Act 2 Part 4: Lunacentricism
Maybe I shouldn’t have slept for 14 hours.
Actually, I have no clue as to how long I’ve slept. I slapped my alarm clock off the nightstand two ‘wakeups’ ago. Judging by how sunlight is streaming through the window, I either had a terrible night’s sleep or I dropped into a coma somewhere around 2 P.M,
I rub my eyes, more as a confirmation that I’m still alive, than anything else. I feel like I probably should’ve done something today. Isn’t that what normal people do? Do things?
I think the fact that I’m now a functional paraplegic overshadows that for now. It feels like knives are cutting into my legs if I so much as dare to move them. I really hope Emi takes the weekends off, but deep in my broken heart I know that she’s two more missed-days away from breaking my door down.
I know it’s not healthy, but I can skip one day, right?
Still, moping around and developing bedsores isn’t going to help me in any-way. I gently push the covers off, glancing around the nearly empty room. It’s actually slightly off-putting how cold this room feels. Its even more dull than my room back home. Maybe I should spice it up a little, but how? I have no idea for posters or cut-outs I could plaster the walls with. Even with that apparent lack of inspiration, it couldn’t hurt to make this room at least somewhat lived in.
Then again, I couldn’t count my interests on two hands; Current goals include ‘not dying’ and ‘not flunking’. Granted, they’re pretty important interests, but I’d rather seem interesting to people. Sociopathic habits notwithstanding.
Maybe a welcome mat outside of the door. Something like, ‘Welcome to the home of that boring guy with absolutely no interests who has trouble fitting in here!’. At least then they’ll know who and what to expect.
I rotate so that I’m sitting on the edge of the bed, before taking a few unsteady steps toward the closet. As I throw it open, I realized to my half-hearted dismay that I had only one pair of clothes that wasn’t provided by the school. A blue-checkered sweater-vest stares back at me, as if daring me to wear it. A pair of dark slacks lies crumpled in the corner, somehow it managed to fall off it’s coat-hanger.
Well, if they didn’t think I was an awkward dork, they sure as hell would know now.
I sigh, pulling the unsightly outfit off the hanger, slipping it overtop my white T-shirt. I look out of the window yet again, as if confirming that I did indeed sleep that long. Honestly, the view isn’t all that bad. I was lucky enough to get a dorm facing outwards on the second floor. Through the leafy trees, I can just make out the valley that the school overlooks.
It’s absolutely covered in fog, a byproduct of the gale yesterday. It could’ve raged for the duration of my slumber and I wouldn’t have known.
Thinking of the sudden storm reminds me of yesterday. Honestly, I’m pretty proud of myself. I managed to not ruin a single potential friendship, not one!
It’s pretty depressing that in my eyes, that that was an accomplishment. Still, I didn’t completely ruin it, Perhaps I still have a chance.
Yesterday, and the day before have taught me that my mistakes are not necessarily permanent.
Of course, that train of thought brings me back to Aoi. I can’t help it, it was such a strange personality shift. She seemed bright and chipper that night at the festival, and recently she seemed… detached almost. Then again, I’ve had my own bad days where I think about nothing except how much of a loser I am, so I can’t really blame her.
Maybe I’m the crazy one.
A long, and prolonged growl emanating from my stomach brings me back to reality. I guess I finally rubberbanded from sleeping for… I’ll just say 16 hours to be safe.
I don’t think I can stomach the cafeteria food, if its even open today. My dorm room might as well be Ireland for the current famine that’s going on, and I don’t feel like bloating myself on snack cakes from the convenience store.
The light at the end of the tunnel is my wallet, currently in the possession of 2000 yen. I could buy a decent meal some place with that kind of money.
And from the pain pulsing from my midsection, I’m going to need it. I think it’s even overpowering the stinging in my legs at this point.
Eager to get moving, I throw on the pair of black slacks, thankfully remembering to zip up the fly. I search around for my shoes, finding them in the corner at the other-side of the room. I completely blanked out when I got back to my dorm, so I can’t remember how they got there.
Nevertheless, I fit them onto my feet, noticing that one of the laces is a tad bit frayed. At this point, I wouldn’t be surprised if Yamaku had it’s own cobbler.
I hear fragments of conversation pass through the hall, reminding me that I’m not alone here. Something about something I don’t particularly care about. It fades out, passing through like it never even happened.
Finally, I stand up, moving towards the door. I’d better get a move on before this hunger consumes me alive.
I turn onto the next street, walking under the setting sun. It’s gotten surprisingly low. Depending how long I’m going to be there, I guess I might be walking back to Yamaku in the dark.
I pass by a few people, all town residents. Looks like most of them are hurrying home as the sun sets. It feels almost strange, this town. I don’t see too many cars pass through here, and all of the businesses and houses look like they’ve been standing for the past decade.
It’s almost like traveling back in time.
I look around, noticing that everything is either closed or closing. Shopkeepers lock their doors and walk home, content with another day’s worth of capitalism. They probably have more money in their pockets then I’ve owned in the past year.
This isn’t good news. I came down here in the hopes of finding some kind, any kind of restaurant to satisfy my self-consuming hunger. Now, it looks like everything’s either closed for the day, or is in the process of closing.
Terrific. My streak of luck has just been so kind to me lately.
I walk through an alternating pattern of both sunlight and shadow, as I dodge a telephone pole some sadistic planner decided would be best placed in the center of the sidewalk. Glancing around, all my eyes are met with are black, empty windows.
Maybe I should just go back to the dorm. I can probably survive a night without dinner at this point anyway, even if Emi would call me out on it.
I round the next corner, ready to walk back up the hill to my bed that’s probably considered my twin for how much of my DNA is embedded into the sheets. However, something in the corner of the eye makes me stop for but a moment.
I turn down the street, hoping that the Shanghai is still open. I make my way through an alleyway, past a grocery store, and down a small hill. Sure enough, the Shanghai is brightly lit, warm yellow light spilling onto the street outside the store. Thank God, it’s open.
I walk towards the front entrance of the Shanghai, peering inside through the wide windows. I see a few customers mulling about, but nothing exceptionally noteworthy. Then again, I don’t think anything noteworthy has happened in this town for quite a while. Maybe in the past 30 years.
In any case, I’m just glad that I’m not going to starve to death here.
I open the door to the Shanghai, walking into the restaurant and out of the cool air. My body immediately relaxes due to the temperature difference, I even feel goosebumps appearing along my arms. I sigh, feeling all the tensions and tribulations of the day fall off my shoulders. It’s almost as if I walked into an invisible blanket draped over the front entrance.
My stomach growls, reminding me of my current predicament. I begin to look around for an angel from the heavens…or a waitress. A quick scan of the surrounding area reveals nothing. As far as I remember from my time here with Shizune and Misha, this is the type of restaurant where you wait to be seated, so I remain still, not sure what I’m supposed to do. It seems like its been so long since I have been here that I forgot what the place even looked like, despite only having been gone for a little under two weeks.
Suddenly, a woman rounds one of the tall booths near the back of the restaurant. She’s balancing two platters loaded with dishes and glasses of all shapes and sizes. Unfortunately, as the swaying and clacking of the dishes prove, she’s not particularly good at it. She walks over to the counter where she sets them down rather unceremoniously.
If that entire charade wasn’t enough to convince me who it was, the auburn hair certainly did. Yuuko, again, is waiting the tables. Between her job here and her job at Yamaku, I can’t imagine she gets much time off. I check my watch, just now realizing it’s nearly 7:30.
I clear my throat, desperate to alleviate my hunger. Thankfully, it manages to grab her attention. She jumps, and runs over to me, smoothing out one of the more frayed parts of her uniform.
“H-Hey Hisao! Do you want something? Of course you want something! Why else would you be here?” Yuuko’s eyes are as wide as saucers, and she’s doing all she can to appear normal in front of the few customers in here.
It’s not working.
“I...uh… yeah, I would.” I say, rubbing the back of my neck, trying to get this situation over as quickly as possible. I decide to censor the part about sleeping for 16 hours. I’m pretty sure I at least have some kind of filter.
“I uh… missed lunch.” Looking outside, I realized something else that might’ve been important. “...and dinner too.”
Her eyes drift to the floor for a brief moment, again losing herself in thought. Suddenly her head pops back up, her eyes fluttering from side to side nervously. For some reason I feel a sick sense of relief that I’m not the most awkward person in the room.
"What? Oh my gosh you-must-be-starving! Teenagers can’t go that long without eating!”
She begins to enter what appears to be the first stages of hyperventilation, and I can’t even begin to imagine what kind of panic attack is about to unfold.
I realize that I regret what I thought earlier, now that I feel like an EOD unit approaching a ticking time-bomb.
"Yuuko, it's fine, I skipped lunch…and dinner on purpose!" I say, giving her the most genuine smile I could muster. I probably shouldn’t have done that, given that I doubt any smile of mine in the last year could be considered anything near ‘genuine’. I really hope this random excuse I pulled out of the ether works.
Again she pauses, lost in thought once more. When she finally seems to have snapped out of it, she looks at me quizzically.
Crisis averted, I think.
"Well why would you do that?" She asks, crooking her head to the side.
"Wasn't hungry." I reply, giving a slight shrug. It's true, although it doesn't seem to ease Yuuko’s mind much. Instead she decides to fiddle with her fingers nervously, remaining silent. She stares blankly ahead. I wonder if this happens often. Sure seems like it does.
Her head snaps up, flashing a nervous smile. She bows, I guess that’s etiquette here, and she quickly gestures with her hands.
“Ah, yes! Sorry! Follow me!” Yuuko turns around and starts walking stiffly down an aisle of seats. I look down and tug at my sweatervest, making sure that no wrinkles protrude from the fabric.
Looking upward, I begin to walk behind her, quickly picking up pace as she leaves me behind. No wonder she is able to stay awake… most of the time. She works both jobs at a full sprint rivaling some olympic athletes.
She seats me at a booth next to a large window overlooking the streets. For a brief moment I imagine that this may have been a great place to view the fireworks, it provides a great view of where they were launched over the forested valley. Too bad I’m graduating next year. I guess I’ll never know.
It isn’t long before Yuuko returns with a small notepad and pencil in hand, ready to jot down my order.
“What would you like? I can probably go and make something!”
The thought of Yuuko making everything strikes me as odd. Is she the only worker here? Looking around, I can’t see anyone else waiting the tables.
“Just a coffee and a turkey sandwich, please.”
Might as well ask her, my curiosity is practically bursting at the seams at this point.
“Hey Yuuko, are you the only one working here?”
Once she finishes writing the order she places the notepad in the front pocket of her uniform and places a napkin holder down in the center of the table.
Her face scrunches up, which pretty much answers my question.
“Yes I am. The owner of the diner had to cut a few employees due to the lack of customers recently.” She frowns, as she was probably one of the few the owners worked half to death.
Her eyes suddenly shoot wide open “Oh but I shouldn’t be telling customers that! I’m sorry I’m sorry! There isn’t anything wrong with our food, I assure you! It’s just fine!”
I can see Yuuko working herself up again, but before I can say anything she walks off to begin preparing the meal. I like Yuuko, but I think I have had as much of her I can bear for one day. Just being around her stresses me out, and I’m not even doing anything.
It isn’t long before she is back out with a fresh pot of coffee and a white mug, placing each on the table clumsily and scampering off to attend to the only other occupied table in the restaurant.
I follow her with my eyes to the table, and in my surprise I recognize the two girls sitting there. Keiko and Aoi sit at a table, only a stone’s throw away from me. From my angle, can only get a good look at Keiko. Her arm is on the table propping her head up. From what little I can see of Aoi, her head is looking downward, as if she was reading something. Yuuko finishes up their order, bows in the most ungraceful manner possible, and then leaves to go fetch their order.
It’s a small world I guess. I wonder if I should go talk to them? I mean they both seemed pretty nice earlier today, and the rain kinda prevented any conversation.
A loud crash in the back of the diner startles me. The sounds of pots and pans falling to the floor resonates from what I imagine is the kitchen, and Yuuko’s small cries can be heard throughout the resturant.
I guess the food might be a while...
I guess I might as well go talk to them. After all, we really never got to finish our lunch together. That, and the only thing I have to lose is becoming a social outcast again. Luckily I’m used to that kind of situation by now.
I stand up, grabbing my bag and coffee and straightening out my sweatervest, though all the straightening in the world isn’t going to make me look less like an absolute dork. I begin walking towards them, but before I reach their table Keiko looks up at me and smiles.
“Oh hey Hisao!” she says, waving me over to sit with her. I reach the table, finally able to get a good look at both of them.
Keiko sits at the far end of the booth, wearing a blue tanktop and blue jeans, while Aoi, sitting across from her, is wearing what appears to be a dark-brown vest, with a rather large V-neck, almost reaching the bottom of her rib-cage. Underneath it, she wears a simple grey t-shirt, covering what the vest doesn't.
To be honest, the differences in their attire are pretty jarring.
Aoi turns around, looking at me with tired eyes. She looks like she hasn’t slept at all, and her eyes are visibly darker than before. Almost unnaturally dark. Even though it’s the second time I’ve seen them, it still makes me pause for but a moment.
She has a book open in-front of her, and as she looks at me she slowly brings it inward towards her chest. I’m not sure if it was simply an unconscious reaction, or she didn’t want me to see what she was reading.
“Hey Keiko, hey Aoi. Good morning.” I reply, probably sounding bored already. Screw it, might as well go for it.
“Mind if I sit with you two?”
Keiko smiles warmly as she scoots over to the other end of the booth. She pats where she was sitting with her hand.
“Sure! I was just about to leave, but I can stick around a bit longer. We never got to talk much yesterday, did we?” She says with a grimace, probably just as sad as I was about it. I was actually looking forward to having lunch with someone. You know, try to pretend that I’m normal again. I guess this makes up for it, at least a little bit anyway.
I thank her and sit down, sliding into the booth and leaning into the soft cushiony seat. How does this place get so little business? I can practically sleep in this seat.
It’s been a while since the last time I was here with Shizune and Misha. It seems like so much has happened in the last two weeks that I have had enough adventure for an entire lifetime.
I hope for the life of me that this is as exciting as it’ll get.
“So, do you come here often?” I direct to the both of them, before immediately beginning to blush, embarrassed at my accidental pick-up line.
“Uh, I mean, not like that, you know like-” Both Aoi and Keiko giggle at me figuratively sticking my foot in my mouth. My cheeks are red hot now, and I regret being the first out of the three of us to open their mouth.
Aoi looks up at me, and again I notice how dark her eyes are. I wonder if she is wearing contacts? But why would she wear some so dark? We are inside, after all.
“Not usually, most of the time we order in.” She shrugs, placing her pale arms on the table. I figured just as much, not many people leave the campus regularly, and when they do it is usually to pick up some supplies at the local grocery store.
Yamaku is like a community of it’s own, complete with it’s own wide variety of groups so you can shun everyone else.
It’s so great to be a loner.
Before I can say more, I see Yuuko walking towards my previous booth, not knowing about my relocation. For a one-employee restaurant, they sure deliver the food quickly.
“Hey! Yuuko! Over here!” I call out, trying to get her attention. Luckily it works, but unluckily, however, it seems to have spooked her. Better bring out the disposal kit, H. Nakai, EOD unit.
I imagine getting yelled at when you’re as tired as she is isn’t a great situation to be in. Regardless, she begins to make her way over to the table with wide eyes, a trembling plate of food, and another cup of coffee.
“S-sorry about that! I didn’t realized you moved! Sorry, sorry!” She sits the plate and cup down on the table and takes a step back, fiddling with her fingers. I’m pretty sure she was born with the ‘deer in headlights’ look.
Last edited by Bradycardia
on Wed Nov 19, 2014 9:04 am, edited 2 times in total.