The Manila Tales –A Summer-ish Series Conclusion Update

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Re: The Manila Tales –A Summer-ish Series (Updated 7/10)

Post by Serviam » Thu Jul 10, 2014 6:12 pm

Divisoria. If I were to hazard a guess, that's where they're at.
"What the government is good at is collecting taxes, taking away your freedoms and killing people. It’s not good at much else."
- Tom Clancy summing up l'état in a nutshell

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Re: The Manila Tales –A Summer-ish Series (Updated 7/10)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Thu Jul 10, 2014 6:18 pm

blue’s obviously you’re favorite color
:evil:
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Re: The Manila Tales –A Summer-ish Series (Updated 7/10)

Post by bhtooefr » Thu Jul 10, 2014 6:54 pm

Hoitash wrote:When Hisato had settled down, they hopped off, and we didn’t get off until we were deep within a more modern section of the city, with skyscrapers and shops mixing with vender’s carts and wagons.
Vendor is the usual form of that word, although vender isn't wrong per se. Also, I'd go for vendors', not vendor's.
Hoitash wrote:As I walked out of the changing room to demonstrate my new potential clothing, I couldn’t help but wonder how many times had the Nakai’s gone to Manila that Satomi thought clothes shopping to be a major highlight.
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Re: The Manila Tales –A Summer-ish Series (Updated 7/10)

Post by Hoitash » Fri Jul 11, 2014 1:55 am

Mirage_GSM wrote:
blue’s obviously you’re favorite color
:evil:
Whoops, better go fix that misuse of what I thought was possessive (bad me, no biscuit).
Hoitash wrote:As I walked out of the changing room to demonstrate my new potential clothing, I couldn’t help but wonder how many times had the Nakai’s gone to Manila that Satomi thought clothes shopping to be a major highlight.
And another wrong possessive. These things do seem to come in threes.

Fixed, and thank you for your patience as I continue to attempt to learn the English language :)
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Re: The Manila Tales –A Summer-ish Series (Updated 7/17)

Post by Hoitash » Thu Jul 17, 2014 10:58 am

“'Cause I see you feeling down,
I'll be trying to calm and fade it,
But you don't wanna turn around,
Teenage is so complicated.” –Aimee B.’s “Light Your Heart Up”

Previous Chapter

Chapter Eight: The Friend’s Tale


After a day of shopping and wandering around the city, which ended with Miya taking what seemed like a million photos of the sunset along the bay, we all returned to the suite to rest and relax away the day’s efforts. I felt like I owed Maiko a call, so before Mr. Nakai took his telescope outside, I headed out onto the balcony to call her.

Nestled well within the suburbs, a good distance from the outlying slums, it was relatively quiet outside. The city noise was far away, and the activity of the surrounding area a dull murmur. The heat of the day had subsided somewhat, though it was still oppressively humid. I sat down on the balcony floor against the wall, folding my knees up to my chest so I could let the heat of the concrete seep into my feet. It was a soothing feeling, and one of the reasons I preferred to go barefoot, besides simple habit.

When my feet were nice and warm and the rest of me covered in a sheen of sweat –something I had become accustomed to in Manila- I pulled out my phone and called my friend. It rang once before clicking, and Maiko’s weary but perky voice rang out.

“Hey, Muscles,” Maiko greeted, “You remembered me!”

“Of course I did,” I stated, “Did I call at a bad time?”

“No, your timing’s great, actually. I’m kinda bored right now. I actually started picking my toes for the second time today.”

“Keeping busy in Tokyo, then.”

“I try. I mean it’s the city, not much else to say. But enough about me, how’s Manila? Eat anything weird yet? See any cool sights? Did you buy me a present?”

“Yes, yes, and yes,” I replied. Rolling my eyes at her exuberance, I remarked, “You’re acting like one of the kids I’m with.”

“Oh yeah, what’re these family friends like? They got kids?”

“Yeah,” I replied; I didn’t mind talking about them as long as it was as abstract as possible, “One pair just have a four year-old son, and the other family have two girls and a boy.”

“Is he cute?”

I wrinkled my nose, “He’s eleven.”

“That doesn’t answer the question, you know, but okay. What’re the girls like?”

“Well,” I paused, unsure if I wanted to tell her more. There really wasn’t any harm in doing so, though, so I continued, “the older one’s ten and kind of a brat, but her heart’s in the right place, and the younger one is five and… weird.”

“How so?”

“She has ADD and likes to explore closets.”

“Huh. Weird.”

“Exactly. She’s really sweet though, and definitely doesn’t think like a five year-old.”

“Sounds like you got some good company,” Maiko stated, “Now what’s the boy like?”

I sighed and slumped against the wall, “Shy, quiet, tends to pop up unnoticed,” I replied. Realizing the connection I hadn’t really noticed until I verbalized it, I ended up blurting out, “He’s a lot like the Director, actually. I mean Aunt Hana. Shit….”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Maiko chirped, grabbing the hook I had accidently set out and seizing it, “Did you just say Director Aunt Hana? Is this a Hana Hana, or a Hanako Hana?”

I sighed, and, since the cat was out of the bag, replied, “Hanako.”

“…Please tell me you’re not traveling with Hanako Nakai, the renowned author and member of the Yamaku Foundation Board of Directors.”

To have connected those dots and come up with the right answer was a bit of a logical leap, sure, but Maiko was a member of the literature club, and that meant a slightly unorthodox thinking process. Especially since Mrs. Nakai was usually very popular with the literature club, depending on membership.

Now faced with the possibility of revealing more of my life or lying to my best friend, I suppressed a sigh and told her the truth.

“Yes, I’m travelling with the Nakai’s and their old friends from Yamaku, the Setou’s.”

“Setou? That crazy conspiracy writer?”

“He’s not crazy,” I snapped.

“If you say so. Wait, you know Mrs. Nakai! Crap, I need to meet her so she can sign all my books!”

I raised an eyebrow as I asked, “Aren’t they all signed already?”

“Not all of them, especially not the first editions. Wait, she’s a Director, she’ll be on campus sooner or later. Or I can get the club Prez to ask her to come to a meeting. Okay, crisis averted.”

“I’m relieved,” I quipped.

“Anyway, the boy, you said he’s like Mrs. Nakai, right?”

“Yeah,” I said, relieved that Maiko wasn’t asking why or how I knew one of the Directors so personally, “he actually seems kinda skittish around me. Get’s flustered when we talk, but at the same time seems to wanna play chess with me a lot.”

“It’s probably nothing; he’s probably just nervous around girls.”

“He has two sisters.”

Maiko sighed, and I could practically see her roll her eyes as she explained, “Sisters don’t count. Anyway, it sounds like you’re having fun down there.”

“I am, although the motorcycle ride with Mrs. Nakai… fuck it, Aunt Hana,” she told me to call her that, so I might as well start saying it, “was a little more excitement then I like.”

“…You got to ride on a motorcycle with Mrs. Nakai? And you get to call her Aunt Hana! I am officially jealous of you now.”

I smirked and rolled my eyes, “Maybe the present I got you will salve your jealousy.”

“Probably. What’re you doing tomorrow?”

“Ocean Park. Apparently we’re close-ish to a massive aquarium, so we’ll be spending most of the day there.”

“Sounds kinda cool, I guess. What do you plan to see there?”

I shrugged despite the futility of the gesture, “Fish, I guess.”

“…Fish.”

“Hey, I’m new at this.”

“Visiting Manila?”

“…Taking vacations,” I replied.

“Ah, gotcha,” Maiko stated, “Sounds like you’re getting the hang of it, though. You’re using sunscreen, right?”

I rolled my eyes, “Yes, Ma’am.”

“Good; I seriously doubt your skin is SP-30.”

I smirked lightly at the remark about my skin tone. It was something I was a bit self conscious about, but was thankfully enough of a non-issue to not bother me too much.

“Speaking of vacations,” I said, feeling like I had been asked enough questions, “how’s yours been so far?”

“Can’t complain. Went shopping with my Mom, hung out with some old friends around town, nothing too exciting, but it’s definitely a nice change of pace –those dorms are way too small.”

“They don’t seem that small,” I remarked.

“To each their own; guess one of the perks of the suburbs is we have a bit more room than the city goers. Speaking of which, what’s Manila like? I heard it’s huge.”

“Well, yeah,” so much for me not getting asked more questions, “It’s a really old city after all, although today was the first day I had a chance to really experience it.”

I spent a while describing the city and resort to Maiko, until evening had given way to night and mosquitoes started to buzz around me. One of them got near enough to the receiver for Maiko to ask what it was.

“Mosquitoes,” I replied, “They never bite me, though.”

“Lucky. Wow, I just realized what time it is. I better let you go so you can get to bed and get up to swim.”

“Good idea. Sorry if your bill’s high this month, by the way.”

“Hey, I’d be upset if you didn’t call me. Which you better do again before you leave.”

“I will,” I promised, “See you.”

“Bye.”

I hung up the phone and shoved it into my pocket while I heaved myself up. Now thoroughly covered in a layer of sweat and surrounded by mosquitoes, I moved to open the door just as Mr. Nakai… Uncle Hisao, opened it a crack, holding what looked like a cup with a plate over it. He lifted the plate and a mosquito buzzed off to join its fellows. Before any others could infiltrate the suite he shut the door again, giving me a sheepish grimace to show he had seen me. I nodded and quickly cracked the door open to slide past before shutting it behind me.

“Sorry about that,” Uncle Hisao said, “Didn’t wanna risk letting more in.”

“I understand,” I stated, “although it seems like a lot of trouble for a little insect.”

Uncle Hisao sighed and glanced behind him, where Miya and Aunt Hana were playing chess at the dining room table, “It does, doesn’t it?”

Without looking up from her game, Aunt Hana asked, “did you say something, dear?”

“Nope,” Uncle Hisao replied, “Anyway, it’s getting late, so if you wanted to hit the pool you might wanna go to bed soon.”

“Unless you wanna play a game of chess,” Akio called from the living room area.

“Or checkers!” Satomi called from the bedroom.

“You sound awfully awake for someone who should be asleep,” Aunt Hana remarked.

“She’s talking in her sleep,” Refia interjected from the bedroom.

“More like shouting,” Miya mused.

“Go to bed!” Uncle Hisao snapped.

“I’ll take care of it, if that’s alright,” I said.

Uncle Hisao nodded and started rubbing his temples with his right hand.

“Thank you,” Aunt Hana said, then added to Miya, “Check.”

“Huh? Oh…”

I smirked and left the adults and Akio to go deal with Satomi and Refia. It was weird thinking of these people as family, but it also made sense; they took me in and invited me into their lives, cared about me, helped me… last I checked, that’s what a family did.

That and make sure certain children went to sleep when they were supposed to.

+++
Next Chapter

Being able to put Satomi in a sleeper hold will probably help with that.

One of the fun things about being in a state that’s half swamp is the mosquitoes. By “fun” I mean “BURN ALL THE STAGNANT POOLS” and by “half swamp” I mean “we drained most of them for condos.”

Still a very wet state. Not Minnesota wet, but close (plus we have salmon. And perch. Lake perch. You know, ‘cuz of the lakes.)
Last edited by Hoitash on Thu Jul 24, 2014 10:50 am, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: The Manila Tales –A Summer-ish Series (Updated 7/17)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Thu Jul 17, 2014 1:13 pm

Ah, just what I need to take my mind off that grimdark story of brythain's.

And she should worry about her own phone bill as well...
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

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Re: The Manila Tales –A Summer-ish Series (Updated 7/17)

Post by Hoitash » Thu Jul 17, 2014 1:20 pm

Mirage_GSM wrote:Ah, just what I need to take my mind off that grimdark story of brythain's.
One can only take so much grimdark before they're left sobbing in a corner spooning a bottle of vodka.

I mean... uhm... moving on....

(And yes, this is coming from the Warhammer 40K player.)
And she should worry about her own phone bill as well...
True, although it's not like she has a whole lot to do with whatever funds she does receive (besides books, used blue jeans, and Pocky sticks, that is.)
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Re: The Manila Tales –A Summer-ish Series (Updated 7/17)

Post by Serviam » Fri Jul 18, 2014 5:20 am

For some reason, I'm imagining the Nakais munching on some balut on their way to the Ocean Park. :D
"What the government is good at is collecting taxes, taking away your freedoms and killing people. It’s not good at much else."
- Tom Clancy summing up l'état in a nutshell

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Re: The Manila Tales –A Summer-ish Series (Updated 7/17)

Post by Hoitash » Fri Jul 18, 2014 10:11 am

Serviam wrote:For some reason, I'm imagining the Nakais munching on some balut on their way to the Ocean Park. :D
...There is nothing I could say after seeing that that could not be misconstrued, so I'm just gonna... go... somewhere....
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Re: The Manila Tales –A Summer-ish Series (Updated 7/10)

Post by griffon8 » Fri Jul 18, 2014 9:52 pm

Your numbering is off. You have two Chapter Sixes, so the latest is actually Chapter Eight.
Hoitash wrote:“Mom has Refia, right?” Satomi asked while we walked.

Miya nodded, “Yet and still.”
I am not familiar with this. What is meant here? Context tells me what it’s supposed to mean, but I don’t understand it.
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Re: The Manila Tales –A Summer-ish Series (Updated 7/10)

Post by Hoitash » Fri Jul 18, 2014 10:06 pm

griffon8 wrote:Your numbering is off. You have two Chapter Sixes, so the latest is actually Chapter Eight.
Huh, now how did that happen.

Probably a plot by Tzeentch. Well, thanks for noticing, the forces of Chaos have once again been thwarted by the stalwart defenders of the Imperium of Man.
Hoitash wrote:“Mom has Refia, right?” Satomi asked while we walked.

Miya nodded, “Yet and still.”
I am not familiar with this. What is meant here? Context tells me what it’s supposed to mean, but I don’t understand it.
Since the group had split up, Refia's making sure that Hanako is looking after Refia, and she hasn't wandered off on her own. Miya's just stating that Hanako is still looking after Refia, which she's been doing more or less since they got off the jeepney.
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Re: The Manila Tales –A Summer-ish Series (Updated 7/10)

Post by griffon8 » Sat Jul 19, 2014 1:06 pm

Hoitash wrote:Since the group had split up, Refia's making sure that Hanako is looking after Refia, and she hasn't wandered off on her own. Miya's just stating that Hanako is still looking after Refia, which she's been doing more or less since they got off the jeepney.
Yes, but if don’t understand the use of the word ‘yet’ here.
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Re: The Manila Tales –A Summer-ish Series (Updated 7/10)

Post by Hoitash » Sat Jul 19, 2014 1:24 pm

griffon8 wrote:
Hoitash wrote:Since the group had split up, Refia's making sure that Hanako is looking after Refia, and she hasn't wandered off on her own. Miya's just stating that Hanako is still looking after Refia, which she's been doing more or less since they got off the jeepney.
Yes, but if don’t understand the use of the word ‘yet’ here.
"Yet and still" is just one of those phrases people use. It's not very grammatically correct, but that's never stopped people before.
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Re: The Manila Tales –A Summer-ish Series (Updated 7/24)

Post by Hoitash » Thu Jul 24, 2014 10:49 am

“Not all those who wander are lost,” –JRR Tolkien, The Lords of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring

Previous Chapter

Chapter Nine: The Second Daughter’s Tale


This may come as a severe shock, but before the trip to Manila I had never been to an aquarium before. I figured the others had been to this particular one in the past, judging by how apathetic Satomi seemed to the day’s agenda. Although it was hard to tell with her sometimes, since her default setting seemed to be perpetual boredom interspersed with bouts of apathy and occasionally, intense passion.

I wouldn’t want to be Aunt Hana or Uncle Hisao when she hit puberty.

We reached the ocean park around late morning, this time taking a bus straight there from the resort. The driver seemed marginally less suicidal than most of the city’s residents, probably to help keep the tourists and foreigners from having a heart attack in transit. The bus dropped us off in front of and to the side of the building, close to the main entrance but far enough away that we wouldn’t run into parking lot foot traffic while getting off the bus.

Even though it was the middle of the week, the place looked pretty busy, with plenty of families wandering in to and out of the park. The park itself was a vast, multi-story building with various bodies of water arrayed in front of it. The sections of water were themselves their own exhibits, and before any of them was the line to the ticket booth, which stood sentry within a concrete tunnel with a high glass ceiling.

Akio was standing near me while everyone filed off the bus, so I turned to him and asked how many times they had visited the place.

Akio started at the question, which for some reason he always did whenever I spoke to him. Coughing and shuffling his feet, he awkwardly turned to me and replied, “It’s my third time; we went once when I was younger during our first time here –in Manila, I mean- again when Satomi was around six, and the last time we were here –I mean, in Manila –we went, too, because we were with some extended family.”

I nodded and looked to the building, muttering, “I hope they’re not just coming here on my account.”

Akio coughed again, “Um, I’m sure Hisato and Refia being older were part of the reason, too. Besides, I don’t mind coming here. Oceanography is pretty cool. Well, I think so, at least.”

“Nerd,” Satomi muttered, having appeared next to us in the interim.

Akio raised an eyebrow, “Our father is a science teacher. He’s practically the King of the Nerds.”

“I’ll take that as a compliment,” Uncle Hisao remarked. Glancing to Kenji, he asked, “Ready?”

Kenji nodded, “Yup. Alright people, listen up.”

Everyone in our group turned to Kenji, who readjusted his glasses and glanced around in the general direction of each of us before continuing.

“I know this isn’t the first trip for most of you, but today’s gonna be a nice, relaxing day looking at the fish and jellyfish doing their fish and jellyfish things.”

Satomi raised a hand, “So we’re not doing the Antarctica section again? Because I’d really appreciate it if we never did that again.”

Akio glanced at his sister, “Tom didn’t have a problem with it.”

“Tom doesn’t count –he has some sort of animal affinity sixth sense. Or fifth sense, in his case.”

“Ahem,” Kenji grunted. Smiling lightly, he added, “No, we’re not going back to the penguins. I still say one of them was giving me dirty looks....”

“Anyway,” Uncle Hisao chimed in, “Everyone put your phones on vibrate and make sure you only text. You can roam around as much as you like, as long as you don’t go it alone. If you get lost and freak out, text one of us and stay where you are, and we’ll come find you.”

“Unless you can see an employee from where you are,” Miya added, “Then talk to them.”

“Any questions?” Kenji asked.

Refia raised her hand, “Can I go with Hee-neesan?”

“Me, too,” Satomi added.

“If it’s okay with her,” Uncle Hisao said, glancing to me for confirmation.

I smirked and nodded at the sisters, “Sure, I’d like the company and experience from previous visitors.”

“We should get in line,” Aunt Hana interjected.

Uncle Hisao nodded, and he and Miya started herding the children toward the ticket booths. After looking around a bit, Kenji sidled up next to me as I followed the rest.

“Hope that big spiel didn’t worry you,” he said.

I shook my head, “It’s okay. Is getting lost going to be a real problem?”

“It can be,” Kenji replied, “Small children, big place. Not good combinations.”

“I’ll make sure to keep an eye on them.”

Kenji glanced down at me, his face oddly serious, “I know you will. And if anything starts to get to you, we’re here.”

Guess news of my earlier nightmare had travelled fast. Or maybe Kenji just knew my triggers well enough to surmise I’d have at least one nightmare during the trip. Either way, I appreciated his concern, and told him as much, which earned me a smile and a pat on the head.

Being in charge of Satomi and Refia would be tricky, but, considering I could lead a club of training martial artists, two girls couldn’t be much more difficult. Especially if one was constantly holding the hand of the other.

The ticket line was short, so it didn’t take too long for us to get through. Aunt Hana seemed nervous as we moved, even though she was between Uncle Hisao, the kids, and Miya. Whether it was anxiety about the crowds, or concern for the kids, I couldn’t say.

The line had moved slowly but rhythmically, and eventually we got our tickets and passed through to the ocean park proper. Now that the people were spread out and heading to various events and attractions, the place seemed more open and less crowded. There were still plenty of people and families roaming around, but they were less constrained, or at least seemed like it.

After getting our tickets but before we fully entered the park, the adults reminded the kids again the importance of sticking together, to obey the park’s rules, and that they’d text when it was time to reconnoiter for lunch. Once they were sure the kids would listen and used the restroom if the needed it, Kenji and Miya headed off with Hisato, while Uncle Hisao and Aunt Hana went their own way with Akio.

“So,” I said, glancing at Satomi, “Where to next?”

Satomi turned to Refia, who was looking intently at a posted map of the park, complete with a “You are Here” arrow, conveniently labeled in several languages, like all of the park signs. After a few moments Satomi tugged Refia’s arm, and she turned around to face us.

“Can we go see the fish first?” Refia asked, “I like fish.”

“Not surprising, considering how much you have in common with them,” Satomi remarked.

Refia tilted her head, “How so?”

“You both wander around and stare blankly at other people.”

“Oh.”

I looked to Satomi, “Are you okay with the aquarium first?”

Satomi shrugged, “Whatever.”

“Sounds like a plan, then,” I declared.

“Can I lead the way?” Refia asked.

I raised an eyebrow, considering her question. Having the wandering five year-old who poked around in closets leading us seemed like a… less than good idea. On the other hand, the aquarium itself was pretty linear, and as long as one of us was holding on to her, we would likely be fine. Besides, she had looked at the map, even if only briefly.

“Okay, Little Albatross,” I said, “Guide us through to port.”

“What’s an albatross?” Refia asked.

“It’s a big bird,” Satomi replied, “kinda like a sea gull, but way less annoying.”

I nodded, “Sailors consider them good luck because they can lead boats out to sea back to the harbor. There’s actually an old English poem about a boat and an albatross. One of the sailors kills it, and the crew slowly dies off, except for the man who shot it; he has to wander the earth and tell his tale as a warning to other sailors to respect nature.”

Satomi sighed, “I’m surrounded by nerds. No offense.”

“None taken,” I stated.

“Let’s go,” Refia declared, “Fish!”

Before Satomi or I could say anything else, Refia was off, dragging Satomi along with her. Refia wasn’t actually walking that fast, so if Satomi had wanted to stop her, she probably could have. Instead, she just rolled her eyes and went with it, smirking lightly as Refia headed toward the aquarium, me following close behind.

Refia seemed to know where she was going as she led us to the aquarium section, and it wasn’t long before we found ourselves in a tunnel surrounded by water and fish of a plethora of shapes, sizes, and color.

It was a little disorienting being completely surrounded by water. Shimmering swarms of fish the size of my thumb swam above us. Lone fish the size of my head or larger lazily made their way on either side of us, while large and small schools of large and small fish did the same. Shadows and shimmers danced and flashed around us, giving the sense that we were actually underwater. Well, maybe not, but it was pretty cool.

Refia seemed the share my sentiment, looking up at the water ceiling while smiling widely, “It’s like a reverse aquarium!”

Satomi looked around at the myriad of fish as they swam around. Some were alone, some were in small schools, others looked like a cloud of multi-colored scales. Pointing at one, she remarked, “I think I ate that kind yesterday.”

Refia glared up at her sister, “Don’t talk about that around them. You’ll hurt their feelings and make Hee-neesan hungry.”

Satomi rolled her eyes, while I watched the fish. What Satomi had said had gotten me curious, so I started looking around the aquarium, trying to find one particular kind of fish.

“Do you see any milkfish?” I asked.

“What do they look like?” Satomi asked.

“Silvery,” I replied, “and they like to hang around coral.”

“There’s some coral up ahead,” Refia said, “Let’s go.”
"Who are you, that do not know your history?" -Ulysses
Misha Time: United States of Misha Meet the Hakamichis
Awesome, served on the rocks: Hisao and Kenji- Master Detectives! (Check out the Archive for more!)
I wrote a book! Brythain edited it! If you like mystery and history please consider: A Sister's Habit
"You are absolutely insane. And entertaining." -griffon8

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Hoitash
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Re: The Manila Tales –A Summer-ish Series (Updated 7/24)

Post by Hoitash » Thu Jul 24, 2014 10:50 am

Part II:

Once again Refia dragged Satomi forward, and me along with her. For someone who was used to being metaphorically leashed, she could be oddly assertive when she wanted. Just another addition to the mystery that was the youngest Nakai.

Once we were in front of the mass of coral, Refia stopped and started looking for the milkfish. Satomi seemed more interested in the coral itself, which was a myriad of colors and shapes; bright red branches, bulbous yellow semi-spheres, and all sorts of variations of both. A few small fish were picking their way through the coral, while several larger fish wandered aimlessly about, their eyes staring off blankly as they slowly swam about.

“Do you see them?” Refia asked.

“Not yet,” I replied, “although, since they tend to travel in large schools, I imagine they’d be hard to miss.”

Refia turned to look up at me, “Fish go to school?”

Satomi sighed, “You know, that joke wasn’t funny when I was your age.”

Refia turned to Satomi for a second, then went back to looking at the fish.

“You said they were silvery, right?” Refia asked.

“Yup,” I replied, “And they look kinda thin and long, like…”

“A fish?” Satomi suggested.

“…A minnow, maybe? A big minnow?”

“What’s a minnow?” Refia asked.

“Uh, never mind,” I said; there wasn’t much point in describing the thing I was using as a simile.

Satomi gave me a sidelong glance that seemed to be a combination of “I know your pain” and “nerd.” Although I tend to think of it as just spending too much time reading Wikipedia. Either way, before Satomi could give in to the urge to utter whatever snarky comment she was undoubtedly forming, Refia chirped and hopped in place once.

As she started pointing, she stated, “There they are! I think.”

We all watched as an oscillating swarm of silver appeared from behind a large chunk of coral. A few other visitors chirped and pointed as the school came close enough for us make sure they were the sought after fish.

“That’s them,” I declared.

“Huh,” Satomi said, “They are kinda pretty. Look kinda dumb, but I guess that’s what you get for being at the low end of the food chain.”

Refia turned to glare at Satomi, “Nee-chan, they’re right there!”

Satomi rolled her eyes and waved at the school, “Sorry, milkfish. Even if you are delicious.”

Refia sighed and waved at the fish, “Sorry fish. She just doesn’t understand the sanctity of life.”

The silver mass shimmered, as if their tiny little brains were reciprocating the gesture, and then the school leisurely swam off into the distance.

We wandered through the rest of the aquarium, Satomi and Refia occasionally pointing out random fish that struck their fancy. Every once in a while I knew something about them from my research for the trip, which usually earned me a sidelong glance from Satomi.

Eventually my cell phone started vibrating in my pocket. I figured it was just Miya letting us know to meet up for lunch, and that’s more or less what the text message she sent said. I let Refia and Satomi know it was time to regroup, and Refia once again led the way. Though I was getting used to having her lead us, the notion was still a little unnerving.

Satomi seemed fine with it, never questioning a turn or move Refia made. Although considering the number of times Refia went one way and Satomi almost went another, even with the two holding hands, Satomi probably had no idea where we were or headed.

We reconnoitered with the others easily enough; Miya’s energetic waving giving them away long before we were within conversation range.

“See you found us easily enough,” Uncle Hisao remarked.

“I’m an albatross!” Refia declared.

Hisao smirked, “You seem to be missing a few feathers.”

Miya chuckled and recited, “Ah! Well a-day! What evil looks / Had I from old and young!

Instead of the cross, the albatross / About my neck was hung!” I finished.

Satomi sighed, while Refia just looked confusedly at both of us.

“I wasn’t around your neck,” she said.

“It’s just a line from the poem,” Satomi explained, “Shouldn’t we go get food?”

“Excellent suggestion,” Uncle Hisao declared.

The food court was pretty ordinary -overpriced and relatively crowded- though we managed to find a somewhat remote corner to eat at. During the meal, Refia kept wanting to wander off and look at things, rather than eat her food. Miya and Kenji were looking after Hisato, while Satomi and Akio started bantering with each other. Uncle Hisao put a stop to that pretty quickly, by asking Satomi what she thought of the aquarium this time around.

“The coral was pretty,” she replied, “I forgot how many different colors there were, so that was kinda cool. Oh, and we looked for some of the fish we’d been eating.”

Uncle Hisao raised an eyebrow and turned to me, “They weren’t much trouble then, I take it?”

I shook my head, “Nothing I can’t handle, and Refia was a big help with directions and pointing out fish.”

Refia turned from whatever random thing she had been looking at towards me, “I make a good albatross?”

I smiled and nodded, which seemed to make Refia happy.

After lunch, the three of us and the Nakais headed off to the jellyfish exhibit. The jellyfish area was dark, with dimly glowing lights in the ceiling or around the various tanks or cylindrical tubes that served as home for the various floating jellies. The tubes and tanks were spaced out along the exhibit, and in most cases went from floor to ceiling, allowing for a complete view of the strange creatures.

Like the fish before, the jellies came in a variety of shapes, sizes, and even colors. Some were large, bulbous things, while others were smaller than my hand, and slowly moved about in clustered swarms. Most had transparent membranes so you could see right through them, while a few had a dull yellow or violet hue to them. For every one that had tentacles trailing down from the ceiling, there was one with a line of short tentacles arrayed along its mushroom like head, for lack of a better term.

Refia watched as a jellyfish roughly as big as her flapped its bulbous membrane to heft itself higher up in one of the large cylinder-shaped aquariums, its yellow-tinted tendrils lazily wafting below what passed for its head.

“I don’t think I get jellyfish,” Refia declared.

“There’s not a whole lot to get,” Satomi replied, “They just sort of… float.”

“They look weird,” Refia added.

“They’re also dangerous,” Satomi stated, “I’ve heard sometimes a beach will be loaded with so many, they’ll have to close it down.”

I had an image of thousands of tiny stinging harpoons jabbing into my nervous system and reflexively started scratching my right arm. I started remembering the morphine injections from my withdrawal recovery, and I started scratching harder through my sleeve.

“…They’re not all bad, though,” I stated, “I mean, sure, they look weird, but they do have a sort of majestic quality to them.”

Satomi turned to me and raised an eyebrow, “Majestic? Hey, you okay?”

I looked down and noticed I was still feverishly scratching my right arm. My skin felt warm from the friction, and my sleeve was ruffled from the movement.

The moment had passed and I was mostly okay, so I forced my hands to my side and nodded, “I’m fine.”

Satomi kept her eyes on my for a couple seconds, then turned back to the jellyfish.

“They are kinda pretty,” Refia stated, “In a creepy sort of way.”

Satomi tilted her head to the side, narrowing her eyes at the strange creature, “Maybe. The color variation is kinda cool, especially when they’re just a bunch of membranes and polyps, or whatever.”

“Still wouldn’t wanna be here around feeding time,” I muttered.

Satomi nodded and started steering Refia to more brightly colored –and smaller- jellies.

The jellyfish section was more confined than the aquarium, which meant our groups could spread out a bit and still maintain line of sight, even with the other people around. This meant we occasionally saw the Nakais as they looked around, and every now and then we passed by them on our respective ways.

For some reason, I seemed to run across Akio more than his parents. Eventually we ended up looking at the same tank together, Satomi and Refia a pace to my left as they looked at a different, nearby jelly.

“So,” Akio said as we watched the large, flat jelly waft slowly upward, “Having a good time?”

I nodded, “Yeah, although I’m not sure how I feel about the jellyfish.”

“The whole painful poison thing freaking you out?” he asked.

I nodded and resisted the urge to start scratching my arm again, “Reminds me of needles. I hate needles.”

“I don’t think anyone likes needles,” Akio remarked, “When Satomi got vaccinated she was a mess for the rest of the day.”

“That Doctor made it hurt on purpose!” Satomi snapped, apparently deciding to join our conversation.

“You did bite him,” Akio reminded her.

Satomi opened her mouth to retort, but I gave her a look and she held it in. Refia started trying to head for another tank, which distracted Satomi from the two of us for a moment.

“Looks like we need to move on,” I said, “Little Albatross wants to go over there.”

Akio grinned and nodded, “Yeah, I should head back to Mom and Dad,” he turned around to make sure they were still close by, “Um, until we meet again, I guess?”

I nodded, “Bye.”

Akio smiled, nodded, then wandered back to his parents.

I turned back to the two girls. Refia was still trying to walk toward the new tank, Satomi pulling her back before she got too far. Satomi was only half paying attention to her sister, watching Akio leave with a speculative look on her face.

“You wanna look over there?” I asked Refia.

Refia nodded and started pulling harder. I gave Satomi a quick nod and she let her sister lead her off. I followed the two, and while we walked, I couldn’t help wondering if the old poem might be even more apt then I originally thought.

+++
Next Chapter

Well, at least Hanako’ll have some company when she meditates.

The poem referenced is Samuel Taylor Coleridge’s The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. Miya is familiar with the poem because she reads up on the literature of places where she’s going to work, because it helps her get a feel for the people (Kenji does something similar with his historical studies.)

Soon-hee, as was mentioned in the Christmas Special, has developed a taste for foreign literature, helped along by the fact she is (more or less) trilingual.

Oh, and for you Firefly fans, this is the poem Mal was talking about to the Operative with Inara during Serenity.
Last edited by Hoitash on Fri Aug 01, 2014 7:54 pm, edited 3 times in total.
"Who are you, that do not know your history?" -Ulysses
Misha Time: United States of Misha Meet the Hakamichis
Awesome, served on the rocks: Hisao and Kenji- Master Detectives! (Check out the Archive for more!)
I wrote a book! Brythain edited it! If you like mystery and history please consider: A Sister's Habit
"You are absolutely insane. And entertaining." -griffon8

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