Looking for Kana's Eyes, parts 1 - 6
This story was written online as part of the Kana: WAFFO! (Write A Fun Fanfic Online) project. Odd-numbered instalments were written by JPop4Life, and even-numbered instalments were written by Darkling.
The sun shines through the clear blue sky. In the burning sun and overheated nights, it's just another day in the seemingly endless row of summer days. It's the middle of the afternoon and I'm just lounging on the couch, trying to read.
It's so hot I can't even focus on what I'm looking at. The pictures are blurred and the words are hard to read.
"It must be this heat."
My eyes drift towards my desk, finding my clock.
I guess I'll see what they're doing.
I shake my head, clearing my vision. I spring upward and grab my purse nearby. I put on my shoes and head down the stairs towards the front door.
I lock the door to the bookstore and walk on my way.
"Whew... I'm finally here," I say, looking upon the familiar home.
I search for my keys, walking to the door.
I bring the keys out in front of me.
"Now which one is it- ah!"
The key slides in and a twist unlocks the door, allowing me inside.
"Tadaima!" I announce. I see a peeking head from the couch turn my way. He jumps up and walks to me.
I slip off my shoes and skip towards him.
The gap closes and we embrace each other.
"Okaeri, Kana. What are you doing here?" he asks.
"Well... it's so hot at the bookstore I had to get out of there. It's cooler over here and besides, I know it's been a while since I saw you guys."
"Well, I'm glad to see that you're doing well. You want anything to drink?"
"Hai." I take a scan of the room. "Where's Otousan and Okaasan?"
I hear his response coming from the kitchen. "Working... what else?"
I should have guessed.
I sit on the couch and watch TV. I'm watching some travel channel about some guy looking around England. I try to focus but I have a tense feeling in my forehead. It's hard to concentrate.
"Huh?" I dart my head upwards.
"Is something wrong, Kana? It looked like you were crying or something," Taka says.
He sets down two iced teas on the table and sits by my side.
"Oh no... I'm just trying to watch TV," I say.
"I see," he says, turning his attention to the TV.
Sipping on iced tea, we silently watch what's happening on the screen... except for my occasional questions.
"That's a pound."
"What does that say?"
"Long live the Queen."
"Hey... isn't that, uh-"
The TV goes blank as Taka faces me.
"Are you sure you're okay, Kana?"
"Why do you say that?"
Taka sits up and kneels in front me.
He's looking straight at me. Looking right at my eyes.
"You've been having more trouble than usual with the TV."
"Well... I think because of this heat and my head hurts a litt-"
"I think it's time you got glasses."
"Glasses?" I can't look at him. Instead I keep my attention on the TV screen. The reception is awful. "Oh, my eyes aren't that bad, Bro. I think... I just have a bit of heatstroke, that's all. Maybe if you could turn up the air conditioning a bit...?"
"Kana." He reaches out and takes my hands, in that firm but gentle grip. Just like the hold he has- used to have, on my heart. He would tell me things and I'd know that it had nothing to do with what he wanted - it was all about me. It was always about me. "Kana, it won't be as bad as you think. All you have to do is visit an optometrist. I'll go with you."
"That's okay, Bro, really," I protest, weakly. I tug my hands from his grasp and get to my feet, a bit unsteadily. "Do you want some more tea? I'll go get it."
I grab the two glasses - which are still half-full - and carry them into the kitchen. Bro doesn't follow me. He knows I don't react well when he presses an issue right away.
But this isn't an issue, is it? My eyes are fine! Sure, I have trouble reading invoices sometimes at the bookstore, but that's just because the overhead lights aren't bright enough. I still read as much as I ever did - lying in bed at night with a little reading lamp, with the book pressed almost to my nose. And sure, sometimes when I'm out walking I can't tell if that blur in the distance is a person or a car or just a tree or something, but I... I don't need-
I don't want to have to wear glasses! I just don't want to!
"Kana?" Bro calls, from the living room. I can hear the sound of the TV again; he must have turned it back on. "Kana, hurry up. The show's almost back on!"
"I'll... I'll be right there," I mumble. Suddenly it feels much too cold in here. I need some fresh air and sunlight. The glass door leading out to the back yard is open - so typical of Bro to leave it open even when the air conditioning is on. I'll just step out for a minute and-
"Oww!" I scream. The door was closed!
"Kana?" Bro's in the doorway from the living room, looking concerned. "Kana, what happened?"
"I... I don't need glasses," I mumble, stubbornly, rubbing my aching nose.
I bow, sending the customer on his way. The store is empty now and there aren't a whole lot of people walking around anymore.
"I guess I'll close up," I say, glancing at the time.
I go over to the closet to grab a broom. I turn on the light switch and...
The light bulb goes out. It's hard to see but I use the trailing light from the store. I spot the broom handle and grab a hold of it. I pull it out and place it next to my foot.
"Now where is the dust- oh!"
My foot is wet. I look down and realized I grabbed the mop instead.
How silly of me.
I place the mop back and find the broom and dustpan and begin sweeping.
I finish cleaning and head upstairs. I realize I need to grab a few items from the store before I begin cooking. So I take a quick shower and get ready to go outside.
The streets are dark, with only the street lamps providing light. I walk through the night, reaching the supermarket. I grab a hand basket and walk inside.
I grab what I need and wait in line. I have some soy sauce, hot sauce, vegetables, tea bags and some chicken.
The checker rings up my order. I look at the total.
"Your total is $13.57, please."
I look at the total again. But this time I try looking harder. With effort I'm able to rid myself of a blurry zero and see that the true total is $13.57.
I pay for my groceries and head home.
I'm home now and I've just put away my groceries.
Why did I put them away? I'm going to be using them soon anyway.
I slice up the chicken and start frying it. The sound of chopped vegetables fill the room.
"Humm mmm mmmm."
I hum away as I cook, throwing the vegetables into the pan, adding some soy sauce and hot sauce. I turn off the heat, ready to serve myself dinner.
I have some tea and rice with it and I begin to eat.
I choke after only taking one bite. I cough up bits of chicken and vegetable.
"This doesn't taste very good."
I carefully take another bite. The taste is wrong and it's not hot at all. It tastes a little too sweet and doesn't go well with anything.
I force myself to finish my dinner and start to clean up the dishes.
I put the sauces back into the fridge and-
I notice I'm holding teriyaki sauce and ketchup.
"How could I grab these by mistake!?"
Tired, I fall into my bed and turn on the TV. I flip through the channels but I don't see anything good on. Or...
…I can't tell what is on.
I quickly turn off the TV.
"I think it's time you got glasses."
Bro's words echo into my mind.
Everything today has gone wrong. I couldn't do anything right because I can't see clearly. How can I do anything if I can't see?
I turn off my lamp and try to go to sleep.
"I guess I need glasses," I say, sadly.
Out of habit, I'm walking through the shopping district in town. Kana and I used to come here a lot before she moved out. We couldn't be as close as we might have liked - Kana usually didn't even want to hold hands out in public - but it was time away from the house, time away from Mom and Dad.
I smile as I see the noodle house where we had lunch a few times. Kana's appetite didn't really increase all that much after her transplant operation, but she was still eager to try new dishes. She methodically went through the menu, trying something different each time.
Maybe I'll stop in and have lunch there, for old times' sake. I pause, looking up and down the street for oncoming traffic.
Something catches my eye. A window display.
I turn right and head up the street. It's an optometrist's window, the display filled with free-standing racks of eyeglasses. All different colours and styles, from thick-rimmed black glasses to elegant fashionable designs for women.
"Kana would look good in those," I murmur to myself, looking at a set of gold frames with rounded rims. "Or maybe those..." I add, as my attention drifts to a different pair. Deep green, with a swirly marbling effect on the frames. They're more dramatic; they'd provide contrast to Kana's pale skin. But maybe that wouldn't be a good thing? Kana doesn't like to draw attention to herself. Well, in that case...
All thoughts of lunch forgotten, I push the door open and walk into the store for a better look. Looks like it's going to be a long afternoon.
I walk out of the store, satisfied with my work. I took a look around and asked some questions about glasses. The lady there showed me several pairs and the basic different styles glasses come in these days. The lady also pointed out contacts and maybe laser eye surgery somewhere down the road. She even gave me a brochure to show Kana.
"Kana will see glasses aren't so bad after all," I say, heading home.
I stop in my tracks, grabbing my stomach. I look back around and spot the noodle house I thought of earlier.
As I turn around, I find Kana's hand on me, spinning me around. I take a glance and notice she's in her regular clothing. She must not be working today.
"Hi, Kana." I lightly embrace her. "What are you doing here?"
"Hehe. I was going to ask you the same question." Kana's eyes scan the area. "I was headed towards our noodle shop today."
"That's funny. I was just headed that way. You want to go eat together?"
Kana and I head to our noodle shop. We talk about her work and what's new at home. All the while I look at her swinging arm beside her.
"So what are you going to eat, Kana?" I ask. "Are you going to try something new again?"
"Well..." Kana buries her head in the menu. She silently reads the menu. She isn't mentioning anything that catches her eye.
If she's even reading it.
The waiter comes by and takes our order.
"I'll have beef udon, please."
"I'll have the same too," Kana says.
I'm a little surprised at Kana's response. Her body seems like it's sunken in itself. Like it's embarrassed or something.
"Is everything okay, Kana?"
No response. Kana didn't even notice I was talking to her.
"Kana?" I ask again.
She seems really into herself. She doesn't hear me at all.
I think to myself, trying to find a way to snap Kana out of it. I look at my side and see the glasses information I had gotten earlier.
I pull out the envelope and lay out the contents in front of Kana. Kana's eyes drift towards the main brochure.
"I was out earlier and I picked up some stuff about glasses, contacts or whatever for your eyes."
"Ah. Thank you, Bro." Kana quickly packs everything in the envelope. "I'll look at it when I get home."
What's the deal? Kana's acting so nervous for some reason. It can't be because of the whole glasses thing, can it?
What could be the big deal about glasses?
"Four-eyes! Four-eyes! Sayuri's a four-eyes!"
"I didn't think she could get any uglier!"
Poor Sayuri-chan. She came to school wearing glasses today. Her parents got them for her because she has trouble seeing the blackboard.
I think they look nice. They're light blue and very pretty. But I don't think Sayuri would care what I think. She's not a popular girl in the class, but she's still more popular than me.
The other children are gathered around her now, pointing and laughing and doing little dances. Sayuri-chan looks like she's going to burst into tears at any moment. I feel awful for being glad that it's not me who's the centre of their attention. It's not fun to be teased.
"Sayuri's got four eyes. Sayuri tells lots of lies! Sayuri eats dead flies! That's what Sayuri does!" Kenji-kun starts a little chant, and the other kids all pick up on it gleefully. "Sayuri's got four eyes! Sayuri tells lots of..."
It's too much. Sobbing, Sayuri gets up from her seat and runs blindly out of the classroom. Three or four of the boys chase after her. Their mocking chants slowly fade into the distance.
I sit quietly at my desk. Ten minutes until class starts. It's mathematics first up. I-
Poor Sayuri-chan. Poor, poor Sayuri-chan.
I'm so glad I don't have to wear glasses.