FOUR TICKETS. SIX HOURS. NO MERCY.
Tablunum Um Contentum
A Winner is You! (this post)
Backstory, Ahoy! Part II
Echoes of the Past
Doctor, Doctor, Give Me the News
In the Rear With the Gear Part II
I’d Pay to See That
I Can Haz Kitten? Part II Part III
Next Time, Stay in the Barrel Part II
When We Remembered Zion Part II
Unleash the Swagger Part II Part III
Sleepless in Tokyo
In the Name of Love Part II
Haggle-Burger Hill Part II
Two Rings to Bind Them Part II
Girl Talk: Yamaku Edition
I Wanna Rock n’ Roll All Night Part II Part III
Cossacks and Cocktails Part II
For Love, We'll Give it a Shot! Part II
“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” –Lao-tzu
Chapter One (Hanako): A Winner is You!
Of all the stories Hisao has asked me to help him write over the years, this one is probably one of my favorites…
Near the end of our sophomore year of college, I entered a mail raffle. I was surprised they still did those, and the prize was something I really wanted. Of course, if I won, I’d have to use the prize, but I could handle it, I hoped. It would be dark, and everyone would be focused on something else, so I could mix with the crowd and have fun with my friends and boyfriend.
I hadn’t counted on which friends, or what a pain the whole ordeal would be. Or that it would all be worth it. At the time I had been steeling my nerves to submit the ticket. My therapist thought it was a good idea, and she was the only one I was willing to talk to about it. I didn’t want to get any of my friend’s hopes up, since it was a great prize, and the odds of winning obviously not in my favor.
As the weeks went by, I had nearly forgotten about the raffle. I had only sent in a few tickets, and even if I won, the trip would be such a hassle. I like traveling, but the city was so crowded. Even if it was at night, I might still be noticed, and that might ruin the whole trip for me; people reacting badly to my scarring is a trigger that never quite went away. I have gotten much better at handling it, though.
Anyway the weeks went by, and I more or less forgot about the raffle. It was around late June, about a month from the end of the trimester. I was studying my writing textbook at my desk one afternoon, my mind wandering away from one of my last due assignments. I was trying to brute force my way through the paper, which involved translation exercises; the idea being to translate the text while maintaining the author’s original intent. It was supposed to broaden our minds to new literary ideas and methods, but all it did was piss me off. It didn’t help that one of my literature professor’s had a thing for Depression era literature, which was, well, depressing.
I sighed and leaned back from my laptop. Such things were best done when my roommate was around to help me translate. She had gone to a class a while ago, and should’ve been on her way back by then. I preferred evening courses, for obvious reasons, so my class wasn’t for another hour or so. Thinking of my roommate led my gaze around the dormitory, and I pulled the long strands of purple hair from the right side of my face so I could see better. My fingers lightly grazed the old burn scars spread across that side of my face as I did so, but I ignored them as I focused on lazily scanning the dorm room in the tried and true undergraduate tradition of procrastination.
The dormitory itself wasn’t anything special. It was painted a dull white, like dorms the world over seem to be painted. My bed and desk were along the left wall, while my roommate’s bed and desk were on the right. My bed and desk were in the far corner along with a bookshelf and some plastic totes, while my roommate’s bed and desk were closer to the front door. Her books and things were more or less arrayed in stray piles and stacks in the far right corner.
Between the piles and my bed was a rectangular window, which was open with the curtains partially open to allow the breeze inside. Under the window was a small dark wooden table, on top of which sat a well used red tea set with a bright floral pattern, and a vast assortment of tea bags, leaves, and condiments. A small refrigerator and portable table were tucked under the table. A door on the right wall led to the bathroom, which we shared with two other students in the adjoining dorm. I didn’t talk to them much, but they seemed nice, though they played their music pretty loud sometimes.
My eye wandering stopped when I heard a familiar click emanate from the front door. I turned to face it in time to see it open fully, allowing me to observe my roommate as she entered the dorm.
“Hanako?” Lilly Satou asked as she closed the door behind her.
She was dressed in her normal ankle length skirt and an informal looking blouse. Her blond hair was up in a ponytail as usual, though today she was using a light green ribbon to match her skirt. Her cane was collapsed and strapped to her right hand, her bag slung over her left shoulder. Her silver cross hung around her neck, glittering slightly in the light.
It had taken me a week to gather the nerve to convince the Housing Department to make us roommates, but it was worth it. It gave me a chance to help Lilly more, and helped me adjust better to college life. And someone had to organize her books so their order made some semblance of sense.
“I’m here,” I replied from my desk chair.
“I got the mail,” Lilly stated, “did we get anything exciting?”
I got up and waited for Lilly to sit at her own desk. She fished around her bag for the small stack of mail and handed it me. I sighed as I flipped through it.
“More credit card offers,” I replied, “and a recruitment flyer for the JSDF.”
I was working on my stuttering with a speech therapist, and had managed to suppress it when I made a conscious effort or was in a one-on-one conversation with someone I trusted. Which was really just Hisao and Lilly at that point. I was also stuttering less when I was nervous or out and about, which helped assuage my anxiety a bit; people are less likely to stare at you if you can talk normally.
Lilly giggled at my mail examination, “I do hope that one is addressed to you.”
“It is, though for all we know, the Minister of Defense is a Heinlein fan,” I mused.
“Well, I think I’ll pass,” Lilly quipped, and started emptying her bag by opening the appropriate drawer and dumping the contents in with a long series of clunks, thuds, and clattering. She had padded her drawers so they made less noise when she did it, fortunately, for both our ears.
I was about ready to toss the whole pile of mail, when I noticed the last piece, “huh?”
“What is it?” Lilly asked as she set her bag down by her desk.
“I’m not sure,” I muttered, more to myself then to Lilly.
The sender address seemed familiar for some reason, so I carefully opened the envelope. Easing the contents out, four tickets and several vouchers slowly slipped out, along with a sheet of paper. Carefully holding the small cache in my hands, I slowly exhaled as my shaking fingers unfolded the note. My eyes widened as I read it, the full reality of what I had done crashing down on me… It was really going to happen… I was going… Out there… So many people…
I have a vague memory of a damp cloth and Lilly fussing over me for the rest of the evening, because I’m pretty sure I fainted from excitement and anxiety.
Hello boys, I’m baaaaaaaacck!
WARNING: This series will (hopefully) be zany, kooky, and may or not manage to stay in character –this is me we’re talking about. Feedback is appreciated as always.
Anyways, there will be feels, laughs, romance, fluff, crack, and of course, Kenji’s No Pants Underpants Dance!
Wait, what the- oh crap!
Ch-chk BOOM! Ch-chk BOOM! Ch-chk BOOM!
…stupid genetic experiments gone wrong. Anyway, looks like the Dance is out. To make up for it, I’ll be chatting a bit about each chapter in my normally random psychotically awesome way, starting with-
Stay dead damn you! Ch-chk BOOM!
Yeah, Lilly and Hanako are roommates. To be fair, the two are Blood Sisters, and Lilly has probably gotten used to Hanako being her guide. As to how the rest showed up at the same university, I’ll explain that later.
I do apologize for the cheap trick of not stating who Hanako’s roommate was right off the bat, though. I did that mainly so I could describe the dorm room without having to explain that their roomies right away, which was blatantly obvious anyway.
So, who wants to join me on a magic carpet ride? After all, you don't know what we can find.
Updates should be weekly, so stay tuned, for next week: exposition from a familiar source.