For week 5 of the writing course I’m taking, we had to write a character sketch that was between 300 and 500 words, and was based on one of four methods of character creation. We had to choose the one we were least familiar with. I chose the autobiographical method, where I base the character on me, but make one really big change. You’ll probably notice the change when you read it below.
Anyway, I’d just like to note that this was written quickly without any editing, and it has a lack of wonderful flowery words (that is, more descriptive words that aren’t so boring) that would be added after editing. Also, while this is based on my feelings when I arrived in Japan, it is not autobiographical. These events didn’t actually happen. And while totally unrelated to the content of this post, this is post number 400! Enjoy!
Jenna stepped off the train and onto the long platform. She looked left and right, trying to find the exit. She found it. The train doors closed, and the train’s songlike motors propelled it toward the next station. Everywhere around her, Jenna saw black hair. Her light brown hair contrasted with the monochrome sea of heads. Here and there, she saw another brown top, but thought it was probably dyed hair. She had never felt so out of place, an alien in another land.
Everyone lined up on the left side of the escalator down from the platform. She thought how orderly everything appeared. When she reached the bottom of the escalator, the line of people turned into a mob. Maybe not so orderly. She felt so closed in with such a large group of people rushing toward the ticket gates. She fumbled for her ticket in her pocket, and pulled it out. She approached one of the automated gates and inserted the ticket into the machine. It clicked and she passed through. No problem yet, she thought.
Jenna glanced around the street and couldn’t understand the signs she saw. Many shops had foreign letters and symbols. No, it wasn’t foreign, she was the foreign one. Everything was different. She smelled the distinct aroma of soy sauce, heard the incomprehensible chatter around her, and saw the tightly packed narrow buildings. A chill went down her spine as she thought about where she was. I’m in Japan. But she didn’t know where to go. She thought she must look like a lost puppy.
A passerby, a middle-aged woman with a large shopping bag, stopped and regarded her briefly. The woman spoke to Jenna, but she didn’t understand any of it. Strings of syllables.
“I’m sorry, I don’t speak Japanese,” she said.
“American?” asked the woman.
“No, I’m Canadian.”
“Ah, Canada! Very cold. Did you watch aurora?”
“Yes, I’ve seen aurora a few times,” said Jenna. What a strange question, she thought. “I’m lost. Can you tell me where to find this place?”
Jenna pointed at a hand-drawn map on a piece of paper.
“Very easy!” said the woman. She smiled. “Follow, please. I will teach you.”
“Oh, thank you. You’re very kind.”
Maybe this wouldn’t be so bad, she thought. If there are many people like this, I’ll be okay. At least I hope she’s a normal person.
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