Monday, 6 April 2015

Chapter one (segment two), twenty four years earlier, April, Noriko

A week flew by, with students settling into early groups of what promised to be friendship later. Noriko was, as usual, drawn into a larger cluster of boys and girls. They came from several classes rather than just their own. It was all Ryu's fault. Normal people got normal friends – she got a premium seat to the spectacle that was Ryu's personal fan-club.

The boys were the usual mix of people who either admired Ryu too much to stay far from him, or were too wary of a superior rival to chance staying away. The girls, well, the girls.

Girls came in three types. Those who had yet to confess to Ryu, those who had already been turned down, but found his easygoing friendship attractive enough to stay around anyway, and those who really should have been born boys, and thus followed Ryu for the usual reasons of admiration or rivalry.

That had always been true, and it stayed true for one week.

Then Christina Agerman happened.

She happened the usual way. Teacher kept the door open, mumbled something watered out about a new student who had been sick since school began, and asked the new student to introduce herself.

Enter Christina.


Exit any 'usual way'.

“I'm Christina Agerman.”


“I'm from Sweden, but have lived in Japan for a year.”


“If you find my Japanese poor I'm grateful for help.”

Nuclear detonation.

Christina was, what a foreign businessman would have said, well proportioned. And blond, a rich, golden blond falling over her shoulders and behind most of her back, with strands so fine they almost rode the non-existent wind in the classroom. And tall, as tall as Ryu.

To complete the archetype of a stunning northern beauty she had eyes so blue you could drown in them. If you were a boy. Noriko corrected herself: if you were a human being, or possibly anything even remotely related to the primates.

By now the teacher finally understood that she had invited an enemy of at least half the human population into the classroom – and the desire of the other half, and made a half hearted attempt to restore order.

It was half hearted, Noriko noted sullenly, because the teacher already showed less interest in her students than in protecting the male teaching staff. Probably because she had her fiancée there. Speaking of whom, he had already arrived on the scene to find out what the commotion was all about. And he showed no more resistance to the angelic apparition than any of the other boys in class.

Ryu included.

“She's beautiful!”

“Wanna date me?”

“Whoa, a foreigner!”

“Taller than most boys!”

For a week there had been a centre of attention around Ruy, even during lessons. Now Noriko could feel how it dissolved and moved between the benches towards the black board. Where Christina stood, effortlessly substituting for Venus de Milo, even though she wore an unmodified regulation school uniform.

Christina could, most likely, have dressed up entirely from a 100 yen shop and still ride roughshod over all rivals straight out of a fashion house.

Life just wasn't fair.

The new centre of attraction moved to the windows and took her chair at the least popular of all spots. Window, front. Always seen by the teacher, yet isolated. Well, Noriko realized, that bench would become a whole lot more popular until the next seating change.

Then Noriko noticed a minor commotion just before Christina sat down. The girl in the seat behind her rose, and then they exchanged very unladylike hugs.

“Same school, same class, and neighbour desks. This is the best!”

“Ko-chan! I'm so happy!”

The teacher's voice cut though the pandemonium. “Seats, take your seats and be silent!”

And with that the last addition to their class started her year. And everything changed.

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