The final production begins on the Festival Issue of Yamaku's newspaper.
- Act 1
Scene 6, Part 2: Oil on the Press
First stop is the art room. Nestled in the corner of the hall: We step in the room, devoid of any sort of life. Naomi bounds over to the shelf, poking around the shelves for the paper we need.
“Is there something special about this paper? Why not just use copy paper?” I ask, my voice filling the room with something more than just idle rustling and shifting.
“This paper is bigger and softer, it holds the color more than copy paper too. It's rather good for our purposes.” Natsume says, almost moving to push something up the bridge of her nose, but stopping and smiling silently. She glances through the shelf, not moving anything for some reason. She seems really lazy, smart though. Doesn't really waste words either.
“Plus, it looks and feels similar to a real newspaper~!” Naomi adds, tilting her head around as she pulls a box aside to peek inside it.
Putting it back with a frown, I ask cautiously, “So, what's it even look like? The paper. What's it in?”
“It's in a roll. Short. Thick, though.” Natsume turns from the shelf, double checking through them.
I glance around the room, searching for a roll of newspaper. My eyes land upon the desk up front, scattered with papers.
I point awkwardly to the thick roll, “Is that it?”
Natsume turns, sighing, “Yes, that is, indeed, it.”
Naomi pushes a box back into the shelf with her forehead, stepping down from the chair she'd positioned herself on top of.
She missteps, her foot falling from the hard plastic of the chair. Falling backwards from the chair, she seemingly floats. Natsume cringes, stuck in and out of moving forwards to catch her.
I try to step forward and catch her, but by the time I'm even close, she falls upon the hard linoleum, her body making a hard crack against it.
When I reach down to try and help her up, Natsume starts to frown, “Hisao, go grab something soft, anything.” I start to open my mouth to question why, but she interjects before I can, “Just do it, quickly.” Her voice remains calm and level, the frown still level across her face.
I glance around for a pillow or a blanket, and find a folded up canvas tarp, in the corner of the room underneath a few paint cans.
I pick up the posting cans- thankfully empty or close to, sitting them on the desk and pulling the tarp out and bundling it under my arm.
“Here, this should work!” I call out, stepping around the desks.
Natsume lifts Naomi's head, placing the tarp under it and sighing, Naomi is stiff and motionless, almost like a tree in the wind. She looks like she could be uprooted and snapped, like a fresh, thin, tree.
She just looks so… fragile.
Naomi eventually loosens, but doesn't move, her eyes shutting from their painfully opened state.
“We'll have to bring her to the nurse. You'll have to pick her up. I ah… can't. “
I uneasily pick her up, one arm under her back, the other under her legs. She's cold, clammy, and nearly vibrating. I grunt under her weight, stepping out of the art room slowly.
"Right, we need to be careful. We'll take the elevator downstairs."
I nod in response, stepping over to the elevator behind Natsume, "How are you so calm?" I ask, as she presses the call button for the elevator.
"This is, ah, normal for us. We both take care of each other. I'll explain it later." She smiles slightly, a genuine gesture. She sighs, putting her hands behind her neck as the elevator door slides open.
The ride down, and the walk over are silent, save for the sound of Naomi's ragged breathing. Natsume continues taking the lead, opening and holding doors open for me to step through. When we reach the nurse's office, she steps in, opening the curtain for me. The nurse nods regretfully, closing the door behind me.
"Just lay her down on the bed, Hisao. Close the curtain too. She'll need her rest for now. What caused it?"
I take a seat in a chair from the corner stack, slumping over. I breathe in a few times, trying to catch my breath from the long walk and weight of carrying Naomi here, both mental and physical.
He looks towards Natsume, then to me. Natsume waves a hand to me, before speaking, "She was trying to grab a roll of paper from a shelf. Fell when she came down from the chair she climbed up on to."
The nurse frowns, "I see. The both of you did what you could, I suppose.. Hisao, how do you, ah... feel. Is your heart fine?"
I glance towards him, tilting my head back.
My chest hurts, that much is clear,but I ignored it. I suppose it was just... I don't really know. Maybe I just felt the need to get her to safety before something else happened.
The nurse taps his pen against the rim of his coffee cup, glancing at me once more.
"It hurts, but it's not... bad. I freaked out from what happened."
Natsume nods slightly, almost in agreement or acknowledgement.
"If you don't mind me asking, Hisao, how did your first heart attack happen?"
"Well, I... It wasn't really…”
"It's fine Hisao, the situation doesn't really matter, just curious if you had similar causes to this one. Just don't over exert yourself, like you did today. You did the right thing, but keep yourself in mind too." He glances to Natsume, "Next time, call me. You should know that much."
"I was caught off guard." She frowns, falling further into her chair.
The nurse nods slightly, "It's fine." He sighs, spinning around in his chair a few times, before skidding his heels on the tile, "How are you liking Yamaku, Hisao? This week has basically been an extreme for you, I would say."
"It's alright, just a touch... Well, extreme, like you said." I put my left hand to my temple, rubbing at them in an attempt to calm the beginnings of a headache.
"Hisao, you're doing great. Most people who come into Yamaku like you are reserved and keep to themselves, but you seem to be adjusting well, especially considering your circumstances. Are you planning on going this weekend, right?"
"The festival? I don't really know." Natsume glances to me at those words.
"Well, you should go." She says, "You deserve it after this week. Naomi was already planning on dragging you to it under the guise of Newspaper Club work. We don't have to do anything though, just fill the stand and check on it once and awhile. The papers are free to take since it's just a club paper."
The nurse points his pen at her, "That's a good idea!"
The curtains from behind us all rustle a bit, and the canvas bed sheet crinkles under movement. Naomi reaches a slender hand out through the opening, peeking out of the grey light and into the dull sun of the nurse's office.
"What happened? Hisao, Natsume, did we get the paper and the camera?"
"We got the paper."
Natsume adds on to my quick statement; "We need to get the camera still, but you fell asleep. We stopped by the nurse to let you rest. Are you fine to walk?"
She nods groggily, wiping the sweat from her brow and pushing the sleep from her eyes.
"Let's go to your dorm then, alright?" Natsume stands from the chair,putting her arm around Naomi's waist and stepping out of the Nurse's office, motioning for me to follow.
"Keep up the good work, Hisao. Make sure to stop by the office again tomorrow morning after your run." He stands up from the chair, following me out of the room and
shutting the door behind me.
I speed walk to Natsume and Naomi, both shuffling up the main hallway of the auxiliary building.
"Natsume, I can go get the camera and the paper. Do you need any help with Naomi?"
She shakes her head to me, “Just drop the camera and the paper off. I’ll be back soon enough. Explain to Ayao what happened and she should drop the high and mighty artist act.” Natsume steps out of the greenery, and into the field leading across to the dorms.
I step back into the main building, glancing through the notes I'd taken for the day as I walk.
When I reach the art room, it's still empty in the department of life.
I grab the roll of paper from the desk, leaning it over my shoulder as I step out of the door again.
I head to the student council room, on the directions given originally by Naomi.
I knock on the door, met with utter silence.
“Anyone there?” I call out, before turning on my heel to leave.
A massive, excessive lilt passes through the halls, laughing boisterously; Shizune and Misha.
I lean against the door, somewhere in between standing and sitting. They round the corner, looking at me confusedly. Misha's violent laugh halts immediately.
“Oh.” Misha blurts out. Shizune stands to her side, looks of disinterest and mild agitation flashing back and forth on her dark blue eyes.
Electing to not draw this out, I cut straight to the point, “Naomi and Natsume sent me to pick up the camera and get some pictures of the stalls in progress.” They both glance at me with cocked heads, Misha's hands translating my words furiously, cutting through the air. Shizune responds with shut eyes and the gesticulations of a practiced swordsman.
Misha holds her eyes open, watching the reply and speaking slowly, lacking the obvious passion Shizune held, “So you’re working with them now? I guess it’s good that you found your place, but I never pegged you for one of them!” Misha’s wording lacks the pointed tone and condescending attitude that I would expect from Shizune, "So, you all need what from us?"
"A camera, and access to where you are assembling the stalls." I respond quickly, stuffing my hands into my pockets.
Shizune receives the translation, a wry grin crossing her face. Misha then pipes up after reading her hands, "So that's all you need? Nothing more? You have all your preparations for the festival complete, save for the.... stands?"
"Yes, we do. Can I have the camera, please?"
Responding as quick as an average human would, Misha pipes out, "Fine, then! In~side~!" She opens the door, and Shizune steps in before I can even take a step. I blink a few times, lost in the complexity of every action this woman takes, every ulterior motive layered into her each and every action. I lurch forwards through the door, Misha paused in confusion as she lets the door close.
Misha calls out, "The camera is over here~!" She then mutters under her breath, covering it with a cough.
Rolling my eyes, I pick up the camera and loop it around my neck, "And where are the stalls being made?"
"Take a left, exit the building, and round the corner! Don't drop the camera, or else Shizune says she'll kill you~!"
"...Right." I step out of the door, exiting the building and turning the corner of the building, laying my eyes upon numerous masses of stall and stall like apparatuses.
I pull the picture from my neck and line up the viewfinder with my face, glancing through it and lining up a shot of the stalls. I crouch down slightly, taking a few different pictures at different angles.
I let the camera dangle loosely around my neck, as I glance around for a final shot.
When I let the camera droop, I glance across the side of the school, and out into the greenery. I take a shot of the weak sunset, peering through the shrouded treeline, sighing slightly.
I let the camera go, drooping it around my neck and stepping back to the main building. I find my way back up to the Newspaper Club Room, Ayao still sitting in the corner with her notebook perched against her knee lazily.
"What took you three so- Oh. Where are Naomi and Natsume?" Ayao glares at me from across the room, flicking her notebook shut.
"Naomi ah, seized. Had a seizure. Natsume took her back to her dorm and sent me off to finish the list." I pull the camera from my neck, "I'll handle getting the photos on to the computers. I'll even send it to your email, and let you pick."
She nods, a confused frown crossing her face as she plunges back into her notebook again. I sit down at the desk, and set about getting all the stuff out for the paper.
"Sorry," she says casually, "That's ah, a rough thing to see."
I nod, turning in the rolling chair, "It was, yeah. But, well... It was necessary, I think."
She nods, eyes closed as she drags her feet back up to her chest, "Right."
I pull the USB cord from the side of the desktop, plugging the computer and the camera together with a little wire. I eventually spot the files in the camera's storage, and drag them to an email with all three of the Newspaper Club members.
When I hit send, I stand from the chair, stepping towards the door. I quickly realize I forgot the extra photos I took. Sitting back down, I send myself the photos I took afterwards.
I wave goodbye to Ayao, and she acknowledges my exit with a nod and a slight wave.
I make my way to my dorm, taking a few looks at my homework before shutting the book and tossing it onto my bag in the corner of the room. I lay down on my bed, silently counting the popcorn of the ceiling.
What exactly happened today? Why was Natsume so… calm? Does Naomi have these normally? I don't know what to think. I know this is a school for the disabled, but so many people have silent problems, problems that explode if you trigger them. My heart, Naomi's... head.
And why couldn't Natsume help? She said she “just couldn't.” There's so many questions and so few answers anymore.