Author's note and disclaimer: Yeah, I don't own this series. If only I did... Please review if you read, I would like to know what you think, what I can improve on, etc.
Edit: April 6th 2009: Today I had the realization that I underestimated the distance between the ocean and Roppongi hills. Davina now gets off at Minato station, which makes a bit more sense.
Counting the Differences
"Plié ...Suturetto!" Called her new Madame as she walked along the barre, analyzing the movement and grace of seven ballerinas.
Davina smiled as her knees straightened and her arm gently glided up, leveling with the barre. This was her fourth lesson in a prestigious Japanese ballet dance studio and her new instructor was growing on her quicker than most of her previous teachers. Suturetto, ha!
Her new Madame was a sophisticated woman, lean and elegant, her silky hair always in a perfect bun. Her qualifications included an international troupe and while touring she had learned English and French. She had allowed Davina to join her class after an audition, but was more than willing to bring to her class a western student, perhaps to show her ballerinas a glimpse of what their future troupes would hold.
Her eyes got distracted by the window view of the Tokyo metropolis to her side. She was in a high rise building—was there any other type in this country?!—she could see other high-rise structures, lights of many vibrant colors, hoards of business men in black blazers, rushing toward the train station. Her studio was small yet suitable with the wall of mirrors, barre, and glowing hard wooden floor. The lack of harsh fluorescent lighting calmed Davina. She appreciated how the yellowing lights overhead gleamed warmly over the ballerinas.
She continued her repetitions to the soft music, glancing at the six other girls in leotards, counting to themselves over their breaths. All of them were black-haired, tiny, dark-eyed, and undoubtedly Japanese. Third lesson in, they had gotten used her to presence and had almost fully stopped boring their eyes into her western body. "Gaijin," they all had tilted and whispered to each other when she first arrived. She was 1/8 Japanese, from her father's side, but a gaikokujin foreigner in all respects. 1/8 Japanese, ½ French, some British, Irish, Italian, one-hundred percent American born.
As an army brat, she was dragged all around the United States and world with her father and mother. Her parents did something with security, communications, language, blah blah. She had never bothered to learn so she wouldn't have to explain to other people.
The move to Japan was a surprise when she was told after she had returned from her ballet practice on some insignificant Tuesday. Surprise in the most extreme definition of the word. Her parents had been so calm about the whole damn thing, overestimating their daughter's indifference.
Davina used to disregard posing for information from her parents before every move, "I don't care where we go, as long as they have ballet." After being transferred to the other side of the planet, starting over in an unfamiliar place yet again; she now found herself eating her words.
She didn't bother to protest the move far east. By the time she was informed about any relocation, everything was usually already set in stone with the military, school, jobs, residence, etc. As always, she was the last one to know anything.
When she finally gathered her courage, she inquired about the move to her father one night as she sat on the stairs and he drunk a steaming cup of tea.
"It's either Tokyo or the base in Okinawa, they'll let us know in a couple of weeks." Her father uttered while he scanned through his Japanese intensive course book. "Oh, you're taking an intensive Japanese course, for a few months, before we leave."
Davina crossed her arms over her knees, unhappy with matter-of-fact tone her father used with her. She was his daughter after all, he could bother to show some concern. "But won't I be attending a foreigner's school anyway? Where rich guppy ambassadors send their rich guppy kids?"
Her father looked up from his course book and frowned directly at Davina with serious eyes, worthy of an army man. "Yes, but the course is for your benefit. You'll need it, regardless of guppies. And get rid of that snappy attitude of yours Davina."
"Hmmm, yes, sir." Davina groaned. Expecting no more information, she swung around to climb the stairs back to her room.
"It's pretty lucky," her father began, stopping Davina in mid-step. Davina rolled at her eyes at the wall. Here he goes again: "You're so lucky! To be so culturally stimulated! I got my very first passport at 22, when I joined the army!"
"You'll get to see your great grandfather from my side. He's so happy that we're finally moving to his side of the world."
Ah yes, Sofu. Her father had rarely mentioned him. The great grand father she had never met in her life. Twice, she had heard his voice over the phone and heard his name many times from her great grandmother. Her Sofu's ex-wife, her great grandmother, lived in the states. She was American, so Davina didn't call her Sobo or Obaachan. Her great grandmother had loved her Japanese husband but didn't love Japan.
"It was so hard back then, after the war," she said once to Davina, brushing light hair away from her brow while she reminisced deeply on her memories. "I imagine...or at least, I hope it is easier now for foreigners."
"Samunsu-san, keep your hands and feet at the same position while doing your chaines," instructed Madame, bringing Davina back into reality. Davina let out a small gasp and blinked. She had been spotting the window while she spun. Deep in thought, her focus scattered and had allowed her arms to droop slightly.
"Pardon—sumimasen." Davina fixed her posture, fixing her vision to the mirror to ignore the other girls' smirks.
Davina was surprised with how much she was in shock since arriving in Japan. Even ballet couldn't fully soothe it for her. She would remember her surroundings and feel ill in her gut while too many insecurities in her head kept agitating her and thus hindered her performance in front of her Madame and the new group of girls. She didn't want to appear mediocre in her jumps in front of the Japanese when she had aced them back home.
Home? Home was always such a vague term for Davina. Home was America, all around Europe and now home was Japan. Home was all mushed between the chain-linked gates of a military base. With another glance to the girls next to her, her Madame, and the view outside, Davina felt her stomach tumble and tightened her chest to hold back the urge to cry.
The class ended soon after their short practice with their jumps. Davina watched as the other girls huddled together in their corner with their cute little bags and circled around Madame, talking in fast Japanese. Davina quickly removed her Pointe shoes and toe padding, and tossed them into her bag. She hurried towards the locker room to change into her street clothes, letting the door shut with a heavy pang.
Securing her final item of clothing, she walked by the mirror and stared back at her reflection for a moment. She ruffled with her coat collar, trying to make it stand up to cover her features. She eventually grew frustrated and gave up, you'll get stared at regardless. Again, she fought the urge to cry, eventually sighed heavily to draw strength from within and threw her hat over her hair.
Davina stepped from the crowded platform onto the train, ignoring people's gaping stares at her. She had managed to get a seat, but there for some reason was always a space between her and the other passengers.
She removed her duffel from her shoulder to the seat next to her, pulled out her mp3 player from a zipper pocket. Unwrapping the wire from her headphones, a familiar-styled laugh resonated from the end of the train. She leaned slightly in her seat then spotted other gaijin on the train. There was a fairly large group of them this time, weighed down with backpacks and plastic bags of souvenirs. The gaijin she saw were always with groups of friends, grinning toothy smiles at each other and rowdily chatting away about their adventures in a homogeneous country. Her insides ached from jealously.
Davina had lived in many metropolises in the world—New York City, London, Paris—but Tokyo was far, far different. She had always seen large cities as hubs of diversity, Tokyo and Japan, was far from that. Upon driving to the base, out the window, all she could see were heads of black hair and pale skin and only very few otherwise.
She had before enjoyed her physical features, but now, because of them, she felt awkward walking on the streets of Tokyo. Staring wasn't impolite in Japan and she often received long gazes for her long red hair. Not orange or auburn, fire-engine red hair. She had received many valuing compliments but her stomach grew sick when drunk businessmen and even other foreigners gave her perverted winks and comments on the walk home near shady gaijin bars in Roppongi. At night now, she resorted to tucking her hair into a hat, for some sanity.
Also, her body was taller than most Japanese woman. She had a large collection of beautiful high heeled shoes that gathered dust in her room because she was awkward as the typical giant westerner. Her eyes were green, semi-rare in the west, even more uncommon in Japan. She unconsciously held her head down in public, tired of sticking out like a sore thumb.
The train's announcer yelled "Minato! Minato!" over the intercom, while the screens over the doors switched between "港区," and "Minato." Davina adjusted her hat, weaved her arm into her strap, then waited for the doors to open before she hurried out.
Minato and Roppongi was bustling and busy. Noisy with people's loud laughter and loud car screeching and horns. Home was the army base, which was a long way away. People loved this area for the action and nightlife. All Davina wished was to entirely skip this area and go home.
She crossed her arms and ducked her head as she entered the crowds, trying to make herself as small as possible while keeping her bag tight against her side. She walked behind groups of girls across an intersection, occasionally looking up to see the colorful signs of the clubs she was passing.
Davina had never been clubbing in Japan, but by now she had learned which ones were popular, especially for foreigners. She knew through the girls in her class who were class pets in class but regulars at these vulgar clubs and bars. They would get dropped off by their drivers in the morning, hair styled and dressed impeccably, then gather together in a circle and giggle to themselves while going over in detail what happened the night before. They would then make plans for that night, discuss which skirt was short enough and what bra gave them the most cleavage. Sometimes they just danced and drank, other times they were paid to bring in men who would dance and drink.
They would flip their highlighted hair over their shoulders and sometimes sneer over at Davina as if though they were sure she was missing out.
While reading the romanji over a sign, Davina accidentally caught of the eyes of a club bouncer who was scanning the crowd for customers. He nudged a fellow club goer next to him and directed the fellow's attention to Davina. Her breathing tensed as she sharply turned away, hoping he would ignore her but out of the corner of her eye she spotted him jogging behind. "Shit!" She cursed trying to hurry away and disappear into another crowd.
"You! Hold on, now! Wait, I wanna talk to you!" Why were they yelling in English?
Davina didn't dare look back. No, go away! She could feel him advancing towards her faster than she could get away. Her heart pounded in her ribcage, her legs becoming jittery through nerves.
Someone called after her again, this time a different voice. "Isn't she the one who ran up my bar tab to over ¥50,000! I swear that's her!"
No, no, no, no! Just go away! Davina looked around for a mark of something familiar in the buildings she passed, but in her haste, she had rushed away from what she could recognize and was still pushing further and further away. She realized now that she was running aimlessly. There were no crowds at this point. She turned, but faced a gate and behind it was the ocean and far away, glimmered lights of Rainbow bridge and Odaiba island.
Strong hands grabbed her arm and threw her like a doll to the concrete. She yelped as she hit her head. Her mp3 player flew from her pocket and skipped across the road. Her hat fell and scattered her hair in clumps over her face and over the road.
The daunting figures stood darkly over her. She couldn't see their faces clearly but both men had black hair and one had dark skin. "No way that's her, she was blonde and her friend was brunette."
They spoke to each other in Japanese while Davina set a shaky hand to the tender spot on her head. No blood, only pain. She winced.
One of their shoes tugged at her sweater, touching the tip to her school badge. "But she goes to the same school." The darker one smiled.
The paler one grabbed her bag and threw everything—her clothes, ballet shoes—until he found her wallet, but he threw it when he found only small bills. "Only ¥5,000 yen, thought only rich girls attended that high school."
Please, just go, leave me, please.
They spoke seriously to each other again, hands flimsily waved with gestures. "What do we do with her? She'd report us and her parents are probably important and will draw a lot of attention to this."
I promise I won't tell, just go. The sounds of the ocean pounded against the concrete shore below the gate. "Toss her into the ocean and see if she floats." The paler one said as he grabbed her at the waist.
As soon as his hands touched her, Davina screamed hysterically, "NO, NO, NO, NO!" She continued to shriek as the man lifted her limp body from the road. She struggled against his grip and dug her nails deep into his skin like cat. She'd surely drown, she didn't know how to swim. Even if she could swim, the water would paralyze her muscles with cold. Hot tears rushed down her cheeks as her eyes widened over the dark water and her screams grew faint from terror. This is it...
Just as black ocean waves become the only thing below her, Davina and the man were tackled to the left. The man let go and Davina scraped her thigh and arm against the road. She lifted herself warily and cradled her arm. A third tall figure pushed and punched the man back, shouting furiously. After two hits both men retreated, their shadows growing larger against the buildings as their bodies disappeared around the corner.
Davina exhaled deeply, the alarm within her chest tranquilizing. She minded her thigh and arm then carefully stood from the ground, supporting herself from her uninjured side. Her limbs ached and her head throbbed. She rubbed the scratches on her cheek and smoothed away her tears. Her rescuer finally turned to her then bent his knees to help gather her things back into her bag.
Then out of nowhere he started screaming at her in fast Japanese, his tone deep and harsh.
Davina quivered away, hot tears filling her eyes again. The man, err—boy was he? Davina got a closer look, even in the pale light, he was definitely close to her age. Judging by the black blazer and black pants, he was still a high school student. His shaggy hair fluttered as he yelled, leaving a few blond streaks just visible under his hair.
Her hands cupped her face, tears steamed in between her fingers and the boy's shouting halted. He stared, jaw slightly hanging, at her hands and her features for a moment then gave the notorious "oh-shit, she's Caucasian, must not understand Japanese" look then sighed. The whites in his eyes receded under his droopy eyelids and his expression calmed to that of a poker face. He seemed sorry to have yelled at her.
"Where is your hotel?" He asked slowly and softly, handing Davina her ballet slippers, trying to reassure her that he wouldn't raise his voice again.
He was obviously not a native speaker, Davina noted. His English was accented, but his intentions to put her at ease were enough for Davina.
Lifting her bag to her shoulder, she pointed a finger to the ground. "Koko...Nihon ni...sundeimasu." I live here in Japan.
"Eh? Ie wa doko?" He said. Where is your house?
Davina twisted behind to the ocean scenery then left and right, eventually shaking her head. Trying to remember the key phrases she learned, shrugging, she said, "maigo desu." I'm lost.
The boy shoved his hands into his pockets with a deep scuff of air, obviously annoyed. Davina felt uncomfortable and embarrassed for being a burden to this person who put himself in harm's way to help her, but she felt scared to find her way back alone, especially knowing that those two scoundrels were still out there.
She didn't know how to react in a situation like this, and from the looks of it, neither did he. She bowed from the waist down, wishing her gesture would hold full connotation of what she was trying to express. "Gomennansai." Her voice barely audible in between her trembles.
The boy grew sympathetic as the girl's red hair curtained around her head when she bowed. He eyed her face as she lifted her neck while her body was still forward and her cheeks were sulked in and her eyes puffy red. He sighed to himself, knowing he was now responsible to continue helping her get home because he had saved her.
Suddenly, his phone rang in his pocket. They both drew in a breath of air and the trance between them broke. The boy pulled the antenna of his phone and turned away while Davina straightened up. Her fingertips brushed along her cheekbones. Her cheeks were hot indicating she had been blushing. Gather yourself and stop crying, Davina. You're stronger than this emotional wreckage. You've caused enough trouble. She continued to internally drill herself, while finishing retrieving her belongings.
"Hi Minami," The boy said into his phone receiver. "No, something has come up, I'm not coming." With a flick of his thumb the conversation ended, even though the speaker on the other end whined and demanded more explanation.
The boy twisted back at Davina who was dusting the mud and dry dirt off her hat. She flipped the rim with her wrist, accessing the damage before finally shoving it into one of her bag's zipper pockets. She checked her mp3 player, which, thankfully, still worked. Lastly, she adjusted her bag strap securely over her shoulder.
She was still a bit shaky and timid, not that he blamed her. He swayed towards her, setting his phone back into his pocket. "Iko." Let's go.
Davina bit her lip and gave a slight nod.
He allowed her to be one step ahead of him. He decided to himself that he'd wait until she'd stopped shaking, then he'd take her home.
Author's Note: I didn't want these to be too long so I split the document I wrote in half, so yes chapter two is already written. Perhaps now, the ideas in my head are calm enough to allocate me enough time to stop neglecting my term papers. Wishful thinking. Also, again, if you have time, please tell me what you think in a review.