-For my little ones who never got the chance to grow up and explore the world.
-And for Megumi Yokota, may she one day be able to return to Japan.
Ichiro sat in his English class listening to his teacher’s every word. Normally, he wasn’t all that interested in English as he spoke it fluently and there wasn’t anything new he was learning. However, the English teacher for the first years was out with the flu, Mr. Townsend took over. Townsend was the ALT currently assigned to Midorigaoka High School. He had a playful sense of humor about him that made him popular with the students. For Ichiro, it wasn’t their shared English ability that connected them but rather their mutual love of history.
This particular class, Mr. Townsend was teaching history in English. He spoke slower than native speed so that most students could keep up, that is if they wanted to learn about history. There were some students who were doing work for other classes and some were asleep but most of the students were treating it like a normal class. They wrote down what he wrote on the board and raised their hands when he asked a question. Naturally, some questions took some encouragement to get someone other than Ichiro to raise their hand.
“So can anyone tell me why North Korea exists today?” Townsend’s eyes shot to Ichiro as he raised his hand. A grin formed on his face as he surveyed the room before motioning to Ichiro to answer. Ichiro began to stand but Townsend waved him off to remain sitting while answering the question. He didn’t like students standing to answer as it took extra time and he preferred a casual atmosphere in class.
“Because the Korean War ended in a stalemate.”
“Well, technically the war is still going on as there was no official truce but you’re essentially right,” Townsend said. “However, it goes further back than that.”
Now Ichiro was really intrigued. He had learned the two sides of the country were backed by the Soviet Union and the United States and the two ideologies clashed eventually resulting in a war that left the country divided.
Townsend smiled knowing he had Ichiro hooked. The other students paying attention were waiting for Townsend to continue so they could continue writing.
“North Korea exists because of Japan.”
The class erupted in a collective “EHHHHH!”
Kanon heard the reaction from her brother’s classroom. She wondered what they were doing that caused such a noise. She knew it was Mr. Townsend’s class which was usually fun and entertaining. Despite her English fluency, she had fun in his classes. She figured her connection to him was also due to the fact he was one of the basketball coaches and he was very playful with the players.
Her eyes reluctantly focused on her own teacher. She sighed wishing she was in there as she knew it was much more interesting than math. She hated math with a passion. She hated how one problem could take twenty minutes to solve. She did well on tests but she’d rather be in classes she liked. As soon as class was over, she couldn’t close her books fast enough. She didn’t want to spend any more time looking at anything math related than she had to.
She stretched her arms as high as they’d go relishing her the freedom the bell had given her from the confines of math. Her two best friends Yuina and Sara, who were also on the basketball team, came over to her.
“Let’s go to the mall since we don’t have practice today,” Yuina said.
Kanon nodded. “Sure. I have to fend for myself tonight because my mom is working night shift and my dad will be at a drinking party with his coworkers.”
“What about your brother?”
“He’s usually too tired to eat much of anything after baseball practice. Besides, I think he’ll be with Miyuki-senpai before coming home.”
Just as planned, the trio went to AEON once school let out for the day. They casually strolled in and out of various stores throughout the different levels of the mall. They didn’t have any real intention to buy anything. They just liked to look around and make mental notes of what they wanted. Kanon’s birthday was next month so now was the time for her to start dropping hints to her parents for a birthday present. The one thing she did buy for herself was books. Her room was lined with books and if she wasn’t careful then her collection would begin to take over her father’s study.
Kanon gazed at the covers on display waiting for something to catch her eye. Two men walking past randomly caught her attention but she didn’t see much of them as they disappeared down another aisle. Her eyes then took notice of a magazine on the shelf where she lost sight of the two men. She leapt to the shelf and ripped the magazine from the shelf. Her swift movements attracted her two friends over to her. Their interest quickly faded as they realized she was looking at a Super Sentai magazine.
“What? Don’t judge,” Kanon said. “This is interesting.”
“If you say so,” Sara said.
“You going to buy that?” Yuina asked. “I’m hungry.”
“Yeah, me too,” Sara said. “Let’s go downstairs.”
Suddenly, Kanon looked up as she heard a conversation from the other side of the shelf. It was in Korean. She started to smile as she could understand it. One of them was talking about the cute girls at the cashier counter.
“What?” Yuina asked.
“I can hear two guys talking in Korean.”
“Did you really learn so much from watching Korean dramas?”
“I’ve also been to Korea a few times.” Kanon was only telling half the truth. She withheld other information involving which part of Korea and when. Kanon paid for her magazine and the girls headed out of the store. They passed two Korean men and an older woman on their way out and Kanon focused her attention on their conversation. One of them, the much older man, said something about recognizing a girl. Now that Kanon could hear them more clearly she recognized their dialect and her smile disappeared. It was a North Korean dialect. She was so focused on listening to their conversation that she didn't realize the woman stared at her