Love for One Day***Competition, Comparison, Consequences***
Parents are baby boomers 
Competition, abortion, 
oil crisis 

 In sea of humanity 
 be an anchor to my soul, 
 I need you today. 

    After school on the same Wednesday, Megumi and I decided to stay at school's playground for a while until the final school announcement at four.  When we were on the swings, we heard music of "Traumerai."

    "......Attention, please.  It is time that you all the students should have been on your way home.  Be safe and we'll see you tomorrow......"  and music faded. We said good-bye to some other classmates and scattered in directions we needed to go.

    I knew where some of our classmates lived.  Hiroko, a chubby little girl with dark skin and rosy cheeks, lived right behind the school building where her family owned a small meat market.  She was very shy, but when she talks, she had the most beautiful, crystal clear voice that would put nightingales feel shame on their own tweets.  On the alley of the same street, Asami lived with her parents and eight brothers and sisters.  She was the tallest girl in the class and looked much more mature than the rest of the classmates.  I heard her parents were missionaries of some religious group, but nobody didn't want to ask exactly what it was.  Megumi and I lived on the other side of the town, so we started walking opposite from their homes.
    After the fire station, we passed the vegetable market, 'trashy boy,' Jiro's parent's store.  There was a rumor that their vegetables were leftover trash taken from farmer's land.   They said that was the reason why iceberg lettuces and cucumbers of our school lunch were so dehydrated.  Then came the first light signal.  If we turned to the left on the avenue, it will take us to the bakery, called "LIEBESTOD" specialized for cake which Shinya's parents were owners and pastry chefs as well.  Our classmate didn't forget to criticize that cakes from LIEBESTOD were too small and expensive.  I thought about getting married Shinya and dreamt about eating all kinds of different cakes all day, everyday.  When my mother found out about my craving without knowing my secret wedding plan, she told me that soon I would be sick and tired of eating cakes and not even like to be near them.
    If we turned the avenue to the right, we saw a ten-stories apartment building where Koichi lived with her mother.  He was constantly laughed at because he was too pale and he screamed like a girl every time other boys bullied him.  His last name was changed at least three times in the school year, and nobody really knew what was going on with his family.  That apartment he lived was famous for at least five people throwing themselves from ninth floor of the building so far last year.
    We kept walking on the main street. Next few blocks were always dark because residential houses were blocking the sun in the morning and in the late afternoon.  There were still sheets of ice on the side of the roads which didn't get melted during the day.  When we were approaching the second light, we could see another bakery across from the street, and all kinds of bread were on display through the big window.  We were not supposed to carry any money or to buy anything according to the rules of our school, but Megumi sometimes brought her allowance money to buy some breads or candies there.
    At the very corner, there was a tobacco shop where Junichiro lives on the second floor.  He was very good at playing any types of sports with balls, soccer, dodgeball, basketball, and softball, any ball games you name it.  However, he was so competitive that sometimes he lost his temper, which cost him several detentions.  
    If we turned this avenue to the right and walked one block, we found a barber shop Kimiyo's parents ran.  She had two brothers much older than she was, and her parents looked like they were her grandparents. she was the bossiest girl in our class and nobody can say or do anything to her because of her big, strong brothers.  She and her followers bullied whoever they felt like bullying, whenever our teachers were not around.  I never liked to bully, but for some reason, I got along with her and she often invited me to stop by her house which was hiding behind the barber shop area.
    The legendary ham company was a couple more block away from Kimiyo's house.  Though we were able to see its sign, I wasn't allowed to go further beyond on the east side of  this avenue. Yet we could still keep traveling to the south toward my home. Sometimes I wanted to go back to the main street, passing in front of Yutake's house.  His house has a sign said, 'PROPANE GAS SOLD HERE' because his parents had a gas company who installed and exchanged propane gas tanks.  Yutake was an awesome pianist. Every Friday when entire class moved to the music hall for music class, he sat by the black, shiny grand piano and played some Mozart for us.  When we passed in front of his house, we could often hear him practicing the piano.  
    Right in front of Yutake's house, there was one of the prestigious high school that my mother had been insisting me to study hard to be accepted when I become sixteen.  The high school was located along the canal and the railroad of local train.  Megumi and I needed to cross the railroad everyday no matter which route we decided to take to go home.

    On that particular Wednesday, we decided to keep going on the main street directly from our school since it already past four o'clock.  When we were about to cross the railway,  its signal started ringing and two bars were coming down. The signal was also indicating with flickering light of arrows that the train was coming from the direction of the ham factory. This train was the same train my mother and I took years ago to my grandparents' triangle house and it was also going to the same direction, to the west. 
    The train was supposed to come and go in less than two minutes, but we could see it stopped completely on the street of Kimiyo's house.  Megumi and I waited and waited patiently for about twenty minutes though we could have crawled under the bars to cross to the other side.  The train had no signs to move, but strangely, the signal stopped ringing and the bars were going up where they used to be.  It was out of normal, spooky, and sort of like seeing the scene of a person in coma whose heart just stopped beating after all the tubes were removed.  At that moment,  I knew someone had passed away.
    When I finally came home, my mother asked me why I was so late.  I explained to her that Megumi and I were stuck at the rail signal for more than half an hour.

    "But mom, the train never came to pass by us."
    "That is strange. The train must have broken down or something." 

    Next morning, my father opened the local newspaper and exclaimed.

    "Look!  It talks about a teenage girl who threw herself to the accelerating train and killed herself.  It says, 'she was a student of Middle School of Third district, and she was reported to be extremely nervous, facing the entrance exam of high school next week......her death note was found in a drawer of her desk, saying that she couldn't take this pressure anymore and she was afraid to fail.' "
    "How come people have to kill themselves?"  It's not the end of the world even if she failed the exam.  She can do anything before thinking about killing herself,"  my mother questioned to herself and to me.

    "She thought about it, thought and thought until she can't think no more and the evil voice came to tell her that's the end of her suffering."

    It was already 7:30 in the morning and I really needed to leave my house.  Before leaving, I happened to glance at menu of school lunch, and it was going to be wonton soup, seaweed salad, milk, and fried bread---fried bread!  I quickly grabbed a doggy bag from the pantry closet and squeezed it into the side pocket of my backpack.    
    On the way to school,  I couldn't get rid of the girl who killed herself out of my mind.  At that moment of my life, I never imagined  my mother's comment was going to be a complex mixture of blessing and cursing for me, and it also became like an bungee cord preventing me from being fatal, like an anchor to harsh realities of life.

    Thursday mornings started with indoor meeting at the gymnasium.  Unlike outside meeting on every Mondays, it was more recreation-oriented.  We usually sang songs and played games, or teachers gave awards to students of the month.  

    "Attention, please......before we start the meeting, we have a very sad news to inform you.  Ms. Harada who has been a teacher of 4th grade......suddenly passed away last night."

    Whole gymnasium was surrounded by mixture of confusion and mourning, and  Thursday meeting was no longer held with fun as it would have been.  All the students of Ms. Harada's class were weeping.

   "It would be very difficult for Ms. Harada's students......Within couple of weeks, we'll find the substitute teacher for them.  Until then, they will be divided by two group, one group belongs to  Mr. Ishida's and the other belongs to Mr. Nagashima, alright? ...Now we are going to sing a song for Ms. Harada who shall rest in peace, please open your song book, page 34."

    Everybody reached the book which was dangling from the neck like a necklace.  The book was hole-punched at one corner so a strand of yarn could go through.
    Our music teacher, Ms. Koyama, came up on the stage and sent a signal to Mr. Nagashima who was in the control tower of audio.  She conducted us as music started with its minor notes which resembled to Beethoven's Moonlight Sonata our classmate, Yutake would play on the piano.  The song was about Icarus, somehow arranged in 6/8 time signature, almost like a quick, sad waltz.  I knew this song very well because a group of older students often sang in Winter concert every year.

    Once upon the ancient time
    Icarus in Greece
    he's got the wings of his own
    bird feathers bonded with wax    
    There he flew high up to the sun,
    leaving his shadow far, far away
    ambition, as his only company......

    The song gradually developed as he flew higher until he failed as the heat of the Sun melt wax which was bonding bird feathers.  We finished by singing last verse which was about how we should not afraid of making mistakes and Icarus' death, but should honor and carry on his legend.

    After the meeting, we were dismissed and many students were whispering rumors about what happened to Ms. Harada.

    "Do you know what really happened to Ms. Harada?"

    "She poured kerosene over the head and burnt herself."

    "No kidding!"

    "No, no, no, that's not what I heard.  She jumped out of ninth floor of 'the suiciders' building' around the corner. "

    "That's what I overheard when teachers of 5th grade were talking on the side of the gymnasium.  They said she had been telling them that she was tired because she had a problem to fall asleep."

    "I heard something......something that she didn't want other teachers and our parents to know......something."

    "Something what?"

    "I don't know."

        Once we got to our classroom, everybody felt that the classroom was overcrowded.  Mr. Nagashima cleared his throat and opened his mouth.

    "So, here are twenty-one adopted students.  Let's welcome them with open arms."

    Students of our class started to clap hands to cheer those unfortunate twenty-one students.

    Next, we all went to the meeting room #1 to borrow twenty-one chairs attached to the desk.  Then we made our best effort to make extra spaces so that all of Ms. Harada's students could accommodate.

    On a day like this, time had passed so quickly maybe because I was swimming in my thought, just trying not to get drown or struggling to get to the other side of my thought.  And when I got there, it was already lunchtime and I absolutely disliked the school lunch on that day.  Wontons in the wonton soup were overcooked and absorbed almost all the liquid.  Seaweed salad served on the plated was touching with the fried bread which was about to absorb all the moisture of the salad.  The fried bread was twisted like a squeezed rag rolled on top of the sand of playground, which was actually coated with granulated sugar and toasted soybean power.
    I looked right, left and right again, slipped the fried bread into the doggy bag I brought from home this morning, and hid it at a corner of the drawer of my desk for the time being.  I didn't know if my fried bread would make its way to my home. I was already planning to throw it down into the canal before crossing the railway.



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Novel / Novella
writing SUKIE
God, grant me the serenity
To accept the things I cannot change
Courage to change the things I can,
And wisdom to know the difference
---The serenity prayer

Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us---Roman5: 1-5
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1980s in Japan.