“Wakaranai, wakaranai, wakaranai…” [I don’t understand, I don’t understand, I don’t understand…] It’s the only thing that crosses my mind since finding myself outside of Japan. Everywhere I’ve been, first with that British man who spoke a fair amount of Japanese and then with that really mean looking girl, and then the desert. I’ve hardly understood a thing that’s going on. The man had said I would find out, but I have yet to discover why he wanted me.
Kaze sama has done little in the way of helping me adjust. I mean, I refuse to speak with him still, since he disappeared in the house. I was just so frightened. Maybe I had wanted to travel once, but this… this is beyond what I was ready for.
The group of foreigners we met in the desert speak really fast English and they all have strange powers, like fire, water, earth and … speed? I don’t know. But suddenly, the world shifted and there was a dark place with hanging light and then… We appear in an old looking room with carpet and bookshelves and small tables with cushioned chairs around them. Torches hang on the wall; I’ve never seen torches before, lighting the space. I wonder, is this a library?
I hear a thud and spin to see the handsome man in the green shirt collapse to the floor. The foreigners rush everywhere, while the white-haired girl who Victor seemed to know kneels at his side before disappearing and reappearing on the sofa, still, almost dead-like. I hang back, unsure of what everyone is saying. I don’t understand what’s going on. I step backward, away from everyone.
There’s a girl with the bright orange hair too. She’s really beautiful… She looks so sad as she kneels over the handsome man with the sword. She seems really worried about him. Maybe they are siblings. I don’t know. Eventually, she leans back on the couch, eyes fixed on him as people in white clothes show up, who I assume are doctors, and they take the two motionless people away. A tall woman in a white dress and golden hair comes in. She speaks to the girl with orange hair and seems familiar with her. Maybe she’s her mother?
It’s like I’ve been forgotten. I silently back out of the way and slip between the shelves looking for a way out of the library. I really just want to be alone. There are way too many people and none of them look like they would understand me anyway. I don’t know why I’m here or how I got here, but I want to get out. Kaze hovers behind me without a word. He hasn’t spoken much since we’ve left Japan. I told him not to ask me anything. I don’t know the answers.
I twist my hands in the hem of my shirt nervously. What do I do now?
“Hey! Wait!” a voice calls out from behind.
I stop in my tracks, my heart pounding in my chest. I turn around and see the really tall man with the really strong arms and kind face jogging up to me. I’m like a child next to him. Why are foreigners so tall?! I’m certain he wants to tell me something, so I wait.
He hesitates, speaking slowly. “Do you… understand me?”
Well, that I can understand… it’s going to be everything else he says. What should I say? I’m sure I look like a frightened tanuki.
‘Go on, try. He won’t bite,’ Kaze sama whispers beside me. I shoot him an annoyed look and swallow nervously. “I understand… a little,” I say. There, maybe… What if he asks me something else? I wring my hands in my shirt absentmindedly.
The man’s face seems to light up. “Oh, good. That makes this a little easier,” he seems to make a conscious effort not to speak too quickly, but I still only catch some of what he says. I guess I should have studied more. “I’m Nik. What’s your name?”
Ok, easy question. “Ano… My name is Nijiyama Hitomi,” I answer. Kaze sama nods beside me and I really wish I could just punch him. It’s all his fault in the first place.
Nik kun nods, a little confused. “Okay. Which one should I call you?”
Oh darn… I mull over his question in my head, sorting out the words. Call me… call… wait. I forgot, foreign people don’t use their family names. Maybe he’s asking my name again… Umm. “My name is Hitomi. Please call me Hitomi,” Wow… Ichi-nen (first year) English is a lifesaver.
“Perfect,” he grins. “It’s nice to meet you, Hitomi. Where are you from?”
“It’s nice to meet you too,” I reply out of habit. “One more please?” I ask, missing his second question.
He blinks before realization crosses his face. “Where are you from?”
“Japan,” ok, deep breaths.
‘You’re doing great Hitomi hime.’
“Okay,” he nods repeatedly, looking around. “Okay… Um. I know you’re probably scared right now, but,” he pauses, studying my face. I tilt my head to the right, not catching his meaning. “I want you to know, this is a safe place,” he continues, stressing the words for my benefit. “You are safe here.”
I frown. I really wish I had not been taken from Japan without my digital dictionary. I try to repeat his words in my head, nodding a little as I work out the meaning. I stumble over ‘safe’ though. I don’t remember it. I try to ask. “Safe, wa dou imi desu ka” [What is the meaning of Safe?]
Nik kun scratches his head. “I’m going to guess that means you don’t understand.”
“I don’t understand, ah, sumimasen,” I apologize as I interrupt him.
“Um… No one will hurt you. Does that make more sense?”
I scream to myself in my head. Why is this so hard? “Anoo… Not hurt?” I ask. “No, no. I am not hurt,” I feel my cheeks get warm. I hope that’s right. Kaze sama snickers beside me.
Nik kun chuckles. “That’s good. I hope we can be friends,” he offers, waving his hand toward the empty hall. “Let’s see if we can find someone who speaks Japanese, okay?”
“F-friends?” I stutter. No, I don’t want more friends! One is enough and now he’s back in Japan. I want to check my phone and see if he’s texted me, but then I realize… what if my phone doesn’t work here? I’m not in Japan anymore! I might have a meltdown.
‘Yes, this nice man would make a good friend. You should follow him,’ Kaze sama insists.
“Shizuka ni! Anata wa eigo wo hanashite mitara,” [Be quiet, you. You should try speaking in English,] I growl at him. I suddenly slap my hands to my mouth with embarrassment. What if Nik kun heard me?
I look at him as he looks at me, waiting. He doesn’t seem to react so I slowly lower my hands. “Sumimasen,” [Excuse me,] I say. “One more time please?” I don’t remember his last question. I got hung up on the word friend again.
He is patient, repeating his words again. “Let’s see if we can find someone here who speaks Japanese.”
“Japanese? Yes. please speak Japanese,” I want to cry. I follow him back down the hall as he walks. It takes almost three of my steps to match his one. I feel like I’m jogging to keep up.
The size of this place hits me as we walk for nearly twenty or so minutes. Nik kun comes to a stop as a girl with blonde hair and bright ocean green eyes walks up to him.
“They’re in the infirmary now. Gwen’s with them too. Andrei still hasn’t woken up. I don’t know what to do. I’m thinking I’ll keep an eye on Kaitlyn as it seems she wants to stay there with them,” she seems to be explaining something about the two would were injured.
“I’m not surprised,” Nik kun sighs. “I’ll come by and check in on them later.”
“I don’t know if the nurses down there want too many visitors but -” the blonde stops as she notices me standing silently behind Nik kun. “Oh, is this the Asian girl? What’s she doing here?” she asks.
“She’s Japanese. I’m looking for someone who can speak Japanese. Her English is not great and I’m worried about her. I can only imagine how she feels right now,” Nik kun replies, glancing down at me. Did he just say my English was bad? I flush with embarrassment. I want to understand, really I do.
“Oh, well, Kaede learned a bit I think when he was a kid. I don’t know if he’s kept it up at all, but he used to take Japanese school. We could ask him,” the blonde says. I just wait, too bewildered to even try listening anymore.
Nik kun nods and waves a hand for me to follow. “Let’s go see Kaede. Maybe he can speak some Japanese,” he says.
“Ok, let’s go,” I think it sounds stupid but it’s what I remember my foreign English teachers saying in class. The blonde smiles at me as she falls into step beside me.
“Hi, my name’s Caroline. What’s yours?” I can tell she’s using the shortened form of words with ‘is’. It’s confusing at first but this I can understand.
“My name is Hitomi. Nice to meet you,” I reply habitually.
“Hitomi?” she confirms. I nod. “That’s a pretty name,” she says.
“Thank you,” I blush. I spy Kaze sama snickering beside me again. Does he really have nothing better to do than tease me about my English?
“Where in Japan are you from?” Caroline san asks.
“I’m from Nagasaki Japan,” I answer.
“Wow. My boyfriend, he is Japanese too, but he is from Canada,” she says.
“From Canada?” I ask. He’s Japanese but from Canada? Did he move there?
“Yes, his family lives in Canada. Maybe he can help you,” she smiles. “Your English is good, Hitomi.”
“No, no. My English very bad,” I correct her. She giggles softly and then looks ahead with a smile. “Ahh, Kaede!” she waves down the first Japanese looking person I’ve seen all week.
“Hey, what is it?” he asks.
“Well, this is Hitomi, the girl we saved from Victor and Samantha. Selene said she wasn’t with them really, so it looks like Andrei managed to bring her here with us. Thing is, she doesn’t speak a lot of English. Do you remember anything from your Japanese school?” she asks him.
His eyes widen and I can tell he’s nervous. “Uhh, well. I might remember some conversational things, but that was like seven or more years ago and my parents spoke mostly English at home. I’ll try though,” he says.
“Maybe if you can just make sure she knows she’s safe here, and if she has any questions she can ask any of us,” Nik kun says, scratching his head. “I tried but I guess I’m not very good at this.”
The Japanese boy nods and turns to me, scratching his head. “Ano, chotto nihongo wo hanasemasu. Hitomi san, ano… kono basho wa… anzen – ah, anzen na basho desu. Shitsumon ga arimasu ka?” [I speak a little Japanese. Hitomi, this place safe, ah, this is a safe place. Do you have any questions?]
Oh my goodness, thank the gods. Although his accent is really strange and his grammar is bad, I at least understand what he’s saying. “Wakarimashita! Yokatta! Nihon ni kaeritai n desu ga, ano, dou yatte ikemasu ka?” [I understand! Finally. Umm, I want to return to Japan. How do I do this?] I ask.
“Eee? Kaerimasu? Ano…” [Ehh? Return? Umm.] “Guys, she wants to go back to Japan. Can we do that?” he turns to the others. Oh no, what’s wrong. Did he understand or not?
“I don’t know. She has an aura, like the rest of us. I have a feeling she’s an unawakened Guardian, but I’d need to ask Kaitlyn first,” the blonde speaks quickly.
“Ahh, I see, ok. Umm. Ano… muzukashii desu ne. Ano, anata wa koko de taizai shita hou ga ii desu.” [That’s a bit difficult, Uhh, you should probably stay here.]
My heart sinks when I hear this. I really just want to go home. I look to Kaze sama, I know the worry and disappointment is all over my face. He gives me a weak smile and I look to the others sadly. “Wakarimashita, I understand,” I add in English.
“Do you think there’s any way we could help her feel more comfortable here if she has to stay? I could offer to help her with English lessons while everyone is busy,” Nik kun offers, looking at me warmly.
“Ohh, good idea. We should also give her a room, until we know what should happen,” Caroline san suggests.
“I could maybe help too. Hold on,” “Nimotsu wa arimasen ka?” [Do you have any belongings?] he asks me.
I shake my head no. “Arimasen.” [I don’t have any.]
“Ahh, She needs things, maybe some clothes and the best I can do is maybe get her something with a digital dictionary,” Kaede kun speaks.
“Ahh! Jisho? Dictionary. Do you have?” I ask nervously.
“Mada nai,” [Not yet,] he waves a finger at me.
“Kaede, why don’t you help her choose a room. I was about to head down to the infirmary again and check in on Kat. We also need to sort out a room for Gwen. It sounded like she might stay a bit. I don’t know what we’re going to do with all these new people!” Caroline san raises her arms. She seems very dramatic and on the verge of a panic attack. She’s nice though, but she speaks so fast. I only catch a few words she says when she’s speaking to the others.
“Yea, sure, I can do that. Nik, do you wanna come too? Or did you have somewhere to be?” Kaede kun turns to Nik kun as Caroline san turns back the way we’d come and hurries away.
“I’ll come. I want to make sure she’s okay,” Nik kun smiles.
“Alright. Hitomi san, how old are you?” Kaede kun asks me slowly.
“I am eighteen,” I answer quietly as he turns down another hallway and we begin to climb some stairs. Nik kun follows behind me and I feel tense, being surrounded by so many people. He remains silent as we walk, which makes me even more nervous.
“Wow, you’re very young. wakai,” he adds. I blush.
‘Everyone here seems to be a little older.’ Kaze sama points out like I hadn’t noticed.
“This place is very nice. shinpai shirimasen… kudasai. [Don’t worry.] Ahh, do you have a cell phone?” he asks.
“Cell phone? Ah, keitai? Hai,” I pull out my Japanese phone and show him. He reaches a hand out to take it but I pull it away. Why does he want it?
“Daijoubu. Donna keitai desu ka?” [It’s ok, what model is it?] he asks. Oh… Maybe he can get it to work outside of Japan. I hand him the phone with hesitation.
He inspects it, opening the back and thumbing his chin. “I can probably get you a new chip so you have international service but still use it in Japanese. Then you can download a dictionary app,” he hands it back to me. “Chotto matte, atarashii simu wo chumon suru,” [Please wait, I’ll order a new Sim card,] he smiles.
“Ahh, Arigatou!” I hug my phone tightly.
Eventually, we stop in a hallway lined with doors. Kaede kun explains, in his own broken Japanese, that these are all bedrooms where they stay and I can have any room that isn’t taken. He tells me he’ll just be down the hall in the last room on the right and to take my time, and come to him if I need anything. I thank him and then hover, not sure what to do with myself.
I think Kaede kun gets the hint and then checks one of the rooms. “Aiteru desu ne, doozo,” [It’s empty, go ahead,] he smiles. I step inside as he walks away.
“Hitomi,” Nik kun speaks up, hovering in the doorway. “Do you need anything? Are you hungry?”
I stop and turn. “Hungry?” right… I guess I haven’t eaten anything in quite a while. Victor had given me a slice of bread… and some tea while we had waited for the black-haired girl. I’ve been so nervous I hardly noticed the hunger until Nik kun asks. “Yes, please. I’m hungry.” I try to say.
He smiles. “What would you like? I can bring it for you.”
My eyes widen as I try to imagine what kind of food they have here. I doubt any of it is Japanese. “Ano… Onigiri, do you have?” I hope it’s simple enough… maybe he’ll know what that is. He pulls out his phone and starts to type, sounding out the word.
I lean forward, wondering what he’s doing. “Nani?” I ask curiously.
He looks up and blinks. “Oh, just making a note so I don’t forget. Anything else? Anything you want, we can get it. The kitchen is magic,” he grins excitedly.
“Magic?” I ask. “What do you mean?” I vaguely recall a song our foreign English teacher taught us by Justin Bieber. That question has stuck with me. It was a catchy tune.
He tilts his head curiously. “Yes, magic. Hmm… How do I describe it? You write what you want on a piece of paper, and it appears in front of you.”
“Eee?!” I think I understood, but that is beyond believable. “You write on kami… paper,” I mimic the action of writing on my hand, “and it became… no… become food?” I ask to make sure.
“Exactly,” he nods. “Magic.”
I still can’t believe it. “Ano… Adzuki ice cream.” I ask, wondering if it’s really true.
He types away on the phone and slips it back into his pocket. “Alright. I’ll be back in a little bit,” I stare, wide-eyed as he departs down the hall. It’s a few minutes before I come to my senses and enter the room.
The room is spacious and has a lot of furniture. It’s very Western, like I’ve seen on the TV or in certain ryoukan (Japanese style hotels with some western style rooms). The air feels stuffy, so I step up to a window and unlatch it, throwing it open. The salty breeze is nice and reminds me of home.
‘The people here are nice. They are like you and very nice,’ Kaze sama’s voice drifts through the room on the breeze.
I gaze out the window at the sprawling castle building and the town that seems to lay at its doors. Beyond that is an open grassy field and then the ocean. I wonder where in the world I am now. At least it doesn’t seem as dark as it was when Victor san took me away. I still get chills when I remember how he came to my house. I wonder now if I’ll ever see my home again, though it was not much of a home yet, it was still mine.
I rub the headphones around my neck, thankful they had been on my person when I was taken. At least I have this. I pull them over my ears and pull out my phone, hoping it will connect.
‘Please Hitomi Hime, don’t shut me out. I couldn’t help you then, but we are back together now. I want to talk with you.’
I turn away, sitting on the edge of the sofa. I feel small and lost. I’m finally alone and the held back feelings are bursting to be let out. My face becomes hot and I feel tears in my eyes. All these new people and new places and not being able to understand much. I’ve been thrown into the world and now I gotta swim in it. I wish there was someone I could share my feelings with, someone who understands…
Yuu kun… My thoughts drift to him and that day we had at the ice cream shop before the strange person followed us. His English is so good and he’s planning on moving to America. If I could talk to him…
‘Hitomi Hime…’ Kaze sama kneels at my feet, head to the ground. I jump up, startled at his posture.
“Eee, nande?” [Ehh? Why?]
‘I have clearly upset you and I must apologize. It was not my intention to make you feel alone. I only wish I could serve you better. Please, do not ignore me. I only wish to be with you.’ He lifts his face without breaking the posture and I see the hurt in his eyes. I have insulted him.
“Gomen ne! Kaze sama! Yurushite kudasai!” [I’m so sorry! Please, forgive me] I say, dropping to the floor and holding his shoulders, pulling him up. He resists but eventually sits up, leaning forward to embrace me.
“Kono subete wa totemi attoteki desu. Nani wo suru beki ka wakarimasen. Yuu kun to hanashite tetsudatte moraitai,” [All of this is so overwhelming. I don’t know what to do. I wish I could talk to Yuu kun and ask for his help,] I explain.
‘I understand. You have always been shy and reserved. You are a good girl Hitomi hime, I know I made a mistake last time in bringing you to the dangerous ice man, but I know now, these people, they are good. They are much like you. They have powers like you and they will help you. Please, trust me and trust them,’ he begs.
Tears spill from my eyes as I hold him close. How can I stay mad at him when he explains it so clearly.
“Ganbarimasu, Kaze sama, taihen demo, ganbarimasu.” [I’ll try, Kaze sama. It’s hard, but, I’ll try my best.]
By Kayla West