Chapter 1:

Ren Morales: Introduction

New Leaf!

Today... is another day. A new day can either be better or worse than the last, and I strongly believe it's the former — almost to the point where it hurt.

Ren's POV:

The time was 5:42 AM. The day was June 26. I sat in a car of a Trans-Fort subway on my way to work at my office job. Some of the other people riding the subway were wearing suits and ties just like me; they probably work in offices just like me.

My name is Ren Morales. I am a 24-year-old office worker living in the modern city of Tronito. Right now, I was wearing a plain white dress shirt, a red tie, and a black suit coat along with matching black pants and brown dress shoes — I have heard people say that my attire is bland and lacks “personality,” but it is my workplace’s dress code; what can I do?

As for my physical features, I was six feet tall and had unkempt black hair of a medium length. I have dark brown eyes, and apparently, I scare people when I stare at them regularly. Regardless, it is not of any of my concern if they do not tell me it is.

My face…. When people approach me, a common question they ask me is “Are you okay?” or “Did you get enough sleep last night?” or “Why are you angry?” but none of those apply. Nothing is wrong with me, I am usually never tired, and getting angry never happens; Connie, my classmate from high school says that trait is a bad thing, but that should not be the case.

When the subway became exposed to the outside, I turned my head to look out of the window. Tronito was the large city that I lived in. People say that it was “the most lively city they’ve visited,” and I guess that is true. There were buildings with unique architecture and grand attractions such as the Cente tower. There were also various sculptures and artworks on many roads, street signs, or buildings. The city also had many outdoor parks, and the city paralleled a great lake, so the city was not entirely made of stone and concrete.

My view of the city abruptly faded as the subway descended underground again — the greyish-brownish walls blinded me and it became dark once more. At the platform, I exited and waited on a seat. Continuing down the subway’s track was a junction that changed its direction. I had to transfer onto a different subway to reach my workplace.

Now, it was 6:00 AM. The next subway platform was baron as it was still rather early. A lot of the people waiting with me decided to return to sleep, but I did not. I decided to review a booklet I received from work; repetition can enforce someone’s skill.

As I read, I heard footsteps. I looked up. The person approaching me the same age and height as me, but a little bit shorter. Not only was he wearing business-casual attire, but also a large smile. The man waved to me as he slumped himself into the seat next to me.

“Oh ho ho. Did not expect to meet you here. Morning' Ren Ren!”

“Good morning to you too Connie.”

This man was Connie Capperman. I have known him since high school and we became acquainted with each other. I even attended the same university as him, though we were in different programs. Connie has always been a frivolous person; I have noticed that everyone he meets has a positive impression of him. I have also noticed that despite us being busy adults, he finds time to spend time with me and enjoys it... right?

“Or rather, it’s our encounter with each other that’s unexpected — I know you use his line every time you have work.”

When he finished, he fixed his position on his seat. His smile was just as comforting as it’s always been. Connie sighs.

“Ren, talk to me. Allow me to share my troubles of being a responsible adult with you in a futile attempt to make myself feel better about my situation, yeah?”

I nodded and turned my head to him and raised my eyebrows, signifying that I was ready to receive. He continued.

“Gah… do you know why I’m later going to work than usual and why I was able to run into you? Because my work started an hour ago. They wanted me to help out somewhere else, so I had to get up much earlier to get there in time. Ah… I was also handed this mission very suddenly — I barely had any time to prepare myself… both mentally and physically. Gosh, why can’t the higher-ups plan better!?”

Connie stopped and grabbed a bottle of water from his bag and drank from it. I waited… and waited… and waited. Suddenly I realized — social cues. By the look of his glances towards me in frequent intervals, he wanted me to talk.

“Oh, uhm… yeah, that must have been tough for you. I hope you recover?”

Did I respond correctly? I did not know, but it did not concern me. If it was foolish, I knew people would laugh. I expected that… but Connie did not. He covertly shook his head, but I noticed.

“Nah, nothing that serious really. When I spoke, my tone was totally overdramatized, so I was exaggerating.”

Oh, I guess that did happen. Connie then leaned forward and rested his elbows on his legs. He also turned his head toward me. His seemingly permanent smile was clear to me.

“Ren, how ‘bout you? How's life been? Work’s been progressing smoothly. How’s Bailey been? How’s your mom been?”

“Oh, good, good. My work has been going well. I guess Bailey is the same as usual. And Mother… I assume she’s been well. I plan to visit her about a month from now. And….”

I averted my eyes from Connie’s and stared at the grey floor. I do not know why; I was not feeling any specific emotions at the moment.

“And my life’s been the same as usual.”

“I see.”

Connie leaned back in his seat. I wonder if I said something I was not supposed to because Connie’s smile shrank slightly. I decided not to think much of it; it is still the morning, so I guess he is tired from holding that expression.

It was now 6:20 AM and Connie’s subway was pulling into the station with a burst of air.

“Ah, that’s my ride. Well, Renny Ren, this is where we say farewell. So… farewell!”

Connie waved as he entered the car. Connie… he really is a nice person. Despite his attitude, he is also really hard-working; I know this because of the job he has.

As his subway left, I returned to reading the booklet again; I did not progress because Connie showed up. When the subway fully left, I sat alone once again, but I was not bothered.