Nami's New School Blues
by Naia Zifu

I was up long before the sun and had been watching morning anime
for over an hour when I decided it was time I got dressed for my first day of
school. Off went the television, and I padded upstairs to my room with Mr. Sniffle
in hand, quiet as a mouse in the blue footie pajamas Mama had bought me soon
after I came so I needn't borrow Hotaru's anymore.
I hated the school clothes Mama had picked out for me. They were all
dresses that, even though they were brightly-coloured and didn't have any ruffles
or bows, still made me feel like some prissy girl. Instead I put on one of my new
play outfits, a pair of boys' jeans and a red Spider-man T-shirt. I took a couple of
minutes to wet my hair to smooth it where it was sticking up from sleep before
declaring myself dressed for my first day of school, and went to ask Mama and
Papa to make my breakfast.
As per Hotaru's instructions I listened at the door first to see if there were
any sounds from inside, and only knocked after being sure there were none.
"Mama, Papa, I'm ready for school!" I called. "Time to wake up and make
me breakfast!"
I waited patiently at the door until Mama opened it. She was wearing only
a mint-green robe and slippers, and her pretty green hair was kind of tangled, but
she smiled down at me sleepily and tried to manage a cheerful greeting anyway.
"Ohayo, Nami-chan, you're up early. Are you excited about your first day
at your new school?"
"Yes, I've been up for a long time already watching anime, but I finally
got dressed, see? And now I'm hungry and all ready for breakfast," I said.
Mama looked me over and frowned. "Nami-chan, you can't go to school
dressed like that," she insisted. "You'll have to put on one of those nice new
dresses I bought you."
"Doshite? My old papa never made me wear dresses to school," I
whined. "I want to wear this."
"School rules, little girls have to wear dresses. If it were up to me I'd let
you wear whatever you like, but I'm afraid it isn't. We'll have to get you changed.
I'll ask Haruka to make your breakfast while you're changing."
Mama disappeared into the room for a couple of minutes and returned
with a half-asleep Papa, also in her robe and slippers, her short sandy hair
standing up funny from where she'd been sleeping.
"Ohayo, Nami-chan," Papa said through a yawn. "I'll have your breakfast
ready in a few minutes. What would you like?"
"Pancakes, please, with lots of syrup!" I replied.
Papa muttered an incoherent response and stumbled off towards the
stairs. I hoped she wouldn't fall, but when I didn't hear a crash I guessed she
must've made it okay.
Mama then took me back to my room and began holding up different
dresses to me to decide which looked the best, until finally she decided on a
bright emerald-green one she said matched my eyes perfectly. She changed me
into the green dress, put on a pair of sparkly green earrings that dangled, then
brushed my hair and tied on a green ribbon that nearly matched the colour of the
dress.
She showed me how I looked in the mirror and opined, "You look lovely
in that dress, Nami-chan. I don't know why you're so reluctant to wear them."
"I look like a prissy girl," I complained. "Are you sure the school won't
let me go dressed like a boy?"
"Yes, I'm sure. But you'll only have to wear it until you come home, then
you can put on all the boys' jeans you want."
"All the kids at school will think I'm prissy. I wish I could go in my boy
clothes," I sulked. "Can't I at least take the ribbon off? It looks stupid to wear a
ribbon when my hair is so short."
"It looks fine, Nami-chan," she said. "Now let's go see if Haruka has your
breakfast done yet."
"Papa, look what Mama's making me wear to school," I called as I
entered the kitchen. "I look stupid, don't I? I hate wearing dresses."
Papa, seeming a bit more awake as she mixed batter and turned over
pancakes, said reassuringly, "You look fine in anything, Nami-chan. And don't
think of it as a dress, think of it as an excuse to wear those magnificent earrings."
"They are pretty, aren't they?" I agreed. "I picked them out myself 'cause
they're so sparkly."
"They look great on you," Papa complimented. "But what's with that
ribbon?"
"See, I told you it looked stupid," I said to Mama, then took it off and
smoothed my hair back into place as usual. "Better now?"
"Perfect," Papa said, smiling. "You'll be the prettiest little girl in the whole
school."
She set a plate of pancakes in front of me, which I promptly drenched in
maple syrup and began wolfing down hungrily.
"I'd better go get Hotaru up and dressed as well, then get dressed
myself," Mama said. "I want to be ready in time to take both my girls to school
today."
Papa finished cooking enough pancakes for everyone, filled a plate for
herself and covered the rest, then sat down near me at the table.
"Don't worry, I had to wear a dress in school, too, for a long time," Papa
said. "I was about twice your age before I could get them to let me wear the boys'
uniform."
"Well, I never had to wear a dress to school before," I said with my mouth
full. "My old papa threw away all my dresses after my old mama died, and when it
was time for me to go to school he got them to let me wear pants instead. I wish
you and Mama would do that, too."
Papa shrugged. "Maybe when you're older we could have something
arranged, but for now you'll just have to suffer through it like I did."
"Suffer? For how long?"
"Until you're a teen-ager, or until I decide you've suffered enough, which-
ever comes first," she replied with a smirk. "Call it a case of parental revenge. I
was in my teens before I could wear boys' clothes to school, and if I had to wait
that long, so do you."
Hotaru skipped into the room in an indigo fuku with a red scarf, the girls'
uniform for her new school, and twirled around to show off her new outfit.
"How do I look in my fuku?" she asked anxiously. "I feel like I'm finally
growing up again. It's so exciting!"
"Hotaru-chan, it's weird to see you in colours," I said, used to seeing her
in her usual wardrobe of purple and black.
"You look great, Hotaru-chan," Papa said, "very grown-up."
"Arigato, Haruka-papa," Hotaru replied with a smile, and kissed her cheek.
"I do think your hair looks pretty today, Hotaru-chan," I complimented.
"You should wear it that way more often."
Usually Hotaru didn't bother with her hair any more than I did mine. It
was a simple black bob she could easily comb through and forget about, but for
her first day of school she had several tiny braids at either side fastened at the
ends with small, red, flower-shaped clips with rhinestone centres that glittered with
every turn of her head.
"Arigato, Nami-chan," Hotaru said. "I wasn't sure if it looked okay or not,
and was going to undo it, but if you think it's pretty like this maybe I'll leave it."
"It is, really. I like all the sparklies."
"Arigato, but they're not half as pretty and sparkly as your earrings," she
replied.
"You can borrow them sometime of you like," I offered. "Have you got
anything green to wear them with?"
"Okay, that's enough girl talk for now," Papa said. "Eat your breakfast
before it gets cold. I'm going to get dressed to take you to school."
I quickly finished off the last of my breakfast and put my dishes in the
washer so I could talk to my sister some more before we had to go to school.
"Hotaru-chan, do you like this dress Mama's making me wear today?"
I asked. "I think it makes me look prissy, like all dresses, but Mama and Papa
think it looks pretty."
"You do look pretty," Hotaru agreed. "That dress matches your eyes
perfectly."
"That's what Mama said, too, but I still hate it. I wish I could just wear
my play clothes instead."
"Well, you'd better get used to the idea of wearing dresses to school
every day now, Nami-chan, 'cause you're gonna have to do it for a long time."
I sighed heavily. "Geez, I get no sympathy from anyone today."
Hotaru giggled and hugged me. "It's okay, I do feel sympathy for you.
Don't you think I'd rather wear my usual dark colours than this blue and red?
But this is what the rules say I have to wear, so I'll wear it. It's the same thing with
you and dresses. Just wear what you have to, to get through the day, and
change into what you like when you get home. You'll survive."
"Arigato, Hotaru-chan," I said, and hugged her back.
Soon Mama and Papa came downstairs to take us to school. Mama had
on no make-up and her hair was tied back in a ponytail to save the time she
usually spent prettying herself up in the mornings, but Papa looked as nice as
ever, since she never took long to dress anyway.
Setsuna was still asleep, having stayed up late with her computer, but
that was okay, since it was hard for us to all fit in Papa's car anyway.
We dropped Hotaru off at her school first since she had to be there earlier.
I hugged my sister and wished her luck and a good day before she got out of the
car. She walked in, blending into the crowd of other girls in identical blue fuku,
and we started off for the primary school I was assigned to.
My new school was bigger than the one I'd attended before and crowded
with students scurrying around in search of their classrooms. I was glad Mama
and Papa were holding my hands and leading me to the proper class or I might've
gotten lost in the shuffle.
"Ohayo gozaimasu," said Miss Sugahara, my cheerful, pretty young
teacher with friendly blue eyes and shoulder-length light-blue hair held back in
clips. "You must be Nami-chan. I hear you're a very bright girl. It's an honour to
have you in my class this year. Come in and find the desk with your name. We'll
be starting class soon."
Mama bent down to hug me and asked, "Do you think you'll be okay
here alone, Nami-chan?"
But before I could answer, Papa said, "Of course she'll be okay; she's a
big girl." Then to me she said, "Be a good girl and do everything Sugahara-sensei
tells you to. We'll see you this afternoon."
"Okay, Papa. Have a good day. I'll see you later," I said, and hugged
both parents in turn before proceeding into the classroom to find my desk.
I took my seat near the back of the room and organized my pencils and
other school supplies in my desk, then sat quietly looking around the room while
waiting for class to begin.
The classroom walls were decorated with motivational posters of
animals and kawaii little characters urging us in large, colourful print to do our
best and persevere. Kana charts were posted at the front of the room beside the
blackboard, but they were printed too small for me to read from where I sat. I
worried whether I should ask to move to a closer desk, but Miss Sugahara called
for class to begin before I got the chance.
She said we should all stand and tell a little about ourselves to get
acquainted, so I sat attentively listening to the other kids' descriptions, and when
it came to my turn I stood up and said, "Watashi wa Ten'ou Nami desu." I was
proud to be able to use that name at last, since we'd just had it legally changed,
along with Mama's, to be like a whole real family. "I'll be eight years old in three
weeks. I live in a big house with my new family, who adopted me 'cause they think
I'm kawaii and special. My new family are all special, too, though. My mama is a
famous painter and violinist, my papa is a famous racecar driver, my sister knows
how to heal my scrapes with her mind, and my auntie knew I wanted an Uranus
fuku before she met me 'cause she knows everything!"
There, not a mention of Sailor Senshi anywhere. I had plenty to be
proud of without mentioning that anyway. Pleased that I'd chosen a safe but still
impressive description, I sat back down and listened to the rest of the introductions.
Next Miss Sugahara passed out books to start our first lesson, which
proved easy for me since I'd been studying the books Ami gave me. Because I
was the smart one, she called on me often to answer questions and I enjoyed
showing off by getting them all right.
Or at least I got them right for a while, as long as she stuck to the
questions in the book, but once she started making up new ones on the board,
I started to miss them. It didn't take long before I began to decline to answer
anything written on the board, which started my classmates thinking I only got
the book questions right because I'd memorized them beforehand. But that
wasn't the case, really! I just couldn't read the board questions from where I sat.
It wasn't my fault the teacher just wrote too small. How could anyone sitting that
far back be expected to read it?
At lunch I sat far away from the rest of my class and concentrated on
my plate, trying to shuffle my food around just enough to make it look as if I'd
eaten some of it, when I really didn't feel like eating at all. I could hear the things
the other kids said about me even from there, no matter how I tried to ignore it,
and it hurt.
"Why are you crying?" a pleasant voice asked from behind me.
"I'm not crying," I sobbed. "I just have something in my eye, that's all."
The owner of the voice sat down beside me and I looked over to see a
kawaii little girl with long, curly red hair, big blue eyes, and a red plaid dress on.
I remembered she'd introduced herself as Moroboshi Yuka, and said she was a
good listener and liked cats.
"You look like you're crying to me, Nami-san," Yuka said. "Is it because
of what the other kids keep saying about you?"
I nodded. "It's weird, you know? The kids at my old school teased me
all the time 'cause I look like a boy and like to wear boys' clothes, but I never let
them get to me. I guess it's just 'cause I like to look like that. But the kids here
think I'm not smart and I don't like that. They think I memorized the books, but
I swear that's not true! I just know the answers 'cause I studied so hard with the
books my friend Ami-san gave me, but nobody will believe me about that 'cause
of the board questions I missed."
"So why do you think you missed those?"
"Because my desk is too far back," I answered. "The board looks small
and fuzzy from back there. Maybe I should ask Sugahara-sensei to move me
closer. Do you think she'd do that?"
"Maybe, unless she's picky about keeping her alphabetical order," she
said. "But even if she doesn't you could probably make a passing grade just on
the book questions, so there's no need to worry."
"But I don't want just a passing grade! I want to make really good
grades so my family will be proud of me," I insisted.
"You're really proud of your new family, aren't you, Nami-san?" Yuka
asked. "I heard how well you spoke of them in your introduction."
"Oh, I _am_ proud!" I replied. "More than you could ever know! And I
want to do well in school so they'll be proud of me, too."
Yuka smiled warmly and said, "I'm sure they're proud of you already,
as nice and smart a girl as you are."
"Not for long, if I keep getting questions wrong in school!"
"I'm sure they'll be proud of you no matter what," she said soothingly.
"But anyway, the real reason I wanted to talk to you is that in your intro you
seemed like such a nice girl, I just wondered if you might like to be friends."
She seemed friendly and sincere enough, so I answered, "Okay. I don't
have any friends here yet, so I guess you'll have the honour of being first. You
wanna play together at recess?"
"Sure," she agreed, "and I'll introduce you to all my friends, so you'll
have even more friends to play with. What games do you like to play?"
"Well, I like to play ball, but I don't know if I can do that in this icky dress
Mama made me wear. Do you like to play Sailor Moon?"
"Of course I do! I always play as Neptune because that's who my hair
makes me look like, see?"
I nodded vigorously. "Yeah, if it were green it would look just like hers,"
I agreed. "I always play as Uranus now 'cause of my short blonde hair. Mama said
I look like Sailor Uranus, too, and Setsuna-auntie made me an Uranus fuku to play
in, but it's at home right now, of course."
Yuka clapped her hands. "Goodie! I was hoping you'd say that! We
haven't got anyone boyish enough to play her yet, but when I saw you, somehow
I just knew you were the one," she gushed. It'll be so great to finally have a
partner for once. I'm so tired of having to play alone all the time."
"Don't worry, Yuka-san, I promise I'll be the best Uranus I can for you. I
know just how she's supposed to act and everything," I boasted.
Or at least I _should_ know well enough how to act like Uranus, having
lived with her for close to three months already. . .
"Oops, time to go back to class already," Yuka said when the bell rang
for lunch period to end. "It was nice meeting you, Nami-san. Talk to you again
at recess!"
I had just made my mind up to swallow my pride and ask Miss Sugahara
to move my desk closer, when it turned out I didn't have to. On the way back to
class she caught up to me in the hall and asked, "Nami-chan, I've noticed you
seem to have trouble answering some of the questions right in class. Are you
having trouble seeing the blackboard from your desk?"
I nodded sadly. "But it isn't my fault, really! The writing is just so small,
I don't see how anybody can read it from that far back."
"You think so, eh? Well, Yamamoto Yoshiaki sits farthest back of all and
has had no trouble seeing the board yet."
I had no reply to that, just stood shamefully staring at my feet and
fidgeting.
"But we'll try moving you closer anyway, just for a while, to see if it helps,
okay?" she said finally. "A bright girl like you shouldn't be made to feel dumb in
class just because she can't see the blackboard from her desk. That wouldn't be
fair, would it?"
"Nope nope," I answered, perking up a little, then corrected, "I mean, no,
ma'am, it wouldn't. So does that mean you're going to move me to the front of
the room now?"
"Yes, but only temporarily," she reminded me. "If that helps, I can have
your parents in to discuss a more permanent solution."
A more permanent solution than sitting closer? I had no idea what she
meant by that, since to me sitting closer seemed the only possible solution. But I
went along with it anyway, and soon was able to prove to my classmates that I
really hadn't memorized the books. With my desk pushed closer I could read the
board perfectly, and answer any board questions asked of me just as perfectly.
Soon I would be as smart as Ami and make perfect grades in everything,
I thought. My new parents would be really proud of me then! As long as I never
got a teacher who was too picky about alphabetical desk order to move me, that
is. . . The idea of ever getting such a teacher frightened me and made me
curious about that more permanent solution Miss Sugahara had talked about. No
matter what it might be, no matter how drastic, I'd be willing to go through with it
if only that could guarantee me good grades no matter where my desk was placed.
At recess Yuka approached me with a coterie of other young girls in tow.
She introduced them all to me by names and which Senshi they played. I didn't
think any of them looked much like their chosen Senshi, though, and since I knew
them all in real life I should know that better than anyone, but I remembered my
promise not to discuss any of that and kept quiet.
Because we were playing the mysterious and secretive Senshi, Uranus
and Neptune, Yuka and I wandered off by ourselves into the woods beside the
playground. Being secretive was fun at first, and we couldn't stop giggling about
it, but soon we started to just feel bored instead.
"So what do you want to do now, Sailor Uranus?" Yuka asked, kicking a
small stone out of her path. "I guess if we're Uranus and Neptune we should look
for pure heart crystals or find the Messiah or protect the Inner planets from
outside threats or something, right?"
"Yeah, I guess so. . . But I do know something the real Uranus and
Neptune might do if they were alone in the forest with nothing else to do," I said
cautiously.
Yuka tilted her head in a pretty, innocent way and asked, "What's that?"
Awkwardly, because I'd never tried to do it before (although I'd certainly
seen it enough to have an idea how it worked), I took her sweet face in my hands,
stared into the lovely pale-blue pools of her eyes, and gently stroked her freckled
cheek. Then I brushed her hair back from her face and leaned in carefully, with
the slightest twist to avoid bumping noses, and kissed her lips.
"Nami-san!" she cried in alarm, and shoved me away roughly. She then
wiped my kiss from her lips and got sick all over the colourful leaf-covered ground.
Once she'd recovered from that, she blurted, "I can't believe you did that! I'm going
to tell the teacher, and don't even think of calling me a friend anymore after that!
I hate you!" Then she ran away crying.
I began to cry, too, because the first friend I'd made at my new school
now hated me. But more than that, because she'd thrown up after my kiss.
Miss Sugahara found me a few minutes later slumped on the ground,
not caring if my school dress got dirty, crying my little eyes out.
"Nami-chan, Moroboshi Yuka told me you kissed her on the mouth a few
minutes ago," the teacher said. "Is that true?"
I nodded and answered between sobs, "Y-yes, ma'am, I tried to, but she--
she threw it up, and n-now she says she hates me and doesn't wanna be my friend
anymore."
"Well, can you blame her? How would you feel if someone you'd just
met--and another girl at that--kissed you on the playground at recess?"
I shrugged. "I don't know, b-but we were just playing. I didn't mean it
for real."
"Nami-chan, we don't play like that at this school. I'll have to ask you to
stand outside of class for the rest of the day, and when your parents come to get
you I'll have them in for a talk, is that understood?"
I nodded silently and allowed her to help me up and lead me back to the
playground, where she called the class in early and we all went inside. Already
word of what I'd done was spreading, I noticed, because I heard the other children
whispering about how I liked to kiss girls and that meant I was really gay, and that
was why I liked to play Uranus. Those rumours were nothing new to me anymore.
I'd heard the same sort of thing ever since I'd started playing her, so I tried not to
let it bother me again.
What did bother me was the fact that I'd made Yuka hate me and never
want to play with me again. The only girl in class I felt desperate to impress, and
the first chance I got, what did I do? I had to go and kiss her and scare her away.
How could I ever make her forgive me after something like that?
Miss Sugahara made me stand in the hallway wearing a sign that said,
"I Kissed a Girl," for the rest of the day, and I remained there while the other
students filed out, pointing and laughing and saying rude things about me as they
passed. I was still standing there when Mama and Papa were brought in for that
talk. They read the sign but said nothing of it, just exchanged a concerned and
heartbroken glance that hurt me more than any scolding ever could. I had deeply
disappointed them and I knew it.
I sat between my parents during the talk and stared guiltily at my shoes,
too ashamed to look at either of them, or my teacher.
"Well, it seems we've a lot to discuss for the first day of school," Miss
Sugahara said. "The good news is, Nami-chan is probably the brightest student in
my class this year, so you can expect great things from her in the future as long as
she keeps up her studies. She was able to answer every book question asked of
her correctly all day. The bad news is, she missed nearly every question I wrote
on the board this morning."
"I don't understand," Mama said. "You said Nami-chan was the brightest
girl in class and could answer all the book questions perfectly. Why would she
miss only the questions written on the board?"
"Well, I moved her desk closer to the board after lunch and her board
scores immediately improved," Miss Sugahara replied. "After her desk was moved
she answered all those questions as perfectly as the ones in the book. I think it's
because she has trouble seeing the blackboard from the back of the room. You
should have her eyes examined as soon as possible to determine if she might
need glasses."
Mama sighed with relief. "I was worried there might be something really
wrong with her, for a moment there. But if that's all it is, of course we'll have her
checked out right away."
I was stunned. How could she talk as if this were such a trivial request?
Miss Sugahara wanted me examined for _glasses._ Kids in glasses are always
teased mercilessly, and girls in glasses never get boyfriends. I'd even be doubly
cursed as a smart girl in glasses, since that would certainly brand me a full-fledged
nerd and thus the subject of even more ridicule. I'd be the least popular girl in
school after that, and no-one would ever want to play with me again. I'd certainly
never be allowed to play as Uranus again, since no-one would ever think I looked
like her anymore if I had glasses. Miss Sugahara's request would certainly be the
end of my young life as I knew it. So why did Mama seem so happy about it, as if
it were somehow good news?
"And what about this business of kissing girls?" Papa asked.
"That happened at recess," Miss Sugahara replied. "It seems Nami-chan
took Moroboshi Yuka into the woods alone and kissed her on the lips. The poor
girl was so distraught she had to be sent home early after that."
"Nami-chan, why did you kiss this Moroboshi Yuka on the playground
today?" Papa demanded.
I replied quietly, ""We were just playing. I was Sailor Uranus and she was
Neptune, so. . ."
"It's not right to kiss girls without their permission no matter what you're
playing," Papa scolded.
Mama added, "You're too young to be kissing girls at all, Nami-chan."
"Well, you two kiss all the time and you're both girls, so I thought it was
no big deal," I whined.
I wish I could've seen the look on Miss Sugahara's face when I said that,
but I was still staring at my shoes. I only heard her gasp and fumble for a
response.
"W-well, I'll expect you to apologise to Yuka-chan first thing in the
morning, and if you're ever caught doing anything like that again you'll be
suspended, is that clear?" the teacher finally said.
"Yes, ma'am," I replied sadly.
My parents thanked the teacher and led me out of the room. All the way
home no-one spoke, and I fidgeted uncomfortably in the back seat. I'd rather
they'd scolded me or even spanked me than that silence.
When we finally arrived home they just sent me to my room to think
about what I'd done, so I cried on my bed without even bothering to change out
of that prissy dress for what felt like hours, until Mama came up to tell me it was
time for dinner.
"Am I still in trouble?" I asked, sitting up and drying my eyes on my
sleeve.
"A little," Mama replied, "but Haruka and I realise it was partially our
fault as well. We should have told you that kind of thing was inappropriate. We
just never thought you'd go out and do it, or if you did at least not so young.
Nami-chan, you can't go around kissing girls just because you're playing a game,
okay? Kissing is for someone you love and care for very much, and when the
right person comes along you'll know it. Then it'll be okay to kiss, but until then,
only a kiss on the cheek to a friend or family member will be acceptable, all right?"
I nodded sadly. "I understand."
"Now go wash up and come down to dinner, okay? We're having your
favourite today, baked chicken and mashed potatoes."
"Mashtepatoes?" I said, perking up. "Oishii!"
I hurried to the washroom to shrub my face and hands, totally forgetting
about the dress I was wearing, and rushed downstairs ahead of Mama to take my
seat before the potatoes were all gone.
Mashed potatoes had been a favourite of mine since I was little, because
I liked to make little sculptures with them like in _Close Encounters of the Third
Kind._ As long as I had my potatoes, I felt safe and secure, like everything was
going to be okay.
Mashed potatoes were on the lunch menu at school the next day, too,
and I thought that must be what allowed Yuka to accept my apology and consent
to be my friend again. . .as long as I promised not to kiss her anymore.
Although we still played as Uranus and Neptune at recess, we kept our-
selves too busy looking for Talismans and Messiahs or protecting the solar
system from outside attack to have any time for kissing. She was still a lovely
Neptune, though, and acting in character as Uranus I found it hard not to kiss her.
The rumours of my being gay persisted and even spread over the next
several days, but I paid it no attention. I figured they'd stop as soon as they
found somebody else to pick on instead. I didn't think about how, soon enough,
they'd just change to another reason to pick on poor little me. . .
It was the next Thursday afternoon, when Papa picked me up after
school and drove me to a shopping mall. I was embarrassed to go in wearing
the blue velour dress I'd worn to school, but Papa insisted there wasn't time to go
home and change. I held her hand and looked around curiously as she led me
through the mall, but stopped in my tracks when I saw it was to an eyeglass store.
"Don't be scared, Nami-chan, we're just going to let the doctor check out
your eyes like your teacher said we should," Papa said.
"But Sugahara-sensei moved my desk up and now I can see the board
fine," I protested. "I don't need glasses."
"If you didn't need glasses she wouldn't have had to move your desk,"
she pointed out. "Now hurry up or you'll be late to your appointment."
I sat nervously beside Papa in the waiting area until they called my name,
then I had to go into a little room where they shone bright lights in my eyes but
told me not to blink. Then they asked me to sit in a big chair resembling the
dentist's, that had scary machines I could only guess the purpose of beside it,
and wait for the doctor to come in and do my examination.
The doctor was a fat, cheerful, balding man with glasses who made me
read an eye chart with both eyes, then covering each eye in turn. I felt stupid
when I couldn't make out the letters and he told me to just guess, because I was
sure I would just get them wrong and embarrass myself.
Next he swung around a scary-looking machine with knobs he'd turn to
click various lenses into place. He kept changing the lenses and asking me which
was better, even though most of the time I truly couldn't tell much difference.
After that he, too, shone lights into my eyes, asked me to follow his
finger with my eyes, and other such strange and tiresome requests, until soon I
began to get cranky and didn't want to do any of his stupid tests anymore. But
still he continued testing and even asked me to read the eye chart yet again
before deciding he'd finished, and scribbled a bunch of numbers onto a piece of
paper.
He tore the sheet off the pad, helped me down from the big, motorized
chair, and carried the slip of paper to Papa.
"Nami-chan seems to be a bit near-sighted," he explained, "that's why
she has trouble seeing the blackboard in school. This prescription should get
her seeing just about 20/20 again. Make sure she wears them all the time unless
bathing or sleeping, and bring her back for a follow-up in a few weeks so we can
make sure they're working for her, and she should be fine."
Papa smiled and thanked the doctor, paid the steep examination bill,
then was instructed to go right next door for the most dreaded part; picking out
my new glasses.
The friendly eyeglass lady sat me down and made me try on all sorts of
prissy girls' frames in pastel colours, often with little characters on them, and I
rejected them all. Finally Papa stepped in on my behalf.
"Do you think we could see something in a more unisex style?" she
asked. "Nami-chan won't like anything that looks too feminine."
"Certainly, sir," the lady agreed with a smile, and began trying other,
more tolerable styles in plain metal with simple shapes and no characters, but
still I rejected the lot.
Papa was beginning to get frustrated and insisted with a sigh, "Come on,
Nami-chan, you've got to choose something. What's wrong this time? You won't
be happy in less than outright boys' styles?"
"I won't like any of those, either," I retorted.
"Well, I'm afraid you're going to have to like something, Nami-chan, and
unless they come in 'pet' varieties I think you've about exhausted your options.
Isn't there anything you think you _will_ like?"
"No," I said, and made a frustrated grunt. "Can't they just fix my eyes so
they don't see near-sight anymore or something? I don't wanna have to wear
yucky glasses all the time. I'll look stupid."
"No you won't. You'll look just as lovely as ever," she said. "There's
nothing wrong with wearing glasses. Half the world needs to at some time or
another. You know Urano-kun does, right? And so does Ami-chan, sometimes.
My Mama needs glasses, but she's too vain to wear them most of the time. You
don't want to be like her, now, do you?"
I giggled at that. "No, but I'm scared of what the other kids will say.
And anyway, if I have glasses, nobody'll think I look like Sailor Uranus anymore."
"I will," she offered, "and you know my opinion counts more than
anybody's."
That was true, obviously, since she was the real Sailor Uranus.
"And who cares what the other kids say about you? They've talked
about you for one reason or another since the first day, and I haven't seen you
let that bother you yet. When they run out of reasons to tease you, they'll just
move on to someone else. That's the way kids are. As long as you don't let them
know it bothers you, they'll have no reason to continue."
"Yeah, I know. That's how it worked at my old school. My old papa just
said to ignore them, and eventually they'd stop on their own. I walked past them
every day and never let them see me cry, until finally they got bored and stopped
teasing me."
"See? So if they say you look dumb, just ignore it and it'll stop on its
own, just like before. What matters is you'll finally be able to see the board from
your own seat, and you'll make all high scores, and make us even prouder of
you than we are already," Papa said. "I'll even help you pick out the best frames
if you want. You know I'd never let you leave here looking like a nerd."
"Well. . .okay," I agreed at last.
I still didn't like the idea of wearing glasses, but it was clear Papa wasn't
going to let me get out of it, so the best I could hope for was to at least get a
nice-looking pair.
I resumed trying on the unisex styles the eyeglass lady brought out,
and with Papa's help I chose a simple gold-coloured one that looked boyish and
Papa said suited the shape of my face well.
The eyeglass lady took down the style number and prescription, and
told us they should be ready in about an hour.
Papa said that was enough time to do a little shopping, so we
proceeded to do just that.
Neither of us got anything while we shopped, though. I was afraid to
ask for anything because I knew those dreaded glasses would cost a lot already,
but Papa just didn't see anything she needed. That was one of the differences
between shopping with Papa as opposed to with Mama. If Papa didn't find
anything she needed, she usually wouldn't buy anything, where Mama bought
things on impulse and found a use for them later.
Of course, neither of us had a need for the ice-cream cones we stopped
for after we'd finished looking around, but the triple-chocolate double-decker
cone I had tasted yummy enough anyway.
Unfortunately, the hour soon ran out, and we had to return to the store
to pick up my new glasses.
The friendly eyeglass lady turned sneaky and sold Papa all the warranties
and accessories she could, raising the already expensive price. Papa didn't
complain because, as she said, money was no object when it came to her little
girl's health. Then, once the bill was squared away, she made me wear the awful
things out of the store and all the way home even though it embarrassed me to be
seen in them.
"You look nice, Nami-chan," Papa said. "No need to be embarrassed.
Besides, it'll be good for you to wear them around already and get used to them,
since the doctor said you'll have to wear them all the time now."
"I still hate them," I complained, "and I'll be so embarrassed when Mama
and everyone gathers around to see me the moment I get home. I just know
they're gonna do that."
"I'll go in first and tell them not to, if you want," she offered. "Then you
can go to your room and change clothes or whatever you need to do, and come
down to show them when you're ready."
"I guess so," I agreed, "but don't wait up 'cause I know I won't want to
come down for a while."
Upon arriving home I waited in the car while Papa went in to chase every-
one away, and only went in once she told me it was safe and no-one would see
me. I went up to my room and immediately changed out of my dress and into a
blue plaid flannel shirt partly buttoned over a T-shirt and blue jeans. I took off
the little flower-shaped earrings I'd been wearing and smoothed my hair back
into its usual place. Once I felt relatively normal again I put the glasses back on
and stared at my reflection for a long time, trying to get used to them.
"Okay, Nami, you're going to have to wear these all the time whether
you like it or not," I told the reflection, "so you'd better get used to the way you
look in them. But they can't be all that bad if Papa helped pick them, could they?
She'd never make me wear something that looks ugly or stupid. I just hope the
kids at school don't make me stop playing Uranus because of this. I don't wanna
have to play that mean old professor guy instead. I don't even know how to
laugh maniacally!" I sighed. "Well, I guess Mama and Hotaru-chan and Setsuna-
auntie are downstairs wondering why I'm taking so long, so I guess I'd better
hurry up and get down there and get it over with. They're gonna have to see me
like this sometime anyway. I just hope they don't think I'm not kawaii anymore
after this."
I tidied myself again needlessly in front of the mirror, took a deep
breath, and started off downstairs, calling, "All right, I'm coming down, but cover
your eyes until I say you can open them, and you have to promise not to laugh."
When I came down everyone but Papa had their eyes covered obediently.
I looked to Papa for approval, and she smiled and nodded, so finally I said it was
okay to look. I braced myself for the laughter I felt was sure to follow, but none
came.
"Nami-chan, you look lovely," Mama said. "Those new glasses suit you
perfectly."
Hotaru nodded agreement. "I like them, Nami-chan. You look very
grown-up and scholarly."
"I think you're even more kawaii than ever," Setsuna added.
Even though I was sure they were all just saying that to make me feel
better, I thanked them anyway and felt glad they at least hadn't laughed at me.
"Papa helped me pick these out," I said. "I didn't want to pick anything
'cause I was afraid I'd look stupid, but she made me get some anyway. Do you
think these make me look like a geek, Mama?"
"Absolutely not, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise," she said.
"Haruka has a great sense of style, in her own way, so if she helped choose those
you can be certain they look beautiful."
Papa stood and started for the kitchen. "If you're finished feeling
insecure now, Nami-chan, come set the table for dinner. It should be ready any
minute."
"Are we having mashtepatoes?" I asked hopefully.
"Not today, I'm afraid, but we are having something almost as good;
rice with cheese and bits of broccoli."
No mashed potatoes? I frowned at that. Even though I had nothing
against rice with cheese and broccoli, it's just the lack of mashed potatoes at
such an important time seemed like something of a bad omen to me.
The next morning I woke up early and took a nice, long shower before
anyone else, then went back to my room and dressed in a black plaid skirt and
soft black sweater for school. I accessorized with black Scottie-dog-shaped
earrings and a pin that matched, then finger-combed my damp hair into some
semblance of its usual order. I still hated having to wear dresses to school every
day, but I'd gotten used to it enough to at least put a little pride and effort into
trying to look nice.
I knocked at Mama and Papa's door and called, "I'm up and dressed
and ready for breakfast! Can I have some yummy French Toast today?"
Mama seemed fairly cheerful when she answered the door in her robe
and slippers, greeting me with a pleasant, "Ohayo, Nami-chan. What a lovely
outfit you have on this morning! But you've forgotten to put on your nice new
glasses. Go put them on now and I'll make you all the French Toast you can eat,
okay?"
I sighed and reluctantly returned to my room to get them, having
successfully convinced myself until then that having to get glasses had just been
a nightmare. I guessed I must've been getting used to them already, though,
since when I put them on and looked myself over in the mirror I thought I at least
didn't look too bad.
Since Mama was making the breakfast I took it upon myself to act as the
alarm clock, going room to room knocking at doors to wake everyone up for
breakfast. The other grown-ups were still asleep and it took persistent knocking
for a minute or two before they'd even come to the door, but Hotaru was up and
getting dressed already. She came to the door hopping on one foot while pulling
a white knee sock onto the other.
"Ohayo, Nami-chan," she said cheerfully. "Ooh, I like your outfit! I wish
I could borrow it, but it'd never fit. It looks pretty on you, though."
"Arigato, Hotaru-chan. Hurry and finish getting dressed. Mama's
making French Toast today!" I announced.
"I know. I heard you tell Haruka-papa and Setsuna-mama," she said with
a giggle.
"Was I that loud?"
"Nami-chan, I think the neighbours know what Michiru-mama's making
for breakfast."
I hoped she was joking about that, considering how secluded our house
was. I'd have to have been as loud as a fire engine for the neighbours to hear me
from in the house, I decided, and imagined myself as a fire engine, all red and
shiny, with big ladders on the side and my face at the front.
Hotaru put on the red heart earrings she'd begun to always wear with
her school fuku and brushed her hair, but didn't accessorize or ornament it in
any way, and skipped off for the kitchen to see how breakfast was coming.
Mama was just starting the first batch of French Toast when Hotaru and
I came into the kitchen. Papa and Setsuna were still upstairs, probably either
getting dressed, or having sneaked back into bed for a while. I hoped at least
Papa would be ready in time to take us to school.
Of course, when school time actually came I was much less anxious to
go, as all my worries about what the other kids would say returned in a rush.
Papa and Mama, who had been just dropping me off outside the
building now that I knew where my class was, decided to walk me to class again
for fear that if they didn't I'd just take my glasses off before going to class, and
they were probably right.
I tried to hide my face with embarrassment as they led me through the
halls to my classroom. I just knew everyone was staring at me the whole way.
Miss Sugahara greeted my parents cheerfully at the door and asked
there I was, having not seen me hiding behind Mama's long skirt.
"She's here," Papa said, "but she's embarrassed to let her classmates
see her. Nami-chan got her new glasses yesterday and she's afraid the other
kids will tease her."
Papa succeeded in pulling me away from my hiding place, and Miss
Sugahara knelt down to get a better look.
The teacher raised my chin in her hands and studied my new look for
a moment before commenting, "You look very nice in your new glasses, Nami-
chan. You have nothing to be embarrassed about. And now that you'll be able
to see the board I'll even move your seat back where it was to begin with. That
way you'll be behind most of the other students and no-one will be able to stare
at you, okay?"
"They'll stare at me coming in," I said, "and they'll laugh at me and call
me names, I just know it."
"I don't think so. They don't laugh at the other kids with glasses, do
they?"
I nodded. "Yes they do, they just do it when you aren't around. And it'll
be even worse for me 'cause the other kids had theirs already and I just got mine."
"Come on, Nami-chan, don't start this again. You know how to handle
it if kids pick on you. You told me so just yesterday," Papa said. "Ignore them
and they'll stop on their own, remember? You'll be just fine, I promise."
"I guess so," I said uncertainly. "Okay, I guess I'm ready now."
Mama hugged me good-bye and reminded me, "Make sure you wear
those all day no matter what the other kids say. And don't take them off to play
Uranus at recess, either; you can play her just as well with glasses as without."
"Okay, Mama, I'll try," I agreed, and hugged her back. "See you this
afternoon."
"Have a nice day at school," Papa said, "and remember, no matter what,
I'll still think you look like Uranus."
I hugged her and replied, "And your opinion is the only one that counts.
See you later, Mama and Papa. I love you both."
Mama and Papa left me alone, and I gathered my courage to walk into
class with my head held high.
The teasing commenced almost immediately, now that my classmates
had a new reason to torment me, but I ignored them and just took my proper
seat near the back of the classroom. With my new glasses on, the kana charts at
the front of the room were no longer fuzzy, and I could read the writing on the
board just fine.
I tried to sit alone at lunch so I wouldn't have to listen to teasing, but
Yuka wouldn't let me. Without asking, she set her tray down beside mine and
took the seat next to me.
"Konnichi-wa, Nami-san," she greeted me cheerfully.
"Konnichi-wa, Yuka-san," I replied with much less enthusiasm.
"You're sitting by yourself again," she noticed. "You only do that when
you're sad, right?"
I only shrugged in response.
"So, what're you sad about? Are the other kids hurting your feelings
again?"
I shrugged again and muttered, "Yeah, a little, but that's not it. I can
handle teasing fine. It's just that. . ."
"It's just what, Nami-san? You can tell me," she urged.
"I'm scared that I won't get to play Uranus at recess anymore," I replied.
"Now that I have to wear these all the time I'm afraid no-one will think I look like
her anymore and I'll have to play that mean old professor guy instead."
Yuka giggled, a sweet sound like the jingling of little bells, and assured
me, "Don't worry, Nami-san, you won't have to play the mean professor. Whatever
gave you such a silly idea in the first place? Of course we'll still let you play as
Uranus! You're still the only girl I know who's boyish enough to play her, and you
still resemble her even with your new glasses. But I don't know why you're so
worried about it anyway, Nami-san. I really like your new glasses. I think they're
pretty, and you look pretty in them, too."
I perked up a bit at Yuka's compliment. She was my Neptune, so of
course her opinion mattered to me than most anyone else's.
"Honto?" I asked excitedly. "You really think I look pretty like this?"
She nodded vigorously. "Very much so," she opined. "I always like
kawaii little girls in glasses."
"You do?" I was getting overwhelmed with excitement by that time.
"Ne, Yuka-san, do you wanna come over to my house and play after school
sometimes? I'll show you my room, and let you see me in my Uranus fuku that
Setsuna-auntie made me, and I'll let you meet all my new family, and
everything!"
"I'd like that a lot, Nami-san," she answered shyly. "Arigato. I'll ask my
mother if it's okay as soon as I get home. I hope she isn't still angry about the
time you kissed me, though, or she might say no. . ."
"Oh. . .gomen. . ." I said sadly.
"It's okay, Nami-san, I've forgiven you already. I just don't know if my
mother can forgive so easily. I hope she will, 'cause I really would like to see
you in your fuku someday."
"Ooh. . ._then_ will you let me kiss you, Yuka-san?" I asked innocently.
"Nami-san!"
"Oh, all right, all right, I was just kidding," I lied.
Okay, so once again she'd rejected my kiss, but that wasn't the end of
the world. After all, like Mama said, I was still too young for kissing girls anyway.
At least I'd have a few years to try to convince her to change her mind. . .



©1999 Naia Zifu, all rights reserved.
Unabara Nami, Moroboshi Yuka, Sugahara-sensei, and anyone else I may have
forgotten to mention are my own original characters, but Haruka, Michiru,
Hotaru, and Setsuna (er, she _is_ in there. . .for like one line :-P ) are all SM
characters that I don't own rights to, but as always, I'm not trying to make money
off anyone else's ideas.
Here is the third bit of my little story mini-series. It has no banner title because I
never knew what to call it, but I've decided to put it up without one and hope
common sense will show how the stories fit together.
Well, I think this is a little better than the second part, anyway. By now you'll
notice no Nami-chan stories are big excitements, but hey, at least she's more
kawaii than Chibi-Usa, right :-) ?