#samplesunday “The Homeland” from Yokai
I’ve always been fascinated by all things Japanese, so it was only a matter of time before I started writing about my fascination. Or my obsession. Whatever. Below is an excerpt from Yokai, released on May 15. But first, the blurb:
Sixteen-year-old Kit Maguire has never met her mother, made lasting friendships, or had a permanent home, and she’s always known that she was a little different from others. When Kit and her father move to Kyoto, Japan, her father insists that this time will be better, but Kit is reluctant to give it a try. The kids in Kyoto seem to be the same as everywhere else: judging her for her looks before they get to know her. She figures it’s just one more short stop that she won’t make friends, so why bother?
With the appearance of her thought-to-be-dead mother, Kit yearns to find out more about her mom, their family, and why she has the ability to conjure green fire. When a girl named Yoriko insists on becoming friends and two of the hottest guys in school vie for her attention, things get complicated. Kit learns just who she is and what she’s capable of, but with that knowledge comes the realization that she may never be able to have a relationship with Riku; as their clans are bitter enemies. Kit hopes that their love will bring the clans together and that she’ll get everything she’s ever wanted: family, friends, and a place to call home.
And now, the excerpt! “The Homeland”
They’re whispering “Gaijin.”
As if I can’t hear them.
The girl in the corner leans over to her neighbor, covering her mouth as if I am a lip reader, but I’m not. I can hear her hushed voice anyway, soft and cruel.
“Kanojo wa Amerika-jin desu.”
She is American.
I stare at my feet. Clutched in front of me, my book bag, a square thing somewhat like a businessman’s briefcase and so unlike the one I had used in the States, brushes my navy pleated skirt. This uniform thing has got to go. I feel like a freaking Sailor Scout. My right hand goes to my throat, clasping my necklace, a tiny key with a heart for a handle on a black silk cord, for reassurance. The cold metal gives me strength as I think of my mother and steel myself against the whispers.
“Kit Maguire,” the teacher says, her voice warm and welcoming, a stark contrast to the whispering teens. Her drab gray skirt-suit and hair pulled back in a severe bun seem so sharp, so cold against her warm smile and welcome. Miss Tanaka’s red eyeglasses are the only spark of color on her. She places a well-manicured hand on my shoulder and extends the other one toward the class. I look out over the sea of new faces I would probably never come to know. Dad said this time would be different, that this time was special, I just didn’t know it yet. I didn’t believe him. He always said it would be different every time we moved. How could this time be any different?
I spy an empty seat in the corner by the window and make a bee-line for it, my feet feeling unusually heavy in the strange bleached white school shoes. The whispering continues as I pass through the rows of desks, but I try to ignore it. Their Kyoto-ben is unmistakable, and a little different than what I’m used to, but I still make out their snide remarks. They probably think I can’t understand a word they say, and can’t hear them even if I did. But I can, and I do. Every little whisper.
“Look at her hair.” A pair of boys snicker as I pass by. “Just like Daisuke sempai.”
“Freak.” A girl with glistening, long black hair frowns, flips her hair with her hand and turns away.
Dumping the bag on my desk, I take my seat and immediately gaze out the window, not wanting to know any of these kids. They’re the same everywhere I’ve been. They judge me before they know me, and all because of my looks. I don’t want to be here.
I feel a tap on my shoulder and turn. The girl next to me smiles, her almond eyes narrowing to slits as she does.
“Watashi wa Honda Yoriko.” I’m Yoriko Honda. Her shoulder-length locks sweep past her face as she dips her head in a little bow.
I mimic the bow, introduce myself and turn away again. One nice girl doesn’t make a difference. I still don’t want to know any of them. We’ll be on the road again soon enough, just as soon as something bad happens. Something usually does. Fushimi would be no different.
Even if it is my homeland.
Yokai can be purchased exclusively at Amazon! http://www.amazon.com/Yokai-ebook/dp/B0083DF25E/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpt_3