Chapter 3

Running Away

I stared for a brief second into the blue eyes before me, my heart pounding like a drum. The shade of blue was lovely, deep and bright like the sky this morning. I could feel a blush creep into my cheeks and I looked away quickly.

"S-Sorry!" I apologized hastily and swiftly high-tailed it out of there before he could say anything.

I ran into the girls' washroom and dropped my books and backpack in the corner. There were three girls inside doing their makeup in front of the long mirror, so I went into one of the stalls and sat down on a toilet. I needed to calm down. I was shaking and my heart was drumming a wicked beat much too hard against my ribcage.

Did he recognize me?

It all happened so fast, I couldn't tell if there was any recognition in his eyes or not. I waited until the last possible minute before I left the bathroom and went to class—where of course he was as well. Just seeing him put me more on edge and made my face grow hot again. I had to shake my head to clear it and concentrate on the lesson. I don't think he noticed me enter the room because he was chatting with the guy next to him, but he certainly took note of me sitting there during the lesson and writing notes. Why did he have to stare at me? He must recognize me—there was no other explanation for the staring.

I'd have to make a run for it. Get out of there as fast as my little Asian feet could take me when the bell rings.

Running would only solve the problem for the time being. The truth remained that he was in a few of my classes and I would have to face him daily. I couldn't run for the rest of the semester—that was just crazy!

If it weren't for the fact that I needed the credits for these particular courses, I could change courses. Unfortunately that was not an option. That would make life too easy.

Someday, I'll be forced to confront him. And I had a feeling that day would come sooner than I would like. The more I accepted the reality, then the sooner I could prepare to face it.

The bell cut the teacher off in mid-sentence. My eyes shot up to the clock on the wall and silently cursed in my head. I was planning on being ready to run out the door, but I had completely forgotten about watching the time and now I was not at all prepared to run. Maybe my best bet now was to lag behind and ask the teacher a question.

I watched him from the corner of my eye like a secret agent. He left with one of his friends while I waited to ask the teacher a question about our homework.

He was nowhere to be seen when I left the classroom. I sighed with relief, but knew that I had only a few minutes left to get to my next class. I went left again today, not risking to turn right and run into him in the hallway again.

...

I managed to evade him all day. Yes! Who's the master? That's right! I'll have this down to an art form in no time!

I took my homework with me on my way to work. I had to get on a bus and then the subway. I should have half an hour before my shift starts to finish my English homework. Maybe if we weren't too busy Sakura might let me do some homework during my shift. That would be ideal, but perhaps not very realistic.

I managed to find a seat on the crowded subway and sat down between a Jamaican teen and a European businessman. Focusing on the task at hand, I ignored my crowded surroundings and got to work. Before I knew it, it was time to get off.

The sky had clouded over, but it didn't look threatening. I stepped out onto the avenue as a gust of exhaust and car fumes blew into my face. The street was crammed with rush-hour traffic and pedestrians walking quickly to their individual destinations. It was only a five-minute walk to the café, but it involved having to cross a busy street. I nearly got run over! That never would have happened in Japan, I thought, clutching the straps of my backpack tightly. Crazy Canadian drivers…

"Hey swee'ting! I give you job! Make twenty-five bucks an hour!" a Chinese man whistled from the doorway to an Asian massage parlour.

I shuddered and decided to run the few remaining metres to the shop.

"Hey! Swee'ting!" The catcalling continued until I was safely inside the café.

I sighed with relief once the door was shut behind me. I quickly surveyed the customers in the café as Elizabeth bounced toward me in a black maid outfit instead of her favourite sky blue one. She had her hair tied up in pigtails with black ribbon and had painted her nails black as well.

"Emi-chan!" she called happily in her singsong voice.

Emi-chan was my maid name. We all had maid names here. 'It's more fun this way!' Elizabeth exclaimed during orientation last week. Everyone agreed, so we all picked names for ourselves—except for me.

'She looks like an Emiko,' Genie had declared when I hesitated with a name for myself.

Elizabeth's blue eyes had lit up then. 'You're right! She does look like an Emiko! And Emi-chan for short!' She had clapped her delicate pale white hands together before offering to put a decorative pin in my hair. It was then that I knew I liked Elizabeth and could trust her with her genuinely kind nature.

"Hi Elizabeth," I greeted back, tilting my head slightly.

She read my puzzled expression as I took in her black ensemble. She shrugged and rubbed the edge of her frilly black skirt with her slender fingertips and smiled half-heartedly. "All the coloured dresses are being washed today, so there's only black ones available," she clarified.

"Oh." That would explain it. "Well, you still look cute, even if it's not your colour."

She beamed at me and skipped off. She was like an Aryan doll and any colour would have looked better on her than black. It bleached her out and made her look too pale. With no other options though, it left no choice. Black it was. It didn't slow her down though. She was still as bubbly as ever with a smile brighter than the sun.

Shine some of that energy on me please! Sigh. I felt so tired. I didn't feel like being at work today. I was almost dreading it. I can't be dreading my job already, can I? I only just started! Was it because I was dreading my job itself, or the possibility of running into my classmate again?

I swallowed at the mere thought of his eyes staring back into mine.

What was his name again? Ugh, I didn't even know his name and he was causing me this much anxiety already?

Inhale. Exhale. Relax Yuriko. It's a school night. He probably won't even show up, I reminded myself as I made my way to the staffroom to change for my shift.

...

I was right. He didn't show. I got all upset and worried over nothing.

School the next day was a different issue.

He was waiting for me.

And let's just say he looked mighty pleased with himself.


AUTHOR'S NOTE: The next chapter is the confrontation. Now the fun begins...

I had a computer scare last night that resulted in a completely dysfunctional laptop... seems better today, but all the more reason to take extra precaution (I've had my macbook since August 2008 and have been very proud over the years to be able to say "5 years and no problems! Take that Windows!" - My first laptop barely even made it into its 3rd year, and even then it spent months in the shop. Sigh. I can't afford to buy a new laptop right now...)

Anyway, hope you enjoyed the chapter!