Pachinko

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Action and Adventure  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 9 (v.1) - Don't Wait Up For Me!

Submitted: May 05, 2019

Reads: 30

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Submitted: May 05, 2019

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I used to be an ordinary, happy kid. Unlike most kids, I liked going to elementary school, at least when I was still in the same school as Lucas. Once he was gone, that’s when the bullying began. It’s elementary school, I know most kids can be cruel at that age, but they made my life a living hell. I didn’t have just one bully, like most kids did, I had several working together like a well-oiled machine. With every choice they made, they destroyed pieces of what could have been an normal childhood. To this moment I still don’t know what their motivation was, except I was just a tool to vent their frustration on. The reason why I was bullied? Who knows, just because I was a little different from the rest of them? I was a quiet child, so that made me an easy target. I had no response to their name-calling, I just stood there, taking it all in. There were multiple nights where I cried myself to sleep, waking up to days where I didn’t want to go to school, where I didn’t want to face those bullies. I was alone, I didn’t have any friends who would stick their neck out for me. So every time during lunchtime, I just walked around all alone, trying to hide myself from everyone.

There are no excuses for what they did, but it did make me into the man I am today. Even though I still feel the consequences of that time everyday.

Every great person I know used to be bullied as a child at one point. All for different reasons, but whatever made them a target back then, had made them great today. It’s because of these traumatic experiences that we learn empathy, so that we have a clear view on how others feel in pain. It transforms us into kinder persons all the more. 

It also led me to the point where I escaped in art, where I created worlds of my own. Worlds that had peace because of my own heroes that I created. My childhood had made me mature beyond my years, but it left its share of scars.

 

It was way past morning when I woke up and I already had three missed calls, all from Marissa. After the third call, she gave up and send me a text instead:

Hey Brian, I didn’t wanna wake you up so I already had breakfast. I’m out exploring the town so let’s meet up again around 5 PM, is that okay for you? 

I didn’t respond right away, because I do need some time to get used to being awake. Instead of going downstairs for breakfast, I decided to order room service instead. I wasn’t really hungry, so I didn’t really care what they brought, as long as they had lots and lots of coffee. 

Once I got out of the shower, there was a tray with a typical Japanese breakfast standing in the middle of the room. They must have knocked while I was in the bathroom, but it’s impossible to hear their soft knocking while you’re standing under running water. By my request they had made a simple breakfast which included a banana, natto, white rice and two raw eggs. First I poured myself a big cup of coffee and let the aroma of black gold fill the entire hotel room. Then I mixed the eggs with the rice and once I added the natto, I mixed everything again. This was the first time I was going to try something like this. Normally I don’t even like raw eggs, but someone had told me this was highly nutritious and really delicious so why not give it a try. 

I didn’t have anything planned for today, so I thought I might check out some art gallery or museum or something. Marissa isn’t that big of a fan of art, so I don’t think she would mind me doing this alone. I might actually be doing her a favor. 

There was this one museum I really wanted to visit called the Mori Art Museum. It’s located at the top of a 54-story skyscraper down in Roppongi. One of the reasons why I wanted to visit this one is also because it has two observation decks, including one deck that wraps almost entirely around the 52nd floor. The second deck is the rooftop Sky Deck, the highest open-air observation deck in Japan. Thinking of this I kind of felt bad doing this without Marissa, because I knew she loves city views like this. But who knows, if it’s worth the trip, I might take her there on another day. 

Another reason why I wanted to go there was the exhibition of Kondoh Akino, a New York based artist that constructs a highly original expressive realm by using a diverse range of techniques. A few of those techniques are the use of manga, drawing, oil painting and animation to create a dreamlike world. 

I spent most of the afternoon in the Mori Art Museum, trying to figure out what it was that made those artists famous and how I could use it to my own advantage. Which wasn’t easy since every artist uses its own unique style, but still it was a very informative day.

 

I met with Marissa at a small coffeeshop down in Sumida called From Afar. She was already sipping from her daily cappuccino reading in one of her books. From Afar is set in an old warehouse where they used to store timber, which explained the high ceiling which give it an industrial look to it. The whole place was decorated with antiques, old books and small flowers. To make it even more special, they even sold international stamps and minerals at the counter. I ordered a filter coffee and took a seat across from Marissa. 

“Hi sis!”

Marissa glanced above the pages of her book and raised the right side of her lips upwards creating a little smirk.

“Look who’s still alive,” she laughed. 

“I know, I’m sorry,” I said while scratching at the top of my head.

I knew we were on a trip together, but somehow I spent the past few days by myself. Of course I couldn’t tell her the truth, because she wouldn’t understand. No one would, most people would find the whole thing complete bogus. 

“What have you been up to?” she asked.

“Not much, just trying to clear my mind a bit. You know I’ve been struggling with my art lately, so I spent most of my time in museums, looking at other people’s art.”

“Nothing wrong with that I guess, but still. It would have been nice to do all those things together don’t you think? You know I promised mom.”

“I know, I know,” I said somehow ashamed.

“Look Brian, I’m not trying to lecture you or anything, but you know I promised mom I would keep an eye on you. I want to do right by her, especially after our whole history together. This could be a way to improve our relationship again. Now, I haven’t seen you in two days, which makes it kinda hard for me. So just answer me this. Are you sure you’re okay? Do I need to be worried about you?”

I could sense she was seriously worried about me, something I haven’t seen with her in quite some time. 

“You don’t have to worry about me sis. I know you mean well, but I’m okay. I just need some time on my own from time to time, you know that.”

“I do, but still, we’re in Tokyo. Let’s enjoy this trip together shall we?”

“I promise we’ll do that, but can you give me a just a couple of days to clear my mind?”

Marissa let out a big sigh, she was clearly not really amused by my answer. Before she answered, she took a sip from her cappuccino and gestured the barista to bring her another one. 

“I don’t like it Brian, I’m not gonna lie about that. But if you’re sure that’s what you want, I’ll give you all the time you need. I only want what’s best for you, you know that.”

“Let me make it up to you and buy you dinner, how about that?”

She couldn’t say no to that. After all, we all needed to eat at the end of the day.

 

Marissa loved sushi, like most people I know, and even though I hate it, I took her to one of the best sushi restaurants in the neighborhood. The restaurant was almost at full capacity. I looked around at the busy tables, trying to find an empty table for two persons. Red paper lanterns were hanging low on the ceiling. With my height I had to be careful not to run my head against them. The waiter came around and brought us to a table near the back. The noise level was high, mostly created by the businessmen in grey suits at the table next to us. Being in Tokyo for some time now got me used to the amount of noise Japanese men could make. At the other side were some American tourists trying to decipher the menu. Once we settled down, the waiter came around with our menus, asking us if we wanted something to drink.

“Just a bottle of sake,” I said to the waiter. 

Meanwhile Marissa perused the menu with great care, as if she didn’t want to miss a single thing. The whole menu was in Japanese, so I was quite surprised she could figure it out. Right until I opened the menu myself. Most of the dishes had small photo’s of the food next to it.

“Americans are so stupid,” she said.

“I know right, even with the photo’s next to it, they still can’t figure it out.”

We both started laughing hysterical, making every head turn towards us, trying to locate the source of the noise that disturbed their own noises. Once we were aware everyone was staring at us, we toned it down a bit. We didn’t want them to think we were just another typical, disrespectful tourist couple. 

The waiter seemed ashamed for us. He just stood next to our table, trying to apologize to the other guests. 

Sumimasen!” I said to the waiter.

Like most Japanese people, he was quite surprised that a foreigner was speaking Japanese to him. His face was washed blank with confusion and amazement at the same time. Immediately his attitude changed and he was eager to help us.

Marissa didn’t know any Japanese words, so a little embarrassed she pointed her finger to the photo’s of the things she wanted for dinner. I simply ordered the chicken yakitori, since I wasn’t feeling that hungry. 

Before leaving our table, the waiter poured both sake for both of us. We both clinked our glasses.

Kampai!”

Kampai!”

The businessmen next to us were eating quite noisily, slurping their soup like their life depended on it. It’s custom in Japan to eat your soup like that, but to us foreigners it’s still shocking sometimes. It kept Marissa from enjoying her sushi. It was delicious nevertheless, but she wanted to leave as soon as possible. She couldn’t stand being near them for a minute longer. She finished the last remaining rolls and I gestured the waiter to come over.

Okanjou wo onegai shimasu.”

 

“Are you gonna walk back to the hotel with me?” Marissa asked.

“No you go ahead, I have something to do first.”

She still looked worried, but I couldn’t blame her though. She knew what I had been through and she just wanted to make sure I was okay.

“Are you sure you’re gonna be okay?”

“I’m sure! Don’t wait up for me,” I said smiling.

Hopefully that reassured her, even if it was just a little bit. I didn’t know what was going to happen next, but I was sure it wasn’t going to be without some sort of risk.


© Copyright 2020 Nick Van loy. All rights reserved.

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