Miki: Fragments (Complete)

WORDS WORDS WORDS
User avatar
Gajzla
Posts: 245
Joined: Mon Mar 09, 2015 6:52 pm
Location: England

Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.30 Posted 7th October 2015)

Post by Gajzla » Sun Oct 11, 2015 12:58 pm

Sorry i’ve not been able to reply sooner, I’m an awful slacker. :(
AntonSlavik020 wrote: It being Miki's thought process there was of course some ominous parts,
Well, wouldn’t be Miki without a head full of self doubt and worry. ^_^
AntonSlavik020 wrote:The kiss was well done.
Thanks, it’s really short but it’s one of the favourite things i’ve written. Followed closely by the festival of lights from way back at the end of act 0. If I ever had art commissioned it would be this scene I think. :D
rimvydasm wrote:what a sweet chapter,really like this one,my favourite chapter so far,good work :)
swampie2 wrote:I'm caught up!

What a fantastic fic. I look forward to the rest of it!
Thanks! Happy to hear you’re still enjoying the story.

User avatar
Gajzla
Posts: 245
Joined: Mon Mar 09, 2015 6:52 pm
Location: England

Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.30 Posted 7th October 2015)

Post by Gajzla » Fri Oct 23, 2015 6:49 pm

Sorry it’s been awhile since the last chapter, I hope this one is worth the wait. As always feedback is greatly appreciated. Enjoy.

Disclaimer: I’ve been informed that this chapter shares some themes with Dewelar’s Developments. I haven’t read Developments yet (I know, i’m sorry), so i’m not sure how much overlap there is, but I didn’t intend to infringe on anybody else’s work.


Meet the Nakais

The bright morning sun rests comfortably on my back, while a light breeze - channeled down the wide river that runs through the heart of my city, like an exposed artery - ruffles my hair.

I stop halfway across the wrought iron bridge, laden with my heavy luggage. I’m pleased to see the hulking black structure again. It was always a welcome sight, each time I crossed it on the way home from middle school.

It’s also a great place to watch the sunrise after a long run.

Leaning my bag against the metal handrail I turn to Hisao, who wipes his sweaty brow with the back of his hand.

“Are you okay?” I frown.

“Yeah, no need to worry.” My boyfriend replies, not altogether convincingly.

Perhaps I should have arranged for a taxi?
Hisao and I have spent the last week at my parents’ small apartment, enjoying our first summer vacation together. And hopefully not the last. I lean against the beam that acts as both handrail and support for the bridge relishing the sunbaked warmth of the aged metal. Things change slowly if at all here, a city set in its ways nestled in a world ready to rush ahead.

“Something on your mind?” Hisao asks curiously, bending over the railing beside me and staring straight down into the murky green water below. Apparently you can fish in these waters, though quite frankly whatever lives down below should stay there.

“Just wondering how mum and dad are getting on.”

Thankfully I returned to our old apartment to find it as timeless as the rest of the city, the same faded wallpaper from my childhood still flaking from the walls, the furniture bearing every kind of stain, from my messy eating as a child to booze spilt in my mother's drunken haze. An abstract tapestry of our lives. In fact the only new additions to the house came in the form of sharply angled medical equipment, blindingly white in the smoke stained room.

Dad seemed almost embarrassed by them when I formally introduced Hisao. Despite assurances that as students of a school for the disabled we were well used to seeing medical gizmos, our words fell on deaf ears and by the next morning every piece of apparatus was safely stowed out of sight.

“It’s just a routine check up right?” He asks, dragging himself away from the lazy water far below and turning to me.

“Yeah, and physical therapy,” I say distractedly, only half watching the small birds that flutter between the buildings.

I know everything will be fine. But I can’t help but worry, if Hisao’s parents had not been expecting us I would have stayed on an extra day, just to be sure he was safe at home before I left. Unfortunately that desire is neither rational nor likely to go down well with my potential in-laws.

“Are you ready to move again, it’s not much further.” I lie, turning my attention to Hisao.

With my mum and dad using Miss Kita’s car - not to mention her chauffeuring skills - I opted to walk the not inconsiderable distance to the train station. Without even a thought to how this may affect my boyfriend, or more importantly his fragile heart. I should ring for a taxi, hell, even a cramped bus might have been better.

“Miki, I’m fine, honestly.” He rolls his eyes, a light smile on his face. “I will tell you if I have problems, promise.”

“Hmmm,” I mumble, feeling my cheeks redden. Have I been that obvious?

“I’m sorry,” I say, placing a soft kiss on his hot cheek by way of an apology. “Just worried.”

“Don’t be,” he frowns, rubbing his cheek.

Easier said than done.


“It’s nice here,” he says softly, picking up his bag. Oh dear, apparently my distraction is trying to distract me - is he allowed to do that?

“It’s not so bad,” I reply, suddenly feeling a fresh wave of nervous energy course through me. Hisao has said next to nothing about his parents, or even his home. Or at least anything of interest after he started middle school and they started a campaign of corporate ladder climbing at the expense of their son.

I’m probably being unfair in that assessment of them, or at least taking an unfairly critical view of things. No matter how much you might want people to be, no one is perfect and life is rarely simple. Still, I can’t imagine choosing money over my child. Perhaps because I’ve never had to.

Cresting a hill I had almost forgotten existed I see a concrete blot on the landscape, stained by both sun and rain the buildings stand awkwardly amongst the suborn architecture. My old middle school. The sight chases the thought of Hisao’s parents from my mind, as I stare open mouthed.

“What's up?” Hisao asks, following my gaze, his forehead creasing slightly.

“Oh,” I say, “That’s my old middle school.”

“Ah,” he observes me for a few moments, before speaking with a puzzled expression. “Good memories or…?”

I’m not sure I know. My memories of middle school are mixed. It was a time of great upheaval, dad had just gone to prison - not that I knew that at the time - and the warm glow of my beachside childhood was eroded away as everything from my body to the people I loved changed. In retrospect I think the experience made me, if not a better person, then certainly a tougher one.

“A bit of both,” I reply, knowing full well what a useless answer that is. “I liked it much more than my first year of high school.”

He laughs softly, “That’s funny, I enjoyed my time at high school more than middle school - I preferred the more mature atmosphere.”

“And then you met Ryouta,” I grin as we pull alongside the school fence, separating the empty playground from the path. With a smile I notice the wooden planters underneath the classroom windows are still overflowing with vibrant life. I was a member of the gardening club and helped to look after the colourful displays around the school. That is until running became such an important part of my life. Still, I’ll have to make sure my seaside cottage has a garden.

“You laugh now,” Hisao says in mock seriousness. “But when he becomes a famous name in Hollywood…”

I snort with laughter, glancing over my shoulder for one last look at the school - funny, it always seemed bigger in my memories. Then I focus on the train station, squatting between three towering and very ugly buildings.

“Well, if he spoke Japanese then I would have at least one person in those stupid movies I understand.”

Our laughter carries us down the hill, the plastic wheels on our suitcases protesting audibly as the path becomes gradually more uneven. Hmmm, the station isn’t nearly as far I thought it was. No one tells you that when you grow up. You don’t just get bigger, your world gets smaller.

— — —

Leaning my head against the cold and grimy train window I watch home vanish into the midday haze. They say distance makes the heart grow fonder. Or something to that effect. I think it must be true, I miss our small apartment and the company of my family already. Once, I would have done almost anything to escape that place.

“You’ll see them again soon,” Hisao says, correctly interpreting my thoughts.

I nod slowly, turning my face away from the endless sky, interrupted only by a few wisps of cloud, which blaze brightly in the midmorning sun. Hisao smiles at me, the light catching in his dimple and glittering in his eyes.

“So, anything I need to know before we get to your parents?” I ask, casually rising from my seat to drop down beside him and leaning my head against his arm. On the seats adjacent to ours a old business suited man lowers his paper just long enough to glower at me, before returning distractedly to his reading. With effort I restrain from saying something rude.

Hisao starts to say something, but I cut him off resting my fingertips on his hot cheek and turning his face towards me, before finding his lips with my own. With eyes closed I can hear the rustle of newspaper behind me, but I’ve suddenly forgotten to care. Whatever he was going to say, I doubt it was in protest.

Hisao is the first to pull away, smirking at me with a kind of childish joy in his eyes.

“Hmmm, something you should know,” he feigns thinking, “Well, my mother wasn’t exactly sold on the idea of you visiting, but don’t worry about that.”

What?

“How not sold are we talking?” I ask alarmed.

“It’s nothing, don’t worry.”

He looks suddenly guilty, looking at the view outside the window with intense interest.

I begin to question him further, but I’m interrupted by my ringing phone. Diving for my bag I manage to withdraw it on the fourth ring. Gah, these shorts may show off my legs, but they leave no room for pockets. Flipping open the worn device I look at the screen.

[Ikuno: Calling…]

“Hey,” I answer, blowing Hisao a kiss as I swiftly retreat to the space next to the doors. Business suit man really would start a riot if I spoke on my phone in the carriage proper.

“Hi!” She responds happily, “How are things going?”

“Not so badly, on the train to Hisao’s parents.”

“Ohhhhh, are you nervous?”

More so now that I know that at least fifty percent of his parental unit ‘isn’t sold’ on me being there.

“A little - how are the Kurimizus?” I ask, changing the subject.

“Oh they are lovely, everyone is so nice and Ryouta’s little sister is just the cutest thing in the world.”

“You can’t keep her,” I warn, only half in jest.

“That’s what Ryouta said…” In my mind's eye I can see the agitated look on her face. I’ll have to remember to give Ryouta a high five for that.

“Anyway you’re going to love her.”

“I wasn’t aware we would be meeting?”

“Oh, yeah, thats right, you don’t know.” She pauses, and I can hear some shrill giggling on the other end of the phone. “That’s why I was phoning really, mum and dad have invited Ryouta’s family to our beach house near Fukuoka.”

Because of course they have a beach house.


“Will there be enough room for us all?” I ask, picturing a square wooden stilted affair like the one my grandparents once owned.

“Of course!” I get a hint of amusement in her tone, “If you tell me Hisao’s address dad is going to send a car.”

“I don’t mind using the train,” I say. I already owe the Komaki family a lot.

“Don’t worry about that, just text me the address when you know okay?”

“O… Okay,” I reply, unsure if I should continue to fight this or not. I know her family has a lot of money, but that doesn’t mean I should take advantage of them.

There’s a thud followed by a loud wail on the other end of the phone. “Oh shoot - I need to go,” Ikuno says quickly, “I’ll see you on the weekend! Text me later okay?”

“I will,” I manage to say, before the line goes dead. I find myself shaking my head as I snap my phone shut. At least she’s having fun, I’m not sure I will be having as much at Hisao’s.

My boyfriend has his head in a book when I get back to my seat. He’s so engrossed that he does not seem to notice my return. Deciding I don’t want to disturb him I rest my head once again against the cool glass, before me lies a sea of swaying grass as far as the eye can see. If I manage to survive the next few days I’m going to come back and visit this place, see something beautiful without a train window in the way for once.

— — —

Just breathe, just breathe… don’t do anything stupid.

I rapidly run through my mental checklist as Hisao flags down a shiny silver car outside the busy station. The car, a german business solon, pulls up to the curb beside us. Right, clothes on, stump mostly hidden, hair fine, I can do this. Sliding to a stop beside us the car glows softly in the early afternoon light. It’s smooth angled bodywork fits in well with the towering skyscrapers around us. Despite carrying the title of ‘City’ this place is nothing like home, it’s bigger and more crowded, like an out of control ant nest.

“Hi,” Hisao says nervously as a small woman climbs from the passenger seat of the car, a wide smile plastering her delicate face. I guess I now know where Hisao got his rather unique eye colour.

“Hey you,” his mother says, embracing her son fiercely. Her hair shines a rich black, and I would bet it’s been dyed recently. I’m not sure what I was expecting, someone less obviously loving from Hisao’s description. In fact the small woman carries herself well, dressed in a neat skirt and blouse, age either not affecting her, or battled artificially.

Hope I look that good at her age.

Wincing I watch as he raises a hand to protect his chest, not that his enthusiastic parent seems to notice. A door slams beside me, and I find myself meeting the eyes of a tall well built man. Hisao’s father. Much like my grandfather he is tall and muscular, but his face is kind, and his greying hairline betrays either his age, or a whole lot of worry. We share a nod across the top of the car, as I step back, feeling like I’m intruding on something deeply private.

“Mum,” Hisao says, finally escaping and holding her at arm’s length. “This is Miki Miura, she’s a friend from school.”

I guess we’re not quite at the stage where I’m introduced as the girlfriend.

Which might be just as well, because the look his mother gives me is pure venom. Great, I mean I was anticipating this, but that does not make it any better. I bow as politely as I can muster, feeling incurably vulnerable as I expose the back of my neck to her. This is just super, Hisao could have least given me more of a heads up that I was hated.

“A pleasure Miss Miura,” His father says when it becomes apparent no one else is going to speak. “I’m Haru Nakai, Hisao’s father.”

He strolls confidently around the front of the his car, and we share a low bow. At least he seems to like me. Or at least, hasn’t made it completely obvious he dislikes me.

“Noa,” his mother says coldly, as way of an introduction.

“Thank you for allowing me to stay with you Mister and Misses Nakai.”

With our brief pleasantries out of the way, attention is shifted back to Hisao, who seems happy enough - if a little overwhelmed by all the attention. I feel like a voyeur as I climb into the plush back seat of the car, an observer to a normal, happy family, reunited after a long time apart.

It’s strange, this is a part of life that for most people is completely normal - yet for me it’s like seeing alien life for the first time.


I keep quiet while the family talks reservedly about Yamaku, about the subjects Hisao enjoys and his plans for when school finishes. I wither a little under the look Noa gives me when her son tells her he will be seeing where I am going, before choosing his university. I don’t suppose telling her I will probably be in prison will help.

After an agonizingly long time we pull into an underground carpark, under a towering block of flats. And here I was thinking he lived in a house. I suppose it makes sense, land here is at a premium, and a desire to live close to the centre of everything drives people on top of each other.

His parents do a spirited job of ignoring my stump as they hand over the luggage, and the rumble of plastic wheels echoing on concrete are the only sounds in the awkward silence as we make our way to the lift - I hang back, feeling increasingly uncomfortable.

Once inside the cramped metal box Hisao’s father pushes the button for the top floor. My stomach lurches as the lift shoots us towards our destination. With the nerves and the sudden movement of the lift I feel just about ready to throw up. Closing my eyes, I try to breathe steadily in and out, hoping to relax before we reach our floor.

The lift doors part smoothly, revealing a carpeted hallway. I wasn’t expecting that. The space is almost void of natural light, only a solitary window far off at the end of the corridor offers a view of the outside world. Otherwise warm yellow uplighters line the cream walls. It’s kind of like the dorms at Yamaku, only without the smell of mixed perfume, or mixed boy in the case of Ryouta and Hisao’s accommodation.

The Nakais’ flat is the last door down, close to the window. My mouth drops open as the front door is swung open, and I catch my first glimpse of my home for the next few days. Wow. Windows surrounding the living area on two sides, bathing the cool ultramodern creams and metallics in soft white light. Through a pair of french windows a balcony is visible, dotted with plants that have started to climb the metal railings, despite their already elevated position.

“You redecorated?” Hisao comments, slightly taken aback himself.

“Your mother has been at rather a loose end since you’ve been at school,” Mr Nakai comments with a hearty chuckle, drawing a disapproving look from his wife. Well, at least I’m not the only one.

This place makes our small neglected apartment feel like a shack. While not a completely unfair assessment, I can’t help but feel our house has more soul, it’s memories have been bled, sweated and cried into the walls. This place is almost too clean. Although, I can’t deny, the view is impressive.

“I’ll get started on lunch,” Haru comments, pulling a white apron over his impressive bulk, a smile still planted firmly on his lips. “Why don’t you show Miki where she will be sleeping?” he says with a wink.

Eager to be away from Hisao’s mother I follow him obediently, performing a kind of moving bow to my hosts.

The room Hisao leads me to is impressive to say the least, done in the same modernist style as the rest of the apartment the creams have been replaced with soft peach. A pair of silky pink curtains drift lazily in the wind from the open doors behind them. Oh my goodness! I have my own balcony! The sun shining through the material bathes the entire room in radiant pink light. It might be my imagination, but I could swear I smell rose petals.

“This room is amazing,” I say breathlessly.

“Hmmm, I suppose.” he rubs the back of his neck nervously, “I think my parents planned on having another child, but, well obviously that never happened so we ended up with a guest room.” he finishes lamely, fidgeting where he stands.

“What’s wrong?” I ask.

“I’m sorry about my mum…”

“Oh,” I say quickly, “Don’t worry about it.”

I suppose I shouldn’t blame him for any of this. After all it was me who - though not intentionally - made him chose between his girlfriend and his mother. I’m just thankful he’s here to support me. And who knows, his mother might warm up to me.

Fat chance.


“But, hmm.” He goes to say something but stops; thinking better of it. “Would you like to see my room?”

A cheesy chat up line if ever I heard one.

Nodding I lay my bag beside the bed and follow Hisao to the next door down the corridor, easy recognisable as my boyfriend’s room by the childish letters stuck to the surface, spelling his name. I smile at them, a little relic from his childhood, like the dusty children books stored in my own room.

With a blush he opens the door, revealing a room untouched by the apartment’s makeover. Stale air hits us as we step inside, it feels a little like walking into a tomb. At least Miss Kita had the sense to open a window in my room. In fact it seems like no one has done anything in this room for a very long time. Clothes lie untouched on the floor, and the bed is unmade; a games console lies underneath a decently sized television, covered in a thin layer of dust.

Hisao apologies, hastening to open a window and kicking clothes into a crumpled pile.

“It’s okay.” I’m a little taken aback. Why would no one clean this room? He’s not close to his parents, but from this it’s almost like they are actively pretending they don’t have a son. “Not one for housekeeping huh?” I ask, trying to sound lighthearted.

“I,” he pauses, not looking at me. “I went straight from the hospital to Yamaku, I’ve not been here in, ages.”

Oh.

“Did, your heart... Was it...” My eyes drift to his unmade bed. “Did it happen here?”

I might be pushing my boundaries with that question, but his untouched room has sparked my curiosity.

“No.” His voice is suddenly firm, as he raises a hand to rub at his chest.

“I’m sorry,” I reply quickly, feeling immediately guilty. I try to change the subject. “Do you have any good games?”

“Huh?”

Meeting his confused eyes I point to the games console.

“Yeah, but,” his gaze flickers to my stump.

“What? Afraid you’re going to lose to a girl with one hand?” I say with a raised eyebrow, crossing my arms.

We stare each other down for a few moments, before Hisao breaks, and a wide grin crosses his face. Excellent, I’ve always wanted a go on one of these things.

— — —

Time flies as Hisao and I battle our way through waves of brightly coloured aliens. It’s fun. Though not exactly designed with lopsided people in mind - still some creative use of my stump and using my knee to press the fire button works well enough. Finally the biggest meanest monster we have thus far encountered falls to a barrage of our well coordinated laser fire.

“Yes!” I yelp excitedly, as our virtual selves are plucked to safety by a spaceship in a dramatic cut scene.

“Nice work!” My boyfriend replies, just as thrilled.

To my great surprise leans over and plants a kiss on my cheek. Video games? It took video games to give him the courage to kiss me first?

“Uh hmm,” a gruff throat is cleaned behind us, causing Hisao to spring away from me as if were electrically charged. Feeling heat rush to my cheeks I turn, just in time to see a wide grin spread across Mr Nakai’s face.

“Lunch is served,” he announces with a bow. Still with a very Ryouta-like grin planted on his lips.

Great, just great - at least it wasn’t his mother who caught us.

I risk another look at the breathtaking view as we sit around a low table. I’m afraid if I look to long I might become mesmerised and do something to embarrass myself. The Nakais, or more accurately Mrs Nakai seems to have a taste for the traditional, even in her ultra modern apartment.

Oh, I hope they don’t expect me to pour tea. It’s one of those skills I never learned, or had even the slightest inclination to try. Lucky enough Hisao’s mother handles the pouring of the tea with a grace that I would never have been able to match. And not just because I’m lacking a hand.

Meanwhile Hisao’s father, is delivering plate after plate of steaming food to the table. The mix of smells is intoxicating. I feel like I’ve not eaten all day, despite a hearty breakfast this morning. Saving the universe really takes it out of you.

“This all looks delicious Mr Nakai,” I say, trying my level best to sound like the kind of nice young lady this family might want.

“Thank you, but call me Haru. I was afraid your boyfriend might have warned you off my cooking.” He chuckles lightly, while his wife glares at me.

Hey! He said boyfriend… not me.

“Daaaad,” Hisao groans, his cheeks reddening. “He used to make me taste all of his creations when he was teaching himself.” He adds as explanation.

“Every artist has an experimental phase. You should be proud to be part of the process.”

Kneeling at the head of the table, Haru towers over us, his massive frame dominating the room. But a smile seems never far from his lips, and he seems to have an aura of great kindness about him. It’s like seeing an older version of Ryouta - One that has gone to the gym once in awhile.

“So are you still playing soccer?” My host asks his son, tucking into his food with reckless abandon.

I take his actions as a cue to pick up my own chopsticks, before adding a little of everything to my plate. I can feel his mother’s eyes on me, but I don’t dare to look up. I just want to get through this meal without an argument.

“I’m not allowed,” Hisao answers with a tinge of regret. “I run with Miki though,” he says almost consolingly.

“Is that safe?” Noa says suddenly, turning her attention back to her son. She’s like that big red eye thing in Ryouta’s movie with the cute elf - I forget the name.

“Of course it is, the nurse even recommended it.” I notice there’s a note of aggravation in my boyfriend’s otherwise polite reply.

“So you are on the track team?” Haru asks, trying to drag the conversation back from the riptide that is Hisao’s mother.

“No, I’m not,” Hisao takes a bite of his food before speaking again, “Miki is though. She’s one of the fastest girls in the school.”

That’s the fastest girl in the school thank you very much - Assuming, it’s the four hundred meters and I sacrifice every other event…

I feel my cheeks redden, and busy myself with my chopsticks, not looking at anyone.

“Do you have many other friends at school?” The Nakai matriarch asks with sickly sweet venom.

“Some, but I spend most of my time with Miki,” Hisao shrugs, “Why?”

“Oh, no reason, just curious.”

Hisao would forgive me if I punched his mother right?

“Well, I am glad to see my boy finally spending some time with a girl, I was beginning to wonder,” Haru says with a hearty chuckle. It’s hard to tell if he’s joking or not.

“Dad!”

“He did spend a lot of time with a girl before, do you not remember dear?” Noa speaks to her husband, but her hawk-like gaze is fixed on me.

“Mum…” Hisao mutters in a halfhearted warning.

“There was that girl that kept visiting you in the hospital, you two were very close weren’t you?” She continues as if her son had made no interruption. “Iwanako wasn’t it? She wrote asking for the address of your new school, did she ever get in contact?”

With a considerable amount of effort I force what I hope is a neutral look on my face. I can’t let her have even the smallest victory over me. This is a type of warfare I hate, the sly passive aggressive remarks, the sneering joy as she under the illusion of innocent conversation tries to drive a wedge between Hisao and me. I would much rather we tore each others hair out on the kitchen floor.

However perhaps it’s not my reaction she should be worried about. Hisao’s face may be bright red in embarrassment, but under the table beside me his fist his clenched so hard his knuckles shine a pearlescent white. Wishing I could comfort him, explain that I don’t care who he used to date and that his mother would never drive us apart. But none of those options are open to me, all I can do is return to my food.

Hisao mutters some response that I don’t catch and returns to his plate as silence falls across the table. Haru catches my eye and raises his eyebrows in an apologetic kind of way, apparently he’s as wary of his wife as I am. These next few days are going to be hell.

The only real comfort I have is the prospect of level two on the games console. Though even gunning down virtual aliens has lost a bit of its charm, now that I know the real monster is picking at her rice in front of me.

<< Previous <Home> Next >>
Last edited by Gajzla on Wed Nov 11, 2015 3:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

freddy753
Posts: 21
Joined: Thu Jul 16, 2015 2:50 pm

Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.31 Posted 24th October 2015)

Post by freddy753 » Fri Oct 23, 2015 8:15 pm

This chapter was great. I really like the sense of anxiety you've written into the story. One of my problems with the original VN was that even in its most tense moments, nothing really felt urgent to me, whereas reading this, I've constantly felt on edge, even in the story's happiest moments. Sometimes things do get a little too sappy for my tastes, but that's just personal preference really.

User avatar
Mirage_GSM
Posts: 5885
Joined: Mon Jun 28, 2010 2:24 am
Location: Germany

Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.31 Posted 24th October 2015)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Sat Oct 24, 2015 7:50 am

Glad you finally posted this.

Interestingly, on the same day I proofread this chapter I also proofread this one.

It made for a nice contrast. That are two versions of Hisao's parent's that could hardly be any more different :-)
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
Sore wa himitsu desu.

User avatar
dewelar
Posts: 1228
Joined: Sun Jul 14, 2013 6:09 pm
Location: The Fifth Thing

Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.30 Posted 7th October 2015)

Post by dewelar » Sat Oct 24, 2015 8:40 pm

Gajzla wrote:Disclaimer: I’ve been informed that this chapter shares some themes with Dewelar’s Developments. I haven’t read Developments yet (I know, i’m sorry), so i’m not sure how much overlap there is, but I didn’t intend to infringe on anybody else’s work.
Don't worry, I haven't read this, either :oops:, mostly because I'm not a big fan of Miki. However, since my name got dropped, I figured I'd pop in and take a look. I would say that, while there are some points in this chapter that are similar to Ch.60 of Developments, I don't think they're much more than superficial, and where it is it can be traced straight back to the source material. Carry on :D!
Rin is orthogonal to everything.
Stuff I've written: Developments, a continuation of Lilly's (bad? neutral?) ending - COMPLETE!

User avatar
brythain
Posts: 3471
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:58 pm
Location: East Asia
Contact:

Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.30 Posted 7th October 2015)

Post by brythain » Sat Oct 24, 2015 9:16 pm

Gajzla wrote:Sorry it’s been awhile since the last chapter, I hope this one is worth the wait. As always feedback is greatly appreciated. Enjoy.

Disclaimer: I’ve been informed that this chapter shares some themes with Dewelar’s Developments. I haven’t read Developments yet (I know, i’m sorry), so i’m not sure how much overlap there is, but I didn’t intend to infringe on anybody else’s work.
It's coming along well. I was going to say dewelar probably wouldn't mind, but then he's already said that and I realise I haven't hit [Submit] yet on this one. The reason I took so long was that I was mentally contrasting it with this scene I wrote a while back and chuckling at the contrast. :)
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

User avatar
Gajzla
Posts: 245
Joined: Mon Mar 09, 2015 6:52 pm
Location: England

Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.31 Posted 24th October 2015)

Post by Gajzla » Sun Oct 25, 2015 8:24 pm

freddy753 wrote:This chapter was great. I really like the sense of anxiety you've written into the story. One of my problems with the original VN was that even in its most tense moments, nothing really felt urgent to me, whereas reading this, I've constantly felt on edge, even in the story's happiest moments. Sometimes things do get a little too sappy for my tastes, but that's just personal preference really.
Thanks! And nice to see another new reader! I think the urgency of the story can be a double edged sword in some ways. I always want to keep the story moving forward, but I know some people would have preferred to spend a little more time with some characters. Either way i’m happy your enjoying it.

I’m not to keen on sappy stuff when reading a story, but for some reason I seem to have a soft spot for writing it. :D
dewelar wrote:
Gajzla wrote:Disclaimer: I’ve been informed that this chapter shares some themes with Dewelar’s Developments. I haven’t read Developments yet (I know, i’m sorry), so i’m not sure how much overlap there is, but I didn’t intend to infringe on anybody else’s work.
Don't worry, I haven't read this, either :oops:, mostly because I'm not a big fan of Miki. However, since my name got dropped, I figured I'd pop in and take a look. I would say that, while there are some points in this chapter that are similar to Ch.60 of Developments, I don't think they're much more than superficial, and where it is it can be traced straight back to the source material. Carry on :D!
Well thats good to know. Ironically I’ve purposely tried to stay away from reading other KS Fanfiction in case I accidentally ended up using similar elements :roll: . Thanks for taking the time to reply. :D
brythain wrote: It's coming along well. I was going to say dewelar probably wouldn't mind, but then he's already said that and I realise I haven't hit [Submit] yet on this one. The reason I took so long was that I was mentally contrasting it with this scene I wrote a while back and chuckling at the contrast. :)
Ha, well that was interesting. A very different Miki from mine (In voice, if not necessarily in actions). Though - and this might be the wrong thread to be asking this in - was I supposed to picture the entire scene in black and write with a noire voiceover? :D

User avatar
brythain
Posts: 3471
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:58 pm
Location: East Asia
Contact:

Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.31 Posted 24th October 2015)

Post by brythain » Sun Oct 25, 2015 8:28 pm

Gajzla wrote:
brythain wrote:It's coming along well. I was going to say dewelar probably wouldn't mind, but then he's already said that and I realise I haven't hit [Submit] yet on this one. The reason I took so long was that I was mentally contrasting it with this scene I wrote a while back and chuckling at the contrast. :)
Ha, well that was interesting. A very different Miki from mine (In voice, if not necessarily in actions). Though - and this might be the wrong thread to be asking this in - was I supposed to picture the entire scene in black and write with a noire voiceover? :D
Well, my Miki is a cop's daughter, so it's appropriate! :D
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

User avatar
Gajzla
Posts: 245
Joined: Mon Mar 09, 2015 6:52 pm
Location: England

Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.31 Posted 24th October 2015)

Post by Gajzla » Sun Oct 25, 2015 8:39 pm

brythain wrote: Well, my Miki is a cop's daughter, so it's appropriate! :D
And mine is the daughter of a criminal, lol. Funny how they both ended up with a certain weakness for drink. :)

User avatar
dewelar
Posts: 1228
Joined: Sun Jul 14, 2013 6:09 pm
Location: The Fifth Thing

Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.31 Posted 24th October 2015)

Post by dewelar » Sun Oct 25, 2015 9:04 pm

Gajzla wrote:
brythain wrote: Well, my Miki is a cop's daughter, so it's appropriate! :D
And mine is the daughter of a criminal, lol. Funny how they both ended up with a certain weakness for drink. :)
I'd say it comes with the territory on both fronts :).
Rin is orthogonal to everything.
Stuff I've written: Developments, a continuation of Lilly's (bad? neutral?) ending - COMPLETE!

User avatar
brythain
Posts: 3471
Joined: Sun Feb 23, 2014 8:58 pm
Location: East Asia
Contact:

Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.31 Posted 24th October 2015)

Post by brythain » Sun Oct 25, 2015 9:07 pm

dewelar wrote:
Gajzla wrote:
brythain wrote: Well, my Miki is a cop's daughter, so it's appropriate! :D
And mine is the daughter of a criminal, lol. Funny how they both ended up with a certain weakness for drink. :)
I'd say it comes with the territory on both fronts :).
I wuz jus' gonna say that. Also, the territory, wise guy? :D
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

User avatar
dewelar
Posts: 1228
Joined: Sun Jul 14, 2013 6:09 pm
Location: The Fifth Thing

Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.31 Posted 24th October 2015)

Post by dewelar » Sun Oct 25, 2015 9:57 pm

brythain wrote:
dewelar wrote:
Gajzla wrote:Well, my Miki is a cop's daughter, so it's appropriate! :D
brythain wrote:And mine is the daughter of a criminal, lol. Funny how they both ended up with a certain weakness for drink. :)
I'd say it comes with the territory on both fronts :).
I wuz jus' gonna say that. Also, the territory, wise guy? :D
Indeed. The Absolut territory.
Rin is orthogonal to everything.
Stuff I've written: Developments, a continuation of Lilly's (bad? neutral?) ending - COMPLETE!

User avatar
AntonSlavik020
Posts: 607
Joined: Mon Mar 04, 2013 5:03 pm
Location: Cleveland, OH

Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.31 Posted 24th October 2015)

Post by AntonSlavik020 » Mon Oct 26, 2015 10:28 pm

Wow Hisao's mom is a bitch. At least his dad is nice. Hopefully Hisao confronts her about how she's treating Miki some point soon, because I'd rather not have her act that way the entire time Miki is there. You'd think she'd stop seeing how much it's bothering her son, but I guess his feelings aren't important to her. I know I'm being harsh in saying that, but people like her really piss me off.
Best girl
Hanako=Shizune>Misha>Lilly>Rin>Emi

Best route
Hanako>Lilly>Rin>Emi>Shizune

User avatar
Gajzla
Posts: 245
Joined: Mon Mar 09, 2015 6:52 pm
Location: England

Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.31 Posted 24th October 2015)

Post by Gajzla » Wed Oct 28, 2015 7:23 pm

AntonSlavik020 wrote:Wow Hisao's mom is a bitch. At least his dad is nice. Hopefully Hisao confronts her about how she's treating Miki some point soon, because I'd rather not have her act that way the entire time Miki is there. You'd think she'd stop seeing how much it's bothering her son, but I guess his feelings aren't important to her. I know I'm being harsh in saying that, but people like her really piss me off.
I suppose it’s a mark that she’s at least a semi well written character to make you feel annoyed at her, if that isn’t to bold to say :oops: . To be honest I had a lot of fun writing her, she is more or less how I imagine Shizune in my head, but I think people might object if I portrayed our poor president that way in the main story. :)

User avatar
Gajzla
Posts: 245
Joined: Mon Mar 09, 2015 6:52 pm
Location: England

Re: Miki: Fragments (Ch.31 Posted 24th October 2015)

Post by Gajzla » Wed Nov 11, 2015 3:53 pm

A Hostile Environment

Green and scaled the alien’s massive foot hurtles towards my face… with a wet crunch the world goes black.

I wake with a start, instinctively raising my arms to cross in front of my face. It was just a dream, just a stupid dream. I let out a slow breath, feeling my heart thunder in my chest and my phantom hand pulse painfully. Despite this, I find a smile creeping onto my face. Ha, it must be a mark of how messed up my life is that being killed in my dreams by a video game monster is actually welcome relief.

Almost without thinking about it I shuffle to the edge of the bed, sending my good arm to rummage about beneath it. I jump slightly when my fingertips encounter cold wooden flooring and it takes me an embarrassingly long time to realise I’m not in my own room - and there are no nearly empty bottles of whisky under the bed.

Damn it!

I’m hit suddenly with an enormous sense of loss, as if I had arrived just in time to see the last lifeboat flee my sinking ship. Followed at once with an even greater feeling of guilt. Not having booze shouldn’t make me feel like that. It was just a stop gap measure so that I didn’t wake Hisao or my family by screaming the house down after a dream.

Whisky does a better job of dream patrol than Ikuno ever could. Unfortunately it works too well. Drinking before bed doesn’t stop the dreams as such, but it numbs them, makes the nightmares feel they are behind a curtain of mist, happening to someone else. I’ve not slept so well for a long time.

Frustrated I roll onto my stomach, pinning my stump in place between my abdomen and the mattress. Biting the soft fabric of the pillow I start to laugh, almost hysterically at how absurd this whole situation is. I’m stuck in a house with a woman who hates me, a boyfriend who after lunch has gone into a kind of coma of apathy and to top it all off, a giant of a man who is perhaps the most henpicked person I’ve ever met.

My life is a fucking soap opera.

Indigent at not making the list of problems my phantom wrenches at my non-existent little finger as if trying to rip it off, however the digit simply stretches sending a jolt of pain up my arm. I feels like the bone is splintering and I gasp into the pillow. Gah, fine! I don’t feel like laughing anymore.

My eyes become moist as I try feebly to control my breathing, a process hindered greatly by a mouthful of Egyptian cotton. Slowly, with the pace of red hot metal cooling the effect starts to fade, not completely, but to a point where the searing pain is manageable.

Letting out a resigned sigh I roll into my back, gently rubbing my bandaged stump, more out of habit than any real hope it might help with the dull ache in the nonexistent appendage. Whisky would have helped with this as well.

Cursing my errant thoughts I focus on the sounds of traffic outside, which even at this hour continues to rumble past; an endless stream of moving metal. There is so much noise here.

I guess I never appreciated the blessed silence at Yamaku, even my family's dilapidated apartment is only ever shaken by a late night delivery truck occasionally. I don’t think this city ever stops, and i’m not sure if that's a good or bad thing.

The pain finally ebbs away, vanishing back into the night. But the damage has been done. I’m not going to be able to sleep.

Regretfully I sit up.

The floor seems unnaturally cold on my bare feet as I slip out from under the covers. Pulling down my t-shirt - which had ridden up in my struggles with the alien menace - I tiptoe over to the glass doors, leading out to the balcony.

Please let this door be unlocked.


As luck would have it the handle moves easily under my palm. Thank goodness. Then again I don’t suppose there's much use in locking a door on the eighth floor, any burglar that makes it up this far isn’t going to be put off by a cheap lock on a glass door.

Outside the night air is cooler than I expected, I shiver, my sleep shorts offering little protection against the stiff breeze. Looking up I’m sad to see the stars are hidden by the orange haze of the city lights. Yet another good thing about my secluded school.

Placing my hand on the railing I lean over the edge, looking straight down to the tiny cars far below.

“Going to jump?”

I leap away from the railing, my heart about to tear itself out of my chest. The fuck? Looking around wildly I see the balcony does not serve just my room, but extends all the way around the Nakais’ section of building. Hidden half in shadows Hisao smiles softly, trying to hide his obvious amusement.

“Sorry,” he says softly, “It was just funny you didn’t spot me.”

“No fair,” I grumble, “And I can’t get my own back.”

“Why? - Oh…”

My momentary anger fades as the smile vanishes from his face.

“Nice pyjamas,” I comment, pointing to helpfully to the sky blue cotton garments with a vague hope of lifting the mood.

With a tiny smile starting to blossom on his face he looks me up and down. Suddenly I feel very aware of just how short these shorts are, and pull on the hem of my tshirt. Well, at least I wasn’t sleeping in my underwear.

He lets out a soft chuckle, his eyes sparking. “Those are still not as short as my gym kit.”

An image of him in those tiny red shorts flashes across my mind, leaving behind a wide smile. In just a few short steps I am by his side, so close I can feel the heat from his arm, together we lean on the rail, our eyes meeting for a moment before we both turn back to the city laid out before us like a chessboard.

“So…” I say, “What brings you out here?”

Pulling his fingers through his messy hair he ponders the question. “You first,” he finally replies.

Right, trust, honesty… right.


“I had a nightmare,” I say simply, not looking up.

“A bad one?”

“No more than usual.” I shrug.

I sound like a sullen teenager, and I know it, but I’m not entirely sure how much I really want him to know.


“So you have nightmares often?” Hisao asks with concern.

“I guess.” Again I shrug. Come on Miki, you can do better than this.

“Do you know what phantom pains are?”

To my relief he nods. Telling him is one thing, explaining is quite another. I feel him shift so our arms are touching, an act I take as an open invitation to rest my head on his shoulder. It’s funny, I always thought I would feel different after telling someone else about the ghosts and dreams.

Silence falls between us, and I wonder what Hisao is thinking. As far as I can work out there are two options, either he will think I’m some fragile flower that needs protecting, or he will realise just what kind of damaged soul he has hooked up with.

“I’m sorry,” he says at last.

“Don’t be, it’s not your fault.” I reply quickly, before changing the subject as fast as I can. No one can say I didn’t make an effort to open up.

“What are you doing up?”

“Oh, I couldn’t sleep. I, well, I was thinking about you to be honest.”

“Yeah?”

“Erm, yeah. Look, about what my mum said, well, I’m sorry.”

“She’s not exactly my biggest fan is she?” I say. The subject of Hisao and this girl - Iwanako - had almost completely slipped my mind. At the time I was more focused on his mothers assault to register much of what she was actually saying. However this girl clearly means something to my boyfriend, though I have no idea what.

“No.” He sighs, pulling away from me to lean back over the handrail. “I don’t know what's gotten into her, she was never like this with anyone before.”

“Perhaps she was expecting to have you home alone after so much time apart?” I say reasonably. Could this women feel jealous of me? Seems an insane notion, but she certainly carries one hell of a grudge. But if she wanted to spend time with her son why wouldn’t she just say? I’m hardly going to object, and with an entire city I’m sure I can find something to amuse myself. She clearly has no qualms about trying to split us up over lunch, so why not just ask?

I already know the answer. She’s the type of person he would rather destroy me than open herself up to accusations of being rude. In other words a bitchy middle school bully through and through. But I will not be bullied, not again, no, it’s on bitch.

“Did you hear me?” Hisao nudges my shoulder, bringing me crashing back to reality.

“Sorry no, I was lost in my own head.” I feel my cheeks begin to burn - hopefully - it’s too dark for him to see.

“I was saying it’s a bit late to want to spend time with me now, neither of them cared before I had a heart attack.” He says, his voice heavy with bitterness.

“I’m sure they cared about you,” I say nervously, deciding against pointing out that an inattentive mother is better than a drunk one. Anyway it’s stupid having a competition about who had the most messed up childhood, even if you win, you lose.

“Maybe, but they cared about their jobs so much more.”

I shrug, “I suppose you don’t get a home like this without working hard.”

“You're defending them…” Hisao whispers, not bothering to hide the bitterness. Which burns all the more for being directed at me.

“I’m not,” I say, trying to keep the defensiveness out of my voice. “It’s just I don’t think there’s such a thing as a perfect family, and the family you do have, well, you will regret losing it.”

“I’m sorry,” he says - there is no bitterness in his voice anymore - If anything he sounds ashamed. “I should have thought about your dad, I’m really sorry.”

It’s not a competition…


With a sign I sit down on the edge of the balcony, slotting my legs through the bars to dangle in the cool night air.

“It’s not just my dad,” I say softly, resting my forehead against the cold metal in front of me. I hope I can trust him. “My mum, used to drink, like a lot. It’s… well you better sit down, it’s a long story.”

Sitting together under a polluted sky I tell him about myself, no cutting corners or hiding behind shrugs. I tell him everything and answer every question as honestly as I can. It’s a terrifying, yet cathartic experience. Thankfully Hisao listens carefully, never looking at me like I’m somehow different, or broken. His pity would have destroyed us far quicker than his mother ever could.

“Anyway,” I finish feebly, “Enough about me, who’s Iwanako?”

He grimaces at the name. I’m not sure if this is a touchy subject, or he simply hasn’t mentioned his ex girlfriend - if she even was his girlfriend - while with me. He probably thought I would be jealous of her, not an unfair assumption. But I just can’t seem to muster any resentment for this mysterious girl, plus it’s not like I’ve been much more forward with mine and Ayumu’s relationship. Who knows, perhaps she hurt Hisao as badly as my ex hurt me.

“At school, she... Well, she confessed her feelings, and…” he pauses, his hand raising to his chest. “And I had a heart attack.”

Shit.

“That's, like… fuck.” I can’t seem to find the words to describe that admission. It’s like something that happens in a movie or comic book, so tragic as to be unbelievable. No wonder his mood was so dark when he came to Yamaku.

He gives me a pained smile, rubbing his sternum steadily.

“One moment I’m out in the snow with her, the next I’m locked away in hospital with a…” He doesn’t finish his sentence, seeming to talk to himself more than me.

It’s terrible of me, but I’m secretly celebrating the fact that my own confession didn’t lead to his near death. I’m not sure if I could cope had I been the cause of another death. Hell, I’m not coping with one.

“She did come and visit me afterwards, my whole class did. People I didn’t even know or speak to would bring me gifts and cards, but their attention soon dwindled until it was only my close friends.” He pauses, looking away to hide the sudden dark look that crosses his face. “Then it was just Iwanako, then even she couldn’t be around me anymore, and it was just my parents.”

“Bitch,” I say consolingly.

This at last draws a light chuckle from my understandably somber boyfriend. “It wasn’t her fault, not really I wasn’t exactly a nice person to be around back then.”

“You had a heart attack, not being in a good mood is expected, right?”

Again he laughs softly, his warm eyes finding mine. “I don’t blame her, it was hard on both of us. I’m just thankful I managed to find myself, and I have you to thank for that.” He leans his head against the bars, watching me with a smile playing at his lips.

“Me? What did I do?” I ask taken aback.

He just smirks. It feels as if a weight has been lifted from his shoulders, and I can’t help but share the exhilaration brought forth by his now found freedom. Silently he reaches out through the restless night for my cheek, looking for my lips in the semi darkness, and I happily oblige.

I should tell the truth more often.

— — —

“You cannot be serious!” I hiss, a few inches from my boyfriends face.

“I’m sorry!” he replies, failing completely to hide his grin. “It was dad’s idea and he bought the tickets before he knew you were coming, I swear I didn’t know anything about it!”

“Right, come on! We don’t want to be late.” Mr Nakai calls loudly from across the worktop that dominates the centre of the kitchen area. I feel like diving on Hisao and refusing to let go unless he stays, or at least agrees to take me with him. Unfortunately he is already out of reach heading in the direction of the door, followed by his giant of a father.

“Have fun girls!” Haru calls over his shoulder. Glancing at his wife I’m surprised his back hasn’t burst into flames with the look she is giving him. At least I’m not the only one completely put out by this arrangement.

While Hisao and his father are off spending some quality time wandering around a museum, I’ve been left to the whim of Mrs Nakai. Who by the looks of things is fresh out of mercy. Hisao better get home in one piece, because I’m going to kill him. The front door slams with a sound like the trap door on the gallows.

I stand awkwardly in the middle of the kitchen, as she clatters around collecting pots and pans. I wonder if should just sneak back to my room? Or better yet, retreat to Hisao’s room and his games console. There’s a better chance of my super space soldier and the alien invasion working things out than me and this demented woman anyway.

“Are you just going to stand there?” Hisao’s mother snarls, not bothering to look at me.

A wooden block containing an assortment of knives catches my eye. Tempting.

“I’m sorry, what would you like me to do?” I say as politely as possible, though I feel like shouting.

“What can you do?”

More than you I bet, and I’m at a handicap.

“Anything you need me to, we’re cooking something right?”

“A cake, yes.” She lets out a slow sigh, some of the anger slipping away. “I need to make a phone call, can I leave you to measure out the ingredients?”

I’m about to ask how exactly I’m supposed to know what we need - and in what quantities - when she places a cookbook in front of me, using a bright red painted fingernail to point at the relevant information. It’s a little like baking with my grandmother, but lacking her gentle nature and kindly warmth.

“Yes,” I say curtly, “Anything else?”

“That should be more than enough to be getting on with.” she replies, before noiselessly leaving the room.

With a somewhat surreal feeling I scour the gleaming kitchen for the necessary supplies. My fear that she might not actually have any of the items on the list, and set this task purely to mess with me proved to be unfounded. Apparently even she’s not that cruel.

Noa returns just as I finish measuring the correct amount of sugar, the last of the ingredients needed. Digital scales are definitely easier than the brass and chain affair of my grandmothers beach house.

“Everything ok?” I ask, unable to grasp anything from her neural expression.

To my surprise she answers with something other than the sneer I was expecting. “Quite, unfortunately even on holiday work keeps me busy.”

“Yeah, Hisao mentioned you and your husband worked a lot of hours.” I say evenly, busying myself with mixing egg and flour. It feels a bit like I’m playing the carnival game with the wire and hoop, where if you accidentally knock one against the other an alarm will sound. Only diffidence here is I have to watch for saying something stupid, rather than an unsteady hand.

“You two have known each other long?”

“Yeah, from his first day at school - we share a homeroom.”

What follows is some of the most stilted and awkward conversation I have ever had. Still, the cake is coming together nicely, and Hisao’s mother is on the verge of being almost friendly towards me. I can’t help but feel that this is what Shizune will be like in thirty years - they will have invented robot ears by that point, or at the very least a robot Misha.

At last all the necessary ingredients have been mixed. Now how the hell do I get this into the baking pans? There are very few times nowadays I even notice I’m missing my hand - other than when it decides to forcibly remind me - but looking at the heavy mixing bowl I’m suddenly very much aware of my deformity.

“Need a hand?”

Her reaction is immediate and predictable. With a gasp she covers her mouth with both hands, her eyes wide. So she said and did all those horrible things without batting an eyelid, but the mere idea that I’m lacking a hand is where she draws the line? I smile softly, quite enjoying her discomfort.

“I’m so sorry,” she mumbles at last, “I didn’t mean.”

“Don’t worry, your son said the same thing shortly after we met.” She winces when I mention Hisao’s awkward turn of phrase, “And, like I said to him, I could do with some help.”

With a quick nod she quickly moves to lift the bowl, and together we split the mixture evenly into two baking tins. Her rapidly adjusted attitude seems to be more than a passing phase as she throws me a wide smile. Her face seems to lighten and soften with her grin, and I can just barely see echoes of the dimples that feature on her sons face.

Though I can’t help but feel put off. She only started treating me with a semblance of courtesy after she was made acutely aware of my missing hand. I don’t know if that should annoy me or not.

“It must be hard, living with…” She gestures to my stump. Apparently “only one hand” is too rude to even mutter.

“I’ve gotten used to it,” I reply, bending down to open the oven door, the heat hitting me like a solid object.

“So, you’ve not always…” Again she cuts herself off.

It’s a little disconcerting having what is an essentially a stranger be even this open when enquiring about my deformity. Then again half an hour ago she looked fit to murder me, so this definitely a marked improvement. Plus I suppose I should not expect any less from my boyfriend’s mother.

“No, I’ve only been at Yamaku for two years.” I reply, sliding the second pan inside and closing the oven door.

“You’re parents must have been beside themselves.”

“They were inconsolable.” I can’t help but smirk and my own rather sick joke, which luckily Hisao’s mother misses, having turned to prepare drinks.

She offers me a cup of tea, and we sit in peaceful silence, the rumbling of traffic the only sound - other than the occasional clink of porcelain on marble.

“Can I ask you something?” I say, biting my bottom lip. This might be a mistake.

Noa, holding her mug in both hands as if sheltering from the cold nods.

“What was Hisao like before,” again I find myself biting my lip, “Before Yamaku?”

“You want to know if he’s changed?” she asks, eyebrow raised.

I nod quickly, I was expecting outrage.

“He actually changed quite dramatically since we last saw him.” Her tone is neutral, her lips pursed.

She’s unhappy that her son is no longer - how did he describe it - ’Not a nice person to be around’?

“But, that’s good right?”

I might be pushing my luck, but her reaction has me mystified.

“It is, of course it is,” she pauses to sip at her tea, “You’ve done something I never could.”

What?

Her eyes, so reminiscent of Hisao’s are fixed on the mug in her hands. She’s not angry anymore, and it’s hard to believe she ever was. All at once she seems older and weaker. This is who she really is, behind the face she puts on to face the world. Selfishly I picture my reflection in the bathroom mirror, bruised eyes and bottle in hand.

No, that isn’t who I really am, it doesn’t work like that.

“Why haven’t you been in Hisao’s room?” I ask quietly.

She sniffs audibly, and I suddenly feel an immense wave of guilt. All my plans for revenge feel almost barbaric, even if they felt all too justified at the time.

“It was like he had died,” she whispers, “There was a boy in that bed, but he wasn’t my little boy, not anymore.”

I find myself rubbing my eyes on the back of my hand as she continues in the same hushed, almost panicked whisper.

“Nothing I did seemed to make any difference, he was slipping away. Even when everyone was telling me how lucky he was to still be alive, I could see him slipping away.” She pauses just long enough to wipe at the corner of her eyes with her thumb, the bright red painted nail an alarming contrast to her sullen face.

“Even when he was strong enough to go to school he was so distant, he never wrote and hardly called. I’ve lost him.”

“You haven’t,” I say quickly, startled by the sudden revolution. He never even wrote home?

“I’ve seen the way he looks at you,” she sighs hopelessly.

What does she mean by that?

“Look,” I say desperately, “Waking up in hospital is horrible, even worse when you find out your life is never going to be the same. It feels like your world is ending and nothing anyone says or does can make that better. The only thing that helps is time, time to see that you can still have a life, it’s just different than it was before.”

I sound like my grandfather.

“That’s the only difference, Hisao still loves you, he just needed time to accept things have changed.” I finish with what I hope is an encouraging smile.

“I’m sorry if I was hard on you,” she says, finally setting her now empty mug down in front of her.

“It’s okay,” I reply, “And Mrs Nakai?”

“Yes?”

“I’m going out with your son.”

“I know.”

We share the smallest of smiles across the countertop, before the buzz of the oven timer causes us both to jump. Abruptly ending the moment. Not that I mind too much, this whole morning has been one surreal event followed by another.

It’s like the conversation of just minutes ago never happened, as together we return to the act of creating a picture perfect cake. The only difference is the animosity between us, or lack thereof. She still has things she needs to work through, but then so do I. Like getting my boyfriend to call his damn mother once in awhile.

As first meetings with your boyfriend's parents go this was hardly orthodox, but then again when is normal ever the case for me?

— — —

“This looks amazing.” Hisao grins, eyeing our cake. Which now resembles a mountain of pink icing, capped with snowy peaks of candy sprinkles.

“Thanks,” I say a little bashfully. “How was the museum?”

“Fantastic,” Haru announces boisterously from beside his wife. “I do enjoy spending time with very old things, makes me feel young!” His laugh reverberates around the kitchen, catching all of us up in his good mood. Even Noa - now back to her familiar mask of cold indifference - cracks the smallest of smiles.

I nudge my boyfriend, who turns to me with a smile.

“What’s up?”

“Think we can sneak away to your bedroom?”

His eyes grow wide and his mouth hangs open, making him look a little like a frog.

“To play video games.” I laugh, “What did you think?” I ask, raising my eyebrow. As if I couldn’t guess, honestly, boys.

“Exactly that, yes, video games. Just what I was thinking.” He plays it cool, but I can’t help but notice the sudden brightening of his cheeks.

“Mum?” He says, now looking over to his casually chatting parents. “Can we be excused?”

“Hmm,” her eyes flicker to mine for just a moment, but the malice I’m familiar with has vanished. “Of course you may, I’ll call on you when dinner's ready.”

We waste no time in getting to Hisao’s room. We take our normal spots leaning against the bed, and wait - not altogether patiently - for the game to load.

“Sorry about today, did she give you a hard time?” Hisao asks, tearing his eyes away from a loading bar that seems to be moving just a little slower than the average tectonic plate.

“I think we’ve come to an understanding of sorts,” I report happily.

“What happened?”

“I’ll tell you later,” I reply, nodding towards the balcony. Just as the eerie orchestral music starts to play, signifying that the game at last had loaded.

“Aww,” Hisao coos, “ I don’t even get a hint of whatever it was that caused this miraculous change of heart?”

“Nope,” I grin, “But I think we should be able to enjoy the rest of our time here much more now, or at least, I will be able to.”

“Good to hear, ready to save the world?”

“Always.”

Hisao hits start.

<< Previous <Home> Next >>
Last edited by Gajzla on Sat Nov 28, 2015 4:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Post Reply