By Avery Schromm
Whispers filled the hall. Eyes like a hawk pierced my back, creating a sharp ache in my stomach. I looked down at my new leggings, stained purple from Isaac Newton’s berry juice. I replayed the scene in my mind, cringing as he tripped in front of everyone and pouring his juice on my leggings. His wicked smile was one of a witch’s.
“Brrrrinnng!” I broke into a run, passing large friend groups on the way to my locker. I saw Hina’s backpack before I saw her. I swore she could fit a large dog in there. She held a kyo-yuzen silk clutch, swinging as she swiveled around. Her face lit up as she says she has been looking for me.
“Yua! Watashi wa anata o zutto sagashite imashita!” Saying “I’ve been looking for you.” We spoke Japanese to each other sometimes. My reddish brown hair fell over my shoulders as I turned to respond.
“Have you done your Halloween report yet? We only have two more days after today!” We talked as we ran to class.
Before I go any further, you should know some things about my family. My family is kind of odd, if you ask anybody else. Only Hina and I really understand our culture. I am from Japan, 〒 649-5301 Wakayama Higashimuro District, Nachikatsuura, Nachisan, 8. I moved here when I was 10. Lots of people think I am odd, too. Yes, I am Japanese. Yes, I have reddish brown hair. My family still celebrates some traditions like The Emperor’s Birthday. My family still freely converses in Japanese, though they’ve continued to learn English through the years (My dad is a slow learner). On the outside, our house is an ordinary suburban home. But on the inside, we celebrate our vibrant culture. We sit on the floor when we eat. When my mom saw how people here carelessly toss carefully prepared meals to the trash, she almost fell over and had a heart attack. In Japan, we treat our food like a mother Japanese raccoon-dog cares for her young. We sleep on the ground on top of a precisely arranged combination of cushions and mats. At the bottom is a tatami mat, followed by a Shikifuton (or mattress) and a kakebuton (the duvet),topped off with a buckwheat-hull pillow. We also call each other different names. When my sister and I come home, we always say, “Mama to papa watashi wa ie ni imasu!” Or, in English, “I am home, mom and dad!” All I really ever wanted was to fit in with everyone else but it is very hard when you don’t look like anyone else.
When Hina and I got to our English class, we saw six silly spiders hanging from the ceiling and fake skulls on Mrs. Banasiewicz’s desk. Our teacher loved to celebrate every holiday, large or small. On Valentine’s Day, she dressed up as the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland and couldn’t stop tripping over her dress as she walked. When we turned toward the back of the room she was shuffling some papers in a vampire costume. Her makeup must have weighed ten pounds.
When everyone was seated, she cleared her throat.
“My sweet class, there will be a Halloween party tonight! Come to Conner and Ella Williams’ house at 316 Sunningdale Blvd, starting at 8:00.” The class murmured with fizzing excitement as she passed out carefully folded invitations.
“Are you going to go?” Hina asked as she gathered her books.
“I really don’t think I should.” I grabbed her sweater, passing her the top with a light throw. She caught it with her books and scooted aside as the older kids were running like a herd of wildebeests.
“Come on, Yua! I’m sure it’ll be fun.” Part of me wanted to make Hina happy, effortlessly laughing with countless friends like the other girls in my classes, but I was very nervous.
“Fine. But you owe me a Mocha Cookie Crumble Frappuccino with extra cookie crumble.” She seemed satisfied enough.
It was crowded and the music was making me want to pass out and made it look like the room was breathing. Where was Hina?
The DJ banged his head against an imaginary wall in some kind of weird dance. Where was Hina?
I pushed through throngs of people eating and dancing. Where was Hina?
“Yua! Yua! Over here!” Hina was sitting beside people I didn’t recognize. As I pushed forward I realized that the girl next to Hina was Abby,the most popular girl at school. If she were friends with a pig, the pig would be as popular as Beyoncé. Hina walked over to me, leaning over to whisper.
“Abby has agreed to make us popular and says we can hang out with them!” I was stunned. We could be popular!
“OMG Hina! You are so amazing!” I squealed. We walked back over to the popular girls. They were gushing about nail polish colors to match their Halloween dance costumes conversing in a high pitched squeal.
“Come on Maddie! It would look perfect!” One girl giggled. “What about midnight stardust?”
“Oooo! That would be amazing!” I pretended to listen to the conversation for what felt like a year.
To be honest, I don’t know how long I was in my own world, but when time jumped backwards into the present, they were debating whether to dye their hair. I slowly turned to Hina and I knew we were thinking the same thing. We got up and walked outside, joking about nothing in particular, knowing just two friends was enough for us.