I regretted that I was not able to attend our company’s Christmas Party last Saturday. And to think it was my birthday, and I was moping around in my house because I had fever. It was really uncool.
That Monday morning, Frank told me that Lyka was not able to attend the party too. I did not know the reason, and I was not interested at all. I had finished one lesson for the textbooks when she came. During lunch, she told us she wasn’t able to attend the party because of some personal matters that she had to attend to and she wanted to go out tonight. I was a little surprised, plan was really not in my to-do list and I didn’t prepare for it, financially I mean. Good thing she said we will use our textbook allowance. But even if she said it, I still was very doubtful. However, when she said she will be inviting the students, I felt a little excited because I knew Yuya will be there. I prayed to God that he will join us.
When went to the pantry, some of the students were still there, including Yuya. She invited Mori, Eisuke and Yuya. However, she reasoned out that it was for my birthday. I was a little uncomfortable because, first of all, it wasn’t my idea; next, I ain’t got that much money, and lastly I wasn’t comfortable telling them that it was for my birthday. Fortunately, Yuya agreed to go when Lyka invited him. In the end, all students - Yuya, Eisuke, Mori, Koji, Ryo, Ryuji, Yoko, Karin and Tatsuhiko went with us. They were accompanied by me, Frank, Lyka, Marjorie (another teacher, who later became one of my close friends), Yuka (the one who oversees the welfare of the students) and Macky (another staff).
We assembled in front of the building. We went in groups because Yuka had to wait for Michelle, the assistant manager, since there were still online classes going on. The only good thing about waiting for Michelle was that I was with Macky, Yuka and guess who? Right, Yuya! Haha! He gladly waited for us. We waited for almost 1 hour, and even though I am not a very patient person, that almost one hour state of waiting was heaven. Yuya was talking with Macky so I had the chance to really, really stare at him. I memorized every tiny detail of him. The crease on his forehead when he can’t understand something, the way his lips move when he speaks, his ways when he laughs at something or when he wants to ask something, and most of all the way he taught me how to count in Japanese from one to ten. We talked about so many things when Yuka finally decided to go because Michelle sent her a message that she was on her way.
The initial plan was to go to a karaoke bar located in the city center, but there wasn’t any available rooms for us, and some bars wouldn’t let us in because of the kids - Karin and Tatsu. So we decided to go to Mr. A instead. Mr. A is a restaurant nestled in the upper area of Pine Crest, and it overlooks the city. It was where most couples and foreigners go to have intimate dates, and dinner. Families also go to Mr. A for parties and social gatherings. Since the easiest way to go to that place was to ride a cab, we hailed four cabs. And, to my greatest delight, Yuya was with me in our cab! My other companions were Ryo and Macky.
We were the first ones who reached Mr. A, I inquired if their karaoke room was available, but there was still a party going on. They had one room big enough for all of us, but there was no air-conditioner, not to mention, the rate was a little too much for me to handle. Macky and I decided to wait for the others before we make a decision. I told Ryo and Yuya that we will wait for them in a bar near Mr. A. The bar was small but somehow cozy with a billiards table. The students were able to play billiards, and we were able to take pictures. I was euphoric because I was able to take Yuya’s camera and take pictures with it (just goes to show what a camera whore I am!). After the game, we decided to go karaoke.
The place was a little neat. We joined the tables together, and Frank - as scheming as he is, devised a plan for Yuya to sit beside me, and Ryuji, his “crush” to sit beside him. We ordered food, and some of the students ordered alcohol. Thank heavens, they don’t get drunk easily. We sang a lot of songs, and take this, Yuya sang “Top of the World” by Carpenters and “Imagine” by The Beatles. He was just so adorable! I really, really wanted to kiss him.
I was having a lot of fun when my mom suddenly called me. I realized it was very late and I lost track of the time. My cellphone battery was almost empty, I had to borrow Macky’s battery so that I could call my mom. I told her I’ll be home by 1 AM because I had to accompany the students back to the school. Did I mention that the one of the school’s branch where they held offline classes is in an apartment building where they are staying at the same time. When I was done with my call, I told Lyka that I will go home soon, and she told me to just wait until our time is up, which was, I think 30 minutes before midnight.
When it was time to pay, I was very uncomfortable, I couldn’t look at the students’ eyes. Something during that moment made me really really edgy and awkward, that I had to ask Marjorie if they were alright about paying. She told me that they were fine with it, but that did not really improve how I felt. Then, as if to really rub it in, Yuya was not in the same cab with me. I was with Eisuke, Lyka and Koji. Talk about the most awkward ride for me.
I was praying to all angels and saints that Yuya will still be waiting for us in the ground floor. Thankfully, he and the others were still there. He said goodnight and then went to his room after a moment of chit-chat. Frank gave me a ride on his motorcycle to my place. After the “celebration of my birthday”, I couldn’t help but smile. On the other hand, I couldn’t help but think about what or how the students must have felt about something.
I was worrying about it all night long…
I went on with my usual routine - work, home, work home. I started to get inspiration from that certain student named Yuya and was twice as hardworking as before. I was a bit unsettled because my birthday is fast approaching. I needed to save so that I can go out during that day. And, as if to add to the pressure, my company’s Christmas party was set on the same day as my birthday! The urge to buy a new dress and a new make-up set was really creeping me out! Honestly, shopping was never really one of my hobbies. Other people can shop for hours; I can shop in minutes but still have everything I needed.
I was working quietly with Frank one night, when some of the students went to the pantry. I heard that they were not eating there because one of the students, Yuji Kondo, is going back to Japan the next day, and they were going out. Yuya, and some of the students were in the pantry waiting for the others. That was the time that I decided to introduce myself to him. He was looking for a place to sit, and I thought, it’s now or never Mara! I approached him, offered my hand and said, “Hi! I’m Mara!” I didn’t know if he was shocked, or thought I was crazy, those 30 seconds that he stood there staring at my hands were the worst 30 seconds in my life because I thought he wouldn’t take them. My eyes lit up when he took my hand and said, “I’m Yuya!” I tried my best not to say, I know. Instead, I was debating whether or not I would be the first to let go. His hands were smooth, not the typical hands of a guy, and they were huge, compared to my hands! I didn’t know who let go first, but for a split second, I could tell he was also a little affected of that physical contact! But then again, maybe I was just hallucinating.
I was about to talk to him when Eiji Sakai, a guest in the school, and who has become a good friend of ours called me and asked for my help in contacting the cab service. I was disappointed because I had to pass up the chance to talk him in order to help them call for a cab. It was raining hard outside that they weren’t able to get a cab by themselves so we had to call the cab service hotline. I also felt good helping them, and after a few tries of we were able to hire one cab. Half of the students were on that cab, including him. It wasn’t really such a bad day for me, because at least I was able to talk to him, the thing that I have been dying to do ever since the day that I met him.
After that day came my birthday, and our company’s Christmas party. I wasn’t feel well and even though it was my birthday, I stayed at home and slept all day! I had fever! Somehow, I thank the gods because they were on my side! Not feeling well was an excuse not to go out during my birthday, and not to attend the party. The only thing I regretted about it was that I wasn’t able to spent time with him. I knew he was at the party, Frank sent a text message saying that he was there, looking, I know, as gorgeous as he is.
"I will finish this today!" I started to chant those words in my head as I tried to scan the pages of the textbook that I was about to edit, well, technically, to write. My name is Mara and this is my accounts on everything - from the littlest and most boring details to the most enjoyable moments of my life while working as a textbook writer in one of Pine Crest’s Japanese-owned ESL schools. That Wednesday evening, I was so tied up with beating the deadline that I couldn’t type anything else on the page except for that doomsday date.
My partner, Frank is on the other side of the table totally looking as bored of the job as I am. ”We will never finish this by the deadline that Lyka gave us,” I told Frank. I was worried because of the fact that I was running out of ideas to incorporate in the textbook that we were working on. Frank just stared at me. After a few seconds he said, “Let’s take a break first. Let’s rest our precious brains and our lovely faces.” As you may now know, Frank is the gayest person I know in the planet. But because we are working in a Japanese company, he tried his very best to act as manly as ever. On the outside, he stays a man, but as he says, in the inside, he is as woman as he can be.
I laughed after he blurted out this words. It was clear to me that he too was running out of ideas. “That’s a good idea! Besides, it’s almost dinner. The students will be here soon,” I told him. I forgot to tell you that because the Textbook Team, that’s what Lyka calls us, has no permanent office yet, we are doing our job in the pantry. The pantry is where every one - from the students, teachers, to the staff, do almost everything, except of course when they need the comforts of the bathroom. At 6 PM, the students will have their dinner in the pantry. Currently the school has 10 Japanese students for their one-on-one or face-to-face classes, or what they usually call as offline classes. Of these 10 students, I know 2, Mori Okemoto and Eisuke Kameta.
Students’ dinner always excites Frank and I because some of them are really food for the eyes. Even Lyka, our boss who’s always late, likes one student. It was 6 PM already and I was getting ready to greet the students who came down to the pantry when suddenly someone, he, entered and sat down to the table in front of us. I was totally mesmerized by him. He was one of the students, and he was sitting right in front of us, totally oblivious of the stares that I was giving him. I like him! I knew from the moment I saw him enter the door that I did. His eyes are like two cute little round brown chocolate that stared pass me, his nose is perfect, his shoulders are broad and I wonder how it feels like to put my head on them, his arms were slender and smooth and I wonder how it feels like if he’d put them around me, and those lips, those lips are too soft to eyes, what more to my… Ooopss… My imagination began to linger to places that it shouldn’t have reached on my first encounter with him.
I immediately pinch Frank, and he looked back at me, totally irritated. “What?!” He said. “Can you please take his picture for me?” I said. He asked, confused, “Who?” “The guy in front of us,” I answered. “Why would you want his picture?” Frank said. “Because! What if tomorrow he goes back to Japan, and I didn’t get his name? What if I will never have the chance to know him? At least I have his picture, right?” Thankfully, Frank took the hint. He quickly understood that I have a crush on this student.
Reluctant, and careful, Frank took out his cellphone, and made a shot. He took 2 photographs and send it to me via bluetooth. I was arguing with myself whether or not I will approach him and ask him for his name, or have a little chit-chat with him, like I always do with some of the students. Still, I couldn’t seem to do the usual things I do with the students to him. I couldn’t look straight to his eyes, I look away every time he looks our way, I, the talkative me, becomes silent when he is around.
I decided to ask someone who he is. I asked Mori, trying my very best to sound innocent, what his name is. “Mori, I still don’t know that student’s name. Who’s he?” Mori looked at him and said, “Oh, he is Yuya.” I didn’t know how I reacted when I heard Mori say his name, but Eisuke and him were looking at each other with meaningful glances. Or maybe it was just my imagination. But I knew that my eyes twinkled, and somehow, I blushed a little.
At that moment, I knew that name would mean so much to me. At that moment, I knew that name would make me feel something. At that moment, I knew that name will be a part of my life. And that name is Yuya.