NARRATION: "I end up standing in front of the main building and the auxiliary building, although to my eyes, they still look one and the same. It's the first real look I get at the other students, so I watch people coming out of the school, going towards the gate or the dorms. Everyone seems to know where they are going. And I still keep thinking that most of them don't look too special for being students at a special school. Then again, neither do I. Does that make me one of them? One of us?"


NARRATION: "I should go somewhere too, to prevent me from getting lost. It's around dinnertime, but I feel tired instead of hungry. The weariness in me only grows as I trudge towards the dorms, set a little way apart from the main building complex. There is a garden of sorts between the school and the dorms; shrubbery, flowers and that overbearing smell of fresh cut grass that fills the atmosphere. It dawns on my tired mind that the smell feels novel because I haven't been outside at all for so long.

NARRATION: "The dorm building is big and made of red brick. Like the others, it feels way too pompous for what it is, so I push forward, going inside. It takes more time than necessary to fish out the key I was given from my pocket."

HISAO: "Room one-one-nine..."

NARRATION: "Despite the ornate exterior, the inside of the dorm is fairly new, functional, and boring. Just like in the main building, the halls and doors are wide to accommodate wheelchairs. The same goes for the elevators at the ends of the hallways. I poke my head around the corner of the common room door. Inside a few students are watching the television. One nods and gives a quick 'hello' before turning back to the TV. Seems that only the girls around here are sociable. I suppose that's perfectly fine with me. I climb the stairs to the upper floor."

NARRATION: "Here, small corridors branch off from the main hallway. Each of these minor halls seems to have a toilet and shower, as well as four rooms. About halfway down the hall, I spy room 119. The name plates on the rooms adjacent to mine are blank. I guess there are just two of us here. Light shines from below the door of room 117, so I knock lightly."

HISAO: "Hello, is anyone home?"

NARRATION: "From inside, I hear a few movements, then the clicking of way more locks than I thought these doors had. After a moment the door squeaks open. A bespectacled boy is standing in the doorway. He is looking at me very intently through his extremely thick eyeglasses."

KENJI: "Who is it?"

NARRATION: "Blind? No, at least not completely, why would he have eyeglasses if he was? He leans closer to me until our noses are almost touching. His breath stinks of garlic."

HISAO: "Hisao Nakai... I'm moving into the next room. I thought I should introduce my..."

NARRATION: "His face suddenly brightens in realization, and he stands back upright, thrusting his hand out in a smiling greeting, almost straight to my diaphragm."

KENJI: "Oh, 'sup dude? The name's Kenji."

HISAO: "Ah, hi."

NARRATION: "I take Kenji's sweaty hand and shake it, still a little rattled by the sudden change of attitude and vehement welcome."

KENJI: "There were some suspicious-looking people going in and out of your room earlier."

HISAO: "It was probably my parents."

KENJI: "Your parents? You sure? 'Cause they could've been some other people, too. You can't judge a book by its cover."

NARRATION: "His out-of-place proverb is left hanging between us awkwardly as I try to think of some way to respond."

HISAO: "I'd say the chances are high enough."

NARRATION: "He shudders and makes some exaggerated hand gestures."

KENJI: "You're a brave man, Hisao. Me, I don't think I could trust the chances. The only one I trust is myself."

HISAO: "Does that mean I shouldn't get to know you, either?"

NARRATION: "He thinks about this for a while."

KENJI: "A wise decision. Damn, you are smarter than you look. Probably. What do you look like? I hope not smart."

NARRATION: "He squints his eyes and leans closer again, but I lean backwards to dodge it."

KENJI: "Never mind, it doesn't matter."

NARRATION: "With that, he turns, fumbles around for a moment in search of the door handle and shuts the door behind him. I slide the key into the lock of the door marked 119."

NARRATION: "Bleak beige walls, white linen, a desk made of some type of light wood. Ugly curtains. It's no one's room; impersonal, like my hospital room was. My bags are sitting at the foot of my bed, looking a lot emptier than they did this morning. The closet is sitting open, stocked with my clothes. Also, it seems that there are a number of school uniforms hanging there as well. A note is pinned to the sleeve of one of the shirts."

Hi Hicchan. We've unpacked your things and made your bed. They said that if these don't fit then you should go to the office tomorrow. If you have any problems, you can always call us.

Love, Mom and Dad

NARRATION: "Well, at least I don't have to worry about unpacking. I kind of hoped I would have, then there would be something to do. It's still too early. I put the note down on the desktop and lie down on the bed, feeling drained. Lying there makes me want to read something, but I have nothing with me. I wonder if the hospital conditioned me for wanting to read whenever I have nothing to do. The restless urge just keeps growing until I have to stand up. Maybe it's stress or something. I was pretty nervous about it before coming and for the entire day today too. I still am, I think. Damn, I have to distract myself somehow, so I won't be this unnatural all the time. Tomorrow, I'll go borrow some books from the library. Yeah, I'll do that. But for now..."

NARRATION: "The bottles of medications neatly arranged on my night table catch my eye. I pick up one and shake it just to hear the contents rattle inside, and then read the glued-on pharmacy label."

Hisao Nakai

Two tablets daily to stay alive

NARRATION: "It doesn't really say that, but it could just as well. It's kinda twisted, having your life depend on chemicals like this. I resent it a little, but what choice do I have? With a sigh, I begin my new daily ritual of taking the right number of pills from each bottle, being careful to check the correct dosages."


NARRATION: "I lie down again, feeling hollow and uncertain, and after that I keep staring at the blank, unfamiliar ceiling for a long time. It doesn't start looking any more familiar, not even after darkness falls and long shadows draw across my room like fingers. The sheets feel slightly more comfortable, warm and nest-like against the chill that passes for room temperature here. Soon the lighter shade of darkness that is the ceiling looks like every ceiling does at night, and it becomes the only thing I recognize any more. The night beckons me to sleep, and I feel the coldness of unfamiliarity and fear creeping up my spine once again. I keep drifting further away from the world I knew."


Next Scene: Smalltalk