Another Wednesday (Novel Excerpt from Ghosts of Nagasaki)

In my English school in Hamanomachi, in the downtown shopping district of Nagasaki, I find my little class of students waiting. My first class is a mess. One of my students, I’m sure, is in the wrong level, and another walks in late. So I end up backtracking throughout my lesson. The confusion of one student seems to roll into the confusion of the next, and the space in our tiny little class soon fills with the stale air of uncomfortable silence.

 

When I escape the treacherous grasp of my classroom, I find the other teachers sitting around the teacher’s lounge, bored and miserable. Jules from England sits and stares at her coffee with a look of absolute loathing. She’s been here for two years, and the repetitiveness of teaching English conversation classes seems to have slowly driven her mad. Though she moans about getting out, one month seems to fade into another, and she ends up in the same seat, crowing the same complaints.

 

The my Welsh roommate is a little bit hungover, and instead of being his usual chatterbox self, he sulks in the corner and says simply: “Wasn’t it Kundera who said that man can deal with a god who created evil more than a god who shits?” None of us have anything to say to that, and the room falls into more uncomfortable silence.

 

Sam from Scotland looks up from his planning book a full two minutes later to respond. “Wow, you must have been saving that one for a while.”

 

Jim from Jersey would have had a bit of wit and humor to add to an otherwise miserable day. But he, unfortunately, is gone. The new guy, who will be gone not too long from now, doesn’t seem to exist at all. His body is there, but his spirit just kind of disappears. The whole scene depresses me.

 

My Welsh roommate doesn’t even bother to respond. The bell rings and we’re off to teach another lesson.

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