Tuesday, 9 June 2015
Chapter six (segment nine), twenty four years earlier, July, main cast
And another failed exam. Summer break promised to be just as tedious as last year. With both an M Sc and an MA (with a major in English literature for the preceding BA to boot) in his pocket, the subjects themselves didn't present any problems. The Japanese language, however, was a major obstacle.
English, I failed English. I could bloody teach the half trained monkey who poses as an English teacher here. Ulf sighed again. Another week, another twenty kanji to master. At this rate it would take him a year before he would receive grades that at least remotely resembled his real knowledge.
But still, English. That hurt. According to the local tests his vocabulary ranged in the low one thousand, which was a far cry from the stiff twelve thousand words every decently designed international test indicated.
What was worse. They weren't taught functionally useful English at all here. That would have to be rectified in the club. One more proof why dubbing television is bad for your health, and they're even worse off here than the Germans.
Well, he could whine as much as he wanted. Complaining wouldn't yield any results. Next week, another twenty kanji. Two years, two thousand kanji. Ought to suffice.
Yukio counted his steps as they walked from school. The last Friday. Next Friday was summer break, and even if they met at their shared haven it wouldn't be for sharing school. He had passed all his exams, and Urufu most definitely hadn't.
He listened to the sound of distant cicadas as they came closer to their mall. Another block and he wouldn't be able to hear them any longer.
There were so many questions, but until Urufu decided to talk he'd keep silent. Failing just about every exam had been hard on his friend. Yukio couldn't recall ever having seen him this morose. Angry, yes, but not depressed this way.
Noriko had promised to help out with the make up exams, and given her scores Himekaizen literally had no better study buddy. Kuri had grinned her usual 'I don't give a damn, but thank you anyway' -grin and promised to do her best in return. Kyoko, ah what a girl, had gracefully accepted the offered help.
Graceful has to be your second name. OK, that was way too much syrup. But I can't but help liking your good manners. Call me stupid for that if you want, but I won't change.
So what should he do for a month? His father had offered him to join a five day trip along the west coast, and his mother had even promised him extra pocket money should he agree. Club activities? But that would only be a few days more.
Maybe he could convince Urufu to hang out by the sea for a day or two. Coastlines seemed to be all the rage in Sweden anyway. At least if he could believe the tourist ads they had plastered all the walls with in their club room.
A few hours in their café, and then Urufu would ride his bike to the station, and spring term would truly be over.
Kyoko. There are a lot of days. Could we share some of them? Summer break spoke of a new beginning.
Kyoko followed Yukio and Urufu, but she made sure to keep her distance.
I'm stalking him. Gods, when did I degenerate into this kind of a person.
But she couldn't help it.
Yukio hadn't exactly done anything to make her believe he hated her any longer, but lack of hate was a far cry from like, or love.
Love. I'm behaving like a middle schooler with a major crush. But then she had been a middle schooler only a few months earlier.
Two weeks ago she would have joined them, but without Noriko and Kuri-chan at her side she didn't want to. Don't dare to. Be honest at least! Especially not as this was the first time in almost a month that Urufu made the route together with Yukio.
Summer break. She'd visit her grandfather to show him proper respect. And after that they'd visit her mother's parents for the same reason.
And, and, summer school. The verbal bashing had been bad enough, but her feelings of failure were far worse than any scolding she received from her parents. Properly raised daughters didn't fail exams. That made her improper. Her. Her parents weren't at fault. They had brought her up the way a daughter should be raised. So she had failed them.
Shame competed with anger in her. One point. It had only been one point between failure and a passing grade. In two subjects to boot. But one point was one point. She had disappointed her parents, and nothing she tried to say in her defence could clear that away.
She would make up for it, and she would attend to at least the minimum of club hours that was appropriate.
And, if she was lucky, there would still be a couple of days she could use as she wanted.
Summer break. Redemption.
Well, those results were disappointing, but she had already gained Nori-chan's promise that they'd study together during the break.
And Ko-chan needed to attend summer school for a couple of subjects as well. And Ulf. She wouldn't be alone.
School during summer break, who cares? I get to see him almost every day. Same class for a month. Happy! Happy! Happy!
Christina kicked with her feet, giggled and hugged herself. But lying curled up like a ball soon got too hot. Her small flat didn't have an air-conditioner worth its name, and the night was clammy.
She wondered what Ulf was thinking about. They hadn't come any closer to finding a way back home. Hadn't really come closer to an understanding of what really had happened to them. But, she wondered. The most important question.
Do I really want to go home?
She had come closer to building a new life here, and for each day that life grew brighter, and for each day her old life felt more and more like something she would willingly leave behind.
I lived alone and felt alone. Now I live alone, but I'm in love. Do I really want to go home?
“What are you going to do?”
Ryu looked at his sister before answering. “Do about what?”
She pushed with her feet and swung backwards. “Summer break.”
He kept looking at her. She was still small enough to use the playground like a child. The swings were already too narrow for him to be comfortable, so he sat still and watched her going back and forth.
They were close to their house, and this close to midnight they had to ask permission to go outdoors. Ryu looked over his shoulder. He could see their living room windows. Getting permission hadn't been all that hard.
“Apart from Hokkaido?” he asked.
“Yeah, that's only one week.”
That week was important. He looked forward to it. Mom, dad, sis and the exotic north. But his sister seemed to have grown distant from that need. You're so small, and yet you're growing ahead of me. Sis, you're getting all grown up.
“I don't know. Club activities I guess,” Ryu suggested. He hadn't thought all that much about summer break, and now it was here.
“Can't do that for three weeks, you know,” she responded. “With our new friends English conversation school just got obsolete.”
Despite the discomfort he pushed his swing into motion.
“We should get the gang together. Go to the beach or something.” Yeah, definitely go to the beach!
“Ryu! Can you use your brains instead of your libido? Of course you'd want to go to the beach, as long as Kuri-chan comes along.”
“And you wouldn't want to see Urufu?” he answered defensively. You really should let that hair of yours grow. Right now you look like a boy.
Noriko said nothing in return. She kept on swinging. For some time the silence was only broken by the metallic squealing of the swings. Then she seemed to have reached an answer. “Fair enough, idiot bro.”
“You?” Ryu let the insult slip.
Noriko hesitated for a while. “I've promised to help Kuri and Kyoko with their summer school.”
“I'll stay away from that. I passed with good grades, but I had to put in a lot of work. You have it easier.” Noriko would have to admit that truth.
“Not even for Kuri?” she teased.
“Not even for Kuri.”
Ryu grinned. He grinned so wide he knew she'd see his teeth in the dark. “And no help for poor, poor Urufu? That's mean.” And he couldn't help but laugh, even if it disturbed their neighbours this late.
“I don't think I can help him,” Noriko said silently. “Yukio says he's different. Ryu, they're different.” She was all serious now. “Idiot bro,” She fell silent and gathered speed. “why did we have to fall in love with the two most impossible persons on earth?”
Ryu jumped off the swing. “Sis, we're the Wakayama twins. How could we possibly fall in love with anyone else?”
It was after midnight. Spring term had ended. Summer break started.