’ll do is get someone hurt.”

I offer her a tired smile, “I’ll be fine, Naomi. Thank you, again, and,” I pause, “...Thanks for being a friend. It means a lot.”

She smiles back as she finally lets go of my arm. I can’t lie, I kind of miss it, “Good. And I wasn’t like that just because you looked lonely,” she turns away, though I can see she’s still looking at me, “...Well, maybe that had something to do with it. But that wasn’t the only reason… Probably.

A laugh escapes me, despite myself, and I weakly call out, “Goodnight, Naomi. I’ll see you around.” All I get in response is her sticking her tongue out while she walks away, but it’s enough to make me happy. A small smile on my face, I turn to enter the dorms.

It takes me longer than I’d like to admit to find the small, branching hallway that holds my room after I take the elevator up a floor, not daring to climb the stairs. When I finally get there, though, it takes me even longer to fish the key out of my pocket. When I do manage to get it out, though, I immediately drop it.

All I can do is stare as the key with the numbers one-one-eight written out on it in black marker tumbles to the ground. As it finally lands, I stare silently for a moment, one thought running through my head, ‘Shit.’

Before I can stop myself, I say that same word out loud, maybe a little loud for where I am. It’s in English, too. “Shit!”

I know for a fact that I’m not going to be able to bend over and pick the key up, which means I’ll have to get on my knees to get it. Even then, I don’t trust myself to lie on the floor, or, hell, even get close to lying on the floor without falling asleep on i-

My thoughts are interrupted, however, as a door on the opposite side of the hallway from mine starts to make loud noises as what I can only assume are ten to fifteen locks are unlocked from the inside. Instinctively, I turn, only to see the door open slightly before being held in place by one of those chain locks you usually find in those low end motel rooms. The shuts again quickly, before being opened once more, this time without the chain lock holding it back. When it opens, I get the full view of the person responsible and, honestly, it’s not surprising.

Despite the fact that school hasn’t started yet, and the fact that I doubt he’s got any other reason to wear it, he’s wearing the full school uniform, along with a thick scarf. On top of that, he’s got glasses that I can’t see his eyes past, which leads me to believe that he’s some form of blind. My thoughts are all but confirmed when he steps out into the hallway and glances around, his eyes even going over me, before calling out, “Who’s there?”

I stand there for a moment, not really sure how to respond, before coming up with a lame, “Uh… Hi?”

Almost instantly, his head snaps towards my general direction, though it’s not quite on the dot, “Oh. Didn’t see you there. ...Wait, who are you?”

I furrow my brow, “Ethan Taylor. I’m gonna be living in one of the rooms near you.”

He seems satisfied with this, “Oh, cool. Why did you curse? Wait, are you American?”

I’m reminded of the key that I just dropped, and am forced to continue on with the conversation in hopes that he’ll help me, “I am American, yeah. And I cur-”

Before I can finish, he cuts me off, “Dude, you’ve gotta tell me, has the invasion started over there yet?”

I tilt my head, “Wh-”

He continues, putting a hand to his chin, “No, I guess you wouldn’t know. The feminists would’ve wiped your memory before they let you come over here. Wait,” he turns towards my general direction, now practically screaming, “Don’t tell me, are you a sleeper agent?!

He’s somehow now incredibly hostile, “The fem-?”

He’s now rubbing his brow so hard I think he might break through his skull, “Great, I guess it has started then,” he looks towards my direction again, “Don’t worry. If the invasion has started, then I’m gonna need all the help I can get. We’ll get your memories back, don’t worry. But… not right now.”

At this point, I feel like I’m about to keel over, and my anger gets the best of me. So, before I can stop myself, I shout, “Could you please just help me get the key to my room for godsakes?!” Widening my eyes, my free hand moves to cover my mouth as I realize that I’ve probably just ruined the only chance of getting into my room for the entire night.

He just stands there, staring for a moment, before speaking like he had when he’d first opened the door, “Dude, why didn’t you ask that in the first place?”

I try not to scream. It works. Barely.

------------------------------

After a ton of teamwork that never really clicked, the guy that’d finally introduced himself as Kenji managed to pick up my key off of the floor and get it to me before retreating to his room for the night. I, on the other hand, could only stare at him as he left, forced to think about how strange the whole thing was.

When I finally managed to get into my room, it’s sheer blandness almost overpowers me. Everything, including the closet doors, are in tones of beige and unstained wood. But, it’ll work well enough, I suppose. It’ll serve its purpose, at least.

I open up the closet to see that even my clothes, along with a few new school uniforms, had been put up where they were meant to go. But, looking at what is, essentially, a bunch of pairs of jeans and t-shirts with the logos of bands from the eighties and nineties, I realize that my style probably won’t fit in here in Japan. On top of that, pretty much nothing about me fits in here. From my accent, to my style, to pretty much just how I look, I start to worry about how much it'll affect my life here. When I got out of the airport and into the city, I didn't miss all the strange looks sent my way. It probably doesn't help that I seem to be pretty tall compared to everyone else here. It's strange, considering that five feet and nine inches of height isn't really all that much back home. For once, though, I'm not too excited about being one of the tallest people around. All it does is add to my growing list of problems.

The biggest of them all being how tired I am. So, after dry swallowing a few pills from the bottles on my desk, I carefully maneuver my way to my bed and promptly collapse, jeans and t-shirt still on. The fatigue of the day, and quite a bit more than just that, finally catches up to me. I can only manage one thought before succumbing to it.

‘Classes start tomorrow. And a new life.’
Last edited by AwryZephyr on Wed Jul 31, 2019 5:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Footprints in the Snow - An OC Fanfiction

Post by Mirage_GSM » Tue Jul 30, 2019 4:57 pm

Okay, so let's get a few things out of the way first.
First you should know that I'm known to be a bit nitpicky when criticising stories, so take everything I say with a grain of salt.
Second using an OC - worse a foreign OC - is usually considered a bad sign when a new author shows up here, and it makes Gary Stu alarms be armed all over...
That said you make up for this with very good language and (as far as I can tell, since I'm not an expert on MS) well researched writing of the MC's disability.
Your language goes a bit over the top into the terrain of purple prose a few times in the beginning, but that improves noticeably very soon. An example is the very first line "The sounds of September went quiet as they watched the world fall..." Sounds can never actively go quite nor can they watch anything. The a few lines doown you use "graced by" two times in as many sentences which to me sounds very stilted... But as I said this is only an issue at the very beginning.
One thing that I personally think is unrealistic is that the best choice of school for your MC would be one in a country he doesn't even know the language of. Sure the US healthcare system is bad, but it can't be THAT bad, especially for someone for whom money doesn't appear to be an issue.
And then he not only learns the language for a month but he is also allowed to SKIP a class? I'm not sure... is there an in-story reason why you couldn't have simply made him a year older? It would have helped SoD a lot...
The thing with the chopsticks is a minor one, but he larned the language with a private tutor for months and was schooled in Japanese culture, but he never held chopsticks in his life? Never mind not being able to use them, but that's a bit hard to swallow.
Naomi widens her eyes,
Minor thing. I wouldn't normally point it out, but since there's nothing much else to point out: That's an unvoluntary reaction, so you'd usually say "her eyes widen".
“That’s right! Ethan, are you brave enough to defy social norms and say no to me asking if we can sit with you?”
Wow... I just tried to imagine how such a sentence might be phrased in Japanese and how someone new to the language could ever hope to make sense of that construction :-)

So... Apart from the few implausible bits I mentioned you're off to a good start. So far your OC does not look too Gary Stuish, and the implausible bits probably won't feature in future chapters too heavily.
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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Re: Footprints in the Snow - An OC Fanfiction

Post by AwryZephyr » Tue Jul 30, 2019 6:32 pm

Thanks for your feedback, Mirage, it's really appreciated! In a sense, I think nitpicking is a good means to get a better story, ironing out the small details and all. Well, let's get started, shall we?
Second using an OC - worse a foreign OC - is usually considered a bad sign when a new author shows up here, and it makes Gary Stu alarms be armed all over...
Even though I knew this would be the case as soon as I started writing this story, it's still unfortunate. It's sad to think that it'll turn so many people away before they look at the story, even though I think that the stigma that its gained over the years its rightfully placed. That being said, without saying too much that would delve into spoilers, the fact that he's a foreigner is kind of essential for a certain part of the story. I could have just made him half foreign, but, seeing as Lilly's going to be playing a major part in the story, I tried my best to steer him away from just becoming a canon character knock-off. There's also another reason for it that I'll address in just a minute.
That said you make up for this with very good language and (as far as I can tell, since I'm not an expert on MS) well researched writing of the MC's disability.
While my understanding of it is far from perfect, it'd be a huge disservice to anyone suffering with MS if I didn't do as much research as I possibly could. The last thing I'd ever want to do is misrepresent a condition like that, even if this version of it is more severe than usual.
Your language goes a bit over the top into the terrain of purple prose a few times in the beginning, but that improves noticeably very soon. An example is the very first line "The sounds of September went quiet as they watched the world fall..." Sounds can never actively go quite nor can they watch anything. The a few lines down you use "graced by" two times in as many sentences which to me sounds very stilted... But as I said this is only an issue at the very beginning.
There's actually a very good reason for that, though that doesn't make it justifiable. I'm guilty in that half of the third person parts of the story were written about two years ago, before I understood what the importance of simplicity meant. At the time, they were a part of another story entirely that I never ended up posting anywhere. Eventually, I ended up reading back through it and, realizing that it was about the same as what I was going for with the character of this story, I figured that there'd be no sense in re-writing it. I know that it was faulty thinking, and it probably is a bit lazy, but I won't lie and give you any other reason.
One thing that I personally think is unrealistic is that the best choice of school for your MC would be one in a country he doesn't even know the language of. Sure the US healthcare system is bad, but it can't be THAT bad, especially for someone for whom money doesn't appear to be an issue.
Again, another totally valid point, though this time it's less due to my bouts of laziness. In this case, Yamaku's the only option for Ethan because, as a whole, he needs both 'round the clock medical observation and a school education. While it is true that a few alternatives exist within the US, none are as highly spoken of as Yamaku. Ethan's mom doesn't really have the time to constantly watch her son, though if I have to tell you here instead of in the story, it's my fault for bad story telling, something I'll have to improve on. In the end, though, in universe, Yamaku really does seem like it's the best of the best and, if you've got the money for it, why wouldn't you send him there? Of course, the reasoning isn't perfect, and this entire portion of your criticism is valid in that it's the same thing that pretty much all other foreigner fanfic stories deal with to varying levels of success. As I'd said before though, if it sounds like it's 'edgy oc' territory, I can see it too, and I wouldn't write it in if I didn't think it was absolutely integral to the plot.
And then he not only learns the language for a month but he is also allowed to SKIP a class? I'm not sure... is there an in-story reason why you couldn't have simply made him a year older? It would have helped SoD a lot...
There actually is a good reason for this, though it's yet to come up. Without spoiling too much, the fact that he's ahead on his classes, his time in the hospital, and the fact that the schooling systems are so vastly different, a big development with Ethan is that he's going to fall behind on most of his classes. Or, should I say, have trouble catching up. This is gonna bring up a later plot line with a character or two. I hate a character having a personality trait for the sake of having a personality trait, and I don't think I'd be able to forgive myself if I just said he was bad at classes for no reason. Of course, I think characterization is incredibly important, and in something like simple personality traits I think it's okay for the character to have them just to set them apart from other characters and make them different. However, when it comes to something as major as having a lot of trouble in class, something like a hobby, or really something that could be used to build upon and further the plot line a great deal, I think context is really, really important.
The thing with the chopsticks is a minor one, but he larned the language with a private tutor for months and was schooled in Japanese culture, but he never held chopsticks in his life? Never mind not being able to use them, but that's a bit hard to swallow.
Admittedly, I might've gone a little overboard with this in my in-story explanation. It's true that, even over in Europe and the States, chopsticks aren't that difficult to come by. One thing I did want to avoid, though, was having a foreign OC that was obsessed with Japanese culture, as I think that's another mistake that a lot of writers make. In the process of straying so far away from that, like I said, I might've gone a little overboard, but I think I'm at least somewhat justified in doing so. Going on to your point about the culture class, I probably should've gone more in depth in describing it. It wasn't really meant to be a full rundown, more like a general idea of how things work. Names, honorifics that will probably never come in to writing in this story until Misha shows her face, that sort of thing. It was supposed to be more information from his tutor than an actual full on class. That being said, by the time he'd started taking it, his MS had progressed too far for him to be able to learn how to use them anyway. But, seeing as I had to tell you that here and it wasn't just in the story, I'll have to do better next time!
Wow... I just tried to imagine how such a sentence might be phrased in Japanese and how someone new to the language could ever hope to make sense of that construction
On this note, again you're right. This is my fault, and the fact that Ethan's new to the language will come up as soon as the next chapter is posted, I promise. Of course, that's just an excuse for what I've already done. To be honest, even when writing that, I had a little bit of trouble with the wording myself, so there's no telling how it'd go over in Japan. I don't have my sources on me at the moment, but I've learned that, given ten hours of study a day, it'll take two months of study in Japanese to develop a working business knowledge of it. With that said, Ethan is not without his accent - again, that'll be brought up soon - and when people start going into over-drive talking mode, he's probably not gonna have a fun time. Especially with a certain few people. The idea with the few people he's talked to before is that they've noticed he's American and slowed their speech down for him. Again, another out of story explanation that I'll try my hardest to keep from happening in the future.

Other than that, thank you for the feedback, and I await your further critique excitedly! If you've got any problems with the dialogue, by all means, please let me know!

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Re: Footprints in the Snow - A Fanfiction

Post by Mirage_GSM » Wed Jul 31, 2019 3:17 am

One thing I did want to avoid, though, was having a foreign OC that was obsessed with Japanese culture, as I think that's another mistake that a lot of writers make.
Indeed, many writers have their OC be a Japane nerd who has been learning the language as a hobby for years and wanted to go to Japan forever and, really this disability is just the perfect opportunity... and in fact that is one pitfall you avoided - as I said at the price of making the whole going to Japan in the first place a bt silly.
"In story" there are several different schools of this kind even within Japan (as mentioned at the sports festival when Emi runs against them) so no option in the US or Canada... Well, it's the premise of the story so nothing much you can do about it.
A good reason I thought of would be a relative or good friend of the family living close by while all otions in the US being too far from any relatives. Not sure if you could build such a person into your story at this point.
Without spoiling too much, the fact that he's ahead on his classes, his time in the hospital, and the fact that the schooling systems are so vastly different, a big development with Ethan is that he's going to fall behind on most of his classes.
If that's the only reason then I recommend you retcon the skipping classes bit. The other two are MORE than enough justification for falling behind.
As for Naomi's sentence I imagine it as being a libereate use of Keigo - the respectful form of Japanese which is almost impossible for beginners to understand. I could probably recognize that it is Keigo, but I think I'd have problems deciphering a construction like that even if I had it in front of me in writing instead of a native speaker hurling it at me :-)
The idea with the few people he's talked to before is that they've noticed he's American and slowed their speech down for him. Again, another out of story explanation that I'll try my hardest to keep from happening in the future.
Yup. That's the kind of thing you should mention in story. It's not really neccessary here but it would add a lot of flavour - and it would be less surprising if he HAS trouble understanding others later on. For example Natsume's first sentence when they meet could be too fast for him to understand more than fragments, and she could slow down after that - and he could still miss a few unusual words and you could have him - or the reader - infer them from context.
Not sure what time the story is going to cover, but if it is more than a few weeks then you could use this to show him improving when those instances become fewer and fewer.
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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Re: Footprints in the Snow - A Fanfiction

Post by AwryZephyr » Wed Jul 31, 2019 3:46 am

Your criticism is, like before, incredibly helpful. Though I'm hesitant to do it, I'll honestly probably edit the chapters a bit in just a few to put some of this into play and work harder to keep from having to do that in the future, as I know it's not that great to have to do. I suppose there wouldn't be much harm and changing every 'Junior' to 'Senior' and making the proper adjustments.

As for the relative, I... think I could work that in pretty well without it feeling shoehorned in. I'll have to build it up a bit so it doesn't seem too convenient, but it's something I could get in within the next chapter or two. Definitely doable, and again, thanks for your input. In fact, now that I'm thinking about it, it could just add a whole other arc that I think about before.

Thanks for reading! I'm sure this story will be better off with your input!

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Re: Footprints in the Snow - A Fanfiction

Post by Mirage_GSM » Wed Jul 31, 2019 1:47 pm

In fact, now that I'm thinking about it, it could just add a whole other arc that I think about before.
And THAT'S a situation where a buffer will come in handy :-)
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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Re: Footprints in the Snow - A Fanfiction

Post by AwryZephyr » Wed Jul 31, 2019 3:53 pm

And THAT'S a situation where a buffer will come in handy
You're right, though I wouldn't have thought about it if you hadn't mentioned it. Either way, starting from chapter four I'll keep a buffer of one or two chapters, just in case.

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Re: Footprints in the Snow - A Fanfiction

Post by Oddball » Sat Aug 03, 2019 11:39 am

The story sends up a lot of warnings to me. Foreign student, shares many of Hisao's traits... so far though it's nothing horrible.

The narrator shift between the first and part of the story and when he has his accident is a bit abrupt though. I'm also curious why you gave his girlfriend essentially the same name as Lilly. I'm sure there's some plan there but I wonder how well you can execute it.
“There aren’t that many options as to schools that have really good care that you’re going to need, and the options that there are aren’t in America.”
I don't believe this at all.

The fact that he doesn't even know Japanese and has to learn the language well enough to operate at a highschool levels just slam dunks the story into completely unbelievable territory. Even if I were to believe there are no American schools that cater to the disabled, there aren't any options in any English speaking countries anywhere in the world? If money isn't an object for his family, he'd be much better off having a private tutor hired and being home schooled that having to adjust to a new physical disability while learning new language in a new culture far from home.

Something that flares from time to time but dies back down, given time.
I'm also going to give you a warning on this part. I've seen quite a few writer give their characters conditions that only flare up when the plot demands it or they essentially "cure" their characters (the game is even guilty of this at times). Don't take the easy way out.

Also if he's just recovering and has trouble walking, he might need to start with a crutch instead of just a cane.

Right now your character seems decent enough, but the set up for the story is just really hard to get past.
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