Time Dilation — Chapter I

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The one with the 18-year-old Japanese-American boy that receives great news

I got in!

It was a quarter to 12 and Takehiko was sitting at his desk, close to the rear of the peaceful classroom. As it was nearly the end of their last period before lunch break, he longed to get the hell out. Every single minute he spent in this plain high school had made him sick of it all, needless to say his near-death experience with the luxurious boredom his classes would always had to offer. Even when his senior year had started around nine months ago, the boy couldn’t help but chiefly focus on increasing his chances of getting over that pile of nothingness and finally move on to college.


Right at that moment, the only sounds that could be heard was the ticking of the clock on the wall, a few scraping strokes here and there and, of course, the deep monotonous voice of the teacher, rumbling about equations and how to cope with. Once the old man turned around, his eyes instantly met the teen’s crooked posture. Takehiko was resting his head on the back of his palm, flamboyantly showing no sign of interest and idly scribbling with his pencil in his notebook.

 

 

“Mr. Yamada, would you please do us the honor of solving this problem for us?”

Annoyed to be called out, Takehiko clicked his tongue and leered at his teacher. Bothersome.

 

Everything for Aya. Remember that.

 

Soon enough, he took a deep breath and quietly stood up only to walk his way towards the blackboard. As he was passing across the desks, a girl’s whisper reached his ears.

‘Good luck, Takehiko!’

He didn’t made an effort to look around, but he did wonder who that was. As far as his classmates were concerned, he wasn’t acquainted with no one.

The boy stood in front of the board, took a chalk in his right hand and began writing without muttering a single word. And it didn’t take him longer than two minutes to stop and look at his teacher.

 

“Can I go back to my seat now?”

 

“Do you mind explaining what you did there?”

 

The teacher seemed calm, yet apparently annoyed by Takehiko’s attitude.

“That is not my job,” he replied in an apathetic fashion and shrugged before proceeding back to his seat. As he was walking, he found out almost right away who it was that voice belonged to. A redheaded girl, sitting two rows ahead of him and currently the only one smiling and staring at him. Her face did not ring a single bell.

“Alright, I see that Mr. Yamada could not care less about his audience, but he sure did solve our problem! So you see, what he did was quite simple-”

 

The voice started fading away from Takehiko’s ears while he was once again surrendering to his thoughts. Earlier that morning, his mother had texted him that there were three envelopes addressed to him. All replies from universities. He had applied for several, but it was only one that he really cared about; the one his sister was in.

 

 

 

 

 

 

The bell rang and it was lunchtime. He gathered his stuff and headed to his locker to grab his lunch. He then went straight to the cafeteria and sat down at an empty table to eat, far away from the crowd so he wouldn’t be bothered. He wasn’t feeling particularly hungry, but it was certain, as if it was some kind of law his body had to obey, that if he wouldn’t eat, he would starve his way home. He put on his earphones to listen to an audiobook and slowly began munching his lunch.

 

Middle way, a girl came along and sat on the opposite side of the small table.

He looked up to see who it was to interrupt.

The same girl that cheered for him during class.

What was her name again?

 

“Mind if I join you?” she asked with a kind smile on her lips and hope in her eyes.

 

“I guess not.” Still chewing, he took off his earphones and pointed at her. “You are-”  

 

“It’s Lisa. Remember? Literature and Math.”

 

“Oh,” he quietly murmured, focusing his gaze back to his phone to press pause.  

 

“I’d figured you wouldn't remember. But I really wanted to have a chat with you.”

She put a plastic plate full of mixed salad in front of her, accompanied with a fork and a bottle of juice. “Look, I know you don’t like socializing much. Actually, you don’t socialize at all… Have you ever talked to anyone since you got here?”

 

“No. Not outside class.”

 

“When was it? Five years ago?”

 

He stared at her for a few moments, impressed by her persistence to intrude his private space.

 

What’s with her?

 

“Yes,” he finally said.

 

As a part of a four-membered Japanese-American family, Takehiko was born and raised in Osaka, Japan. His father was a Japanese ambassador in the US, while his mother was an American elementary English teacher. Up until recently, he was attending a co-ed school back in his hometown, but for the last five years they were staying in the US in order for his sister, Ayako, to graduate and enter the college of her preference. She was two years older and was, at that time, majoring art at P-college.

That was where he wished to be. Not dilly-dallying there with a stranger from his class.

 

“I see… Well, I’d like to be friends with you. We seem to have lot in common!” said Lisa cheerfully.

 

“Like what?”

 

“Comics!” she cried and proudly showed him her Flash t-shirt.

“You do like them, don’t you?”

 

Takehiko looked with envy the top and gulped. “I do.”

 

“You’ve got to help me here, mister.”

 

His silent stare went back to the new girl’s face. He blinked and sighed.

“I don’t get it why you’re trying so hard. I don’t want to make friends. Now shoo,” Takehiko added and gestured to drive her away.

 

Unwilling to give up and after a few awkward seconds, she pressured, “What about… a girlfriend? Or… someone to go to prom with?”

 

He stared at her with a puzzled look.

So prom is still a thing, huh?

 

He took his last bite, stood up and took his backpack by the strap to walk away.

 

“Well?” she cried to his back.

 

“I’m not what you’re looking for,” he calmly replied.

 

While he was about to make his exit, she shouted loud and clear “Are you gay?”

 

He laughed silently and shook his head. “No. I’m not,” and added as he turned to look at her, “But still, I don’t wish to hang out with you.”

 

While he was walking away, she stood up from her seat, hit her hands on the table and yelled at him, “You’re such a jerk Yamada!”

 

That’s what you get when you bother with a person like me…  

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few more hours went by quietly. He could feel the girl’s piercing glance striking through his soul itself the entire time, but tried not to pay any attention. What mattered the most right at that moment was the letter he had been waiting for a whole month.

And the last bell rang.

 

He packed up and rushed his way home. Luckily, no one was there to stop him.

Once in the familiar living room, he threw his bag and jacket on the floor and run to the kitchen where his mother usually would leave the letters. When he stepped in, he saw his father sitting and talking on the phone, while the mother was leaning on him half-asleep and very exhausted from work.

“Where are they?” the young boy asked his mother, partly excited and partly irritated.

 

“Who?” muttered the sleepy mother between her yawns.

 

“The letters, of course!”

 

“On the counter, dear,” she replied and pointed to the right indolently.

He turned his head in a hurry; he saw them and grabbed them without a second thought. After opening them one by one, reading with eyes rapidly going from left to right, swiping between the documents, discarding one page after the other, he stopped in the middle of the last one. A disappointed look relaxed the tension in his face.

 

Then the father got off the phone. “What’s the matter? Bad news?”

 

“No,” he sighed, “No news at all. At least not from the one I was looking for.”

 

“Did you get accepted in any of those colleges?”

 

“2 out of 3. But that’s… not the matter…”

 

Disheartened, he stomped his way out of the kitchen and onto his bedroom.

Too much excitement over hardly nothing.

 

He let his body drop on the bed and grabbed one of the pillows. He wanted to cry, to punch away his frustration, but couldn’t. He was missing his sister deeply. The only friend he had all those years, the only one to hold on to. The only one he cared to be with.

But for the last couple of years she had been way too far from his reach. She would come over to visit or would call from time to time, but that just wasn’t enough.

There was no one to talk to, no one to understand him or share a laugh with.

He was completely alone.

 

Drifted away by his train of thought, the sudden double knock on his door startled him, but not enough to make him move a muscle.

 

“Can I come in for a second, Také-kun?” the subtle voice of his mother was heard, calmly waiting outside her son’s room.

 

“… Fine,” he grunted.

 

“Darling, you forgot these in the living room,” said the middle-aged woman while placing the bag and jacket on his chair. She then leaned on the desk and gazed at her son in silence.

 

When he realized she was still around, he turned his head to face her. “What now?”

 

“You don’t have to be disappointed, dear. It takes some time for them to reply. I’m sure they’ll accept you. There’s nothing to be afraid of, your scores are pretty high after all. Be a little patient okay?”

 

“I know. It’s just… It’s toying with my patience,” he mumbled and turned his head around the other way. “Please leave me alone. I need to rest.”

 

“Sure,” she said in a soft voice, kissed her son’s hair and left the room.

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few days went by like that and the teen was starting to lose hope.

 

It’s pretty obvious they have declined. Otherwise, why would it take so long to reply?

Then, one day, when he had only returned from practice, he found his parents waiting for him in the living room.

 

“W-What did I do?” he stuttered, slowly backing off. “D-Did I get another notice from school? I swear, I didn’t do anything!”

 

“I don’t know about that, but I’d really like to find out later in detail, young man!” yelled the father, raising his finger high.

 

“Hush, darling,” demanded the more relaxed mother, patting her husband’s arm to calm him down. “Come here baby, we got news for you!”

 

He noticed right away. In her slim hands, there was a narrow white envelope. He gulped.

“I-Is this from P?” Takehiko cried out loud and, as he was shaking, he pointed at the envelop.

 

“Why don’t you find out yourself?” she replied, giving him with a wide smile on her lips the letter he was dying to receive.

 

He snatched it from her skinny fingers with a swift movement and tried to open it so fast he almost ripped it apart. His heart was beating and sweat started running from his pores. His chest was pulsing. When he got to a certain point, his eyes widened.

It was the answer he was hoping for.

 

“I got in!” he shouted and jumped in joy. “Yes, yes, yes!”

 

His mother and father were smiling and clapping to celebrate the good news.

 

“Why don’t you call your sister to tell her the great news? And don’t you ever think I’ve forgotten the so called notice, Takehiko,” said his strict, as always, father.


“It’s nothing, I swear. I’m too lazy to cause trouble, you know it. Now if you’ll excuse me I have a call to make!” he cried happily and, with a big smile on his face and the letter in his hands, he made for the house phone.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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