Valse Sentimentale - OC Drabble (Updated 4/10/16)

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TubaMirum
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Chapter 9: Children's March: "Over the Hills and Far Away"

Post by TubaMirum » Tue Mar 01, 2016 6:39 pm

Chapter Nine
Part Two

“Ah, Junko! Glad you could make it.” Anja winks while I offer a bare-minimum acknowledgement.

“Of course! You’ve already met Anja then, huh?” She turns to me as I start to struggle out of my seat. Hunger is starting to be my only driving instinct at this point.

“Yeah… You two know each other?” I stare at them blankly, ignoring the protests of my stomach.

“We’ve been friends since elementary school.” Junko gives a tomboyish wink and grin, and I instantly remember what seemed familiar about her; she was one of the few visibly excited by Nakahara’s spot for the track club. Actually, she’d even said something directly to her back then, hadn’t she?

“I see. Well, I guess I don’t mind company.” I nod along, sighing as it seems our quaint group has suddenly gained a much more boisterous member.

“Alright! Onward we go,” Junko chuckles, suddenly gathering Anja by her arm, much to the shorter girl’s surprise. “Is there anything we shouldn’t get while we’re down there, Akiyama?”

It takes a moment to register what she’s asking, and I simply shake my head as the four of us exit the room.

“Well, I’m allergic to corn, but none of you need to worry about that.” I shrug as we mingle into the lunch-time bustle. I chance a look around for my hallmate when I think about it, but she’s nowhere to be found right now.

“Oh, please call me Sora.” I tack on, finally remembering what had been bothering me throughout this entire set of exchanges. Formality is not a terribly comfortable place for me to be.

“Right.” Anja giggles as the two other girls start a conversation among themselves.

I half-expect Seto to start one with me, but it seems he’s happy enough being quiet. He doesn’t seem all that shy to me, but that might be a biased thing for me to say.

The cafeteria isn’t a terribly long commute anyway. I stop straining to hear the conversation as the din of the lunch rush drowns it out entirely. I don’t think anybody has much important to say anyway, so I instead focus on the looming Yamaku menu…

“Holy Christ that’s a lot to choose from…” I think to myself, eyes going wide and jaw going a little slack. Several boards listing the options dominate the serving area, and each has its own array of allergens listed. Thankfully enough, there doesn’t seem to be much with corn here. I’d normally worry they simply aren’t listing it, but a quick once-over dissuades this worry. In any case, it’s not like eating a little bit will kill me, though I’m hesitant to test this again considering how little I’ve eaten in the past day.

I decide the tonkatsu is the best thing to build a meal around as the group all goes their separate ways for a few moments to get food. I look around, but almost surprisingly there’s absolutely no canned coffee to choose from, so I settle for green tea.

By what I can only assume is a miracle given how unbelievably crowded the cafeteria is, we all manage to rematerialize over the same table with our foodstuffs and take seats. Seto of course simply moves one aside before rolling up to the table on his own power.

To my surprise, the food is better than expected. It’s not the best I’ve ever had of course, but the way the tension in my stomach disappears instantly tells me the food could actually be pretty bad and still do its job of feeding me quite well.

Thanks to my condition, chopsticks are a fleeting dream. Forks and spoons are far more efficient for the plate-to-mouth journey, but there’s an elegance to chopsticks that I miss pretty severely.

I must have been eating quickly because the group of friends is looking at me with wide eyes the next time I can chance a look.

“Hungry?” Junko grins, restoring faith in all those who believe in the stereotypical jock girl before taking a bite from her curry.

“Y-yeah,” I feel some heat rising in my cheeks and look down at the table when everybody starts to laugh at my expense. “I haven’t had anything to eat in almost a day…” Not only that, but just about everything I ate yesterday ended up in the toilet before it was done digesting.

Come to think of it, how have I managed to be as energetic this morning as I have been? It’s not as if I’ve been very energetic, but I should have been absolutely dead leading up to now.

“Well, I’m impressed,” Anja giggles playfully, her own food barely touched. “I didn’t guess you’d be able to out-eat Junko here.”

“Hey! Just for that I’m taking your eggs!” Junko frowns at her friend, and this time everybody gets a laugh out of it. Strangely, I get the feeling she prides herself on being a big and fast eater.

“Oh fine.” Anja sighs, prompting an instant, precise strike from the tall jock that robs her bowl of some of the aforementioned egg.

“I really don’t normally eat this fast…” I sigh, conceding defeat for fear that I’ll be forced into some kind of competition with an athlete over who can eat the most the fastest. There’s absolutely no way in Hell I’m going to compete in the same league in that contest.

“Well, it’s good you’re eating.” Seto chimes in with a fairly innocent smile, more focused on his soup than his words.

I simply nod to him, letting my eyes wander around the cafeteria. I remember Kyouko hadn’t packed a lunch, so it’s surprising that I still can’t find her in the crowd. Then again, with so many green jackets to sort, it’s hardly surprising I can’t make out her petite form.

At some point the issue of clubs comes up again. Seto is interested in the Book Club, while Anja would be interested in something with home applications. Junko is obviously interested in track, but then she also mentions baseball without any sort of hesitation.

“You can join more than one club?” I cut in, only a few bites of pork left over on my plate by this point.

“Yeah! Clubs aren’t really officially joined here anyway,” Junko says in between stealing more egg from Anja’s bowl. “What are you thinking about doing, Sora?”

Ah, I should have guessed it would get to me here.

“Um… Well, I doubt there’s anything I want to join, actually.” I frown, but to my surprise I just get nods of acknowledgement and understanding from my classmates.

“Clubs aren’t mandatory either, but you can always change your mind later.” Anja nods, finishing her drink and standing up to discard it, leaving her meal to be taken apart by her childhood friend.

We’ll have to see about that, I suppose. I chance another look around while she’s gone to see if I can find Kyouko, but it seems that she made other lunch plans today after all.

It’s not too disappointing, though. These three seem just as likely as her to be good friends in the coming year.

Children's March is a playful number by the Australian composer and pianist Percy Grainger, probably best known for his work with folk melodies in the early 20th century. This piece in particular has many folk-like qualities, but it is entirely original, the brainchild of an incredibly unique individual. Percy Grainger is notorious in some circles for his perverse private life, but much of that isn't evident in Children's March. Arranged for concert band, the piece is an orchestrational tour de force, highlighting each section of the band and featuring an important piano part (In his time, Grainger was among the best virtuoso pianists) and even an optional men's choir in two separate sections. The piece never completely loses it jovial mood, and I think it's an appropriate accompaniment for a first day at high school.
Last edited by TubaMirum on Mon Mar 14, 2016 1:14 am, edited 1 time in total.
Gustav Mahler wrote:If you find you're boring your audience, go slower not faster.

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Chapter 10: Piano Concerto No. 4 in B-flat Major

Post by TubaMirum » Wed Mar 02, 2016 10:32 pm

Chapter 10: Piano Concerto No. 4 in B-flat Major
Part One

“You sure you don’t want to come by?” Anja turns idly towards me when there’s a break in our Physics lecture.

“Where again?” I narrow my eyes to try and remember exactly what it was we had been talking about. The tonkatsu had been a huge help with my concentration, but I’m still just a bad student at heart.

“It’s a place in town, the Shanghai. It’s a cute little tea shop that Junko likes to go to on occasion.”

I was at least able to learn that Junko and Anja are both Sendai natives during lunch. I haven’t asked exactly, but it seems likely Junko might be one of the students here that has no disability.

“I shouldn’t be doing this kind of runabout thinking.” I remind myself mentally before answering Anja.

“If it’s after clubs then it should be fine. I’m helping my hallmate get around after class.” I nod along to myself, figuring we’d have to wait anyway for Junko. She did express interest in two different clubs after all.

“Sounds like a plan! I’ll let Junko know.” She smiles before casually slipping out her cell phone, completely unfazed by the fact we’re still in the middle of a lesson. Still, I can hardly blame her since she never gets caught. Her powers of deflection are pretty impressive.

So I seem to have some plans for dinner then. The final bell for class tolls a short time later, dismissing us to our own devices. I can go ahead and say my first day wasn’t an utter disaster.

I probably shouldn’t relax into my chair when I have somebody to fetch from the next room, but the atmosphere of generalized exhaustion I sense is hurting my motivation. It ends up being useless to think too closely about as Kyouko pops her head into the room a few minutes after class’ end.

Ah, I should probably stand up so she doesn’t have to call all the way to the back of the–

“Is Sora Akiyama here?” She calls out, her voice quiet but carrying pretty well.

“Room…” I finish the thought with a sigh.

Well, I suppose a bit of momentary embarrassment is my punishment for being lazy.

“I’m here. Just a sec.” I smile to try and match hers, though I can’t dream to give it the same playful quality.

Getting up from the desk is a bit of a struggle again, and I have to wonder if my leg is starting to regress. The doctors had all said it made a full recovery, but they’re not the ones using it on a daily basis. It isn’t limited in range of motion, but it just doesn’t respond the way my left does.

Thankfully, Kyouko doesn’t seem interested in drawing further attention to us, meaning I’m able to take a spot by her side without any further conversation.

“We’re going to the Performing Arts Center, right?” Wow, Sora. You actually managed to remember.

“Right, in the auxiliary building.” She confirms before we resume the same precarious but effective position from the morning. Surely enough, this arrangement is getting more comfortable through repetition.

Finding the Center is actually pretty easy. The auxiliary building is divided into very clear wings in a way that the main building isn’t, and the Performing Arts Center is housed in the second closest wing. The crowd of students is a lot thicker here than I might have expected, but it does make sense considering how many must be checking out clubs.

I suppose I’m doing that myself, intentionally or not.

“How was your first day?” Kyouko breaks the raucous silence between us once we cross the threshold to the outside. The temperature has risen to a much more comfortable level by now.

“It could’ve been worse.” I admit with a sigh, looking around the grounds at the crowds of students.

It really must be the entirety of Yamaku out and about right now. Green and white expanses as far as the eye can see… Which isn’t terribly far given how the inner yards are enclosed by buildings. It sounds poetic when I think like that though, and life is more fun when it’s a little poetic.

“Well, it’s only the first day after all. Nobody wants to pile on too much work just yet.”

“I guess so… That just means they’re going to go wild tomorrow.” I groan at the thought of it, but it’s not an entirely unpleasant thought. It’s nice being back into the swing of school, strangely enough.

Our conversation slows as the sonic landscape changes when we cross over into the auxiliary building. It’s still quite loud, louder even, but the gaggles of students have reduced tremendously in size already. There are a few helpful signs pointing out the various landmarks inside the building, and it’s quite fortunate that the Performing Arts Center seems to be confined to the first floor. I still don’t want to imagine navigating stairs with us holding each other and our bags.

The sound of instruments warming up is starting to carry into the hall the closer we get, and before long we’ve arrived at the door to the music room. I stop outside, which seems to suit Kyouko just fine as she unlinks from me and starts prodding her cane along the cane in search of direction.

“You mind staying out here for a moment?” Kyouko turns to me, deftly pivoting on her heel.

“Hmm? What for?” I raise a brow curiously. I would have thought she wanted me to go in with her so I could hear her play, but now she wants me to stay outside the room? For that matter, she seems to have gained confidence in her navigational skills that had been lacking before.

“Well, Mrs. Sakamoto can be a bit pushy towards recruitment,” She admits with a light blush, though I don’t comprehend why that would be a problem for a moment. “That and I’d rather you hear me after I warm up.”

“She’s welcome to try,” I sigh after some pause, chuckling at the surprising display of embarrassment. “If she thinks somebody with only one arm can learn an instrument for the first time…”

The smile I get in response seems like it ought to lead somewhere, but Kyouko leaves me hanging there, turning to enter the room with her bags and cases in tow.

“Just don’t run away. I promise it’ll be worth your while.” She gives a nod without angling towards me in too extreme a manner.

“Right…” I murmur without being heard, a bit exasperated now that I think about it. To be fair to her, this arrangement probably fits just fine into my evening plans, and I was going to invite her along in any case.

Still, I can’t shake this sinking suspicion that Kyouko is planning something.

Continued...
Last edited by TubaMirum on Tue Mar 15, 2016 8:52 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Gustav Mahler wrote:If you find you're boring your audience, go slower not faster.

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Chapter 10: Piano Concerto no. 4 in B-flat Major

Post by TubaMirum » Wed Mar 02, 2016 10:34 pm

Chapter Ten
Part Two

“Akiyama?”

I’m suddenly shocked from my stupor by an unexpected, yet vaguely familiar voice. The clamor of the hall is a bit too intense for me to make out a direction very quickly, so it’s a little relieving that the owner of the voice cuts in front of my vision.

It’s relieving for all of a moment, at least.

“Ah, it really is you isn’t it? Sora Akiyama!” The girl smiles as she recognizes me, her grey eyes sparkling. My heart starts to sink as I remember who this is. It’s really been three whole years, hasn’t it?

“Senpai?” I mouth dryly, surprised even a little bit of sound comes forth.

“You do remember me! I didn’t know you’d be enrolling here at Yamaku!” The girl bristles suddenly with a nostalgic energy. It would be a pleasant thing to be infected with if it didn’t come with the added need to spill my guts all over the pristine floors.

“I had no idea you’d be here either…” I stare blankly, trying to find something I could focus on to fight the slow growling in my stomach. Thankfully, it seems my head is behaving itself today, and the nightmarish memories don’t flood back just yet.

“Well, I guess I hadn’t expected it either. I was enrolling at a prep school near Tokyo the last time we talked…” She continues on, trailing off in the way a person only can when uncomfortable circumstances are involved. I let a nervous swallow as my curiosity gets the better of me.

“What changed..?” I mouth again, lowering my gaze a bit in expectation of something tragic. My thoughts are already cynically lined up to prove my situation is worse, and I want to scold myself for thinking again.

“Oh, it wasn’t anything to be worried about! I’m fine it’s just… Well,” She blushes again and laughs nervously. “I might have gotten into an altercation that got me expelled…”

Okay, that’s unexpected. In fact, I’m going to have to pick up my jaw from the floor. How did Sakurako Yukimura, the president of the Art Club my first year of middle school and one of the nicest girls I’ve ever met, get pushed into doing something that got her expelled from a Tokyo prep school? And for that matter, how did that cause her to end up here of all places?

“U-uh huh…” I simply mutter dumbly, not able to offer up any of these questions, though I’m sure they’re written all over my face.

“I’m sorry, I went and talked about it and now I’d rather not get in too deep…” She looked away a bit sadly, telling me all I need to know at this point.

“No, it’s fine, Senpai. I just… Well, I never thought I’d see you ever again.” I look at her, trying to mix in some joy at the reunion. The sad truth though is that her presence doesn’t bode well for my piece of mind. The only reason I haven’t run for a bathroom by now is that she’d already graduated by the time of my fateful exhibition…

Dammit, stop thinking about it already, Sora. I don’t even know where there might be a bathroom in this building, and the way I’m devolving means I really will make a mess here.

“A-are you alright? Should I grab the Nurse?” Yukimura frowns, leaning forward to touch gingerly at my temple. She’s not taller than me anymore, though she was only barely so during our single year together in middle school.

“I’ll be fine,” I wave off her concern, perhaps a bit hastily, before taking deep, controlled breaths to rein myself in. I rub the bridge of my nose for a moment, relieving a good deal of the built-up tension. “But still, I wasn’t expecting to see you here, Senpai, and certainly not next to the music room.”

“Well, I was actually coming by to grab some of the stencils they keep here, since the Art Club doesn’t need them often and they help tie the music room together. Kind of a mutual agreement between the clubs,” She starts on with a gentle smile, before blinking suddenly. “Say, come to think of it, you were thinking of joining the Music Club, Sora? I didn’t think you played any instruments.”

That actually hurts, Senpai. Surely they’re taking singers too? I’m not that bad a vocalist, right? Why am I going onto the defensive here?

“Well, I wasn’t really looking to join,” I start, but instantly regret it realizing what Yukimura just mentioned. She’s in the Art Club, like she had been in middle school. It’s too late to back out of the sentence I started, though. “I was just helping a friend here…”

“Well, why not check out the Art Club later? We’re always looking for new members, and you were… Sora?” She cuts in as my voice trails off, only to have her train of thought derailed by the ashen expression spreading across my cheeks.

“I um… I’d rather not talk about it…” I speak through a series of uncomfortable belches, praying none of them escalate into something worse. Thankfully, the reliving never comes back into play.

“Ah, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to prod,” Yukimura frowns before putting a hand on my shoulder, rubbing gently. “Are you sure you don’t need the Nurse?” The gesture is appreciated, Senpai.

“I’ll be fine,” I offer a shaky smile, but start to feel better as a result. Yukimura seems to be convinced too. “We can catch up later, if that’s fine?” I consider extending an invitation to that tea shop Anja mentioned, but I figure it’s probably not my place to do so.

“There’s no need to rush! Well, there’s a need for me to rush. I’ll catch you later, Sora!”

With that, she rushes inside, the club members still warming up. They seem unfazed, meaning this is probably a common occurrence for this room, and Yukimura returns with a few large metal notes, rests, and other musical symbols I only tangentially recognize. Each is splattered with paint in varying amounts.

“I’ll see you then, Senpai.” I smile, already feeling a lot better by now.

“Right!” She calls, rushing past me without much extra fanfare, ending our engagement peacefully. Groaning, I settle back against the wall, the task of occupying myself for some unknown amount of time setting on my mind. I don’t expect to hear my name again.

“Still here, Sora?” It’s Kyouko this time, a smile on her face. She’s resting against the outer frame of the door, enough out of the way so as not to impede students entering or leaving the room.

“Yeah…” I murmur, the sense of foreboding from before returning with a vengeance.

“Well, if you’d like, you can come in and observe now,” She smiles, her fingers clasped together as she evenly and rhythmically stretches and cracks them. “Or if you’d prefer, you can come by later. We’ll be ending at around 4:30 today.”

“It sounds tempting,” I offer, but stand up anyway, brushing imaginary dust off my lap. “But I think I’ll stay here. I wanted to hear you play, didn’t I?” Truth be told, I just want to avoid another bout of club recruitment. I think I’ll be able to handle whatever this Sakamoto has to throw my way.

Continued...
Last edited by TubaMirum on Tue Mar 15, 2016 8:57 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Gustav Mahler wrote:If you find you're boring your audience, go slower not faster.

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Chapter 10: Piano Concerto no. 4 in B-flat Major

Post by TubaMirum » Wed Mar 02, 2016 10:43 pm

Chapter Ten
Part Three

“Sounds fine to me!” Kyouko smiles and starts back into the room, her cane tapping rhythmically as I follow tentatively. There are a few wayward looks, but nobody seems all that bothered. In fact, it seems as if a good number of the students here are first-years without an instrument like me.

Ah, damn. I really did just walk right into this one.

Sakamoto isn’t hard to pick out given she’s the only one here that isn’t a teenager, and that’s by quite a margin. That said she doesn’t exactly look old discounting her salt-and-pepper hair color. It’s clear she’s a generation beyond that of my core class teachers though, easily having 20 years over Nakahara.

There’s an authoritarian quality to her stance, but she speaks gently enough when she begins addressing us prospects.

“This is a good number! I haven’t seen this many new faces on the first day of one of my Music Clubs in some time,” She nods along to herself, her voice sickeningly sweet and effective. “How many of you have played an instrument before?”

Unsurprisingly, I’m one of the only people not to raise my hand. Honestly, even if I could I’d be mismatched since everybody else raised their right hand.

Sakamoto nods along to this information. She seems like she’s about to enter deep thought, so it’s surprising when she instead immediately goes down the line asking what instruments each kid plays. Her semi-glare is sufficient to ward off joke instruments, of which I’m sure there are plenty.

I’m starting to really doubt I belong here at all. I can at least recognize most of the instruments my peers are listing, but some of them sound like they’re completely made-up. Timpani? Euphowhat? Isn’t that word a homophobic slur in English?

For now, those of us who don’t play anything are let off the hook as Sakamoto invites those with instruments to join in with the rehearsal. Everybody who plays and doesn’t have their own instrument will have to meet after class in order to figure out how to apportion Yamaku’s limited stock of school-owned equipment.

I’m at least able to figure out now what some of the mystery instruments were as students take new seats in the ensemble. The timpani is a kind of drum, or rather a set of drums made of what looks like copper. The bassoon is a long, straight rod made of wood held at an angle. Not a single thing I see looks possible to play without at least two hands…

“Now then, does everybody have a chorale book?” Sakamoto steps up to the podium with that same infectious smile on her face. There are a few raised hands, which promptly receive the mentioned books. “Now then, let’s go ahead and look at number five then…”

I might have come to watch and hear my hallmate play, but right now my eyes are fixed on Mrs. Sakamoto. She raises her arms calmly, a plain white stick in her right hand as the orchestra slowly comes together, ready to do her bidding…

Time seems to pause for a few moments, but Sakamoto’s arm continues downward. There’s a lift in the air, a great, all-encompassing sound that nevertheless manages to be quieter than a whisper. I don’t have time to comprehend exactly what it is before the room suddenly erupts with the sound of the orchestra, focused and far less boisterous than my reaction belies.

The mysticism doesn’t last long as the orchestra’s sound catches on everybody’s ears. A couple of faces in the group are cringing slightly at certain points, including Kyouko and another girl on violin, a third-year with blonde hair. Even I can tell it’s not immaculate, but it’s better than I’d ever expect to hear from a ragtag group of high schoolers playing together for the first time.

The short little song comes to an end with a light lift of Sakamoto’s fingers. The greying conductor closes her eyes for a moment as the orchestra equally contemplates its performance.

“Alright. That was rather good!” She exclaims rather joyfully, setting the accumulated nerves of everybody in the room at ease, including my own.

Sakamoto isn’t interested in simply letting her compliments float in the air though as she turns her attention towards the “brass section,” complimenting their “balance” but encouraging them to “play out.” I don’t know what to make of it at all, and I don’t have much time to comprehend it. In any case, Sakamoto raises her arms again, baton at the ready as she conducts only those in the group she was talking to. The air of her approach doesn’t seem much different, maybe livelier…

I didn’t think it sounded badly before, but suddenly these instruments on their own sounded absolutely stellar where before they were almost a weakness in the sound.

The rehearsal I watch is full of these moments, and I can’t help being captivated. It seems like almost no mistake goes unaddressed by Sakamoto, but I never get the sensation that my peers in the ensemble are tiring of the feedback.

So much happens that it hardly feels like only fifteen minutes have passed, all spent on the same two, very similar but captivatingly beautiful songs. I have a feeling Sakamoto could continue on for hours at this rate, but she nevertheless cuts the orchestra off a final time, addressing the room as a whole.

“Well then! I think I have an idea about how best to divide up our sections. Enomoto, Souma, could you please pass around the student profile sheets?” Sakamoto smiles, the blonde-haired girl sitting next to Kyouko and the brunette at the piano both standing up. There’s an eagerness in both of their faces as they start around the room, but Sakamoto isn’t done talking.

“That just leaves this group, hmm?” She smiles to those of us who said they’ve never played an instrument before. In total, we number five. Everybody else has managed to migrate behind me without my noticing, and now it’s clear that I’ll be the first target of her attentions.

“What’s your name, dear?” Sakamoto’s smile is infuriatingly calming. Even still, I’m starting to sweat bullets as I feel eyes pierce curiously into my back. At the least, she doesn’t seem a cruel type of person.

“A-Akiyama… Sora Akiyama…” I murmur quietly, trying to keep to keep still.

There’s a sudden lighting up on Sakamoto’s face, and I’m all too aware what it means. Damn it, Kyouko, you really were conspiring back then, weren’t you?

“Miss Akiyama hmm?” She starts to look over me at strange angles, appraising me in an objective but still highly discomfiting manner. Without any better ideas, I just sit and blush, frozen to my spot. It doesn’t take her much longer to nod and end her analysis. Then the conclusion is?

“I have something I’d like to show you, if you don’t mind waiting a moment.” She smiles brightly, eyes closed very effectively as she moves on to my other peers. Their whispering halts immediately once the attention has been stolen from me, and I breathe with relief.

The respite will only be temporary, though. I should run now, but why don’t I? There’s some kind of gross, inevitable familiarity about this situation though, and it’s making me a bit queasy.

Behind me, Sakamoto is giving more traditional introductory interviews to the other four. Though I’m curious, I’m too mortified by being singled out to turn and watch the process. I overhear a few instruments I recognize, and even one of the instruments I’d just figured out existed, but I can’t shake the sensation sinking down my gut.

The rest of the Music Club members seem to be packing up while Enomoto and Souma try furiously to keep the papers flowing between them. It’s organized chaos, and following seems to be helping in settling my stomach.

“Now then, would you come with me, Miss Akiyama?” I’m shocked from my stupor by the intrusion of Sakamoto’s calm voice.

“Y-yeah?” I bite my lip, turning to face her as my heart tries to bound out of my chest.

“Care to come with me to the piano?” Again with the one-two sugary voice and closed eyes!

I give a simpleminded nod, letting myself stand up a bit awkwardly. The Club is starting to clear up now, but they haven’t been dismissed yet.

“Until tomorrow then! I hope you’ve all had a wonderful first day!” Sakamoto speaks up over the raucous crowd, creating a silence before the group nods in acknowledgement. A number of first-years automatically utter “Thank you,” but it seems this common courtesy isn’t expected around here.

I follow her the rest of the way to the piano, my heart starting to pound furiously. My cheeks were alight before being singled out, but now that I’ve been drawn even further away, the mortification is all the worse. Unexpectedly, Sakamoto seats me at the piano standing behind me carefully.

“Mrs. Sakamoto,” I murmur quietly, looking around the room. Kyouko is standing on the other end of the piano, the lid lowered and serving as a table for a number of papers. I can’t let this continue. “I uh… Appreciate the offer but, how could I… U-uh?”

I bite my lip as Sakamoto ignores my protests, grabbing my left wrist and bringing my hand to the keyboard. I feel the hard resistance of the ivory on my fingers, but I don’t press down.

“Yes, that tells me plenty.” Sakamoto hums cheerfully, and then removes my hand almost as swiftly as when she’d first grabbed and forced it onto the manual.

“W-what are you talking about?” At this point I’m too confused to offer anything but questions. What did she just find out about me? Why is she doing this in the first place? I need to run…

“Now then. You’re worried you can’t play piano with only one hand, right?” Sakamoto’s voice catches my ear, sending a shiver down my spine. She’s not close to my ears at all, but I can’t shake the sensation that she whispered this within millimeters of them.

With no choice, I nod dumbly again. I suppose it’s obvious after some time that my right arm is paralyzed, but I doubt Sakamoto would have come up with this plan without some forewarning.

I suppose patient confidentiality means little to friends, though. Really, I told Kyouko myself what was wrong with me yesterday after all.

“Let me show you something.” She smiles, joining me on the bench and forcing me to the left a bit. Rather, it’s more like I let her presence push me towards the left edge.

I simply nod, unsure of what the hell she’s doing here. There’s nothing to do except watch as her fingers come into contact with the ivories…

The fingers of her left hand only.

Prokofiev's Piano Concerto No. 4 is a unique spectacle of a piece. It was commissioned by the one-armed Paul Wittgenstein, along with a number of other piano works, to be played solely by the left hand. Perhaps the most famous of Wittgenstein's commissions is Maurice Ravel's Concerto for the Left Hand, but I feel Prokofiev's piece is more fitting for the chapter's contents, both because of the history behind it and the musical content itself. Wittgenstein never actually performed Prokofiev's work, having told the composer that he would not perform it until he understood and appreciated its inner workings. This time never came, but the pianist and the composer nevertheless remained on good terms, which is more than can be said of Wittgenstein with Ravel. This is the first time that a chapter title actually refers to a piece being played within it, but perhaps ironically I've had to delay the description of the performance for the next chapter simply because of the word count ballooning past its expected size.
Last edited by TubaMirum on Tue Mar 15, 2016 9:06 pm, edited 5 times in total.
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Re: Valse Sentimentale - OC Romance (Up to Date 3/2/16)

Post by brythain » Thu Mar 03, 2016 12:33 am

I used to think that excellence was its own reward. At which point I ran into two little problems.

1) Excellence is hard to define, and hence it's hard to tell what level of reward we'd be talking about.
2) If excellence indeed always were its own reward, we'd never quite know what a reward was.

So back to the empirical, as opposed to the theoretical.

I think your writing is subjectively excellent to me in the sense that it seems better than most, and hence excels. It also has a structure that I personally like so far, with footnotes, and I will not hesitate to split an infinitive in order to say it. I believe it makes a valuable contribution in the sense that it gives us an in-depth perspective of a section of the school hardly ever visited, the 2007-2008 (is this your intention?) Year 1 cohort. That's a sample of the kinds of excellence I mean.

I've found that one thing about being a human writer (in these times, especially) is that you spill your electronic seed out into the void and like a latter-day Zeus, worry or hope that it will come back to you. Of course, when people tell you that what you spawned is excellent, and it what ways it is so, it gives you (well, me at least) a sense of accomplishment and encouragement to go further. I could say such a thing for quite a number of other authors in these forums. But here I am saying all this to you (well, and -you- and -you- and -you over there-). :D

Note that I haven't got to your characters specifically yet. I haven't quite got into their heads although there's a lot to mull over, because they are non-canon and therefore need more time to lay down mental roots in the Yamaku of my own head. But I do like them somewhat.
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.
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Re: Valse Sentimentale - OC Romance (Up to Date 3/2/16)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Thu Mar 03, 2016 9:02 am

an attitude of being unwilling to give into what’s brought them here.
"to give in_to what’s brought them here."

One thing that worries me about this story is the pacing.

It's not that you're glossing over too many details - in fact it's quite the opposite; it's all very detailed, and you spent 9 not-too-short chapters on what amounts to less than 24 hours in the story.

But also you're less than 24 hours into the story, and your two main characters already seem to be head over heels in love with each other.
For Kyouko it was apparently love at first sight - though "sight" is probably not a factor for her - and I wonder what exactly about meeting a strange girl who doesn't talk too much and isn't really forthcoming about herself caused that reaction.
And despite Kyouko's brash, almost intrusive, behaviour Sora seems to start to reciprocate those feelings, which seems too... convenient...

So in that regard your pacing is WAY too fast to the point where I have trouble suspending my disbelief...
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

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Sore wa himitsu desu.

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Re: Valse Sentimentale - OC Romance (Up to Date 3/2/16)

Post by TubaMirum » Thu Mar 03, 2016 10:07 am

I've been waiting to get eviscerated on this for a while. Things are moving way too fast on one end rather intentionally, and it's for a really dumb reason that could (read: probably will) fall apart on a whim. But you're right that Sora is probably getting too easily thrown into this.

There's a litany of issues in my approach, though. I do want to work to fix them because the impression that Sora is even entertaining romantic thoughts is one I didn't want to make this quickly. If I had to guess, the fact that she daydreams up until lunch about it is probably the biggest tipping factor here, but I know it's just an example. I'd even try to justify that decision as based on a personal quirk, in that I can be a bit like that for no good reason only to have all of those sensations disappear suddenly without explanation. That doesn't really seem like a good excuse though.

I am spending the next few chapters trying to slow the pace, but ultimately the biggest issue I need to fix is what I've already published. I'm just not entirely sure how I can rework what I have because I'm bad at this :| Will think about it harder...
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Re: Valse Sentimentale - OC Romance (Up to Date 3/2/16)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Thu Mar 03, 2016 11:15 am

Well, for Kyouko I had that impression earlier, but until now Sora seemed to be more bewildered than reciprocrating...

But in this chapter she literally could not think of anything but Kyouko to the extent that she missed an entire morning of lessons and completely neglected any effort to make other friends besides Kyouko, and when others made an effort to befriend HER, she ditched them the moment she caught a glimpse of Kyouko, and your descriptions (e.g. "butterfly-inducing thoughts") are not exactly subtle...

The normal reaction when someone is insisting you share your most painful memories with them just a few hours after you met and tells you they had a dream of you the next morning would be to cautiously back away, be sure to lock your door at night and start contemplating a restraining order.
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.

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Re: Valse Sentimentale - OC Romance (Up to Date 3/2/16)

Post by TubaMirum » Fri Mar 04, 2016 1:34 pm

The more and more I re-read the less and less defensible it all becomes. I'm going to look into another rewrite, a major one this time around. For now, things will stay up because there's no reason to hide from this. Growing pains and the like
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Re: Valse Sentimentale - OC Romance (Up to Date 3/2/16)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Fri Mar 04, 2016 8:56 pm

I wouldn't go so far... If I thought the previous chapters were bad, I would have spoken out before now, but you have to know where you want to go with the story and whether or not this is salvageable...
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.

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Re: Valse Sentimentale - OC Romance (Up to Date 3/2/16)

Post by brythain » Fri Mar 04, 2016 10:10 pm

Maybe you just have to retitle your chapters 'Day One', 'Day Two' etc and it'll work out fine. Trust me. :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)

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Re: Valse Sentimentale - OC Romance (Up to Date 3/2/16)

Post by TubaMirum » Fri Mar 04, 2016 10:30 pm

I wasn't thinking about doing too much beyond the latest chapter, but I do need to make it a lot clearer that this is actually an uncomfortable and confusing situation and that Kyouko is overstepping her bounds in a massive way. I did take a more convenient route than is appropriate, but the way I've started fleshing out the rest of the day might be a good answer to the problem I've created.
brythain wrote:Maybe you just have to retitle your chapters 'Day One', 'Day Two' etc and it'll work out fine. Trust me. :D
Or I can just space things out like this, which would require even more rewriting to work out. Still, I think that might be a good option if I decide I'm just enamored with the scenes I've already presented.

The only way to find out is to get to it. Day Three will make it clear that Sora isn't exactly happy about how she's handled herself, like she wasn't entirely happy that she only managed to socialize with all of one person on her first day. Speaking of which, that's kind of ironic considering these problems, eh?

In any case, I won't be talked out of making Sora even a little bit more attentive in class. Distractions shouldn't last that long whether you're reciprocating or not, frankly.
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Re: Valse Sentimentale - OC Romance (Up to Date 3/2/16)

Post by Oddball » Sat Mar 05, 2016 11:00 am

Well, other than the fact that she's coming on too fast and too strong way to early, it's otherwise a pretty good story.

There's a minor issue I do have thought. A few times you specify things are Japanese. A normal height for a Japanese girl, a traditional Japanese bathroom, and a couple others that I can't think of right now. Remember, these characters ARE Japanese. Something being Japanese is the norm for them. You're not going to have to clarify unless it's NOT-Japanese (or if you're dealing with characters of other than Japanese upbringing. Molly, for instance, might clarify. Lilly would be a case-by-case basis.)

I also like all the little details you put in about the dorms, bathroom, and kitchen. It gives the place a more real feeling.

Edit: forgot something.

You really should have skipped telling us who the characters where and what the story was about before you started telling the story. You completely spoil the revelation that both girls where crippled in concrete incidents. That could have been a nice plot point too but the revelation of it was lessened by the fact that we the readers knew about it long before the characters even brought it up. You need to just give things time. We'll find out what we need to know as we go along.
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Re: Valse Sentimentale - OC Romance (Up to Date 3/2/16)

Post by TubaMirum » Wed Mar 09, 2016 1:10 am

Oddball wrote:You really should have skipped telling us who the characters where and what the story was about before you started telling the story. You completely spoil the revelation that both girls where crippled in concrete incidents. That could have been a nice plot point too but the revelation of it was lessened by the fact that we the readers knew about it long before the characters even brought it up. You need to just give things time. We'll find out what we need to know as we go along.
I suppose it's too late to change that for everybody who's read so far. That said, you know there's concrete at the heart of their problems, but you don't know the finer details yet behind their accidents. The finer details are where the most importance is going to be derived from, trust me.

I think I've come to a bit of decision though about how I want this story to go after a lot of mental outsourcing and the like. It's going to involve a fundamental change in the approach one character has towards the other, but hopefully this won't be obvious until several chapters down the line. It's also going to involve re-organizing the current content across a slightly larger timescale, with one or two extra days depending on what people have to say about it, if anything at all.

That said, none of the current events are going to be changed completely, Things will still be pressing forward at a ridiculous pace very much on purpose, but I'm going to make it at least marginally more believable. I'm definitely going to be taking what brythain had to say in better consideration and try to give all these first-years I've introduced their due time. They'll probably need to wait for their own more focused stories on that front, but I might as well give myself something else to look forward to writing!

This is all very cryptic, and it's going to take a bit of time to accomplish. If anybody is interested in getting a less cryptic response about my plans, please don't hesitate to PM me for some more clarification. I don't know how much I'll be comfortable telling about my current storyboard, but I'm not so naive after my first try to think that a second try will automatically be better or good.

If not, I hope this is all met with even half as much enthusiasm as I've gotten so far! I never dreamed I might get this much careful attention pressed my way, and it's really helping me out a lot, even if I've struggled a bit taking criticism so far.

EDIT: I've got my preliminary plans all set out now, if anybody ever chances a look at the Chapter Links in the first post. It should give a preview of how I plan to approach this.
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Chapter 11: Orient et Occident

Post by TubaMirum » Thu Mar 17, 2016 9:13 am

Chapter 11: Orient et Occident
Part One

There’s a leap in my chest as recognition sets in. I’m witnessing a recruitment spot tailor-made to me. I have to give Kyouko and Mrs. Sakamoto some props; this is pretty clever of them.

The melody that comes out of the instrument is strange, clearly lyrical, but quick and not seeming to meet any kind of mental expectation. It sounds almost like random noise at times, actually. Yet as Mrs. Sakamoto plays on, I can’t help but look on in bewilderment at the kind of dexterity she’s able to display with her left hand alone.

Not only that, but the other students gathered around the piano are humming along to it. Not a single one of them is humming the exact same thing either, yet it all fits together, I feel. I’ve barely had any time to comprehend the scene before it ends suddenly with a light flourish, Mrs. Sakamoto turning to me with a devilish grin on her face.

There’s no damn way.

“Nobody told you there was an entire concerto for the left hand, did they?” Mrs. Sakamoto smirks, standing back up to her previous position and looking down at me.

“N-no…” I murmur, drawing bemused giggles from the other girls. It would be wonderful to catch a break right now, but I suppose my embarrassed reactions are entertaining enough to watch.

“That one was written for an Austrian pianist who lost his arm in World War I,” Mrs. Sakamoto continues before adding on even more. “In fact, his teacher was blind himself, come to think of it.”

This gets a surprised look out of the rest of the group, Kyouko the most of all. I’m hardly surprised she’d be familiar with a piece like this, but it seems even she has a limit to what she knows about it, that or…

“Y-you’re not making that up?” I cut in, rubbing my right arm nervously to dispel the growing sense of wonder in the room left behind by the impromptu solo piano performance meant to convince me to join the music club.

“Of course not, Miss Akiyama!” Mrs. Sakamoto chuckles along, bringing that sensation back instantly before hurrying about to the other side of the piano to drop its lid. “I wouldn’t outright lie to a prospective student. Especially not one that one of my newest pupils is so insistent on getting to join.”

The blush that pops up on Kyouko’s cheeks at this makes me smirk a bit. Betrayed by her own music club instructor, eh? It’s nice to get back at her, even if it’s only tangentially thanks to Mrs. Sakamoto, but something about this still isn’t sitting quite right with me.

“You think I could play something that difficult?” I bite my lip, looking at the unexpectedly fantastic pianist nervously. She's awfully confident the ploy will work if she's pulling out such a difficult showpiece that could just as well scare somebody inexperienced away. Credit has to be given where it’s due though. The performance was impressive to the point of being inspiring, not terrifying.

“It would take a lot of practice. But I was a beginner once. Everybody was,” Mrs. Sakamoto smiles, putting hands on my shoulders and looking closely at me. She’s absurdly talented at recruitment in addition to piano, it seems. “What do you say?”

My only response for a while is a nervous swallow. Too many thoughts are going through my head for any single one to pop up and spurt out of my mouth. I look around the room, at the pictures of scary old men, at the various instruments laying around, then at Kyouko.

She’s approximating my gaze again, in that same scarily accurate way she always does.

“I can try…” I finally cave.

I almost yelp in surprise when my left arm is lifted suddenly in triumph by the girl with green eyes. The grab prompts a throb of pain through my cranium, but I brush it off when I’m let go.

“Safe! We have another recruit then!” She giggles, prompting the rest of the group to giggle, and Kyouko to blush a bit, leaving her post at the end of the piano temporarily to head my way.

“I should get going, ladies,” Mrs. Sakamoto checks her watch suddenly, before heading for the door, calling to us once more from there. “We’ll be meeting again the same time tomorrow!”

“Thank you Mrs. Sakamoto! See you tomorrow!” The rest of the small group chimes in, bright smiles on all of their faces. I can’t help but be infected by their collective mood myself, nodding along with an embarrassed grin of my own.

With that she departs without much extra fanfare, and I’m left with Kyouko and the other two girls, both of them third-years. My nerves are starting to settle a bit by now, and I’m even feeling a bit thankful now that I’ve had a chance to breathe again. I’ll be in a club after all, eh?

“Well then, I’d say Mrs. Sakamoto has really outdone herself this time.” Kyouko smiles as she settles at the edge of the piano, the other girl with a cane, Enomoto, trailing behind her a step. There’s a lighthearted giggle between the four of us as I nod along.

“And here I was thinking it was your masterplan, Kyouko.” I sigh, though I simply get a shrug in response.

“Well, it might have been my idea to recruit you,” She teases, rolling her head to the side back and forth for a few moments. “But she kind of took on a life of her own when I mentioned your hands.”

There’s a light, extremely playful smirk on her face that’s restoring my previous nerves.

“What about my hands?” I blink, looking down at my left to try and figure out exactly what she’s getting at. If I could, I’d raise my right as well, but sadly no miracles are happening today.

Suddenly, the hand I’m looking at is grabbed, and I nearly fall over in surprise. I’m pretty sure my sudden shriek isn’t exactly appreciated by Kyouko, but I don’t notice her reaction. I’m too focused on the girl who grabbed my hand, Souma.

“They’re huge is what!” She chuckles, holding my singular hand and cupping it between both of hers. It’s a little strange they’re referring to hands in the plural here when only one of the pair is functional for me, but I don’t see any reason to complain about it.

Still, I’m blushing pretty heavily again. This group is never going to relent when it comes to embarrassing me to a different dimension is it?

“T-they’re not that big…” I murmur, but bite my lip as I realize that Souma might actually have a point. She was the one playing piano before during the rehearsal, yet my hand completely dwarfs hers. It’s not to the point where they’re comically oversized, but I’m suddenly very self-conscious about them.

“They’re certainly bigger than Chisato’s, though,” Enomoto speaks next, suddenly very close to me herself as she points directly to the size comparison. “Never thought I’d see the day.”

Continued...
Gustav Mahler wrote:If you find you're boring your audience, go slower not faster.

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