Beauty -- a minific after Lilly's neutral end

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Beauty -- a minific after Lilly's neutral end

Post by Scramblers » Sun May 03, 2020 2:47 pm

Shizune inspired me to write an essay. Lilly inspired me to write a scene. That seems rather fitting.

If you prefer the AO3 version, find it here.


We move slowly up the slope, over grass and pink heather. The wind tugs playfully at us for a moment, then settles again. I'm breathing heavily. Lilly's arm in mine feels realer than real. I have not seen her for close to nine months.

I guide her past the outcrops of bare rock, and warn her when the ground because treacherously steep. I check my phone once more to make sure I have signal; if something were to happen to me here and she couldn't get help … well. But our connection to the outside world is still in place.

We crest the slope, and a few feet away from the cliff's edge we come to a halt.

The land ends suddenly, as if its has been hacked away. The ground is scarred by outcrops of old red sandstone. The sky is the colour of burnished pewter. Further out, pyramids of bare rock like shark's teeth erupt from the dark, trembling ocean. Every part of this landscape seems so sure of itself, so unwilling to compromise.

“Thank you, Hisao,” says Lilly. “I love it here, but I am so rarely able to come.”

And I can understand why. This landscape, with its sudden cliffs, would be dangerous for her to walk alone. But who would accompany her? Her parents, from what I've heard, don't care for such things. Akira is busy. If she were to meet someone who could … The thought makes something catch in my throat.

A light breeze from the sea brings the smell of salt and trails Lilly's hair out behind her. She closes her eyes and inhales. She pulls her coat tighter around, sets her bag on the ground, then sweeps up her skirt to sit down. I sit beside her. Our shoulders press together.

“Are you quite sure you wouldn't like a drink?” she offers.

“Quite sure.”

She smiles to herself and takes a bottle of whisky and a tulip-shaped glass out of her bag. “It is an acquired taste,” she admits, pouring herself some.

Lilly acquires tastes the way some people acquire action figures. She swirls the whisky and holds the glass to her nose. She drinks it with the poise of someone who has being do so for years.

Tomorrow I fly back to Japan. This week we spent together passed so quickly. I don't know when – or if – I will see her again.

I try and distract myself. “It's beautiful,” I say. There was a time when I thought saying something like that would be inconsiderate. Now I think the reverse.

“It is.”

I lean in towards her. “Show me.”

She takes my hand and lays my palm on the sandstone beside her. For a moment it's just stone; then I pay attention, to its roughness, its complex texture, its carved surface, its solidity that seems to show its connection to this giant slab of material below us.

“And the ocean,” she says. “When people describe the ocean to me, I always think the sound of it tells you everything you need to know. It surrounds you. It's so deep, and so wide, it seems to have no end. Like it could swallow everything and have room to spare.”

I sit there and listen, and feel, the land and the sea together, and try and understand the way I feel she does. There's a third element: The pressure of her breasts against my arm as I reach across her lap, rising and falling softly with her breath.

At last, I lift my hand from the sandstone and sit up. I look at her face. I can tell her smile is genuine. “Your turn,” she says.

I look out at the sea, then back the way we came, considering my options.

So I tell her the story of these rocks, this sandstone, stained by iron oxide, on its journey across three hundred million years. I recount how it's pushed up by geological processes from the sediments of an ancient lake bed, carrying its cargo of fossils from before the age of the dinosaurs. How it seems steadfast only because we are so transient. How even now in meeting the sea it is carved away.

While I speak, I watch her face. I know Lilly well enough to tell from her smile when she's interested and when she's just being polite. I manage to hold her interest – if there is one thing I have learned from Mutou, it is how not to be boring.

“Thank you,” she says.

Once, during an hour-long phone conversation, she told me a thought she'd had about beauty. The world is cloaked in such ugliness, she told me, but beneath it, beauty is always trying to get out, using every means every path, every channel it can, to make itself known. Stifled in one form, it fights to appear in another, even if only for a moment, to make existence worth enduring.

“And no one back home has found their way to your heart?” she asks.

“No.” I have told her this before.

A subtle smile crosses her face and she nods. “No one has found their way to mine either,” she says. And she has told me this before.

She packs away the whisky bottle and glass, and begins dusting herself off.

It can't be over already, can it? But I force myself to stand and help her up. “Time to go back?” I'm not sure whether I manage to keep my voice from quavering.

“Not quite yet. Let's move back a little way from the cliff face, though.”

So I guide her away from the cliff. When we are far enough away, she stops me. She slips her shoes off and treads on the bare grass. She takes a few paces, then turns towards me.

“Well?” she asks.

“Well what?”

She shrugs off her coat and lets it fall to the floor, then holds out her hands, inviting me to take them.

I don't know what will happen. Perhaps we will be alone long enough to come together again; perhaps we will never meet each other again. All I can be certain of – all I have ever been certain of since my heart attack – is that I have this moment. I take her hands.

And in that place, surrounded by beauty, where the immense and eternal land comes together with the immense and eternal sea, Lilly and I, tiny and fleeting by comparison, also come together.

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Re: Beauty -- a minific after Lilly's neutral end

Post by Feurox » Sun May 03, 2020 3:46 pm

Wow, for a first foray into the forums, wow.

Anyway, I usually preface first posts on the renai with a welcome! Welcome to this strange and peculiar little community of us, it's very good to see some new talent on the boards, and you clearly have some interesting thoughts on the game from your other post. There's an active Discord that actually discussed that post earlier today, if you fancy joining, shoot me a message and I'll get you a link :)

For the story itself, that was really beautiful. I kept waiting for some twist to come, (partly because I'm a sucker for the gut punch, but also because this whole story reeks of this infinitely beaten human spirit of diminishing. I love that!) I thought perhaps it would turn out Hisao hadn't made it to Scotland, and that this whole thing was over phone or something. In my opinion, the note you do leave us with, the one that perhaps this is the end, makes this profoundly beautiful. It has that mood of, 'tomorrow doesn't matter, It was the journey, not the end'... Wow again.

There are a few minor spelling and grammatical errors, nothing that took away from the feel which is great. For an example:
I guide her past the outcrops of bare rock, and warn her when the ground because treacherously steep
I think you mean 'becomes'. Oh, and that note is perhaps unfittingly morbid... just my personal thoughts there. All of these things would be swept up by a proofreader; if you write more, feel free to shoot me a PM and I'll see if I can go over it. There are others here too, whom I'm sure will reveal themselves, that would gladly do that as well.

Anyway, that last note really hit me. It captures that Burkean sublime experience, and if that was unintentional, bloody well done! I look forward to seeing what else you come up with, and again, welcome to the forums and community!

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Re: Beauty -- a minific after Lilly's neutral end

Post by brythain » Sun May 03, 2020 11:34 pm

That was a very pleasant read, although my synaesthesia kicked in early on and I began to smell tin, lead and iron. Which made me overlay your scene mentally with Clint Barton and Natasha Romanov on Vormir. Nevertheless, interesting first entry! Welcome to the forums.
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: Beauty -- a minific after Lilly's neutral end

Post by Akko2099 » Mon May 04, 2020 2:04 am

Very nice scene. It was all going on in my head as a read it.

I imagine only one of them getting married while the other moves on too but only dates and/or sleeps around. (who does which is anyone's guess)
You don't forget the kind of connection Hisao and Lilly had. Perhaps is because of the school? That just gave him the chance of his life.

I wonder who would move on and date first... Hisao or Lilly?
Rin > Hanako > Lilly > Emi > Misha > Saki > Miki > Yuuko > Akira > Hideaki > Kenji > Shizune

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Re: Beauty -- a minific after Lilly's neutral end

Post by Scramblers » Mon May 04, 2020 3:46 pm

Thank you, for the welcome and the praise. I'm glad you enjoyed it.
There's an active Discord that actually discussed that post earlier today, if you fancy joining, shoot me a message and I'll get you a link
That's nice to know!Glad I could produce something useful. And yeah, a Discord link would nice.

As for typos ... yeah, that's a perennial problem for me. I tend to leave a trail of wreckage when I fight. I won't make a formal request for proofing, but if anyone points out errors to me, I'll make sure to clean them up.

Burkean sublime ... *hurried googling* Yeah, I think that covers my sensibilities very well. Possibly better than beauty, heh.

Thank you all again! I can only hope my next effort is as effective.

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