Ships in the night [Hanako bad ending] (Updated 9/8)

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StilesLong
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Joined: Tue Jul 04, 2017 9:31 pm

Ships in the night [Hanako bad ending] (Updated 9/8)

Post by StilesLong » Sun Jul 23, 2017 11:06 am

This is my first fic on the KS forums so there will be something of a learning curve to it. Bear with me, please, but don't feel obligated to be kind. If I've messed up, let me know!

I was inspired by Pascalcampion's art (http://pascalcampion.deviantart.com/art ... -689944937). The fic you'll find here is the original thought I had when first seeing the picture, before I noticed the guy in the bed.

I'm trying first and foremost to capture the experience of someone with anxiety. My beta reader is helping me by telling me her own experiences and any inaccuracies are my own fault. If anyone on the forum suffers from anxiety, feel free to sound off and let me know if I'm missing anything.

Table of Contents

Chapter 1: Ships in the Night (This post)
Chapter 2: A Near Miss
Chapter 3: Post-Mortem



Chapter 1: Ships in the Night

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Snowflakes blow in swirling eddies past my window, visible only for a moment as they pass through the muted glow of a small candle. My hand instinctively moves to the right side of my face as the thought of the fire enters my mind-this even though I was alone in the room! I dismiss it as nothing more than a tic, or an unavoidable physical side-effect of waking up from a nightmare, like the sweat or the racing heart. Nothing to be ashamed of, I tell myself to keep the bad thoughts at bay.

Even as I think it, I can feel my mantra failing; like the snowflakes outside that are smothering the world, bad thoughts gentle settle over me like a cold, suffocating blanket. Looking at the empty bed and out into the dark, silent world beyond my window, it’s hard not to feel alone in the world.

------------------------------------------------

One moment I was asleep, the next I was not. Normally, it doesn’t take me long to realize this but tonight I’d woken up in an unfamiliar room in near-total darkness. It wasn’t until I saw my phone’s screen light up to tell me it’s battery was dying that I had remembered where I was: Kenji’s spare bedroom.

He’d kindly offered to let me stay the night when the blizzard had started rolling in. “Look man, I can’t have you freezing to death out there. You’re too valuable to the resistance!”

His apartment was surprisingly well-organized and tidy, though Kenji had assured me there were plenty of supplies squirreled away “if you know what you’re looking for, and plenty of traps if you don’t.” Thankfully, Kenji had handed me some candles and matches before going to bed. I wouldn’t have to brave the traps.

Despite the apparent blackout, I was glad I was getting the chance to reconnect with Kenji; not that we'd ever been close when we were hallmates. I should really go to one of the manly picnics he keeps inviting me to, I think as I light a candle and carry it to the window. A distant light, presumably in one of the nearby apartment buildings, already glows weakly.
I nurse the small flame of my candle against the cold that seeps through the window, just as I’ve nursed another small flame for two years. Staring past the snowflakes into the night beyond, I wonder if it isn’t too late to apologize somehow.

------------------------------------------------

As I sit at the window, a light appears in the window of one of the neighbouring apartments that stand clustered together like trees in a forest. A line of poetry (not my usual fare but I’d read through everything else in Yamaku’s library by the end of high school) comes to mind:

Ships that pass in the night, and speak each other in passing,
Only a signal shown and a distant voice in the darkness;
So on the ocean of life we pass and speak one another,
Only a look and a voice, then darkness again and a silence.

Talk about depressing. Am I more or less alone than I was before that other light appeared? Looking for a distraction, I take a sip of my tea, still scaldingly hot. Where had I found the courage to use an open flame?
Pride burns through the melancholy snow for a moment and I know tomorrow morning I’ll be telling Naomi and Natsumi about my accomplishment. For now, however, I’m buried too deeply to think positively about myself- the anonymous light out there had me thinking too much for that that.

I think back to my first-and only- attempt at a relationship. Had Hisao and I ever been on a similar heading or had we been doomed from the beginning to pass by each other into darkness and silence again?

For a while, it had felt like we had a chance, but I suppose anyone who’s ever broken up with someone has felt that way, has felt that connection and kinship and sense of belonging. Then partners drift apart, their differences magnified as they go farther on their differing courses.

Is every relationship, big or small, doomed to be like that? Friends, acquaintances, lovers, are they all going to leave us sooner or later? If we imagine each person as a ship with a truly unique course on the ocean of life, no one can ever truly be together, after all.

I’ll always be alone.

My breathing becomes shallow. A panic attack is looming as I dance around the edge of an existential crisis. I take deep breaths.

You’ll always be alone.

Now the other voices in my head -the children’s voices, mean and cruel- have taken up the chorus. My hand moves to my face again, a defensive gesture this time.

They’ll all leave you someday.

I’m about to fall off the cliff. I can feel myself leaning over the edge, pushed by the buffeting winds of my mind. I take a deep breath, close my eyes, steady my thoughts. I can beat this. I can step back from the cliff. This is just a bad case of vertigo.

You can’t ever be with anyone, not truly, not forever.

That’s probably true. In fact, I’m sure it’s true, but am I unique in being alone? There’s silence for a moment, then a voice I haven’t heard in a while echoes through the darkness of my mind. Hisao’s.

------------------------------------------------

I think back to our last day at Yamaku. The rest of the year had been awkward after our argument. It hadn’t taken me long to realize just how awful I’d been to Hanako. Looking back, I realize I had been looking for something more too. I couldn’t deal with my own past though and I guess I couldn’t, at the time, imagine leaving Hanako to deal with hers.

I’d tried to talk to her, to apologize to Hanako for the hopes I’d crushed, but she was much better at avoiding people than I was at finding them. Lily’s help wasn’t worth much either. She and Hanako had patched things up remarkably quickly-I’d been jealous at the time- but Hanako wouldn’t listen to Lily.

It had taken until graduation day to catch Hanako off-guard, in conversation with Lily and Akira. Months of cat-and-mouse finally came to a head. The results hadn’t been pretty. Even Kenji had been sympathetic when we’d met up for drinks after.

I had been looking to explain my actions that day and to beg forgiveness, or at least understanding. Instead I was met with a cold rebuff and barely restrained anger. My own frustrations, a powder keg I’d been filling slowly, unknowingly, for months, exploded.

I was ignorant, at the time, of the offence I was causing. Had I known Hanako’s expectations, had I known my own fears about my past, I would never have been so condescending and patronizing to Hanako. I had hurt her, but not willingly. I never could. I just wanted to see her happy. Surely I should be forgiven my ignorance and stupidity?

I’d said all that, I think, though probably not as eloquently. I’d also been flatly rejected. The exact conversation doesn’t come to mind, but it was clear I still wasn’t forgiven.
Before walking away, I’d been determined to get the last word in.

------------------------------------------------

You’re not the only one that’s scarred.

They’d been uttered with bitter, dripping venom but now I imagine them in a quieter, kinder tone. The one he’d used to comfort me when I was telling him about my past in the library, or in the jazz club. It had worked then and it worked now. The panic starts to ebb away and I step back from the cliff, grateful to be released from the tension.

The truth in Hisao’s words speaks to me. I’m not that special, all things considered. We all have our own scars and we’re all boats on the same ocean of life, on a course for eventual darkness and silence. The key word, however, is eventual. Maybe it’s only in death that we have to be alone.

For as long as I’m living and for as long as I’m willing to try to be with others, I won’t have to be alone. If I take care to keep abreast to my friends and those I care about, we will be together more than just in passing.

------------------------------------------------

I think back to what I’d said to Hanako. I hope those words haven’t hurt her too much. I’d meant for them to help her heal but in my anger at the time, I know they weren’t said kindly.

I really do need to apologize. I suppose I could look her up, but I’m not sure how well-received a phone call out of the darkness would be. Years of radio silence, then sudden contact might not be good for her mental health. Suppose she’s moved on, unlike me? What then?

Except it’s exactly these thoughts that got you into trouble in the first place, I remind myself. She has never wanted protection, only to be on equal footing. If you love science so much, Hisao, you should be able to work this out easily. Being a patronizing jerk didn’t work then, it likely won’t work now. Take a different tack.

Maybe you should try admitting that for the past two years, she’s the only one you’ve ever thought of late at night when you’re lying awake, unable to sleep. Maybe you should admit that you were wrong, and that she is not broken.

You could tell her that you can only imagine how crushed she must have been when someone she thought truly cared about her as a person treated like a child. You could tell her how much you admire her strength for standing up to you, both when you’d tried to force your way into her life and on graduation day. She should know how much you enjoyed doing simple things together, how much you appreciated not needing words to communicate.
You should apologize for how you treated her.

All of these things you should, could, maybe tell her, but probably won’t. You’re a scientist, an observer, not someone who interacts directly, and you’ve been down this road enough to know where it leads: based on past evidence, the most likely conclusion to this test is that the subject will take no further action beyond thinking intently.

My eyes focus on the distant light again. It fades and flickers as the photons are intercepted and reflected off glass, snow, then glass again. I watch the light for a few more moments, then put out my own candle and climb back into bed. Sleep normally comes quickly after these sorts of thoughts. I’ll need it; Kenji had mentioned he wanted to take me to a tea house tomorrow.

------------------------------------------------

The other signal-light has gone out, leaving me alone in the sea of darkness though it no longer seemed so dark. Despite the loneliness, I feel quite comfortable, secure in my newly re-affirmed knowledge that I can have company on my journey across the ocean of life. I have friends who value me and though I’m currently single that doesn’t have to last.

Hisao had had his own scars, ones he refused to address. He’d assumed I couldn’t deal with mine. Misguided as he’d been, he taught me that I could be a person too, not just a project and so, I felt indebted to him, just as I did to the person who lit that candle in the night.

I was learning and growing with every mistake and experience, and someday I suppose I would blossom. It was an exciting thought and I catch the wave and ride it out of the inky, depressing blackness. I take another sip from my tea, no longer hot, and I can feel the glow of pride at having used open flame. It even tastes better this way.

Setting the empty cup down, I decide it’s time for bed. I’m not sure why Kenji of all people was studying journalism, but he and I shared a few classes. Yesterday, he’d asked if we could meet up at a tea house tomorrow. He probably wants to borrow some of my notes again. It’s funny how his paranoia about all things female ends when he needs something.

Edits: changed three to two
Last edited by StilesLong on Wed Sep 20, 2017 10:37 pm, edited 6 times in total.

HoneyBakedHam
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Re: Ships in the night [Hanako bad ending]

Post by HoneyBakedHam » Tue Jul 25, 2017 10:03 pm

Pretty sneaky of Kenji 😉

StilesLong
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Re: Ships in the night [Hanako bad ending]

Post by StilesLong » Wed Jul 26, 2017 6:34 pm

HoneyBakedHam wrote:Pretty sneaky of Kenji 😉
Yeah, kind of out of character for a guy who's as sneaky as an elephant... Then again, we know he's capable of being a decent human being on occasion.

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QuietlySomething
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Re: Ships in the night [Hanako bad ending]

Post by QuietlySomething » Fri Sep 08, 2017 9:58 pm

I enjoyed this! The way it drifts back and forth between short excerpts in two PoV's gives it this kind of poetic rhythm, I like that.

At the same time I think this story could be making better use of multiple PoV's. Hanako and Hisao have too similar of narration styles in my opinion, which makes the PoV switching feel superficial. If we are getting into their heads, I would expect Hanako give a monologue in a way that is distinct from Hisao. I'm not sure how best to describe it, just that at the moment it doesn't quite feel like Hanako when she is narrating. I think improving that would give a lot more flavor to the fic overall as well.

I like that the switching between PoV's isn't made explicit, respecting the reader's intelligence enough to pick up what's going on and roll with it. That said, and I think this partly ties into what I said earlier, it takes a little too long to become clear that there are two different narrators. It's not till around the end of the 3rd/beginning of the 4th section that this becomes obvious based on them naming each other; before then there is nothing that especially sets the two apart and makes them feel like different speakers.

That aside, the introspection of the two of them was nicely handled and quite well-written. The backstory here was set up well so as not to feel too flatly expository. It's definitely intrigued me, and I'm curious to see how you continue with it.

All in all I think it's a pretty good start! Nice work.

StilesLong
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Re: Ships in the night [Hanako bad ending]

Post by StilesLong » Fri Sep 08, 2017 10:09 pm

Thanks for the feedback! Using multiple POVs in a single chapter like this was something I hadn't seen done before in my brief survey of the forum and I figured I'd give it a shot. You are right though, and there is lots that needs work.
QuietlySomething wrote: At the same time I think this story could be making better use of multiple PoV's. Hanako and Hisao have too similar of narration styles in my opinion, which makes the PoV switching feel superficial. If we are getting into their heads, I would expect Hanako give a monologue in a way that is distinct from Hisao. I'm not sure how best to describe it, just that at the moment it doesn't quite feel like Hanako when she is narrating. I think improving that would give a lot more flavor to the fic overall as well.
I've been considering using different font styles to make clear the switch between narrators. As for separating the style, the main thing I've been able to come up with has more to do with sentence length and descriptors. I feel as though Hanako would use a more complex sentence structure than Hisao in addition to more analogies and descriptive words.

I may also add a brief foreword, just to make readers aware of the shifting POV.

Do you think that would help?

StilesLong
Posts: 52
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A Near Miss

Post by StilesLong » Fri Sep 08, 2017 11:36 pm

Chapter 2: A near miss

I wake up shivering; for once Naomi isn’t my de facto alarm clock. Why is it so cold? The extra blanket under my bed comes to mind but before I can get it, there’s a familiar soft knock at my door.

“Hanako?” Natsume’s voice, almost as quiet as my own, barely carries through the thin door. If it were Naomi talking, our neighbours’ neighbours would have been able to hear. “Did you use Naomi’s camp stove last night?”

Oh shit. Natsume keeps talking, oblivious to the fact that I’m no longer listening. Last night’s events are replaying themselves in my mind and it doesn’t take long to realize why it’s so cold in the apartment. “…leave the window open?”

Natsume jumps a bit when I jerk the door open. I jump too; I hadn’t even realized I was on my feet and moving.

“I’m sorry!” I shout as I race past her to the kitchen. I have to fix this.

Naomi’s already there, ankle-deep in a layer of snow. She turns to face me, broom in hand. She looks torn between laughing and being upset about this awful mess I’ve made. Being Naomi, she settles on the former, though she tries to hide behind a mask of seriousness.

“Is this your fault, Hanako?” Naomi asks, the mask slipping almost immediately. Instead of simmering angrily, laughter bubbles out of the corners of her mouth, which she’s twisted into an approximation of indignant outrage.

My mind is racing too quickly to realize how silly she looks. Instead, I survey the damage with mounting guilt. The floor is covered in a wave of snow that starts at the now-closed window and flows almost to the fridge. The camp stove and kettle are still sitting on the counter, relics from last night’s adventure.

The room is cold, much colder than my room and I shoot a glance at Natsume’s fish tank. It’s thankfully not frozen and her fish flit around as though nothing is wrong. I take a breath.

The goldfish are right. Nothing is wrong. You made a mistake but you can be fix it. You don’t need to go hide; that would make things worse. I close my eyes, take a deep breath. I don’t open them again until I’m sure the thinking part of my brain is in charge.

Naomi’s replaced the poorly contained amusement on her face with a mix of contrition and concern. This poor girl is so bad at hiding her emotions. “Hanako…?” she asks.

I smile reassuringly. “I’m fine, although a shovel might be more useful than that,” I say, gesturing at the broom.

Naomi’s eyes widen a bit, then she laughs: a short, braying bark. “This is the best I can do, unfortunately,” she offers me the dustpan, which I can take. “Living in an apartment, I never thought I’d need a shovel.”

I smile again, this one genuine. “Sorry about the mess.”

“You should be!” She says, laughing again.

We start cleaning, my toes curling as I dance across snow. After the first dustpan-shovel full of snow is in the sink, Natsume walks in carrying a bundle of sweaters and slippers for us. She puts the kettle on and joins in with a mop.

Half-an-hour and a cup of tea later, the snow has all been dumped into the sink where it melts slowly. We retreat to Natsume’s room (the only one with a space heater), fresh mugs of tea in hand. Our little tea party reminds me of others I used to have and for a moment, I wonder how Lilly is doing. I’ll have to call her later.

“So Hanako,” Natsume starts from her perch on her bed, “you are our mysterious stove user?” She’s locked her eyes, one blue and the other green, onto my own. Despite her “I’m teasing” smile, I feel I’m under a microscope.

From her fly-away, uncombed brown hair to her rumpled, casual clothes, Natsume rarely dresses smartly. Her appearance is completely deceiving, however, and sometimes I wonder if Natsume doesn’t make herself look bad to catch people off-guard.

In actuality, she’s an intensely analytical person who asks pointed, probing questions and delights in getting people to reveal their secrets. Natsume also rarely turns that side of herself against her friends. Instead, Natsume uses her analytical mind to anticipate the needs of her friends, like she did earlier by bringing us the sweaters.

I hide my smile behind my hand automatically before I remember that I’m with friends. I drop my hand and nod. Naomi and Natsume smile back, clearly thrilled for me. Noami, who is sitting on the floor next to me, claps me on the back so hard I almost drop my tea.

“Good job, Hanako!” she booms.

Natsume settles for the same, but more quiet and without the slap on the back. Her subdued response doesn’t dull the pride at all. I know she’s just as happy as Naomi, if not happier, and I’m incredibly grateful to have such good friends who treat my accomplishments like their own.

“T-thanks,” I say, this time not bothering to hide my smile. The other girls beam back at me and for a few moments, I can say I’ve never been happier. I hope we are friends for a long time.

A glance at the clock on the wall ends the momentary perfection. I’m supposed to meet Kenji in ten minutes! Before I can stop myself, I’m on my feet and moving to the door.

“What’s wrong, Hanako?” Naomi asks. What is wrong? I can just text Kenji and tell him I’ll be late. Nothing to get worked up about, I tell myself.

“I-I’ve got to send Kenji a message,” I say after a moment. “He w-wants to meet me at the Taipei soon but I’m not going to make it on time now.”

“You’re meeting Kenji?” Naomi repeats, before continuing mockingly. “Is it a date?”

Natsume rolls her eyes at Naomi’s crude jab, not that the latter notices: her eyes are closed and her grin is as wide as her face. It doesn’t fade as I leave Natsume’s room without saying a word, shutting the door against the chill that still lingers in the hall.

I remind myself for the umpteenth time that Naomi’s kidding means nothing before slipping back into my room. My phone isn’t fully charged yet-the blackout must have been longer than I thought- so I leave it plugged in as I fire off a quick text to Kenji.

Sorry, but I might be 15 minutes late. Should I bring anything?

I grab some warm clothes out of my closest and change quickly: a dark blue, long-sleeved hoodie and black, fleece-lined leggings. By the time I’m done, Kenji still hasn’t replied. The message hasn’t even been received. I put my phone in my pocket and step out of my room.

Naomi and Natsume have moved into the kitchen and have started making a late breakfast. Natsume’s space heater has joined them, though its efforts don’t seem to be having much of an impact.

Natsume turns to face me. “Does Kenji want to borrow notes again?” She’s got the Bible, our name for the thick binder full of shared lecture-notes, on the counter nearby.

Before I have a chance to reply, Naomi jumps in from the stove. “Probably not. It’s a date, not a study session.” Natsume and I both ignore her.

“P-probably,” I put the Bible into my bag and sling it over my shoulder. “I didn’t see him last class.”

“Did you miss your boyfriend?” Naomi asks.

“Are you done?” I ask, exasperation finally boiling over.

“Alright, fine.” She says it like she’s the one who should be offended and I sigh inwardly.

“Kenji missed a good lecture,” Natsume says mildly. “I didn’t get a chance to ask earlier, but what do you guys think of embedded journalists?”

“I’m not a huge fan,” I say quickly, glad for the change of topic. “I don’t like that the journalist is under the control of military. You can’t do your job well if someone else decides when and where you go.”

“Yeah, but reporting from the front lines would give the public a better idea of what goes on,” Naomi replies.

“Except not really because the unit the journalist is embedded in won’t be sent to wherever the fighting is worst, nor will they be sent to wherever a-atrocities or war crimes are being committed by the military.” I counter with force that surprises even me.

“So?” Naomi asks, clearly puzzled.

“So, Ms TV reporter, you won’t be getting the whole truth,” Natsume says, neatly crystallizing my own concerns. “Personally, I think embedded journalists aren’t too bad because at least you’re getting some of the truth. At the end of the day though, you don’t have full control.”

Naomi nods slowly, digesting this tough new thought. Her usual grin returns a moment later. “You’d get some really good footage though.”

Natsume and I shake our heads and laugh. Naomi is destined for TV. I grab my coat and say my goodbyes. Kenji still hasn’t replied to my message but he can’t complain I didn’t try to contact him.

------------------------------------------------

The sheets and blankets are clinging to my sweaty body when I finally drag myself out of Kenji’s spare bed. That small exertion leaves me feeling like I’ve run a marathon; I’m aching and exhausted. My reflection stares back at me from the window. I look like shit, too, but I’ve been looking like this for weeks. Deep bags under the eyes, pale skin, sweaty brow.

What’s wrong with me? Before I can give it too much thought, Kenji’s gunshot knock rattles the door in its frame. “It’s almost time to go, Hisao!” Barely a second later, the door’s opening.
Kenji’s beady little eyes search the room blankly for a moment then settle on me like flies. “You don’t look too good,” he says with genuine concern in his voice. How can he see me from there?

“I’m fine, Kenji,” I tell him, convincing no one.

Kenji steps closer until he’s almost face-to-face with me, peering intently through his thick glasses. It feels like I’m back in the hall at Yamaku.

“Ok,” he says, leaning back abruptly. “You should start getting ready. We don’t want to be late to the tea-house.”

Late? How can we be late if it’s just us? Has he invited someone else to this tea-house? As though he can sense the inevitable questions coming, Kenji turns and leaves as abruptly as he came. I guess I’ll have to play along if I expect to find out what’s going on.

A few minutes later, I’m standing in the hall, wearing the same rumpled clothes as yesterday. Whoever we’re meeting (if anyone. I haven’t completely dismissed the theory that Kenji is just nuts) will be impressed, I’m sure. Actually…

“Kenji?” I shout into the apparently empty apartment. Where is he?

“Yeah?” he replies. It sounds like he’s in the kitchen but when I get there, I see no sign of Kenji. I also didn’t see him in the living room when I passed by it.

“We aren’t meeting anyone at the tea-house, are we?” No answer. I move around the island, half-expected to find Kenji hiding there for some reason. He’s not.

“I’m not exactly dressed to impress if we are…” Still nothing.

“You look fine to me,” Kenji’s voice comes from right behind me. My heart takes off like a drunken sprinter at the blocks and there’s a sharp, lancing pain in my chest as it stumbles. I grab the island for support with one hand and close my eyes shut. I forgot to take my medication this morning. And last night, for that matter. When did I last take it? The answer doesn’t come easily.

“Hisao?” Kenji sounds like he’s at the end of a long tunnel. I tune him out and focus on the tightness in my chest. The rest of my body seems to melt away. Just breath. Slowly, in and out. Keep going. It seems to take a while, much longer than normal, but I feel my heart slowing down and eventually it returns to normal. I relax.

My face is pressed against the cool tile of the kitchen floor. My hand is still clutched to my heart and my clothes are drenched with sweat. Kenji stands nearby, cellphone in hand. I don’t think he’s started dialing yet so I wave a weak, jelly-like arm at him.

“Don’t call,” I croak, my voice strange and alien to me. “I’m ok.”

“Don’t give me that, man,” Kenji snaps. His voice also sounds strange. “You’re not ok. You’re having a heart-attack. We need to get you to a doctor.”

I pause for a moment, surprised at Kenji’s reaction. Surprised because he’s almost right. When was the last time I did anything to protect my heart? My exercise has been limited to occasionally climbing stairs and my diet to instant ramen and soft drinks. I don’t even do the easy stuff, like take my pills regularly. If he knew, Nurse would kill me before the heart attack did.

I couldn’t blame him either. I spent a year at Yamaku, and instead of learning how to live with my disability and to push beyond it, I tried my best to pretend I was ok. I’m not surprised this happened. I didn’t acknowledge my condition then and I guess nothing has changed. Until now.

“I’m not having a heart attack, Kenji but you’re right. I’m not ok.” It sounds like someone else is speaking. In a way, I feel like it is. “I forgot to take my medication last night and this morning and I haven’t been taking good care of myself.”

The only sound in the room is a muted jingle, apparently from the cellphone starting up. I guess old habits die hard, for him and for me. “I-I have a heart condition. Arrhythmia.” There, that’s the hard part done. He might be the first person I’ve told willingly. I push myself upright, back against the island.

“Sometimes my heart doesn’t beat properly. It gets stuck in an improper rhythm and, well, you saw what happens,” I say lamely. Kenji’s phone buzzes once but he doesn’t check it. Instead, he nods slowly.

“What should we do now?”

“I should probably take my medication and then take a break.” I stand up, ignoring Kenji’s offered hand but accepting a glass of water. I drain it quickly then fill it up again. I’ll need it soon.

Kenji’s saying something about lunch, but I’m only half-listening as a wave of exhaustion hits me head-on. I nod, hoping he’ll leave me alone. He does, and I step out of the kitchen.

In the privacy of Kenji’s guest bedroom, I dig to the bottom of my bag, pull out my travelling pill-organizer, and toss it onto the bed. It bounces lightly then comes to a rest. I’d packed it for a three-day visit to my parent’s apartment a few weeks ago. There are still 2 days’ worth of pills inside.

The familiar sinking reluctance washes over me as I stare at the pills in their blue plastic casing the way one might stare at some alien artifact. I don’t want to be in the same room as it and these medications keep me alive.

Before I can pursue these thoughts any more, I open the box and start downing pills, chasing each with a mouthful of water. It feels like an inadequate response to a life-threatening condition and grey hopelessness replaces reluctance. Going for a run would probably kill me. My cabinets are stuffed full of junk food. How am I supposed to get this under control?

It’s another familiar question but this time, I have an answer: start small. Get out for more walks, take your medicine, and eat better. There’s no magic solution here. Anything you do will take time so the sooner you start, the sooner you’ll be better.

I won’t ever be better, but at least I won’t be as bad as I am now. With that fun thought, I lay down on the guest bed, still fully clothed. The fact that the sheets are cold and wet barely registers in my mind before I’m asleep.

------------------------------------------------

The groundskeepers haven’t yet shovelled (it’s ten o’clock!) once I step off the patch of covered concrete near the doors, I’m up to my knees in snow. I don’t mind though; I’ve always liked winter.

The snow muffles the everyday sounds of life and between it and the cold most people are driven indoors. It’s like you’re in your own private little world, though hundreds of people live in the apartments around me.

Today is fairly mild -barely cold enough to keep the snow frozen- but I’m alone outside, crunching through virgin snow. I breath in the air and revel in the solitude. A few cars drive slowly past me, strange, noisy creatures in an otherwise-silent city.

My phone buzzes in my pocket and after a few more steps, I dig into my coat for it. Kenji’s replied.

I’m going to be late too. Let’s get lunch instead.

Damnit Kenji.

I stop walking and glance back at the apartment buildings, my eyes lingering on Kenji’s. What could possibly delay him that much? I consider asking, but I get the feeling Kenji wouldn’t give me a straight answer. Or maybe he would. Who knows?

I guess it can’t be helped. A quick text confirms noon as the new time, and now I have an hour and forty-five minutes to kill. Briefly, the thought of going back to my apartment crosses my mind, but I know Naomi would give me a hard time about it. I know she’s only joking and badly at that, but it still gets old quickly.

I start walking again. I’ve got nowhere in particular to be, no homework to do, and, worst of all, no new books to read. I could reread some old ones, I suppose, but it’s not cold out and I’m feeling restless anyways.

The steep cliffs of tall buildings roll past with a soothing regularity as I try to turn off my brain and focus only on what’s around me. Don’t think about the future or the past, just keep moving forwards, even if you don’t know where you’re going just yet.

------------------------------------------------

“-should start getting ready.”

Kenji’s voice. What an awful way to wake up.

“Ready for what?” I croak. No answer. I clear my throat and try again, louder this time.

“For lunch. Earlier, you agreed to go, and to pay as thanks for letting you stay here tonight.” I vaguely recall agreeing to something, but it was hardly informed consent. I don’t waste these legal fine points on Kenji, however.

“Alright, I’ll be out in a minute.”

Getting ready doesn’t take even that long; all I have to do is throw all my stuff back into my bag. I smooth down my shirt as best I can but when I step into the hall, I still look like I slept in it. At least I’m not misleading anyone.

Kenji is waiting for me. He’s wearing blue jeans and a plain collared shirt. He’s also staring intently at his wristwatch, though Kenji nods and looks at a point over my right shoulder when he realizes I’m here. “52 seconds. I was worried you’d be late.” He doesn’t appear to be joking so I nod seriously.

“I’m glad I didn’t disappoint.”

“So am I.” With that, he turns around and leads me through the kitchen, giving me the mission briefing as we walk. “It’s 11:40 now and it normally takes me ten minutes to walk to the Taipei. I walk quickly, so we should probably leave in five minutes to be sure.”

Kenji comes to a sudden stop in the front hall. I barely avoid crashing into him and when Kenji turns around, he’s inches from my face. “Any questions? You look a lot better than you did this morning, by the way.” He says it like an afterthought, though I suppose he didn’t notice until just now.

“Thanks, Kenji. I’m feeling better too.”

“I’m glad to hear it. The Resistance needs all the help it can get, even if it’s yours.” Thanks, Kenji.

Once I’m done in the bathroom, I pull my boots and coat on. Kenji’s watching his watch again, already dressed for the winter. “It’s time to go,” he says.

------------------------------------------------

I thank the waitress then gratefully wrap my hands around the steaming cup of tea she’s poured me. Its pot sits nearby, filled with more boiling hot tea, waiting to do its duty.

After wandering around for an hour or so, watching the roads and sidewalks get plowed, I’d found myself at a park north of the Taipei. In the summer, lotus trees grow around a small, man-made pond. On nice days, it’s busy but the crowds offer anonymity and I’d spent many hours reading here, sitting under the trees. Today, I’d barely lasted fifteen minutes before I had to leave.

I’d arrived at the tea-house early, but I was too cold to wait any longer. The nice thing about the Taipei is that they have a bookshelf behind the counter so I could kill time reading. I’d been in too much of a hurry to get something hot to drink to pick one out on the way in so I walk back over to the counter, tea in hand.

A waitress I’d never seen before-she looks younger than me-is behind the counter, completely absorbed in the book she’s reading. She doesn’t notice me until I set my cup down inches from her book. She looks up at the tea-cup that has suddenly appeared and her eyes widen when she noticed the burnt hand holding it. Shit.

The waitress doesn’t even ask me what I want, she just stares until I finally summon up the courage to ask if I can borrow a book. I barely manage to hide my stammer.

“Of course, which one?”

I quickly give the name of a book I’d read many times before, Watership Down, just so I can escape this girl. Normally, I’d ask Annaisha to pull me down some books so I can read the backs but she’s not working today, I guess.

Once I’ve got my book, I turn quickly to head back to my booth. For a moment, the veil of hair covering the right side of my face shifts and I can feel the waitress staring at the burns beneath. I take a breath then walk away briskly, book clutched to my chest like a shield, right hand carefully tucked behind it.

It isn’t until I hear the waitress from the counter calling me that I realize I’ve left my tea behind. I waver, torn between tea and retreat, and the waitress catches up to me. Some of the other patrons are staring too and I wish I could shrink away into some quiet corner.

She taps me on the shoulder and I turn around slowly. To my surprise, she’s bowing low to the ground, holding the tea out in front of her. “My apologies for discomfiting you.”

I take refuge in formality and return the bow. “I a-accept your apology.”

Neither of us moves as the waitress avoids staring at my burns by staring instead at my book. “Would you like me to carry your tea back to the table?”

I want to say no so I can be rid of her but I’m not sure if I trust myself to speak right now. I feel panicky, like a small bird trapped by a hungry cat, and I hate myself for it. Surely I’m not so weak that something as small as someone looking at my scars would get me this worked up! It did though, so perhaps I am not as strong as I thought.

For a terrifying moment, I stand again at the edge of a too-familiar cliff, my thoughts swirling confusingly around me like leaves in a howling wind. One thought in particular settles gently in front of me. Two steps forwards, one back. You’re allowed to be weak sometimes.

Finally, I take a breath and nod. Apparently unconcerned by my hesitation, the waitress follows me to my table, sets my tea down, and bows again. “I am truly sorry for staring, ma’am.” She looks me unwaveringly in the eyes now, as though to make a point.

“T-thank you,” I check her nametag, “Eshima.”

“Let me know if you need anything else today,” Eshima says as she starts to leave.

“A-actually,” I start. Eshima turns back, brown eyes once again fixed on mine. It’s more than a little unsettling. “I’m meeting a friend here soon so can you bring him here? His name’s K-kenji and I’ll tell him to give my name, Hanako.”

A strange look crosses her face, one that I can’t immediately place. “Hanako, got it.” Eshima nods to herself, then walks away.

Once she’s gone, I sit back heavily in my chair. She seemed genuinely apologetic but even so, I feel drained from the whole affair, particularly her reaction to my request. I want to leave, go home and hide in my room, but Kenji’s supposed to be here in ten minutes so I can’t.

I’m already at the restaurant so when you get here, give my name.

After I’ve sent the message to Kenji, I place the look on Eshima’s face. It’s the same face Natsume makes when she solves a particularly difficult Sudoku, the face of someone who’s solved a mystery that had been nagging them. How strange.

------------------------------------------------

Kenji and I had walked quickly, making small talk about school and life. He mentioned that he’d gotten a job recently within the last few weeks, though when I pressed him for details, Kenji clammed up. I work at a convenience store and I’m not too proud of it so maybe that was why he didn’t want to share. The conversation was tapering off as Kenji’s answers got shorter and shorter the closer we got to the Taipei.

As we cross the road into 3 block, only a few minutes from the tea-house, Kenji slips, almost falling. “I’m fine, man,” he says, answering a question I hadn’t asked. “Stupid ice.”

Just then, Kenji’s phone dings once, then a second time. He pulls it out, turning the screen away from me as he unlocks it. “Huh, she’s early,” he mutters under his breath as he reads the first message.

“Who’s early?” I ask, wondering if I’ll get some answers now.

Kenji looks at me as though surprised to see me, panic and fear on his face flashing momentarily before shifting to anger. “Isn’t it obvious, man? The feminist spy has already beaten us to the-”

“Don’t give me that shit, Kenji.” I interrupt, stopping in my tracks. It isn’t until I’m standing still that I realize just how out of breath I am from the walk. I’m really out of shape. “Who are we meeting at the Taipei?”

“We’re not meeting anyone there. This is a manly excursion to a tea-house!” Kenji strikes a pose that I assume is supposed to look manly. It isn’t.

“Then why did you say earlier that we would be late?”

Kenji hesitates, then replies. “I was worried we’d miss the specials.”

I shake my head at Kenji’s lie. “If you’re not going to tell me who we’re meeting, I’m going home.” With that, I turn around and start walking back across the street.

Kenji hurries to catch up before the light changes. “Alright, fine. I wanted you to meet a friend of mine who works there.”

“And why is that?” I say without stopping.

Kenji looks away and mumbles something under his breath that I don’t catch this time.

“Sorry, try that again?”

“I wanted you to meet my girlfriend,” he says, still looking at his shoes. He’s smiling now though, a private smile that makes me feeling like I’m intruding.

I stop walking. In an instant, my anger is gone, replaced by guilt. “Why didn’t you tell me, Kenji? Of course I’d like to meet her,” I say. Kenji’s apparently so embarrassed he can’t look me in the eye. He stands there, shuffling awkwardly.

“If we hurry, we can catch this light and you can see her sooner,” I tell him, hoping that’ll cheer him up. When he doesn’t answer, I tap him on the arm. “Come on, let’s go!”

He follows me obediently as we dash across the road. My breath is catching in my throat and my heart’s racing but I’m feeling fine until suddenly, my foot slips on a patch of ice. It’s easy to forget how strong gravity is until you’re falling, I think before I crash, chest-first, onto the cold roadway.

Kenji skids to a stop nearby though I’m only half-aware, distracted as I am by the pain that’s blossoming in my chest for the second time today. I clamp my eyes shut and roll over, trying to get air into my winded lungs but it’s getting harder to breath. I can feel my heart pumping uselessly, spreading fear instead of oxygenated blood.

A voice I don’t recognize is asking Kenji something and I hear the world “ambulance”. That’s probably a good idea, I think to myself. Someone kneels beside me. “I’m sorry,” Kenji says, and before I can wonder why, my mind winks out like a candle in the wind.

------------------------------------------------

The rabbits haven’t yet left their warren when I hear sirens approaching. I look up just in time to see an ambulance race by, going dangerously fast as it drives away from the hospital north of here. Someone’s in trouble, I think to myself as I empty the tea-pot into my cup. I hope they make it in time.

Before I take a sip, Eshima approaches. She looks tense and nervous, as though she’s about to do something brave and daring, like jump off a cliff into a lake, instead of asking me if I want another pot of tea. She must be really new at waitressing.

I’m all ready to say yes when she asks me a question that takes me by surprise. “You went to Yamaku, didn’t you?”

The shock must have registered plainly on my face, because Eshima rushes to explain. “I know Kenji-he’s got glasses but they don’t seem to help. He told me about a girl with burn scars and purple hair and I was really surprised early to see you in here earlier and that’s why I was staring. At first, I mean. Later I was staring because I didn’t want to look at your scars. I’m sorry.” The words tumble as though someone’s unplugged a dam.

The irony of Eshima’s name is not wasted on me-blessed intentions- as I try to formulate a response. She’s making my anxiety levels rise but at the same time, I feel bad for this poor girl-she must be a couple years younger than me- who’s trying so hard and now stands in front of me, looking as though I’m her executioner.

“I-it’s ok, Eshima.” The intended effect of those words seems lost on her. She still looks on edge, surrounded by some unknown danger. “I did go to Y-yamaku, though Kenji and I were never classmates.”

She nods vigorously. “Kenji told me that.” Eshima freezes again, as though she’s wandered into a minefield.

“How did you meet him?” I ask, hoping the question would calm her down.

Eshima smiles a little, a smile with equal parts happiness and sadness. “A man was making lewd comments to me on the bus and Kenji intervened.” She smiles again, though this one’s moments away from a laugh; it’s happier. “He yelled at the man’s friend instead-they were standing next to each other- but they stopped anyways. I think they were scared of Kenji.”

“That’s understandable,” I comment and Eshima laughs, apparently growing more comfortable. I’m glad for it because her nervousness was upsetting me too.

“He’s very nice, if you can get past the crazy,” she says quietly, and I can’t but wonder if they’re more than friends. The silence stretches out until it’s almost uncomfortably long. “I think you’re very pretty, by the way, despite the scars.”

I cringe, though Eshima doesn’t seem to notice. Maybe I did too good of a job making her feel comfortable. This conversation feels like it’s a ship about to hit an iceberg. I want off and it doesn’t take long to find my life-boat. “Thank y-you, E-eshima,” I say as I pick up the empty tea-pot. I make a show of pouring it into the cup, acting surprised when it’s empty.

“Oh, I’m sorry Hanako, I’ll get you some more!” Eshima snatches the pot from my hand and starts walking away with it. I call her back before she gets too far.

“I’ll wait until K-kenji gets here to order anything else,” I tell her. Eshima looks a little crestfallen but she nods and leaves. I check my phone and find Kenji’s ten minutes late now. He still hasn’t replied to my previous message. I sigh inwardly, then get back to my book.

A few minutes later, an ambulance drives past, this one going the other way. It’s also got its lights and sirens going and I wonder if it’s the same one from earlier, returning to the hospital with its unfortunate charge barely clinging to life. I feel a moment’s pity for whoever is inside, patients and paramedics alike. It must be brutal when every day of work for you is a glimpse into the worst day of someone’s life. Or the last.
Last edited by StilesLong on Sun Sep 17, 2017 12:34 am, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Ships in the night [Hanako bad ending]

Post by Mirage_GSM » Sat Sep 09, 2017 4:28 am

StilesLong wrote:I've been considering using different font styles to make clear the switch between narrators.
...
I may also add a brief foreword, just to make readers aware of the shifting POV.

Do you think that would help?
A definite NO to the first. Using different font styles is just plain lazy writing and it's irritating to read.
You can add a prologue, but if you do it right it shouldn't be neccessary.
As for separating the style, the main thing I've been able to come up with has more to do with sentence length and descriptors. I feel as though Hanako would use a more complex sentence structure than Hisao in addition to more analogies and descriptive words.
Patterns of speech are only one of many ways to make it clear who is narrating a section, and it is the least efficient one (unless you have characters with REALLY noticeable quirks like Misha or Rin). You also have the narrators' thoughts to help.
Shameless self-plug for an example
I don't think you did a bad job of it though - in either chapter.
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: Ships in the night [Hanako bad ending] (Updated 9/8)

Post by StilesLong » Sun Sep 10, 2017 8:58 pm

Mirage_GSM wrote:I don't think you did a bad job of it though - in either chapter.
Thanks, I guess?



No but seriously, thanks for reading it. I also feel that fonts is a bad way to distinguish between POVs but it's something I'd heard a couple of times. It's never been something truly int he cards, simply because I agree that fonts isn't a strong way to get the job done. I'm working on distinguishing between the two a little more for next chapter, so we'll see if I can't do better this time around.

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Re: Ships in the night [Hanako bad ending] (Updated 9/8)

Post by Oddball » Fri Sep 15, 2017 9:33 am

The first chapter did take me a while to figure out there were two different characters narrating. While it wouldn't hurt to differentiate the two a little better, some simple name dropping or medical details early on would also help solve the problem. Have Hisao mention his heart or pills early on. Throw in a reference to Hanako's scars or the orphanage. Something like that.

While Hanako came off as sounding too much like Hisao in the first chapter, in the second, she had the problem of not sounding enough like Hanako. At first anyway. I can't really explain it well, but she just didn't feel right for the first couple of segments in chapter 2.

Also, one thing I'm hoping that you don't do is go by the mindset that Hisao was 100% to blame for the breakup and Hanako never did anything wrong. I've seen that far too often in these kind of stories. Admittedly even in the main game, it takes until Hanako's good ending for her to realize that she's at least partially to blame for how people treat her herself. I'm not sure if that's your plans. It's too early to really say.

Also, you may have overdone it with the pills bit. Hisao would probably have run into problems a lot earlier than that if he's gone weeks without his medicine. Just saying that he only takes his pills every few days would still put him in bad shape without stretching credibility as much.

Other than that, though, good story., I do look forward to where it's going.
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Re: Ships in the night [Hanako bad ending] (Updated 9/8)

Post by StilesLong » Fri Sep 15, 2017 10:28 pm

Oddball wrote:While Hanako came off as sounding too much like Hisao in the first chapter, in the second, she had the problem of not sounding enough like Hanako. At first anyway. I can't really explain it well, but she just didn't feel right for the first couple of segments in chapter 2.
Is it the lack of stutter?
Oddball wrote:Also, one thing I'm hoping that you don't do is go by the mindset that Hisao was 100% to blame for the breakup and Hanako never did anything wrong. I've seen that far too often in these kind of stories. Admittedly even in the main game, it takes until Hanako's good ending for her to realize that she's at least partially to blame for how people treat her herself. I'm not sure if that's your plans. It's too early to really say.
We'll see ;)
Oddball wrote:Also, you may have overdone it with the pills bit. Hisao would probably have run into problems a lot earlier than that if he's gone weeks without his medicine. Just saying that he only takes his pills every few days would still put him in bad shape without stretching credibility as much.
It's not explicitly stated he's been off his pills for weeks. The most I offered as to his rate of taking them is "There are still 2 days’ worth of pills inside [a case packed for 3 days' worth]." If it's ambiguous, I can fix it.
Oddball wrote:Other than that, though, good story., I do look forward to where it's going.
Thanks for the feedback and I'm looking forward to finding out where it's going too.

I've noticed that the longer I work on this project, the more I have been focusing on properly capturing anxiety as a mental illness. Let me know if you guys think it's accurate!

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Re: Ships in the night [Hanako bad ending] (Updated 9/8)

Post by Oddball » Fri Sep 15, 2017 11:15 pm

It's not explicitly stated he's been off his pills for weeks. The most I offered as to his rate of taking them is "There are still 2 days’ worth of pills inside [a case packed for 3 days' worth]." If it's ambiguous, I can fix it.
I get what you're saying there, but this part I read differently.
I’d packed it for a three-day trip to my parent’s apartment a couple weeks ago. There are still 2 days’ worth of pills inside.
I read that as "I planned on only needing three days of medicine. I've been here weeks and only taken one days worth."
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Chapter 3: Post-Mortem

Post by StilesLong » Wed Sep 20, 2017 10:32 pm

Chapter 3: Post-Mortem

I slot the record gingerly onto the turntable, the thought of damaging the best gift I’ve ever been given never far from my mind, even after two months of practice. Bill Evans and Paul Chambers from Miles Davis’ So What have begun their halting march to setting the pace for the rest of the song by the time I carry my computer to the living room to keep Naomi company.

She’d had a seizure yesterday, shortly after I got back from my failed meeting with Kenji. It was her first in a few months-not abnormal on the grand scheme of things, but not normal either. Naomi had called in sick to work today, still too tired and down to go with Natsume to the ramen shop. Natsume had wanted to do the same but Naomi and I had talked her out of it.

“Don’t worry, Natsume, Hanako’s here. She can keep an eye on me,” Naomi had said with a bitter laugh. I didn’t think she was being sarcastic-she was probably just upset-but the anxious part of my mind started drifting in like a fog on a lake.

“N-naomi can h-help me with my next blog post,” I’d stammered out. Naomi didn’t mean it like that, Hanako.

“It’s weird not to be here after, you know,” Natsume had muttered, looking down at the ground as though searching for an answer there.

“I know, but Hanako’s dealt with this too,” Naomi had said with surprising gentleness and honesty. “I trust her, Natsume.”

The message had been meant for Natsume but I was grateful to hear it too. It did little to shift the fog, however, that was threatening to blind and overwhelm me. My flight or fight instinct kicked in and I chose flight, retreating into my room until Natsume left.

Now I can no longer hide, so foggy as I am, I plop myself down on the couch with Naomi. She’s wearing fuzzy pink pajamas, watching videos of cats on her computer with headphones in. She glances at me and smiles though the silence is tense and slightly uncomfortable, then goes back to her cats. I know she wishes we could have a better pet than a fish in our apartment.

I turn my own attention to my computer, where a blank word document still waits menacingly. It’s been open for days, waiting impatiently for even the start of this week’s blog post. There’s something daunting about having to create something, especially on days like today when some part of your brain is going to tell you it won’t be good enough. Especially when you know lots of people will be reading it.

The blog had been started by the journalism department as a means of gaining publicity and giving prospective students an idea what the program is about. With the post of “Resident Blogger” came a scholarship, contingent on a weekly blog post from the day you start school to the day you graduate.

When I’d been selected for the job, a nasty rumour had gone around that it was only because I was a “charity case”. For almost a week, I didn’t want to go to class, post anything to the blog or even leave my room. It was the first week Naomi, Natsume, and I were living together and they were freaking out.

In the end, Natsume threw down the gauntlet: I was letting the people who’d started the rumour win by not going to class and not posting to the blog. The first blog post had been written that night about friends and roommates and the huge, terrifying change from high school. Since then, a dozen incoming students had cited my blog as the reason why they’d chosen this school over others, but the rumour still stung.

“Having trouble?” Naomi asks me as So What echoes into silence.

“Yeah. I’m trying to think of something good to write about,” I reply, closing my eyes. The opening notes of Freddie Freeloader, soothing and bouncy, started playing. Normally it helps to calm me down, to clear the fog, but not today.

“Want to play a game?” She says after a moment’s pause. I wonder immediately if Natsume put her up to this. Naomi’s not the type to play games.

“Not if y-you don’t want to,” I reply quickly. Naomi looks surprised, then grins.

“I don’t. Natsume noticed you were a little upset this morning and told it was my fault,”-Natsume didn’t put it that way- “and suggested I apologize,” Naomi says, the smiling fading from her face. She bows her head to me and apologizes. “If I say anything hurtful in future, please let me know.”

“T-thank you, Naomi. I certainly will,” I say, genuinely touched. “J-just don’t worry too much about me. Not e-everything bothers me all the time. Yesterday was just a b-bad day and I guess I’m still feeling a little off.”

“Yeah, tell me about it,” Naomi says, rubbing the back of her head. We hadn’t been able to get something under it right away when she’d started seizing and I realize how stupid my comment must seem to her. I don’t apologize though I feel the impulsive urge to.

“I-I think we both need a day off,” I say instead. Both mind and body can hurt and neither should be apologized for.

“Not much of a day off if you need to write blog posts though, is it?” Naomi asks, gesturing at my blank screen.

“Normally I don’t mind, but I’ve got no ideas and today’s the deadline.” As I say it, the familiar trilling of anxiety starts prickling it way up my spine, tensing my body as it goes. What if I don’t post anything this week? I shut that thought down as best as I can-they won’t pull the scholarship over a single missed post- but I still feel keyed up. I try to take refuge in Coltrane’s tenor but Naomi’s saying something so I let the music slide back into the background.

“P-pardon?”

Noami rolls her eyes, grinning as always, then repeats herself. “Why don’t you write about how the snowstorm affected your plans for the break?”

“What plans? I’m working for most of it,” I ask, trying to understand what Naomi’s getting at.

“Oh yeah,” she pauses for a moment, then her face lights up. “Well, we didn’t go for tea like we normally do.”

Naomi must be able to see that I’m not sold on the idea of boring my readers with my tea-drinking schedule, so she tries again. “You could mention our adventures with the stove. It’s a personal angle that speaks to the excitement of university life.”

I laugh at the memory of Naomi, standing in a snowdrift in our kitchen. “We should have taken a picture.”

“Who says nobody did?” Naomi flashes a sly grin, then reaches for her phone. She clicks through a few screens, then shows it to me triumphantly.

Taken from the front lobby looking into the kitchen, the picture speaks for itself. Naomi’s on the left side of the frame, inspecting the stove sitting guiltily on the counter. A wave of snow spills across the tiles, threatening to reach the Natsume behind the camera. At first I think she’s done a bad job taking the picture, then I realize Naomi isn’t the subject of the picture: the open window behind her is.

I hand it back to her, shaking my head but smiling at the same time. “Thanks, girls.”

“There’s more though.” Naomi fiddles with her phone a moment longer, then gives it back to me. It’s the same shot, but this time I’m in the frame, my back to the photographer. Despite the pixilation, I can make out the look on Naomi’s face as she’s frozen in time, broom in hand. She’s clearly concerned for me.

“I think I know what I’m writing about, thank you,” I say as Cannonball Adderley’s sax solo tails off and Wynton Kelly picks up on the piano. “Can you send the pictures to me?”

“Of course!” Naomi goes back to her videos and I to my computer, but this time, the tension’s gone and the fog has mostly drifted away.

A couple minutes later, Blue in Green comes on and to its mournful tune, I manage to meet the usual wordcount. I know I’m going to go well over though-there’s a lot of things I want to say in this post. Maybe I can break it off into several posts? As I give it some thought, I hear the familiar sawed bass come in as Evans and Chambers close off the song.

Without a word, I get up and go turn the record, thinking that Blue in Green is wonderfully plaintive. I wonder, not for the first time, if there’s anything in particular they’re mourning, or if the song isn’t just about the sadness in everyday life. I wish sometimes that I could take my own sadness and turn it into something so beautiful.

“You know,” Naomi says after I’ve sat back down on the couch with her, “if I’d known I’d be listening to so much jazz, I wouldn’t have suggested the turntable as your present.”

Naomi punctuates this with a laugh, as though that might soften the blow of what she’s just said. It doesn’t, and before I know it, my fight or flight instinct’s kicking in again. I’m on feet in an instant, ready to fight this time as anger courses through me like I’ve touched a live wire.

“You wanted me to tell you if you’ve said something that upset me, right?” I say in a low, steady tone. I’m impressed at my own ability not to scream right now but I suppose by now I’m good at keeping my emotions mostly under control.

Naomi nods tentatively, as though even that small action will invite a more severe reaction. One headphone’s fallen from her ear. It dangles as she moves her head. Her eyes flick between my hands, which are clenched tightly at my sides, and my computer, which fell to the floor when I stood up.

“Good. What you said was just mean, and would have upset anyone, not j-just m-me.” My voice quavers for a moment, and I know the anger’s run its course. It’s replaced by exhaustion and shame, like someone’s filled my veins with lead. I wish I could go jump in the ocean and sink to the bottom. Now I’m being mean.

As Naomi sits stunned, I turn and start walking away, leaving my computer behind. “I’ll b-be in my r-room.”

I turn off All Blues, before Miles has even finished his first solo and throw myself on my bed in the loud silence that follows. As I wait for the bad thoughts to come the past few minutes replay themselves in my mind. Did I overreact? Of course I did.

Getting me the turntable for Christmas had been her idea (her heart’s in the right place, even if her mouth isn’t). Naomi had reached out across the world to Lilly, who’d gladly offered to chip in, sending so much money that Naomi and Natsume had only had to split the cost of the first record I’d ever owned, Kind of Blue. That had been Akira’s suggestion.

The turntable was a group present, something my friends had worked together to get for me and she was saying she shouldn’t have suggested getting it at all. No, I have every right to be upset. If anything, I think I showed remarkable restraint. I don’t feel like I did, but that’s not surprising. How I feel and how I think rarely match up.

What if she doesn’t want to talk to me anymore?

She will.

Naomi and Natsume are better friends with each than I am with them; what if they make me leave the apartment?

They won’t.

Where will I go?

I'm not going anywhere.

What you wrote in your blog post is just you; they don’t feel the same way for you as you do for them.

That’s not true!

I almost shout the words out loud and mercifully, there’s silence in my mind after that.

After some time, there’s a soft knock at my door. If I didn’t know better, I might have mistaken it for Natsume. “Hanako?” Sure enough, it’s Naomi. Why would she ever want to talk to me again? She sounds like she’s been crying. Look what you’ve done. I want to say something, maybe to apologize, but I don’t trust myself to talk. Not now.

When I don’t answer, she keeps talking. “I’m sorry. What I said was mean. I deserved to be told off.”

“No, Naomi-“ I say quietly, too quietly to be heard. I want to tell her that I’m the one who should be sorry and that this is my fault but the words are too mixed up in my head to ever be able to say them out loud.

“I read your latest post, Hanako.” At that, I sit up. She shouldn’t have read it without permission! “I should have asked first, but I’m glad I read it. I feel the same way about you and N-natsume.” Her voices tails off, and a moment later I hear muffled sobs through the closed door. This is too much. It can’t be true. This is your fault.

I rush to the door and throw it open. Naomi’s sitting on the floor, crying. She looks up just in time to see me throw my arms around her and start crying myself. “I’m the one who should be sorry, Naomi!”

Naomi pushes me away enough to look me in the eyes and smile before pulling me back into the hug. “You shouldn’t be, Hanako. You did exactly what I asked you to do.”

What makes sense doesn’t change how I feel, but I don’t tell her that. Too much explaining, too awkward. “You r-read the post?” I ask instead.

“Yes, and I think everyone will love it.” Naomi says, leaning back and wiping a strand of wet, blonde hair from her face.

“T-thank you, Naomi.” I sit up too, though I’m not done crying just yet. There’s too much inside that I can’t get out otherwise. Kenji blowing me off yesterday, Naomi having a seizure, her comments today, knowing that she and Natsume aren’t going anywhere for part of the break to spend time with me, it’s all flowing through my mind like the poison of a snake, sapping my mental stamina and it’s not even noon yet.

It’s hard to say how long she and I sit on the floor, crying together. Eventually, I break the silence. “Your seizure really upset you, didn’t it?”

Naomi nods without looking at me. “It’s been a while, ever since I started the new medication…”

This time it’s my turn to nod, though I’m not sure I fully understand. It must be awful to be hoping that you’ve moved beyond something, only to have it come back again. In a weird way, at least I don’t ever have to hold false hope: I won’t ever be whole again.

“This was the first medication that was having an effect. I thought I’d be safe. But apparently not.” Naomi breaks down into fresh tears. I give her another hug and don’t say a word. I know how important it is sometimes just to cry.

“You k-know,” I start when she seems to be slowing down, “maybe I should l-look into getting some headphones.”

For a long moment, Naomi just stares at me, then she bursts out laughing: several great neighs. I laugh too, glad I could lighten the mood. “Anyways, shall we make some tea?” I ask.

“That’s an excellent idea,” Naomi agrees. She starts leading the way.

We’re walking past the couch in the living when Naomi suddenly freezes. “Hanako, I don’t feel-“

Something in her voice made me step forward and it was a good thing I did: a moment later, she dropped, hard. I barely catch her, lowering her gently to the couch nearby. Naomi’s face is a twisting, jerking rictus; she’s having a seizure.

I stand frozen for several seconds despite the adrenaline flowing through me. The twitching starts to work its way down her body; first arms, then legs. A foul smell fills the air as Naomi’s bowels empty themselves, then I kick myself into action. The couch is soft enough to protect against the flailing that will start soon but I should be timing the seizure.

My phone’s in my room but Naomi’s left hers on the coffee table, which I push farther from the couch. Naomi’s phone has got a password and when I unlock it, she’s still got open the picture of her and I, standing in the snowy kitchen. My finger lingers over the home button, then I press down. I can look at the picture later.

I navigate to the timer, counting in my head as I go. Twice in as many days. Poor Naomi. Before I’ve counted to ten, the timer is up and running. For Naomi, a normal seizure is about two minutes. Anything over two and a half, and we’re supposed to call an ambulance. For now though, there’s nothing to do but watch and wait though my mind screams at me to do something, anything to help!

Naomi’s in a hell of her own brain’s creation and I can feel myself slipping into my personal hell, every bit as bad as hers. Don’t be ridiculous; you haven’t got it half as bad says that quiet, niggling voice in my head. I grit my teeth. I’ve had this argument with myself hundreds of times and I still haven’t won. My problem is bad too!

There’s a momentary silence in my mind, as though a storm is gathering, then sure enough: What if Naomi blames me for the seizure?

She won’t do that. It’s not my fault, and she knows it. If anything, Naomi will be grateful to have me there for her.

Will she? I’m just sitting there, waiting for something to happen. I’m not helping.

There’s nothing I can do! Not yet, at least. I can’t even leave to get her clean clothes because I don’t want her to snap out of this, alone and confused.

She’ll be thrilled to see me, the voice says, dripping sarcasm like a snake drips venom. Yes, she will, I tell myself as forcefully as I can. We have our differences but that doesn’t mean we don’t care for each other. The picture of us in the kitchen comes to mind and I freeze it there, hoping to keep the bad thoughts away with a good one.

What if I’m just a project to her? Someone to be fixed? Almost as soon as I think of it, I laugh out loud. Unlike Lilly or-I cringe- Hisao, Naomi’s never treated me with kid-skin gloves. In a way, I’m grateful she doesn’t; I need the reminders that people don’t mean what they say, despite what my mind tries to tell me.

I check the timer. It reads fifty seconds and counting. I know Naomi will be exhausted when this is done and I’m feeling tired too, wrung out by mental contortions the way she’ll be by physical ones. I send Natsume a text quickly.

Don’t worry, but Naomi’s having a seizure. I’ll let you know what happens.

Message sent, I check the clock again. A minute thirty, and with each passing second, I can feel my body tightening. What if she doesn’t come out of her seizure? There’s fifteen seconds left, and Naomi’s not slowing down like she normally does.

My eyes are torn between watching Naomi and watching the clock. It ticks down, painfully slowly and all too quickly at the same time. The second hand marches stolidly past the twelve and starts back down the virtual analog clock-face. It sinks lower and lower, ratcheting up my anxiety as it goes. The only thing that keeps me from running to my room in tears is that Naomi needs me. I feel numb, but I’ve got to deal with it.

The phone buzzes. Natsume’s replied, asking how long it’s been going. I send her back the bleak news, and tell her that I’m calling an ambulance soon. I’m in the process of punching in the emergency services number when tinny j-pop starts blaring.

Before I’ve even got the Naomi’s phone to my ear, I can hear Natsume talking. “-been? How is she?”

Natsume’s letting loose a flood of questions-I’ve never heard her so agitated. “N-natsume,” I say quietly as she’s asking me where Naomi is. The questions don’t slow down, so I try again, this time almost shouting her name.

“Y-yes?” Natsume sounds startled, shocked even. I take a breath and level my tone before continuing. This is scary for all of us.

“Naomi is on t-the couch, still h-having a seizure. It’s been a-almost three minutes now so I’m g-going to call an ambulance once I get off the p-phone with you,” I tell her as matter of factly as possible.

“O-ok,” Natsume says, still sounding distant and confused.

“I’m going to get her t-to the h-hospital, ok Natsume?” I ask. When she doesn’t answer, I ask her if she heard me.

“I heard you,” she replies.

“G-good. Talk to your manager when you c-can. I’ll t-text you from the hospital,” I glance at Naomi, whose convulsions are finally starting to slow down. “See you soon.”

“See you.”

It isn’t until I hang up that I realize I didn’t once wonder if I’d upset Natsume when I’d shouted into the phone. I’ll think about that bit of good news later. For now, I check the phone’s timer. Almost four minutes. It feels like four hours.

I make the call to emergency services without interruptions this time. As I’m telling them where we’re located, Naomi wakes up and looks up at me with eyes full of fear and embarrassment. I stroke her hair reassuringly, then tell the dispatched to wait a second. The moment I’ve been dreading has finally come. “You’ve h-had a l-long seizure, Naomi.”

“Long enough to call…?” She sounds out of breath, like she’s run a long distance.

I just nod, knowing that no matter how I tell her, she’s going to be crushed. Sure enough, Naomi bursts into tears for the second time today. The voice on the phone tells me I can hang up now and I do. This frees up my hands to comfort poor Naomi. I want to cry too but I keep the tears in for now. Not yet, I tell myself.

Once Naomi’s a little calmer, I put the tea-kettle on, then start packing her a bag. I grab fresh pajamas, her computer, her camera, her stuffed dog; just some things so the hospital won’t feel so divorced from the world, like it did for me. I grab a bottle of the new pills she’s been taking too, in case that helps the doctors.

The knock at the door comes as I’m showing Naomi the contents of her bag to make sure I didn’t miss anything. I open it to find two paramedics, one old and the other young, and a stretcher waiting.

“Where’s the patient?” The old one asks as the young one stares at my scares which are painfully visible. I’m wearing a loose-fitting white sweater I’d bought at a second-hand store and normally I hang it from my right shoulder but in all the excitement it’s slipped off, exposing the scar tissue beneath and why the hell do I care?

Let him stare. Why should I feel bad about this young guy, barely older than me, looking at my scars? Screw him. The anger is sudden and swift, like a torrential downpour, though it’s a cold rain, not a hot one. I want to shout and scream but instead, I stare back at the young paramedic, waiting for him to notice me. It doesn’t take long and within moments of our eyes meeting, a blush forms on his face and he looks down at his shoes.

Staring contest over, I wordlessly lead the paramedics over to the couch. They seem to pick up on my hostility and do nothing to break the silence, not talking to Naomi and barely each other as they transfer her to onto the stretcher. I hold Naomi’s hand during the elevator ride. It isn’t until we’re downstairs and leaving the building that I realize I’ve forgotten my jacket. Too late now.

The young paramedic is driving- I saw a brief exchange of keys before the old paramedic hopped in the back and sat near Naomi’s feet. The ride is quiet without the sirens on and Naomi quickly falls asleep to the restful rocking of stop-and-go traffic. I watch her, tidying up displaced tufts of blonde hair absentmindedly, wishing I could sleep too.

This weekend has been exhausting and on Monday I couldn’t wait for it to get here. Naomi, Natsume, and I haven’t even gone to the Taipei for our start-of-break, end of exams celebration yet. We would have gone Friday but the storm made that hard, then yesterday Naomi had her first seizure and now we’re going to the hospital…

“-you ok?” I jump; the older paramedic is talking to me though he’s writing something on a clipboard. It takes me a moment to understand what he’s asking, then I nod frantically, hoping he’ll leave me alone but at the same time hoping he’ll distract me from myself.

“Did you get her onto the couch?” He asks, peering up at me. I nod again and he looks pleased somehow.

“Good job. If she’d had her seizure on the floor…” He lets the thought hang there as though I hadn’t had it before. He doesn’t even know her name.

“N-naomi,” I say suddenly. “Her name is Naomi Inoue.”

The paramedic nods slowly and seriously, then makes a note on his clipboard. “Thank you for telling me; I should have asked.”

“This isn’t your friend’s first seizure, is it,” he says after a moment. I shake my head no, that small motion making me very dizzy for some reason. Suddenly, it’s very cold in the ambulance. “I didn’t think so. You did very well, by the way. Naomi was lucky to have you there.”

“T-thank you.” Is there some sort of ulterior motive to the compliment, or is he being genuine?

“You’re students at the university, aren’t you?”

“Yes.” Why is he asking me all these questions? I readjust my sweater, pulling it onto both shoulders not to hide scars, but to keep myself warm. I can hear someone, the young paramedic presumably, talking in the front of the ambulance.

“You’re both around twenty, right?”

I nod, and the paramedic smiles, though it’s not a completely happy smile. What did I say wrong?

“I have a daughter who is your age. She’s also in university, on the other side of the country.” He looks a little distant as he says it, then offers me a blanket which I accept gratefully and drape over my shoulders. “You seemed a little cold.”

He’s watching me carefully and it occurs to me that he’s making sure I’m ok too. Maybe he’s taking care of his own daughter somehow, far away at school, by looking after me. I smile. “I hope your d-daughter is doing well.”

“She says she is, but I still worry.” The paramedic says with a laugh that’s a little forced. Having kids must be like having a second heart: something else to worry about, something else you’d die without.

I take advantage of the lull in the conversation to send Natsume an update, letting her know that we were in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. I’m not looking forward to being in the hospital, not even as a visitor. Too many bad things happen there but it can’t be helped.

The ambulance is also an uncomfortable place for me. Inside the white plastic cupboards that line the walls are things meant to keep broken people alive long enough for the hospital to put them back together again. They don’t always succeed though, either at the hospital or in the ambulance. Sometimes, some parts will always be broken.

The only thing that stands out in the back of the ambulance is a red, hard-shell fabric case, roughly the size of a child’s backpack. A black heart with a yellow lightening bolt has been printed on the case below the letters AED. The paramedic, who’s still watching me closely though he’s pretending he’s busy filling out some form, smiles when he sees me looking at it.

“What’s in that case would give you quite the shock.” He laughs at his own joke, then seeing my confusion, explains. “It’s a defibrillator. We use it on patients whose hearts aren’t working too well. Shock’em back into rhythm.”

“Does it w-work?” I ask, half-fearing the answer but feeling the need to know.

The paramedic shrugs. “Sometimes. It depends on how long the patient’s been out for, how bad their heart is, stuff like that. Last week, the AED worked like magic. Yesterday, well,” he shrugs again, a cloud passing over his face.

“Yesterday?” I prompt with morbid fascination.

“It worked, but not for long. The patient’s heart cut out again and we had to juice him a couple more times on the way to the hospital. His ribs probably hurt like hell right now from all the chest compressions.”

I nod slowly, not listening anymore. I lucked out, in a way. My skin got burned and it’s awful but at least I survived. There’s a lot of parts of the body that can fail, some of them more dramatically and lethally than others.

The ambulance slows down noticeably, then starts driving down an incline. The phone buzzes in my jeans pocket but before I can check it, the paramedic stands up.

“We’re here. Hyousuke-kun and I will unload Naomi first, if you want to wait there.” He opens the back doors, then turns back. “You’re welcome to keep the blanket, by the way.”

“T-thank you.”

Naomi doesn’t wake as they get her out of the ambulance. The pavement is well-salted and wet; the air chilly as it roars through the overhang we’re parked under. The young paramedic, Hirai, studiously avoids looking at me as we walk inside to the crowded hospital waiting room.

Thankfully, everyone is wrapped up in their own misery or their friends’ or families’ to spare us a second glance. Everyone except a harassed-looking woman wearing scrubs and a stethoscope around her neck who’s standing behind the admission desk, answering questions from a half a dozen people.

She gently pushes her way through the crowd and walks quickly over to the older paramedic. An younger man, also dressed in scrubs, follows. The paramedic hands her the clipboard, which she starts looking over. Scrub-lady is much more interested in it than she is in the girl lying on the stretcher and that bothers me.

“Who is this?” She asks the old paramedic, nodding at me even as she reads the notes. I want to hide from her brisk, impersonal air.

“This is Naomi’s roommate. She’s the reason Naomi didn’t get a concussion when her seizure started, Endo-san.” Scrub-lady’s eyes flick up sharply from the clipboard to rest on me, piercing and knowing, then look back down.

“How did you manage that?” Scrub-lady asks. Without waiting for an answer, she instructs the man who’d followed her to take Naomi up to neurology. She then dismisses the paramedics. “Thank you, Hyousuke, Itsuke.”

They nod to Scrub-lady and start walking away. The older paramedic waves to me as he goes and I wave back, hesitantly. I’m sad to see him go, even though I barely know him. Any familiar face in a place like this is comforting.

“Are you coming?” Scrub-lady’s voice interrupts my long-distance good-bye and I hurry over to the elevators to join her.



The next hour is a blur, my mind too far gone to remember much of it clearly. I’m ushered from waiting room to hospital room and back again, each time robotically following Naomi as Dr Endo orders her through a battery of tests. She looks dejected throughout but I’m not in the best of moods to cheer her up and the guilt eats at me.

I can’t help it though: the antiseptic, chemical smell of the hospital’s white hallways, Naomi’s cold, impersonal room; it’s too much for me, especially after this morning. I can feel my mind shutting down and my body working on autopilot.

When Natsume, still dressed in her work uniform, walks through Naomi’s door, I feel relief as strong as that of a man in the desert finding an oasis. I can go somewhere now, go and be alone, though the thought alone makes me feel guilty again.

Natsume takes one look at me, then tells me I should go get something to eat. “You look exhausted,” she says.

I put up a bit of a fight so when the anxiety comes for me, I can defend myself in the court of my mind but in the end, I let Naomi and Natsume order me away. Apparently there’s a small convenience-store downstairs with a few benches I can get food from so I set off in search of it.



The elevator doors open and I slip out and past the crowd waiting for their turn to ride. I’m near the main entrance of the hospital now; according to the nurse I’d reluctantly asked for directions, the convenience store should be nearby. “There’s a green and yellow sign on the wall to your left when you get out of the elevator. The Hospitality Store is around the corner.”

It takes me a moment but sure enough, there’s the sign, separated from me by a sea of people. There might as well be a wall between the store and I. At this point in my day, people are the last thing I want to deal with, even though not a single one seems interested in the girl huddled up against the wall.

A rumble in my stomach reminds me that I haven’t eaten in hours and for a moment, I’m tempted to ignore it and retreat to Naomi’s room. If I do that though, Natsume will go and buy me food herself, and then they’ll look at me differently. I’ll be someone to be pitied and looked after. They’ll look at me the way Hisao did.

A small voice, kind and gentle, not shrill and panicked, tells me that it’s not a bad thing to let people take care of me but I ignore it the way I do the other voices. I want to be able to get food from a crowded store without being anxious. I want to walk around public places without feeling like everyone’s staring at me.

I don’t want to worry about whether my friends will look at me differently for being weak when my anxiety affects me. I don’t want to think I’ve made some mistake every time someone frowns. I don’t want to be sad or angry when someone looks at me.

I don’t want my brain betraying me, anymore. I want to be normal.

The thoughts come faster and faster until all of a sudden, I’m crying in the crowded lobby of the hospital. If anyone’s staring, I’m beyond caring. The day’s events had taken too much out of me and I sink to the floor, unable to keep the tears in any longer.
Last edited by StilesLong on Thu Sep 21, 2017 2:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.

azumeow
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Re: Ships in the night [Hanako bad ending] (Updated 9/8)

Post by azumeow » Thu Sep 21, 2017 12:11 am

Well.

Uh, shit. At least Hisao's not dead....yet.......
"I don’t want to be here anymore, I know there’s nothing left worth staying for.
Your paradise is something I’ve endured
See I don’t think I can fight this anymore, I’m listening with one foot out the door
And something has to die to be reborn-I don’t want to be here anymore"

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Mirage_GSM
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Re: Ships in the night [Hanako bad ending] (Updated 9/8)

Post by Mirage_GSM » Thu Sep 21, 2017 8:36 am

“if I’d known I’d be listening to so much jazz, I wouldn’t have suggested the turntable as your present.”
“Good. What you said was just mean, and would have upset anyone, not j-just m-me.”
...
No, I have every right to be upset. If anything, I think I showed remarkable restraint.
Really? Given how collected Hanako was in the story so far I don't think a joke about her musical tastes would be enough to set her off like that. I had to reread the section thrice to even understand what it was she was upset about.
And the explanation below goes not even halfway to justify such a severe reaction.
I feel the same way about you and N-naomi.”
This should probably Natsume, since Naomi is the one speaking.
They seem to pick up on my hostility and do nothing to break the silence, not talking to Naomi and barely each other as they transfer her to onto the stretcher.
Then they are really bad at their job... If you have a patient who is conscious you're supposed to ask them as much as you can about their condition - how else are you supposed to know how to treat them.
“Thank you for telling me; I should have asked.”
Damn right.
"Do you remember your name/birthday/what day/time it is/what you had for lunch/where you are/..." are all standard questions you'd ask someone who's just come out of a seizure just to assess how oriented they are - and also because you need part of that information for the file.
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.

StilesLong
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Re: Ships in the night [Hanako bad ending] (Updated 9/8)

Post by StilesLong » Thu Sep 21, 2017 2:29 pm

Mirage_GSM wrote:Really? Given how collected Hanako was in the story so far I don't think a joke about her musical tastes would be enough to set her off like that. I had to reread the section thrice to even understand what it was she was upset about.
And the explanation below goes not even halfway to justify such a severe reaction.
I've been told that with anxiety, your reactions to relatively small things are often unpredictable. Things that wouldn't bother anyone else upset or anger you. In addition, anxious reactions can vary from day to day: on a good day, I can make all kinds of biting, pointed jokes with my GF. On a bad day, those same jokes would leave her in tears. Part of my project is to capture the instability and the mental life of someone with anxiety. If it doesn't make always sense, that's a good thing in a way.

As for the failures of paramedics, that one is my mistake and I can make no excuses for it.

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