I'm here today with my story results for the June Writing Challenge. As the challenge was "write a story in your homeplace" and I kind of am from two different places, it was a toss-up at first on which place I should write about. But eventually I chose Japan and sat down at my computer and... stared blankly at the screen. Haha, yes it happened. My fingers moved very slow at first and I had NO IDEA what to write about. I don't know why I struggle so much writing stories set in Japan, but maybe it's because I'm super afraid I'll "get it wrong" or support a cliche or stereotype without meaning to. Anyways, after typing in one sentence which I randomly picked (it was the first that popped in my head) I pecked on valiantly until about the third paragraph when my speed increased and things went a lot easier.
It's not a very good portrayal of Japan, probably, but what country is accurately described in a single piece of flash fiction anyways? :P I hope you enjoy it though. It was rather fun, although I had to keep thinking "English. Non-Japanese." in terms of culture, words etc.
She passed me, the fluffy stuffed animal keychain on her phone bobbing wildly in front of her. I’m not joking, that purple glitter tipped bunny was the size of a baseball. I glanced at the ground, trying to cover my smile. My eyes fastened on a tiny capsule like container. I knew what it was immediately. Snatching it up, I whirled around.
“Scuse me! Wait! Did you drop this?”
The girl didn’t turn and I noticed the thin line from earphones trailing from behind her hair and into the phone. I took a few leaps after her, right as she turned the corner. Coming up on the side of the building I glanced down the street she had gone.
“Huh.” I frowned, then glanced down at the capsule in my hand, eyes lighting up. “She has--disappeared!”
“What?” My best friend Seiji came jogging up behind me. “Hey, Kenzo, what did you say?”
“Look.” I opened my palm to show him the capsule. “She dropped her inkan. At least, I think it’s her’s.” I popped the little container open and slid a small cylinder of wood out of it. I tipped it up to examine the stamp at the end. In Japan, we use these like a signature on documents, packages, and other things--with our surname’s kanjis etched into the stamp. Seiji pressed his finger lightly against the tiny red inkpad in the corner of the capsule.
“It’s not old,” he announced, showing me how the ink had stained his finger. “In fact, I’d say the ink is pretty new. What’s the name?”
“Arimura.” I met Seiji’s glance. “This should be easy. We can find out who the Arimura family is in the phone book.”
“You are so dramatic.” Seiji laughed. “We could just look the name up online. I’m sure there’s not many Arimuras in our town.”
I shrugged. “Sure. Hey, let’s meet at my house to search for Arimura-san.”
“Why does this sort of thing happen all the time? You could just throw it away, it’s not that important. Or leave it next to the grass.”
I frowned. “But it’s more fun this way, and it’s nicer too, isn’t it? Come on, let’s go.”
“Well--ok. I’ll race you.” Seiji’s eyes danced. “And I’ll win.”
“Maybe not!” I yelled as I took off.
At home, fifteen minutes later, we sat down on the floor of my room and pulled out my laptop. “I’ll check online,” Seiji offered, “So you can be dramatic and flip through the phone book.”
“Fine.” I plopped the book open and started running down the list of names. After a few minutes of silence, I looked up. “Hey, what do I say when I call them? ‘Excuse me, I found your inkan and stalked your number down in the phonebook to return it’? That’s weird, isn’t it?” I squeezed the inkan between my thumb and finger, holding it up to the light.
“Where’s your adventurous spirit?” Seiji scolded. “A little bit ago, you were all excited about this.”
“I just now realized the awkwardness of this particular situation.” I offered a lopsided grin. “Oh well. We can figure out what to do once we find an Arimura.”
It took us only half an hour to find who we thought was the person. “You call.” I handed my phone to Seiji.
“No, you call.” He pushed it away.
“I don’t want to be selfish. You should be a part of this adventure, too.”
“No, no. Don’t worry. I want you to have the satisfaction, Kenzo. Really. I mean it.” Seiji hopped up and sat on the bed, above me. “Go ahead.”
Taking a deep breath I punched in the numbers.
“Moshi, moshi, it’s Arimura.” The voice at the other end was old and creaky. A Ba-chan, or Grandma, voice. So the girl-with-the-purple-bunny-keychain didn’t own it after all. Good thing I hadn’t managed to stop her. That would have been embarrassing.
“Hi. My name is Kenzo, and I think I have your inkan. I found it on the ground on the sidewalk by the supermarket. It’s in a glossy wood case. Black lining. Says ‘happiness’ engraved on the front.”
“Wait, let me check.” The phone on the other end dropped to a table or something and I heard a lot of shuffling around. “Nanako, do you see my inkan? This boy thinks he has my inkan.”
I couldn’t hear the reply but wiggled my nose at Seiji.
“Anything exciting?” he hissed, leaning forward. I shrugged and a put a finger to my lips.
The phone gave thumping noises as the old lady picked it back up. “Are you still there? Hello? Moshi-Moshi? Hello?”
“I’m here!” I held the phone away from my ear a few centimeters. “Did you find out if I have yours or not?”
“Oh, that’s mine.” She laughed. “I must have dropped it when I left the supermarket this afternoon. I tell you what. You meet me at the ice cream shop by the hair parlor on the Main Street. Ok? And you can give me my inkan and we can all get some ice cream. I heard they’re doing special green tea soft serve with an oreo stuck in it.” She giggled. “That just about sounds perfect to me. What do you say?”
“Sure. Right now?” I poked Seiji with a grin.
“Well, it’s snack time, isn’t it? I’ll meet you there.”
“Sounds good! I’ll see you soon.” I hung up and faced Seiji as I stood up. “Hurry up and get your shoes on. We’re going to the ice cream shop.”
“What?” Seiji’s eyes bulged. “With that girl? But why? This is weird.”
“No, with a Ba-chan. It’s our meeting place.”
“You mean it was a Ba-chan’s all along?” Seiji looked doubtful. I nodded and scurried downstairs.
“It’s a better deal, isn’t it?” I looked back and chuckled. “I don’t know about you, but I can always use another grandma.”
“You have five you claim as a Ba-chan already.” Seiji grumbled. “What, do you collect grandmas?”
“Course not.” I pulled on my shoes. “But you just can’t help getting lots of new friends if you’re willing to go out of your way to help people, can you? I can’t help it that so far it’s been a lot of Ba-chans, can I? Maybe if you started doing this challenge too, you’d find yourself in the same position.”
Seiji hemmed and hawed for a bit as we walked out the front door. Finally he gave a little sigh and then laughed. “Ok. Challenge accepted.”
Well, that's it! What did you think? Also don't forget to leave me a comment letting me know where you are from!
You all have a lovely day!