Thanks for reading and commenting, Silentcook. Having a KS editor review my work is a huge honor to me, and thank you very much for doing so. Even though you do it for everyone.
Anyway, Cue the obligatory cameo.
Chapter Three: Meet the Roommate
The tour of the campus, the surrounding city, and the dinner that finished it off went well. The tour group had about a dozen people, half Japanese and half Chinese, though a few of each group spoke the other language. Misha had enjoyed the familiarity of it; the distance and isolation of her situation was starting to set in, and every now and then Will’s advice about seeing a counselor came to mind.
Misha decided to wait until after the first few weeks of school; she wanted to get as settled in as she could before undergoing something so emotionally taxing. At least she had managed to wrangle a schedule of International Student events from Henry; he seemed to be a bit absent-minded when he was working. He was also a lot more serious when Will wasn’t around.
The week dragged on slowly for her, since the other international students had come in groups of friends, or had family, and Misha didn’t feel like being a third wheel-the experience of becoming one had been painful enough, and getting through it had been… hard.
She spent most of her time wandering the city, reading an English/Japanese dictionary or grammar book, and skimming her textbooks. Most of her professor’s had sent out the course syllabi by now, so she spent a lot of time getting a head start on her work.
Thursday, at least, provided a decent break from the mundane.
“Hi Hicchan!” Misha said to the webcam clamped to the top of her laptop screen, at nine pm. On the screen, taking up about half of her laptop’s monitor space, was a young man with untidy light brown hair, brown eyes, and wearing a blue sweater-vest.
Hisao smiled back to the beaming Misha, “Hi, Misha. Did you miss me already?”
“Yes~! How are you?”
“Fine, just passing the time before the next semester, but never mind me, how’s New York?” Hisao asked, leaning forward into his webcam’s screen.
“Big, really~ big. Tokyo big, even. And everyone here is so tall, or I’m just short. The language barrier isn’t quite as bad as I thought it would be, though- my English is better than I thought, and Lilly really~ helped with that. There are some issues, still, but I can work through them. I’m nervous about my ASL course, though; fortunately my mentor can help with that.”
“Good, Shizune and I knew you could handle things…why are you giggling?”
Misha had put her hands on her hips and had failed to suppress a quite giggle as Hisao spoke, “you’re hands are moving when you talk, like your signing.”
Hisao looked down to his hands, which were frozen in place performing some gesture or sign of some sort. Laughing lightly, Hisao continued, “You’re right, though I don’t think I’ll ever be as good at it as you.”
“Oh, that reminds me; Shizune is really looking forward to speaking to you Saturday.”
Misha nodded, ”Great~, I hope she’s doing as well as we are.”
Hisao rolled his eyes, “She’s already making waves, trying to get into this club or that one. If the university isn’t careful she’ll be student body President in a week. Speaking of which, you’ve been out there meeting people, right?”
Misha nodded, “yeah, yeah~. My mentor with the International Students Office is really fun, and helpful, and he even knows JSL! And his friend Will and him bicker like you and Shicchan.”
Hisao frowned, “We don’t bicker; we competitively attempt to determine who is correct.”
Misha frowned back, “Shicchan does that, you’re supposed to be the calming influence.”
Hisao smiled and shrugged, “fair point. Well… Anything else you want to talk about?”
“Trying to get rid of me already? You and Shicchan won’t get rid of me that easily!”
She hadn’t meant to say it, it just came out, but she knew the second she said it she meant it. Hisao blinked and sighed.
“Shiina Mikado, do I need to drag you on another tour of Yamaku?”
Misha sighed, ”No, I’m fine. I’m sorry, Hicchan, I think the isolation is getting to me. Don’t worry, my roommate moves in tomorrow.”
Hisao nodded and smiled, ”good, I don’t like it when you’re depressed, even if Shizune says that’s the real you.”
That hurt. Misha pouted, ”I’m not depressed, I’m… I don’t know what. Will was right, I should see a counselor,” sooner rather than later it seemed.
Hisao smiled at that, “good, recognizing you need help is the first step towards conquering your problems,” Hisao blinked, “huh, you’re right, Shizune has been a bigger influence then I thought.”
“She has that affect on people,” the ones that stick around long enough, at least. The call ended a few minutes later, after Misha promised to call next Thursday. Tired from the darkness and her inner demons, she hauled herself to her bed and fell asleep.
Friday brought an end to the week’s drudgery, for it was the beginning of New Student Orientation. It was also the day her roommate moved in, and she did, bright and early shortly after Misha had finished in the bathroom.
When someone knocked on her door, she wasn’t surprised. She was a little surprised to see Lorraine again; she hadn’t seen her since she had checked in Misha.
“Hi,” Lorraine said, “don’t mind me, just moving in your roommate, and making sure you haven’t burned the place down; they don’t like it when you do that.”
Misha nodded and left the doorway. Lorraine walked in, a short young woman behind her. She had light olive skin, long black hair, brown eyes, and wore blue jeans and a simple pink T-shirt. She waved to Misha, “hi, I’m Carla.”
“I’m Misha. Well, I’m Shiina, but everyone calls me Misha.”
Carla stood in the doorway, taking in her room and roommate. Misha had a simple pink skirt and blouse, and smiled to Carla, “you can come in~, you know.”
Carla nodded, smiled, and stepped into the room, hovering by the bathroom door. Lorraine spent a lot less time examining the room this time, and it didn’t take long for her to get the signatures and hand over the keys. Carla thanked Lorraine and ducked out of the room as Lorraine left, saying she needed to get her things.
When she came back, she wasn’t alone. Two people she resembled-her parents, likely- were helping her. Carla held two large traveling bags, while her father lugged the box of a small refrigerator. Her mother held a small fan in one hand, and a laptop bag in another. Her parents gave a polite greeting to Misha, who was trying to stay out of the way by reading her essay writing textbook while curled up on her bed. The three quickly unpacked the clothes, toiletries, unboxed the fridge, said goodbye to Carla, and left after one last look at their daughter.
Closing the door, Carla looked around the dorm again, examining the white walls, “why does every dorm have white walls?”
“Huh?” Misha asked, setting her book down.
“I applied to four schools, and all the dorms had white walls. White paint must be really cheap, I guess,” Carla sighed and shook her head, her hair flying everywhere, “sorry, I haven’t had to get up this early in a while, and its making me a bit upset.”
“Maybe we could get come posters?” the walls had been pretty plain at Yamaku, too, and Misha had had a few posters. She didn’t bring them because she needed the space, and didn’t want to take any luggage she couldn’t carry-on.
Carla perked up at that, “good idea. So, you’re Shiina; the school didn’t give me a lot of info on you, or our suite-mates, for that matter. Anything interesting?”
I’m not sure who I am anymore
was her first thought, but that seemed like a bad thing to say, so Misha settled for the generic, starting with the proper pronunciation of her first name-Carla had mangled it wonderfully- and a brief recap of her past: she had gone to a private school for high school, liked playing board games and dice games. That seemed to get Carla’s attention.
“Do you play Risk?” she asked.
Misha let out her trademark laugh; at least she meant it when she did it, these days. Carla flinched and Misha quickly explained, “WAHAHA~! Yeah, I do! Me and my best friend would play it all~ the time. She always won, though.”
“Well, we’ll have to play ourselves; I brought my box with me. I couldn’t stand leaving it at home,” yawning, she checked Misha’s radio clock on the floor and started, “yikes, I gotta go; Orientation starts in half an hour, and I have no clue where anything is. Uh, you wanna come?”
Getting the gist of what Carla said, Misha nodded, “My Orientation is through the International Students Office, but I need to leave, too.”
Stepping outside and towards the campus proper, Carla turned to Misha, “so, what’s your major?”
“I’m double majoring in Communication Sciences and Disorders and Childhood Learning and Education, with a minor in American Sign Language,” Misha said, proud she had managed to remember it properly.
That earned a stunned blink from Carla, “Wow, that sounds like a lot. Can you take a minor with a double major?”
Misha shrugged, “usually no, but a lot of my courses overlap, so to make up the credit differ-ence I was allowed~ to take a minor.”
“Cool,” the two crossed a street, “so are you going to be a teacher or something?”
Misha nodded, smiling, “I want to teach sign language.”
“Huh, don’t you need a teaching certificate for that?”
“Well,” Misha paused as they waited for the next light to change, “I do not know if I’m staying, or going back to Japan.”
“Ah,” Carla said, nodding, “I see. Well, at least you have a good plan for your future.”
“Thanks. What about you, what’s your major?”
Carla waited for them to cross the street and the herd of people around them to spread out before answering, “Psychology. I want to be a therapist, and I faint at the sight of blood, so that ruled out psychiatry.”
Carla blinked, then gave a rough explanation of the word. Misha nodded that she understood, and they walked the last block to the campus in silence.
Misha had seen the campus already, of course, but she still liked to look at it. The tall gray and red buildings were such a stark contrast to the skyscrapers and older tall concrete buildings that sprawled through New York City. The two said goodbye and went their separate ways.
Character introduction, it can plod. I hope I did a good job on Hisao…
Also, I embarrassingly accidently gave upper-class dorm room info for Misha’s dorm. Darn.
Also also, a few readers have noticed my “slice of life” approach to this fic. This is an unusual writing method for me, but I think it works here. One of the things I want to do is, besides give Misha a happy ending (as I mentioned when I started) is get her to an emotional state where she could handle a happy ending. The poor girl has suffered some emotional damage along the way, and I want to fix that as best I can, while also remembering that some things just don’t. Stop. Hurting.
I talk too much, in case you haven’t noticed. And again, Sorry Doomish.