David had a sense of life breaking against the shore in wave after pulsing wave, leaving in its wake an undertow that threatened to wash out signposts that kept him in suit and tie, tethered to the dubious practice of teaching conversational English. On the subway from Hiro-o to Monzen Nakacho––against the flow of Tokyo commute traffic––he realized that he felt a debt of gratitude to Eve for pulling him from the quicksand of the appointment-driven life.
Having lost the ability to connect meaningfully with the opposite sex following his breakup, a warm body beside him typically reminded David of how much he missed Koharu's sensible presence. Eve had broken through all that somehow––closeness with her was an imperative, not a choice, and he been in Japan long to know that he could no more avoid what was destined than the weather.
More to the point, developments of the past day had banished the dread he typically felt coming back from vacation to bursting-at-the-seams Tokyo––thrust in front of chafing-at-the-bit teenagers who expected him to provide the day’s dose of comic relief, even as he attempted sagacity. This at least tamed the old teaching ennui, put things in perspective. As temperamentally unsuited as he might be for pontificating in front of large groups, stage fright-induced anxiety was a luxury of the past.
Classes passed in a blur as David went through lessons that, in the best of circumstances, formed a murky bouillabaisse of knowledge in students’ heads. Which was not to say that what he taught did not have some subconscious effect––if these kids were spoiled, they were not unintelligent. The boys’ horseplay, centered around yanking loosened ties and ignoring him when it was their turn to speak, did not get a rise out of him. Nor did he admonish the girls who hiked their skirts as high as possible––as much to test limits as anything else.
Thoughts of Eve left concentration in tatters, even as he drilled students on how to make small talk in the office, at pro-Democracy rallies––it was amazing what he could slip past the homeroom teacher. Nominally in charge, old Yatsuuri had minimal English and even less interest in lessons––except as a sleeping aid.
During break he caught himself running his head through his hair and muttering to himself––if those in the teacher’s room noticed David’s odd behavior, they didn’t show it. There was no reason why they should. He was a foreigner, on the fringes of what was comprehensible. He would literally have to jump from desk to desk stark naked, whooping like a monkey and reciting the preamble to the Constitution, for any of them to bat an eye. And even then... their reactions would be limited to a quizzical tilt of the head… another cup of tea?
At lunch David slurped his way through a bowl of udon as his junior high school counterpart Darren recounted vacation exploits in logging-country Nanaimo. There was something smug in his expression, reflecting newfound pride to be from the world’s surrogate “land of the free.” David wondered how Eve was managing while he was away––still confined to the gaijin house he hoped, staying well out of sight. He had advised her against showing her face on the streets of Tokyo before they came up with a plan––problem was, no matter how hard he racked his brain, nothing resembling a plan came.