The first place was the court in someone’s backyard and you knocked on the big iron gates of the estate and waited for someone to let you in.
“Yes?” a voice asked through the peep hole in the gate.
“Uh… I’m here to inquire about the volleyball court for rent?” you replied, still half thinking this could have been a joke.
“Ah… yes, come in,” the voice invited and the gate cracked open with a groan.
You poked your head through and saw an older man there with a very sun worn face, but he seemed friendly enough and you stepped inside.
“Come with me,” the man said, leading the way down the cobblestone path that was flanked by a very well maintained vegetable garden.
Fruit and vegetables of every kind were growing and you marveled as you passed them.
“This is a nice garden,” you commented to him.
“Do you grow?” he asked back over his shoulder as he walked ahead.
“No, unfortunately, I can’t grow anything. Even plastic plants would die in my care,” you lamented sadly.
“Do you like [vegetable or fruit of choice]?” He asked.
“Yes actually,” you said with surprise, “do you have some in your garden?”
“Yes,” he replied, gesturing with a crooked finger towards where they grew.
You looked and made a surprised noise.
“Wow! You have all types of foods.”
He nodded and you followed him up the front steps, into the house, then out the back that was set up in a very old Japanese style yarding with the large veranda that skirted the house.
You looked out and saw a dirt court with an old volleyball net set up.
“This is cute,” you said, walking out to look things over.
“What size is your team?” he asked.
“Well… I don’t actually have a a team yet,” you said sheepishly, toying with the tattered strings on the net, “I was going to start up a coaching for littlies… 18 months old to 3 years.”
His eyes brightened. “My grandson is 2 and loves volleyball but I’m a little old to coach him. He would love to join…”
“Oh? Really?” you asked with delight, “my little girl is a year and a half and is obsessed. Her and her father are at home watching volleyball on the TV as we speak.”
The old man chuckled. “It’s a good thing. Do you play?”
“Not so much any more,” you said with a slightly sad smile, “but I played all through high school and my boyfriend is on the blue flames V league team.”
“What position does he play?” The man asked.
“He’s the ace,” you said proudly.
“Dabi Todoroki,” the man said without missing a beat.
“Yes! That’s him! Oh wow, you know the team then?” you said with surprise.
“I follow them closely, they are a good team,” he said with a smile as he stepped off the verandah and extended his hand.
You held you hand out too and shook his hand.
“I’m Totoru,” he said kindly.
“Y/N, please just call me, Y/N,” you said.
“If you’re interested in renting this place I’ll do it cheap for you, $15 an hour,” he said.
“That’s very kind of you! The ad said $30, that’s half what you advertised, are you sure that’s ok?” you asked.
“To have nice occupants, teaching young kids volleyball, that’s worth more than anything else,” he said.
“I’ll take it then,” you said with a smile, still shaking his hand and then placing your other one over his gently, “much appreciated!”
After talking a little more, he gave you some [fave fruit and veg] from the garden and you left to go home and tell Dabi the good news.
He was very excited for you and keen to meet Mr Totoru.
“Well… once I start advertising, we can go and meet him,” you said with a smile.
The following week you started hanging up fliers around town, and you also texted a picture of the flier through to the women you had met at the shops.
Within 20 minutes of the first few fliers going up, you got calls, everyone was keen to enroll their kids and they were even happier to know that you were fully qualified and your boyfriend was on the blue flames team.
Dabi came to meet Mr Totoru that week and you bought along little Ko as well.
She still had her ‘wowowbow’ with her and tried to start practicing the minute she saw the volleyball net in the yard.
“I’m going to need to get a shorter net,” you said to Dabi and Mr Totoru as they stood and watched Koemi toss the ball up up in the air to try and get it over the net.
“We’ll get one on the way home,” Dabi said.
“Y/N,” Mr Totoru said as you were about to leave, “my wife is in bed here, very frail and ill. But she loves kids and volleyball… would I be able to wheel her out onto the verandah so that she can watch the practices?”
“Oh, of course!” you said, “she is more than welcome to watch the lessons.”
“Thank you,” he said with a crooked smile, “she will love it.”
Because there had been so many inquiries you had to run two training sessions, one at 10am and the other at 12:30pm and the following morning, at 10am sharp, the first of the children arrived.
You were only allowing 5 kids in the class at a time so you could keep up with everyone, and so the first little girl, aside from your Koemi arrived.
“Hi,” you greeted her, getting down on her level, “what’s your name?”
The little one clung to her mum and stepped in behind her, peeking out at you shyly.
“Come on, say your name,” the mother said down to her shy one.
“Mio,” the little girl whispered.
“Mio! And how old are you Mio?”
“This many,” she said, holding up two fingers.
“Ah, we’re gonna have lots of fun today, Mio, do you want to come and meet my little girl Koemi?”
She nodded and left her mum’s side then slowly walked over to your girl, who smiled brightly and held out her volleyball.
“Wowowbow? Play wowowbow?” your little one asked her, holding out her ball.
“Mmhmm,” Mio replied, with a shy nod, reaching one hand out to take the ball from Koemi but at the last minute your little one retracted her ball and clutched it to her chest.
“Mine,” she said strongly, “get baw? (Ball)” she looked around and spotted the ball cart that you had purchased along with some volleyball in it, and toddled over to get a ball for Mio.