It's Kai, Not Kairi
Author's Note: I'm almost done writing the last chapter. I decided to go back and revise the previous chapters to feel a bit more productive, aha.
Kairi glanced up from the packet she got from the Destiny High orientation last week. She was reviewing the dress codes before school shopping with Selphie. The standard school uniforms were a must, but there were other garments like cardigans, sweaters, and socks (she loved the warm ones that reached her knees despite the island weather) that the school tolerated as long as they weren't over-the-top flamboyant.
"Oh, my dog--Daddy, it's here!" Kairi shouted.
She threw down the packet, nearly slipped on the other school letters littering the carpet, and ran towards the house door. As she thrust it open, her elbow accidentally knocked down the vase next the umbrellas.
"Oops." She bent down to pick it up and swiftly turned her head, bumping into the door.
"Gosh…" Kairi rubbed her head and finally, looked up at the deliveryman.
"Sorry," she mumbled. She ignored the man's amused look as she gingerly took the parcel and closed the door after thanking him.
Her father entered the room as soon as the door clicked close. He looked more excited than Kairi did.
Kairi placed the box down on the floor and ripped it open, her eyes twinkling. Her dress shirt, vest, skirt and tie were finally here. But the light in her eyes immediately extinguished as soon as she lifted the flaps of the cardboard box.
"Dad, what the heck is this?" she exclaimed as she violently dumped out the uniform and pointed an accusing finger at it.
"It's obviously your uniform."
Her dad slumped back onto the couch and reached for the bottle of coke she had left on the table earlier.
Frustrated, Kairi snatched the bottle out of his hands and stuck the uniform in his face.
"Yeah, but this is a guy's uniform. Dad, you didn't sign me up for Wataya High, did you?"
Her father refused to look at Kairi and only stared at the uniform hanging in front of his nose.
Kairi didn't need her father to answer. For the past few months, no, years, her father had been treating her like her brother. She had to register to Destiny High herself, and she's been ignoring her father's constant trips to Wataya High. When her father didn't forbid her from going to the Destiny High orientation, she thought he had given up on the all-male high school.
"I expect you to wear that uniform and attend that school. It is well-known for its academics and discipline. I've gone through a lot trying to sign you up."
"But all school with all males? Aren't you worried about that?" Kairi couldn't believe this.
"You won't be caught. Cut your hair short and abandon your feminine ways. It'll come naturally for you."
"This is no time to joke around, Dad."
"Look. Wataya High will open many doors for you. I've attended it, your grandfather attended it, and so did your great-grandfather."
So that was it. He just wanted to carry this on.
"Take this and get a haircut," her father said as he got up. He stuffed a few coins into Kairi's hand.
Stray tears escaped Kairi's eyes. Tears of fury. She angrily threw the uniform and money at his feet.
"Mom wouldn't have made me do this."
"I'm not your mom" was her father's answer.
"And I am not your son. Your son is dead." She spat out each word with venom barely above a whisper.
Her father's face hardened.
"That's why you will carry on his duties," he said coolly. "You're going to that school and that's final."
Kairi angrily glared at her father as he walked out of the living room. Letting out a deep sigh, she looked down at her uniform and made a face of disgust.
"Hello?" Kairi answered the phone.
"Hey Kairi! So when do you wanna go school shopping? I totally can't wait to get some new shoes." Selphie's hyper voice buzzed through the phone.
Kairi felt a lump starting to form in her throat as she tried to find the right words to say. Wrapping her finger around the cord, she finally cleared her throat and forced out the words: I can't.
"Aww, come on! We did this since the fourth grade!" Selphie started to use her innocent cute voice.
"Selphie," Kairi let out a deep sigh. "I'm not going to Destiny High," she choked out.
"What?" was her immediate response. After a heartbeat, a flood of questions poured out of the receiver.
"Selphie, slow down. It's complicated. I'll tell you another day. I'm really sorry," Kairi hung up before her friend could protest. She sighed and leaned against the hallway walls, deep in thought.
"Hope you're happy, Mom. I'm going to the best school ever, but it's an all-boys school. Isn't that great?" Kairi said sarcastically.
She looked at the mirror hanging in the hallway and stared at the liar who peered back at her with weary eyes; a liar who was going tell the world that she was a boy. Her shoulder length hair was cut short and looked like uncut grass growing in all directions. Kairi ran her hand through the auburn strands and started towards her room, thinking about how to cover her short height.
"I can just tell them I didn't go through puberty yet," Kairi thought.
It wasn't really a lie after all; her monthly sessions hadn't started yet, which was good in a way.
Kairi walked into her brightly painted room and switched on the lights. Her school uniform was lying on her bed as if mocking her. She angrily grabbed it and hurled it across the room. Switching the lights off, she jumped into her bed and pulled the covers over her head. It was way past her usual sleeping time and tomorrow was the first day of her new, phony life
The warm sunlight shined through the open window and roused Kairi awake.
Muttering to herself, she turned away from the bright light. The weather was totally inappropriate based on her current mood. She tried to pull the blankets over her head but seeing that she had kicked off the blanket at night, she stuffed her head under her pillow instead.
She didn't notice that her old man was standing over her, ready to wake her up.
"Get up, Kairi! It's a bee-yoo-tee-full day!" her father shouted.
"Dad, if you're going to use that volume right next to my ear, you might as well get ready to sign me up for sign-language classes," Kairi mumbled grumpily.
"Aww, come on. It's not that bad. After all, you won't be seeing me until Thanksgiving." Her dad smirked.
Kairi bolted upright and stared at her father aghast.
"What? Are you telling me I have to live at the school, too?" Kairi opened her eyes wide in horror.
"Of course, you won't have time to go back and forth every day."
"You sick old man!" Kairi threw her pillow at her dad and got up.
"Get out, I gotta change."
"Okay, at least you're not protesting."
"Get out!" Kairi repeated as she pushed her father out of her room and slammed the door behind him.
Kairi ran her hand through her short hair and sighed. She looked at the uniform with fear and slowly went over to it. She first pulled down her night pants and slid her legs into the size-small uniform. It was strange without feeling the usual freedom her old skirt gave her.
A few hours later, Kairi found herself on the colossal school campus. It was almost like a college and immediately would've put Destiny High to shame. She looked around in awe. She couldn't help but admit that it was pretty impressive. Every blade of grass looked identical to the other and the floors were covered with unblemished marble indoors as well as outdoors.
There was no sign of vandalism either, unlike her previous school. She tilted her head back to see the top of the school building. The rows and rows of windows seemed to have no end. As soon as her head was almost touching her back, she found herself staggering back. Fortunately, she didn't land on the floor due to the person right behind her.
"Oh my, sorry," she apologized.
She looked up to see a pair of annoyed, ocean-blue eyes.
"Wow, you're really hot" she thought automatically.
The annoyed look on the boy's voice merged with a face of curiosity as he bent down and took a closer look at Kairi.
"Aren't you a girl?"
"Huh? What?" Kairi snapped out of her daze and realized she had commented on his beauty out loud.
"NO! I'M 120 PERCENT MALE! I meant that your eyes were really hot. I mean, NO! NOT IN THAT WAY! Like as in the burning sweating hot. Because, uh, you looked so mad, and uh…yeah." She quickly stepped away from the blue-eyed brunet, grabbed her bag, and stumbled past him.
"Wow that was close. Hope he fell for it," Kairi panted.
She realized it was going to be harder than it looked, to be at a unisex school. The overload of testosterone and good-looking males might be difficult to ignore.
"Creepy idiots these days," the blue-eyed brunet murmured as he followed the crowd of students heading for the auditorium.
He stopped when he saw something lying on the ground. It was an ID card. He nudged it with the edge of his foot and bent over to read the name. The photo indicated that it was the boy he had ran into a few seconds ago.
"Kai Narumi," he muttered.
The brunet stared hard at the little picture of 'Kai'. He really didn't look 120 percent male; his hair maybe, but not his face. His eyes looked wild enough, but there was something soft and delicate about his features.
Nevertheless, the brunet picked up the card and pocketed it.