It's over. My first day is over, and it flashed by in the blink of an eye. Before I really know what's happening, I'm back in an empty room 3-3, going over the events of my day. I'm thankful that 3-3 isn't used by any of the clubs. Having my homeroom free to work in is nice, and it also gives me a place to have meetings with students, should that become necessary. Mutou's hallway meetings were functional too, but I prefer complete privacy.
I teach a bunch of classes over the course of the day. Some seem like they'll be better than others. I can already tell that I'm going to end up playing favorites. Every teacher says that they won't, but in the end, it's just the naïve hope of neophytes. The fact that I can tell that a day in is both telling and a little depressing.
Today there are no papers to grade. I will have more time than I likely will any other school day for the rest of the year. Part of me wants to just go home and enjoy it, but I linger here nonetheless. There are seating charts to learn and preparations to be made. I only have to sign for two of my classes, but my hands are still exhausted.
It's amazing how tiring sign language is when you haven't done it regularly for years.
Just as I start packing up to head home for the day, though, I realize that I have a visitor in the doorway. It takes me a few moments to put a name to the face, but I come up with Osamu surprisingly fast. He's the kid who wanted to start the walking club.
“Sorry to bug you, Mr. Nakai,” he says, “but can I ask you something quick?”
I'm surprised to see him. Most of the kids should be in clubs right now. Though, if he wants to start the Walking Club, maybe he's not in one right now. That would make sense.
“Of course. What's on your mind?”
I have to prepare myself for anything. Literally anything. I don't know Osamu yet beyond what little time he's been in class. This could be something serious. This could be –
“Would you be willing to be the faculty advisor for my club?”
Oh. Well, then. This is easy, at least.
“I can be,” I say, “but wouldn't it be better to get one of the gym teachers to be the advisor? Or the nurse?” They would probably be better at ensuring the health and safety of everyone involved, as opposed to me, who managed to ignore the poor nurse's edict for an entire year and only really started exercising because of a force of nature who made sure that I did everything in my power to mitigate my condition once we started university together.
Osamu nods his head. “Yeah, that's probably a better idea,” he agrees. “Sorry to bug you, then! I'll go ask the nurse.”
He's just about to turn and go when I stop him. He is a source of valuable information for me right now, the first student that I can talk to who has actually sat through a class of mine. Pumping him for information is a great way to get him to be weirded out, but I can't just ask nothing, either.
“I know it's really soon to be asking this, but what did you think of class today?”
The student shrugs. “It was the first day,” he says. “I can tell you're not a jerk though. That's a good thing. Science isn't really my favorite subject, honestly, but...”
He looks a bit uncomfortable to admit that. It's my turn to shrug.
“I understand. Science isn't everyone's favorite. It wasn't mine for a while, but I had a really good teacher when I was here, and he sort of...gave me a nudge in the direction of science.”
“Mutou-sensei, right,” he asks. I'm taken aback for a minute, but I realize that he's been here for two years already. Of course he'd have at least heard of Mutou-sensei.
“Yeah,” I agree. “He was pretty famous around here, wasn't he?”
Osamu nods. “Yeah. He was one of the more popular teachers. Kind of an odd guy, but in the good way, you know? A lot of people were sad when he left. Guess it's kind of cool that one of his students replaced him, though.”
It's another reminder of just who I'm replacing, as if I needed it. Osamu smiles at me, wryly. “No pressure or anything, though,” he says.
“None that I'm not already putting on myself, don't worry.” He almost laughs at that, and I decide to remind him of his initial mission. “You should probably go check with the nurse about that club, though.”
He realizes that he's forgot, and nods. “Sure thing, teach,” he says, extending a hand for me to shake. We do, and he turns to go, calling back to me over his shoulder. “See you tomorrow!”
As he walks off, I can't help but smile. It's been seven years since I was in Yamaku, but I've gotten a lot better at not thinking of what I used to think was the elephant in the room, back then. My mind flashes back to the information I was given about Osamu – and the fact that his left arm ends in a stump where his hand would otherwise be. I never noticed.
One of the advantages, I suppose, of having sat in the same seats as my students seven years ago.
Slinging my bag over my shoulder, I take leave of 3-3, and get ready for the pleasant walk home.
* * *
As I step through the gate to Yamaku, I realize that I'm not alone. Standing just outside Yamaku proper is someone that I recognize fairly well. I should, considering she's my mentor. Exactly what she's doing here I have no idea, but considering she has her bag and cane with her, I imagine she's done for the day.
“Hey, Lilly,” I call out, walking over to her. She turns her head towards the sound of my voice, slowly.
“Is that you, Hisao,” she asks. I nod at first, and then roll my eyes at myself.
“Yes, it is. What are you doing out here? Enjoying the weather?”
It's a little cool out for me, but not too bad. I could see how that would be a possibility for her.
“It's a little cold for that, isn't it?” she asks. “No, I'm waiting for my ride. The taxi should be here any minute.”
That makes sense. I don't know where she lives – but even if it was in town, like me, walking from Yamaku to town alone could be challenging. Memorizing Yamaku is one thing, with only the occasional Emi as a diversion. Memorizing the outside world would be much harder, and potentially dangerous for her.
“Where do you live,” I ask her, out of curiosity more than anything else.
“Just in town,” she replies. “A few doors down from the Shanghai, if you remember it.”
“I do. Very well. I was actually there with Mutou a few months ago. He told me, off the record, that I got the job.”
“Did he, now,” Lilly asks, amusedly. “That sounds like him. I hope he's doing well.”
“I'll call and ask once things calm down. Right now, though, I'm focused on getting used to this whole teaching thing.”
“How was your first day? Did everything go smoothly?”
“It did, yes. I was nervous, but really, it's the first day. The next few will be a lot harder.”
“They will,” she agrees, “but soon, they all become easier. It just takes time, and practice.” Lilly nods, firmly. She's so much more composed than I am that it's a little scary. She's had practice at the teaching part of it, but everything else is just...pure Lilly.
“Thanks for that,” is about the best I can manage. “Here's hoping.”
The conversation falls silent for a few moments. It gives me time to think. If she lives near the Shanghai, that's not too far from me. Maybe I could...
“Lilly,” I begin, a little awkwardly, “would you like to walk to and from school with me?”
The offer catches her off guard. It may be the first time that I've seen her flustered.
“I couldn't impose on you,” she says, but the look of concentration on her face seems to indicate that she's considering it. “Where do you live, Hisao? I assume in town?”
I nod in reply. “I live by the convenience store. Not too far. About...five minutes away from you, I think?”
She frowns. “You would have to walk in the opposite direction of school to come get me, and to drop me off at the end of the day.”
“It's not a long walk,” I say. “You're my mentor. It's the least I can do to repay you. Besides, travelling with someone has to be better for both of us than travelling alone, and you'll save money on taxis.”
She struggles with all of my evidence. I smile, in spite of myself. She's going to crack. She has to. I don't know why I'm taking such joy in this, though. I'm trying to do something nice and mutually beneficial that's turning into a war of wills.
Mercifully, though, she finally concedes.
“You win, Hisao,” she admits, with a combination of a smile and a sigh. “But starting next week. You are a new teacher, and I want you to get acclimated to your environment before changing your schedule on my behalf.”
I want to ask if stubbornness runs in her family, but I decide against it. Still, it's nice to hear the words “you win.” They have been a rare presence in my life for quite some time.
“Alright, alright,” I say, willing to concede the point and let her, presumably, save some face. “Next Monday, though, I'm going to be at your doorstep waiting for you.”
She'll have to tell me where it is first, of course, but that's a minor detail.
“I'll tell you on Sunday,” she says, only for a car to drive up moments later. The driver honks the horn. It must be Lilly's taxi.
“For now, though, I must be off. See you on Saturday, Hisao.”
With that, she begins to walk, her cane feeling out possible obstacles. I watch as the driver gets out of the taxi and opens the door for her. A few moments later, she's off, the car disappearing into the distance down the winding path leading into town.
With Lilly gone, I have no reason to be here anymore, and begin my own trip home.
* * *
Outside the door to my apartment, I am greeted by a package. This is unusual, because I wasn't expecting a package of any sort. When I look down and see my mother's name, though, I smile. Perhaps it's a care package? She had sent me such things sporadically during university, and with my first day of school today, perhaps she had thought some snacks would be a nice surprise?
Scooping up the shoebox sized package with ease, I enter the apartment. Opening the package is the first order of business, but to my dismay there are no delicious treats inside. Instead, there are at least fifteen or twenty small envelopes, and two magazines. Tacked to the inside of the box is a note informing me that this is the mail I've received at home, and that I should probably finish updating my address with everyone.
I sigh. She's right. Things have been so hectic that I almost forgot. Looking through these letters, though, is a task for tomorrow. Or the day after that. Right now, I'm starving, and the idea of cooking isn't particularly appealing right now.
Thankfully, the same Chinese place that delivered to Yamaku seven years ago is still in town, close to boot, and has a wide variety of deliciousness for sale. I dig my cell phone out of my pocket and call. I'm polite with the woman on the other end of the line as I order a scallion pancake and some shrimp lo mein. She and I are likely to get rather well acquainted over the course of this year. After a long day of classes, cooking seems like the last thing that I'll want to do.
Tomorrow, everything starts in earnest. I'll actually be teaching, and getting to know my students better. For now, though, I have survived my first day. Starting Monday, I'll have a walking partner.
That's worth celebrating with greasy Chinese food and a good book before bed, isn't it?
Last edited by Puncyclopedia
on Wed Jun 03, 2015 10:35 am, edited 2 times in total.
Characters: Shizune > Lilly > Rin > Emi > Hanako
Routes: Lilly > Rin > Shizune > Hanako > Emi
Replaying now, so subject to flux. Except Shizune. Shizune is best.