Nihara Rumi

Last week I had lessons upon lessons. I was busy beyond what I remember being last year around this time. What makes this year different? Maybe it is the fact that I wasn’t doing introduction lessons all last month, but a more feasible reason would be that the schedule is just different than it had been a year ago.

Still one thing is for sure, it is October. That means Halloween lessons and everything bloody! I am excited but also disappointed at the same time. Halloween and fall season just isn’t the same around here as it is in the States.

Still, I got a little jolt of excitement this past Monday.

The Mystery of Lesson 6

That day was like any other. I would have four lessons to do that day and top it off with English club after school. It was nothing to worry about, nothing out of the ordinary.

I always go to my classroom, the Language Lab (LL room) before my lessons to make sure that the room is set up and ready for the students when they arrive. I don’t have AC in that room so I always open windows to have the room cool down as much as it can with the slight breeze that sometimes graces the room with it presence.

I was walking about the room, opening windows as I went when I noticed that someone had left some papers behind. I thought back to the preceding Friday to possibly figure out who could have been in the room. Thinking that no one should have used the room I thought maybe something over the weekend had taken place there. Since there had been a practice university entrance exam that took place at school. Still, I couldn’t find a reason for there to be papers left behind specifically in the LL room.

I walked over to the desk where two sheets of forgotten paper lay. They both had been folded in half like students often do to their handouts before the place them in their textbooks. As I opened both thin sheets of paper I could not recognize the contents. The pages had been for an English class, for the bulk of the wording had been written in English. But it was not from any lessons I had known of the students to have worked on. I could clearly make out the Lesson 6 written at the top, but the lesson title was written in Japanese.  The student’s name and other information about who it belonged to was all written in Kanji, which I couldn’t read.

Knowing that I only work with first years at my base school I assumed I might have missed something. I don’t do lessons with the second and third years, but the teachers often talk to me about their lessons or topics they are teaching about.

I tucked both sheets away at the front of the room where I keep my paperwork and lesson plans. At the time my lesson would start soon, so the mystery would have to wait.

After the 45 minute lesson was completed and the students started to file out of the classroom I stopped my JTE to ask them if they recognized the papers. They said they did not, that it might belong to a second year student. I asked them if they could tell me the name. “No, I don’t know this name at all.” Thinking that a little strange, I wanted to confirm with the teacher that the 4組3番 written was for class room and grade. “No, that is the strange part,” they told me. “It says 4th class and student number 3.”

We both had been a little confused by that. It is common for teachers to leave a space for the students to write their grade, class, and number. If any of the numbers are not included, it’s often the student number that is dropped since a name is always asked for on handouts.

The mystery was still unsolved. I was no closer to returning the papers than I had been when I found them in the classroom.

Since I had a ten minute break between classes I ran up to the second floor where the third year classrooms are located. I went to classroom 4 and ask students if they recognized the name written. Everyone looked confused and said no, they didn’t know the name.

Now I know each grade has about 150 students each. That is a lot, but not too many that they wouldn’t know a name of a classmate. I had 164 students in my graduating class. I was not best friends with everyone, but I could recognize everyone’s names.

Still at a loss of who had left these papers in the LL room, I continued to question them. Every answer was stated as a no. So finally I asked “Is this a worksheet for one of your classes?” With a head shake no the students responded with “Sorry Amanda. No.” I told them that it wasn’t a big deal and that I would try to see if it belonged to a second year student, though I was sure that it didn’t.

I had had the current second years as first years last year. I knew that they did not have a student by that name, but I still wasn’t going to rely on my poor ability to remember names. I am the worst when it comes to remembering names, but faces, I got that shit down! Regardless…

I walked up another flight of stairs to the third floor. As soon as I reached the top step I was greeted with cheerful smiles, “HELLO AMANDA!” They squeaked. I laughed and said hello in return. I then showed them the two papers I had just shown to the third years. “We don’t have a second year student with this name do we?” I asked. “No we don’t.” I then asked them if they had these papers as a worksheet for an English class, just as I had done with the third years before. “No, sorry.” They said.

I was at a total loss. They had not been a hand out to my first years. They had not been a worksheet for the second or third years either. WHERE DID THEY COME FROM?!

I thanked them for their help and ran back down the stairs to the LL classroom. I would have to tuck the mystery aside once again as I had a lesson to teach.

When the lesson finished, I had down time to myself. I picked up my teaching materials, the keys to the room, and the two forgotten folded pieces of paper. I locked up the LL room and slowly made my way back to the teacher’s office, pondering about the papers the whole way there.

Once I arrived at my desk I turned to the JTE sitting next to me, a different teacher than the one I had lessons with that morning. “Sensei, do you recognize these papers or the student’s name?” I asked as I handed over the papers. “No Amanda. Where did you get these?” I told them of how I had found them in the LL room and that I was trying to return them to the student.

When I finished retelling my tale, even including that I asked third and second year students about it, the teacher turned to me and said. “Amanda… I think these papers are from a few years ago. I haven’t heard this name in a long time.”

“Oh,” I said. “That is strange then. How did they end up in the LL room over the weekend then?” I had stated more than asked as I looked up from the papers I held in my hand. We looked each other in the eye and as they met I remember noticing that our faces were a little taunt with worry and puzzlement.

There had been no on in the room on Friday and no one even close to or in it over the weekend. AND there was defiantly no one in there that morning before I had unlocked the door.

I guess the only explanation for this mysterious tale is that the LL room had been visited by something not of this world. The school is over 100 years old, I can`t see why it can`t be haunted.



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