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Comments: 6

SUNDAY NIGHT

“Mother, I feel nothing for Kosuke.”

“Well you're going to be graduating this semester, and I don't see you looking for any other boys.” Mrs. Honda said, already having mentally tuned her daughter out. Reina knew just how powerless she was in this relationship, but that was the norm for everyone around here.

“I would like to give it some more time.” Reina stated.

“Oh Reina! At this point you will die alone!” Mrs. Honda declared.

“Then so be it.” Reina responded.

Mrs. Honda sighed, then she said, “Very well, but we have already prepared for your eventual marriage to Kosuke.” The raven-haired woman moved away from the bedroom window and she left the room. Reina looked outside at the backs of the single-level, brick apartments right outside her window. It wasn't much of a view, but it was better than nothing. She headed to her futon, laid on her stomach, and pulled her diary out from underneath her pillow. When she opened the book, a pen was already waiting inside.

She started paging through her rather dull entries. It was infuriating. A few sentences about trivial things here and there and that was it. Surely no “normal” person felt as empty as she did, so unhappy. Was it depression? No, she had motivation to do things, and she didn't lounge around in the bed all day due to a lack of energy. She scribbled some notes about the day's events into her diary, before her mother entered her room unannounced as she usually did. Reina slammed her diary shut and looked over her shoulder at her mother, who had returned with an extra blanket to throw over her. Her mother looked at Reina's diary and sighed. “Are you still writing pointless garbage in there?”

“Maybe, I'm trying to figure something out.” Reina answered.

Mrs. Honda's expression shifted from annoyance to distress. “We keep telling you that there's nothing wrong with you! Why do you keep thinking that there is?”

“Mother, I am unable to feel anything.” Reina said.

“Is this another phase of yours? Oh heavens above, Reina! You aren't about to go on another animal killing spree, are you?” Mrs. Honda said.

“No, I think I got over that back in junior high.” Reina answered.

Mrs. Honda kept shaking her head, tears beginning to form. She insisted, “There's nothing wrong with you! Please stop thinking so much about it!” She went over to Reina's futon, dropped the blanket on top of Reina, then snatched the book away from her. Reina made no move to reclaim her diary. Mrs. Honda hugged the book and said, “You are forbidden from having anything remotely related to a diary! You're thinking too much about things that don't matter!” Her eyes seemed crazed, like a cornered wild animal. It was just the usual denial, the refusal to acknowledge that she had a child who deviated from the accepted “norm.” Mrs. Honda sighed, then said, “Just please stop worrying about yourself. That's my job.” She left the room, swinging the diary from side to side to match her gait.

Reina looked to the blanket that had been dropped on her, and she moved around as to spread it out and tuck it in accordingly. Reina got underneath the covers, and slipped into a dreamless slumber.

***

MONDAY MORNING

Reina put on the last piece of her uniform – a black blazer with white trimming. Once it was on and buttoned, she brushed her hands along her black skirt in an effort to smooth it out. She had left her uniform to hang on her clothing rack, as she did every night, so it was not wrinkled. Yet she liked to brush her hands along her skirt for that extra reassurance. Slipping her blue and white schoolbag onto her shoulder, she headed out the door to meet with Kosuke. The boy was usually outside her front door bright and early.

When she changed her shoes out on the porch, Kosuke slid into her view, leaning against the side of the house as he waited for Reina. He towered over Reina, who stood at a measly (although the local average) five feet, two inches, or about 157 centimeters. Kosuke stood at five feet and nine inches, or about 175 centimeters. He was tall for a Japanese boy, although Reina suspected that the United States, where Kosuke had emigrated from, had food that was so nutritional that Kosuke was able to grow slightly taller than most Japanese boys she knew. Of course, that was just a crazy theory Reina had.

Kosuke possessed a fair-skinned, warm complexion. His features were not unlike Reina's own – a long face with brown, almond-shaped eyes. He had black hair that was parted on the right side of his face, and for some reason his hair always looked smooth. It was likely tied to the conditioner he used. Kosuke was the type of guy to always smile, seeming to be in a good mood most of the time. He gave a chipper, “Good morning, Rei! Ready for our first day of classes?” Reina offered no response, heading to the side of the house to collect her crimson bicycle. Kosuke followed suit, grabbing his black bicycle that he had propped up next to Reina's, and the two set off for school.

***

The senior high school was dated in appearance, not to mention it looked quite dull. It was angular, its main color a grayish white. Part of the reason for this was because it had been around since roughly the late-1940s. It was three stories tall, with an excessive amount of windows, and an open rooftop area.

The bike racks were a good few meters away from the school's front doors, and over the years racks had been removed due to the school's dwindling student population. Now there were only six bike rack sets out of the original fifteen. Reina slid her bike in between one of the tall, vertical bars, before making her way across the greening lawn to the building. Kosuke wasn't far behind her.

The grassy expanse in front of the school contained a few trees and an open area suitable for laying out a blanket and cloud gazing. There was one tree that stood out since it was the biggest, which made it a popular gathering place for students. It wasn't like anyone had access to the rooftop or anything, and the teachers were rather strict about who could go where at any given time. As a result, places to hang out at were limited to either this tree or the classrooms. Reina herself preferred hanging out in the classrooms.

Her next destination was the lockers, where she changed her shoes out to red and white uwabaki shoes. She set her white sneakers in place of the indoor slippers, then headed to her classroom to prepare for the first school day to begin. Kosuke had to speed up a bit to catch up to her, and he said, “Jeez, you seem really focused about something today. Is everything okay?”

“It's fine.” Came Reina's abrupt reply.

“Uh-huh, 'fine,' eh? Well, first day is always stressful. If you need to rant or anything, I've always got time for you.” Kosuke said. Reina offered no comment, before she paused and stared at one of the boys from last year. His name was Akira, and he was considered to be the class clown. The boy was a goofball, and he seemed to be rather awkward and impulsive at times.

Akira had a cool undertone like Reina did, and he tended to brush his hair back. His eyebrows were a little bushy, and his eyes were brown. He was trying to flirt with one of the more popular girls in Reina's class, Yoshioka Natsuki. Natsuki had tried to emulate super models, save for trying to maintain a healthy weight. Natsuki sported a warm, fair complexion, and her hair was long and black, and surprisingly she had the much-coveted moon-shaped face. Perhaps that was one of the reasons why she was so popular.

The girl excused herself from Akira, then hurried on to class. Akira looked dejected, and Reina saw an opportunity. However, Kosuke had also stopped and he was looking between Reina and Akira. He asked, “What's so interesting about Akira?” Reina approached the boy in question, and he was quick to blush when he noticed Reina coming. Akira whipped out a hair comb from his pocket and started brushing his hair back to presumably improve his appearance. Kosuke followed Reina, who paid him no mind.

Reina asked Akira, “Still pursuing Natsuki?”

Akira pocketed the comb and said, trying to appear confident, “Yeah, but it's getting boring. How about you? Find anyone good yet?”

Kosuke jumped in with, “Reina already has someone good, and that's me! In fact, we're getting married once we graduate this semester! Right, Reina?”

“Nothing has been determined.” Reina shot at Kosuke, but more in a neutral way. She said to Akira, “You look great today. Keep me in mind if things do not work out between you and Natsuki.” Straightforward, possibly a social taboo, but Reina didn't care.

Akira's eyes lit up and he said, “Actually, I can leave Natsuki in the past. You are way cuter than her anyway. Um, I'm not a part of any clubs this year, so I'll be free after school if you're interested.”

“That sounds great. Would you like to meet at the Rangu Mart after school?” Reina asked.

“Yeah, that'd be fine! Um, don't forget to bring your bike.” Akira said.

“Of course I won't.” Reina said, before continuing her route to her classroom. She could feel Akira staring at her as she left.

Kosuke kept close like he usually did, and he lightly jested, “You know, if you're offering up dates, mind setting us up with one?” He gave her an eyebrow wiggle, as if to emphasize his point.

“Perhaps another time.” Reina responded. They arrived to their classroom, and Reina went through her belongings to ensure that she had everything for her first day of classes. This action was interrupted when she caught sight of the only other boy in this class who was single. She needed to build her pool of suitors, so she left her schoolbag on her desk and she walked over to Masaru.

Masaru had a warm undertone, his skin light like Reina's own. He had more of the air expected out of a playboy or just an overly confident individual. He also seemed pretty relaxed in manner. His eyes were brown and almond-shaped, and his hair was black and fussy. He had made attempts to tame it, but none seemed to work without a few flaws here and there. While Reina was unsure of how he did it without garnering the attention of school faculty, he wore a thin metal earring on his left ear. It was either easily hidden, or just easily overlooked. He was definitely rebellious in spirit. Masaru looked over at Reina, making no attempt at hiding the fact that he was looking her up and down, and he smiled a bit before it faded. “What's up, Reina?” Masaru asked.

“Are you available at this time?” Reina asked.

The smirk returned and Masaru said, “Yeah, I am. That is, if romance is on your mind.”

“It is. When will you be free this week?” Reina asked.

“I think I'll be free tomorrow evening. That is, after baseball practice. Since this is only our first week, I'm thinking that I'll be available at nineteen-hundred hours. I'll come pick you up.” He seemed rather straightforward, which Reina liked. Meant less time talking to people and more time accomplishing goals.

“Very well, see you then.” Reina said, before returning to her seat.

Kosuke looked at Reina in disbelief as she returned, and Reina got to dropping her bag off in her cubby at the back of the classroom, before sitting at her desk and staring at the blackboard at the front of the class. Kosuke asked, “Jeez, I understand keeping your options open, but two boyfriends at once? What's with the sudden shift from Ice Queen to Venus?” 'Ice Queen' was Kosuke's nickname for Reina due to her introverted and callous nature, and Venus in Roman mythology was the goddess of love and beauty.

“They are nothing right now. I am simply browsing around.” Reina replied.

“But is there really any need for that? We have our futures secured, so it makes no sense to find other guys. If you keep this up you'll build a rather unsavory reputation.” Kosuke said, a note of seriousness to his voice.

Reina offered no comment, and instead got her smartphone out of her pocket to make sure it was turned off. Once she ensured this, she pocketed the device and stared at the analog clock over the blackboard. Kosuke seemed to have withdrawn into himself, playing a game on his phone. He looked hurt, but Reina knew he would get over it. It wasn't like Kosuke to dwell on the negative.


Submitted: October 17, 2020

© Copyright 2022 A. Rhetters. All rights reserved.

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Comments

Lucinda Amare

Well it's an interesting chapter but it did take a while for me to get into it.

You wondered why people don't read past the first chapter. I think you still need to suck the readers in more. For example, the beginning is, I feel, a bit basic. A girl with no friends who is really smart and a perfect student. That doesn't really make me feel like wanting to know more about the character because it's been 'done' if you get what I mean?

It's not until you keep reading that you notice that more is going on. That Reina and Kosuke are arranged to be married. That did make me think like hm...okay didn't see that coming.
I liked the dialogue a lot where Kosuke talks about it being a 'quiet household' and talking about them having kids. It's not until that part that I had a feeling like that this could get interesting.
The conversation with her mother is okay. You get what you try to do, and that she really doesn't care about meeting other people. The part where her mom explains about the two kids that moved in recently was a bit long maybe? You could make it shorter by saying 'there are two kids who moved in, their names, and would you like to meet?' then you can explain who the kids are exactly when you write about them in another chapter.

My suggestions are maybe to focus more on the relationship between Reina en Kosuke here. Maybe start the chapter with Reina en Kosuke walking on the beach talking about the arranged marriage. It takes the reader right into the scene.

Your writing style Is great though. Clear sentences and the whole text flows. I love some of the sentences you've written like:

'She was broken, but she had been broken the moment she was expelled from the womb.'
and as I said before, the dialogue between Kosuke en Reina I really enjoyed :)

I hope this all sounds reasonable and I don't come over harsh but helpful :D

Fri, October 23rd, 2020 8:06am

Author
Reply

You came across just fine! I’m here to improve my craft after all, haha!

Everything you said was super helpful, and I will definitely be implementing it! Thank you for your comment!

Fri, October 23rd, 2020 4:17am

Lucinda Amare

Okay good haha. I try to be constructive and I understand the importance of a story to its writer so you should always tread delicately with these things.

You are very welcome :)

Fri, October 23rd, 2020 11:30am

ICstories

As promised, here I am!

In any case, I'll cut to the chase. I see what you're trying to execute. Reina is a person who seems to be unsatisfied with life. She doesn't want to be with Kosuke. Her decisions are practically made for her, albeit there's some leniency, such as letting her find her own suitor. Honestly, based on the names and the way you try to execute the scenes, it makes me feel as if you wrote this with Japanese animation in mind. Here's my thoughts:

1) The genre is labeled as horror and throughout this entire chapter, there was nothing horrifying about it. Not in the slightest. You set the entire story up to sound like a romance where Reina will eventually run into the person who fills her life with joy. Someone who can free her from the bird cage she's currently in. If you wish this story to be horror, add actual horror elements. Having an unfortunate life does not make it horror. In addition to this, when you settle on whatever kind of horror that antagonizes the story (monster, paranormal activity etc.) be sure to properly use suspense and-wait for it-show don't tell! This falls onto my next point

2) Show don't tell. Throughout this story, you are telling us everything that's happening. There's very little going on visually and it detracts from the overall experience. I want to hear the sound of seagulls overhead, the warm and crispy crunch of the sand beneath their feet, were there other people on the beach or was it empty? I want to know how the golden glow of the sunset bled along the surface of sand. Or in other situations where Reina was yelled at that she has one year, instead of saying "...she was unchanged," show some actions to showcase her feelings! Like "Reina sighed. They'd never understand." You want to be able to immerse the reader into your story. You do that by showing the actions that make up their feelings, showing the details of the environment around them, invoking all five senses into your world, and thus bringing it to the reader. Just by adding these details, does your story become so much more promising.

3) Your intro is weak. Actually, this goes back to what I said before, where it has a very Japanese animated feel to it. However, the thing with anime is that it has visuals and instrumentals to draw us into the story off the get. We do not have that luxury as authors. We don't have the visuals. We don't have the music. We set the stage ourselves, every nitty gritty aspect of it. The first paragraph isn't captivating not only because it's not really interesting, but because we have no idea of the relationship between Kosuke and Reina. We have not built a connection yet with the characters to actually care enough. This lack of connection detracts from an already weak chapter because as point #2 states, you did not show/don't tell.
4) Passive use of words. I think the use of passive-style of writing is very specific and honestly, not used much without proper pacing. In your story, for example, you say that "Suddenly, Kosuke whipped..." but if you were to write it in a more active-style, it would come off stronger such as "Kosuke jumped in front of Reina with a smile on his face. 'Next year we'll be graduating," he said, 'It's amazing how fast time flies.'"

Overall, I will say that whether it's intended to or not, I feel you visualize the story in your head much like an anime or TV show. I do the same and it's honestly not an issue at all. In my opinion, that is one step closer to being a beautiful writer. However, you have to realize the difference between a TV show and a story. They have a ton of things that we, as authors, are unable to capitalize on within the confines of a page. While they can rely on audio and visuals to build the world around the characters, we cannot. Therefore, we have to build it on our own, with our words.

You have a nice, rather common plot going for you (I still think the first chapter reads like a romance instead of horror), but it's ultimately down to execution at this point. Whether your story ends up like the rest of those who wrote similar situations is up to you and how you execute. I'm confident in your ability as a writer and I'd love to see where you go from here!

Thu, November 12th, 2020 3:18pm

Author
Reply

Thank you very much for the pointers! I will certainly be implementing them! And it is great to know what genre this story is closer to, as even I had no idea what the genre this story would fit into better! I plan to definitely add more detail from this moment on to my stories!

Thu, November 12th, 2020 7:59am

David whitley

The story seems good but as some of the others have said. you gotta suck your readers in from the first sentence and don't let go there's always room for improvement.

Wed, April 28th, 2021 11:49am

Author
Reply

Alright, thanks for the advice!

Wed, April 28th, 2021 5:59am

Ezra Enzo

I know everyone is commenting on you at this point, so I'll say it even shorter than anyone here.

Write the story as if we don't know anything before. Make the scenes casual. Make the descriptions long and detailed. Have the characters bring things from the past because the scene or a person reminded of them of it, not because we're reading it. If anything, write the story as if the characters don't even know about us. I do like how you describe the characters for us, but try to do it as if you're bringing it up because they remember, not because they know we're reading. Overall, stick to the theme, and continue to write this good story with potential. - E.E

Wed, April 28th, 2021 5:20pm

Author
Reply

Thanks for the comment! I’ll definitely take that into consideration when it comes time for me to improve this story!

Wed, April 28th, 2021 10:27am

XCulletto

Your writing has an interesting mix of hinting at things and overly-explaining things. There are certain parts that make me curious, such as why she's already been "set up" with a future husband, and why it's taboo for her to date others. But other parts are just too much. Explaining what each character looks like with a paragraph of detail is somewhat tedious for the reader. Just a hint or two at their appearance should be enough to give an idea of the character, imo. And I think it might be more well-rounded if you add at least a little detail about actual academics, and not just the romance drama. Anyway, my 2 cents!

Wed, May 19th, 2021 10:17pm

Author
Reply

Thanks for the comment! I’ll look into making those improvements soon!

Although I am curious about what you mean by mentioning the academic side of things. Like what kinds of classes she takes? How she performs in school? How a Japanese (senior) high school is set up (with duties expected of students like cleaning time, their gym assembly procedures, etc.)? That’s certainly a new thing I’ve heard, and further elaboration would be appreciated.

Thanks again!

Thu, May 20th, 2021 2:28am

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