At the airport, right at the departure gate, a mother and daughter have their final exchange.
"Are you sure you'll be fine?"
"It's okay Mom, really! I think I'm old enough to look after myself. Living here has taught me that,"
"Well, I guess you feel more comfortable living back in Japan huh?"
"I think it'll be a good start for you as well. Considering you and David have begun a new life here in London,"
"You still won't call him 'Dad' huh?"
"Give me time,"
The mother sighed, and her daughter knew exactly why.
"Its not like I blame him for having us move here. I just miss everyone back home and after living here, I know now that Japan still calls to me – to come home,"
"I know dear. Its going to be hard not seeing you everyday though,"
"That's only because you would visit me at the dorms almost every other day,"
"Can you blame me?"
Just then there was an announcement on the PA.
"Final boarding call for passengers travelling to Tokyo,"
"I better go; it's the last call for boarding. I'll call you when I get there okay?"
"Please take care! I'll miss you!"
"And I'll miss you too. Bye Mom!"
And after the final embrace, the mother let go of her child and watched her walk down the corridor, towards the plane, with plans of waiting by the phone, waiting to hear of her daughter's arrival.
Upon boarding the plane, Yuka was ultimately grateful that she didn't have much to put in the overhead compartments. She also considered herself to be very lucky to have a window seat, she could a least give England a decent farewell, before the plane began flying through the clouds. She didn't dislike living in England but she didn't exactly like it either. Perhaps it had something to do with her not wanting to leave Japan in the first place, or that she hadn't prepared herself for the massive change in lifestyle.
After two years in convincing her mother to let her go back, her mother finally gave in. Yuka saw this as an opportunity to become independent, find her own bearings and be her own person. She figured if she could survive the entire school year on her own, with no problems, her mother would let her stay permanently. Yuka leant back on her seat as the plane begun to move towards its allocated runway, and as she waited, her mind began to wonder back to when she was younger and how happy she was with her friends in Japan.
Yuka was born and raised in Japan with a happy family. Every weekend was known to various adventures, since both her parents worked a typical Monday to Friday, nine to five job. They would go to theme parks, the city, the zoo and the list goes on. Yuka had fond memories growing up with always something to look forward to whenever she got home. Her mother was her idol – hardworking, always got the job done and balanced work and home very well. And if ever Yuka were to find a man of her own, she had hoped that he would be as kind and gentle as her father. Whereas when it came down to business, he could turn his heart to stone within a millisecond.
Yet their happiness was short-lived as her father died in a car accident, on his way to pick up Yuka from her friends house. Yuka was devastated and went into deep depression a while after his funeral. Her mother wouldn't speak to Yuka for weeks and would often be found in her bedroom, sobbing and calling out her late husband's name, in the hope he would answer back. Yuka was in her final year in elementary school when things changed. They moved from their comfy home to a two-bedroom apartment, which was conveniently close to Yuka's future Junior High School and her mother's work place.
In Yuka's opinion, she thought that this was what her mother needed the most, to focus more on work and also bonding with her daughter. But Yuka was sadly mistaken, for her mother had begun dating again. Yuka, being the young girl that she was, didn't understand why her mother needed another man in her life. She had been brought up to know that her father was the only man her mother could ever love and vice versa. It made her angry and hurt inside that she just wasn't enough for her mother to be content with. Thus the distance between them begun, soon enough, Yuka's mother would be out late again, socializing, mingling with various friends of friends and going on blind dates.
Yuka, being only twelve years old at the time, would busy herself with her homework and doing chores around the house after school. She would rarely hang out at her friend's houses, with the fear of also losing her mother in the same fashion as her father. She was the good girl who stayed at home, whilst her mother went out and partied.
Flashes of her first year at Junior High came to mind and Yuka smiled. Three people popped in one after the other.
The first was short, with her chestnut brown hair in two plaits framing either side of her face, with a fringe that hung neatly a little over her eyebrows. You hardly ever saw her dark brown eyes as she always wore different colored contacts, 'A fashion trend!' she would claim every time anyone else would roll their eyes at her, whereas everyone knew she had prescription in them. Her name was Kyoko Li and she was one of the most fashion savvy kids in the neighborhood. Rumors about her fashion sense was that she wouldn't be caught dead wearing the same thing, whereas she was unbelievably talented in making one item into a completely brand new look the next. She was the friendliest girl Yuka had ever met and was grateful to have her as such a supporting best friend. Kyoko was the one who made Yuka feel like she hadn't missed anything from moving to England, there were always updates on the gossip, the latest fashion trends, new guys she fancied, some other fashion trends; the conversation was endless. Emails were constantly being sent to and fro to ensure that their friendship would never see the end.
The next face that popped in Yuka's mind was Erika Nori. She was a highly ambitious girl who always strived to be the class representative and top of the class. Just because she was studious and smart, it didn't mean she lost in the looks department. She was the envy of all the girls in the school at the time – her long black hair never went lower than her elbows, her skin was the clearest and smoothest possible and she most definitely did not need make up to make her look elegant and beautiful. Her black eyes were soft but could become as cold as ice if you rubbed her the wrong way, but there was one interesting characteristic about this girl that would make anyone who didn't know her, drop their jaw in surprise. She was obsessed with anime, manga and video games – that's right, she was an otaku. In Japanese culture, Otakus were considered almost the bottom of the popularity food chain, because of their obsession with two-dimensional characters. So instead of being social, they would fantasize about anime characters falling in love with them, or would spend numerous hours doing original artwork of their favorite anime/manga. Cosplay was also a popular sport for Otakus who wanted so much to be their character. But because she was so popular (by the boys and admired by the girls), her being an otaku wasn't really acknowledged as a flaw, in comparison to those who were stereotyped as geeks.
Yuka looked forward to be bombarded with all the new anime Erika had in store for her to watch. It was always such fun watching Erika get excited over anime – it would always crack a smile on her face.
Then in came the third person, a tall, well toned male came to mind. He had shaggy midnight blue hair, which always covered his right eye, yet was short at the back. A smart-looking young lad, who always treated everyone around him with great respect, was rather social and quite the charmer. His smile alone would send all the girls swooning and struggling on their feet. He was also someone who Yuka remembered as the person who reached out his hand ever so gentleman-like, to help her up from the ground. Yuka strained her brain to remember as to why he had his hand outstretched to her in the first place.
"Excuse me miss?" Yuka's thoughts were interrupted. "Miss?" It was a flight attendant.
"Uh… Yes?" Yuka answered, straightening herself up.
"Would you like headphones for your trip?" The flight attendant asked politely, a charming smile soon following her question.
"Oh yes please," Yuka answered, "Thank you," she continued, after receiving the headphones. It was then brought to Yuka's attention that they were already airborne. She didn't even feel the plane speed up for take off. 'How embarrassing,' Yuka thought as she plugged in her headphones and switched on the TV screen in front of her. She glanced at her watch and saw that only 30 minutes had passed. 'Right! 13 hours and 30 minutes left to go,' Yuka knew it was going to be a long flight, but she had plenty of time to collect her thoughts before she landed.