Chapter 3:


Faulty Defectives

*Drip* *Drop*

Rain, the sounds of raindrops so easily captivate the vulnerable. Perhaps the tears from the vast clouds draw empathy from them by falsely sounding weak.

Which brings to mind a quote I've heard before,

"The drop of rain maketh a hole in the stone, not by violence, but by soft falling."

- Hugh Latimer



*ring* *ring*

An alarm clock, one of the few things I brought from "home" and probably the only luxury I have. I neither have the luxury of time, money, 8 hours of sleep, or a good home. But, do I even have the right to complain if I chose to leave that place?

A painful place for wrenching both the heart and the mind. A place I chose to forsake. As well as the path I ran away from.

It's been a while since I've left. How many years has it been since I've had a home?

"The home is where the heart is." or so they say. I'd like to believe that to be true. But then, that would mean I haven't had a home for a very long time.

Or is this cheap 38,000 yen, one-bedroom apartment in Tokyo now my so-called "home"? If so, what a sad home it is.

Arising from bed in the morning makes my head split in two. I haven't even slept for four hours and I already have to get out of bed. I look at the mirror as I wash my face in the morning,

"I look old."

It wasn't too hard to see, the bags under my eyes, the loss of materialism in them, and the few wrinkles on my forehead. I'm 22 and yet I look 30 plus. Most likely a side effect of working a 16-hour shift everyday.

"I'm off." I said to thin air, to an empty mess of an apartment, waiting anxiously for someone to reply.

I work as a convenience store cashier. It doesn't really require much leg work so it's a perfect job for someone like me. I go to work every day on my crutches.

I don't use my vacation days at work so even now in the New Year I work. I can barely pay my rent even if I go overtime, therefore, taking breaks isn't really an option. On the bright side, I've saved a bit of money now but I need to work more.

I'm not particularly fond of the cold so this New Year's weather isn't my style. But still, work is work. I finally arrived at where I work and just as I was about to enter, a seemingly middle-aged female customer left, carrying with her some sort of stick and a plastic with four cans of beer.

Her eyes continually looked forward even as she passed by me, like ignoring my presence. She suddenly took a can out of the plastic and started drinking. What? Is she gonna drink all that, this early?

The convenience store doors again opened, "Hiro, time to switch. It's your shift now."

The guy I switch during shifts with, Kise's his name. "Oh, my bad Kise. I was lost in thought for a while."

He took off with his backpack soon as we switched, "Really? That's quite unlike you. Well, I'll be heading out now."

Hours passed and not a single customer came in. Pretty soon it started raining and my shift came to an end. I took my umbrella and other things, switched with Kise, and headed out.

"An uneventful day and rain... what a bad start to the year." A cold day turned even colder in this rain. Even while using my umbrella, a few raindrops reached my clothing, lightly drizzling it.

Whilst going back to my apartment to get as much sleep as I can, I caught a hazy glimpse of a woman shakily walking toward me holding her umbrella from afar. She also seemed to be playing with a stick-like object

Just as our paths crossed, she bumped into me because of her shaky walking. Her umbrella fell to the ground as we picked it up.

"Oh sorry." I apologize even if she bumped into me though I didn't get a reply.

I couldn't get why but her face was looking upward as her hands were tapping the ground again and again instead of looking down. I finally looked at her still face and saw her frozen eyes. The white frozen-like parts of her blinded eyes looked like cloudy marbles which captivated me.

Accompanied by the soft tune of rain, it seemed as if this rainy weather were her benign tears. I handed her the umbrella and before she held it in her hands,

"The first rain of the year, and I'm here with you." It was as if the rain had stopped falling just to let me hear her words.

It sounded like New Year's greetings to me, "Uh, happy New Year to you too."

She giggled lightly and her still expression came to an end,"Pfft, that's your reply."

I couldn't quite get why she was laughing, maybe she's drunk? "Are you gonna be okay on your way home?"

She stood up instantly and all her shaky walking stopped, "I'm good now, I've sobered up, see you. "

Her leaving gave me an unusually unsettling feeling as if a hole would appear on my chest, I didn't want her to leave and so I,

"W-wait! Can you give me your number so I can call you?" My awkward self couldn't have picked a better time.

"No need, I feel as if we'll meet each other again." She answered with composure but it wouldn't satisfy my discomfort.

"Then, what about your name?"

She stopped slightly and faced me wearing a gentle smile as the rain let up, "Sato, Hana Sato."

Her feet started walking away again and I finally stood up and raised my voice, "Mine's Taki! Hiro Taki."

"Well then Taki, this day marks our first meeting and the beginning of our friendship. Nice to meet you."

Joe Gold