Teary Promise (Part 12)

If Hisakawa said that she had met my brother inside Mizuho, she must have known about his body changing. I mean, my brother and I go to the same school and, having seen a recent picture of me and my family (most likely the one taken during my entrance ceremony day last year), and knowing that me and my brother could look like the other if one of us tries to dress like one. I’ve seen my brother returning home directly from Mizuho, and if people saw him, they could easily mistake him as me in my school uniform, though he looks a bit different and I’m not well known enough on top of that for something to possibly happen. What I’m afraid of is not knowing if Hisakawa has already told my mother about it.

Also, I knew I had the sense of familiarity when I first saw her on the plane, because she’s the same person as the computer club president that I met at the Kamisugi High school festival. Her wearing a name tag that clearly reads as “Haneda Kanade” even though her name is something completely different is very distracting. I didn’t dare to ask her about it.

*****

When I woke up, my mind wondered where I was until I remembered that I was in the hotel on a school field trip. It’s like I had been booted up without my memory loaded until later on. When my senses came about, I heard the shower being used. There’s no one besides my mom’s big boss sleeping in the same room with me, so it should be her. I walked past the bathroom door and…

The door wasn’t closed, and Hisakawa-san is visibly taking a shower while still wearing the same thing I saw her wearing the whole of yesterday. Who on earth take a shower with their clothes on?! Is she crazy?!

Hisakawa-san noticed me and turn the tap off. Her clothes seem unusually dry considering that water was splashed on her whole body just a few seconds ago. Huh? Am I seeing things? She’s as dry as if she didn’t take a shower at all, but there’s water splashed around her, including the floor she’s standing on.

Hisakawa: “Er… This uniform is somewhat like my skin. That’s why the water bounced off, or you never saw me changing out of it. I can assure you that this outfit handles all the things my body needs by itself without me doing anything as…”

I didn’t get what she said to me as she used terms I wouldn’t expect to hear from her, or be mentioned the first thing right after waking up. From what I understand, she can’t do anything about what she wears.

Hisakawa told me more of herself: her body is biologically around my age, but is actually 6 years older. She seemed to have be cursed by something that doesn’t allow her to age or die. I didn’t know such thing exists in real life, though things in my life has somewhat become illogical since I first witnessed my brother being transformed into a girl.

Hisakawa added that she cares more about Hatsuya more than Powell. Everyone knows that Powell competes with Hatsuya, but hearing that form the very person who founded that company to prefer a rival company over her own is something.

Me: “Are you saying that your staff disagrees with you?”

Hisakawa: “To tell you the truth, I never founded that company: A me of an another dimension did. Although it was officially founded 10 years ago, it never actually existed in this dimension until 4 years later. I was already working for Hatsuya before its sudden existance in this dimension. Of course, Hatsuya has a way of identifying their staff from a different time and dimension, and knowing if something has happened to them. Hatsuya is aware of my situation with Powell, but not the opposite.”

It took me a while for me to get what she just said.

Me: “Huh? Powell did not exist until 6 years ago? Wasn’t mum working for it for longer than that? I also remember Powell being mentioned from that time too.”

Hisakawa: “Well, when the company suddenly existed, people’s memories were also modified to not notice its sudden existence. The site it sits on before it appeared is, like what the company history says, was a large abandoned mansion, just simply untouched for a bit longer. The Powell employees could possibly be working for a completely different company just the day before it happened. If I’m not wrong, your family moving to your current house could be the result of this. Your mother could possibly be a housewife or was working for a company near where you previously lived. You could say my actions caused this, but, in truth, I have no control over it or knew that this would happen. I’m afraid I don’t know how to undo it too.”

I don’t know if she’s lying or not as having people’s memories modified, including things associated with it, is hard to prove. I mean, if my memory has been modified already, I wouldn’t know what it was like before it happened, especially if there were no hints pointing to it. Then again, my family moving to a town far away from the capital I grew up in is a hint. I don’t even know if my own life is real or a super advanced system where every single object has it’s own physics and texture rendering even more advanced that the latest video games I know of.

Hisakawa must be a strong person to comfortably manage something a normal person would find too much.

*****

After breakfast, students were briefed of the itinerary. Due to the amount of students, they would go in their own groups when traveling in a large group is a bad idea, especially through crowded urban areas. The students were glad that they could form groups with students of other classes. For safety reasons, groups with less than 5 female students each should have a school staff. Male students could travel in groups of 2 or more without a need of a teacher, though the group can include female students. This means that a group with only 3 females without a teacher is allowed only if at least 1 male student or another 2 female students joins them. There is no gender ratio specified. This is also an obvious opportunity for couples to be together, except that I don’t have anyone.

Students who aren’t in any groups could form a team with each other, or join with a school staff, including ones who are already part of an another team. Of course, there are some specific needs, or someone a student can’t join with. It sounds complicated to sort out, especially since the students are free to choose whoever they like and weren’t grouped before the trip.

I would like to talk about the new things I encountered, but this is about me and not a travel guide of a city I’m not familiar with.

Not having any males that I know of, I joined a group of girls that had people I meet regularly. I mean, I would like Takuya to be with me, but he’s… passed on. We went to a lot of places, but the excitement isn’t exactly there with the people I’m with. It’s hard to get over this sadness, but I still have my feelings attached to him.

Part 11 | Part 13

Teary Promise (Part 11)

Being in a foreign country for the first time, it suddenly occurred to me that reduced food, electricity, and business hours in light of the earthquake back in March, does not apply to here at all. Buying things using a currency I’m not used to has make me feel disoriented on whether the numbers on the price tag of an item is considered cheap or expensive. They said to divide a number by 100 from the yen as a rough guess, but seeing something that costs 800yen back home being labelled as 25 in that currency, which itself after currency conversion, is worth 650yen or US$9, is making me even more confused.

Waking up, having breakfast, preparing things, travelling to school, waiting for everyone to gather and brief, taking the train to the airport, having lunch, waiting for the plane to depart, duration of flight plus delays, timezone differences. All of this has made us tired from travel alone and lost track of how long we have been travelling. The sun had already set when we arrive.

As it seems, even though the airport itself has good transportation links, we were ushered on to the coach buses that would bring us to the hotel. Though it doesn’t look like it’s at a hidden place, you wouldn’t know where the coach bay was unless you explored or were told of where it was as the public buses are located elsewhere. The number of buses, and knowing that each large ones would fit the whole class with some empty seats remaining, easily tells us how many people there are in total.

Due to the layout of the hotel, some had a room to themselves, some shared with another, and others three or more people per room. The hotel may be able to accommodate everyone, but there aren’t enough rooms of any one type to accommodate all. Practically all hotels outside Japan are only of the western style.

I don’t know what they were thinking, but I was assigned a room for two people. It’s common sense that everyone in a shared room should not have anyone of the opposite gender sleeping in the same room, so I can’t have the schoolmates that I know, who are guys, to sleep with me. Those guys are sleeping in a large room all to themselves, but they can’t invite me simply because I’m a girl.

Rooms that have empty beds would have a teacher sleeping in it. Since male teachers can’t sleep with the girls, but with the contradiction of female teachers being able to sleep with the male students (unless there is already a male teacher there), that affected how the students are assigned. Each room could have more than one teacher, or none at all. Of all the people who could have slept with me, it’s that girl from the college section of Mizuho Academy sleeping with me. I was hoping for my homeroom teacher or a classmate at least. Oh well, it’s not like meeting someone new is a bad thing or if there’s anything wrong with her.

Mizuho girl: “You’re Inami-san, right? It’s been a while since I last saw you. Your mother has been worrying about your safety since she started working at headquarters long before the earthquake. I came along for the trip not because she asked me to, but because I’m the one providing financial assistance. I’ve also met your brother too, and I could see how similar he is to you in appearance.”

Huh? I’ve met her before, and she knows my mother and brother? From what she said, she’s also that “mysterious” sponsor.

Me: “I’m sorry, but how do I know you?”

She took a look around the room and the corridor outside as if making sure that nobody could hear what she’s about to tell me.

Mizuho girl: “Remember the computer club president of Kamisugi High two years ago? That was me. My name tag might say otherwise, but my name is Saeko Hisakawa, founder of Powell Research Institute and I work for Hatsuya Research Institute. Although, it’s also a fact that I’m a college student at Mizuho, and I think your brother has already explained how difficult it is to take off the uniform. Before you ask, I’m really a girl even while not wearing the uniform, and, except for my hairstyle, my actual appearance is no different from what I look now. I’m actually 6 years older than you, and I was a year 1 Mizuho high school student just last year.”

WHAT?! My mother’s big boss from work is right in front of me, but me having met her in an unrelated situation, and has the appearance that would misled you from what you would think she does. What she described to me about herself is making me even more confused with things that contradict each other. Founded company A, but working for company B? If she’s was a year 1 at Mizuho High last year, how is she in college now or 6 years older than me? It’s common knowledge that Powell has been founded almost 10 years ago, but if the founder is still a student now, then…? Huh? Unless she was actually in primary school when the company was founded, something doesn’t seem right here.

Hisakawa: “Looking at your face, I think you’re confused about what I had just said. Don’t worry, I’m even confused as to what I am exactly myself too as I just suddenly woke up one day to be like this. Oh, and please don’t tell your mother about what I just said to you, and you don’t need to be so formal with me just because I’m more senior than you. I feel lonely when you do.”

For a big boss of one of the largest companies I know, she doesn’t look and behave like one.

Me: “So how do you know my brother?”

Hisakawa: “Well, your mother showed me a picture of the two of you: both present and during your primary school days, and she said that you looked and behaved like your brother until you entered middle school, when gender-related body growth differences became more obvious. She said that your brother was in the chess club, while you aren’t in any. At a chess tournament in Mizuho against your school, I saw what I though was you, but knowing from your mother that you aren’t in any clubs, I knew it was your brother.”

Me: “Back in March before the earthquake… was it you too?”

Hisakawa: “If you are referring to the two girls he met who was throwing away their money and letting by whatever he wants with it and then collecting it on the day of the quake, yes, one of them is me. The other is… my sibling that I’m not close with. Anyway, we should go to sleep now for a long day ahead.”

Hisakawa did not remove her shoes or change clothes before she climbed to bed and sleep.

Teary Promise (Part 10)

About half a year has passed since the earthquake happened. Everything has started to become normal again, and the mess caused by the tsunami in affected areas mostly cleared up, though there are still shipwrecked ships and empty areas where destroyed houses used to stand. Only the roads, surviving buildings, and some trees, tells us where everything was. Electricity is gradually returning back to normal, though some energy conservation measures implemented since the earthquake are still visibly in place. Sadly, it seems as if the world has stopped caring about the incident itself.

There have been small earthquakes since then that were more frequent than usual, which might be possibly be and aftershock of an aftershock. There was a typhoon that nearly threatened to hit the already-damaged nuclear plant and scatter its radiation just recently, but it became weak enough to be not much of a threat when it arrived.

Some boys in school have started to talk to me often since the start of the academic year than over the previous year, and I sometimes find myself walking with them to train stations. I don’t really see them as friends as they never come across my mind, but they are talking to me as if we are. To me honest, my mind is still filled with Tatsuya. I don’t know. Maybe I’m just too depressed to notice that I am surrounded by friends that care about me.

These days, my brother doesn’t even want to head home together with me. This is partly because he wants to hang out with his friends, and another being that he is in third year of high school and is preparing to enter university. His current grades allows him to enter any average college, but he’s aiming for a better one. Even he, like everyone else, wants to enter the top universities in Tokyo. So there’s stiff competition there, not only from our school, but the whole county. Chances may seem slim, but he says that if he doesn’t even try, there isn’t any! At best, at least one that is not the top, but still rated above-average.

Being in the later half of high school second year, this means that excursions would be taking place soon, as the third year is mainly focused on studying for college entrance examinations from around this time of the year until before the exams itself. I also doubt that such things would even happen in college or working life, at least with a large group and not have pay most (or all) of the cost with my own money.

The excursion trip usually brings us to somewhere with all the second years. The committee behind organizing it has been indecisive on choosing between local (Kyoto in particular) and overseas: some argued about knowing “our” culture, and experiencing what it’s like to be in a foreign country as almost everyone has never been out of the country before. Since the effects of the earthquake is still being felt with disruptions, and the value of the yen is getting stronger against many currencies, the overseas option was chosen. (Sadly, it’s not to Europe or America as everyone was hoping.)

The cost of things at the current exchange rate seem as though everything outside of my country is cheaper, with the exception of the ones made here being sold there. I feel strange seeing things from my country at a place overseas. According to my brother who claimed to have overhead the committee behind it, the country we would be headed to would have expenses, in our currency, be at least two to four times cheaper. I don’t know if this is a good or bad thing, but I do know that the school had already used quite an amount of the school funds to help out students and parents of students who were directly affected by the earthquake.

Barely a day after the school announced the initial plans, an anonymous sponsor approached to help finance a large majority of the costs involved and allowed the school to pick a better place to visit and stay using the sponsor’s money entirely. There are rumours that the person helping out doesn’t want the money they have, which seems quite a lot. This has allowed the school to upgrade to a better place, though they said that since we “already had a lot of exposure of western countries”, they picked another country that is in the same region as the initial choice, though the standard of living there is closer to ours.

Except for those who chose not to go for the trip, we were told about what to pack, the necessary documents to prepare, and changing some money of the currency there. Everyone was amazed with the money from how colourful it was and most of them never had a hold of a currency besides the yen before that they are most used to. It appears that some of my classmates have been to overseas before, but only with their family.

The school told us some things that almost caught us off-guard: we would also need to get an adaptor for electrical devices to fit into the wall socket there and check if it supports a voltage used there, which is different from the one here. We were also told that, except for some particular models, our mobile phones might not work. Even if it does work, steep fees might be faced. They suggested getting a prepaid card with a compatible phone there, use pay-phones (if there is anyone who could be called on top of being uncommon these days), or use online services.

The day of the school trip has come. Unexpectedly, a girl in a uniform of the college at Mizuho Academy was seen together with the teachers. On her name tag, “羽田 奏” was written, which tells us that her name is Haneda Kanade. Her uniform looks almost like a formal business outfit, but in a different colour and texture. Not sure if the shoes and stockings she’s wearing are part of it too.
[Author’s note: Students of Japanese schools wear their school uniform during school excursions, including overseas trips.]

She’s might be attracting attention when we are over there. I don’t know why a girl from that elite school came along for. Her uniform alone stands out from those from my school, and I have this odd feeling that I’ve seen her more than once before. Except for what students aren’t allowed to wear, with more specifics for the course they take, students of normal colleges could wear practically anything while studying there, but the college at Mizuho is the only one I know of that actually has a standardized uniform like those in middle and high schools. What is she doing here with us anyway? Kobayagawa High has no relations with Mizuho Academy at all.

When the plane took off from the ground, it felt like I was riding a roller coaster, but in an enclosed space and infinitely going up without ever heading down. My ears felt funny too.

The duration of the flight takes just as long from the start to the end of a school day to get to, according to the flight info. Since I’m mostly confined to my seat since boarding it, my body has started to feel funny. I have my friends around to kill my boredom, but I’m not the kind of person who likes to sit in a chair the whole time.

On landing, the first thing I noticed are that the license plates of vehicles are completely different, but the ads on the bridge that links the plane to the terminal is from the very same bank as where we left! I don’t feel any different from being in a foreign land, but seeing things that I’m used to, but in a different style, feels as if I am looking at a new thing I’ve never used before.

Being in a foreign land and how things here work and look are different. Wait… Doesn’t that make me a foreigner here?

Teary Promise (Part 9)

We had attended Tatsuya’s funeral, which seems to also include his parents who were working at the bakery below his house when the tsunami hit it. His extended family, friends, and co-workers attended too.

For being his girlfriend, and quite close to him, his death impacted me the most. It left me a huge void in my heart. My willpower to find another boyfriend is weak since I had already poured my heart and soul on Tatsuya, but if it wasn’t for my brother who comforted me, I would be feeling worse now.

It was that day after the tsunami on returning home, dad was comforting me and my brother who… hold on. Something is wrong with my memory: dad had clearly said “my two daughters” instead of “my daughter and son” when he hugged me and my brother on seeing us for the first time since the quake. I also kept thinking that my brother was a girl that whole day. How on earth did I not notice it until now? Why did I actually see Tsukasa as a sister instead of a brother crossdressing?

Tsukasa: “Um, are you okay? You seemed oddly shocked instead of sad…”

Me: “Were you with me on the day after the quake?”

Tsukasa: “Of course I was. You were with me the whole time at the evacuation centre as a matter of fact.”

My memory from that day is clearly that of me being with a girl that I oddly refer to as my brother. However, I couldn’t bring up that topic up. His answer a while had me doubt if that girl was him or if someone else was in his place.

Tsukasa: “If you are thinking about that, I can assure to you that what you remembered is exactly the same as what happened.”

Remembered what exactly? Or are you saying that the strange memories I oddly have actually happened as I remember seeing?

Tsukasa: “I think you would be less confused if you just think of me as your older sibling and don’t think too much about what I looked or sounded like at any point in time.”

Spring has arrived, but the atmosphere is gloomy despite the blooming cherry blooms around. (Quite a number of its flowers dropped during the quake.) The area where the harbour town was looked like a big open land filled with rubble and ships washed ashore. The furthest the tidal wave reached could easily be seen by the vegetation. Only concrete buildings, and steel frames of some others, remained standing. Worked has started to clear the rubble, but due to the vastness of destruction and limited manpower, it’s progressively slow. So far, it’s limited to clearing out the roads.

Besides rubble, foreigners were seen in the destructed area either helping out the affected, or picking things in the mess, including a safe. It’s unknown if the latter group are helping out too, or looting.

Since a nuclear power plant in the neighbouring prefecture was damaged by the tsunami, and straining the remaining working power plants, people are also faced with blackouts and radiation fears. People who didn’t know what radiation was were overacting, especially people overseas, and referencing it with a nuclear plant explosion in eastern Europe about 25 years ago. It’s true that there’s dangerous radiation emitted from both incidents, but not as big as the one in Europe. Also, my town is certainly within the safe range even though it’s closer to the plant than the capital.
Around my town, and the city where my school is, quite a number of electronic signs, vending machines, and even escalators, were turned off to relief the strain of electricity demand.

The news of students at my school affected were known to everyone. Staff, students, last year’s third years, and this year’s first years too. People who knew I was Tatsuya’s girlfriend, or knew I had a boyfriend that had died, were trying to have me feel more comfortable.

Part 8 | Part 10

Teary Promise (Part 8)

As we walked into the sports hall, my brother seemed uneasy. She has been like this since we got here.

Me: “What’s wrong?”

Tsukasa: “I was thinking if my friends are affected by this. They may be living far away from the sea, but you would never know if they were there when it happened.”

Me: “Me too.”

Tsukasa: “So, here we are. The list of the refugees here, and the list of the dead over there. I’ll help you to look through the list. What’s the Kanji of this Tatsuya person?”

I wrote “立谷起也”.

Tsukasa: “Okay. Got it. That’s a normal looking name, until it comes to the pronunciation. Sorry if I had made fun of you. Until you wrote down the name, I though you were mentioning his name twice.”

I search through the list of the refugees in here, while my brother looks at the rest. The name lists might look as if it’s not listed in any particular order, but it’s actually arranged according the first syllable of the family name.

I checked and double checked the list of refugees here because I can’t seem to find Takuya’s name anywhere. I have to ask someone.

Passerby: “A name with these characters? Hmm… If I’m not mistaken, it’s on the list right next to the girl in a school uniform over there that she’s looking at now. I remembered that name because I regularly buy bread from Tatsuya Bakery every morning.”

He was pointing to the list of the missing and deceased. There’s no other person over there besides my brother, but her appearance does match the description as described by the man I talked to.

Me: “Thank you…”

Passerby: “If you’re unsure, you can ask the staff around here.”

I didn’t want to go over there, but I didn’t have anything else to do than to hopelessly look through the list that I had already looked at in detail twice.

I walked over to my brother, at the list she has yet to look at: the missing and dead lists are longer than the refugee lists.

Tsukasa: “Did you find his name?”

Me: “No luck there. Maybe he had went elsewhere… WHAT?!”

I saw Takuya’s name on the list of the confirmed dead. No… Tatsuya… Why…? I don’t…

My world was turned upside-down. The very person I loved the most has died… But I just saw him just earlier this week… I was too sad that I didn’t realize that I was brought to around the area of dead bodies where we talked to a safety officer earlier, the area where the identified dead are. Suddenly, in addition to my brother, I was surrounded by a number of people. Some were staff, and the rest mostly the refugees. They wanted to confirm if it’s who I think it is.

They opened the bag the dead body is in. I don’t know what…

Me: “NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! TATSUYA-KUN!!!”

The dead body in question is indeed him. My brother was trying to comfort me as I cried loudly. My sadness was too great that it did little to calm me down. Everyone simply stood there, looking downwards, out of respect to me. Nobody tried to stop me from crying, nor was I able to stop. It was really sad to think how much we both loved each other, but he’s gone. It left a big void in my heart.

The trip back home was rather quiet. I felt as if my life was meaningless now that the very person I loved is dead. Ambulances and police cars with sirens turned on still reminded me of the tsunami that killed him.

Tsukasa: “We’re home…”

Dad ran to us on sight and hugged the both of us, with a hint of relief in his voice. It did not make a difference to me to my mood at that time. I wasn’t in the mood to speak, and neither was I paying attention to what was being said: I was depressed on thinking about Tatsuya’s death.

Dad: “Oh! I’m so glad that my two daughters are okay. I was worried since our house is not far from the shore. Yumiko? What’s wrong? Your mother is fine too, though she’s working at the moment.”

Tsukasa: “We went to an evacuation centre in Ooarai town earlier to check on her boyfriend, but he and his family was among the dead. We both saw the bodies.”

Dad: “Poor thing…. Well, take care of her and make her feel better. I’ll go prepare dinner. Food supplies are quite scarce from people stocking up on food and delivery of new supply possibly disrupted.”

My brother brought me to her bedroom and sat next to me and patted my shoulder. As she made physical contact with me, my level of sadness level has been mysteriously reduced.

Me: “Hey… how did you do that? I’m mysteriously feeling better the more you touched me.”

Tsukasa: “I- I don’t know…”

She seemed genuinely shocked.

Part 7 | Part 9

Teary Promise (Part 7)

Waking up the following morning, it seems that yesterday was just a bad dream. Brother was the first person I saw when I left the room. I thought I had a nightmare of him being turned into a girl, and a very strong earthquake and tsunami happened.

Brother: “Oh, you’re awake. I completely forgotten about it when I came back, but here’s the thing I collected yesterday.”

He brought me to his room and opened his school bag that was on the floor. He took out what seemed like video game casings with American and European gaming rating symbol on it instead of the local ones. He also took out some products that looked as if it were to be sold in many different countries, except Japan. Is this unnecessary spending?

Me: “How did you order these things?
You don’t have a credit card or are old enough to apply for one. These things must cost at least a hundred American dollars…”

Brother: “Well, a pair of young ladies noticed me while I was at the train station offered me to buy whatever I liked using their money, no matter how expensive it may be. One in a Mizuho student uniform, and the other in a supervisor-level outfit with a Hatsuya logo on it. The Hatsuya supervisor has the same family name as mum’s big boss, but different given name. The student, however, has a completely different name even though those two looked very much alike. They seem quite desperate to get rid of the money they have. Oh, before you ask, nobody in Mizuho could wear anything besides what they are officially supposed to wear, have names besides what is in the academy’s records, or commit acts of crime.”

Mum did say that her big boss was wearing a Mizuho student uniform at a company meeting last autumn while wearing a name tag that completely doesn’t matches her name. Nobody at that meeting dared to point out the mismatching name tag or inappropriate outfit due to her top position and she herself mentioning about not wanting to talk about it as if she is already aware of it. The said Hatsuya supervisor could be her twin with the real family name on it, and there’s a possibility that the name on the academy’s records is completely different from the real name. I don’t think my brother was thinking of this possibility.

Brother: “Speaking of which, I promised to show you something yesterday.”

He promised me something yesterday? Did my nightmare of a big earthquake and tsunami in which a girl who claimed to be him said that actually happened? Brother was walking to his closet and took out a uniform of my school, for females!

Me: “Hey! Isn’t that mine?! What is it doing in your room?!”

Brother: “Don’t be silly. Count the number of sets you have, and you would find that this would be an extra set. This uniform is mine, and I didn’t steal it from you or anyone. See? It has my name sewn on the inside on the blazer, blouse and skirt.”

Why would my brother put up with the hassle and put his own name on a girl’s school uniform? In fact, why is he even showing me this at all so openly? Sure every student in our school has the name sewn in by the store at the time the uniform is purchased, but…

Brother: “You know, wouldn’t it be great if we both alike just like back in primary school? Only, instead of you trying to be me, I would try to be like you. Oh, and would like you to look at my-“

Me: “What are you talking about?”

I had no idea what made him say that, and my brother was already putting on the female uniform without taking off what he was already wearing.

Me: “You don’t look like me at all. In fact you really look like a per-“

At that instant, those clothes my brother was wearing underneath the uniform started to fade away and the shape of my brother’s entire body was unnaturally changing in front of me. How do I describe it… There isn’t any white light or funny background like you see for transformation scenes in cartoons, it just like a person growing up rapidly, but differently. I could see my brother morphing exactly into the girl I met yesterday. What on earth is this?!

[Author’s note 1: From this point, I’m referring to Yumiko’s brother in as Tsukasa instead. Both as a guy and a girl. His name was already mentioned back in part 3.]

Tsukasa: “Now do you believe me? Look at me! There isn’t a hint left on my body that I was a boy just a moment ago. Practically everyone who steps into Mizuho is forced to turned into elegant and beautiful young ladies. Since the first time I was there, I’ve not seen anyone in Mizuho wearing anything besides short skirts below the waist, even in winter, with the only exception being some kind of stockings that goes all the way up to the hips that only non-students wear. That Hatsuya supervisor I talked about earlier was wearing them too. All of this is only temporary as long as it’s being worn, but they are making it somewhat illogically impossible to physically take it off. Seriously, how does Mizuho and companies based here produce the best people with these strange things?”

Is this my brother? No matter how I tried to look, I see nothing but a pretty girl that doesn’t look anything like him, but does have resemblance to both of my parents. Even my brother’s voice sounded exactly like the girl from yesterday. The clothes are strangely impossible to take off, but I could feel that his body really feels like that of a girl. My mind is in a state of confusion.

Tsukasa: “I don’t know how I was able to adapt to this. There are conditions I have to meet to be able to take it off, but are not explained. I found out that I have to be outside the campus and not in sight by anyone during the time it would take me to change at a gender-neutral place. Most public toilets are obviously out of the question for that reason, though some toilets for the handicapped are.”

If he hadn’t transformed in front of me, I wouldn’t have believed him no matter what he said in either form, but being a girl myself, I don’t feel anything caused by the attractive feminine appearance, but rather shocked about the transformation itself.

Tsukasa: “Oh, didn’t you say that you have a boyfriend living in Ooarai town? It was struck by the tsunami yesterday. We should go there right away. The news says that the tracks has been reopened after earthquake safety checks and are operating again.”

How did I completely forget about Takuya? Oh no! I don’t know if he’s okay since his house is directly facing the sea!

Me: “Come on! Let’s go! We don’t have time to waste! Wait, what about our parents? If we are not home when they arrive home, they might get very worried.”

Tsukasa: “I’ve already called them before you woke up. They are okay, or rather, they were quite worried about us. Dad is on the way home, and mum is working overtime to help out with the disaster.”

*****

We reached Ooarai town via train. As I feared, the town has been washed by the tsunami too. The first place we checked was the town’s refuge centre as that is where everyone who has become homeless gathers, which is actually converted from the sports hall of a primary school. When we got there, we also saw the dead that has been found arranged together outside.

Tsukasa: “It’s scary and extremely rare to come across a dead body, but to see this is horrifying to see this many, with young children included.”

At that instant, a man with boots and a safety hat approached us.

Safety officer: “Are you a refugee or…?”

Me: “Oh, we are not. We came from a nearby town and I was wondering if a friend who lives in this town is here.”

Safety officer: “Well, everyone is inside the hall. The list of the missing people, and the identified dead located close to us, are in there too. We are currently finding out the identities of the unidentified dead against the missing list, which is around there. The staff in the hall can help you find who you might be looking for in there. It’s chaotic along with so many sad people in there. Quite a large percentage of the town’s population seems to be among the dead, judging by the numbers.”

He was pointing to a standing group of people close to a large white tent.

Me: “Well, thank you very much.”

My brother appeared as if she wanted to say something to me, but stopped short of saying it.

I have a bad feeling about this…

[Author’s note 2: Although not mentioned, Tsukasa is still physically a girl on arrival at the refuge centre. Hence the use of “she” instead of “he”.]

Teary Promise (Part 7)

Waking up the following morning, it seems that yesterday was just a bad dream. Brother was the first person I saw when I left the room. I thought I had a nightmare of him being turned into a girl, and a very strong earthquake and tsunami happened.

Brother: “Oh, you’re awake. I completely forgotten about it when I came back, but here’s the thing I collected yesterday.”

He brought me to his room and opened his school bag that was on the floor. He took out what seemed like video game casings with American and European gaming rating symbol on it instead of the local ones. He also took out some products that looked as if it were to be sold in many different countries, except Japan. Is this unnecessary spending?

Me: “How did you order these things? You don’t have a credit card or are old enough to apply for one. These things must cost at least a hundred American dollars…”

Brother: “Well, a pair of young ladies noticed me while I was at the train station offered me to buy whatever I liked using their money, no matter how expensive it may be. One in a Mizuho student uniform, and the other in a supervisor-level outfit with a Hatsuya logo on it. The Hatsuya supervisor has the same family name as mum’s big boss, but different given name. The student, however, has a completely different name even though those two looked very much alike. They seem quite desperate to get rid of the money they have. Oh, before you ask, nobody in Mizuho could wear anything besides what they are officially supposed to wear, have names besides what is in the academy’s records, or commit acts of crime.”

Mum did say that her big boss was wearing a Mizuho student uniform at a company meeting last autumn while wearing a name tag that completely doesn’t matches her name. Nobody at that meeting dared to point out the mismatching name tag or inappropriate outfit due to her top position and she herself mentioning about not wanting to talk about it as if she is already aware of it. The said Hatsuya supervisor could be her twin with the real family name on it, and there’s a possibility that the name on the academy’s records is completely different from the real name. I don’t think my brother was thinking of this possibility.

Brother: “Speaking of which, I promised to show you something yesterday.”

He promised me something yesterday? Did my nightmare of a big earthquake and tsunami in which a girl who claimed to be him said that actually happened? Brother was walking to his closet and took out a uniform of my school, for females!

Me: “Hey! Isn’t that mine?! What is it doing in your room?!”

Brother: “Don’t be silly. Count the number of sets you have, and you would find that this would be an extra set. This uniform is mine, and I didn’t steal it from you or anyone. See? It has my name sewn on the inside on the blazer, blouse and skirt.”

Why would my brother put up with the hassle and put his own name on a girl’s school uniform? In fact, why is he even showing me this at all so openly? Sure every student in our school has the name sewn in by the store at the time the uniform is purchased, but…

Brother: “You know, wouldn’t it be great if we both alike just like back in primary school? Only, instead of you trying to be me, I would try to be like you. Oh, and would like you to look at my-“

Me: “What are you talking about?”

I had no idea what made him say that, and my brother was already putting on the female uniform without taking off what he was already wearing.

Me: “You don’t look like me at all. In fact you really look like a per-“

At that instant, those clothes my brother was wearing underneath the uniform started to fade away and the shape of my brother’s entire body was unnaturally changing in front of me. How do I describe it… There isn’t any white light or funny background like you see for transformation scenes in cartoons, it just like a person growing up rapidly, but differently. I could see my brother morphing exactly into the girl I met yesterday. What on earth is this?!

[Author’s note 1: From this point, I’m referring to Yumiko’s brother in as Tsukasa instead. Both as a guy and a girl. His name was already mentioned back in part 3.]

Tsukasa: “Now do you believe me? Look at me! There isn’t a hint left on my body that I was a boy just a moment ago. Practically everyone who steps into Mizuho is forced to turned into elegant and beautiful young ladies. Since the first time I was there, I’ve not seen anyone in Mizuho wearing anything besides short skirts below the waist, even in winter, with the only exception being some kind of stockings that goes all the way up to the hips that only non-students wear. That Hatsuya supervisor I talked about earlier was wearing them too. All of this is only temporary as long as it’s being worn, but they are making it somewhat illogically impossible to physically take it off. Seriously, how does Mizuho and companies based here produce the best people with these strange things?”

Is this my brother? No matter how I tried to look, I see nothing but a pretty girl that doesn’t look anything like him, but does have resemblance to both of my parents. Even my brother’s voice sounded exactly like the girl from yesterday. The clothes are strangely impossible to take off, but I could feel that his body really feels like that of a girl. My mind is in a state of confusion.

Tsukasa: “I don’t know how I was able to adapt to this. There are conditions I have to meet to be able to take it off, but are not explained. I found out that I have to be outside the campus and not in sight by anyone during the time it would take me to change at a gender-neutral place. Most public toilets are obviously out of the question for that reason, though some toilets for the handicapped are.”

If he hadn’t transformed in front of me, I wouldn’t have believed him no matter what he said in either form, but being a girl myself, I don’t feel anything caused by the attractive feminine appearance, but rather shocked about the transformation itself.

Tsukasa: “Oh, didn’t you say that you have a boyfriend living in Ooarai town? It was struck by the tsunami yesterday. We should go there right away. The news says that the tracks has been reopened after earthquake safety checks and are operating again.”

How did I completely forget about Takuya? Oh no! I don’t know if he’s okay since his house is directly facing the sea!

Me: “Come on! Let’s go! We don’t have time to waste! Wait, what about our parents? If we are not home when they arrive home, they might get very worried.”

Tsukasa: “I’ve already called them before you woke up. They are okay, or rather, they were quite worried about us. Dad is on the way home, and mum is working overtime to help out with the disaster.”

*****

We reached Ooarai town via train. As I feared, the town has been washed by the tsunami too. The first place we checked was the town’s refuge centre as that is where everyone who has become homeless gathers, which is actually converted from the sports hall of a primary school. When we got there, we also saw the dead that has been found arranged together outside.

Tsukasa: “It’s scary and extremely rare to come across a dead body, but to see this is horrifying to see this many, with young children included.”

At that instant, a man with boots and a safety hat approached us.

Safety officer: “Are you a refugee or…?”

Me: “Oh, we are not. We came from a nearby town and I was wondering if a friend who lives in this town is here.”

Safety officer: “Well, everyone is inside the hall. The list of the missing people, and the identified dead located close to us, are in there too. We are currently finding out the identities of the unidentified dead against the missing list, which is around there. The staff in the hall can help you find who you might be looking for in there. It’s chaotic along with so many sad people in there. Quite a large percentage of the town’s population seems to be among the dead, judging by the numbers.”

He was pointing to a standing group of people close to a large white tent.

Me: “Well, thank you very much.”

My brother appeared as if she wanted to say something to me, but stopped short of saying it.

I have a bad feeling about this…

Part 6 | Part 8

[Author’s note 2: Although not mentioned, Tsukasa is still physically a girl on arrival at the refuge centre. Hence the use of “she” instead of “he”.]