Sunday, 24 July 2016

Chapter five (segment ten), 2017, year's end

Ryu looked at his sister smirk at most every word during Principal Nakagawa's speech. Canned clichés, isn't that what you call them?

Another few minutes, each an eternity long, and they were no longer freshmen. The third years had already been given their diplomas, and for them high school was over. Ryu wondered what went around in their minds. University, their first real job, what to do next, because 'next' had to be what occupied their minds.

He followed his sister up the stairs for a last visit to their classroom. In two weeks they'd occupy the second floor, but he didn't know exactly how the classes were composed. That was another exciting moment when the second years gathered under the billboards to see what class they had been assigned to.

Ryu rose to the call for their last home room as freshmen, bowed to the teacher and sat down again.

He could feel the tension in the classroom. Most of his fellow classmates just wanted to leave and celebrate the end of their first year, and Kondo-sensei didn't even attempt to grab their attention. Perhaps she looked forward to two weeks without students as well.

Drop it, Ryu! She's a good teacher, and she put up with our stupidities for a year. He emptied his desk and dropped the contents into his bag. For once he'd made certain it was empty before he left home. Later he'd grab his PE clothes and clean out his shoe locker as well. In two weeks they'd change lockers as well as classrooms.

Glancing sideways Ryu looked at the classmates who were also club members. They'd celebrate at the Stockholm Haven Café, their second home just like that café in the old mall had been Urufu's and Yukio's a year ago.

I hope to see some of you for English lessons when you're juniors as well,” Kondo-sensei said. “Well, that's it. It's been my pleasure having you as my class. Enjoy spring break!”

With that it was over. They filed out of the classroom and walked down the stairs. Dammit, I'm walking. Sis, you won't have anything to complain about this time. Just to prove him wrong both Watabe twins bounced down the stairs, and Ryu heard Noriko yelling after them. Oh well, maybe not after all. With that thought Ryu grinned, slapped Dai-kun on his back and jumped down the rest of the flight.

Once again Noriko's angry voice accompanied him all the way to the entrance floor. More fun this way.

He rushed to his lockers, but was beat by the smallest margin possible by one of the twins. His sprinting ability was more than a match for Ryu, which showed every time they shared a soccer field together.

Hideo-kun, Haven?”

Ryu looked around and saw Sho-kun shouting from one end of the lockers to the other, where Hideo-kun was busy pouring down whatever mystical treasures he hid in his locker into a backpack he'd brought instead of his bag.

Haven,” he confirmed when the last of his locker lay inside his backpack.

Ryu shook his head and emptied his own locker in a much more orderly fashion. The contents went into a cloth bag he'd brought for just this purpose. Too much time spent with Urufu had him dead set against backpacks. It wasn't that he hated backpacks per se, but Urufu's apparent colour blindness made Ryu detest the blindness generating atrocities Urufu happily carried on his back.

Noriko, need anything before Haven?” Ryu asked his sister when she finally arrived.

She shook her head, and nothing in her face showed how she had shouted at him just moments earlier. As usual her outbursts were short-lived, and as far as he knew she wasn't resentful.

He waited for her to put her indoor shoes in a cloth bag of her own. Then Noriko got into her loafers, gave her locker an extra look as if to make certain she hadn't forgotten anything inside, and together they hit the school yard.

Most of it was dominated by groups of third years, or rather former third years, wearing their uniforms for the last time and taking photos to celebrate their graduation. Parents, siblings and the occasional girl or boyfriend joined the photo sessions as well. By the gates sakura dressed up in pink, but it was still far too early for the blossoms to fall.

Ryu and Noriko were almost at the gates when his phone rang. He picked it up while he waved for Kyoko to join them, and just as he took the call he saw her pointing at where Yukio came running from the school entrance.

Sato-sensei? “Hello, Wakayama Ryu speaking.”

Have you seen Urufu?” she said without as much as giving her name.

He hadn't, and he told her so.

If you see him, tell him I need to talk with him!”

What? Why don't you just call him? “I'll do that, Sato-sensei.” Ryu pocketed his phone and looked behind him.

Yukio ran past Kyoko and beelined for him.

Now what?

Ryu, have you seen Urufu?”

OK, this isn't funny any longer. “No, and his guardian just called me with exactly that question.”

She called me as well.” Yukio panted from sprinting across the school yard. “Hi Noriko.”

Hi,” she answered, but Ryu noted how she was more interested in what Yukio had to say than in exchanging greetings.

Sato-sensei told be his outdoors gear is gone.”

A burglary?”

Idiot bro!” Noriko said. “So he's gone.”

Gone? What's going on? “Yukio, again and slower, please!”

No need,” Noriko said before Yukio caught his breath for a repetition of his message. “Urufu's gone. I think he stashed his gear somewhere before coming to school. Yukio, you can't reach him on his phone I guess.”

No, yes.” Yukio gave them both a frantic look. “I can't reach him. His phone is out of service.”

Damn! I was too busy making sure Kuri didn't do anything stupid.” Noriko grimaced after her words, and Ryu wondered if she knew something he didn't.

Guys,” he said. “What's happening.”

Urufu gone is what's happening,” Noriko said. “Yukio, did he say anything?”

Yukio looked at her. “Nothing important. Just that he needed to think things over.”

He's gone al-right. Yukio's words confirmed a nagging suspicion that had started to grow in Ryu. What a shitty way to reach year's end.

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