Author: spinalTapSoundGuy PM
After a string of wrecks, the local government is urging young people to take driving tests and apply for licenses. And that includes our six recently graduated protagonists; minus Chiyo, who is underage, and therefore present for moral support .Rated: Fiction K+ - English - Humor - Yukari T. & Koyomi M./Yomi - Chapters: 3 - Words: 8,964 - Reviews: 4 - Favs: 3 - Follows: 3 - Updated: 03-16-12 - Published: 02-25-12 - id: 7871820
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author's Note: A fun, short little project. Won't be much longer than four or five chapters. I hope you all enjoy it!
Hit and Run
Nashi License Bureau
Yomi ignored the girl addressing her, who had done nothing but pester her for almost ten minutes now.
"Hey. Yomi," the girl continued, obviously enjoying herself.
"Blue three, blue three, martial arts ain't for me..." hummed a blank-looking girl a few seats down.
"Yomi. Yomi. Hey, Yomi."
Yomi remained silent, eyes narrowing behind her glasses. The morning was not a wise time to try her patience.
"Why are you ignoring me, Yomi?" she continued. "Why are you ignoring me? Yomi? Yomi? Yomi?"
She felt her temper rising. Leave it to her oldest friend to push her buttons like this.
"Yomi. Yomi. Yomi. Yomi. Yomi. Yomi. Yomi. Yomi. Yomi. Yomi..."
"For god's sake, Tomo, what?" she finally snapped.
"SHHHHHHHH!" Tomo replied gleefully. "Inside voice, Yomi!"
"God, you irritate me..." Yomi huffed. "I've finished high school, ready to enjoy my summer, and I have to come in here early on a Saturday. Just what's going on here?"
"You don't know?" answered a little girl with red-orange pigtails. "I read it in the news: apparently, our prefecture is urging young people who are approaching eighteen to take driving lessons. It had something to do with a rash of auto accidents recently."
"Hah," chimed in a wild-haired girl across the room. "That's typical of them."
"Huh?" the little girl replied. "What's typical, Kagura?"
"Oh, it's simple, Chiyo," Kagura answered. "Whenever something like this happens, it's in the government's best interest to look like they're busy fixing the problem. It might not actually do anything, but all that matters is looking good and getting reelected."
"Wow," Yomi replied. "Couldn't have said it better myself. And believe me, I was about to. So hold up. If we're all here to take driving lessons, and eighteen is the legal age, why is Chiyo here?"
"Moral support!" Chiyo answered brightly. "It never occurred to me that politicians might think that way, though."
"What can you do, though?" Yomi sighed. "Our prefecture sucks sometimes."
"Yeah, maybe," Kagura agreed. "But in a few months, we'll all be off on our own, and out of... umm..."
"Out of?" Yomi asked, an amused grin growing. "Go on."
"Umm... well..." Kagura stuttered. "Out of... out of... Oh for crying out loud! I forgot, okay? What's our prefecture?"
Yomi and Tomo burst out laughing. Kagura went red.
"You forgot," Yomi repeated. "You truly, honestly forgot where we live? God, I know you're not the sharpest tool in the shed, but geez!"
"I know it!" Kagura insisted weakly. "I just... it's on the tip of my tongue, I swear!"
"Geez, who would be dumb enough..." Tomo chuckled. "I mean, come on! That's probably something even Osaka would know."
"Eh?" the blank-faced girl looked up, hearing her nickname.
"Wait... would she?" Yomi postulated.
"Of course!" Tomo insisted. "Everyone knows. Except Kagura."
"I'll bet she doesn't," Yomi challenged.
"Two thousand yen?" Yomi offered.
"You're on!" Tomo accepted. "Hey, Osaka! What's our prefecture?"
"Our prefecture," Osaka began. "It's... our prefecture is... we live in... well, that is..."
"You don't know?" Yomi grinned.
"I can give the general area!" Osaka blustered.
Tomo grabbed Yomi by the shoulders and lunged forward, her face just inches from Yomi's. Tomo was close enough for Yomi to smell her breath.
"That counts, right?" Tomo asked hopefully. "Buddy? Pal? Childhood friend?"
"Tell you what," Yomi answered. "I'll allow it if you get off me right now, and promise never to get this close again!"
"I accept!" Tomo pushed off and away from Yomi, sending her reeling back to her own seat. "Go ahead, Osaka. General area."
"Right!" Osaka answered. "I know that whatever our prefecture is, it's somewhere west of Gifu, and east of Nagano!"
"Three thousand yen!" Tomo shouted. Yomi did nothing but stare back and chuckle, a smug leer on her face.
"That's impossible," Yomi replied. "Trust me. Geographically impossible. Look it up."
"But... but... but..." Tomo stammered. "It's not impossible!"
"Gifu is west of Nagano!" Yomi countered triumphantly. "You can't be west of Gifu and east of Nagano at the same time. It's impossible!"
"But it's not impossible," Osaka muttered dreamily. "The earth ain't flat, is it?"
"What's your point?" Yomi asked irritably.
"Well, the earth is round," Osaka explained. "That means if ya start at Gifu and head west, you can keep heading west. Keep going, and going, and going, and eventually, you loop around back to Japan, and at that point, ya end up east of Nagano. So basically, being west of Gifu is the same as being really, really, really, really, really, really, really far east of Nagano. So we live somewhere between those there places."
"Ha! Told you!" Tomo boasted. "Now, if you don't have anything else to add, I do believe there is the rather unpleasant matter of the payment by you, for me, of five thousand yen."
"First of all," Yomi replied. "The wager was two thousand yen. Nice try. Second, I allowed the answer to include a general area, and a strip all the way around the world is not a general area. Third, even if you did narrow it down further, you're still way off. We don't live anywhere near Gifu or Nagano. Chiyo, tell them where we live and enjoy watching Tomo lose."
"Okay!" Chiyo beamed. "Our prefecture is–"
All five girls went rigid as the door burst open with explosive force. An energetic looking young woman stood proudly on the threshold, hand still in the air from having shoved the door unceremoniously aside.
"Rise and shine!" she shouted. "I'm so excited for the first day of driving lessons!"
"Miss Yukari?" all five shouted simultaneously.
"Ah! Former students!" she exclaimed. "What are you doing here? I was so sure I'd never have to see any of you agai– I mean, I was afraid I'd never see any of you again. So it looks like you're all here to take driving lessons."
"Yep," Yomi answered. "I wouldn't be here if I could help it. I don't even have a car. No reason for me to take lessons and apply for a license."
"Wait a minute," Yukari replied. "Sakaki's not here. You six are usually always together. Where is she?"
"Eaten by cats, I 'spose." Osaka answered offhandedly.
"Eh..." everyone else looked nervously at Osaka, who remained completely unreadable. "Say what?"
"She'll be along later," Osaka replied in the same distant tone. "I think."
Everyone continued to stare in dead silence for roughly ten seconds.
"She'll be fine," Yukari asserted. "Today's not the only day for driving lessons."
"Heh. Figures," Kagura chuckled. "You sure need something like this, Miss Yukari."
"Oh, I do need it," Yukari agreed. "What with it being summer, I'm not getting paid, so this driving program will help me with the bills."
"Wait!" Tomo interrupted. "We get paid for this? Cool!"
"Whoa, hold up there!" Yukari cut her off. "You don't get money just for taking lessons. What, do you expect the world to just hand things to you?"
"But," Chiyo asked. "If you're taking lessons, then how are you making money?"
"Taking lessons?" Yukari replied. "Where'd you get a silly idea like that? I'm teaching them."
"SAY WHAT?" all shouted in unison. This couldn't be happening. If Yukari wasn't joking, then this could very well mean the death of them all.
"Alright!" Tomo pumped her fist. "You're my favorite driver! Me first! Me first! Me first!"
"This is a joke," Yomi insisted, pale-faced. "This has to be a joke. I am not taking lessons from you. Of all the people behind the wheel, why on Earth... just... I won't do it!"
"Oho, yes you will!" Yukari taunted. "Haven't you heard about all the accidents? Obviously, a bunch of young people haven't learned to drive properly. You should thank me. I'm taking time out of my busy schedule of relaxation to do my part to remedy your irresponsible actions."
"Young people's fault... irresponsible actions..." Yomi struggled. "I don't even... that makes no... Gah! I don't even have a car! I don't drive!"
"Well, if you've never driven," Tomo replied. "Then obviously, you need lessons!"
"I like the way Tomo thinks!" Yukari chimed.
"Wait a minute," Yomi muttered, suspicious. "I do remember reading a bunch about some recent accidents. And I saw your car at the center of every picture! Care to explain, Evel Knievel?"
"I... well... that's..." Yukari struggled, face screwed up in annoyed concentration.
"That settles it," Yomi declared. "The day I take driving lessons from you is the day I meet Chiyo's father."
"Shhhh!" Yukari hissed, holding a hand to her ear. "I'm trying to hear!"
Confusion crossed everybody's faces.
"Hear what?" Yomi asked.
"You can't hear it?" Yukari smirked. "It's clear as day if you listen."
"I don't hear anything..." Yomi insisted. "None of us can hear anything."
"I can hear!" Osaka volunteered.
"Yeah," she answered. "I hear lotsa things. Y'all talkin'. Me breathin'. The air conditionin'. Machines humming outside. Some kind of ringing in my ears. But I don't know where that last one comes from.
"You don't by any chance hear air rushing between your ears, do you?" Yomi snarked.
"No," Osaka answered, confused. "Why would I hear that?"
"Forget it," Yomi sighed. "Yukari, for crying out loud, tell me what I'm supposed to be hearing!"
"Oh, the sound!" Yukari teased. "I'm not telling. Well... there might be something you can do that'll make me change my mind. Something about taking a lesson... getting behind the wheel..."
"You..." Yomi gritted her teeth at this tactic. She just had to know what Yukari was talking about.
"You'll never know," Yukari insisted. "Not unless you accept."
Yomi sighed, defeated. The suspense was simply too much.
"Fine," she huffed. "I'll take a driving lesson with you. Now what was the sound?"
"It's music to my ears, this sound! This sound, my friend..." Yukari answered, pausing for dramatic effect. "Is the sound of you volunteering to go first! Ha!"
Yomi stared at Yukari in disbelief. How could she have fallen for such a dirty trick?
"I'm dead," Yomi slouched in her seat.
Yomi and Yukari sat parked on the street next to the building, engine running. Only one or two cars traveled the road at any given time, not at all like the heavy traffic on the busier main streets.
"Okay," Yukari began. "This car belongs to the city. Mine's in the shop right now, and even if it wasn't, I wouldn't want you learning to drive an automatic like that anyway."
"Oh god, this is a stick shift?" Yomi fretted. "But learning to drive is hard enough as it is!"
"Now what kind of an attitude is that? This'll be fun!"
"Fun?" Yomi demanded. "Do you even know how to drive stick?"
"Of course!" Yukari insisted. "I drove this car over here, didn't I? Not bad for my first time in a manual!"
"Oh lord," Yomi groaned, palm to her forehead. "Let's get this over with."
"That's the spirit!" Yukari agreed. "Now, in order to shift gears, you have to be able to operate the snatch."
"Clutch," Yomi corrected her irritably. "Not snatch. Clutch."
"Whatever. Okay, if you don't have the clutch in, and you're not in neutral, the engine stops. So when you start driving, push the clutch in, shift to first, and then let the clutch out as you add gas. Got it?"
"Alright," Yomi breathed, putting her left foot down. "Clutch in..."
She grabbed the gearshift and selected first gear. Yomi could tell there would be problems; she had to keep holding the pedal down as long as she was in gear. What if her foot tired out?
"Now add gas, and let the clutch out," Yukari instructed.
Lurch. The car buckled for a minute and then stalled out.
"Yep," Yukari sighed. "That happened to me too. Just keep trying. You'll get it."
Fifty tries later, the car still hadn't budged from its parking space. Yomi fumed behind the wheel, her glasses fogged up over her red face.
"What the hell!" she shouted. "What am I doing wrong?"
"Alright, calm down!" Yukari replied. "Almost any driving instructor will tell you that you need to time the clutch and the gas to get rolling. Some nonsense about balance. But really, what you have to do is add more gas!"
"More gas?" Yomi repeated cynically.
"A lot more gas!" Yukari confirmed. "They do this all the time in racing. Pedal to the floor, rev that engine, and once you let the clutch out, you'll move every time! It really works."
"I really don't think that's a good idea."
"Do it!" Yukari ordered. "Pedal to the floor. Do it now!"
"Oh, god," Yomi whispered, pressing her right foot down. The engine's roar echoed between the buildings through the mid-morning air. She was uncomfortably aware of the immense power delivered by the rumbling, vibrating engine. Was this car built to handle such driving?
"Now steer out towards the road," Yukari continued. "And let the clutch out!"
Yomi released the clutch and the vehicle lurched forward in its parking space. She gasped for a moment at the car parked ahead of her, but narrowly missed hitting it as she took to the road.
Loud honking freaked her out. She looked back in the mirror and noticed an angry driver behind her. She had pulled out onto the street without looking and cut him off. She was mortified.
"Oh god. Oh god. Oh god," Yomi muttered. "What do I do?"
"Floor it, Yomi!" Yukari shouted. "He won't follow us!"
Yomi put the pedal to the floor once more and took off down the road. Shifting gears in motion was much easier than starting from rest. She shifted to second, then third, straightening out as she got the feel of the car.
"What are you doing?" Yukari demanded.
"Uh..." Yomi puzzled. "Upshifting?"
"No, no, that's not what you do!" she insisted. "High gear is for wimps. Fourth and fifth won't give you any power at this speed. Shift down and go faster!"
"But, the speed limit is only forty kilometers per hour!" Yomi protested.
"Who cares!" Yukari argued. "This is a nice car; I'll bet it's capable of at least two hundred! Go faster!"
"I'm not speeding up for you!"
"What, are you scared?" Yukari teased. "Don't you know fear makes you lose weight? You want to lose weight, don't you? Don't you? Come on. You know you want to."
Yomi growled. Not these games again.
"That's it!" Yomi snapped. "Say your prayers, you magnificent bastard!"
Seconds after a crunch of the stick, Yomi and Yukari were pressed deep into their seats as the car accelerated rapidly. Yukari threw her hands up, squealing with delight. Buildings and cars flew past them with increasing velocity. Once they redlined at seventy-five kilometers an hour, Yomi shifted up into third gear. Behind her gleaming glasses, a new determination manifested itself in her eyes.
"Yes... yes!" Yukari goaded. "Give in to the speed! Become one with the road!"
The car bounced and jittered along the road as Yomi drove even faster down the hill. Every so often, the road would level out for a short stretch before dropping off again. Every time the car went airborne, Yomi felt as though her stomach was fighting its way out of her mouth. But she wouldn't stop now. She wasn't scared of a little speed.
"Yellow light!" Yukari shouted.
Yomi applied brakes and prepared to downshift.
"Don't brake!" Yukari insisted. "You can totally make this!"
More speed. The light went red as they reached the intersection, but Yomi was too fast and too close to stop now. Their car sped through the red light, raising a chorus of angry honks as the drivers waiting to proceed nearly got bowled over by such a reckless driver.
"My heart," Yomi panted. "That was close."
"Driver ahead," Yukari advised.
"Slowing down," Yomi answered.
"Pass him, you dummy!" Yukari snapped. "That's what the other lane is for!"
"But that's the oncoming lane!"
"That's what timing is for!" Yukari argued, seizing the wheel.
Before Yomi had a chance to realize what was happening, Yukari had wrestled control of the wheel away from her and sent them both swerving into the oncoming lane. As the car ahead of them left Yomi's field of vision, her fears were realized. A truck was driving towards them, even further away. They were on a head-on collision course.
Time seemed to slow to a crawl for Yomi. She was painfully aware of all the scenery around her, every little detail. Her brain, her perception of time, had gone into overdrive, working hard to save her from danger. It was simple, really. She would slap Yukari's hand off of the steering wheel, hit the brakes, and move back into her own lane. She took a deep breath and prepared to put her plan into action.
"Faster!" Yukari bellowed, placing her free hand on Yomi's right thigh and pushing down. Yomi felt her foot slam the gas pedal, causing the car to accelerate. Yukari's other hand steered their vehicle around the car ahead and ever closer to the oncoming truck. It was too late to slow down now; speeding up was her only chance.
A loud shatter sounded behind them as Yukari guided them around the car and swerved back into the correct lane, leaving the path of the truck. The driver behind them honked angrily, and Yomi realized with horror that she had clipped him.
"Ohmygodohmygod!" she hyperventilated. "I hit somebody!"
"Ah, crap!" Yukari swore. "Floor it, Yomi! Don't look back! Get away before he gets the tag number!"
Frustrated tears welled up in Yomi's eyes. First time driving, and she had done damage. That was just shameful. She couldn't take this anymore. Yomi never wanted to drive in the first place. Why did she have to take this stupid lesson? When would it end?
Two hours later
The past few hours had been a total blur to Yomi. She recalled driving, and speed, and hit and runs, but could not seem to recall most of it. Perhaps it was being blocked from her memory. But it didn't matter now. She was outside, no longer behind the wheel, and the lesson was over.
The early afternoon sun shone high above them, beating down on the roof of an apartment building. Yomi reclined against an air duct, sitting next to Yukari, who had fetched cans of juice from downstairs.
This roof was much more peaceful than the road, and up here it was just the three of them: Yomi, Yukari, and the large, yellow cat that had hovered in to join them. Neither of them knew what it was, or how it could talk, but neither really cared. They hadn't even asked for its name.
"So," Yukari began, cracking open her juice. "Feel better?"
Yomi took a long swig from her can, as though drinking it would obliterate the past two hours from her mind.
"Yeah," Yomi answered. "Lesson's over. I'm relieved."
"What do you think of the road?"
"It's stressful," Yomi replied. "More stressful than any time I spent in school. I don't understand why anybody would drive in Japan. I could get around just fine on a bike, or public transit."
"Yeah," Yukari agreed. "But, you know, bunch of accidents."
"Oh, that's not important! It all works out!"
"All works out?" Yomi argued. "I did a hit and run on somebody! What if I get arrested?"
"They'll never find you," Yukari reassured her. "The car belongs to the city."
"Doesn't matter to me," Yomi responded dejectedly. "I'm so used to doing well. But that was just traumatic. I'm a horrible driver! I had so many near misses."
"Hey," Yukari answered. "Anything you can walk away from. Right? Just think of the stories you'll have for your friends!"
"Heh," Yomi chuckled. "I didn't know such a small ramp could launch us high enough to land on a bus."
"I know, right?" Yukari laughed. "I learn stuff like this every time I drive! You see? If you hadn't taken this lesson, you never would have learned that a car like ours could hit sixty kilometers an hour in reverse."
"You know," Yomi replied. "I think I actually feel a bit better about this now. If nothing else, it'll be fun to watch Tomo react to where the journey took us."
"That's the spirit," Yukari answered, standing up. "So how about it? Should we go now?"
"Yeah, let's go," Yomi answered. "But..."
"I'm wondering," she continued. "Do you have any idea how we can get the car down from this roof?"
"Beats me," Yukari answered. "I had my eyes closed. How did we get up here to begin with?"
Yomi paused for a moment, trying to think of an answer.
"Beats me," Yomi gave up. "I had my eyes closed."
Mado ni sotto yobu koe wa
Koi no yokan soshite
Mada tooku no ai demo
Shinjiteru asu wo
Shinjiteru kimi wo