25 Years Later... (You Are Here)
A Very Student Council Christmas
Sharks and Minnows
Katawa Shoujo: The Musical!
So She Dances
Hokkaido: a Turning Point
Where Are They Now?
Freaks and Friends Super Happy Funtime Christmas Special
Tomorrow and Tomorrow and Tomorrow
Two Halves Make a Hole
The Death and Return of Niji
War Diary 31-10-2007
Three Bits of Silliness
Onsen a Lifetime (Separate Thread)
A Christmas Sketch (Separate Thread)
A Convenient Distraction
Dreams By Firelight
25 Years Later...
Another evening grading papers.
I always wondered why so many of my teachers always seemed exhausted, or even depressed. I don't wonder anymore.
It's not the amount of work, or the grading itself. It's the kids. So few of them seem to really care. And when you do find students that care, it's only a matter of time before they move on. It's all about the small victories. Help a student here, give a little advice there, and, if you're lucky, you manage to make an impression and hopefully change his life forever.
So, in the end, it's all worth it. Draining, but worth it.
I don't notice the new arrival until I feel her hand on my shoulder, “Hicchan, dinner's on the table.”
I used to dislike that name, but I guess I got used to it. Or I just stopped caring about something so silly. After more than twenty years of marriage, little things like that don't matter as much. Besides, she says it with so much affection that it couldn't bother me even if I wanted it to.
A gentle squeeze, then she's gone, having left as silently as she arrived.
I'm not as young as I used to be, and my heart's not getting any better, so I've learned to take things slow. Men my age get heart attacks normally, so I'm doubly at risk. It's not all bad, though. Medicine has advanced, if a bit slower than I'd have liked. I felt like celebrating when the doctor took me down to eight pills. It's still a lot, but now I'm in the single digits.
Getting up, I glance at the pictures on the wall of our office. There's one from back in high school, that year we first met. Me, my future wife, and her best friend. They were so close, it sometimes seemed like they were joined at the hip. It's been years since we last caught up with her, but whenever we do, it's like we never separated.
I hear a laugh down the hall, from the dining room. That musical laugh, that confident voice – daily reminders of why I love her so much.
We've changed quite a bit from those high school days. We've both put on quite a bit of weight, for one. It was bound to happen eventually. She loves food, and she's an excellent cook. The years have been kinder to her, though. She's pleasantly plump; I'm a paunchy old man.
More chatter from the dining room. Talking to the kids about their days, I guess.
I make my way to the hall, stopping to glance at our family portrait. Minami, our oldest, isn't really a kid anymore. She's practically a woman now, preparing to go to university. I'd say she looks just like her mother, but that would be a lie. She inherited my nose and ears, poor girl. She wears them better than me, though, and it certainly hasn't hurt her popularity with the boys. Hiroichi's not too far behind her, getting ready to start high school himself. He actually looks like my father, but he has his mother's eyes. He'll certainly break some girls' hearts, provided he pays enough attention to something that isn't ball-shaped. And then there's little Setsumi. She's not allowed to grow up. She'll always be my little girl.
“Dad, wake your ass up! We're getting hungry!”
“Setsumi! Don't speak to your father that way!”
That's my little girl.
Entering the dining room, I'm greeted by a heartwarming sight – a lovely spread, my three children, and, best of all, the love of my life.
My eyes meet those of my wife, and I fall in love with her all over again. Her hair's much shorter than it used to be, pulled back into a simple ponytail. I used to think she was beautiful in spite of her scars. These days, I just think of her as beautiful.
I used to think that she was delicate and fragile. Time and again, Hanako's proven me wrong. If you were to keep score, I've probably had to rely on her for support far more often than she's had to rely on me. Fortunately for me, love's not about keeping score.