Thursday, November 14, 2013

Chapter Thirteen: Moriko & Diana Meet

“I did not need you to rescue me,” Moriko said. She had felt no menace from the stupid girls. Just anger. But she would get back at some of them at least. She really looked forward to Soccer practice at the end of the day.

“That’s okay,” Diana said, “I know what it’s like to be the kid with the smelly lunch. Ya know?”

Moriko laughed. She liked the cleverness she saw in Diana’s brown eyes. She had a bit of a puppy dog look, with her long brown hair and large eyes. But she was quite tall, a hand’s breadth higher than Moriko at least.

“Yes,” Moriko said, “it’s not the first time, though. Poppa insists on some things.” She shouldn’t offer too much information. Changing the subject, she finally put her passion for soccer over her insecurity. “You are Diana Roman, right?”

Diana looked skeptically at Moriko, “How do you know that?”

“I play soccer,” Moriko brightened. “I saw your picture in the display case by the principal’s office.” She couldn’t keep the note of disdain from her voice when she mentioned the principal.

“Oh,” Diana replied. She looked to Moriko as if she were remembering something a long time ago. She looked sad. Not knowing what else to do, Moriko carried on. “It is very awesome that you came in 3rd in the region. You must be excited.”

Diana looked relieved. “Oh, that,” she said. “It seems like a long time ago. Hey, class is starting soon. Why don’t you come have lunch with me today, my treat?”

Moriko was surprised and wary of this invitation, but she did need a new lunch. “Yes,” she said hesitantly. “Thank you.” She noticed the hinting edges of a horrible scar on Diana’s shoulder. She would ask about it later. Hadn’t the principal been enough? You are sick, she thought to herself. You see monsters everywhere. But it was how she’d been raised. She could not remember a time when her toys had not been made of steel. 

The first bell rang, signaling five minutes to get to class. Diana knelt to get into her own locker, but Moriko noted, all Diana did was put the soccer ball inside.

“I have math first period,” Diana said. “Do you know where you need to go?”

Moriko finished putting her wet lunch containers, wrapped in paper towels, into her locker. Seeing Moriko’s empty locker, Diana remembered that she’d forgotten to bring any decorations for her locker. She usually personalized it as quickly as possible, mostly with movie posters. She also put her art tube in the locker. She was still armed, and thankfully this school did not have metal detectors. But she hated to leave her new blade behind. But she must be wise. She closed her locker.

“I think so,” said Moriko with hesitation. But she pulled out a half sheet with her school schedule on it. She showed it to Diana.

Diana brushed her hair back over her right ear. The hall had emptied around them, Katrina Vandenberg leaving with a glare that neither Moriko nor Diana paid attention to. 

“You have biology class. That’s right next door to where I’m going. Come on. I’ll show you.”

Moriko nodded, smiling slightly, and fell into step beside Diana. “Did you grow up here?” Moriko asked. 

“Yeah,” Diana replied, “but I went to Catholic school up to 8th grade. When I came here as a freshman, they all knew each other already.” Moriko knew Diana meant the girls who’d been teasing her. She even recognized some of them from the soccer team photo.

“I am always the new girl,” Moriko complained. “We move around a lot.”

“You’re the teacher’s assistant second period for Japanese? Is your dad the new teacher? Mr. Hatsunaka?”

“Yes, he is.” Moriko maintained a neutral tone regarding her father. 

“I have that. I hope he’s nice. I’m afraid I’ll be terrible at it. It will be my first foreign language. I mean, I know some Italian, but that doesn’t seem foreign to me.” Diana thought she was rambling. It had been so long since she’d talked to anyone her own age about anything.

“My papa is not… nice. But he will teach you well. I will help.” Moriko offered. 

“Thanks! There’s your class.” Diana indicated an orange door with the number T4 above it in brass. “Hey, are you any good?” Diana  inquired. 

Moriko, caught off guard, said, “What do you mean? I am much better at Japanese than English, though I am working on it.”

Diana grinned, and Moriko saw the gawky little girl Diana felt like. Moriko smiled despite herself. “No, silly. I mean at soccer.”

“Oh,” said Moriko, “thank you for showing me the class.” She backed away toward her first class. The bell would ring any second. “As far as soccer…” She smiled. “You’ll see.” She left Diana, and walked into biology class.
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