Kii was calling Rocco.
“No, no, why me, ah, I’ll be bullied again.”
“Who is it? Where am I?”
“It was a dream. Oh, good, it was only a dream. But how scary it was. And how nasty dream it was.”
Rocco who finally woke from the bad dream tried to answer Kii, but he couldn’t. He felt suffocating, too. Gradually he became aware of his situation. Rocco was stuck in between the sofa and the wall upstairs, lying on his face with his school satchel on his back. He couldn’t shout, because his face stuck to the floor.
Today is the long-waited first day of school. Rocco spent the night together with his family after a long time, and felt excited. Father bought him a school satchel. His excitement reached the peak. He tried to shoulder brand new shiny school satchel but it fell from his shoulders. Because he has narrow shoulders, it falls very easily. Mother helped him to shoulder it. Rocco was very excited and wanted to sleep with the school satchel on his back. But everyone said, “No, it’s not good for you.” They promised to get up at six next morning and went to bed.
But Rocco couldn’t sleep very well. He got up at four, packed textbooks, dictionaries, notebooks and everything else into the school satchel, shouldered the school satchel, and headed for the bathroom upstairs.
Not to awake everybody else, he walked quietly and slowly. At first, he didn’t notice how heavy the school satchel became, but when he stood up, it was very heavy, especially for Rocco who walks with short steps.
Rocco was confident with his strength, but he was surprised to notice how well-balanced humans are. He then walked with longer steps. He held out his left arm at the same time when he held out his left leg, and then vice versa. For him, this is the way samurai walks. Unexpectedly he reached to the bathroom very smoothly. When he open the door, the whole wall in front is mirror. Rocco became excited. He held the doorknob down and opened it slowly not to make noise.
“Wow!” Without knowing, he made a sound. There in the mirror is Rocco shouldering his school satchel on his back. He hastily closed the door and gazed at himself in the mirror. He changed position to see his side or back. His body is very flexible. For the past two months, he pictured himself shouldering his school satchel many times. He talked his feelings sincerely on TV. Doctor also told about Rocco to the whole world. Because of that, they received thousands of letters of libel and abuse.
But eventually there were many times larger number of people supported them. Thanks to them, now he can go to school. Rocco didn’t hold back his excitement. He was looking at himself in the mirror, who was changing gradually.
“I’ll study hard!” he roared, to himself in the mirror.
Suddenly, his heart bounded with joy. He wanted to move his body to his heart’s content. “There’s a big guest room upstairs.”
Of course, he jumped around in the guest room as much as he wanted. He must have been so excited. He went back to his own self, a cat. He climbed up the wall, slid down the curtain, jumped softly on the sofa, and looked down from the back of the sofa. There, he saw a dusky narrow path to the end of the wall. No cat can resist walking here.
He jumped down.
But his satchel was caught in between the sofa and the wall. He moved around his four paws and landed on the floor finally. But then he couldn’t move lying with his heavy satchel on top of him.
“Rocco, Rocco. Ah, here you are. Rocco, what are you doing there? Father, I found Rocco here.” Kii is shouting to Father. “I’m upstairs. Rocco was in the back of sofa in the guest room. Rocco, what happened? Are you sleeping here?”
“Kii, help me rise up. I can’t move.” Both Father and Mother rushed to him.
“Are you OK, Rocco?”
“I was caught in here. My satchel was so heavy and I couldn’t move.
Then, I fell asleep.”
Kii moved the sofa from the wall with all her strength. Father went in the gap and pulled him up.”
“You are heavy, Rocco.”
“Then, I was on the way to school, of course, it was in my dream…”
“What is this, Rocco? Why is it so full?”
Father opened his satchel and said in dumbfounded expression on his face.
“Did you put even an encyclopedia? You don’t need it. English dictionary, Karl Marx’s The Capital!? You are going to an elementary school. No wonder you couldn’t get up.”
“Then, I was bullied by everyone.”
“Were you bullied, Rocco? By who?”
“Oh no. I’ll go and get them. Who are they, kids or dogs?”
“Calm down, Kii, it was in his dream. Right, Rocco?”
“Oh, in you dream, right.” Kii, who rolled up her sleeves, rolled them down with a slightly disappointed look. She was serious. Father put his hand on the curtain of the front window and looked outside.
“Oh! Aren’t they enthusiastic…from as early as six o’clock in the morning. Rocco, look at them.”
Kii came first.
“What, what’s happening?”
Rocco also looked outside beside her.”
“Wow, wow, wow!” Kii was excited.
Rocco caught his breath at the incredible sight. There was a large crowd of people. Iron bars of the gate, which are not so big, were about to break with the weight of people leaning.
Thanks to the double sash window, no noises in front of their gate were heard inside. People who stood closely side by side were crying something. Rocco and the family saw them from the window upstairs but couldn’t hear anything. It was a weird feeling.
“Ah, that’s Torakichi. And Shimatora, Kumatora, everyone, I can see.” Somebody pointed at Rocco and cried. Everyone turned his face to Rocco.
Flashbulbs popped here and there.
They can see them crying “Rocco” from the shape of their lips.
Father grabbed the knob of the window and said, “Wave your hand to answer them, OK?”
Rocco nodded. At the same time, Father opened the window. A great cheer,louder than Rocco had expected,surrounded him together with crisp air of the early morning.
“Rocco!” “Rocco!” A great cheer went up from the crowd. Not only thegreat cheer, louder than Rocco had expected, surrounded him together with crisp air o press people, but also there were young girls who had a bunch of flowers or presents for Rocco in their hands. Torakichi shook his head to the right and left and waved his tail like a fan. This is what he does when he was really glad or angry. Rocco was very moved to know that Torakichi was happy for him. There were many children, too. They shouted “Rocco” while holding their mother’s hand firmly.
“You seem like a rock star, Rocco!”
Kii took her favorite pink comb out of her apron pocket, and said combing her hair with it.
“Ah, yes, Rocco.”
Father said, looking at the note.
“We’ll have a joint press conference in front of the entrance at 7:30. I talked with the reporters just a while ago. I didn’t expect to have such a fuss. It would be troublesome if some accident happened. So, we decided to have a joint press conference. The press people around the world got together here.”
“Wow! It’s awesome. I’m envious.”
Kii’s eyes were shining.
“What shall I talk about?”
“What are you talking about? You can talk about anything, like those things we chat about everyday. If you are nervous, I can be with you.”
Kii looked at Father and Rocco, saying, “Right? Right?”
But Father said, “Kii, the press people didn’t get together here to listen to what you two chat everyday. It’s 6:30 now. You have one hour, Rocco. You can speak what you think frankly. You don’t have to speak cleverly.”
“Have a breakfast now and prepare for the interview.”
“Your breakfast is special this morning. Right, mother?” Kii said.
“Yes, Kii prepared for it until late last night.” Mother said.
“Oh really? Thank you Kii.”
“What are you saying? It’s a special day for you Rocco. It’s a matter of course.”
“Well, then, everybody, go downstairs.”
“Ah, may I shoulder my school satchel now?”
“What? Already? Don’t you get tired?”
“I feel comfortable that way.”
Everybody laughed at his word.
This time, he put things necessary in the satchel and shoulder it.
“Rocco, keep your chest out.”
He kept his chest out.
“You look cool!”
He looks nice with a brand new school satchel on his back.
He is a brand new fourth grader.