Re: Freaks and Friends
Posted: Sun Jun 04, 2017 5:08 pm
Some mornings you just don't want to get out of bed. Today is one of them. Sadly, I am already awake. I tried laying here with my eyes closed and hoping I'd drift back off to sleep, but that doesn't seem to be working. Instead, I just lay here, starring at the ceiling thinking in that sort of half awake way you do in the morning.
As weird as it was at first, I think I'm finally settling in. Every once in a while I see somebody that lacks a lower jaw or is having a seizure, but as long as nothing like that is going on, the place feels normal...
… somewhat normal.
Let me put it this way, seeing somebody with four legs isn't as big a deal as it used to be, although the fact that there is somebody here with four legs means it's never really going to be one hundred percent normal. That's understandable, right?
I just wish I could get used to my condition as easily as I've gotten used to other people's. Every time I wake up, things look wrong for the first few minutes. It's like I have to get used to seeing with only one eye all over again. Apparently about eighteen years of having two eyes has got my brain used to seeing things that way. Likewise, depth perception? I generally can tell if something is near or far away just by how big or small it looks, but that's it. You never realize how much you rely on things like that.
Nurse gave me a clue as to why I keep bumping into things too. We talked the other day when I ran into him in the hall. Actually it was more like he saw me in the hall and caught up with me before.
As he explains it, most people see things with two eyes, so they get a complete view of things. There vision is centered. I see things with one, so my vision is shifted to just the one side of my body. Even though it is, my brain is so used to having normal vision, it still thinks my eye is centered. My brain is treating my body like it's one of those mythical cyclops with the big eye in the middle of it's head.
Something like that anyway.
It made more sense when he said it.
I don't know how true it is, but it sounds right. I don't even know if the word cyclops is actually plural or not. Maybe it's supposed to be cyclopses. Cyclpsi?
In other news, I hear clubs are supposed to be starting up soon. I'm not quite sure what to do about that. Suzu, Rin, and Tana are all in different clubs and Hachisame doesn't want to join anything. That makes joining the same club with all my friends out of the question. We can still hang out, but being part of an official club with all everybody is something that I'll miss. I really don't want to join computer club or art club either, even if I do have friends there. Book club I'm not thrilled about, but I do hear that it's really popular and at Suzu is part of that one.
A loud sound jolts me out of bed and I reach to my dresser for my phone.
“Hello?” I answer hoping I don't sound half-asleep still.
“Good morning, sleepy head. How's my favorite niece doing?” the voice on the other end says.
“I'm doing well, Aunt Hyatt. I think I'm starting getting the hang of this place.” I probably shouldn't have said that second part. It steers the conversation in a direction I don't want to go and makes her more worried about me than she should be. Eventually, I manage to shake her off and convince her that I really am doing just fine.
There's more small talk between us. She teases me and asks questions. I downplay the weirdness I've felt as much as possible. Before she hangs up, she lets me know she's going to be in the area and has a surprise for me. She doesn't tell me what the surprise is, only that she'll stop by my room in a couple of hours and I have to promise to be there.
For once, me and the gang have to hang out in my room.
“So, who would you say is cuter, Ken, Moriya, or Yasuo?” Time Warp asks as she leafs though my manga collection.
“Who cares?' Hachisame replies.
“I've got a Moriya in my class. Is that the one you mean? I don't know the other two,” I reply.
“You know, I think your room is smaller than average,” Hachisame says. She's claimed my bed as her own and is laying on it staring at the ceiling. She seems bored and doesn't appear to be interested in our conversation.
“All three of them of them are in your class. That's why I asked,” Time Warp continues. “And whatever Hachisame just said about me being boy crazy is a lie.”
“She didn't say anything and I don't really know most of my classmates by name yet.” Having said that I turn back to Hachisame. “Why would my room be smaller than yours?” Trying to keep up a conversation with Time Warp isn't the easiest thing in the world, especially when Hachisame is trying to talk about something else. It leaves me trying to jump back and forth between both of them. It's a bit frustrating, but I imagine this is what Time Warp puts up with every day of her life. The worst I have top put up with is looking slightly uglier and bumping into stuff all the time.
“You were thinking it,” Time Warp turns to Hachisame and points.
“Probably,” she mutters. “Hey, don't you have a radio or something, Hitomi?”
“It's in the closet,” I tell her. “Feel free to look through my CDs.” I say this knowing full well she was going to anyway. She seems to have dodged my question, but trying to talk to her and Time Warp both about two different subjects is more effort than I feel like putting in right now. I look over at Time Warp and she seems to be staring at my blankly waiting for me to respond to something.
“Cute boys,” Hachisame says without looking over in my direction.
“Thanks for the save,” say to her. “Right now, I just don't have any opinion.” Once the message reaches her, Time Warp just gives me a shrug and thankfully drops the conversation. I'm left wondering what kind of guys someone with her condition would be into, but I can't bring the topic back up without getting pressed for information on myself. Would she even figure that sort of thing into the equation when looking for a guy?
“You don't have anything instrumental, do you?” Hachisame asks once she's finally shuffled through all my musics. That's right. Time Warp said she had some issue with lyrics. Next time we're out, I'm going to have to remember to find some non-lyrical stuff.
“Sorry. I wasn't thinking about it,” I say. “Sorry, Tana,” I say to the girl herself.
“I could go get some of my own stuff,” she groans in an overly exaggerated manner, “but I just feel lazy right now.”
“Tell me about it,” Hachisame chimes back in. “I wish your who-ever-it-was would show up. I'm starting to get hungry,” she says as she pops a handful of corn chips into her mouth. “I mean for real food, not snacks.” Despite not wanting snacks, she's already eaten my weeks supply of snack food in just a few hours. I could make a comment about her losing her figure if she keeps that up, but I'm not sure how she'd take it. Her figure is rather unique anyway. “Oh, and talking about room size. The dorms weren't built as dorms. They were converted, so a few of them have little differences.”
“What did they used to be?” I ask.
“I dunno. It's just what I've heard,” she says dismissively.
Our conversation weaves this way and that, jumping from point to point they way it does between people hanging out for no other reason than just hanging out. Each of it takes over as the subject drifts to something they have interest in, even if the rest of us don't. Tana is in the middle of a lengthy and rather passionate explanation about the love triangle of a Final Fantasy game when there's a knock on the door.
“That must be her,” I say. Thank God. Tana may love that stuff, but she's more of a geek than me. It bores me and Hachisame to tears. I turn and look at Hachisame. She looks back and me. Somebody knocks on the door again.
“Aren't you going to answer it?” she says. I gesture for her to hurry up. She just looks confused. “What? Is my head on fire or something?” she asks.
“Don't you want to cover up your legs?” I ask. She nods when she finally realizes it's a good idea and pulls a blankets over her. I had actually expected her to go back to her wheelchair, but that works too. Tana begins to explain what I meant to Hachisame, but we ignore her. She's too late this time.
Opening the door, I see Aunt Hyatt in her delivery uniform. I give her a overly polite curtsy. She returns the gesture with a theatrical bow. Then we both laugh at each other.
“What was that about” Hachisame calls out.
“Personal joke,” I say quickly.
“I wasn't expecting you to have company,” Aunt Hyatt says looking a bit surprised. “It's good to know that you're making new friends already.”
“We sort of adopted her,” Hachisame says without looking over. I'm not sure if aunt Hyatt heard her or not.
“Thanks. This is--” I start to introduce my new pals before getting cut off.
“Hold up for one second. I promised you a surprise, didn't I?” Aunt Hyatt says. Of course, this piques my interest. I hope it's a present. Who doesn't like getting presents? Aunt Hyatt steps out of the doorway and into my room. “Okay, you can come in now,” she calls to somebody in the hall.
In steps Mihoshi, my friend back from my old school. “Hi-Hi!” she exclaims walking in. “It's good to see you again! We were all worried so much!” She races forwards and hugs me so tightly that she almost knocks the wind out of me. Finally, when it seems like I can't take it anymore, she lets go and looks at me curiously, studying my new disfigurement.
“Who's your friend, Hi-Hi?” Hachisame asks plainly. Great. Now she's going to start calling me that.
Mihoshi blushes from the outburst of emotion in front of others and I feel equally awkward. It's like too completely separate worlds have collided with each other, like watching a samurai movie and having an astronaut walk across the screen.
“Go ahead and have a seat,” Hachisame says pointing to her wheel chair. It's not the most comfortable thing ever, but you get used to it after a while.”
“That's alright. I'm okay,” Mihoshi says nervously playing with her long burnt-orange. “I can just stand.” Time Warp sighs slightly and rolls her eyes before getting off the chair she was sitting in and taking Hachisame's wheelchair herself.
“It's nice knowing that Hi-Hi's made new friends already,” Mihoshi says once she's seated. “We were all really worried about her disappearing all of a sudden like she did.”
“Her taking off is understandable. She got disfigured, but don't worry; we met her right as she moved in,” Hachisame says.
“Mihoshi? What are you doing here?” I ask trying to force my way back into a conversation that's about me anyway.
“When I told your mom and dad I was checking on you, they asked your old friends to see if any of them wanted to come along,” Aunt Hyatt explains.
“There was a whole bunch of us that wanted to see how you were doing, but your Auntie only had one empty seat in her van,” Mihoshi exclaimed. A bunch of my friends wanted to come? I hadn't really talked to any of them since my accident. “I was going to bring gifts from everyone, but I kinda sorta left them at home. I swear, I'll get them to you even if I have to mail them.”
“I'm not supposed to carry passengers, so if anybody asks, she's an intern,” Aunt Hyatt giggles in that way older women do.
“Your mom and dad wanted me to make sure you were taking care of yourself and see if you needed anything, if you were good for money, all that mom and dad stuff,” she waves her hands around dismissively. “I told them if there was a problem, you'd already be blowing up their phone but they didn't want to listen,” Aunt Hyatt says.
“I'm fine, although if they wanted to send me a little extra cash, I wouldn't say no,” I reply.
“Or you could call home a little more often and talk to them yourself,” Aunt Hyatt adds. I blush a litle bit here. I really should do that.
“Tell them she's dirt poor and has to sell her homework to make ends meet,” Hachisame adds. Aunt Hyatt looks at her crossly, but doesn't say anything.
“Hello?” Time Warp says waving weakly to Mihoshi.
“I should probably do introductions. Okay, everybody, this is Mihoshi. We went to school together before my … accident,” I tell them, pausing slightly to try to find the best way to explain my situation in one word.
“And we were in the Home Maker's club at school together and everything!” she adds enthusiastically. Then she blushes a little bit and quickly bows to complete her introduction.
“So, this was your friend before you lost your eye,” Hachisame says as more of a statement than a question.
“This is Tana--” I say.
“We call her Time Warp, because he brain's deformed and it causes her to respond slowly,” Hachisame cuts in.
“Pleased to meet you,” Tana responds bowing slightly.
“Pleased to meet you as well. Hi-Hi's told me so much about you people!” Mihoshi replies.
“You don't have to say deformed, you know,” Time Warp finally responds indignantly.
“She's curious. She'd just end up wondering,” Hachisame replies. “It's weird though, that's she told you about us, I mean. I don't think she's mentioned any of her old friends at all.”
“I'm pretty sure I have,” I tell Hachisame. It's a lie. I'm pretty sure I haven't. I only wish I could remember exactly how much I did tell Mihoshi. “Anyway, this is Hachisame,” I say.
“My deal? If I showed you my legs, you'd want to puke,” she says. “You'll parody me if I don't get up and bow. It's not exactly my thing.”
“Whatever happened to you, you still strike me as a lovely young girl and that's what matters. Not your impairment,” Aunt Hyatt says.
“Nothing happened to me. I've been fu-” Hachisame starts.
“Language,” Aunt Hyatt interrupts.
“I was born the way I am,” Hachisame continues a bit more sheepishly “same for Time Warp.”
“That's much better, dear,” Aunt Hyatt says. “Save your cursing for when you really need it. That way people will really know you mean it. Trust an old bitter jaded woman on that one. It's something you lean with age.”
“Yes, ma'am,” Hachisame says in a tone more respectful than I've heard her talk before if not just a little bit fake. I wonder if she's that way with her teachers.
“You're not that old, Aunt Hyatt,” I reply. She makes an exasperated sigh.
“Let's just say time doesn't stand still for any of us. On that note, I really need to finish off my deliveries. I'll leave you girls to yourselves and I'll meet you back here at eight,” Aunt Hyatt said.
“I imagine seeing me like this has to be a bit of a shock,” I say to Mihoshi once my aunt leaves.
“Actually, I really think you looks kinda bad ass now. It's really cool. You just need to get yourself a leather jacket or something and you'll be awesome!” Mihoshi says.
“I'm okay without the jacket,” I say.
“Please. You're, like, fashion impaired, Hi-Hi. You always needed our help picking out your clothes,” she says, gesturing at my baggy gray t-shirt with the yellow rubber duck on it. Is that really worse than the overall-skirt and lacy white blouse she's got on. Is cutesy farmer the new look and nobody bothered to tell me?
“We could help her with her style,” Time Warp says looking at me intently.
“Really? Are we really doing this?” Hachisame groaned.
“What's wrong with --” Mihoshi starts but is cut off.
“What girl doesn't like looking cute?” Time Warp talks over her.
“Pause a second before you say anything. Otherwise this happens,” I explain to Mihoshi.
“She's weird, but that's how her life works,” Hachisame says.
“Anyway... Make overs!” Time Warp forces her way back into the conversation.
“I'm already cute,” Hachisame says. I don't need help. I can see Mihoshi eyeing Hachisame's messy hair and slightly biting her lip wondering if she should say anything or not. Mihoshi was never good at hiding her reactions to things and I think Hachisame notices it too.
“I have some make-up in my room, I can go get it. Maybe we can find Suzu or Rin. … Oh! Now that I think about it, I'm dying to see what Rin would look like if you girlied her up.”
“Look what you've done,” I say to Mihoshi.
“In case you're wondering who we're talking about, Rin has no arms. She has to keep her hair short and wear guy clothes,” Hachisame says.
“Yeah, like I said, Hi-Hi told me all about you guys. Still, I'm sorry to hear that. About her, I mean.” Mihoshi says somewhat cautiously.
“Such is the life we lead,” Hachisame says trying to sound wise or nonchalant but failing. Something seems to be bothering her.
“So, this might be a really stupid and insensitive question and if it's none of my business just say so, but do people here just introduce themselves with what's wrong with them?” Mihoshi asks. I feel like a bomb just went off. I don't even know how to respond to that.
“Some do, some don't,” Hachisame says nonchalantly. “Personally, I think it's a good ice breaker. 'So, what are you in here for?' basically.”
“There's some problems more obvious than others. Also, some people have major health issues that they need to let anyone who's going to be hanging around them for a while know about. There's a girl in my class whose body just locks up completely sometimes. She can still hear and still see, but she can't talk or move. If you didn't know what the problem was, you'd panic and might do something that would get her hurt, as it stands if you just leave her alone for a few minutes, she'll recover,” Time Warp explains.
“We're in the same class. How do I not know this person?” Hachisame asks. We pause and wait for Time Warp to continue.
“It was actually my first year. Not this year. Way to step on my story,” she sighs.
“Yeah, now I remember her!” Hachisame exclaims. A groan comes from Tana a moment later. “Oh, by the way, you're out of Doritos and I'm still hungry,” she adds. She tries to throw the bag at me, but after flying a few feet, it simply floats to the ground.
I had been saving those. I didn't even know she'd found them.
“Let's go get something to eat. There's this place called the Shanghai you've got to try while you're in town,” Time-Warp says to Mihoshi. She reaches out to put her hand on Mihoshi's shoulder, but Mihoshi draws back.
“Nothing personal, Tana, she's just never really liked being touched,” I explain, “At least not by strangers.” If anyone should be able to understand some personal quirks, it should be the guys at this school.
“Sorry, about that then,” she apologizes.
“If we're going to go eat, you're going to have to give me a minute of privacy to slip from out of the bed to the chair,” Hachisame says to Mihoshi. “Trust me, you don't want to see me showing off what I've got.”
“I won't look,” Mihoshi says.
“Not good enough. Turn around, face the wall. I'll tell you when it's okay.” Once she's sure Mihoshi isn't going to look, she throws back the sheets from the bed, stands up, and does a strange series of stretching movements with her shorter legs before getting back in her wheelchair and signaling that's it's okay to look now. Unsurprisingly, she does not make my bed back.
Once we're all ready, we head down the hall. “Stop. Hold up,” I tell Mihoshi as we reach the intersection where one hall joins with another.
“What? What's going on?” she asks.
“Nothing. You just have to stop at the intersections and when you leave rooms and stuff like that here. It's part of the rules,” I explain. She looks at me strangely, obviously not understanding.
“In case somebody is coming that can't walk good or see,” Hachisame cuts in, offering her own explanation. “Not everybody can stop on a dime or see you coming.”
“Sounds strict,” she says softly. I shrug. Maybe it is. I dunno. Out of everything I had to get used to here, that never felt like a major change.
“It's just more orderly,” I say.
A door opens and a long haired figure steps out. Despite having her back to us, I can easily tell it's a girl. What stands out more is that she doesn't have a shirt on. At all.
Just when I'm trying to teach somebody how things work here.
“You might want to cover up. I've got a guest here. What would happen if it was a guy?” I call to her. It's a little bit uncharacteristic of me, but after pointing out how strict things can be here, I felt the need to say something.
“And what exactly are they going to see?” she said, turning to reveal the huge surgical scars that cover her chest. At least one of her breasts is just gone. There's not even a nipple there anymore. The other breast, I couldn't tell it if was completely removed or just horribly misshapen. The scars on her chest hadn't finished healing yet either, so whatever happened, it wasn't too long ago.
I could not feel more stupid.
“Nice timing, Kai,” Hachisame said with a chuckle.
“I bet there's still a guy here that would be turned on by that,” Time Warp adds.
“If he likes scar tissue so bad, he can go fuck Ikezawa. She still has tits,” the scarred woman says with a smile that doesn't seem to fit the conversation before turning and walking off.
“Well, I feel like an idiot,” I mumble.
“I bet you do,” Hachisame laughs.
“Leave Kai alone. She's touchy since they cut all the tumors out of her,” Time Warp says.
“I guess-- I guess you see stuff like that all the time here,” Mihoshi says.
“You get used to it. Well, maybe not you but other people do,” Hachisame replies.
We make it out of the building without any further incidents. A short trip down the hill later we arrive at the Shanghai. The name sounds Chinese, but the insides look western. I'm not even sure this place is even open. I don't see any customers and there doesn't seem to be anyone working here.
“Yuuko, you've got company!” Hachisame calls out.
“Please take a seat! I'll be with you in just a second!” a panicked voice screams from somewhere in the back
“So this would be the great Shanghai?” I say as we stand there in the empty restaurant.
Hachisame looks at me strangely. “Did we tell you about – oh whatever. Probably.”
A young woman in glasses comes frantically running out, stopping just before us, and bowing so quickly that it almost looks like he's trying to break a board with her forehead. “I'm sorry! I was – no never-mind!” she abruptly apologizes and changes subject mid-sentence. “Helloandwelcometotheshanghai--”
“It's okay, Yuuko. We're in no hurry,” Time Warp says. I'm always amused when Tana says things like that. I know I shouldn't be.
The waitress looks confused and worried for a moment. She simply doesn't understand why we're not upset with her. There also seems to be something familiar about the woman, but I can't place it. She's probably just somebody I've seen around town or something.
“But I'm really supposed to meet you at the door, greet you, and show you to your seat. I shouldn't have to make you wait at all. I'm really not doing my job right now and I don't know how you can stand it at all! I'm really really very sorry right now,” She says in something that's part apology, part whine.
“You could show us to our seats now. It's not too late,” Time Warp says.
“Right!” she says. “The customer is always …,” her voice trails off and she adds a forced nervous giggle.
We all take our seats. Even Hachisame slides off her wheelchair and into the booth, something that seems to take Mihoshi by surprise.
There's a moment of awkward silence after we all take our seats and the waitress Yuuko just stands there hovering over us.
“So are there menus or …?” I ask.
“Mixed family sized sandwich tray,” Hachisame places the order for us. “What about drinks? Do we all want separate drinks or a pitcher of something?”
“I'd like tea, please,” Mihoshi says.
“Separate drinks it is,” Hachisame replies.
“Just water for me,” I say.
“No she doesn't,” Hachisame says even though it's not quite a reply to what I actually did say. “Give her something with some taste. “Do you like mixed fruit drinks? I know a great recipe that I'm sure they'll be able to make.” The look of panic on the waitresses face tells me that this would be a bad idea.
“I'm not in the mood for fruit. Just give me a coke,” I say.
“I'll take fruit. Pineapple juice.” Time Warp adds. The waitress doesn't seem to be writing any of this down. Instead, she seems to be trying to commit it to memory. “Also, give us one of those cracker plates while we wait for the sandwiches.”
“Okay. Thank you. I'll be right back,” she says before quickly bowing and disappearing back into the kitchen.
“What a peculiar woman,” I say.
“I was thinking it, but I didn't want to say anything out of place,” Mihoshi says.
“We're all weirdos here,” Hachisame laughs. Suddenly she slaps her forehead loud enough to make us all jump. “I totally forgot to order a drink! Stupid Hachisame! Stupid!”
“Yuuko is kinda weird. Not that she's the only one,” Time Warp gestures at Hachisame.
“I never said weird was a bad thing,” Hachisame says. “Normal is boring.” She pauses to furiously scratch the back of her neck before continuing. “Did I say that already? I felt like I said that already.”
It only takes Yuuko a minute or two to return with a tray full of drinks. I swear she looks like she's going to drop it any minute but she manages to get it to the table without incident. In addition to our own drinks, she's brought a glass of water for Hachisame. Hachisame shrugs but nobody corrects the waitress. In another minute, a plate of small crackers with a bowl of some kind of dipping sauce joins the drinks. Even after tasting it, I can't tell quite what it is. It's good though. I suppose that makes up for the lack luster crackers.
As we start to snack, conversation resumes.
“Nice to see you're okay. We were all really worried about you,” Mihoshi says. That seems to catch Hachisame's interest.
“Really?” I ask.
“Well, yeah. I mean, she just disappeared on us and we didn't find out until later that she … poked her eye out?” Mihoshi seems to be addressing the group as much as me. “Can I say that?” she asks turning to me.
“It's what happened,” I reply. “I'll spare you the details.”
“No need to beat around the bush about these things,” Time Warp replies almost in time with the conversation.
“Yeah... I mean, I'm still me. I'm not any kind of … anything. But me,” I almost said any kind of freak. I'm sure Hachisame and Tana would have taken it as an insult. Suddenly there's a big smile on Mihoshi's face. “What's that about?”
“It's just … I'm happy to see you haven't changed a bit,” she tells me. I want to argue with her and tell her that she's wrong, but there's just something deeply pathetic about admitting that you're worse than people think you are.
“So, this is normal for her?” Hachisame asks sounding complete confused.
“Totally. She's always just being overly depressed and then trying something and fumbling it,” Mihoshi says.
“Really. I don't. I'm cool,” I say.
“Then she makes that face,” Mihoshi adds. I do not make a face. “That face. Exactly, right there!” she says pointing to me. I immediately try to make my expression as neutral as possible.
“I'm not making a face,” I say defensively.
“You really are,” Time Warp adds. Hachisame nods in agreement. I stick my tongue out at Time Warp and Hachisame. They wanted me to make a face. Now I'm making a face. It's not like I don't have a reason to be depressed right now either. I take a sip of my drink, only to find that my coke has been mysteriously replaced with water. Likewise, Hachisame's water has mysteriously turned into something much darker and fizzier. I roll my eye at her, but she doesn't seem to notice.
After a few more minutes of 'let's tease Hitomi', the sandwiches arrive. Tana waits until we've all grabbed a sandwich (or in Hachisame's case two) from the pile that's considered “family sized” by this place.
Yuuko apologizes furiously for both the wait and the fact that some of the sandwiches aren't sliced exactly even or might not have a completely even distribution of condiments. Then she stands there nervously for a minute watching us. She doesn't leave until she seems convinced that we're not going to scream that this is the worst food we've ever eaten.
With food here to occupy our attention and out mouths, conversation slows immensely. It's actually slows enough that being able to talk with Tana feels normal. Eating with her is a different story though. Even Mihoshi notices the slow careful way she chews things. We only wish we could miss the way Hachisame talks with her mouth open. One of these days she's going to make me sick and I'm going to barf all over her. It will be all her fault.
Eventually the plate of sandwiches dies down, with Hachisame eating at least half of them herself. I wonder if her body requires more food and water than a normal person's to work. If so, would that mean Rin needs less? What about somebody like me, who's only missing a tiny fraction of their body? A few calories less than a normal persons?
“So, what was Hi-Hi like at your old normal people school?” Hachisame asks. “Any really embarrassing stories?”
“Please don't call me that,” I mutter although I'm not sure if anyone pays attention.
Mihoshi stares at me for a second like she's debating whether to humiliate me or not.
“What kind of boys does she like?” Time Warp cuts in. For a split second I'm thankful that I'm being saved from embarrassment, until I realize that she's just made the embarrassment more specific instead.
“Don't tell them anything!” I say.
“Relax. It's not like they're going to know any of these people,” Mihoshi says.
“They know me! I'm one of those people!” I reply. She seems to think about this for a second.
“Okay, I won't say anything about who you like,” Mihoshi says. I sigh in relief. “Only that she likes red heads.”
“I hate you so much right now,” I pout.
“So, like, Moriya,” Tana replies.
“I don't know who that is,” I say.
“She's already found somebody to crush on?” Mihoshi says with a playfully sadistic smile.
“Red head in your class. The muscular one,” Tana continues missing Mihoshi's reply completely.
“Okay. I know who he is now, but that doesn't mean I like him,” I say.
“Rin has red hair,” Hachisame says.
“NO!” I say surprisingly loud while laughing at the absurdity of the suggestion.
“Whatever. This conversation is stupid anyway. I'm changing the subject,” Hachisame says. “Everybody's got something weird about them. What's your oddity?” Hachisame asks Mihoshi.
“You mean like … what?” Mihoshi asks seemingly both shocked and maybe a little offended. When Hachisame doesn't reply she continues “like what brought you people to this school?”
“If that's what you think I mean,” Hachisame replies.
“Let her do this,” Time Warp says, putting her hand on my shoulder. I hadn't even tried to do or say anything to stop her. I don't even know what she's trying to do.
“Well, I guess I have like the weakest immune system ever. Well, mean people at your school might be weaker, but I get sick at the drop of a hat. Oh, and like all my toes, except for my big toe of course, are the same length. It looks really freaky. I can't go barefoot anywhere,” Mihoshi explains. She's over selling her toes a bit, but they do look weird.
Hachisame shrugs as though she's already bored with the topic. “What do you think?” she asks Time Warp. We all wait for her to respond.
“I suppose that's enough to get you in the club,” she says mirthfully. Hachisame just nods like she's perfectly okay with whatever decision had just been made.
“What to see the scar I got from an eel?” Hachisame moves on.
“I think I'll pass on that one,” Mihoshi says nervously. I'm with her. Just going to this school, I've already seen more scars than I've ever wanted to.
“Your loss. It's really neat,” Hachisame counters. We soon finish eating completely. Tana pays the bill for all of us and then we leave. It's not until we're halfway back up the hill that she remembers that she forgot to ask for the student discount. This starts a conversation between her and Hachisame about whether you should have to ask for it or whether it should just be expected. This leave me to talk to Mihoshi and get caught back up on what was going on.
She tells me how she got stuck in the homeroom with the ugly foreign teacher, how Ayumi's weird friend is obsessed with some local ghost story this year, how Ken dropped out of track because of a girl he liked. I find out about Tatsumichi getting caught in the girls locker room and how the they made him walk around campus in a girls uniform. I find out that Yoshimi and Yahagi got into a fight and aren't talking anymore. Nakagawa's parents got a divorce and she moved away. Inada-chan took up smoking, Inada-san was talking to some people from the university already and every other bit of gossip she could think of.
Hearing about this only makes me sad. I used to know these people. Some of them were even my friends. Now. Now I don't know what to think. I had thought they were out of my life forever and the truth is, I probably will never see most of them again. Then there's Mihoshi. I thought she was gone too and here she is right next to me.
I guess that means I'm sad and confused.
We take the scenic route back to the dorms, using sidewalks and paths I've never used and seeing areas of the school and its grounds that I didn't even know existed. Hachisame lead the way with Tana pushing her wheelchair. Eventually we arrive back in my room.
I wish I could say something interesting happened, but nothing did, unless you count Hachisame insisting on showing off her shark teeth collection. Admittedly, the teeth were neat, but I think she expected them to hold our attention far longer than they did. We just hung out for the most part until Aunt Hyatt showed back up and reminded us all that Mihoshi was only here for a quick visit.
“Alright, honey. You've got my phone number if you need anything, and if there's something you need help with that you can't let your parents know about, don't be afraid to ask,” she says as she stands at the door ready to leave.
“Don't worry. If I need anything, I'll call,” I tell her.
“Call every week even if you don't need anything. Your parents worry about you,” she tells me. I promise her I will, even though I know I'm probably not going to keep that promise.
Then it's Mihoshi's time to say good bye. She gives me a bow and then follows it up by an enthusiastic hug which and takes me completely by surprise. Once we separate, she blushes a bit and makes a more traditional bow. She makes me promise I'll call her and the gang as well, and I take a moment to get phone numbers.
“It was really nice meeting you both, Tana and Hachisame. This is really cool school you have here. I wish I went to a school this awesome. You two, take care of Hitomi for me,” she says.
“Apparently I'm cool,” Hachisame says in s slow stilted way like she's trying to get over the shock of what was just said. “See? I told you people I was cool,” she says resuming her normal tone.
“Fine, you can be cool, but only on the condition that you don't call me Hi-Hi anymore,” I say.
“I actually didn't plan on it,” she says. “Ah, Dammit!” she suddenly shouts. “I just came up with a good reply and now it's too late.”
I actually laugh out loud a moment later with Time Warp visible jumps in shock from something that happened a moment ago. After I finish laughing, I ask, “What was your reply.”
“When she said she wishes she could go to this school, I should have suggested she cut off a limb. I wonder if she's still in the hallway.”
“No, Hachisame. Just no,” Time Warp says.
I chuckle a little despite myself. Today was a weird day.