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The Five Stages of Renewal, Chapter 1, Part 3

“E-excuse me…”

To what started off as a strong opening statement to catch everyone’s attention, ended up as a low and meek voice, as if it was a cat’s purr in the middle of the night.

“Uh…”

“—Oh, hello.” A middle aged man in one of the front desks noticed my humble presence.

“Did you need anything from the faculty?” He continued. “If not, go to class, the bell rang already.” He said that, but was not analytical that I did not need anything from the office, as if it was a generic and programmed statement to any student who comes here. I suppose it’s understandable.

“Oh, uh, I’m a to-be transferee student.” His brows went up as I said this. “I’m looking for Kurumi-sensei. I was told that she’d be here.”

His eyes went up with his brows, looking up in thought, but only for a moment. He snapped his fingers in realization; I could almost see the light bulb turn on inside his head.

“Ah, so you’re that kid!”

Before I fumble on my own words trying to ask what he meant by that, I decided to save myself from the trouble and just agree.

“Yes, I’m that kid.”

“Hehe, I see, I see, I can totally see the resemblance.”

Resemblance to what? Ah, he must be talking about Yui… Don’t tell me… is she like, famous around here!?

Before I could wallow in my own grief from the thoughts of my own sister being some kind of hot shot, he turned away with his office chair and shouted. “Kurumi-sensei! Your nephew is here!”

“Nephew!?”

‘Nephew!?”

Wait, what!? Why is this the first time I’m hearing of this!? I mean sure, I’m not very well versed in my own family tree, but if there was a family member living and working so close to home, I would’ve known! Unless…

“Ara~ You’ve grown quite big Yuko-chan!”

Again with that chan!? And since when did you come up so close without me noticing!?

“Er…” I froze, not really knowing what to say.

My thoughts on the possibility of this Kurumi character lying about our relationship quickly vanished. I don’t normally go staring at my family member’s faces, but still, I can tell the similarities already. It’s as if those lifeless yet friendly eyes are an exclusive to the Yoshida family. And speaking of family exclusives, I guess my height isn’t a common trait to the Yoshida’s… It suddenly reminds me the feeling of being the giant man in a household full of midgets.

I let out a dry smile, out of politeness if anything.

“My, I guess you don’t remember me~ I’ve only seen you once during your second birthday, time sure flies by huh?” She said, in an almost sassy tone, that it prevented me from either replying or agreeing with what she said.

But this aura… it’s undeniably one of a devil’s… there goes another trait to the women of the Yoshida family… disturbing. Or maybe it’s because her eyes reminds me so much of Yui… except without the bob haircut and skinny figure.

Noticing that it would be too late and too awkward to say anything in regards to her question, I compelled myself to move the topic forward to what really mattered. “…I heard from Yui that I should come here and see you…”

Notifying her of my willingness to move on, she released a slight sigh followed by a brief smile.

“Of course, follow me then.” She said calmly. “Let’s get all this paper work out of the way shall we?”

“No arguments here.”

“So, did you bring me any souvenirs?”

Keh— what… I felt like choking on my own spit. It’s safe to assume that this was amusing to her, as she let out a momentary chuckle.

“I’m just kidding! Geez…”

“Aha…” Aha indeed. “Is that so…”

“So, how was your flight from France?”

Since she knows this much, I suppose there’s no need to be this closely guarded. Being more cautious than I already am would promote the idea that I don’t like her. That would be bad, considering she’s both my aunt and teacher.

“Bad. I barely got any sleep.” This much is true.

“Quite honest here are we?” She giggled.

Huh? Was I too bold… how do you even talk to someone you’ve probably known for a long time but aren’t necessarily close to?

Before I could figure out the answer, we were already at what I would assume to be her desk. She quickly went through stacks of paper, as if sorting them out at the last minute, as well as rummaging her way through the desk’s small drawers; looking for nothing and something at the same time.

The whole process wasn’t all that complicated on my part. I just needed to answer a few basic questions, and sign a few basic papers. Time passed by as if it was nothing, the mere simplicity of the process made it so. She’s really doing a lot for me; I wonder if I’ll ever get to pay her back for this.

Being the busy bee she is, her long and frowzy hair is covering almost half of her face, she doesn’t even bother to put her bangs aside even though they’re in the way with her glasses. She continued writing, shuffling papers, and doing inexplicably bizarre things that I probably don’t want and need to know.

8:41

Class should have started already. I wonder if she has homeroom class, I’d feel awful if she had to be late because of me… though, in saying that, I’m sure that her students are enjoying their sweet and luxurious time right now.

“Would you want to introduce yourself to the class when we get there?”

Eh? Is she my homeroom teacher? That’s way too big of a coincidence isn’t it? No… she probably set it up to be that way… this woman is dangerous.

“Umm… of course?”

“Haha~ why the questioning tone?”

“No, I mean… isn’t that the normal way of doing things?”

Without a reply, she simply smiled.

“So you’re my homeroom teacher too?”

“Correct. So don’t go fooling around just because we’re related! And call me Kurumi-sensei every time we’re at school!”

Well. I never planned on not doing anything of what she just said right now. Still, talking to her makes me feel inferior. Not because she’s a teacher, but because resembles my sister so much that it feels like I’m being lectured by that devilish brat herself.

“I’ll be on my best attempt to be at my best behavior.” You can’t say things for certain anyway.

“Eh? What does that mean?”

She asked that, but that’s not what got my attention. But because we’re outside the door of class 2-B, since when did I instinctively start following her?

“Anyway, we’re here.”

“Right we are.”

“Nervous?”

“Would it matter if I said I was?”

“I guess not.”

I guess she’s a relative after all; it’s a wonder to be able to hold conversations like that with someone else other than Yui.

A weak gust of wind made contact with both our unkempt hair as Kurumi-sensei opened the sliding door. The room had a slight tint of yellow, mainly because there was a window to the outside. But, ignoring the ambience of the room, I decided to take notice of the individuals in it. A few students were sitting on tables just now, in their own little groups. Everything—well, everyone—is a new face, yet I don’t feel the tension that a stranger should feel. It was as If I am merely a delinquent student who decided to go to this classroom again, a room with an air of mystery, which at the same times gives an underlying sense of welcome and comfort. I’m certain that I have never been in this school before, let alone this room, but then… why does it feel so nostalgic?

“Everyone! At your seats.” As if all those fuzziness was just an act, Kurumi-sensei suddenly turned into an ice queen. Well. More like she suddenly turned into an actual teacher.

“We have a new student who will be joining us from now on.”

She gazed at my direction, that must be my queue.

“Er… Je m’appelle—“ Oh fuck me, I messed up already.

(Writer’s note: Je m’appelle is the French phrase for “My name is”)

I coughed slightly in hopes that it would trick them that I just fumbled a bit. Though is that really better than almost introducing myself in French?

I’ve done this introduction for a good hundred times now. A good hundred times too many, but never in my own country or language… It’s been a while since I’ve done this, but I guess that habit still sticks around.

“My name is Yoshida Yuko, I—“

“—Aaaah!” I familiar voice from the back of the room interrupted me.

“It’s Yuko-chan!” Ugh. “Why’d you run away from me a while ago!?” The whole class started looking at both her and me in a weird and funny way. There’s no doubt that some of them are already giggling and murmuring about fuck-knows-what.

“Ugh, it’s that weird woman again.” I blurted out softly. I did not want to say that out loud. Okay maybe I did. Luckily, only Kurumi-sensei heard me.

She ignored my look of despair and disappointment, and was more concerned with the person who interrupted the peace.

“Aizawa Rin-san, please quiet down~ Keep your comments or discussions with Yuko-ch—“ Oy. You were about to say ‘chan’ again weren’t you.

“…Yoshida-kun, at the end of class.”

Perhaps Kurumi-sensei noticed my unwillingness to continue introducing myself. This has been a complete disaster. Sensei, please take the wheel! Is what my eyes intended to say anyway.

Thankfully catching on to my silent message, she coughed once to get everyone’s attention which has been split between me, sensei, and that weird girl.

“This is Yoshida Yuko, he is Japanese, but he lived in France for a long time.”

I wish I could look just as interested and surprised like my classmates when she said that. How does one even react to this treatment?

“Oooh! France!? Isn’t that the one with the Big Ben thing!?”

No, that’s in the UK you fucking pickle. The one who spoke up was a guy in the front seats, he had this natural ‘I’m the school jack-ass’ look. Or maybe that’s just me being mean. Probably the latter.

“Stuuupid, that’s in London you stupid!”

Whew. There is some hope in this class after all. Thank you, normal girl from the sidelines!

“Eh? Then what’s in France then!?”

The Eiffel tower of course, not only that, there’s the: Arc de Triomphe, Notre-Dame, and the Louvre! Aren’t those the first things anyone would have in their mind if they heard France—

“Baguettes and snails!”

Never mind. I’m sorry French people. I know you won’t ever witness nor hear of this conversation, but I’m sorry nonetheless.

“Ohh.” The Jackass responded. I’m surprised that he’s surprised.

“Class!” A sharp icy voice sent shivers to my spine. That’s a Yoshida woman for you.

“That’s enough, let’s start with class.” Well said. “Yoshida-kun, there’s three empty seats over there, please choose wherever you’d want to sit.”

I nodded in agreement. But in reality, it would have been easier if she just assigned a seat to me.

I have three choices.

First, there’s the window seat, a classic. But not convenient, it’s basically the worst seat there is for a studious person like me! If the wind is too strong, I’ll be the first to feel it, if the sun is too hot, I’ll be the first to feel it! Not to mention, the sun would constantly be hindering my eyes, especially before noon, during noon, and after noon! Basically: Every. Damn. Time. It’d be simple if I were to just close it, but most of the time, people would want it open.

Second, there’s the front seat at the side. Ideal, but it wouldn’t be my first choice. Mainly because Mr. Jackass would be my seatmate, but not only that, I would be a prime target for teachers who are quickly looking for students to answer their questions, plus, my view of the board would be distorted since it isn’t exactly centered.

Thirdly and lastly, there’s the seat somewhere in the middle and right side. This is the most ideal seat for me to be in. Cozy, away from the window, and not exactly the first person on the teacher’s line of sight. It’s also positioned in a way that there’s a person in front of the seat, but I can tell that the person isn’t that tall to obscure my vision. But the only problem is…

“Yoshida-kun?”

“—Ah, yes, sorry. I’ll be taking a seat now.”

I can sense their looks of anticipation, which seat would I take? Will there be an ulterior motive to it? Or am I just choosing randomly? They’ll never know, though a possibility of them not caring at all is there. Not that it bothers me in any way.

I took the third seat. This is a perfect seat. My seat. My place.

No, calling it my place might make some unprecedented accidents come my way, especially when I consider the person at my right…

“Yo~ We meet again, Yuko-chan!” She whispered loudly.

I gave her a stern look of resentment. Or, at least I think I did.

“Is there something on my face?”

“…”

“…”

“Do I know you?”

“Er…”

That answers my question.

Her short… no, it isn’t necessarily short, but comparing it with the other girls in here, her hair might be considered short. But it’s long in its own right. It began to wiggle left and right, as if there was space in her head, though I won’t be surprised if there was. I only notice it now, but her weirdly short chin sort of fits well with the roundish shape of her head… more cutely than I’d care to admit. Or maybe it’s because of how her hair is fashioned? It isn’t a bob cut… but… ah. A messy bob cut. It takes more of my attention the more she speaks, as her mouth opens and closes.

“You’re Yuko-chan’s brother right?” Her lively eyes gleamed, but that’s not what bothers me. It’s…

Yuko-chan… Ah… Yui’s second name… Wait, why call her Yuko in the first place? She has a first name you know!

“Yui? Yeah, she is.” Didn’t we clear this up already!?

“Oho, you two don’t look alike… like, at all though…”

Listen here you bitch, I can give you the results of our DNA test! Of course, I would have to apply for that first, but I’m sure they’ll come out how I want it to!

Seriously. Whose idea was it to name their second child with a name of their first? Me and Yui haven’t been around each other a lot for me to notice this, but it’s my first time knowing that people call her ‘Yuko’ as well…

“But still though, this will be confusing… there’s gonna be two Yuko’s from now on!”

“Her name is Yui!” I whispered in an angry tone.

“Ah… I guess, now that you mention it, she did have that name…”

Just how popular is my sister around here!? Isn’t she just a freshman?

“Yoshida-kun. Aizawa-san. Please refrain from talking while class is in session!”

I felt a sharp cold gaze accompanied by her demanding voice. Though the laughter from class made it feel less cold and more warm.

What a funny feeling, I’ve never been here before. And yet… I feel…

Home?

Discussion (2)

  1. Justice

    Really enjoying the main character’s internalized analysis of his environment in this installment. His vocal interactions with others is like a water-downed version of what he thinks of them. Waiting for the moment when he slips up and actually says the entirety of what he is thinking.

    From interactions with his aunt to that one girl (whose name escapes me), the main character’s personality is quite entertaining. Thumbs up. Good showing.

    1. Tobi Post author

      I’m glad you enjoyed it. And yes, he is probably bound to slip up sooner or later ^^

Comments are closed.