Kana’s first night at Ishin had not been too dissimilar to her first night in Kagoshima. A new home, a new bed, and hours of fitful sleep she could have counted on one hand. She wasn’t exhausted, thankfully; she’d grown accustomed to an erratic and stingy sleeping schedule through long stretches of brickish mattresses in roadside motels, or the passenger seat of her father’s car. Ishin was generous enough to give her a soft bed, warm sheets, and clean air, and so whatever restfulness was lost had been made up for quite well in comfort.
She’d been awake when Wakako left, tempted to ask if they might walk to class together, but she refrained. Her roommate had put up with her enough yesterday, and the last thing Kana wanted to do was repay Wakako’s kindness by being a burden, or clinging too tightly. Instead, once she was alone, Kana shuffled out of bed—folding the sheets without much practice,—donned her uniform, and gathered her materials into a small satchel she’d tucked into the duffle bag. On her way out, she took quick stock of herself in the dorm’s bathroom mirror, and frowned.
Hoped you might not recognize yourself just because you’re wearing a fancy uniform? she thought bitterly. One decent day isn’t enough to wash her out of your face. Sorry.
The map and instructions were clear, and Kana arrived at the classroom early, it seemed. Earlier at least than the teacher. There were already a few students there, faces she recognized from the day before—the put-off foreigner, the “kind of stiff looking guy” Wakako had mentioned, and the friendly, gelatinous Nadeshiko.
Wakako herself was there as well, sat beside Osamu. Kana smiled to her, waved, and noticed the seats were labeled. It must have been good luck, Wakako being seated next to the one person she’d known from the assembly, luck that Kana was hopeful for herself. Unluckily, she didn’t find her name near Wakako, or even Nadeshiko. A bit anxious, she checked the seats nearby the foreign girl—as quiet and unobtrusively as she could—but she didn’t find herself there, either. That wasn’t much of a consolation, Kana had been hoping for a seat near the back. Out of sight, out of mind. But as she continued to search, raking each row seat by seat, that anxiety built, and built, as she went on and on and on fruitlessly until at last there it was, and suddenly more than ever before she wished her name was not Mutsuki Kana.
Mutsuki Kana was assigned to the front row.