Secret Santa 2020 - Story collection

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Hacksorus
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Re: Secret Santa 2020 - Story collection

Post by Hacksorus » Mon Feb 15, 2021 8:39 pm

Mirage_GSM wrote:
Sat Feb 13, 2021 10:53 am
When reading this Secret Santa Submissions I always think about what I would have done if that prompt had reached me. Most of the time I feel thankful that it didn't :-)
This time I almost immediately had a picture in my mind of Hisao organizing a Christmas party with the Student Council and dragging Shizune along behind him for a change. :lol:
That sounds wonderful honestly. Do you take commissions? :lol:

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Re: Secret Santa 2020 - Story collection

Post by Silentcook » Tue Feb 16, 2021 7:15 am

Hacksorus wrote:
Mon Feb 15, 2021 8:39 pm
That sounds wonderful honestly. Do you take commissions? :lol:
Ahem.

Keep it to PMs, please.
Shattering your dreams since '94. I also fought COVID in '20 and '21, and all I got was this lousy forum sig.

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Hacksorus
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Re: Secret Santa 2020 - Story collection

Post by Hacksorus » Tue Feb 16, 2021 9:11 pm

Oh, sorry. I thought it was clear enough that I was joking. Will play it more safe in the future.

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Feurox
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The Last to Leave - SS20 for Downix

Post by Feurox » Fri Apr 09, 2021 12:10 pm

The Last to Leave

Empirically speaking, we are made of star stuff. Why aren’t we talking more about that?
Maggie Nelson, The Argonauts

The bell rings, and any interest I had managed to encourage in my class immediately dissipates. Chairs screech, and the chatter rises quickly as nearly everyone races for the door. Some of the slower-paced students pack up quietly, or finish their notes, but whatever momentum I had has well and truly vanished.

After a while that feeling gets a little less disappointing. If you want to be a good teacher, you have to learn to not take things so personally. Some kids just don’t care for physics, some just don’t care.

Maybe part of the job is that you’re supposed to make them care; maybe I used to see it that way too. Well, I don’t anymore. You’re either passionate, or you’re not, we waste too much time in our lives wasting time. That’s a valuable lesson you learn after you really needed it.

Life does that to you a lot, it teaches you a lot after you need it most. Maybe we’re all destined to grow older looking back with regret, looking back into a past that we half-imagined.

Still, there are a few things about the past I’m sure I didn’t imagine.

I slump back into my desk chair as the last of my class disappears into the hallway. It’s the end of the day, so most will be heading to club activities like band, or track. A few will be heading for the bus stop, or to their dorm rooms. There’s probably a fair number of students who rarely leave campus at all; I can think of a few in my class like that. I pull my sleeve up to check my watch, it looks like I have about thirty minutes to kill before I can leave.

The sensible part of me knows I should use this time to go over tomorrow’s lesson plans, but I just can’t seem to get into the mood. Instead, I reach into my bag and pull out a familiar, time-worn, book and open it around the middle mark. It’s been doodled on, flowers, sunbeams, snow-droplets… images from the window, the doodles of a child. I smile, and then I stop, and put it back.

I’m not in the mood for that either.

The empty time is the hardest. Not because you can’t fill it, but because you don’t want too. Or maybe because nothing can.

“Akio.”

I turn to face the door. Yamaku’s resident nurse is standing with his hand on the frame like some heartthrob. He does that on purpose to be funny, and sometimes, I admit, it is.

“Giro, you’re early,” I say, and scoop the last of my things from the desk into my satchel. “I take it that means we’re ready to head home?”

He nods and stands up straight. His rucksack looks ridiculously threadbare, but from what I gather it’s because he takes his work home with him, and he has a lot of work.

He’s a little shorter than me, and about fifteen years younger, but he makes for a good pal. He offers me a can of coffee as we head out. It’s the crap from the vending machines but I’m not one to turn down a free drink.

“Busy day?” I ask over the gentle hiss of the can. He cracks his open and takes what can only be described as a glug.

“More paperwork than usual, you have a new student tomorrow, it appears.” We take the stairs together, but he skips a little fast for my liking.

“Yeah, maybe this one will be interested in my lectures.”

“Nah, this one will be the literature type,” he says. “Shall we make a bet?”

I consider it for a moment, but better judgements prevail.

“I’ve lost to you on less risky bets, I’m out.”

It would be nice to have another science type, like Molly Kapur, but it’s unlikely. For whatever reason, most of the kids we get are more of the artsy types, literature, music, that kind of thing. Maybe I’m not selling the sciences enough, or maybe people have a predisposition to be interested in certain fields that is only further brought about by the unique situations that lands them here. I’m probably overthinking it, and under-criticising my teaching style.

“One day I hope to sneak into one of your classes, I hear they’re exhilarating,” Giro teases, taking another long glug and pulling his phone from his pocket. “This new night-nurse has a lot of questions for someone several years my senior.”

We laugh and continue the rest of our walk in relative quiet until we reach the main entrance, and I hold the door for us both. Giro taps another text into his mobile, before finally putting it away and finishing his canned coffee in a final swig. I force mine down as well; it should at least help keep me awake for the drive home.

“So, are we making a detour tonight or heading straight home?”

I consider suggesting the coffee house but shake my head. I’m already fairly exhausted and I doubt I’d make for excellent company right now.

“I’m tired, so I wouldn’t be much company.”

“You never are,” he jokes a bit flatly, before sitting down in the passenger seat. “How’s the new apartment?”

I start up the engine and half-laugh, half-cough.

“It’s cramped,” I admit, and Giro nods. “I haven’t really unpacked, so that probably contributes to the feeling.”

“Well, let’s hope it’s only temporary, heavy rains make for bountiful harvests.” He says with a thin smile, as I pull out of the gates and head off down the hill past the town.

“That isn’t a saying, I’m not even sure it’s true.”

“It doesn’t have to be true to be a saying,” he laughs quietly. I’m thankful that he doesn’t seem to mind the rather sombre attitude I’ve been carrying with me the last few days. Good friends do that, I think, they weather the stormy weather. There’s another made up saying.

“I guess,” I half-heartedly admit. I’m amazed at how dark it’s gotten, despite it not being that late, but it’s been threatening to rain again for a while; the menacing darkness is probably just that.

Sure enough, a single raindrop lands on my windscreen, and then another. And then the whole sky falls down.

“About time, I suppose,” I say, switching the windscreen wipers on. Giro is replying to another text but laughs non-the-less.

“It really never ends,” he laughs.

“The winter?”

“Work.”

“Oh.”

We keep driving into the rain, and I pull off the main road into the city side-street. Thankfully, Giro lives only a short drive from my apartment, though his place is considerably nicer and in a far nicer area.

I pull up just before his apartment and turn off the engine.

“Same time tomorrow?” Giro asks, still occupied on his phone.

“Let’s make it thirty minutes earlier, we can get a coffee before work.”

Giro laughs, and finally puts his phone away.

“You read my mind. We’ll get something warm instead of a can.”

With that, he opens the door and steps out. The rain pelts him, but he doesn’t seem to care and chuckles dryly again.

“Wonderful weather, so refreshing,” he says with a cheesy grin.

“Go for a run or something,” I joke.

“I may just,” he replies, before shutting the car door and walking calmly to his apartment entrance. Nothing phases Giro, he’s always so composed. He’s younger than me, but his life is so much more together.

I sigh and start up the car again. The rain has gotten heavier, and the evening has gotten a little darker too to a cool purple colour. That kind of colour is Rayleigh scattering, I mutter to myself. I wonder if any of my students would know that. It takes the car behind me honking before I realise, I’ve completely stopped, and I continue down the road a few streets until I reach my run-down little place and park up. Everything feels so close but miles away… I’ve felt that way before. The optimist in me hopes that this too shall pass, but you just can’t shake reality.

I climb the steps through the rain, and crash onto my couch.

A familiar film is blaring from the small box television, but I don’t catch much of it, and slowly zone out of reality.

A gruff looking American man yells out on screen, and I snicker as the recognizable line bounces around in my head.

“Yippee ki yay,” I mutter into the sofa pillow, and drift away into a world where it isn’t too late.

A world somehow separate from this one.

All that flashed into my eyes were the countless shapes of people walking by to nowhere. Again and again, I called out for Midori from the dead centre of this place that was no place.

Haruki Murakami, Norwegian Wood
I yawn and stretch out my arms. Mari giggles beside me and snuggles by my side.

“I thought this was your favourite?” she asks and pokes me a little too hard for my sleepy state.

“It is, but I guess I might have seen it too many times now,” I admit, “knock it off you monster. Who pokes a sleeping beauty?”

On screen, McClane crawls through the vents, his eyebrow bloody but his face determined. I smile, and Mari giggles again.

“Let me guess, you know every word?” she asks, well, accuses.

“Well, my English isn’t great…” I narrow my eyes and take a mock serious expression. “But yes, I do.”

The DVD stutters and skips, so I let out a sigh and untangle myself from Mari, much to her protest.

“Yippie ki yay,” I groan and shake my head.

“You’ve watched it too many times,” she laughs.

“It’s just a story that speaks to me,” I return, thumping the top of the player. I’m a physicist, not a tech wizard. “It’s a story that proves its never too late to be the hero,” I explain, and she laughs again.

I turn back to face Mari. She’s still wearing her lab coat, and she’s splayed out onto the sofa like she’s posing for an oil painting. There’s some ‘scientists grime’ on her sleeve, but it’s probably just ink or lead smudges.

Even in her work clothing, half-asleep, she looks gorgeous and timeless. Behind her, out the window, the city lights are roaring and it’s sprinkling with snow.

“Something on your mind?” she asks with a sly smile.

“I’m just admiring you,” I answer.

She blushes, and sits upright, stretching her arms out wide to be hugged. I’m more than happy to oblige, and I wrap my arms around her back as the movie continues to play, only to be interrupted by a loud thump from the hallway.

Mari sits up from the sofa with a smile and kisses me on the forehead.

“It’s your turn,” she says quietly. There’s a somewhat guilty look on her face, but I don’t mind at all, and separate myself from her to deal with the thumper in the hall.

I stomp to the doorway and begin huffing and puffing, making each movement and sound exaggerated, as the tiny sound of giggling comes from around the corner.

“There better not be any little ladies up past their bedtime,” I say in my evil villain voice.

Another giggle is cut off by a squeal as I round the corner and see the little lady in question. She’s tiny, and very, very guilty looking.

“Give me one good reason not to put you up for adoption, Emicia,” I joke, and the little criminal karate chops me in the leg. “Ow!” She splutters into a violent cough, but just as I kneel down to make sure she’s okay, it passes, and she smiles at me.

“Because I’ll beat you up,” she blurts out confidently, before hitting me again.

“You take after your mother, little goblin.”

“I heard that,” Mari laughs, “and trust me, I hit harder.”

I rub the back of my neck and exaggerate my sigh, before picking Emicia up and carrying her into the living room. Mari gives me an affectionate smile as I drop her down on the sofa, and John McClane continues to look out from the TV, paused.

“I don’t have to trust you, I already know,” I quietly mumble, before either of the little demons can whack me. Both do, and I mock yelp.

Emicia snuggles into her mother, and I resume the film. I’ve made Emicia watch it multiple times by now, but this is actually the first time Mari has sat down to see it. Actually, this feels like one of the first times Mari has sat down in a while… She puts her hand on mine and squeezes.

“Have you thought more about that job offer?” she asks, Emicia looks like she might be dozing off.

“I turned it down,” I answer and avert her gaze. “I think teaching might suit me but…”

“But money matters,” she sighs.

“Besides, if I do teach, it won’t be at some high-end snob factory, I want to really make a difference.”

Mari squeezes my hand again and bring it to her lips before letting go and stroking Emicia’s hair.

I take a look at my watch, and smile.

“What?” she asks, lowering her voice, but Emicia opens her eyes, nonetheless.

“It’s twelve,” I chuckle.

Emicia sits upright and doesn’t try to hide her excitement. She coughs violently again, but quickly settles down again, and Mari’s concerned look vanishes.

“Christmas!” she exclaims.

Mari laughs.

“Well, you know it’s a romantic holiday girly, I was hoping Akio and I could spend it without you,” she bops her daughter on the nose and earns herself a mean look.

“Now hang on,” I laugh, and release myself from the comfortable sofa. “I know it’s a western tradition, but I couldn’t help but get you both a present.”

Emicia claps her hands together excitedly, but Mari just looks on with a quizzical expression.

I round the corner into the hall and open up my satchel. At the bottom of the bag, two messily wrapped gifts have been waiting all night to come out. I place both behind my back as I re-enter the living room.

“Okay, first, little demon child.”

“That’s me!” Emicia jumps off her mother and grabs the present from my outstretched hand.

“Akio, you really didn’t have to…” Mari begins, but trails off as I offer her the second, smaller present.

She juggles it between her fingers, feeling the weight of it. It’s small, but, as she begins to peel the wrapping, I feel my heart jump up my throat.

Emicia hoists her own present into the air, the wrapping all over the floor now. It’s a book that reminded me of her, about a little girl who breaks the mould by speaking up where no one else will. She opens it and begins thumbing through the pages as she settles onto the floor.

“Thank you,” she whispers, already engrossed in the first page.

I nod, and return to Mari, who has opened the box and is… crying.

I kneel down and take her hand in mine.

“Yes,” she whispers. Emicia looks up, not understanding what’s really happening.

“Yes,” Mari whispers again.

“Yes,” she whispers once more, her heart forever bound with my own.

__________________________________________

I ended up scrapping about 7,000 words on this one, maybe to be reworked someday, hence the delay. I can't say this prompt spoke to me, and I'm dreadfully sorry it's so late Downix. (I also still haven't watched Die Hard).

I figured it was best to get this out so you at least have something, despite it not being worth the wait at all, and then I can move on from it as well.

For any curious, my prompt was:
Thought to take it up a notch this year and bring out the true spirit of the holidays with a Christmas movie themed idea. It needs to incorporate the ultimate Christmas movie, Die Hard, in some manner, but otherwise it is as open as can be. Kenji saving the school from terrorists, Hisao bumming out at movie night, girl’s night sleepover watching it, do whatever you want to!
Happy April, all. Bah Humbug.

Downix
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Re: Secret Santa 2020 - Story collection

Post by Downix » Fri Apr 09, 2021 12:19 pm

*applause*
Love it!

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brythain
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Re: Secret Santa 2020 - Story collection

Post by brythain » Fri Apr 09, 2021 12:44 pm

7000 words? What a bummer!
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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