“+American English talking+”
“/British English talking/”
“#Australian English talking#”
Simon made his way to the student bar at Tokyo Cram College. On the surface, he seemed to be making to be doing well on his road to recovery. But yet, there were still some kinks to be worked out for him. This became evident on this very occasion.
He found Shuichi and Hiro over by the bar. They looked up and saw him. Shuichi perked up right away.
“Simon!” he said. “So good to see you again!” The younger boy gave him a small wave.
“/Hi…/” he mumbled. Simon stood right in front of his friends. Shuichi just dove right on in to talking. It looked normal at first. But then, Hiro noticed something off about the younger boy. Simon seemed to be struggling with what the vocalist was saying. He was blinking so much in confusion.
“/I’m sorry, what… what?/” he asked at last. Shuichi paused and looked at him for a moment.
“Is something wrong?” he asked the younger boy. Simon blinked again.
“/What?/” he asked again. Shuichi himself began to look confused. He tried once more to repeat what he said, but nothing seemed to be getting through. The vocalist leaned over to his friend.
“What’s going on here?” he whispered. “Why can’t he understand me?” Hiro leaned in close to him.
“He’s been in accident,” he whispered. Shuichi instantly began to remember what happened six months again.
“Oh…” he whispered. They looked at their English friend again. It was soon clear to everyone in the room. Simon didn’t understand Japanese anymore. Shuichi looked at him, slightly nervous.
“+Uh… I’m so sorry, Simon…+” he said, slowly. “+How are you today?+” Simon nodded a bit.
“/Good…/” he mumbled. “/Very good…/” It all went quiet from there. It was then, Simon realized that he needed to learn the language.
That afternoon, Simon was the language lab. The teacher was showing him cards of Hiragana.
“A,” she said.
“/A…/” Simon replied.
“/O…/” The teacher shook her head.
“No Simon, let’s try this again,” she said. The teacher picked up the first card again. “A,” she said.
“/A…/” Simon said back.
“Not E, A,” the teacher said. “A, Simon, A!”
“/A!/” the boy said frustrated. The teacher sighed aloud.
“This is the fifth week in the row,” she said, trying to keep herself calm. “We haven’t made a single inch of progress.” The teacher sighed again. “Tell me, Simon-kun,” she said. “What are you not getting from these lessons?” The boy shrugged at her.
“/All of it,/” he said. “/I don’t stand any of it at all./” He began to get frustrated. The teacher patted him on the hand.
“There, there,” she said. “You’re only frustrated. I think we should take a little break.” Then, an idea hit her.
“Why don’t we go out on a date?” she offered. The English boy looked at her confused.
“/What?/” he asked. The teacher gave him a sweet little smile as she patted him on the hand.
“Nothing big,” she went on. “Just walk around the city, dinner, and then I take you home. How does that sound?” Simon didn’t really respond at first. He hadn’t really hung out alone with a female since Gabby. The boy still didn’t seem to understand the whole date thing just yet. However, Simon still wanted to connect with Casper in any way possible. Maybe this will help him learn how… Simon nodded a little bit.
“/Okay,/” he said. The teacher smiled at him, warmly.
“Good,” she whispered. “Let’s go.” Simon became puzzled.
“/Wait, right now?/” he asked.
“Yes!” she chirped.
“/B-But.. we just got here, Uchida-san!/” he exclaimed.
“Please, call me Kiko!” the teacher corrected. “Ki-ko!” Simon quickly nodded.
“/Okay… Ki-ko,/” he replied. The teacher smiled at him.
“You’ll get it right, trust me,” she told him. Simon swallowed hard as he nodded. Oh boy!
Kiko walked him to the parking lot. Simon looked around for a moment.
“/Where’s your car?/” he asked.
“Follow me,” Kiko said. Then, she grabbed the boy by the hand and dragged him along with her. Simon looked rather uneasy. He didn’t have much of a choice in that matter. They came over to a willow tree. Parked underneath it was a brand new candy apple red Honda convertible. Simon looked at it, amazed.
“/Wow!/” he mouthed. Kiko walked over to the driver’s side.
“You like it?” she asked. “Daddy bought it for my birthday yesterday!”
“/Happy birthday, I guess…/” Simon mumbled.
“Thanks!” Kiko chirped. She unlocked her door and got in. The teacher looked back at Simon.
“Get in!” she commanded. Simon stood there for a moment. He didn’t seem this was a good idea at all. If Kiko noticed it, she sure didn’t show it.
“Come on!” she encouraged him. “Get in, you silly boy!” Simon snapped out of it and nodded quickly.
“/Right…/” he mumbled. He walked over to the car and got in. Kiko watched as he buckled up.
“There you see?” she asked. “Let’s roll!” Kiko cranked up the car and drove out of the parking lot with the Ramones blurring in the air.
“/So where exactly are we going?/” Simon asked.
“Just anywhere!” Kiko yelled back. Then, they sped off into the city.
She drove him all the way to the park. Kiko parked near the sandbox. Simon looked around, confused.
“/Why are we here?” he asked.
“Why do you think we’re here?” Kiko replied. She switched off her car and got out. She turned back to Simon.
“Well come on,” she said. “You aren’t going to relax in that hot car all day, you know!” Simon shrugged. Like he had a choice. The boy reluctantly got out of the car and followed after his teacher. She led him over to a bench under a table.
“I come here all of the time,” Kiko told him once they sat down. “It helps clear my head when I am stressed with different students in the language lab.” Simon nodded.
“Ah,” he mumbled. Kiko took in a moment to breathe in the fresh air. She turned back to her student.
“So, tell me about yourself,” she spoke up. “What’s your family like?” Simon shrugged at her again.
“/I have a mum, dad, and younger sister, Darcy. She’s really good to me./”
“How old is your sister?”
“Wow! What about your friends?”
“/There all good, I guess./”
“You have a girlfriend?”
“/Yeah. Sort of. I think I do./” Kiko raised an eyebrow at him.
“What do you mean?”
“/It’s complicated at the moment./”
“Ah…” Both of them sat in silence for a moment. The teacher turned back to her student again.
“You want something cold?” she asked.
“/I guess…/” Simon replied.
“Wait right here,” the teacher told him. She got up from the bench and walked over to the fruity ice stall. The boy watched on in silence. It just felt so strange at the moment. His scattered mind wandered back to Casper. He wondered what she was doing now. The boy knew somewhat in his heart that he still loved her. He didn’t know how, but he did.
“Here you go!” Kiko cheered when she returned. “Eat up!” Simon slowly took his ice.
“/Thanks…/” he mumbled. They both ate up. The English boy looked over at his teacher.
“/Kiko,/” he said.
“Uh-hm?” she asked, not looking up.
“/How do you know when you love someone?/”
“You just do. Why?” Simon shook his head.
“/I think I still might love my girlfriend./”
“Then why not tell her?”
“/I don’t know how…/” Kiko took another bite of her fruity ice and smiled.
“Don’t worry,” she said. “You’ll find the way.” Simon looked up at her.
“/You sure about that?/” he asked.
“Positive!” Kiko replied. She finished up her fruity ice.
“Finish up your ice and come on,” the teacher said. Simon blinked at her.
“/Why?/” he asked. Kiko turned back to him, smiling.
“Because,” she replied. “We still have the rest of the city to drive in before dinner. So come on.”
“/Okay…/” Simon mumbled. Then, he finished up his ice and joined his teacher. Kiko smiled as they left the park together.
The drive around Tokyo was rather nice. Simon and Kiko didn’t talk the whole time. Simon’s mind kept floating back to Casper. He remembered how pretty she was. She seemed so nice too…
“So tell me about her,” Kiko cut in. Simon looked up from the moving scenery.
“/Hm?/” the boy asked. The teacher smiled at him.
“What about this girlfriend of yours?” It took a moment for Simon to understand what she was getting at.
“/Oh, what about her?/” Kiko shrugged.
“What’s she like?” Simon shrugged at her again.
“/Well, she’s beautiful and nice./”
“She as pretty as me?” Simon nodded.
“Damn, I have a rival now,” Kiko mumbled under her breath.
“/I’m sorry?/” the boy asked. The teacher looked up at his question.
“Oh, nothing! Nothing!” she lied. Both went quiet for the rest of the drive. Kiko pulled up to a sushi-ya. She looked over at Simon.
“You hungry?” she asked. Simon looked at her blankly.
“/I guess…/” he replied. Kiko gave him a little smile.
“Ever tried to come up with an answer other than ‘you guess?’” she asked. Simon slowly shook his head.
“/Not really…/” he replied. His “date” smiled as she shook her head at him.
“Well, we’ll have to work on that as well!” she replied. The teacher got out of the car. Simon followed behind. Kiko pushed open the door. The owner looked up and noticed her right off the bat.
“Kiko-chan!” he greeted her. “So good to see you again!”
“You look great too Izo!” she said back. They broke down into heavy conversation. At first, Simon struggled to understand what they were saying. It was just like with Shuichi yesterday morning. The English boy could literally feel his head spinning. Izo looked over at Simon in concern.
“Is he okay?” he asked. Kiko smiled as she patted him on the shoulder.
“My pal here is just fine,” she said. “He just needs some food in his stomach.” The owner nodded in agreement.
“Yes, I suppose you are right,” he said. He turned to the back room.
“Ichiro! Get to work we have customers!” Izo yelled. The cook mumbled as he stubbed out his cigarette and washed his hands in the sink. Kiko and Simon sat at the bar.
“/Is this place any good?/” the English boy asked. The teacher smiled at him.
“Taste for yourself!” she said. Simon didn’t know what to say there. Best to follow her. That seemed to be working fine so far. Izo saw to it that the cook only did his best with the sushi. The owner served his two customers personally.
“Here you are,” he said. “Enjoy.” The teacher and student took their trays.
“Thank you sir,” Kiko replied as she bowed her head. Simon paused as if trying his best to remember something. The teacher and owner watched on as the boy tried to form words in his head. Simon tightly shut his eyes.
“/A-ri-ga-to I-zo sa-n,/” he forced out character by character. Silence in the whole sushi-ya. The English boy looked at his audience.
“/Is that good?/” he asked. “/Did I mess that up?/” Kiko looked at him overjoyed.
“No, that was good!” she said. “It’s finally coming back to you.” Simon began to smile.
“/Really?/” he asked. Kiko nodded at him.
“Yes! Just take your time and relax with it. You’ll get it soon!” she cheered. “Keep trying.” The student nodded a bit as his smile deepened. The pair began to eat dinner. Simon had a little difficulty working his chopsticks at first. He pulled them out and looked at them for a few seconds.
“/Kiko?/” he asked.
“Yeah?” his teacher asked.
“/Why are they stuck together like that?/” Simon asked.
“That’s how they are packaged,” she said. “You have to break them apart to use them.” Simon blinked at her again.
“/Just like that?/” he asked.
“Yes,” Kiko replied. Simon shrugged and gave it a shot. They broke slightly uneven. He showed them to his “date.”
“/How are these?/” he asked.
“How do you think they are?” Kiko asked back. Simon stared at them for a long moment. He nodded once he was satisfied. Then, he turned to Kiko.
“/How do I use these again?/” Simon asked. Kiko turned to him, smiling and shaking his head.
“Here, watch me,” she said. The teacher picked up her tuna sushi with her chopsticks and put it in her mouth. Simon was sure that he got that demonstration. Monkey see, monkey do by nature of order. Yet, it looked so much easier! The poor boy struggled with his food for a good five minutes. Kiko looked up at him and lightly patted him on the shoulder.
“There, there,” she whispered. “Take your time with it.”
“/Okay…/” Simon mumbled. He paused and slowly tried again. With a little more guidance from Kiko, the boy succeeded. Simon put the eel piece in his mouth. Kiko watched as he chewed and swallowed.
“Good?” she asked. When his mouth was clear, Simon turned to her, grinning.
“Great!” he said in Japanese. Kiko looked at him impressed.
“Beautiful!” she replied. When they finished dinner, the teacher paid for everything. Then, she turned back to her “date.”
“We have one more stop for tonight,” Kiko said. Simon raised an eyebrow at her.
“Where is that?” he asked.
“It’s a surprise,” she whispered with a wink. The teacher to him out to a small local bar and dance club. Simon looked around in surprise at all the wild Harajuku-esque styles that invaded this place. He turned to Kiko.
“/I don’t get it, why are we here?/” he asked. The teacher smiled at him, fondly.
“This is where I go at night to get away from it all at night,” she explained. “As a gift and reward. I will share with you.” Simon slowly smiled at those words. Somehow these too stirred up good feelings inside of him. He didn’t understand why just yet.
The night disappeared into a blur for the pair. Kiko drove Simon help just minutes before midnight. The pulled up at his driveway. Simon turned to the twenty-one-year-old teacher.
“I had fun tonight,” he said. Kiko grinned at him.
“Glad to hear that,” she replied. He turned and unlocked the door.
“Don’t forget that you have a language test tomorrow,” the teacher said. Simon looked at her in surprise.
“/WHAT?!?/” he asked in English. Kiko giggled at him.
“Oh don’t worry,” she said. “You’ll do fine.”
“/You think so?/” he asked.
“If I’m lying, I’m dying!” Kiko said. Simon gave her a little smile and nodded. The teacher grinned back at him.
“There you see!” she said. “You’re feeling better already!” Simon smiled at little bit.
“/I guess I am…/” he said.
“Good night,” Kiko said.
“/Night,/” Simon replied. Then, he got out of the car and walked into the house. The teacher stayed where she was until he got inside the house. Kiko smiled to herself, warmly.
“He’s so good,” she said to herself. Then, the woman squealed to herself. “Oh to be seventeen again!” Kiko drove away into the night.
Simon made it into the living room.
“/Have fun?/” a voice asked him. The boy looked up to see Darcy standing at the foot of the stairs. She too looked as if she had been out all night. Simon nodded at her.
“/Yeah…/” he said. “/You?/”
“/Yes,/” his sister replied. Then, Simon went upstairs to bed. The next morning, he was in classroom D-1 with the other twelve students, taking their Japanese comprehension test. At first, the English boy struggled with the questions. Of course, they were all in Japanese. “I can’t do this,” he thought. But then, Kiko’s mind entered his scattered his mind. “Take your time with this,” Simon remembered her saying. “It’ll all come back to you.” Simon suddenly lightened up. “Not that bad,” he thought. Then, the boy got right to work. He finished the test in less than ten minutes. Outside to his surprise, all of his friends were waiting for him. Simon looked at them all confused.
“/Guys,/” he said. “/What are you all doing here?/” The crew didn’t speak at first.
“/Hello twat,/” Nick greeted him in Japanese. Simon looked at him closely.
“/I am not!/” he replied in the same language. Nick pretended to look surprised.
“/Well, what do you know?/” he asked. “/He can talk after all!/” Simon looked among his mates.
“/Where’s Casper?/” he asked. Nobody spoke at first.
“+Outside,+” Lucas said at last. Simon didn’t speak and hurried out past them. He found Casper standing under a willow tree, smoking. The boy just had to pause for a good moment. Boy, she looked just as pretty as she did in his memories. But yet, she seemed so sad…
The hippie happened to look up and notice him. He froze up for a moment before walking over to her. Casper looked like she would run away. But, she stayed right where she was. Simon finally made it over to her.
“/Hi,/” he said.
“/Hi,/” Casper said back.
“/We have so much to talk about,/” Simon told her.
“/Yes we do,/” the hippie agreed. But, they just stood there in silence and walked the cars leave and enter the parking lot.