Tuesday, 16 June 2015

Chapter one (segment three), 2016, August, Noriko

Noriko waited outside the station. “Park side,” she had said.

One Yakobuson Anderusu would arrive together with his girlfriend from Sweden. Anders Jakobsson the name read in her email with the names flipped in the western style. Nesrin Kaplan was the other name other name in her mail. Kapulan Nesurin? Noriko thought. Apparently it wasn't Swedish in origin, but she was his Swedish girlfriend who wasn't Swedish. Noriko didn't understand the naming antics of the people from the wild north.

In reality they wouldn't arrive from Sweden at all. When they learned of the Himekaizen final exams they had simply rearranged their itinerary and spent their first two weeks travelling Kyushu and the Kansai area.

Japan Rail Pass. So much cheaper for foreign tourists, and yet we have so few of them visiting. From exchanged emails Noriko had learned that a similar system existed in Europe where you could go train-hopping from country to country. Apparently it was popular among young people.

You are strange. Boyfriend and girlfriend, and she hadn't even graduated high school, but still their parents must have agreed to them spending a month together alone in Japan.

Noriko shook her head. Different places, different rules.

She waited alone, because her idiot brother was gone for Hokkaido with their mother for a week and wouldn't be back until after the Obon festival. Noriko and her father stayed in Tokyo for the same reason, as they had done two years before. Last year Noriko had gone north with her mother.

Half past one, Saturday the sixth of August. Kuri wouldn't come. She had to plan for tomorrow, and if she didn't show, then Urufu would be absent as well. Probably biking around Tokyo in this heat like the moron he is. Kyoko leaves south the day after tomorrow. She's busy packing. That left Yukio, who had just come back home from the west coast.

So, where are you? Half an hour late, and they'll be here any moment now.

And there they were. “You won't be able to miss us,” he wrote in the last email. What are you wearing? Gods!

Not only did the waving apparition dwarf Urufu, but he had a neon green top-hat on his head. The girl at his side was a dark beauty looking nothing like what Noriko had expected from Sweden. My Swedish girlfriend who's not Swedish. So that's what he meant!

He was pointing at the sign Noriko had in her hands and lumbered in her direction with a huge backpack. The girl, Kapulan-san, carried an equally enormous backpack, but otherwise she wore nothing as horribly out of place as the ridiculous hat Yakobuson-san had.

“Good day, I'm Wakayama Noriko,” Noriko said when the pair came close enough for her to greet them without shouting. Yukio, you little… You'd better teleport here or do whatever people do to flash into existence in the manga you read.

She smiled at her foreign visitors. The club's. They're not mine. They're visiting the club. Gods you're a tall one!

“Anders Jakobsson.” A huge hand shot out and down. It enveloped her small one.

“Nesrin Kaplan, pleased to meet you.” That hand was smaller and came from a more normal height. She was a girl after all. Noriko took the offered hand after Yakobuson-san had released hers.

“You wrote that you'd wait for us here with a friend,” Yakobuson-san said.

Noriko nodded. Being around Urufu and Kuri had done wonders to her English, but the Swedes still spoke too fast in their sing song accent.

“I'll call him,” she said and dug up her phone from her handbag.

“That won't be needed,” she heard a voice from behind her.


“Sorry I'm late.” He switched to English. “I'm Yukio Matsumoto, pleased to meet you both.” Yukio looked up at Yakobuson-san. “Man, how tall are you really? We don't get many like you over here.”

“He's 196, and he's got muscles as well,” Kapulan-san said and snuggled up closer to her boyfriend.

He did. It was like looking at a blond door. You didn't pick that T-shirt by accident. There's something with you that I don't like.

“That's a lot,” Yukio said and turned to the girl. “You two are staying in my father's place. Mom's here with a car to get your luggage.” He took a look at the gigantic backpacks and smiled at Noriko. “Looks like I have to make the trip to the apartment as well. Noriko, they're waiting for us in the park. Could you take them there?”

Noriko looked at the backpacks. It made sense, and she nodded. “Follow me,” she offered to Kapulan-san. “Yukio will be back after he's dumped your luggage. Anything you need from it right now?”

“Not me. I have my sunglasses and wallet. Anders?”

The tall Swede shook his head. “Maybe I should get rid of this one though,” he said and took off his hat.

Thanks for small gifts. “Maybe you should. It's hot today,” Noriko said. This is going to be interesting. They talk so fast, and my English really isn't all that good.

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