I ran as fast as my legs could carry me, it was the first day of school and I was already late. The only good thing about this day so far was that I was totally looking forward to it. No really, I was excited. Not because I liked school, but because the nightmare was ending. After two years of torture, I was finally in my last year of high school.
My name is Midori, I was named after the color of my eyes and hair –green –and I was born in spring which is probably also part of the reason. I am seventeen and live with my parents and older brother, Haru –who sometimes makes me wish I was an only child. The highlight of my day is when I’m daydreaming and even sleeping is more entertaining than my life. At school, I’m the most popular girl ever…if you turn the popularity ladder upside down. My science grades rock the top, but all my other grades are average, and still, I’m labeled the geek. Hmm, I think that’s pretty much my life in a nutshell. Oh! Another thing, I’m also-
“Hey, Midori!” I was cut off by someone tackling me and another person jumping on top of it.
…the mascot of the football team.
“I wanted to tell you to watch out, but you’re so slow…” The guy cringed, “You can’t come on the field when we practice.”
I think my ribs are broken. Next time I’m taking a different route to the dressing rooms. I was on my way to dress up as the mascot, because for some odd reason we start a school year with a football match between our school and our ‘rival’ school. Let me first explain how I ended up like this.
You see, at our school, the activities girls can do are very limited. They only vary from joining the dance club, drama club and one of the nerd clubs –of course this was no real option, unless you wanted to be the next target of everyone’s bullying –and cheerleading, which wasn’t an option either. So, our amazing drama-club teacher, Ito-sensei, insisted on the school allowing girls to be involved in guys’ activities, which were mostly sports. Now let me tell you that our school mostly consists of Barbie’s who are everything but interested in sports. And no, I didn’t volunteer either, I actually went to try out for the drama club.
I wouldn’t say I have no acting skill, because I think I’m better than most people who made it into the club. It was my stage fright that made me sing too high and crack Ito-sensei’s glasses, upset her mutt which ended up peeing in her lap. Not my fault she carries him around calling him her inspiration. But I think that’s not the reason I didn’t make it. I think it was either because I broke her neck when I made an effort to help her but had completely forgotten I was on stage, fell off and landed right on top of her or because she doesn’t like me. I think it’s the latter one.
Anyhow, I didn’t want to join a nerd club because I was already the center of attention as it was, so I went to try out for the football team. I thought I was scoring a touchdown but later I found out I was headed the wrong way and was squashed by giants who thought they were jumping on a trampoline. With my 5 feet 2 inches, I barely made it out alive.
Feeling sorry for me, the coach, Suzuki-sensei, offered me a job on the team. ‘It’s easy and fun’ he had said. Be honest, who doesn’t want to get good grades without sweat, tears and blood and while having fun too? Well, I learned my lesson, I don’t. I was made to be the mascot and did nothing but sweat, cry and was made to bleed every time I got tackled. The only people having fun where the people watching me get thrown around like a dummy. And a side note, I am going to kill the person who thought eating onions in this costume was funny. It smelled like stinky socks, sweat and inions for real.
Ugh, anyway, my identity is a secret. I asked the coach not to tell anyone because if the Barbie’s found out I was a giant turtle, they would drive me to the edge of insanity.
Now back to the scene…
“Hey look, Ew got mashed!” Saki laughed, making everyone else laugh too. Whether they found the comment funny or not didn’t matter, if Saki laughs, everyone else does too. That hag annoyed me the most, I mean what did she have that I didn’t? Except money, looks, guys chasing after her …she was the head cheerleader…oh, whatever.
“Ok, enough,” Suzuki-sensei pushed past a few students and helped me up, “Are you okay? Maybe you should go to the nurse and get some painkillers.” He winked at me like he was having a spazz-attack, probably trying to tell me this was an opportunity for me to go and get dressed without anyone noticing I was missing, not like they would have otherwise.
I went to the changing room and poked my head in to see if anyone was still in there. Normally, I’d go in before everyone else and get dressed as soon as possible.
Not seeing anyone, I slowly and cautiously walked in. I went to the toilet just to be extra careful and quickly got dressed. I put on the turtlehead and opened the door, but froze when I heard the shower turn off. I didn’t need to hide anymore, but I didn’t want to walk into naked guys either. I decided to wait for a while but when I didn’t hear anything anymore, I wanted to take a look at what was going on. I opened the door a crack and the first thing I saw …I didn’t know what it was. Curiously, I opened the door a little more and fell back on the toilet seat, mentally screaming. I covered my eyes and suppressed any kind of noise that wanted to leave my mouth.
OH MY GOD, JUN!!! He was standing there butt naked, staring at me with a raised eyebrow. “Ninja Turtle?”
I shook my head, refusing to look up, I’d already seen more than I should have. He scratched his head, wondering what I was doing but went to search for his clothes.
Jun was the person missing in my previous description of everything. He is the male prodigy that all girls wanted to date…except me. Every day was a survival for me already, going after him would not only be dangerous for a weakling like me, but it was also bound to result in disappointment.
So basically, it was a typical high school and everyone knew their place in the food chain. I guess the only thing that was missing was a male bestie who had a crush on me. I wish, that would be a dream come true on its own.
I tried walking out of the dressing room without looking in Jun’s direction. I ran out as soon as I reached the door and heaved a sigh of relief. I really needed to ask Suzuki-sensei to give me a separate changing room or something. Oh well, it was time to make a fool out of myself.
I sighed as I looked around the cafeteria, only to see all the seats being taken, except the ones near the popi’s –my way of saying popular kids –but that was out of the question. I tried that once before, but had walked out with food smeared all over my uniform because they ‘accidentally’ kept dropping stuff on me.
I guess I’ll just eat on the staircase. No one ever took the stairs, because they used the elevator, which made it the most quiet place at school, even quieter than the library if you ask me. As I sat down on the stairs I heard muffled noises and perked up my ears.
“Listen to me Kei, I don’t care what others say,” A male voice spoke, “I love you.”
Aww, they’re like Romeo and Juliet. I put my hands over my chest and sighed, so lovely. Yes, I’m a sucker for these things.
“Shin, I love you too, but we can’t hide forever.” Another male voice responded.
I raised an eyebrow. Woah, more like Romeo and Romeo.
I tried to eavesdrop on them but I panicked when I heard the door to the staircase open and saw Jun standing in the doorway. I blushed, quickly looking away as I got reminded of what had happened earlier. I hastily grabbed the tray with my food and brushed past him. I think I’ll just skip lunch and go to class.
After school my parents picked me up, which was surprising because they usually had to work, but hey I wasn’t complaining. It saved me a fourty-five minute walk because I didn’t like going with the bus, it was too infected with bimbo’s.
“Hey mom, dad,” I tried to open the backdoor of the car but Haru wouldn’t let me.
“The Earth is full, go home.” He said, smacking the door –that I had managed to open a crack –close again.
I growled and put my foot on the car trying to put more strength into it as I pulled the car door with all my might. “Stupid mutt, will you leave me alone if I throw you a stick?”
“Cut it out!” Dad yelled from behind the steering wheel.
Haru scowled and suddenly let go of the door making me fall backwards. I rubbed my butt before standing up and brushing myself off, “Stinky baboon …and you wonder why you have no girlfriend.”
I yanked the door open and took the right backseat in the car, next to Haru. He didn’t bother to argue any further and rolled his eyes before commenting, “You are soooo dumb.” He tapped the window with his index finger, probably to the music. He had one of his earphones in.
“Why?” I asked, fastening my seatbelt. “Because I’m related to you?”
“You wish, we saved your hobo-self when we picked you up from a pile of trash.” He pushed my head away forcefully, “I meant why would you get in the car with mom and dad?”
“Didn’t I teach you it’s safer to go with strangers?”
He was right! Mom and dad only came to pick us up when they wanted to drag us to help out. My parents owned a culinary catering service and it was starting to get pretty known which meant they needed us to take some work out of their hands, like making regular deliveries.
“Oh, come on you two!” Mom commented as both my parents laughed. “We got a huge job and we can use all the help.”
“What job?” Haru asked nonchalantly. It was obvious that he didn’t care, he had no choice but to help out either way.
“You know the Yamada family? One of their daughters is getting married and they actually asked us to do the catering!”
“No way!” Haru jumped up, he seemed more interested and willing to help now, “Are you serious?”
Mom nodded gleefully.
Yamada? I swear I’ve heard that name before. I usually didn’t remember names but this one stuck in my head which meant they were probably pretty well known.
“Ow!” I smacked Haru’s hand away and rubbed my forehead where he flicked me. “What?!”
“Don’t tell me you don’t know Yamada?!” It seemed like he wanted to strangle me for not remembering, “It’s Tsuki-chan’s family! I bet her sister is getting married!” He whispered.
I gasped in realization, “Oh yeah! Tsuki-san! Of course how could I forget…you talk about her all the time. Sheesh, man up and confront her.”
“Shht!” He slapped my shoulder, silencing me. He pointed to the front and I quickly covered my mouth but it was already too late.
“Tsuki-chan?” Mom raised an eye-brow as she poked her head through the opening of the two front seats. “Is there something I don’t know?”
“Yeah, Midori dances around in a green power ranger suit!”
“It’s a turtle,” I hissed.
“What?” Dad asked, now and then looking back to stay involved in the conversation. “What do you mean?”
Luckily they got interrupted by one of their phones ringing and I didn’t need to tell them I was a huge turtle …and Haru didn’t need to tell them that he was too sissy to confess to a girl that he liked her.
The next day at school was the same as always. After my classes I was asked by the coach to come to the football training because the team was playing a friendly match with the Dragon slayers –that’s what the other team called itself.
Why were we called Turtles? Well actually it was Turbo Turtles, but with something like turtles attached to it…who would bother to remember turbo?
I watched the players with boredom and hoped it’d be over soon, because the turtle head was suffocating. I heard the coach whistle and looked up to see Jun and some other guy face-to-face in a heated argument.
It seemed like Jun was protecting someone on his team whilst the other guy threatened to have him kicked out, “There is no place for fags like him on the field!”
“Calm down Shin,” Someone grabbed his arm and pulled him back, “Let it go.”
Shin? Where did I hear that name before? I cracked my brain for a few seconds before I remembered. It’s one of the Romeo’s! Woah, what a hypocrite, going around calling others fags. So he isn’t from our school, huh? Oh em gee! Did that mean Shin was having an affair with someone from our school?! I didn’t know why I felt so excited, I didn’t even know them.
“Kei, maybe you should sit the next one out?” Jun suggested to the guy that Shin had called a fag and he nodded in response.
WHAAAT!? Shin was calling his I-don’t care-what-others-say-lover a fag? The heck, were they having a fight?
“Hey watch it, turtle!” The Dragon mascot of the other team hit me with his belly.
“You watch it!” I did it back but pushed him aside to walk to the bathroom when I saw Jun look in our direction. Damn, did he hear my voice?
“Hey, you’re a girl?” The Dragon mascot asked.
“No, I never hit puberty.”
He frowned in response, but shrugged it off.
When I exited the bathroom, it seemed like the guys were walking into the dressing room. The match was probably over. This stupid costume is such a hassle, it takes me ages only to pee.
I ran out of the dressing room after being punched on the shoulder several times in a friendly greeting and winced in pain once they couldn’t see me anymore. Damn it, these guys need to learn to greet each other with hugs and cuddles.
I decided to stroll around the field but saw Jun sitting on one of the benches and he didn’t look very good. I wasn’t sure if I should go over because I couldn’t really say anything without him finding out my identity. I decided to walk back but heard his voice and froze. “Hey, Ninja Turtle,” he sounded pretty down.
I spun around and waved at him like a clown, trying to look cheerful. I earned a faint smile, but that was all. I walked over and sat down next to him and moved my hands in a “what” or “what is wrong?” gesture.
Jun shook his head and sighed, looking at the setting sun, “It’s nothing. Was just doing some thinking.”
After a few moments of taking in the sight he suddenly turned to me and laughed. “You stayed in the bathroom pretty long.”
I wasn’t sure how to react, but for once I was happy I had the turtle head to cover for me. Wait! I was in there pretty long? OH MY GOD! He better not think I went to poop!
“How come you never talk?” I could see he was still bothered, but there was also a glint of amusement in his dark brown eyes. “You can take off the turtle head now.” He reached out to do it for me but I quickly pulled it down and secured it in place before shaking my head.
I waved my gloved finger in front of him.
He chuckled, “You know…you kind of remind me of someone.”
He paused for a while, probably arguing with himself whether he should continue or not. I patiently waited. It was the first time I’d actually been able to talk to him –even though I wasn’t myself. The wind picked up and Jun squinted his eyes a little to keep the ends of his dark brown hair from poking his eyes. I had to admit, I was kind of feeling attracted to him in this moment.
“She’s pretty tough,” he laughed, “She likes doing her own thing. I admire that about people.”
I pointed at him several times and then formed a heart with my hands before I pointed away, I was trying to ask if he liked her, but wasn’t sure if he got it.
“If I like her?”
I nodded viciously.
He rubbed the nape of his neck awkwardly, “Uh, I don’t know. Maybe I just find her interesting? I guess it doesn’t matter, she doesn’t seem to like me at all.”
I frowned to myself, I didn’t know anyone who wouldn’t want to date him, but then maybe she didn’t go to this school.
“Hey, you want a ride home?” He stood up and straightened out his clothes.
I waved my hands in front of me. He’ll know where I live and find out who I am, that’s the last thing I want.
“Ok then,” He walked a few steps before he turned around and winked whist pointing at me, “By the way, I know you’re a girl.” With that, he left, leaving me behind blushing to myself.
I wondered what kind of girl it was that Jun liked. He had commented on her individuality rather than her appearance, which meant he was …different from what I thought. Wow, never thought I would ever end up as the judgmental one. Maybe not all of the popi’s were the same after all?
As I walked past an alley, someone suddenly pulled me in and pushed me against the wall, “Quiet.” He demanded even before I could scream. It was Shin.
“What?” I huffed, yanking my arm which he was holding onto away.
“I know you know about me and Kei,” He pierced into my eyes with his gaze, making me shiver, “Other’s better not find out.”
I glared at him, annoyed, “Why the hell would I go around talking about your shitty life?”
Shin growled, “You sure have some nerves.”
“Jerk,” I scoffed, irritated, “You said you didn’t care what others thought, what was that? Big talk?”
“Shut up, you don’t understand.”
“You’re right,” I pushed past him, “I don’t understand why someone would make others happy with empty words.”
We had done the catering for the Yamada’s family, but Haru had refused to help out. It turned out that the wedding was Tsuki-san’s and he had been up in his room sulking over it since we found out.
As we placed the food on the table, trying to make it look as elegant as possible, the bride’s father rushed down the stairs in anger, followed by several other people.
“Throw everything out!” He shouted enraged, making my parents gasp. “The wedding is off!”
My mom took dad’s arm, not knowing what to do. They’d worked really hard on it and had been very excited for this day. I felt sorry for them.
It was a huge blow. Not only for the business, but also for my parents’ pride and hard work.
After school, I sat on the benches where I’d met up with Jun about a week ago. He hadn’t been around ever since. He’d come to training and leave before everyone else.
Disappointed once again, I made my way home to help out my parents. Their catering service was doing well and they could use all the help me and Haru could offer. When I entered the kitchen of my parents catering service, I heard them squeal and laugh in joy as they jumped up and down.
“What?” I asked Haru, who was doing his homework as he was leaning over the counter.
“They got another ‘big’ job.” He rolled his eyes and put his headphones on, turning up the music to cut their screaming out.
“Who is it this time?”
“Fujii family!” They squealed in unison.
“Fujii?!” I shouted.
That is Jun’s family.