Guess who's back?
Freaks and Friends
“Hey, it's been forever. I hope you didn't forget me.”
“I'm sorry. Who is this?” I say into my phone.
“It's me, Mihoshi,” the voice on the other end of the phone identifies herself. “You did forget me didn't you. I'd take it personally if I didn't know you had such a bad memory,” she teases.
“Sorry. I just wasn't expecting a call. How did you get this number anyway?” I say. Talking to one of my old friends while I'm away at Yamaku should make me feel uneasy but the shock of it has me more taken off guard than anything. It's like going to the library to check out a book only to find there's having a surprise rock concert inside. It just doesn't feel like it should mix.
Inside the library. Not the book. Having a rock concert inside a book would just be – Never mind. My metaphors are terrible.
“I went over to your parents place and asked about you. They gave me your number and told me to go ahead and call,” she pauses waiting for me to respond. I don't really have anything to add yet so I just mutter an 'uh-huh' and she continues. “Wow. I just don't even know where to start. Just ... I'm sorry I missed you at the hospital. I really mean that. Really. I had no idea.”
“It's not your fault you were out of town when I decided to redecorate my face. I'm not going to hold it against you.” My attempt at levity falls flat. “You've heard the details right?” I ask hoping that I don't have to explain again how I stabbed myself in the eye and had to have surgery.
“I did and I feel horrible that I couldn't have been there for you. I didn't even know anything happened until I overheard somebody talking about it today. I thought it was odd that you hadn't been around, but honestly … well ... I'm really really sorry I didn't get to see you in the hospital or send you a get well card,” she continues to ramble apologetically.
“'Get well soon' wouldn't exactly have applied to me, but thanks anyway. At least you're calling. That's something,” I say. I try to joke around, but there's a hint of uneasiness in my voice that I can't hide.
“That was a bit of shock. I think I almost threw up when Wein told me about that. I've know people that have broke arms and legs but never anything so bad. Are you doing okay?”
“I don't know. It's a lot to get used to,” my voice trails a bit as I speak. Do I really want to go into all this again? I could always just say my phone is dying or reception is bad. No. She's my friend.... or at least she was my friend back in my old life.
“Come on, you can tell me. In fact, you should tell me. Tell me everything. You know you want to. So, what's it like there?” the concern in her voice is replaced by excitement. Mihoshi always was one to get over enthusiastic about strange and foreign places and this could surely been seen in the strange category.
“Well, the school is nice. It's really big and very informal and green. I mean there's lots of green plants and grass. It's almost like a park, except it has it's own hospital building, so sort of a school-park-hospital.” God, I am so horrible at explaining things.
“That's kinda weird. Do you have doctors right there in the classrooms?” she asks.
“No, most of the school is just a school. There's always somebody in the nurses office, apparently, and it's a lot more in depth than your normal nurse's office, but there's nothing in the class.” I decide against mentioning my run ins with the nurse so far. It was my own fault anyway, and it was a rather stupid thing to be at fault for. “Oh, and I forgot something. Most of the students live here too so it's a school-park-hospital-apartment complex.”
“Oh, a boarding school!” she says making me feel stupid for not thinking of that. “You're living by yourself without parents? That's sweet!” she says.
“I hadn't thought much about that, but I guess it is,” I say.
“Yeah, going to classes and then hanging out with your friends all day... oh! Have you made any new friends there yet? What are the people there like?”
“That's the funny part. I hadn't even unpacked yet and people were knocking on my door to welcome me,” I say as I try to figure out exactly how to tell her about my strange new acquaintances.
“You got a welcoming party too. Now I'm jealous. Was there cake?” she laughs as I politely inform her that there was not. “So, I guess they're crippled too? ” Even knowing that she doesn't mean any offense, I cringe at the implications.
“They are,” I say “but they're a really nice bunch. I was pretty much welcomed into their circle of friends from the minute I got here.”
“Well, that's sweet of them. So, what are your disabled friends like?” she asks.
“It's an interesting group. I guess if there's an alpha-girl of the group it's Hachisame--”
“That's an odd name,” she cuts me off. “Is she a foreigner?”
“I don't think so. She looks Japanese, but I'm with you on the name. It's kinda weird. Anyway, she's kinda loud, impatient, tells you what's on her mind all the time, and constantly smiles really big.” I'm not exactly sure how much I should be telling her. Mihoshi was never my best friend or anything, but we dig hang out a lot and these new people … I don't know. It almost feels like I'm betraying their trust but I need to unload on somebody, even if I'm not really saying anything that you couldn't tell by looking at them. “she's also got a habit of clicking her teeth together a couple of times when she smiles. I don't still don't quite get what that's about.”
“And what's she there for?” Mihoshi asks.
“She says she has weak legs. I don't know if they're messed up or anything; she only seems to wear long skirts and dresses, loose stuff, never pants. She also uses a wheelchair most of the time, but she gets out of it too and walks around sometimes.” Mihoshi mumbles something as if to signal me to continue without actually saying anything. “It freaks me out whenever she gets up out of her chair. It just strikes me as something that people shouldn't be doing, you know?”
“Yeah. I guess I can see how that would be unsettling,” she says.
“Don't get me wrong, she's nice, but there's just something off about the girl,” I say.
“Maybe it's more than just one thing,” Mihoshi says.
“Maybe it's everything,” I mutter.
“Maybe. What about the other girls? All your new friends are girls aren't they?” she says suggestively.
“You put way too much emphasis into romance,” I say. I wouldn't let her set me up with anyone when she lived down the street, no way is she going to play matchmaker now that she doesn't even know who the other half of the match would be.
“Alright. I'll give up this time. Maybe you just aren't ready for the dating circle now that you've had your thing happen to you,” she says in a deflated tone. That's a good a cue as any to continue telling her about the people I do know here.
“There's another girl that always hangs around Hachisame. Her name is Tana. She doesn't react to things in time. I also don't think I've seen her wear anything that wasn't pastels or lacy yet.”
“I'm going to have to stop you now. What do you mean by 'doesn't react in time'?” Mihoshi asks.
“There's like a pause between when something happens and when she sees it or feels it,” I say trying to explain.
“Like she's not paying attention?”
“Like it just hasn't happened to her yet. Wait. I've got a better explanation. It's like the message is taking too long to get to her brain. That's why we call her Time Warp,” I say. “It's like she's in a different time than anybody else even when she's standing right there.”
“Sorry. Maybe I'm dense or something, but I'm not getting it.”
“I guess you'd have to see it,” I say adding a shrug as if she can see what I was doing.
“I could come visit some time,” she offers. That feels like a bad idea for more reasons that I want to think of.
“It's an idea,” I reply, keeping my answer as non committal as possible.
“So are they nice?”
“Yeah, they're very nice. They're just weird. They're not the weirdest thing though. There's another girl, she's kinda part of the group and kinda not, her name's Rin, she doesn't have arms.”
“I'm trying to picture that. Is it just like a flat torso?”
“No, there's definitely little stubs or some kind, maybe down to her elbows. It's kinda hard to tell. She always wears her shirts with the sleeves tied off. That's not half as odd as how she acts though. She just randomly seems to talk nonsense half the time.”
“She sounds fun,” Mihoshi says. For a minute I think about correcting her but decide against it.
“Then there's Suzu,” I say trying to move on past Rin. If Mihoshi didn't get Tana's reaction problems, there's no way I could explain Rin's personality to her. “Suzu has a sleeping disorder. She's always tired.”
“That sounds almost normal,” she says with a slight chuckle.
“Compared to the others it almost is. If you didn't know there was anything wrong with her, you'd think that there wasn't actually anything wrong. She acts mostly normal and doesn't have any obvious scars or eye patches. She's just sleepy all the time.”
“Well, enough about the others. How are you doing? What's it like missing an eye?” there's a slight pause as she makes a sound that's somewhere in between a sigh and clearing her throat. “I can ask you that right? That's not some out of bounds subject is it? I really never knew any disabled people before.”
I groan a little, but she's still my friend. I don't think some scars are going to change things that much between us. “I keep bumping into things. You never know how much you value your depth perception until you lose it. It's not fun, let's just put it that way,” I say flatly.
“Well, you've always been a tough one,” she says. I'm actually taken back by this. I've never really considered myself as strong. “I hope you get to feeling a bit better. You do sound kinda down,” she continues. It's not like I don't have a reason to be depressed. “I just hope your new friends can cheer you up a bit. They're not, like, moping around all the time too are they? I have no idea what a hospital-slash-school is like.”
Everybody keeps pointing out how bad everybody else's problems are how I got it so lucky. Hachisame, Time Warp, Rin, just about everyone I've met has worse problems than mine, but they all seem to be handling it much better than I do. It's disheartening. I can't even handle being depressed the right way.
“Is there someone with you?” Lilly voice asks emerging from a nearby dorm room.
“Hold up, Mihoshi,” I say to the phone before redirecting my attention to Lilly. “I was just talking to someone on the phone,” I say to her.
“If you need time to finish your conversation, I can wait,” Lilly says. “You were waiting for me after all.”
“It's okay. Just give me a quick second,” I say.
“Please, there's no need to hurry on my account,” she says with a soft smile.
“It'll just be a minute,” I say to her. “You still there, Mihoshi?” I say into the phone.
“I'm here, but if you're busy we can talk later,” she says.
“Yeah, that might be the best idea. I was helping my class rep get around. She was in somebody's room talking with them when you called but apparently she's done. Oh yeah, I'm in a class for blind students. I'll have to tell you about that later. Bye.”
“Bye, Hitomi. Take care of yourself. School just isn't the same without you,” she sounds genuinely sad. I didn't think anyone would actually miss me.
“Thanks,” I say. I click the button to hang up the phone and it takes me two tries. How do I miss something that close? Am I really that pathetic?
“Are you ready to move on now?” Lilly asks. “We do still have several more classmates to visit.”
“I'm ready when you are,” I say but her words hit me in a way she couldn't have intended.
Am I really ready to move on?
That, as they say, is the question.
The story isn't dead. It was just really sick for a while and needed to rest.
Forgot what you've read and haven't read? Read it all again. It's a good story. Trust me.
Not Dead Yet