NARRATOR: "The bell rings and the teacher at the front of the room gestures that classes are over for the day. Although getting into this class was surprisingly easy, it's only been a few days and I'm still not used to the experience. The actual signing is easier to pick up than I expected, but most of my classmates are hard of hearing. On top of that, the teacher favors immersion. I haven't heard her speak since I asked if I could take the class. It's an alien concept, and really unnerving. The moment I step out of the classroom, I hear a familiar laugh explode through the air a short distance to my left."

MISHA: "Hi, Hicchan~!"

NARRATOR: "Misha's not in my sign language class, so this is the first time I've seen her in this context. I still don't know whether her not being in my class is good or bad. It would be more interesting with her in it, but the potential for awkward situations would increase drastically."

HISAO: "Hi."

MISHA: "It's a surprise to see you here, Hicchan! ...Ah, that's right! You're taking sign language, aren't you~? Right~! What do you think of it so far, Hicchan?"

HISAO: "It's not easy to learn a new language, but I think I'm getting the hang of it. Despite how different it is from other languages, it's still easier than English."

MISHA: "Haha~! Really, Hicchan? Hm~... I agree~!"

NARRATOR: "I was just joking, but she's apparently totally serious. I wonder how Misha can effortlessly translate things to me while simultaneously having a conversation with Shizune in a different language like she does. Until now, I've taken for granted how amazing it is. Someone bumps into my shoulder and apologizes. It's getting kind of crowded here, what with it being the end of the day and all."

HISAO: "I think we should talk somewhere else instead of the hallway. Let's go to the roof or something."

MISHA: "Okay~!"

NARRATOR: "I decide to continue talking on the way. It's surprisingly quiet enough to carry on a conversation while doing so."

HISAO: "It's still taking me some time to get used to having to look at the teacher constantly. I guess I took all those years of simply listening to the lectures while I doodled for granted. It makes taking notes a lot more difficult, too. The introductory class is small, and I'm already behind. I guess I have a lot of stuff to do."

HISAO: "Yeah, this is much better."

NARRATOR: "I turn around to look back at Misha and see her staring at me with her hands on her hips and her cheeks puffed outwards."

MISHA: "Hicchan, you're behind? That's not good at all!"

HISAO: "I started the class a week later than everyone else. It's not that bad."

MISHA: "Okay, Hicchan, let's review what you learned, then~! I'll tutor you, okay~?"

NARRATOR: "This is the first time I've heard “I'll tutor you” used outside of dirty movies; I'm not nearly as turned on as I'd have expected."

HISAO: "I don't know if I need a tutor yet."

MISHA: "Aw..."

NARRATOR: "She looks more disappointed than usual. It makes me feel awkward to see her making that kind of face."

MISHA: "I want to be a sign language teacher, Hicchan! But~, it would really be great if I could try tutoring someone in it, first. Even if it's for a little while, the experience would be valuable."

HISAO: "Ah, well, yeah, that's true. I didn't know you wanted to be a sign language teacher."

NARRATOR: "It's hard to believe she isn't intentionally trying to make me feel guilty, because she's very good at it. Still, it makes sense. She's very good at sign language already from what I've seen, and certainly has the voice for dealing with the hearing impaired. I never saw her as the teaching type, though."

MISHA: "Hahaha~! It's the reason why I wanted to go to this school, Hicchan! It's also really expensive to attend here, you know. Because I want to be a sign language teacher, I have reduced tuition fees. If it wasn't for that, I don't know if I'd be able to keep going here."

HISAO: "I see. It's not that I think you would be bad at tutoring, it's just that I don't know if I need it just yet."

MISHA: "You're right, Hicchan, you're smart."

HISAO: "Well, no, that just makes me sound arrogant. All right, please tutor me."

MISHA: "Ahahaha~! Really? Okay~! Okay okay okay~! Yay~! Thanks, Hicchan~! I'll do my best! Let's start right now~!"

HISAO: "Too soon."


MISHA: "I miss Shicchan~..."

HISAO: "Didn't you just see her this morning?"

MISHA: "But it's hard to talk to her in class, Hicchan! There's no Student Council today, either~."

HISAO: "Well, there have been exams all week. I'd be kind of mad if there was still Student Council; I'll be glad when they are over."

MISHA: "When it's back, you're not going to skip out, right, Hicchan?"

HISAO: "Of course. I'm in it, after all. Don't worry, I'm not going to just suddenly stop showing up. A promise is a promise."

NARRATOR: "Misha pauses for a second, not looking very convinced."

MISHA: "Shicchan takes the Student Council very seriously, Hicchan. Now that you've joined, she works harder than before since she wants to make a good impression. Some other people joined, at first, but they stopped coming soon after. Shicchan tried to get more people interested in the Student Council but wasn't successful. Even when someone would join, they'd stop coming eventually. They'd make excuses and just put it off more and more until they stopped coming altogether. However... I believe that you really mean it, Hicchan."

NARRATOR: "My eyes stay focused on her hands, tilting and moving almost of their own free will, softly signing everything she is saying to herself as she speaks."

MISHA: "When you said you would join, she was really happy. Shicchan thinks you're interesting, Hicchan. An uninteresting person won't have the drive needed to join. Even if they do, a person that isn't interesting will quit soon after. That's what Shicchan said. So~! It's my duty to make sure you keep going~!"

HISAO: "Is that why you want to tutor me? You're kind of sneaky."

MISHA: "Really, Hicchan? That's the first time anyone has said that about me~! Wahahaha~!"

NARRATOR: "There's no chance that I would avoid student council work now. Thinking back over the past few days, I've started to realize that the only reason I joined in the first place was because of Shizune; her competitiveness and force of will are alluring. I can't tell Misha that, though."

MISHA: "Okay, Hicchan, let's review what you learned in class today~!"

HISAO: "You don't even know what I learned in class today."

MISHA: "Hm~, you're right, Hicchan~! Okay, let's start with the basics, then~! I'll just teach you everything from the beginning~!"

HISAO: "You're kidding, right?"

MISHA: "Huh~?"

HISAO: "You're serious? That's like, days of lessons, and we're not even learning on the same level..."

MISHA: "It's like riding a bike, Hicchan~! You never forget the basics! Wahaha~! I don't know how to ride a bike, though~..."

NARRATOR: "Oh no."

MISHA: "Right, right~. I want to be a teacher one day, so of course I know what I'm doing... Okay~! Okay okay okay~! We're starting~! Uh... ...Mmm~... Ahahaha~..."

NARRATOR: "She looks like she's trying very hard, so this could be bad. Well, learning a language is vastly different from teaching it, and the first step is usually the hardest part. Honestly, I couldn't do any better. Still..."

MISHA: "Um... Sign language was formally introduced in the 18th century by a Frenchman named... ah... whose name I can't pronounce, and he started the first public school for the deaf in 1755, but the unwritten history of sign language is said to... I don't really know where to start. Sorry~... Well~, what better place to start than the history of sign language? Right~? Right~! No, wait, maybe the alphabet. Okay~, the alphabet it is, then! Okay, Hicchan~! This is pretty basic stuff, although some people think that this is all of signing, and forget there are all kinds of specific gestures and words. Although you can't really get anywhere else without the basics! This is A. Do you see it? Now, you try!"

HISAO: "I already know this, though."

NARRATOR: "I humor her anyway."

MISHA: "Hahaha! Yeah, that's it! Now, this is B, and this is C."

NARRATOR: "Misha makes one symbol with each hand, without specifying which is which."

MISHA: "And now D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K, L, M, N, O, P, Q, R, S, T, U, VWXY 'n' Z~!"

NARRATOR: "Yeah, this is bad."

HISAO: "Do you think Shizune wants to do some student council work today anyway? We could go."

MISHA: "Of course not, Hicchan~!! Come on, I'll do it again! A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H, I, J, K... Your turn~!"

HISAO: "So there's really no student council work that needs doing, or anything like that?"

MISHA: "What are you talking about, Hicchan? Come on, sign, sign~!"

HISAO: "Like this?"

MISHA: "No, like this!"

HISAO: "Like..."

MISHA: "This~!"

HISAO: "Uh... huh..."

MISHA: "I wish Shicchan was here, this would be so much easier with her. Hahaha, that's how sign language is taught most of the time, anyway, with two instructors~! Did you know that, Hicchan?"

HISAO: "No."

NARRATOR: "I let my brain run through what this would be like if Shizune were here. ..."

MISHA: "Hicchan~! Are you paying attention?"

HISAO: "Yeah."

MISHA: "Shicchan says that sign language is different from any other, because you have to think about everything before you say it. That means every word has more weight, Hicchan. Every single one is more important than normal. So~, pay attention, please."

NARRATOR: "She continues her basic rundown of the basics of sign language. Eventually she starts talking about stuff I start to recognize. In the end, I'm impressed. It took a bit of stumbling to get there, but as a teacher, she's pretty good when she's serious. After awhile I start to notice that it's getting late, so I thank Misha, bid her goodbye, and go back to my dorm. I learned a lot today."

Next Scene: Chinese Whispers