Saturday, May 16, 2009

Opus 5

As you may have guessed, it took me a long time to realize Yune was the one for me. Oh Videl, don't look so shocked! This is what love is all about, falling for the wrong guy just because he's...well..wrong, and then falling for the right guy when you finally figure it all out. Well it took me the whole of sophomore year and a very special Christmas gig.

(You might wanna get a refill of your drink, Videl, this story is going to take a while.)

Now where was I? Oh yes! I was fifteen, a sophomore, and I'd just discovered a passion for jazz. In those early days I didn't know much about the style, just that it sounded good and it felt right mulling over all those notes in a laidback, elegant manner as I waited for the saxophone to start his solo. But what I heard instead was a loud, boorish splutter. Naturally the rest of the band cracked up and stopped playing, all except the drummer and me, but I looked up to see who'd made the sound too. And that was when I first laid eyes on the wrongest guy for me you could imagine. (You look like you're enjoying this. Haha.) Andy Stuart. He was a good-looking fellow and he knew it. Used it to his advantage too. Couldn't solo on the trombone for his mother's pyjamas, but he could still play classical music. But even a basketball player like you would know that football skills aren't what you need on the basketball court. It's like that with jazz and classical music. Any'ay, I guess I fell for his looks like any other girl in Lafayette High did. I ignored the fact that he couldn't solo and only played at the heads. I ignored it when he didn't play at all and just mimed. When I think about it now, I don't think it could even be called ignoring. I just...didn't hear it. All I could think about was those forest green eyes and the sparkle of his gold plated trombone.

Since I was so deaf, dum and blind, I didn't notice when the newcomer arrived carrying an alto saxophone case. He wasn't drop-dead gorgeous like Andy, but there was something about his face that drew you in. To some his eyes may have been a dull light brown, but in the right light, you could see a glint of hazel flecked with green. Sorry, didn't I say I didn't notice?

So there we were, waiting for the next soloist. I was preparing myself for the trombone fart that Andy usually produced to make us laugh, but instead there was a silence. And then, the most beautiful saxophone melody I'd ever heard rippled out across the music room. A rich sonority, like warm honey overflowing into your veins and sending a shiver down your spine. When I heard it, I almost stopped playing from shock. And I didn't quite recover as my fingers started to stumble over themselves on my bass. I had to resist the urge to stop accompanying and just listen to those unfamiliar yet soothing tones coming out of his alto saxophone. He seemed to notice my dipsiness, for he turned his body slightly towards me and smiled behind his mouthpiece. It was a challenge. His soloing began to speed up, hardly giving me time to recuperate.

He was pushing for a bass solo.

It was like those dancing brown eyes were saying, "Come on Airi, show me what you got. You know your playing's been dead for months." And he was the only one who could drive some life into it. But I wasn't ready. I wasn't ready for this. Who did he think he was to barge into my comfort zone and ask for a bass solo - something I hadn't tried because of the lack of seriousness the band had developed. Did he think he could change all that with one blasted solo? I resisted, trying to slow the tempo down. But to my horror, the drum beat wouldn't respond to my pulling. I spun wildly and made eye contact with Henri. He looked back at me defiantly with the same statement in his eyes, and something else...a plea...a plea to change it all. The lack of seriousness, the sound, and the colour of our band.

Henri's permission was all I needed. Unlocking the closet, I pulled out all the riffs, hammer-ons, tapping, slapping and phrasing techniques I had long buried and gave that saxophonist what he wanted.

I didn't notice when the others stopped playing and we just continued. I didn't notice when Andy Stuart swore under his breath. All I can remember is the feeling that burned in my chest after we'd stopped.

This is music, this is sound. This is jazz.

Then he walked across the room and answered my unspoken question.

"My name's Yune." Taking my hand, "And damn, you sure can swing, Isaki."

Monday, April 6, 2009

Opus 4

When I opened my eyes the next morning, I felt the excitement rise from the pits of my stomach, out of the depths of my dreams and envelope the new day ahead of me. Today was Saturday, and I was free. I didn't have to think about taking Jessica round school or the various IB deadlines that were now already far behind me. I didn't even have Jazz Band practice today since Mr. Adams said he needed the weekend to sort out a few instrument parts. As for Yune, he had basketball practice and thus, as I reminded myself again by grinning at the bathroom mirror - the entire morning was mine.

So what was my schedule for the day? Well! There'd recently been a couple of music shops and a randomly placed anime and manga cafe that had opened simultaneously on the Orange Boulevard. I was headed in that direction and fast, since I also had a piano lesson at 3:30 with my beloved Joanie for which I wanted to get back home before to have a quick warmup practice. Yep, 'twas a busy day ahead although I'd conjured up illusions of a lazy summer Saturday. But this was the first Saturday in a while that I'd had to go around town by myself. That's not to say that me and Yune spent every single weekend together - he was busier than I because he was in his senior year - but I'd always had to go into school for some music activity or another, not to mention the paid gigs I often got for the Jazz&Blues Bar in town. I'm not the perfect, model IB student that everyone thinks I am. For starters, I don't even know what I want to do in college. Just up until a little while ago, I'd sort of been running with Pa's idea of business management. But now I shiver at the thought of doing Maths for the rest of my life. I hate Maths. Maybe because I'm not very good at it, but still.

Without realizing it, I'd already walked into the new ani-manga cafe, picked up a couple of mangas and cashed them. I seriously needed to stop zoning out and switching to auto-pilot mode. I also needed to stop thinking about depressing things like my future! I briefly flicked through the mangas I'd just bought. The 9th volume of Nodame Cantabile, the 6th volume of BECK and the 1st volume of La Cordo d'oro. Wow. It was always about music for me, ay? I swung the bag against my knees as I walked down the Boulevard. Maybe I should save the music shops for later...

Wham. "OW!" I rubbed my nose furiously. Why did I have to have such a long nose?!

"Oh whoa, I'm really sorry! Are you okay?! Did I BREAK your nose?! Aw man, I really didn't mean to - I was just standing there and -" I waved my hand in an 'It doesn't matter' gesture and returned to my bent (I'm SURE it was bent) nose. Wait a minute. Who had I bumped into? I looked up at the towering figure before me. He was the tallest thing I'd ever seen, taller than Yune even! He bent sideways to look at my nose that was now a bright cherry red and grunted. "Itss noth buroken," I mumbled. Where had I seen this person before?

"Yeah, it's probably not broken," he said, obviously quite relieved. "But it's awfully red. And long." He grinned. He stopped in mid-grin suddenly and bent forward, peering closer at my face. Simultaneously, I leaned forward to inspect his very familiar features...

"Videl?" I exclaimed. It was Videl, albeit the red-and-blue patterned bandana he always wore no matter how hot it got. But his scalp was now a shiny egg and I came to the startling realization that - "Yeah, I'm bald, shoot me." He raised his hands in the air and glared balefully at me. "...Uh.." His mouth crinkled and he was grinning again. "Just kidding. You look awfully familiar, have I seen you before?" "I-I..I-" Why the heck was I stuttering? But Videl suddenly smacked his fist on his palm. "Airi! Isaki Airi, right? Yune's girl." I nodded my head. I didn't know what to say, his baldness was just too blinding... "Shouldn't you be at basketball practice with Yune?" He smiled. "Can I buy you a milkshake? It'll give me some time to construct my excuse, Ma'am." Now it was my turn to smile. It was impossible not to like this character, and it suddenly clicked why Yune often chose to hang out with him even though he was a sophomore. "Sure, but don't tell Yune!" I joked.

Videl bought me my favourite flavour without even asking. I bet he could tell I was getting more impressed by the minute. "Oh, is this your favourite flavour too?" he asked, innocently. Taking a sip, the irresistible chocolatey smoothness reminded me of praline. "It's Yune's favourite too since it reminds him of his favourite chocolates. We're chocoholics," I laughed, taking another sip. "Then I can tell we'll be great friends," he replied, taking the paper off his straw.

"Well? What's the excuse for the promising rookie to skip practice?"
"I had a doctor's appointment."
I scoffed. "Never heard that one before!"
But Videl didn't continue the reparte. He looked serious. "I didn't want to skip today's practice either, but I guess there are just some things you're better off not postponing," he sighed.
I put my drink down nervously. Obviously I'd hit a sore note. "If it's any consolation, I have to live with a doctor and be inspected, analysed and prescribed various disciplinary punishments every day!" He looked up at me, perky again. "Your dad's a doctor?" "Mm-hm." I rolled my eyes jokingly. "He's a senior consultant urologist. Basically the oldest, wisest and whingiest kidney-doctor on the job and boy, does he make it known at home." Videl laughed, egging me to go on. And so for the next half-hour I entertained him with various stories of Pa's shortcomings and saving graces. Videl seemed quite fond of my father by the time I'd finished off, the last story being the one where Yune had let him win at chess and thus obliged him into a grudging acceptance of him.

Videl leaned forward eagerly as he'd done many times before. "I've always wanted to ask this, but how did you and Yune.." he hesitated and then waved his hands together. I quickly interpreted the action to be 'hook up'. "Why, are you one of those who thinks we're not a good couple?" Videl shook his head furiously. "No way in hell, I think you guys are an awesome pair! But there has to be a story behind it, right?" Deciding he was genuine, I nodded carefully.

"Tell me," he coaxed.

Sigh. I guess there's no defense against guys like these...

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Opus 3


Her smile went out like a light.

'That Yune is your boyfriend?'

'Uh...yeah. Why - '

'Are you even on the girls' basketball team?'

'...No. I'm not very good at sports.'

'I thought so. Poor Yune.'

Jessica's face softened once more as she turned away from me towards the court.

"Airi?" My head snapped to attention. Oh. Had I been off in my own world? "Sorry Yu! I was just remembering something and I guess I just..." Yune sighed. "So you haven't listened to a word I said?" I smiled up at him apologetically. "Could you repeat it for me? I promise I'll listen this time!" "I guess there's no helping it," he said with a half-smile. "I was telling you that there's a new student in my class, a boy who seems to be related to those two new girls in your grade." This piece of news had my attention in an instant. I couldn't believe I'd zoned out on him. "His name's Tom. Nice guy inspite of all the family problems." "What family problems?" I queried. This might explain his sisters' absolutely abominable attitudes. "His parents divorced and he chose to live with his dad, but apparently his dad didn't want him around for his last year. Some new wife or something. So he was shipped out to live with his mom and sisters."

I lowered my head trying to imagine what parental rejection would be like. Oh wait. I'd already experienced that - Yune's mom positively loathed me. "You know what else?" said Yune suddenly. "Hm? What?" Yune stopped and turned sideways to face me. His mouth curled up in a mischievous smile. "You won't have to sigh and miss me so much in Jazz Band anymore. Tom's a tenor saxophonist. And he's really good." My face flushed red. "How do you know stuff like that..." We'd stopped in front of my house now and Yune gave me a goodbye peck. 'Poor Yune'...


Yune jerked, surprised by my outburst. My hands tightened around the handle of my bass case. " you -? Do you ever..." It was no use. I couldn't get the words out. Immediately Yune's hands were cradling my face. "Is this what's been bothering you the whole day?" he said seriously. "I...I just want to know if you think I'm lame for not playing basketball." Whew. It was easier if you said it fast!


I looked up at Yune. He turned away and 'hmphed' again. Was he...laughing? The colour rose to my cheeks again and I growled, "Yuuu!" Yu now burst into full-scale-fits of laughter, his eyes crinkling up as he held his sides. But just looking at him like that made me cool down. "I don't," he finally breathed. "You play the bass, and the piano. And most importantly, there isn't anyone else in the world like you." Yune took my hand then and squeezed it gently. "Makes me feel so lucky that I have the limited edition," he whispered. Tilting my chin with his other hand, he kissed me.

I wished this moment would last forever. Everyday I tried not to think about how close Yune's graduation loomed but the one thing you don't want to think about is invariably the one that occupies your thoughts the most. So it was with Yune's departure. 'I've got 4 months left!' he'd tell me. But his face would pale a little.

Especially now that Yune was applying for Mechanical Engineering.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Opus 2

For the most part it was easy showing Jessica around - she pretty much had all the same classes as me except for Music and Biology, which she swapped for History and Physics. Throughout the first half of the school day though, Jessica never said a word to me. All my attempts at conversation had been binned relentlessly and so I just chattered endlessly, on and on, about anything I could think of. It was because I found the silence between us unbearable.

And then came lunchtime. As Jessica's official buddy I was meant to make sure she wasn't alone during lunch, whether that meant sitting her at a table with my friends, or just sitting with her at a table of her choice. I'd been looking forward to lunch all morning since I'd had to sit through double Higher Biology (Cell Respiration, what the heck was with the Krebs Cycle?!) and I knew Mum had packed a particularly sumptuous lunch for me today. My stomach growled in anticipation. Boy, was I hungry! "Your choice of table or mine?" I offered Jessica. Of course, no answer. I don't know what I was expecting. "Alright then, let's go with mine," I began making my way towards the table where Tink and my other two friends usually sat.

But then...Jessica spoke.

"I'm actually not hungry." "Huh?"

I was dumbfounded.

"Yeah, you heard me right. I'm not hungry at all." Her eyes narrowed at the small blue icebox at my side that carried my packed lunch.

Oh no. Oh no she wasn’t. She couldn’t make me! I’d waited all day for this moment! I was STARVING. COME ON!

"Okay then, what do you want to do instead?" I heard myself saying. Why me? Why me?!

"I...." her static expression flickered for an instant. What was it I had seen there...longing? "I want to see the basketball club."

Unbelievable. After half a day of trying to get her hobbies out of her she finally decided to tell me at the most. Inconvenient. Time. I gave a resigned sigh, patted my icebox one last time and then shoved it under the nearest table. It would be safe. People knew from experience what happened if they tampered with my lunch.

This time, I didn't bother making useless chatter. I knew she wouldn't listen to me anyway and I was still a little peeved at her. So instead, I just walked sullenly on in the direction of the indoor basketball court. My mind began drifting to other things. What day was it today? Wasn't it a Tuesday? Which meant....Yune probably had a lunchtime basketball practice! This considerably improved my mood. At least I would get to see Yu. I led Jessica in from the court's side entrance and stopped immediately. There was Yune. The sweat streaming off him in rivulets yet giving his skin a sparkle in the pale light. I could watch him forever. He crouched, ready to spring up for a jumpshot -


I was supposed to be showing Jessica around. Idiot. "Um..this is the boys' basketball team. Well I mean...obviously, but yeah um..they've lead the school team to the regional high school championships three times." I paused. "And this year since they've been developing their three newest players, they're aiming for the nationals." I turned to look at Jessica to check if she'd been listening. I noticed her face immediately. It had literally come to life and her eyes were bright with unrestrained excitement. I smiled inspite of myself. I'd often seen Yune make the same face before games and so I thought maybe I'd begun to understand her a little. "Who - ?" she whispered. "Oh! Sorry, I forgot to tell you the players' names! Well that's the captain, Joe," I pointed to Joe who was marking Videl, "and then we have the three hulks: Mack, Phil and Adam." I now pointed to the practice-opposition. "Videl's new this year but he's seriously got some flair. He works the best with Talal and Stefano, who're high school juniors. Felix is the one on the bench watching, he's second-string since he's got a bad knee."

Yune dunked. The game was over. He turned to high five his team-mates and caught sight of me. His face lit up instantly in my beloved grin and he waved.

"And who's that?" I smiled. "Yune the ace-regular," I said.

"He's my. . ."

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Opus 1

Although me and Yune made bets all the way to school on whether I'd be late...I turned up 2 minutes early for homeroom. Yune's penalty? He had to watch the latest chick flick with me and buy me my favourite peanut M&Ms. However, he didn't seem too upset about it. He kissed me on the cheek before he left for the Grade 12 commonroom. Hmph. Yune was always too cool.

Slowly, a hand clamped around my shoulder and I was conscious of a looming figure behind me. Any minute now..."AIRI! WE HAVE TWO TRANSFER STUDENTS!" exploded Tiffany. She swivelled me round to face her. "Did I get you? Did I scare you?" "You touched me before you said anything," I laughed. "Anyway, what's this about transfer students?"

If you want to know anything about anyone, Tiffany is the person to ask. She literally keeps notebooks on transfer students as far as I know and she has this obsession with green, leggings, fairy wings and pom-poms on shoes. Hence the nickname 'Tinker Bell'. But believe it or not, Tiffany hasn't even watched Peter Pan. On my crazy friend list, she's definitely number one.

"They're not boys," she suddenly began to pout. "They're a pair of identical twins but they're nothing like each other. Oh I wish they were an indentical pair of guy-hotties!" Tiffany also tended to speak in a whine which sometimes got annoying. This was one of those times. As I walked into the classroom, I located the two of them almost immediately. One was tall and thin, though quite toned, with chocolate brown hair which extended to her hips. And as usual, the guys were already forming a crowd around her. She was pretty. I found her sister harder to locate, mostly because she seemed intent on watching her desk do nothing. She was noticeably shorter, but maybe it was because she was hunching. This one wore glasses and her mousy brown hair was cut short in a bob that fell around her ears. Nobody was talking to her.

"Hey Tink, how come none of our friends are talking to her?" I whispered to TB. "I don't know." But she seemed to not want to get into details, for she pranced away to talk to the pretty brunette too. Well I wasn't going to give up that easy! I put my bags and bass down by my desk and walked towards her, trying to figure out what to say. 'Hi!' Was that too trite? 'Hey Babes!' Nah...she'd probably think I was hitting on her and bring out the pepper spray. GAH. This wasn't the time to be joking about! I'd stopped in front of her desk and she'd straightened up stiffly. "C-Can I - ?" sit here...?

"No." Her eyes were smoldering and her lips were a line. I felt like I needed to go find a stone to hide under. So this is what Tink had been implying. Just then, I was saved by my homeroom teacher. "Isaki!" "Yes!" I squeaked. "You'll be Jessica's buddy for the whole of this week, got it?" The pretty brunette was staring at me.

Then it hit me. I had to buddy her. I couldn't decide what was worse - being horrifically snubbed by a new student or having to walk around with Jessica for a week! On the other side of the room, Jessica raised a sharp eyebrow.

Yep. It was gonna be one hell of a week.

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Atarashii Story ^-^

Been a while since I've written in this blog (as Yu-chan will tell you), but I've decided to become a regular blogger. I won't be writing about my personal life or anything, but I'll be continuing the story you read below. Let's just say I've decided to expand on my creative writing skills!

The main character's named Airi and she is in some small way modeled after me. I'll be writing in first person and although I know it has a lot of limitations as a literary tool, I can't be bothered writing in 3rd! XD I hope you'll enjoy my blog-story.

Please come back for more! New chapters will be added on a weekly basis.


Saturday, March 14, 2009


My 'ten minutes more' had turned into twenty.

Oh yeah.

I was in deep trouble.

Pa was already tapping his fingers in an annoying way on the other side of my cleverly locked door. I can't stand being woken up, especially by him. "Airi? Airi, you're going to be late! It's 6:40 already - " "I know," I groaned and practically dragged myself off the bed. "Yune's probably already waiting for you, you know!" yelled Mum from somewhere deep in the house.


Pa grunted and shuffled away from my door. Yune is my boyfriend. Cringe. I hate using that word. It's such a loose term and it sort of denotes...I don't know, a sort of temporary existence before the guy's thrown on the pile of reject-exes. I guess that's what it made Pa think of as well. He'd only recently begun to accept Yune as part of the family and that was all because of my older brother Senri's valiant efforts at inviting him round for family game nights. Yune even let Pa win at chess just to get on his good side. I laughed to myself as I remembered Yu's carefully constructed face of hopelessness, just before he moved his king in for...well...doom. But the rest of my crazy family loves him. Senri's in college and is two years older than me and a year older than Yune. Then there's Yuri who's 9 and Fritz, our Pekingnese-Lhasa Apso dog. Mum however, seems to like Yune even more than I do. Now that's scary. But Yune says that's just the way my Mum is. ( How does he know that?! )

By the time I'd gotten dressed and grabbed myself a piece of toast, it was 7:00 am and Yune was, naturally, already waiting by the gate. My heart skipped a beat when I saw him leaning nonchalantly on our fence. He saw me and grinned - the grin only I could get out of him.

"Let me guess. You hit the snooze button every ten minutes?" I stuck my tongue out at him and closed the gate behind me. I had this feeling like I'd forgotten something, but I couldn't figure out what it was...

"Well maybe you should try getting some more sleep like me sometimes. I'm the happiest person in homeroom!" He chuckled. "I'll give you that!" Pulling me close he whispered, "You forgot your bass, silly."


Shoot. So that's what I'd forgotten. And we had that practice first break for the gig! Looking at Yune I suddenly felt a pang of loneliness. Or rather...frustration. If that was even the same thing. I'd met Yu last year when we'd both transferred to Lafayette High and enrolled in the Jazz Band as bassist and alto saxophonist. I am not kidding when I say Yu was beyond amazing. He'd flawed the supervisor the first practice just from warming up on his sax. And of course, he'd peaked my interest since I only wanted to accompany good soloists on my bass. But it turned out that saxophone wasn't the only thing he was good at. And here was where it always got to me. Yune simultaneously tried out for the hardest basketball team in school, and got in. First string! I was happy for him at first but when the practices began to be scheduled on the same days as Jazz Band, I wondered whether Yune would quit basketball. But Yu didn't want to quit basketball or jazz. So he has this setup now where he spends two semesters out of four playing basketball, and the remaining two with the jazz band. Basically he gets to play jazz when they don't have any important games. I missed the sound of his sax when he was away. I didn't enjoy playing my bass quite so much when he wasn't around.

But of course I wouldn't tell him that.

"Are you after school?" "Hm? Yeah, I have basketball practice. Want me to carry your bass?" He shifted his bag so he could hold my bass with his free hand. I had a bad habit of carrying more than I could handle. It was a beautiful morning. The sky was just beginning to lighten into a brilliant azure blue and I craned my neck to get a better view of the clouds above me. I could hear the inner tinkle of an undiscovered melody just waiting for me to compose it. I'd do it, after I'd caught my favourite J-drama. So for the timebeing I swung my hands like a kid and hummed my new melody.

Beside me, Yu harmonized.