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Prelude (2018)

In the year 2018, there was a man in his house. This man was on the lower end of middle-aged. He had turned 44 just this year. His name was T.K., and he was sitting around in his house. On this day, he was thinking about his career and pondering what he should write his next book about. T.K. had published his first book in 2000 when he was just 26 years old.

Before then, he had odd jobs that he worked in order to give him some form of income. At first, writing had just been a way of getting some money, but then his work had turned out to be a bestseller - the profits proving to fund his next project and so it slowly grew from there.

Eventually, he had covered almost every genre to some extent of success and failure depending on the book he'd written. He had made about one book per year for his now devoted fans and almost every one of his books had been some form of a best-seller. He now decided that at this point in his career he should write an autobiography - a book about the real-life experiences of his youth. T.K. figured there was no need to publish yet another book on a genre or series that he might not have been all that invested in.

It was at this point that he thought that if he wanted to truly capture his experiences, then it would be crucial to cover some of the most important events. That way, he figured, his audience would hopefully enjoy his story as much as he anticipated he would write it. There was one adventure that he had gone through when he was about twelve years old, the year of 1986, that he thought people would be interested in.

As he came to this conclusion, memories popped up in his mind.

This was when he finally made his choice. He grabbed the phone and called his best friend. Joe was the name of his friend who was going to be helping him out with this project. He and Joe had been having a decently running friendship ever since the adventures of 1986. He and Joe were forced to get along but as they had started to put differences aside, they were able to have a lot of really good conversations about life. T.K. thought that maybe Joe would be able to help him plan out the stories he wanted to share with the world.

Joe was five years older than T.K., meaning that Joe was born in the year 1969. A much less significant difference than when they were kids. T.K. was thinking of all of this as he had called his friend. He tried to think of the best way to tell Joe of his plans. How would Joe react? But he didn't have all that much of a chance to ponder this as Joe had answered the phone call pretty much right away.

"So T.K., what are you up to?" Joe asked. He was not asking that in a mean way, but rather in an honest, almost childlike curiosity. It was rare to get a call from T.K.

Without much hesitation, T.K. explained to him the idea he had had that morning and that he was just trying to make a new book. As Joe heard that, it made him very shocked and confused at first but then he just thought of his friend and tried to come up with what to say.

"I guess that I will help you out. Just give me some time to get to your house. Once I get there, then we can start." Joe had said.

T.K. sighed in relief. Not only would he have some help in this project of his, but he would not be forced to go through these memories all alone. With that, T.K. thanked Joe, hung up, and started waiting.

About an hour passed before Joe had made it to his house. As T.K. was waiting, he naturally brought out his journal and started to write in it. One thing to write about came to his head right away.

He thought of the fact that George H.W. Bush had died two days ago. As a life-time Republican, T.K. was devastated over the fact that the president that had helped make him a Republican had died. Prevailing President Trump, who also was a Republican and on the second year of his term, had made a public speech giving his sympathy of the president's death and telling the country that they should be united for their common mourning of former president Bush.

He was the second longest-lived president, just two months shy of 94 years old. The only president who had lived longer was Jimmy Carter, as he was still alive.

T.K. had been really sad over this whole thing and there was nothing that he could really do to express his sadness. He was currently living in a place that was largely democratic. Chaicago, Illinois was somewhere that T.K. hated to live in since he had not wanted to be called racist just because he had different political views compared to them. T.K. had never voted Democratic because he rationalized that even if the candidate for the Republicans were largely terrible as people, such as the aforementioned Donald Trump, T.K. always went by their policies and their ideas, not their personality. That was what made him never once vote Democrat. Obama was a nice person in his view, but Trump did share his policies more, same as Romney, McCain, both Bushes in all the elections they ran, and Bob Dole. Damn, even if Jar-Jar Binks was running as a Republican he would feel like he'd have to vote for him. Donald Trump had got his vote due to policies and ideas, despite the fact that T.K. hated him as a person.

T.K. decided to stop thinking politically for a little bit since it always made him angry to be considered a minority where he lived. So instead of thinking politically, for the time being, he looked at the pictures in his living room. There were three pictures that stood out to him especially. One of him when he was young and in his prime in his adventures, one of his wife when he had met her at the age of nineteen (he was thirty-six years old at the time), and one of their son Trent, who was five years old by this point.

Before T.K. could think too much more on that issue, he heard a knock on his door and got up as fast as he could. He started to walk to the door. He paused and took a deep breath, knowing with a 95 percent certainty who this person could have been. But he opened it just a couple of seconds later and greeted his friend Joe with as much excitement that he could muster under the circumstances. He was aware of how they were just about to start talking about the hardest experience of his entire life.

"So T.K., when do you plan on getting ready for this?" Joe had asked.

T.K. didn't respond right away. He decided that there was nothing else that he could do that would make putting this thing off any longer more tolerable. So he just nodded and led Joe inside the house that his friend had not been inside of for almost six months. They hung out every other week, but almost always at the college that T.K. taught at.

T.K. taught at a Community College for Creative Writing during his spare time to get him some money while he was working on his books. He taught his class every weekday for 75-minute sessions His class was worth six credits. The reason he did daily classes was that he was wanting to get the idea in his students' heads that you can't take a break from your writing or else the characters and story start to feel more like fictional characters and not like real events and people. Of course, they weren't real events and people, but good storytelling means those things should almost feel real. It was a quick and easy job for some quick and easy money and he enjoyed it.

"I think we should probably just get started with this as soon as possible. So we can make as much progress possible in the time frame that we have." T.K. had said.

Joe knew that T.K. was right. Both of them agreed that when they would write this story, they would just write the stuff that came to their head. After all, many of these things they were remembering for the first time in years.

Right when Joe and T.K. started to write their book, T.K. started to have a flashback of something in his past. The flashback had started back in the year 2010. It was when T.K. was walking down the street with a box in his hand. As he was walking down the street, he was getting ready to start his teaching job at the community college. This would be his first year here. He was not really sure if he would be able to do a good job teaching or not. But he was hoping that his first year would not be a total disaster. That was a very easy goal he thought to himself.

As he was walking around, he was trying to find a place to sit down for a couple of minutes to take a break. After all, he was starting to get a little bit tired from all of the walking and he was wanting to just let his legs rest up a little bit. Which was a little bit strange sounding. But he was just feeling that way. After he was walking around for another few feet, he spotted a girl who looked to be a young adult sitting down on the main staircase. She seemed to be really lost in thought. T.K. wondered if there was anything he could do to assist her.

When he had sat down next to her, he was thinking about the least creepy and friendliest way to approach her. "Hey, I saw that you looked pretty down. I know that it's sort of strange for me to come to you. Considering that we have never met... But I just couldn't help but wonder if you needed any help right now. If you don't, I will just leave you be."

When T.K. had said that, the girl looked up at him as if to show her confusion. She was not really expecting him to be there. She even considered opening up to this stranger. After all, he was being nice and it would be kind of mean to shoot him down when he was trying to reach out to her. He was being much nicer than half the people she did know.

The girl let out a pent-up breath before quietly replying. "I don't really know what I'm supposed to be doing with my life anymore. I was signing up for college at the start of the year, but I have no idea what I want to do. I'm starting to regret signing up in the first place and I wished I went to a different place now. I really wish I didn't listen to my parents and that I just went with what I thought was right for my own sake." The girl said.

T.K. seemed to think about that and he wondered what he could say to her to make her feel better. "What do you think is making you question your own choices? I have not been in the college before, but I am going to be a teacher there and this will be my first year. I think that you should just take a deep breath and take things one day at a time. That is the way that I usually go at things. I go at it one day at a time and hey, it's worked for me so far," T.K. said, offering her a smile. He was tempted to put his hand on her shoulder in a comforting way, but he did know better than to do so.

"Well, I wanted to go out and meet some new people and make some new friends. I was getting really tired of being in this town and I hated growing up in it. High school was not that great and really ruined my idea of this town. I applied to a college in a different town. But my parents had found the application and then they put the letter back in my room. I knew then that they were going to force me to stay here. It really hurt me to know that they didn't care at all about what I wanted or the choices I was trying to make." The girl said and then T.K. sort of had an idea of how this had felt but he could not really try to help her besides motivation and nice words.

"I had a lot of things that my parents did not want me to do. And I wanted to do these things so bad that I started to rebel. I got in trouble quite a bit when I was even younger than you are. I really wish that I started to go out and be more independent, but then again I have some great stories to tell my class for writing pieces. And that is one way to look at it. At least if for nothing else, you can look at this as a possible life story and you can tell this story to all your friends and children when you finally grow up." T.K. said and then he was wondering what she was thinking about him saying this.

"I have no idea how you are able to look at things so brightly and not have a bad outlook on anything related to life. Honestly, it does impress me quite a bit. How do you do it? How are you able to keep such a good attitude on all of this and never want to give up? You seem to be that one type of guy that no matter what happens, you would never want to let anybody down. You really remind me of somebody I knew ten years ago," the girl said. She then held her hand out. "My name is Catherine. What's your name?"

"My name is T.K. Shioda. Well, you should probably call me Mr. Shioda when you see me in class. I don't really think that people will want me to refer to myself as my first name and all that. So I don't really care. But whatever, I guess if you want to do it this way, then I think that you should be able to have that choice." T.K. said, and then he shook her hand and that was when Catherine had pieced it together.

"That explains why I felt like I knew somebody like you. Didn't you have a babysitting job in 2000? I think that that explains why I knew you. I think that I was one of the people that you were babysitting back in the day." Catherine said and then when she had said that, T.K. looked at her and started to examine her face. When he did, flashes started to come to his mind and he realized that she indeed was the girl that he had babysat in the summer ten years ago, and now she was all grown up.

"Oh my god, you actually were that girl that I had known back in the day. There were several kids that I helped babysit and they were sort of like your friends. Like the really like strong one. Well, strong for the young age that you guys were. Then there was the one who you hung out with but they didn't talk much. I remember how you would always be asking me what I was doing, you were such a curious kid. I'd almost dare to say you had a crush on me." T.K. was sort of living down memory lane now that he was talking to Catherine. She laughed when she was thinking about how silly she had been.

"Yeah, I thought of you like my shining knight. I really thought that if I tried to get you to notice me, then you would. But you seemed to always be more realistic and always looking at the law and reading thick chapter books. But it was one of those things that always seemed to get to me every time. But I guess that it is all behind us now," Catherine said. She looked over at T.K. and she was wondering if what she was thinking about could possibly work out or if it was just a silly dream.

She looked over at Mr. Shioda shyly. "To be totally honest, I never really got over that. I still have had that hope that you would come to me. I've dated other people, but I guess that you were always stuck in my mind. And I guess that since I am now nineteen, that I would be old enough to at the very least ask you this finally. Mr. Shioda, will you be willing to go on a date with me?" Catherine asked. T.K. thought about it and after he had thought about it for a moment, he realized that he might not get another chance to have a relationship any time soon. He hadn't dated since 2004, which was six years ago by now.

"I know that this is unprofessional, but I think that I will accept your offer. I think it might be nice to go on a date or two with you. You seem like a very nice young woman," T.K. said. Once the words left his mouth, the two of them were blushing and T.K. felt a little strange accepting the idea to go on a date with a barely legal lady.