Last updated on January 26th, 2019 at 10:51 am
“Introduce yourself please,” the bubbly math teacher asked in a too-cheerful voice. Emi tried not to cringe at the sight of the woman; she was probably in her late thirties but dressed like she was one of the students. The state of the students’ dress was another disastrous subject all together. Emi hadn’t expected the slack dress code; disgustingly short skirts and sagging pants, shirts that exposed more cleavage than she had seen in her entire life. Her first day was full of shocking discoveries and embarrassing situations. “Your name?” Ms. Walsh, as according to the chalkboard, prompted.
“Shinsaku Emi,” the Japanese girl said just loudly enough for the first two rows of students to understand.
“Hmm, that’s odd,” Ms. Walsh commented loudly, shifting to yet another unprofessional position and scanning her clipboard. “This says ‘Emi’ is your first name.”
“It is,” Emi mumbled, avoiding the temptation to roll her eyes dramatically. She wasn’t going to explain that family names came first. Americans were truly clueless creatures.
Realizing she wasn’t going to get much more out of the quiet girl, Ms. Walsh stood up straight and gave her a sharp nod, dismissing her to find an empty seat among the whispering students. Groaning internally, Emi stepped forward and tried to find the least dangerous path to the back of the classroom. Hoots and hollers from the male half of the class begged her to come sit by them.
“You’re good at math, right? Since you’re Asian?”
“So what they say about those sexy schoolgirl outfits is true, huh?”
Emi wanted to throw a desk at the group of boys who called out rude comments, but she balled her fists by her sides and kept walking. She hadn’t been told about the dress code, so her mother insisted it was safest to wear her old uniform until she could get the new one. That had been the first of many mistakes that were making her first day miserable.
Math was her third class, leaving her with four more and a lunch period. Taking a seat at the far end of the class, she told herself that she would make it and tomorrow would be better.
As the teacher began to outline what they were to learn today, Emi extracted a brand new notebook from her bag, along with a pen and the course book. She glanced up, annoyed to see that some of the boys were ogling her and other students were making rude faces by pulling on the corners of their eyes. She dropped her attention back to her notebook and titled the paper with the lesson.
After a second thought, she flipped to a new page and wrote the lesson name again, but this time in Japanese. Perhaps it would be better off if they thought she wasn’t highly capable of English. She looked up again to read what the teacher had written and noticed something out of place. One of the students seemed to be in a different seat than before. Emi didn’t think he was one of the boys who had been teasing her; she hadn’t even noticed him until now. Though, she was sure that the desk he was now occupying had been empty when she sat down. Attributing his movement to her waning sanity, she brushed it off and began to write.
It took her a while to copy down the three lines on the board; translating wasn’t her strong point. When she finally looked up from her notes, the boy had moved an entire three seats closer. There was only one desk between the two of them now. She tried to meet his eyes and give him a warning look, but his was intently scribbling down the notes on the board. Determined to warn him off, she continued to stare menacingly, studying him as she did. It wasn’t hard to see that he didn’t fit in with the general crowd. His messy, spiked hair was dyed black, obvious by the blonde roots beginning to show, and he had a number of piercings in his face. He wore a faded black shirt depicting a gruesome scene and a barely-legible band name written in blood. His jeans were tattered and obviously several years old and hung low with the weight of a few chains. He wore a red and black checkered wrist cuff on one arm and a studded one on the other. Emi took in his entire appearance, but he didn’t once look up. She noticed she was falling behind, so she reluctantly returned to her translating.
Then came a rustling sound next to her, and the boy brushed her sleeve as he quickly settled into the seat next to her. As if that wasn’t enough, he scooted the desk halfway across the row until their desks were only a foot apart. Emi glared down at her paper, refusing to look up. She scribbled her notes down furiously, trying to get ahead long enough to grab her things and move seats.
“Your ribbons are very pretty, Shinsaku-san.” The boy reached a hand out and slipped it into Emi’s waist length black hair. He let her hair slide over his hand, holding on to one of the many white ribbons she had tied into her hair.
Swatting his hand away roughly, she mumbled “Arigatou.” Hopefully he would assume she didn’t speak English and go away. Surely his calling her ‘san’ had just been a way to tease her for being Asian.
“Do itashimashite,” he replied in a very convincing accent. Emi raised her head abruptly and met his eyes with a surprised expression.
“Nihongo o hanashimasu ka?” She sputtered, trying to keep her voice below a whisper. She had asked if he spoke Japanese; she hoped he would say yes.
“Not much,” he responded to her disappointment, “My sister’s a total weeaboo so I picked some things up from her.” He grinned widely and put his arms behind his head, leaning back in a casual “bad boy” pose.
As awful as Emi’s day had been, and as hard as she was trying to keep a stone faced appearance, something in her broke with his hilariously casual statement and rebellious pose. Much to her embarrassment, she burst out laughing.
Her laughing ceased, of course, when the entire student body turned to stare wide eyed at her; then the groans of disappointment began to circulate.
“Aw man, the weirdo got her.”
“Great, he’s going to turn her into a goth psycho.”
Emi ignored the murmurs of disappointment and turned to the boy. “Watashi wa Shinsaku Emi desu.” He already knew her name, but she felt he deserved a real introduction.
“I’m Tyler,” he grinned, “and I’m your new best friend.”