You were coming home from college, having had only one class that day and riding home on the public bus with a friend when your phone rang with your mom's ring tone. You think about ignoring it, since it's the beginning of a three day weekend and you're planning to go down and see your friends for the first time in a month or two, and you really don't feel like dealing with your cluttered room at this moment, but before you decide your hand picks it up and presses talk, so you sit back resigned to deal with the Mother for a while.

The consulate had been overly nice about your extended stay after all; it was a nice comment on their reports to their overly large and heavily sweating boss. You could have gone to any university in Japan, but decided to kill time in America. Your family always referred to it as the American influence. You call it the Tokyo horizon. It is only ironic then, that you look so typically Japanese. Everyday, slowly, you kill yourself a little more.

The bus driver looks bored with his route; you're sitting close enough to tell that his eyes aren't entirely focused on the road. There are three loud passengers in the back, a noisy woman who looks like you would break her in half if you breathed on her, and her friends, two vaguely ethnic looking men that appear not to have bathed in a long while. There are four typical bus riders in the back, with blank faces and dead fish eyes, ignoring everything but the scenery, some listening to their music, one black and silvered youth looking as though he fell asleep long ago.

You contemplate dying your hair orange.

You had put your phone on vibrate and level eight ring tone, while contemplating setting the U2 song you recently got on it while rejecting it because the Kbps sound like shit or 64,which is more or less the same thing, ironically a few hours later you forget to download it to CD while having access to a perfectly good broadband, but ultimately settling it on some random Sprint generated crap that sounded like something your mom would like.

You're still trying to decide four months later if it was an insult or a complement while choosing this. You decide to put it off again as it's a distracting and useless thing to think about and debate. You try not to think about the fact that you make a hobby out of debating useless things in your head.

It went off in vibrate mode once in the class, and you were enormously happy that the instructor didn't notice that you were typing a message back to your friend about when she could give you your bento box back from the one day when you made lunch and blatantly ate it in CS 100.

You have the same slight feeling of oh shit, although you see several people on their phones, and no signs up against it.

You hear the first few words, and you get the feeling you do the first few seconds after you swallow melon soda, after you fly over a particular vicious speed bump in the road, the worm in your ribcage after the mind-blowing moments after a heart murmur, the white super novas in behind your retinas so disturbingly close to the motion falling towards the ground and missing.

You didn't notice until then on how cold your skin was, even though you have a heavy coat and the winter light is heavy on the back of your neck. The hairs stand up on your hairline, you can't see them but you're sure that the rest of your hair is standing on end as well. You once heard there is no scientific term for the back of the knee. If you turned to look in one of the glass windows, you know that you will see your hair creeping up and sticking out of your head like a sea urchin. You wonder how your friend sitting next to you does not notice the hair-needles you have sprouted. You're wearing your large boots, even though they're broken, and you cease to feel your toes.

You break down in a silently sobbing mess once you get off the phone, gripping your friend's arm so hard that you're sure you leave bruises for the next week or so, although you're in Japan for that time so you can't be sure. You leave an almost incoherent message to your counselor, explaining you have to go. Oddly enough, they're used to you going to Japan by now. Oddly enough, they're used to a lot of things out of you by now.

But not this. Never this.

You stare at the wall for several minutes after you get back to your room. You refuse the urge to roll on to it, knowing that you'll miss your bus at five if you do, even it it's only 2:30. You pull out all the black clothes you wear, which is a surprisingly small amount, thinking of the reputation you have. They're the same clothes that you will be wearing for the next month or so. It doesn't take a long time to stuff in to a duffel bag that you will have to empty out again a few hours later, but you sit on the floor, in a sort of fugue daze. You don't remember getting off the bus.

Your mind is surprisingly blank.

You finish packing and try in vain for an hour to find your belt. Your roommates find you gibbering with red marks on your arms, and no real explanation for them. You have explained to them calmly before that you are not masochistic. You cannot explain the red marks on your arms. You finish getting the things you need half an hour before you leave, and your roommates give you a paper lunch box filled with two cheese and tomato sandwiches, and two cookies that will alternately go in your stomach and grow mold after being forgotten for a week. You will throw that lunch box away at KIX in Osaka.

They help you haul everything up to security, check out, and wait in line. You make small talk with someone who likes strawberry while you wait. You don't know her name, but are vaguely surprised at how normal you sound, then round off quick good bye as you scramble in the bus, hoping you don't have to sit by anyone.

You do.

However, you don't mind them and they don't want company, so you're fine with the circumstances. You blatantly ignore the signs prohibiting food or drink, munching on the tomato sandwich you don't really taste, and chew on the moist cookie. It's from Pepperidge farms. You remember buying it at target, intending on ruining your roommate's diet. Someone stares at the sign and asks sarcastically what kind of sandwich it is.

You tell them.

The ride to Seattle is uneventful, slightly depressing, and you are surprisingly empty inside.