Salutations! My very first story... Any feedback appreciated!

A/N Names are given in the Japanese form- last (family) names first. Also, Shiromachi and all its occupants are purely figments of my imagination. (I own these. I don't, however, own Tokyo... yet.)



Of Candlewax and Rain


A story


Everything, everything is a story. Everyone's lives are stories. All that's needed to read them is patience.


Chapter the First

The air is thick with whispers, small hisses of gossip and scandalised gasps. Heads are bobbing like gulls, swooping every now and then, and chair legs drag their nails reluctantly along the floor as they are scraped around. The overall effect is that of a train, tap-dancing with iron shoes on iron tracks.

And, surprisingly enough, it isn't being driven towards me. No-one affords more than a cursory glance towards Honda Kaien, transfer student from the steel sea of Tokyo to the back-ditch town of Shiromachi. I am left standing, barely scrutinised, blending ever-so-slightly with the shadowed classroom corner.

I'm a little annoyed. Had I known this would happen, I wouldn't have woken up a half-hour than was strictly necessary to agonise over the newness of my uniform ( a navy thing with oversized buttons slightly too big for their stiff holes), part and re-part my hair, and curse the reflection that still screamed 'newbie!' at the end of it all.

Still, I'm kind of grateful for this opportunity to survey my otherwise-occupied classmates. First of all, there's the one who has stolen my (admittedly, unwanted) attention. Centre desk, third row from the front, she holds herself demurely; head down, round face cupped in one hand and half-hidden behind a solid sheet of pure dark hair. But her grey eyes dart around the room, throwing off light like the ocean under night's stark street lamps, and her lips curl at the corners with an unsuppressable half-grin. Every so often they move, strobed behind flicked black hair as she answers a question.

She does so now, and the whisper train speeds up. The girl who braved the asking turns in her seat to exchange expressions of pure astonishment with the one next to her, revealing wheel-wide eyes. Her back straightens to an impressively ruler-like angle, sending terracotta curls flying. Her friend, a wide-smiled rabbit of a girl, seems unable to tear her eyes long from the sullen face of a boy in the back row. His forehead's clouded with thick eyebrows, narrowing the scope of his glare to the black-haired one only. He too seems to have problems with the uniform's buttons. His jacket is missing all but one. Likewise, he seems to have been unable to grasp the concept of ties.

To be fair, though, he is not the only one- most of the class' uniforms display various stages of disarray and decay. Especially, I note, the boys'. They seem to fall into two categories- the ones openly offering lurid leers and whoops to the centre desk, third row from the front; and those feigning disinterest, despite letting their eyes skitter over like iron filings to a cheshire-smiling magnet.

Twelve in all. I force air slowly from my nostrils. Dorothy, you sure ain't in Tokyo anymore, the Kaien in my head offers. The Kaien in my head pays far too much attention to American movies.

The swooping cluster of heads shifts slightly, opening a direct path for the sun to glint off some unknown surface directly into my eyes. They twitch closed. And open to reveal the floor, with which I seem to have become closely acquainted.

"Ah, Honda-san!" Sorry, didn't think you'd be standing there."

They have to pick now to go quiet, don't they.

I plant my palms firmly against the floor, twist my head skywards to find an entirely unwanted view of my new teacher's (cavernous) nostrils. He blinks tiny, glass-obscured eyes in an owlish manner- one follows a heartbeat after the other.

" 'S' alright, no harm done." A blatant lie- I can already feel my kneecaps staining with bruises.

"Oh good. Everyone, please welcome Honda Kaien. He is joining us from Nerugawa High School in Tokyo." Turning on brown-leather covered toes- "If you have any questions... just ask a fellow student." I hang a pause in the air, waiting for him to elaborate (telling me where to sit would be nice), but his lips remain firmly shut and his expression firmly bewildered. I heave myself up, shoulder my satchel, and make my way to an empty desk of my choice; fourth row from the front, second from the end.

All in all, my first class at Shiromachi High School goes okay. By okay, I mean abysmally. The hum of hushed voices refuses to cease, leaving an undercurrent of sound that made it impossible to concentrate. The teacher (whose name I have yet to discover) does nothing to stop this. Rather, he pauses every so often to blink in that same slow, time-lagged manner. Then, he half-opens his undersized mouth, before thumbing his glasses further up into the crease between nose and forehead, and continues to scrawl half-legibly on the blackboard.

For my part, I sit rigidly in my chair. This doesn't stem from a sudden desire to improve my posture, but one to retain all my limbs- were I to stray a centimetre or so to the left, I would intersect the glare of the cloud-browed boy behind me. Heaven forbid I should interrupt his one-sided staring competition with the third row's wall of oil-spill hair.

Unsurprisingly, the lesson's-end bell (hand-tolled into an intercom, an oddity to someone used to shrill fire-alarm screams) is something of a life-raft. I cling to it, and my satchel, with both hands. It seems I am not the only one who has been counting down- the sound is like the latch on the gates of a racehorse stall. When it is let loose, so is class 2-B. Honestly, I'm beginning to wonder if she carries magnets somewhere (which might also go some way to explaining the pigeon-wits of my classmates.) They flock out the door, and I drift reluctantly in their wake. Even more so when I step out the worn wooden door to find myself immersed in a horde of students, all variations on the theme I have seen so far. All of them turn to stare at that damned girl.

Sometimes I wonder if God hates me.