To Miss the Mark - An OC Pseudo-Route (Hitomi)

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tbone
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Re: To Miss the Mark: An OC Pseudo-Route (Hitomi)

Post by tbone » Thu Aug 06, 2020 5:40 pm

Xeraeo wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 1:54 pm
And I can't wait to learn more about her either, man. She's slowly emerging as I write her, and I'm enjoying the process of getting to know her.
Biggest mood among fanfiction writers lol. "Really excited to see what happens next!"

"Me too, reader, me too."

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Xeraeo
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Spiral and Recover (2-2)

Post by Xeraeo » Thu Aug 06, 2020 10:02 pm

Thanks for all the feedback so far. I'm enjoying this story, particularly because I like discovering where it will go, but also because I get to work through some things I've had to deal with or am dealing with by projecting them into Hisao's situation, in a way. Probably not fair to him, but hey, the Master of Romance doesn't deserve all the happiness he usually gets in these fanfics anyway. A little misery never hurt anyone, right?

beep…beep…beep…

Open my eyes. Stretch. Roll out of bed. Stretch again. Take my pills. 2, 2, 1, 3, 2- wait, is that right? Yeah, 2. I think that's it. Socks, pants, shirt, tie. Shake head. Slap my hair a couple times. Feels okay. Shoes on, throw my English book in the bag, grab my toothbrush, head to the bathroom.

I shuffle through my morning routine in a half-conscious stupor. After studying English for a couple mind-deadening hours, I fell asleep far too early, managed to wake up around two or three in the morning, and could NOT GET BACK TO SLEEP.

When I saw the list of medications and side effects that last day in the hospital, the words seemed to just blur over one another in a meaningless tangle of letters and symbols. I knew they meant I was more or less screwed, even if the doctor told me that "over the years" the list might get shorter. Unable to process the info, I had basically just ignored it and hoped the side effects wouldn't be too bad.

No such luck…

Do I have to go to class today? Yeah, probably. If I don't show up, Mutou is gonna ask Nurse if he's seen me, and then someone is gonna come looking for me. With my condition, there's no way the school will tolerate me not showing up where I'm expected. Students found dead in dorm rooms wouldn't exactly be good for their PR, I imagine.

If it's anyone in this school that ends up that way, it's probably going to be you.

I finish all my tasks (I hope) and force myself to leave the dorm building, shielding my eyes from the uncomfortably bright morning sun as I exit. The bright blue sky and puffy white clouds do nothing to improve my mood. What gives the sky the right to be so goddamn cheerful, anyway? We're all suffering down here.

I barely have enough time to make it to class, so I force myself forward. Several other students are shuffling along towards the main building from the dorms, others who woke up late or are otherwise slowed by various infirmities… I'm reminded of an old zombie movie as we converge on the entranceway.

Making my way up the stairs slowly, I reach 3-3 a few minutes before the bell is supposed to ring. A thunderous noise smacks me in the face as soon as I open the door.

"Hicchan! Good morning! Sleep well?"

Misha's ear-splitting voice makes me wince as I enter the mostly-full classroom. Several heads turn to look at me as she draws their attention, and I do my best to ignore them as I move towards my desk. Miki gives me a sympathetic smile from her seat in the front as I pass her, and I roll my eyes with a grimace that I'm sure is lost on Misha if not on Shizune, who smirks as I walk by her.

"Not particularly, no. Thanks for asking…" I refrain from adding a sarcastic comment about how loudly Misha asked the question as I sit at my desk and drop my bag beside my leg, laying my head on my left arm across my desk. I notice that Suzu is laying in a similar position, and snort in amusement without smiling.

"Aww, sorry! Try to stay awake in class, okay? Okay! Otherwise, Shicchan will get mad!"

I glance past her at Shizune, who's looking at me with a stern expression. I want to tell her it's not my fault, that it's due to my medication, but the only way to do so is through Misha. Which would be like announcing my private medical info to the class through a megaphone. Screw that.

The bell rings for classes to begin, but Mutou still hasn't arrived yet. Figures.

---

I manage to make it to lunch without passing out, but despite having not eaten breakfast, I'm way too tired to be hungry. After the rest of my classmates (even Hanako) are gone, I drag myself from my desk and first make my way down the hallway to the bathrooms. I use the toilet, wash my hands, and find myself face-to-face with what appears to be a several-years-older version of myself. That makes me pause, turning my head a bit and really getting a good look at myself for the first time in a while.

In the hospital, I had noticed the few times I saw my reflection just how gaunt and unhealthy my face and body had started to look, and quickly got into the habit of avoiding mirrors. I didn't need another reminder of what was happening to me. How unfair it all was. Teenagers aren't supposed to look this haggard.

The lack of sleep lately isn't exactly improving the effect.

I need to see the nurse. Maybe he'll have something to help me sleep. Leaving the bathroom, I move to the stairwell and descend to the first floor.

As I reach the bottom of the stairs and start towards the exit, I'm surprised to find Rin standing in the lobby, looking up at the high windows with an expression that's… thoughtful? I glance around, but she appears to be alone. She doesn't seem to notice me, so I just walk by without a word. Or at least, that's the idea.

"Did your heart thing get better?"

THAT stops me in my tracks. I whirl on her, temper flaring, but she takes no notice as she continues staring out the windows at the sky. I grit my teeth, and force myself to answer in a level, if cold voice.

"No, Rin, I told you, it doesn't get better. Why are you asking me that?"

She looks at me- well not exactly at me… more like she looks past me while facing me, I guess.

"You said before the problem was with your heart, not in your pants, but it looks like that changed so I thought maybe your heart was better now."

I stare at her, unable to form a response as I chew on what she just said. She gestures vaguely with her shoulder-stump-thing, and I glance down to see that apparently I splashed myself when I was using the sink earlier. Just my luck, the water just happened to almost exclusively wet the area around my crotch, visibly darkening my pants there.

The anger goes out of me as I flush in embarrassment. "It's just water!"

She nods, her attention already diverted back to the window. "That's too bad. I was hoping to collect you."

"If my heart problem ever migrates to my pants, you'll be the first to know, Rin." I say, this time managing to sound relatively calm.

"Really?" Her blank expression shifts to one of confusion. "How will I know before you do?"

I sigh. "It's an expre- nevermind. Thanks for your concern."

She doesn't respond, so I continue on my way, glad to get out of that awkward conversation. I try to use my shirt to dab at the water on the front of my pants, but it only seems to add to the effect. Crap. There's no way the nurse isn't gonna have some smug comment about it.

---

To my utter surprise, he doesn't. We're wrapping up our conversation, and if he even noticed my pants he hasn't show any sign.

"So, basically what you're telling me is that there's nothing you can do?"

He shrugs. "Not exactly. I could try giving you a low dose of a mild sleep assistance drug, but it's still really early to start messing with your medication. You've barely been here a week, and it often takes a while for the body to adjust to the new chemical mix after getting a prescription, especially with so many serious ones as you're currently on. I'd have to get approval from your physician, but for now, it'd be best to just see if your body adjusts on its own."

That's not helpful. "And in the meantime, how am I supposed to attend classes or learn anything useful if I can't get any sleep?"

Nurse shuffles my file around on his desk for some reason. "Hisao, your medications have dozens of side effects, of which insomnia is only one, and generally a more mild one at that. While we can't know exactly how your body is going to take to your new pill regimen, I'd say that if this is the worst you're experiencing so far, you're pretty lucky. Many people on these same medications suffer far more severe effects."

I start to respond, but he holds up a hand to cut me off. "Let me finish. These medications, or similar ones, are going to be a part of your life for the foreseeable future. Very likely your entire life. The best thing for you long-term is to adjust to them without adding anything additional into the mix. Already, some of what you take is intended to counter the more severe side effects of the more important pills."

"That all being said, if after another week you are still having trouble sleeping, I will contact your doctor for his recommendation and we will figure something out. Figuring out how to manage side effects is all part of the process of adjusting."

"So there's something you can do, but nothing you're willing to do right now?" I'm not particularly satisfied with that answer.

Nurse sighs, and lowers his head for a moment. Compared to his usual casual, friendly manner, he seems much more serious and tired now. Probably a function of the seriousness of the conversation we've been having. When he looks up at me again, however, his trademark grin is back.

"Basically. Trust me, Hisao, the potential side effects of adding additional medicine right now are worse than a lack of sleep." He raises an eyebrow. "Loss of bladder control, for instance."

I glance down at my pants again and my cheeks flush in anger and embarrassment.

"It's just water!"

He laughs. "Relax, I know. You think I can't smell the difference?"

A knock on the door interrupts our conversation, which I guess is about done. We both stand up, and Nurse calls for whoever it is to come in. The door opens, revealing a rather sweaty looking Emi in her running clothes. When she sees me, her bright expression dims slightly.

"Hey, Nurse. Hisao."

"Afternoon, sunshine. Decide to take a dip in the pool today?"

"Har har" she says, glaring at him playfully as she enters the room.

"Hi, Emi." I had been intending to apologize to her for leaving without saying anything on Friday, so might as well get it over with. "Sorry for quitting on you on Friday. I just couldn't keep going, you know?"

She looks annoyed. "No, I don't know. I learned to run without legs, remember?"

I wince. "Sorry, it's just-"

"I really hate it when people say they can't do something they can do, Hisao." Emi's pretty worked up. "I get it, it's hard, but if you don't learn how to push yourself, you're not gonna get any better."

That pisses me off. What the hell does she know about me getting better? I'm not gonna get better. There's no cure for my condition. At least she can put on prosthetics and run like nothing's wrong with her!

Nurse chooses now to finally interject, likely because of the expression forming on my face. "I take it the morning jogs plan didn't work out?"

Emi looks away. "No. He gave up and left."

"And you just let him go?"

She glares at him again, this time more seriously. "He just wandered off into the woods! Was I supposed to chase him?"

I swallow my retort. I was trying to apologize. Right. "Again, I'm sorry about that Emi. I'm just gonna stick to walks from now on." I look over to the nurse. "Will that work?"

He looks a bit dejected, but nods. "As long as you're consistent with it, that should be sufficient. Let me know next week when you see me how it's been working for you."

I take that as the dismissal it's probably intended as and leave the office, shutting the door behind me. As I do, I can faintly hear Emi's voice through the glass. I can't quite make out her words, but her tone has shifted. Instead of the anger from before, she just sounds sad now.

---

The alarm on the command deck blared, red lights flashing on several consoles as the impact rocked the ship.

"Damage assessment!" a steady, booming voice rang out.

"Captain, we have a hull breach on decks 3 and 4, and we're losing oxygen fast!"

"Crew?"

"Several unaccounted for, sir. It's possible we lost some of the engineers on 4."

"Dammit, where the hell did that thing come from?"

"Our sensors didn't pick it up until the last second. It's could be that the asteroid was cloaked in some kind of stealth field."

"How is that possible? Who has that kind of technology in this system?"

The command crew all looked at each other, apparently thinking the same thing. Finally, the comms officer spoke up. "Sir, it has to be-"


Oh, shit, I forgot about Hitomi!

I snap the book closed and drop it onto my nightstand, my mind shifting from the universe of the novel to my actual surroundings in my much less interesting dorm room. I had been so out of it and focused on myself today that I had completely forgotten to try checking on her again.

Throwing on my clothes, I rush out of my room and down to the exit of the boys' dorm. It's not that late in the evening yet, so I won't have to worry about curfew if I check in on her in her dorm room. I had hesitated to before because of how it might look, but at this point I don't really care about that.

Dammit, I'm an asshole.

A little sleep loss is all it takes to stop thinking about her? What the hell is wrong with me?

I reach the girls' dorm and make my way up to her room. Wait, was it 225? No, 227. Right. I move over to the correct door, recognizing it from the other night, and knock twice.

No answer.

I knock again after waiting a few seconds. "Hitomi? It's Hisao."

Nothing. I wait several seconds, but don't hear anything beyond the door. Maybe she's not here?

I look around, but the dorm is surprisingly quiet on this floor. There were several girls in the common room downstairs when I walked in, but nobody I recognized. Who could I ask about Hitomi? Maybe her neighbor?

Moving to the previous door in the hall, I knock, hoping it's at least someone I've seen before. Several seconds of quiet go by, and I'm just about to give up when I hear movement. Moments later, the door opens, revealing Lilly, to my utter surprise. She's Hitomi's neighbor? Unlike each time I've seen her previously, she's not wearing the Yamaku uniform, but rather a set of silky blue pajamas. I catch myself looking at her long, mostly bare legs before snapping my attention back up to her face.

"May I help you?"

"Yes, hi, Lilly, it's Hisao."

She looks a little embarrassed, and moves back a step. I realize that she probably wouldn't have answered the door like this if she knew it was a boy. Hoping to avoid any awkward conversation on the topic, I press forward.

"I was just looking for Hitomi. Do you know where she is?"

She gives a gentle smile, but shakes her head. "Unfortunately, no. She left her room a bit after classes ended, and I haven't heard her return."

"Oh." That's better than staying locked in her room, I guess, but where could she have gone?

"She was in class today, however, and seemed in better spirits than yesterday, if that reassures you at all, Hisao."

I'm relieved to hear that. "Thanks, Lilly. I'll see if I can find her around campus."

She gives a polite nod. "I wish you luck then." As she turns to close the door, I see that Hanako, wearing an oversized pink nightgown, is seated at a table in Lilly's dorm room and watching me curiously. She blushes when she sees me notice her, and quickly looks away, hiding the right side of her face behind her long hair.

Lilly closes the door, and I make my way out of the building as quietly as possible, hoping not to run into anyone else I know. I pass several girls in the hallway, but other than a few glances and giggles they don't pay me any attention.

I think about where to look for Hitomi, and while she could really be anywhere, there's only one place that makes sense to look first. I set course for the clearing, passing the running track and entering the woods at a brisk pace. Gotta get my walk in for the day anyway, right?

As I approach the clearing, the only sounds that reach my ears are the gentle rustling of the wind in the leaves above me and the occasional crack of a stick under the foot of an unknown animal some distance off. I ascend the hill, and step into the clearing, immediately disappointed to find it empty.

But no, it's not entirely so. Nobody is present, but I see several arrows protruding from the fallen oak tree, and recall Hitomi retrieving them when I first saw her practicing with her bow. I continue forward, and spot the bow itself, lying unstrung beside a large rock, not far from where she had been standing. I look around, but if Hitomi is present there's no other sign of her.

Not knowing what else to do, I continue up the path to the edge of the hill. When I reach the overlook, I find what I'm looking for at last. Seated on the bench, facing out towards the town below and city beyond, is Hitomi.

Her long brown hair is held in a side-tail again, and draped over the back of the bench. She's wearing those same loose black pants, but she's got a dark green hoodie on today instead of the tank top. Considering that it's evening, and it's been rather cool today in general, that makes sense.

I hear a twig crack under my foot as I approach the bench, and Hitomi whirls sharply, a flash of sunlight reflecting off of a… knife? Yes, she's holding a small, stainless steel pocketknife out towards me, although she lowers it as our eyes meet.

"Oh. Hello."

"Hey."

We continue to stare at each other awkwardly. At least, it feels awkward to me. After a few seconds, she turns back to what she was doing; something with an arrow in her lap. She takes the knife to the bamboo shaft and makes a precise, delicate motion that seems to shave off the tiniest amount of wood before holding out the shaft and looking down its length.

"Want to sit?"

I nod, moving to the bench slowly, still a bit taken aback by the knife, or maybe the way she was handling it. I take a seat beside her, and watch with interest as she continues to do whatever it is she's doing.

Neither of us says anything for several minutes, and I alternate my gaze between watching her work and looking out at the view. For her part, Hitomi is entirely focused on what she's doing, almost as if I'm not there. Is she deliberately ignoring me? It's hard to tell with her.

Finally, I work up the courage to ask a question. "How are you feeling?"

She pauses in her work, but doesn't look up. "Better, thanks." She glances up at me, then out at the view. "You?"

"I haven't been sleeping well, but other than that I'm fine." Not exactly the truth, but I don't need to download all my issues on her right now. She nods, seeming to accept that answer, and goes back to her arrow. Another long look, followed by a delicate slice, followed by yet another long look down the shaft.

I get the feeling that Hitomi just isn't used to talking all that much. I wonder if that's just a part of who she is. It seems to be way too intrinsic to her nature to be a result of her recent accident, but what do I know? Come to think of it, what do I really know about her? Other than the story of how her disability began, she hasn't told me much, but it's not like she's seemed all that hesitant to talk about it. After everything I shared with her, maybe she'd be fine talking more about her own life?

After a few moments of contemplation, I decide on a simple question. "Where are you from? Does your family live around here?"

She shakes her head. "I grew up in the north. My parents and brother still live up there."

I find myself surprised to hear that she's not an only child like me. "You have a brother? Is he older or younger than you?"

"He's three years older than me. In university, right now." Seeming satisfied at last with whatever she was trying to accomplish, she takes a final look down the arrow shaft, and then places it beside her and folds up her knife, slipping it in her pants pocket. With nothing else occupying her attention, she turns towards me and fixes me with that piercing gaze. A few seconds is all I can stand before I have to look away.

"Lilly said you were asking about me?"

I swallow and nod, glancing up at her momentarily to gauge her reaction, hoping she's not upset. If she is, I can't tell. "Yeah, sorry about that. I just heard you weren't in class yesterday, and I got a little worried."

She looks away, and I think maybe she's… embarrassed?

"Sorry to worry you." Her tone is even flatter than usual. Maybe not embarrassed then, but disappointed? It's so hard to tell.

"Hey, I apologize for asking her. I ran into her when I was looking for you, and I thought maybe she'd seen you around."

She smirks. "I doubt she would see me, even if I was around."

I laugh, then feel bad immediately. "Sorry. Uh. Anyway, I just stopped by your room and she told me you weren't in. I didn't realize you were neighbors."

She looks right at me again. "You came to my room?"

I freeze, not sure if I've offended again. Although I'm not sure if I offended before either. "…yeah."

I stare out at the distant buildings of Sendai, unable to look at her. No doubt I'm just compounding the awkward feeling of pity from the other night with all this 'checking on her' garbage. As usual, I have to ruin things.

She's quiet for several seconds, but then I feel- her hand? Her hand in mine. It's cool, but not cold like the other night. I look up at her, and she's… smiling. Not just a smirk, but a real, genuine smile. It's not the same as that huge grin she had when I found her practicing with the bow, but it's real.

"Thank you, Hisao. I really am okay."

I smile back, still uncertain, but no longer so afraid. Whatever awkwardness that seemed to come between us since the festival seems to dissipate in this single moment, and I feel that strange closeness with her again. I squeeze her hand back, and neither of us lets go.

Not needing any more words, we both stare out at the spectacular view for a long time.

-----

Previous Chapter | Next Chapter

Wordcount: 3,982 / 21,265
Last edited by Xeraeo on Tue Nov 24, 2020 10:19 pm, edited 8 times in total.
Girls: Emi=Hanako=Lilly>Shizune=Rin
Routes: Lilly=Emi>Hanako>Rin>Shizune

(Name is pronounced "Zero". Stole it from Quake, I think)

My projects here:
To Miss the Mark - An OC Pseudo-Route (Hitomi)
Rebound - A Post Lilly NE Epilogue / Iwanako Story (On Hold)

SuzuSuzuki_bestgirl
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Location: Victoria, Australia

Re: To Miss the Mark - An OC Pseudo-Route (Hitomi)

Post by SuzuSuzuki_bestgirl » Sun Aug 09, 2020 10:54 pm

Got around to reading this on Saturday, and I have to say it's looking super promising! Excited for the next chapter

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Oddball
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Re: To Miss the Mark - An OC Pseudo-Route (Hitomi)

Post by Oddball » Wed Aug 12, 2020 12:41 pm

A student named Hitomi in Lilly's class, huh? For some reason I was kind of expecting somebody different. :wink:
"Plenty is demanded of the Student Council, and we have many responsibilities over a large portion of the student body's activities,
She says right after she tell a student that they won't help her and then goes back to playing a board game. :lol:

I can see how that attitude would turn Hisao away from Shizune.

There's an odd jump between when Hisao goes to find the library and Hisao helping Hanako look for Lilly. Having played the game, I can more or less fill in the blanks, but just reading it as a story here, it's rather jarring. At first I thought you just didn't want to write out a scene that had already been shown (which is something I usually recommend) but then you go into detail over the scene in Lilly's class. It feels a bit unfocused.

I do like how Hisao realises that he's the one who's been a jerk to everyone here but yet isn't so far gone that he's tagging along with Kenji yet.

Hitomi's condition is also a rather interesting one that I don't think I've seen before.

I look forward to seeing where you go with this.
Not Dead Yet

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Xeraeo
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Location: Chicago(ish), United States

Re: To Miss the Mark - An OC Pseudo-Route (Hitomi)

Post by Xeraeo » Wed Aug 12, 2020 1:30 pm

Oddball wrote:
Wed Aug 12, 2020 12:41 pm
A student named Hitomi in Lilly's class, huh? For some reason I was kind of expecting somebody different. :wink:
:wink:
Oddball wrote:
Wed Aug 12, 2020 12:41 pm
There's an odd jump between when Hisao goes to find the library and Hisao helping Hanako look for Lilly. Having played the game, I can more or less fill in the blanks, but just reading it as a story here, it's rather jarring. At first I thought you just didn't want to write out a scene that had already been shown (which is something I usually recommend) but then you go into detail over the scene in Lilly's class. It feels a bit unfocused.
Mm, yeah I totally see that. What I basically intended was to have Act 1 be mostly made up of scenes that are actually in the VN, but then have them shift when things go differently (due to Hitomi's presence, generally). So scenes where she isn't encountered or a factor at all, I just skipped over. That jump is from Tuesday after school to Thursday after school, but the way I wrote it I totally see how it's confusing. I may add some short intro text to the Thursday scene to smooth the transition. Thank you for pointing it out. And yeah, I had trouble with the scene in Lilly's class, which is why I skipped over portions of it so as to not just rehash the same events, but it was still pretty rough.

Mad respect for your work on here, by the way. Shower scenes had me laughing pretty good a couple times. It's shocking to see people so dedicated to this forum for so long.
Girls: Emi=Hanako=Lilly>Shizune=Rin
Routes: Lilly=Emi>Hanako>Rin>Shizune

(Name is pronounced "Zero". Stole it from Quake, I think)

My projects here:
To Miss the Mark - An OC Pseudo-Route (Hitomi)
Rebound - A Post Lilly NE Epilogue / Iwanako Story (On Hold)

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Xeraeo
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Musings, Stutters, and Uncomfortable Questions (2-3)

Post by Xeraeo » Wed Aug 12, 2020 2:08 pm

It's been a few days since Hitomi reassured me I hadn't crossed a line by asking after her, and while I can't say I've been feeling great since then, I'm doing a little better. I managed to get an acceptable amount of sleep for two out of the last three nights, and feel like I'm starting to finally get my bearings around here.

After our short conversation, the two of us had spent well over an hour sitting in comfortable silence before making our way back to the dorms. Hitomi let me know that she spends several hours most evenings practicing with her bow, and that she wouldn't mind me coming to watch sometimes (although she managed to say it in shockingly few words, of course). Considering that she's the only person at Yamaku that I've felt a real connection with since arriving here, I accepted eagerly, and have gone twice now to see her honing her skills.

I brought a book with me the first time, but I found myself so captivated by watching her practice that I forgot all about it. When Hitomi is shooting, she follows a rigorous process that looks identical each time she performs it. She sets her footing so her left side faces the target, with her feet about the length of her arrow apart. She sets an arrow to the string, grips the bow, and then faces the old tree while raising her arms above her head. To draw the bow, she lowers her arms outwards, so that she pushes the bow forward and pulls the string back at the same time, until the arrow is down by her cheek. There's a moment here, where Hitomi doesn't move at all, and it seems for a couple seconds like I'm just looking at a painting of an archer, not a living person. Then, the illusion is broken as her right hand comes back and the arrow flies to its inevitable destination. For another moment, she is motionless, then she slowly lowers the bow, and repeats the process.

What's more interesting than all of that, however, is how Hitomi looks when she's practicing. She acknowledges me when I arrive, but beyond that, it's as if I'm not there. She's in her own world, just her and her target, and it seems like nothing beyond the space between the two exists to her. Her calm, quiet demeanor is still present, but every time she releases an arrow and watches it sink into the rotten wood of the old oak, there's a look on her face that lies somewhere between serenity and glee.

After several minutes of watching her on the first day, I realized that I was holding my breath every time she drew her bow, and only exhaled when she released the string. Hitomi exudes this aura of fluid motion most of the time; it's present in every action she takes. Yet, when she's locked on target and her bow is drawn, she instead gives off a demanding stillness. I don't know how better to describe it, but in that time, I feel like any noise or movement I make would just be… wrong, somehow.

By some unspoken agreement, after she finishes practicing we walk over to the bench at the overlook and spend some time sitting together, and occasionally talking. I've told her a bit more about my life before coming here, although I've avoided the subject of my hospital stay, instead sticking to silly stories about my old friends, and growing up in the city.

I've found out a bit more about Hitomi as well. The area she was raised is apparently much more rural, just a small town far from any of the major cities in Hokkaido. She's mentioned a friend, but from the way she was talking at the time I got the impression that there was no longer a relationship between them- kinda like my own friends, I guess.

While Hitomi seems fine answering questions about herself, the answers she gives tend to be short and straightforward, with little extraneous detail. I don't mind it in normal conversation at all, but when I'm prodding her to figure out more about her, it gets a bit frustrating. I don't want our conversations to turn into some kind of interview, with me asking her several dozen questions to get an idea of her past, so after a few I tend to drop it.

If her blindness has returned since the night of the festival, I haven't been present for it. Like me, Hitomi appears normal on the outside, but unlike me her disability seems to affect her only rarely. I have to think about it all the time; even a simple walk into the woods can leave me winded and needing a rest, and I know doing anything particularly strenuous could put me back in the hospital- or worse.

Despite the minor frustrations of trying to get to know her, I find myself relaxing in Hitomi's company like nowhere else. Something about her makes me feel like I can just be myself. Saying what's on my mind without a filter; not needing to wear a mask for her like I usually do for my classmates. It's refreshing. She doesn't seem to get offended by anything; in fact, the only time I've seen her upset was that night after the fireworks.

Thinking back on that night over the last few days, I'm still a bit shocked by how much I opened up to Hitomi. Maybe it was because she had told me about her own reason for attending Yamaku, or maybe I just needed to get everything off my chest, and she happened to be around. Regardless of my reasons, that moment we shared seemed to bring the two of us much closer together than I would have expected to be with anyone this soon after transferring. Especially after seeing her… the way that she was. I think maybe our mutual vulnerability helped us skip past some of the normal process of becoming friends.

It also doesn't hurt that Hitomi is- well the best way to put it is very attractive. It wasn't the first thing I noticed when I first saw her, or the first time we met, since I had a lot going on in my head at the time and running into her the way I did was kind of a shock, but I've certainly noticed it since then. She's definitely a smaller girl, though not nearly as small as, say, Emi, but compared to me she's still quite little. Distinctly unlike Emi, however, she's very much… shaped like a woman. An adult woman. Not quite like Misha, but still. And despite our rather significant size difference, she's in so much better shape than I am that I doubt I could defeat her in any sort of physical competition. Even arm wrestling, as sad as that is.

I wouldn't say that I'm intimidated by her, necessarily, but I think I'm perhaps somewhat in awe of her. Compared to the other students here, and certainly compared to myself, Hitomi seems the least affected by any sort of disability. If it weren't for the moment of weakness I saw the other night, I would think she was the strongest person I've met. She still seems that way, most of the time, but I know that underneath it there's a real fear, and that terrifies me. If Hitomi, as strong of a person as she is, is afraid because of her disability, how should someone like me feel?

"H-Hisao?"

I'm broken from my thoughts by a timid voice, and I turn to see Hanako standing a couple meters from my desk, looking at me with apprehension. As I face her, she shies back a bit, angling her head slightly so her hair covers more of her face from my view, but she still looks at me. This is the first time Hanako has ever initiated a conversation with me, and I'm unsure how to respond.

"Hanako, what's up?"

I realize that the rest of the classroom is empty, save the two of us. The bell must have rung for lunch several minutes ago. Damn, and I didn't even hear Misha? I must have been seriously daydreaming.

"Lilly w-wanted to know if you would l-like to join us for lunch again?" Of course, the invitation is from Lilly. Hanako doesn't look all that enthusiastic about it. I'm surprised that Lilly didn't ask me herself when she came to pick up Hanako.

"Yeah, I don't have any plans for lunch."

"Okay. Um…" She looks towards the classroom door hesitantly, then back to me.

"Are you waiting for Lilly?" I guess.

"No, Lilly said she h-had something to do first. For her class."

I nod, realizing the source of her hesitation as I collect my bag and stand up. "Then we should meet her in the tea room, right?"

She just nods, looking away shyly. No wonder she was so nervous about asking me, since we have to walk together to lunch now. Trying to make things easier for her, I take the lead in exiting the classroom, holding the door for her before setting off for the tea room.

Lunch periods I've been mostly spending alone, other than the other day with Miki and Suzu. Emi's rooftop invitation seems to have expired, and Shizune and Misha haven't brought it up either. Likely because I rejected their attempts to get me on the council. I've thought about trying to share lunch with Hitomi, but I'm a bit afraid that if I ask her the rumor mill will start churning, and that's the last thing I want to deal with right now. I'm having enough trouble as it is getting settled in here.

Hanako walks beside me at a comfortable distance for most of the short trip, although I notice her drop back a bit at one point when we hear voices from somewhere else on the floor. Trying to figure Hanako out is probably more trouble than it's worth, but if I had to guess she's probably afraid to be seen walking alone with me.

We arrive to find an empty room, and Hanako hesitates. I step in, and ask her if she wants to start preparing the tea. She seems relieved to have something to do other than sit with me, and quickly busies herself with the process. I watch her in silence with occasional glances out of the corner of my eye, not wanting to make her more uncomfortable by staring at her as she works. It's already clear that she's very nervous being in a room with just me.

For my part, I'm nervous as well that anything I say or do may be enough to trigger another fleeing episode, like our first conversation did. Having to explain to Lilly that I scared Hanako off again is not something I want to deal with today. God, I have to think about everything I do around her.

Fortunately for us all, only a few minutes go by before I hear the gentle 'tap, tap' of Lilly's cane approaching in the hallway, and shortly after she makes her appearance in the doorway. She sniffs the air lightly, smiling gently before making her way to her seat across from me at the table.

"I apologize for my tardiness. The student council apparently needed some leftover paperwork from my class for the festival that just had to get done today, and I needed a few minutes to find it." She looks just a little annoyed, but the look disappears quickly as she resumes her even smile. "Hanako, thank you for preparing the tea."

For her part, Hanako looks relieved at Lilly's arrival, and seems to visibly relax the moment her friend enters the room. She finishes the process that I notice took far longer than it normally takes Lilly, and brings the kettle and several cups to the table, pouring for each of us. I still prefer coffee, but I've found that I don't mind tea when it's all that's available.

After we've all settled into our seats with our cups, Hanako brings out lunch. Apparently she prepared enough food for all of us, which I'm grateful for since I hadn't gotten anything from the cafeteria. It's… not bad. Not particularly good, either, but I'm not complaining about free food. I do notice that Lilly seems to hesitate until I've had a few seconds to taste the food before she takes a bite herself.

"So, Hisao, have you been getting adjusted to life here?"

I doubt Lilly would have reached out through Hanako if she just wanted to make small talk, but I'll play along for now.

"I think so. Everyone's been welcoming, mostly, and I'm not too far behind in classes."

"That's good to hear. Have you been able to begin making friends?" Lilly's tone is polite, but I'm sensing an ulterior motive in the question.

"Well, I had lunch with a couple of my classmates earlier in the week, but other than that, I guess mostly just Hitomi."

"Yes, it seems that the two of you have grown rather close." She gives a soft chuckle. "You're the first person I've heard her talk about in any detail since she arrived here."

That surprises me quite a bit. Hitomi talks about me? Immediately, I feel myself tensing up as I wonder what she's shared with Lilly.

"Ah… I didn't realize that you were close with her as well. What did she say?"

Lilly seems to sense my concern, and gives a gentle wave. "Oh, nothing you'd need to worry about." She hesitates. "I wouldn't say that we're close, though. It would be more accurate to say we're just hallmates."

"But she's in your class as well, right? Don't you see each other often?"

Again, a slight hesitation, and I realize what I said, wincing. Lilly doesn't seem bothered by the word, though, because she responds simply, "I perhaps 'see' her more often than most, but I wouldn't say that we speak all that frequently anymore."

I feel like we're finally getting to the point of why I'm having lunch with these two. Or really, having lunch with Lilly while Hanako reads her book. She's been occasionally glancing up from it during our conversation, but for the most part seems to be hiding behind the cover.

Lilly doesn't continue, and I realize it's probably up to me to break through the veneer of polite conversation.

"So you used to talk to her more? What happened?"

Lilly sets down her chopsticks and takes a paper napkin from the bag beside her, dabbing at her lips in a distinctively lady-like gesture.

"I'm not entirely sure how much I should say. Perhaps it would be better to leave it up to Hitomi how much to tell you." She pauses, but then continues. "Suffice it to say I had concerns for her, and she did not appreciate my expressing them."

"Oh." Well, I get how that feels. After being treated like I was barely a person by a parade of doctors, nurses, and 'friends' during my hospital stay, I can certainly sympathize with Hitomi if she was bothered by being treated as disabled in any way. The fact that that word applies to me as well is still something I can't seem to wrap my head around.

"Hisao, may I be frank with you?"

I smirk a little, doubting that somebody as well-bred as Lilly appears to be would even have the ability to be 'frank' in any real sense of the word, but I give a soft noise of assent.

"I'm still quite concerned for her. She does not seem to be willing to make… accommodations… for herself. Nor does she desire the assistance of others, even though that's likely the reason she is attending Yamaku."

"You mean she's not willing to accept that she's- er…" I stumble over my words, realizing that I almost gave away Hitomi's disability. I don't know how much Lilly knows about it.

"Going blind? Yes, or at least it appears that way to me. It seems that her parents specifically requested that she be placed near another student who is more… accustomed to their blindness, to help her to learn how to operate when her vision fails her. The administration tasked me with this, given my position as class representative, but so far I have found the task more difficult than I had anticipated."

I'm surprised that the school would place that much responsibility on a student. Wouldn't they have staff on hand for this exact purpose? Regardless, if Hitomi hasn't told me about all this herself, I'm not sure Lilly should either.

"Lilly, pardon my frankness now, but why are you telling me all this?"

Hanako looks up from her book, and this time her attention seems to be fully on our conversation, if it wasn't before. Lilly takes several seconds to respond.

"I thought that since the two of you seem to have formed a bond, perhaps she would be more willing to listen to advice if it were to come from you."

There it is. Lilly wants to use me to influence Hitomi. I understand that she's trying to be helpful, but isn't going through a friend a pretty manipulative way to do it? If this is how she was operating before, no wonder Hitomi got upset.

"I see." This time I don't apologize for my mistake, and Lilly doesn't seem put off by it. "I'm sorry, Lilly, but that seems like the wrong way to help her. Right now, I think all she needs is somebody to be there for her. That's what I've been trying to do." Even as the words leave my mouth, I realize that they're the truth. I haven't been drawn to Hitomi out of some sense of obligation or desire to help her. I did guide her back to the dorms the night of the festival, but beyond that our relationship has been based on a desire to spend time together, more than anything else.

Lilly gives a polite nod, and her demeanor seems to change right back to her usual formality. "Of course. Forgive my impertinence. I do not intend to interfere in your friendship."

The conversation seems to die after that, and we finish the rest of the meal in relative silence. When we're done, I thank the two of them and depart, not offering to walk Hanako back to class this time. They probably want a few minutes to talk alone anyway.

As I walk back, I think over Lilly's request again in my head. In a way, it feels a bit like how nurse put Emi up to 'taking care' of me last week. Does everyone here try to use each other like that? I know that the intentions are good, but I don't like feeling manipulated, and I understand why Hitomi would have been frustrated by it as well.

I'm reminded of the first time I encountered Hitomi, while playing that board game with the student council. Shizune seemed to have some sort of dislike for Hitomi, and it was evident in their interactions during the festival as well. Were the reasons for that similar to those with Lilly? Or was it the fact that Hitomi and Lilly were apparently closer at some point that caused Shizune to take issue with the new transfer?

This is too much. I don't want any part in school politics or feuds. As far as I'm concerned, I'm just happy to be Hitomi's friend. I'm not going to let Lilly, or Shizune, or anyone else ruin that.

Still, if Hitomi does need help that she's not getting, as her friend shouldn't I at least try to see what I can do?

-----

Previous Chapter | Next Chapter

Wordcount: 3,317 / 24,582
Last edited by Xeraeo on Sat Oct 03, 2020 6:38 pm, edited 5 times in total.
Girls: Emi=Hanako=Lilly>Shizune=Rin
Routes: Lilly=Emi>Hanako>Rin>Shizune

(Name is pronounced "Zero". Stole it from Quake, I think)

My projects here:
To Miss the Mark - An OC Pseudo-Route (Hitomi)
Rebound - A Post Lilly NE Epilogue / Iwanako Story (On Hold)

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BristerXD
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Re: To Miss the Mark - An OC Pseudo-Route (Hitomi)

Post by BristerXD » Sat Aug 15, 2020 10:13 am

Act 2 Scene 1: All-round completely solid. A thing I’m starting to notice in your writing style is that you really love long complex sentences. I hesitate to call them run-ons since you clearly have a stronger handle on grammatical rules than me but that’s not the issue I have. Some sentence variety might do you well in the future since, while not a complete derailment to the flow of the piece, every other sentence having three or more commas in it is a bit much. I know it’s probably a style thing so this is really subjective but I think it’s important for all writers to try and diversify their sentences. This honestly might be mute by the time of the other chapters but still, it’s something I noticed. Other than that, all the characters were on point, the dialogue seemed natural for the most part, plot progressed, all good things.

Act 2 Scene 2: Alright, small things first. Still think having the italics for the depressing thoughts Hisao has is effective but it’s lessened when you immediately follow it up with his normal sounds thoughts of wanting to kill the sun. The transition between the morning class and the bathroom didn’t really feel needed. You could have described more of Hisao’s dreariness and just gray outlook on things from his sleep deprivation and have that scene with the mirror hit a lot harder. A lot of its punch is taken away when we literally just jump into it, giving us an unwanted jarring feeling but also is quickly forgotten about moving right into comedy. You certainly need to release some tension after a scene like that but it feels like it had no time to build anyway. Even with all that, I really liked the scene with Rin, it was an excellent set up for the nurse bit. The dialogue between Hitomi and Hisao at the end was cute as shit and I’m really starting to buy into them as a couple.

Now… Emi. I… have mixed feelings. We know from her route she really does care about having a running partner and that she isn’t fond of those that she views as quitters. But we also know that she only revealed this in confidence to Hisao only after he had agreed to keep up with the schedule. The entire point of her arch was that she didn’t let people into her thoughts. A part of that charade I felt was her bleedingly positive attitude. While still a part of her natural motivational character, it also doubled a reason for people to believe nothing truly bothered her. She showed visible frustration before in the VN but it was quick and at harmless situations like being too short to reach the paint cans. Here she just felt mean and for no purpose. It’s a bold choice to say the least. Now is it inherently bad, no? Plenty of good fanfics take liberties in exaggerating certain aspects of the characters. However something this dramatic has to be the set-up for something later down the line. If you take the scene out, I see nothing in the major plot of Hisao and Hitomi changing. It just feels like this scene was there to add drama where there didn’t need to be any and that’s always bad. So, something to consider.

Act 2 Scene 3: All around, splendid chapter to read through. Most people I know fall into the trap of just exposition dumping as they did in the game with the black screen. It works there as there’s more stimulation to make that, on paper, dull section stand out in importance while in basic writing it bleeds into everything else. You actually did a smart thing and punctuated it with clear, visible action so to speak. Your prose isn’t too flowery just does lend itself to creating a nice mental image that honestly tells a lot about Hitomi’s character. It’s a good hook that makes the exposition afterward go down easier for lack of a better term. Now I could say in the future it would behoove you to try and find ways to blend exposition in visual actions or movements so that the entire thing flows nicer but again that’s more style and up to personal preference. What you have there is good enough for me

And the conversation between Lilly and Hisao was nice too. They both felt very much in character and their dialogue was pretty realistic for what both were trying to get out of the conversation. Seeing Hisao finally taking a stand in this story was a nice way to cap it off yet still leave a lot of questions for the future. So overall, you’re doing a fantastic job man. Keep up the good work, I hope to be posting my own stuff soon.

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Xeraeo
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Re: To Miss the Mark - An OC Pseudo-Route (Hitomi)

Post by Xeraeo » Sun Aug 16, 2020 12:07 pm

BristerXD wrote:
Sat Aug 15, 2020 10:13 am
A thing I’m starting to notice in your writing style is that you really love long complex sentences.
Yeah, this is actually more of a problem for me than you likely realize. I'm aware of it, and a part of my editing process is chopping up overly long sentences. So what you're seeing is AFTER I'm trying to address that issue. It is partly a style thing, but variety helps the flow much better, and I don't really like this part of my writing style. Oh, look, I'm doing it again...
BristerXD wrote:
Sat Aug 15, 2020 10:13 am
The transition between the morning class and the bathroom didn’t really feel needed. You could have described more of Hisao’s dreariness and just gray outlook on things from his sleep deprivation and have that scene with the mirror hit a lot harder. A lot of its punch is taken away when we literally just jump into it, giving us an unwanted jarring feeling but also is quickly forgotten about moving right into comedy.
This actually had a little more punch than I intended. I was just trying to justify Hisao going to the nurse, and setting up the 'comedy' scene with Rin, and I added the mirror part as an afterthought. Partly because it adds to Hisao's overall dreariness, and partly because I wanted to give a reason why he wouldn't have noticed getting his pants wet. But once I wrote it, I probably should have taken it more seriously. Good point.
BristerXD wrote:
Sat Aug 15, 2020 10:13 am
The dialogue between Hitomi and Hisao at the end was cute as shit and I’m really starting to buy into them as a couple.
Thanks! I'm still a bit skeptical, but we'll see how they progress.
BristerXD wrote:
Sat Aug 15, 2020 10:13 am
But we also know that she only revealed this in confidence to Hisao only after he had agreed to keep up with the schedule.
I had in mind the scene where Hisao says "I can't do this" on the track and she half encourages / half yells at him to keep going. This was like the more negative version of that, since he didn't give her the chance to do that.
BristerXD wrote:
Sat Aug 15, 2020 10:13 am
It just feels like this scene was there to add drama where there didn’t need to be any and that’s always bad. So, something to consider.
Mm. Maybe I could have done something differently to avoid it giving off that feeling. It's definitely part of the overall plot though, not just scene drama. We'll see plenty more of Emi in upcoming chapters.
BristerXD wrote:
Sat Aug 15, 2020 10:13 am
Act 2 Scene 3: All around, splendid chapter to read through. Most people I know fall into the trap of just exposition dumping as they did in the game with the black screen. It works there as there’s more stimulation to make that, on paper, dull section stand out in importance while in basic writing it bleeds into everything else. You actually did a smart thing and punctuated it with clear, visible action so to speak. Your prose isn’t too flowery just does lend itself to creating a nice mental image that honestly tells a lot about Hitomi’s character. It’s a good hook that makes the exposition afterward go down easier for lack of a better term. Now I could say in the future it would behoove you to try and find ways to blend exposition in visual actions or movements so that the entire thing flows nicer but again that’s more style and up to personal preference. What you have there is good enough for me
Glad you liked it. I was worried about exposition dumping too hard, but similar to the VN, I didn't want to continue the day-by-day scenes after Act 2 starts. That, and actually writing out multiple scenes of Hisao watching Hitomi practice would have gotten monotonous, especially since there will almost certainly be more scenes in that setting later on.
BristerXD wrote:
Sat Aug 15, 2020 10:13 am
So overall, you’re doing a fantastic job man. Keep up the good work, I hope to be posting my own stuff soon.
Thank you again! And I'm looking forward to reading anything you put out! If you need a proofreader, hit me up. I'll try not to recommend you make all your sentences super long and complex, lol.
Girls: Emi=Hanako=Lilly>Shizune=Rin
Routes: Lilly=Emi>Hanako>Rin>Shizune

(Name is pronounced "Zero". Stole it from Quake, I think)

My projects here:
To Miss the Mark - An OC Pseudo-Route (Hitomi)
Rebound - A Post Lilly NE Epilogue / Iwanako Story (On Hold)

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Re: To Miss the Mark - An OC Pseudo-Route (Hitomi)

Post by Silentcook » Mon Aug 17, 2020 11:55 am

Xeraeo wrote:
Sun Aug 16, 2020 12:07 pm
BristerXD wrote:
Sat Aug 15, 2020 10:13 am
A thing I’m starting to notice in your writing style is that you really love long complex sentences.
Yeah, this is actually more of a problem for me than you likely realize. I'm aware of it, and a part of my editing process is chopping up overly long sentences. So what you're seeing is AFTER I'm trying to address that issue. It is partly a style thing, but variety helps the flow much better, and I don't really like this part of my writing style. Oh, look, I'm doing it again...
As the Lesser Master of Long, Complex Sentences and Chamberlain of the Oxford Comma (or something), I feel compelled to butt in.

Two commas in a sentence are nothing. You don't REALLY enter the country of Runonistania until you hit either zero or three. That said, having struggled with the same question myself, I suggest some alternatives; semicolons, em and en dashes or - as long as they're appropriate - ellipses...

Wait. Crap. :mrgreen:

But seriously, I hope I got my point across.
Shattering your dreams since '94. I also fought COVID in '20 and all I got was this lousy forum sig.

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Xeraeo
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Re: To Miss the Mark - An OC Pseudo-Route (Hitomi)

Post by Xeraeo » Mon Aug 17, 2020 1:18 pm

Oh, wow... Um- hello there. Yeah, I manage to work all of those into my sentences one way or another; I do it correctly, I hope. Or close enough (I also use parentheses, which are unusual in prose, but I find them an effective way to express thoughts underlying other thoughts, etc...) and yeah.

Thanks for all your work on the original project, and apparently on this forum since then, sir. I'm quite late to the party here, but I've found myself a bit obsessed thanks largely to you and your... co-workers? (friends? comrades?) work. So seriously. Thank you.
Last edited by Xeraeo on Sun Sep 06, 2020 4:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
Girls: Emi=Hanako=Lilly>Shizune=Rin
Routes: Lilly=Emi>Hanako>Rin>Shizune

(Name is pronounced "Zero". Stole it from Quake, I think)

My projects here:
To Miss the Mark - An OC Pseudo-Route (Hitomi)
Rebound - A Post Lilly NE Epilogue / Iwanako Story (On Hold)

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Chatty Wheeler
Posts: 43
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Re: To Miss the Mark - An OC Pseudo-Route (Hitomi)

Post by Chatty Wheeler » Fri Aug 28, 2020 5:49 pm

Hello again, Xeraeo! I have caught myself up all the way on To Miss The Mark, and getting straight to the point, I'm really liking what I'm reading. There's a lot about this story that has me excited, and there's a lot about this story that I want to discuss. Here goes!

I recall from your introductory post that you considered skipping Act 1 and starting off with Act 2. As you have acknowledged, this approach has been used successfully in other pseudo-routes, but I am very thankful that you chose to write Act 1, and that you handled it the way you did. This story gives us a remarkably distinct portrayal of Hisao, and I feel that having a dedicated Act 1 to properly establish this version of Hisao was the right call.

——————————

Since we're on the subject of Hisao, I'd like to cover my thoughts on him first, because your portrayal of Hisao might just be the most interesting part of this story for me. The simplest way that I can think of to describe Hisao in this story is that he hasn't left the hospital yet. Sure, he's physically left the hospital, but has his mind hasn't. In the visual novel, once Hisao leaves the hospital, he becomes a lot more optimistic—willing to give his new life a chance. In this story, Hisao's depressed and defeated mindset from the hospital carries over to Yamaku, and it was engrossing to see how much differently scenes from the visual novel play out with Hisao's pessimism at the wheel rather than his optimism. Most obviously, Hisao was kind of a quitter in those first few days—avoiding or straight-up blowing off Shizune, Emi, Hanako, and yes, Kenji. What's remarkable to me is that despite Hisao's pessimistic attitude at the beginning of the story, he never once came across as unlikeable or annoying. His pessimism is the result of low self-esteem and the perfectly-believable stress of his disability, which I believe makes Hisao sympathetic rather than annoying. I want to root for this Hisao. I want him to get better, even if he believes that he's never "'gonna get better.'" We'll see about that, Hisao.

I want to come back to the hospital analogy that I made earlier, because I think Hisao carries over a lot more than just his depressed mindset from the hospital, he also brings a number of behaviors and tendencies into his life at Yamaku. Hisao reads books at Yamaku as a method of escapism, just like he did in the hospital. Hisao exhibits discomfort with physical therapy and other services, just like he did in the hospital. Hisao even finds himself describing Yamaku as a "slightly more expensive [hospital]." And on that note, Hisao frequently thinks back to—and compares his given surroundings with—his stay at the hospital. It's as if Hisao's mind—both his conscious and subconscious mind—is truly unable to leave the hospital. I don’t know if you are intentionally dropping all of these callbacks to the hospital in Hisao’s inner-monologues... but I think that you are, given how relevant the hospital seems to be to this story.

——————————

I'd like to make a special mention to the way you use and write dialogue, since I think that you are particularly strong on this front. Even though you mentioned that you are a new writer, you are already exhibiting some advanced dialogue tricks. I have specifically written down a few examples where I noticed that you used dialogue to dispense information in a creative, natural way. Below is one example where you use misunderstandings and an interruption to reveal exposition in a believable way.
Xeraeo wrote:
Thu Jul 30, 2020 5:52 pm
"So what was her problem? I don't think I've seen that girl before."

"Hitomi? Oh, she's just new, Hicchan! I mean, not as new as you, but she also transferred in this year, and-" Misha stops as Shizune snaps her fingers with a harsh glare directed her way. Having been reigned in, Misha resumes her translation duties while Shizune repeats whatever she had been signing in response to my question.

"Nomura isn't one to think about anyone but herself. It's why she doesn't have any friends here yet- Aww, Shicchan… and probably won't until she learns how to talk to people properly. Some transfer students take longer than others to get used to attending here."

That doesn’t really answer my question, but I guess it would be rude to ask what her disability is.
I adore the subtitles on display in the above exchange. All three characters—Misha, Shizune, and Hisao—are on different pages, mentally. Hisao poses the question, intending it to be a query on what her disability is. Misha chimes in, misinterpreting that Hisao was asking about her about her status as a student, and begins to answer that question. She is then interrupted by Shizune, who also misinterprets the question as a query on Hitomi's personality, and answers that question. Meanwhile, Hisao can only sit there, his original question not even being answered. But the fact that his question isn't answered isn't important. What's important is that the reader just got three times the exposition in the time it normally takes to normally get just one piece of exposition. All the while, you used misinterpretations and interruptions to keep the conversation feeling natural, and more importantly, concise.

Here's another winner that I wrote down. This time, you use a callback to keep the reader's mind active.
Xeraeo wrote:
Thu Jul 30, 2020 6:08 pm
I blink; going from occasional glances to a full stare is unnerving. "Um, you said before that you liked the quiet. You know, being away from people." She just nods, so I continue. "Why is it that you don't mind being here, in the crowd?"

"Being in a crowd is like being alone." she answers immediately, turning to face forward again. "When people are everywhere, they don't see each other. They just see a crowd."

[...]

...I have to think about what she means before I can answer her. "Well, I've been around crowds my whole life, but there's been plenty of times I felt like I was totally alone. Like nobody around me really was seeing me. I just didn't really put it together like that."

She nods, glancing at me, then back out again. Her expression is still calm, but maybe she is nervous after all?

"I see you, though."

[...]

Hitomi glances at me again, but this time she holds my gaze for a second or two before looking away, as if she was evaluating my statement. "I know. I don't mind."

I take a moment to process that.
This one's more subtle, and it might be harder for me to explain. When Hitomi says, "I don't mind," it's not immediately clear why she's saying this. What is she referring to? What does she mean when she says that she "doesn't mind?" She's actually referring to Hisao's question at the beginning of the conversation, when he asks why she's comfortable with crowds despite her dislike of being around—or being "seen"—by other people. She "doesn't mind" that Hisao is an exception in that he "sees" her, and that he's hanging around with her. The text doesn't make this connection for us; it puts the reader on the treadmill a little bit, it makes us figure things out for ourselves, and it keeps the reader active rather than passive.

Hehe. Woah... I think I analyzed those two conversations a little more heavily than I was expecting. Oh, well! What can I say? I'm a total sucker for well made dialogue, and this is well made dialogue. Good on you, Xeraeo!

——————————

By the way... That quote from earlier...
Xeraeo wrote:
Thu Jul 30, 2020 6:08 pm
"I see you, though."
Oh, boy. Hisao is such an alpha male in this story and he's not even trying. Maybe I should take notes.

And also...
Xeraeo wrote:
Thu Jul 30, 2020 5:57 pm
"Hisao." I blurt out before I can stop myself.
Okay... That was cute.

——————————

Alright. I'd like to mention a few specific events, scenes, and lines that caught my attention or made me think. Starting out with...
Xeraeo wrote:
Thu Jul 30, 2020 5:57 pm
Except just now, when we were walking back together, she matched my pace.
This line got my mind churning. This one line, I think, hints that this pseudo-route has the potential to be an unusual twist on your everyday visual novel route. There have been a number of instances in Act 1 and Act 2 where Hitomi has been subtly going out of her way to make Hisao feel comfortable: she walks slower when Hisao is around, she usually lets him control the flow of their conversations, and she invites him to come watch her archery practice whenever he wants (now Hisao doesn't need to feel nervous about whether or not Hitomi wants him there). These are all small details, but I would wager that they are indicative of what's to come: Hitomi is the one who will be taking the lead. This is my prediction, at least.

Think of it this way: instead of the typical visual novel protagonist embarking on a quest to solve the issues of whatever love interest they come into contact with, this time, our protagonist is the one with serious issues. Hisao is lonely, depressed, and pretty unhealthy. He's in no condition to be "saving" anybody—not that he should be in the first place, as Hanako's route has taught us. It makes me wonder if Hitomi is going to have to be the one to step up and support him as he tries to leave his inner-hospital, if you will. I definitely don't think Hitomi would be "saving" Hisao—I'd be disappointed if it was that basic—but I wonder if she's going to have to take the lead to be his pillar of support. I wonder if Hitomi doing so will finally encourage Hisao to leave behind his defeated mindset and become a pillar of support to Hitomi in return. I think that having the heroine take the lead over the protagonist would be a neat breath of fresh air if that's where you end up taking this story, especially considering how much of a strong-willed and honest heroine Hitomi is. I think she has what it takes. She's strong.

And with that said, now seems like a good a time as any to talk a bit about Hitomi... I really like her. I could mention her honest personality, her relaxed demeanor, or the hilarious manner in which she "fends off" Shizune, but I think the chief reason that she's an interesting character is that she's a mystery. I'm really glad that you've chosen to keep a lid on Hitomi so far, because I think her enigmatic presence is what makes her fun. She and Hisao are definitely kindred spirits, but we don't exactly know why these two are drawn to each other, not even Hisao knows why he finds himself interested in her. On a surface level, both are still grappling with their new disabilities, but I'm eager to see their relationship grow on a deeper level as more scenes are posted.

Not to mention. Hitomi is a good shot...
Xeraeo wrote:
Thu Jul 30, 2020 6:04 pm
I clear my throat and then, in a voice I intend to sound manly but instead comes out kinda squeaky, say "I'm surprised, Shizune. I assumed you'd at least score more than half of what Hitomi did."
First and foremost.... Daaaaaayyyuuuum. Alpha male move right there. In all seriousness, this scene made me laugh. :lol:

On the subject of the festival scene, I think that this has been the highlight of the entire story for me. Shizune and Hitomi's face off was really fun, and seeing Shizune "lose" is something I never thought I'd read with my own eyes. Of course, this wasn't what made the festival scene special. To start, I thought the way Hitomi revealed her disability was effective. Once again, your use of dialogue heightened the importance of the scene—in this case, you knew when to use dialogue and when not to use dialogue. When Hitomi and Hisao are alone, they seldom engage in conversation. Usually, Hitomi speaks in one sentence—or one word—phrases, so hearing her speak at length about her disability gives the matter some weight, considering how different it is from her normal manner of speaking. The mystery of Hitomi's disability is finally revealed in a satisfying way... However, if you would forgive me for doing so, I would like to offer some constructive criticism.

In your introductory post, you openly inform the reader that Hitomi has intermittent blindness. This may just be personal preference, but I believe that telling the reader that Hitomi has intermittent blindness from the beginning robbed Act 1 of a possible source of tension. You have done a good job at making Hitomi's disability—in addition to Hitomi herself—into a mystery for Hisao. However, it wasn't a mystery for me because I already knew what her disability was. It creates a disconnect from the reader and Hisao—all the moments and hints that you dropped which clued Hisao into what Hitomi's disability could be don't work for the reader because they already know the answer. Perhaps you disagree with my standpoint on this issue, and that would be totally fine! This "issue" is not really a big deal in the long run, but I felt like bringing it up because I like to offer constructive criticism to writers of on-going stories, and I hope that you find it helpful rather than malicious. For what it's worth, I think this "issue" could be remedied somewhat by placing a spoiler tag over the words, "intermittent blindness," in the introductory post. Again, these are just my thoughts. Feel free to disagree!

Next up, we get the scene of Hisao and Hitomi laying in the clearing. This is a great scene. You mentioned in your introductory post that you noticed an abundance of stories where Hisao, Emi, Hanako, Lilly, and others struggled with opening up, and that you wanted to avoid retreading this for your story. I can definitely say you succeeded! It was refreshing to see Hisao opening up so extensively—after bottling himself up for so long, I found it totally believable that he would want to bare his story to someone. Then the fireworks happened, and Hitomi couldn't see them. Absolutely heartbreaking. I'm glad that Hitomi isn't a retread of Lilly. If anything, Lilly and Hitomi are as different as you can get, both in their personalities and in the way their blindness impacts them. In fact, Hitomi doesn't feel like any of the heroines from the visual novel, and I really like that.

Miki! Oh, my! I hope that we see more of her in this story, since she's very similar to Hisao and Hitomi in that she hasn't fully come to terms with her disability, yet. Maybe Miki could be an ally to the both of them? Miki and Suzu were a neat pair, and their lunch banter was fun!

——————————
Xeraeo wrote:
Wed Aug 05, 2020 1:05 am
As much as I hate to admit it, I had been pitying her, and I know she knew it too.
It's interesting that Hisao is aware that he's pitying Hitomi. I'd wager that this is going to come up more on Hisao's side of things, but I'm much more curious about how Hitomi sees Hisao. Does Hitomi pity Hisao back? I mean, she's pretty observant, so I'm sure she's figured out that Hisao is depressed and lonely, but does that mean she pities him? I don't have much else to say on this subject, but I look forward to seeing where you take this plot thread.

——————————
Xeraeo wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 10:02 pm
Probably not fair to him, but hey, the Master of Romance doesn't deserve all the happiness he usually gets in these fanfics anyway. A little misery never hurt anyone, right?
Uh oh... Should I be afraid to read on? :lol:

——————————
Xeraeo wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 10:02 pm
In the hospital, I had noticed the few times I saw my reflection just how gaunt and unhealthy my face and body had started to look, and quickly got into the habit of avoiding mirrors. I didn't need another reminder of what was happening to me. How unfair it all was. Teenagers aren't supposed to look this haggard.
Oh, yeah. This is portrayal of Hisao is definitely more broken than in any of the visual novel routes. I love the imagery of Hisao and the mirror, by the way. Hisao is so broken that he can’t even look at himself. Tragic. Also, here he is once again thinking back to the hospital. By now, I'm certain that these hospital callbacks are intentional.

——————————
Xeraeo wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 10:02 pm
She looks at me- well not exactly at me… more like she looks past me while facing me, I guess.

"You said before the problem was with your heart, not in your pants, but it looks like that changed so I thought maybe your heart was better now."
This conversation—and the following scene with the Nurse—is humorous, but it's also really freaking sad. Why? Because Rin's absolutely right, even if neither of them realize it. Hisao's problem isn't in his chest, it isn't in his pants, it's in his mind—it is his mind. Hisao is a wreck right now, mentally. You get extra credit for this million-dollar line, Xeraeo.

——————————

Here's something interesting that I noticed. When Emi confronts Hisao in the Nurse's office, the following exchange occurs...
Xeraeo wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 10:02 pm
"I get it, it's hard, but if you don't learn how to push yourself, you're not gonna get any better."

That pisses me off. What the hell does she know about me getting better? I'm not gonna get better. There's no cure for my condition.
Hisao is still quite pessimistic, and doesn't see the point in doing something that he thinks he can't. On the other side of the coin, Hitomi's hobby is archery, something that she knows she won't be able to do in the future. Hitomi is like Emi and Rin: all of them fighting back against what should be "impossible" for them, given their disabilities. Meanwhile, Hisao can't even do that. For how similar Hisao and Hitomi are, this is one of their biggest differences.

——————————

I enjoyed the lunch scene with Lilly and Hanako. The behavior on display from all three characters felt believable, and I understand both of the points from Lilly and Hisao. On the one hand, Hisao makes the valid argument that trying to force Hitomi to change may come across as disingenuous and manipulative—jeopardizing their new friendship. Hitomi would probably see through any attempts made by Hisao to get her to change her ways. On the other hand, I can easily see Hitomi putting herself in real danger by not taking her condition seriously. When Hitomi lost her eyesight in the clearing during the festival, Hisao was there to guide her back to her dorm, but what if she's out at the clearing, loses her eyesight, and Hisao isn't there. She'd be totally lost. What if she was stuck there all day? What if she was stuck there all night? Would she just try to wait it out? Would she try and feel her way back to the dorms? Could she even find her way back the dorms? How would Hisao react if something like this happened? This is all hypothetical, of course, but I think it shows how much potential there is for powerful storytelling with the way you've set up Hitomi's conflict. I'm really anxious to see where you go with this.

——————————

Okay! We've reached the end of my thoughts on the story, but before I submit this post, I noticed a few typos that I thought that I'd point out to you!

On Thursday of Act 1, Lilly says the following to Hisao:
Xeraeo wrote:
Thu Jul 30, 2020 5:53 pm
She giggles a little. "Regardless, thank you for your help today, Hisao. Really, I and my class appreciate it."
Unless you intentionally wrote in this bit of improper English (which seems unlikely, given that this is Lilly we're talking about), “I and my class…” should be “My class and I…”

On Saturday of Act 1, Hisao thinks to himself:
Xeraeo wrote:
Thu Jul 30, 2020 6:00 pm
It did seem interesting; I was just to tired to get into it.
“I was just to tired to get into it…” should be “I was just too tired to get into it…”

In Act 2, Scene 3, the following conversation occurs between Hisao and Lilly:
Xeraeo wrote:
Wed Aug 12, 2020 2:08 pm
"So, Hisao, how have you been getting adjusted to life here?"

I doubt Lilly would have reached out through Hanako if she just wanted to make small talk, but I'll play along for now.

"I think so. Everyone's been welcoming, mostly, and I'm not too far behind in classes."
Hisao's response seems strange, here. I think that Hisao is answering the wrong question. I think it could be fixed by removing the word, "how," from Lilly's original question.

——————————

Whew! Thanks for reading all of my thoughts and ramblings. Again, I had a great time reading your story. I don't have an exact idea of where it's all going, but if it's heading anywhere near the direction I think it's going, then I think we're in for a real treat.

Keep up the great work. Take care!
Last edited by Chatty Wheeler on Sat Aug 29, 2020 1:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: To Miss the Mark - An OC Pseudo-Route (Hitomi)

Post by Xeraeo » Sat Aug 29, 2020 1:51 am

Oh, wow, okay. When I suggested you write long-form commentary on other works, I legitimately wasn't thinking about my own, I swear.

That being said, I can't tell you how much I appreciate it. The amount of time you must have put into this, even if you were just writing straight from your brain at high speed, is still significant, and your analysis is insanely well thought-out.

I'll try to address everything significant.
Chatty Wheeler wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 5:49 pm
I recall from your introductory post that you considered skipping Act 1 and starting off with Act 2. As you have acknowledged, this approach has been used successfully in other pseudo-routes, but I am very thankful that you chose to write Act 1, and that you handled it the way you did. This story gives us a remarkably distinct portrayal of Hisao, and I feel that having a dedicated Act 1 to properly establish this version of Hisao was the right call.
In hindsight, I'm very glad I made this choice for many reasons, but thank you for affirming it as well. I'm mostly happy with how Act 1 turned out, and much was developed in its writing that shaped the path of Act 2 far differently than I had originally intended, hopefully for the better.
Chatty Wheeler wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 5:49 pm
What's remarkable to me is that despite Hisao's pessimistic attitude at the beginning of the story, he never once came across as unlikeable or annoying. His pessimism is the result of low self-esteem and the perfectly-believable stress of his disability, which I believe makes Hisao sympathetic rather than annoying. I want to root for this Hisao. I want him to get better, even if he believes that he's never "'gonna get better.'" We'll see about that, Hisao.
I'm glad that he's coming across that way. A story with an unsympathetic, unlikable protagonist is hard to stick with. Although I wouldn't mind the reader getting a touch annoyed with him at times, as that would be consistent with the VN Hisao, whom I wanted to slap upside the head a couple times.
Chatty Wheeler wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 5:49 pm
I don’t know if you are intentionally dropping all of these callbacks to the hospital in Hisao’s inner-monologues... but I think that you are, given how relevant the hospital seems to be to this story.
Yes, but perhaps not to the degree of intention you're giving me credit for here. Hisao's hospital stay was, as far as I can tell, a mind-numbingly depressing experience, and the idea that he'd just snap right out of that in the matter of a week or so always seemed a bit silly to me. Don't get me wrong, I think KS did take some time to address the process of recovery here and there, but it always seemed a bit too easy for Hisao. One moment, he's in the hospital, and the next he has a "fresh start", and the last four months of near total isolation and the loss of his entire former life is something he seems to get over all too easily.

The intro scene to KS still gives me chills, and brings me to tears when I revisit it. The thought of going through something that shocking, and then losing everyone close to you as a result, is utterly terrifying to me, and I feel the sheer weight of it each time I read it. You would have to be a ridiculously resilient person to come out of that unscathed.

So in short, the hospital callbacks are one way I try to convey the mindset I think Hisao would be in at that stage, just a week or two out of that nightmare. It's going to take more than a few cute girls to fix his broken mind. That being said, I'm not planning this out to the degree you seem to see. I reference the hospital when I reach a point in the writing that I feel Hisao would be thinking back to it, that's all. I'm trying to get in and stay in his head, even though this version of him primarily exists in my own.
Chatty Wheeler wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 5:49 pm
I'd like to make a special mention to the way you use and write dialogue, since I think that you are particularly strong on this front. Even though you mentioned that you are a new writer, you are already exhibiting some advanced dialogue tricks.

[...]

What's important is that the reader just got three times the exposition in the time it normally takes to normally get just one piece of exposition. All the while, you used misinterpretations and interruptions to keep the conversation feeling natural, and more importantly, concise.

[...]

Hehe. Woah... I think I analyzed those two conversations a little more heavily than I was expecting. Oh, well! What can I say? I'm a total sucker for well made dialogue, and this is well made dialogue. Good on you, Xeraeo!
This is actually quite surprising to hear. Or read. I've felt that my dialogue was always a bit awkward and unnatural, and often struggle when editing it to make each character sound like a unique voice. I certainly wasn't aware I was using anything advanced, but now that you're pointing some of it out, I guess I see it.

Something to note though; the techniques you're ascribing to me are more the result of me attempting to write the dialogue based on the way these characters talk and interact, while trying to get my exposition worked in somehow, rather than actually attempting anything advanced. Glad it worked though! It seems my haphazard methods aren't totally worthless after all.

Alright, this whole theory here:
Chatty Wheeler wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 5:49 pm
These are all small details, but I would wager that they are indicative of what's to come: Hitomi is the one who will be taking the lead. This is my prediction, at least.

[...]

It makes me wonder if Hitomi is going to have to be the one to step up and support him as he tries to leave his inner-hospital, if you will. I definitely don't think Hitomi would be "saving" Hisao—I'd be disappointed if it was that basic—but I wonder if she's going to have to take the lead to be his pillar of support. I wonder if Hitomi doing so will finally encourage Hisao to leave behind his defeated mindset and become a pillar of support to Hitomi in return.
I won't say you're entirely right or wrong, and I won't spoil anything either (not that I really could, since so much of the story will change from what I intend in the process of writing it that it's not even spoiled for me, really), but you've got a good grasp of some aspects of my intention here. Kinda. We'll see. More importantly, you're giving me ideas for how to get where I want to go, and that's what I need most right now. So thanks.
Chatty Wheeler wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 5:49 pm
And with that said, now seems like a good a time as any to talk a bit about Hitomi... I really like her. I could mention her honest personality, her relaxed demeanor, or the hilarious manner in which she "fends off" Shizune, but I think the chief reason that she's an interesting character is that she's a mystery. I'm really glad that you've chosen to keep a lid on Hitomi so far, because I think her enigmatic presence is what makes her fun. She and Hisao are definitely kindred spirits, but we don't exactly know why these two are drawn to each other, not even Hisao knows why he finds himself interested in her. On a surface level, both are still grappling with their new disabilities, but I'm eager to see their relationship grow on a deeper level as more scenes are posted.
That's awesome, and I'm glad to hear you like her! I'm liking her more and more as I get to know her, too. The thing is, though, that we're mostly seeing the likable, or "good" aspects of her up-front. Kinda the opposite of Shizune, who wears her more unlikable character traits on the outside, and her more likable ones take getting to know her to really see. Hitomi is far from perfect or idealized, and we will learn about her flaws as we get to know more about her alongside Hisao. Hopefully once a more complete picture of the girl is formed, we can still appreciate her for who she is, and maybe even the better for it. Hopefully Hisao can too.

Now this rather critical analysis...
Chatty Wheeler wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 5:49 pm
In your introductory post, you openly inform the reader that Hitomi has intermittent blindness. This may just be personal preference, but I believe that telling the reader that Hitomi has intermittent blindness from the beginning robbed Act 1 of a possible source of tension. You have done a good job at making Hitomi's disability—in addition to Hitomi herself—into a mystery for Hisao. However, it wasn't a mystery for me because I already knew what her disability was. It creates a disconnect from the reader and Hisao—all the moments and hints that you dropped which clued Hisao into what Hitomi's disability could be don't work for the reader because they already know the answer. Perhaps you disagree with my standpoint on this issue, and that would be totally fine! This "issue" is not really a big deal in the long run, but I felt like bringing it up because I like to offer constructive criticism to writers of on-going stories, and I hope that you find it helpful rather than malicious. For what it's worth, I think this "issue" could be remedied somewhat by placing a spoiler tag over the words, "intermittent blindness," in the introductory post. Again, these are just my thoughts. Feel free to disagree!
Holy shit. No. I don't remotely disagree. This may come as a shock (probably not) but I have an awful memory. Part of the way I try to avoid contradictions within the story is by repeatedly going back and re-reading previous chapters, and referencing them as I write new ones. However, I have not once gone back and re-read my little intro. I'm not sure what was going through my head, but I definitely wrote the reveal scene with the intention of the reader learning the info alongside Hisao, not going in knowing it! Something I recently recommended to someone else on here was to avoid separating the reader from the mind of the protag as much as possible, as it breaks immersion. This means making sure the reader, for the most part, knows everything the protag knows that's relevant, and little else.

I just went back and edited the intro to remove that spoiler entirely, replacing it with a much less spoilery (?) description of Hitomi. Seriously, big thanks for catching that stupidity. I'm a dumbass.
Chatty Wheeler wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 5:49 pm
Next up, we get the scene of Hisao and Hitomi laying in the clearing. This is a great scene. You mentioned in your introductory post that you noticed an abundance of stories where Hisao, Emi, Hanako, Lilly, and others struggled with opening up, and that you wanted to avoid retreading this for your story. I can definitely say you succeeded! It was refreshing to see Hisao opening up so extensively—after bottling himself up for so long, I found it totally believable that he would want to bare his story to someone. Then the fireworks happened, and Hitomi couldn't see them. Absolutely heartbreaking. I'm glad that Hitomi isn't a retread of Lilly. If anything, Lilly and Hitomi are as different as you can get, both in their personalities and in the way their blindness impacts them. In fact, Hitomi doesn't feel like any of the heroines from the visual novel, and I really like that.
I'm glad you found this effective. I was quite pleased with how this scene turned out. And yeah, given the similarity in disability, I want to make sure that the contrast between Lilly and Hitomi is distinct. Fortunately, this isn't that hard, as their personalities are significantly different, and even when it comes to their disabilities, Lilly is accustomed to hers while Hitomi is new to it. Beyond that, Lilly will continue to play a fairly significant role in this route, as will many others of the main cast, and it would feel like a waste to cover old ground again. I love each of the original KS girls for different parts of who they are, but I want to love Hitomi for the same reason; the things that make her unique and lovable.
Chatty Wheeler wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 5:49 pm
Miki! Oh, my! I hope that we see more of her in this story, since she's very similar to Hisao and Hitomi in that she hasn't fully come to terms with her disability, yet. Maybe Miki could be an ally to the both of them? Miki and Suzu were a neat pair, and their lunch banter was fun!
Two things; first of all, your wish is granted, and spoiler, Miki (and Suzu) play a critical role in the next scene, which I'm about 80% through the first draft of at the moment. Second, I'm not sure which interpretation of Miki you're referring to, as the Miki in KS (she's only really in Hanako's route, I think) doesn't give us much info on how she's dealing with her disability. I'm guessing you may be pulling that from some head canon? Either way, I'm unsure exactly how my Miki is doing in that regard, but we'll see. Interesting idea, either way, and I may have to steal it!
Chatty Wheeler wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 5:49 pm
Xeraeo wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 10:02 pm
Probably not fair to him, but hey, the Master of Romance doesn't deserve all the happiness he usually gets in these fanfics anyway. A little misery never hurt anyone, right?
Uh oh... Should I be afraid to read on? :lol:
In this particular case, I was just referring to his present state, not any particular future he may or may not have in later chapters, or his overall happiness by the end of the story.

That being said... no promises...
Chatty Wheeler wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 5:49 pm
Xeraeo wrote:
Thu Aug 06, 2020 10:02 pm
She looks at me- well not exactly at me… more like she looks past me while facing me, I guess.

"You said before the problem was with your heart, not in your pants, but it looks like that changed so I thought maybe your heart was better now."
This conversation—and the following scene with the Nurse—is humorous, but it's also really freaking sad. Why? Because Rin's absolutely right, even if neither of them realize it. Hisao's problem isn't in his chest, it isn't in his pants, it's in his mind—it is his mind. Hisao is a wreck right now, mentally. You get extra credit for this million-dollar line, Xeraeo.
Again, more credit than I deserve here. I'm pretty sure I was aiming more for the humor than anything else in this scene, although your diagnosis of Hisao isn't wrong; merely your attributing it to my conscious intention. That being said, glad my unconscious mind is doing a decent job at getting my underlying points across. So extra credit not exactly deserved, but thanks, I guess! :lol:
Chatty Wheeler wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 5:49 pm
Hisao is still quite pessimistic, and doesn't see the point in doing something that he thinks he can't. On the other side of the coin, Hitomi's hobby is archery, something that she knows she won't be able to do in the future. Hitomi is like Emi and Rin: all of them fighting back against what should be "impossible" for them, given their disabilities. Meanwhile, Hisao can't even do that. For how similar Hisao and Hitomi are, this is one of their biggest differences.
To be a little punny, you're slightly off the mark on this one. We'll find out more about what motivates Hitomi as we go, but it's not quite as inspirational as Emi or Rin, in my estimation. And she and Hisao are more similar in this regard than you realize, but again, we'll see... :wink:
Chatty Wheeler wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 5:49 pm
On the other hand, I can easily see Hitomi putting herself in real danger by not taking her condition seriously. When Hitomi lost her eyesight in the clearing during the festival, Hisao was there to guide her back to her dorm, but what if she's out at the clearing, loses her eyesight, and Hisao isn't there. She'd be totally lost. What if she was stuck there all day? What if she was stuck there all night? Would she just try to wait it out? Would she try and feel her way back to the dorms? Could she even find her way back the dorms? How would Hisao react if something like this happened? This is all hypothetical, of course, but I think it shows how much potential there is for powerful storytelling with the way you've set up Hitomi's conflict. I'm really anxious to see where you go with this.
Oh, look, a giant pile of good ideas that I totally won't steal! Seriously though, good point. Lots of potential in this area, and for a reason...
Chatty Wheeler wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 5:49 pm
Okay! We've reached the end of my thoughts on the story, but before I submit this post, I noticed a few typos that I thought that I'd point out to you!

On Thursday of Act 1, Lilly says the following to Hisao:
Xeraeo wrote:
Thu Jul 30, 2020 5:53 pm
She giggles a little. "Regardless, thank you for your help today, Hisao. Really, I and my class appreciate it."
Unless you intentionally wrote in this bit of improper English (which seems unlikely, given that this is Lilly we're talking about), “I and my class…” should be “My class and I…”

On Saturday of Act 1, Hisao thinks to himself:
Xeraeo wrote:
Thu Jul 30, 2020 6:00 pm
It did seem interesting; I was just to tired to get into it.
“I was just to tired to get into it…” should be “I was just too tired to get into it…”

In Act 2, Scene 3, the following conversation occurs between Hisao and Lilly:
Xeraeo wrote:
Wed Aug 12, 2020 2:08 pm
"So, Hisao, how have you been getting adjusted to life here?"

I doubt Lilly would have reached out through Hanako if she just wanted to make small talk, but I'll play along for now.

"I think so. Everyone's been welcoming, mostly, and I'm not too far behind in classes."
Hisao's response seems strange, here. I think that Hisao is answering the wrong question. I think it could be fixed by removing the word, "how," from Lilly's original question.
Right, right, and right! All fixed, and thank you for catching those! I literally spent most of today editing a book for someone, and catching typos in both my and others' writing is something I pride myself on, so I'm simultaneously embarrassed that you found any, proud it was only three, and grateful that you took the time to help me correct them! Also, mad props on catching the third one in particular. That was subtle. I had to read it three times before I could really see the problem.
Chatty Wheeler wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 5:49 pm
Whew! Thanks for reading all of my thoughts and ramblings. Again, I had a great time reading your story. I don't have an exact idea of where it's all going, but if it's heading anywhere near the direction I think it's going, then I think we're in for a real treat.

Keep up the great work. Take care!
Ditto to every part of this. Thank you for the same, I'm enjoying writing it, as well as reading people's thoughts on it. I don't have an exact idea of where any of it is going either, but I'm hopeful for the future as it progresses, and I expect it will turn out quite nicely unless I majorly fuck it up somewhere, or abandon it. Seeing people like you taking such a detailed interest in it helps prevent both of those possibilities, so seriously. Thank you.
Girls: Emi=Hanako=Lilly>Shizune=Rin
Routes: Lilly=Emi>Hanako>Rin>Shizune

(Name is pronounced "Zero". Stole it from Quake, I think)

My projects here:
To Miss the Mark - An OC Pseudo-Route (Hitomi)
Rebound - A Post Lilly NE Epilogue / Iwanako Story (On Hold)

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Re: To Miss the Mark - An OC Pseudo-Route (Hitomi)

Post by Chatty Wheeler » Sat Aug 29, 2020 4:16 am

Thanks once again for responding to my post! I had fun reading your thoughts on my thoughts. Hehe. :lol:

Xeraeo wrote:
Sat Aug 29, 2020 1:51 am
Chatty Wheeler wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 5:49 pm
What's remarkable to me is that despite Hisao's pessimistic attitude at the beginning of the story, he never once came across as unlikeable or annoying...
I'm glad that he's coming across that way. A story with an unsympathetic, unlikable protagonist is hard to stick with. Although I wouldn't mind the reader getting a touch annoyed with him at times, as that would be consistent with the VN Hisao, whom I wanted to slap upside the head a couple times.
You make a very good point, here. It would probably be strange if I never found myself upset with Hisao. Chances are, if other characters are annoyed with Hisao, the reader should be getting more annoyed, too. I shouldn't let my sympathy run away with itself. Thanks for mentioning this to me—I'll try to be conscious of it moving forward! :)
Xeraeo wrote:
Sat Aug 29, 2020 1:51 am
This is actually quite surprising to hear. Or read. I've felt that my dialogue was always a bit awkward and unnatural, and often struggle when editing it to make each character sound like a unique voice. I certainly wasn't aware I was using anything advanced, but now that you're pointing some of it out, I guess I see it.

Something to note though; the techniques you're ascribing to me are more the result of me attempting to write the dialogue based on the way these characters talk and interact, while trying to get my exposition worked in somehow, rather than actually attempting anything advanced. Glad it worked though! It seems my haphazard methods aren't totally worthless after all.
Hmmmm... Haha! It sounds like I went a little overboard with the dialogue analysis—searching for hidden meanings and all that. To give you a little context, I'm a huge fan of screenwriter/playwright, Aaron Sorkin. Even though I'm not a professional filmmaker/writer or anything, perhaps you could say that I've picked up the habit of closely analyzing dialogue from watching his films or reading his scripts. I get a kick out of that sort of analysis, and I love the sensation of finding hidden meanings in the works I read or watch. I usually don't get everything right, but that's part of the fun for me!
Xeraeo wrote:
Sat Aug 29, 2020 1:51 am
Alright, this whole theory here:
Chatty Wheeler wrote:
Fri Aug 28, 2020 5:49 pm
These are all small details, but I would wager that they are indicative of what's to come: Hitomi is the one who will be taking the lead. This is my prediction, at least...
I won't say you're entirely right or wrong, and I won't spoil anything either (not that I really could, since so much of the story will change from what I intend in the process of writing it that it's not even spoiled for me, really), but you've got a good grasp of some aspects of my intention here. Kinda. We'll see. More importantly, you're giving me ideas for how to get where I want to go, and that's what I need most right now. So thanks.
Oh, my. You've piqued my interest. I look forward to seeing what aspects I am getting correct!
Xeraeo wrote:
Sat Aug 29, 2020 1:51 am
The thing is, though, that we're mostly seeing the likable, or "good" aspects of her up-front... Hitomi is far from perfect or idealized, and we will learn about her flaws as we get to know more about her alongside Hisao. Hopefully once a more complete picture of the girl is formed, we can still appreciate her for who she is...
Once again, you make a really good point, here. For now, Hitomi is still a mystery to me, but she certainly has been showing off her "likable" aspects more, hasn't she. We've yet to see all of her flaws, and until then, I should try and refrain from subconsciously putting her up on pedestal, and so should Hisao. Let's hope that Hisao makes some more friends, in the meantime, so he doesn't end up putting his sole focus on Hitomi. :?
Xeraeo wrote:
Sat Aug 29, 2020 1:51 am
I just went back and edited the intro to remove that spoiler entirely, replacing it with a much less spoilery (?) description of Hitomi. Seriously, big thanks for catching that stupidity...
Haha! Happy that I could help.
Xeraeo wrote:
Sat Aug 29, 2020 1:51 am
Two things; first of all, your wish is granted, and spoiler, Miki (and Suzu) play a critical role in the next scene, which I'm about 80% through the first draft of at the moment. Second, I'm not sure which interpretation of Miki you're referring to, as the Miki in KS (she's only really in Hanako's route, I think) doesn't give us much info on how she's dealing with her disability. I'm guessing you may be pulling that from some head canon? Either way, I'm unsure exactly how my Miki is doing in that regard, but we'll see. Interesting idea, either way, and I may have to steal it!
First off all... Yay! I'm looking forward to the next chapter. Second, I made that interpretation of Miki based off of one little bit from Hanako's route. When Hisao and Miki meet for the first time, on the side of the track, Hisao finds himself accidentally staring at her missing hand. When Miki catches him staring, she seems visibly uncomfortable and an awkward silence ensues... Also, the fact that Miki is wearing such a crude-looking bandage gave off the sense that losing her hand was something recent. These two details gave me the impression that Miki's disability is new, and that she hasn't quite come to terms with it yet. I suppose that you could call that a part of my head canon, and it's possible that I'm waaaay off in my interpretation of Miki, but that's just what came across to me during my first read of Hanako's route. If you wanted to "steal" that idea, you'd be stealing it from 4LS and cpl_crud, not me! :lol:
Xeraeo wrote:
Sat Aug 29, 2020 1:51 am
To be a little punny, you're slightly off the mark on this one. We'll find out more about what motivates Hitomi as we go, but it's not quite as inspirational as Emi or Rin, in my estimation. And she and Hisao are more similar in this regard than you realize, but again, we'll see... :wink:
Oh my goodness that pun. I can't even. :lol:

In all seriousness, I'm really glad that you told me this. I'm happy when my predictions are right, but I'm happier when my predictions are wrong. When I'm wrong about something, I get to be surprised by default while reading the next chapters!
Xeraeo wrote:
Sat Aug 29, 2020 1:51 am
Oh, look, a giant pile of good ideas that I totally won't steal! Seriously though, good point. Lots of potential in this area, and for a reason...
Steal away, if you wish! :wink:
Xeraeo wrote:
Sat Aug 29, 2020 1:51 am
Right, right, and right! All fixed, and thank you for catching those! I literally spent most of today editing a book for someone, and catching typos in both my and others' writing is something I pride myself on, so I'm simultaneously embarrassed that you found any, proud it was only three, and grateful that you took the time to help me correct them! Also, mad props on catching the third one in particular. That was subtle. I had to read it three times before I could really see the problem.
Again, I'm happy that I could be of service!
Xeraeo wrote:
Sat Aug 29, 2020 1:51 am
Ditto to every part of this. Thank you for the same, I'm enjoying writing it, as well as reading people's thoughts on it. I don't have an exact idea of where any of it is going either, but I'm hopeful for the future as it progresses, and I expect it will turn out quite nicely unless I majorly fuck it up somewhere, or abandon it. Seeing people like you taking such a detailed interest in it helps prevent both of those possibilities, so seriously. Thank you.
I'm really happy that you feel that way. Thanks for making such a detailed reply to my post! I look forward to the next chapter.

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New Places, New People, Same Old Problems (2-4)

Post by Xeraeo » Sun Aug 30, 2020 2:14 am

Sorry for the delay there. I actually got a lot of work, finally, and have been busy these last few weeks. I'm trying to schedule my time better so I can still write regularly, even during busier times, but it's taking me a bit to adjust. Thanks for all the support and feedback so far! As usual, this chapter turned out quite differently than I initially planned, but I'm happier with it now than I was with the outline.

I also just added a bit of intro to Act 1- Scene 2 (Thursday) to smooth the transition from Tuesday to Thursday. Thanks to Oddball for pointing out how confusing it was!



When classes are over, I quickly throw my stuff in my bag and head for the dorms without stopping to talk to anyone. My conversation with Lilly has been stuck in my head for the last few hours, and I had a lot of trouble focusing. Hitomi is usually on my mind anyway the last few days, but Lilly's concern for her has me worried as well. I think I need to talk to her.

I only make it part of the way down the path before I hear my name being called from behind me. Dammit.

I turn to find Miki quickly approaching, and my annoyance is lessened a bit at the sight of her jogging. Even in her uniform, she's quite… bouncy, when she runs like that. When she reaches me and slows to a stop, she has a wide grin on her face.

"Enjoy the show?"

I blush, and begin to stammer some excuse, but she waves her stump and laughs. "Relax, just teasing you. Are you doing anything now?"

"Uh, yeah, I was gonna drop off my stuff and go for a walk." No point in going into detail about where I plan on walking.

"A walk? How old are you, dude?" She moves to walk beside me as she says this, and the two of us continue towards the dorms. I glance around for Suzu, but she's nowhere in sight. Normally, I've seen the two of them walking back together, so it's odd not to see Miki's blue-haired companion with her this time.

"Old enough. Nurse says it's good for me." I try to stay vague and ward off her question, hoping that she'll take the hint and drop it.

"Anyway, if you can afford to reschedule your walk, a few of us were going to go down into town and maybe grab something to eat. Besides, you'll probably get enough walking done going down and back up the hill."

"Who's all going?" I ask, trying to buy time to come up with another excuse.

"Me, Suzu, Molly- you know Molly, right?"

"No, I don't think so. Which one is she?"

She snorts, looking at me sideways. "She sits right in front of you."

"Oh." I've obviously seen the girl with the desk directly ahead of mine, but we've never spoken, not even in class. I guess this is just another example of how little effort I've made to get to know my classmates.

"Anyway, Molly, and Taro. The dude who sits behind you."

"Right, I know that." Though again, not through any effort of my own. I've just overheard others in class addressing the larger student behind me by name once or twice.

We're nearing the dorms now, and I'm fresh out of excuses. I really want to talk to Hitomi soon, but I guess it can wait a bit. Besides, considering the opportunity I'm getting here, I really shouldn't skip out on the invitation. After my stupid speech about hoping to get along with everyone in my class my first day here, I really shouldn't be turning down every invitation, after all.

"Yeah, sure, I guess I could tag along. When are you guys going?"

Miki brightens up, bouncing excitedly on her heels. "We're meeting at the gate in like a half hour or so. At least, I think that's right." She raises her stump in front of her face as if checking the time, then shakes her head. "Damn, I keep losing my watches for some reason…"

I can't help but chuckle a little at the stupid joke, and she gives me another wide smile.

"Alright, I'll drop off my stuff and change, I guess. Thanks."

"Anytime, Hisao." She looks like she means it too. Honestly, Miki has been nothing but friendly to me. I really shouldn't be so ready to turn her down when she tries to include me. Why do I do that, anyway?

We separate and head into the male and female dorms, respectively. As I reach the top of the stairs to the second floor, I hear something drop on the floor directly behind me. I turn and see my notebook from class on the floor. It takes me a moment to realize that it fell out of my bag, and I take my bag off my shoulder to see that, in my rush to get out of class, I didn't bother to zip it shut. Stuffing the notebook back in the bag, I check through it quickly, and find that I'm also missing my English notebook. I glance back down the stairs, but don't see it.

Shit.

Zipping my bag shut, I retrace my steps down the stairs and back outside the dorm, eyes scanning the ground. Nothing stands out, and with a sigh, I start back towards the main building, cursing my stupidity under my breath. This is what I get for trying to rush…

"Hey, Nakai, right?"

I look up to see, of all people, Taro. He's approaching from the walk to the main building, and he holds up my missing notebook with his good hand. His other arm is bent awkwardly against his chest, and I wince as I catch myself looking at it.

"Uh, yeah. Taro, right?"

He reaches me, and stops, offering me the notebook with a friendly grin. I take it sheepishly, and move to shake his hand.

"Yup. Arai, but everyone calls me Taro. You know, I was tempted to hang onto this when I saw it fall out of your bag back there. But then I saw it was your English notebook, so I figured I'd be better off returning it."

"Ha. Well, thanks, I guess. It probably wouldn't have done you much good."

"Probably not, but hey, I suck at English too. Oh, did Miki tell you we were going into town in a bit? She was supposed to invite you."

"Yeah, I'm coming. Just gotta get changed first."

We start heading back into the dorms. "Cool, glad to have you, man. I'm sure you won't mind the break from Madam President and the Vice Loudspeaker, right?"

I chuckle again. "I guess not, although they've mostly been leaving me alone after the first week, other than in class."

He nods, and starts off down the first floor hallway, but seems to hesitate. "Actually, that was kinda mean. They're good people. Shizune and Misha. Just a bit too intense for a lot of us. Sorry for giving a bad impression there." He genuinely looks remorseful. Compared to Miki and Suzu's teasing about the Student Council, I'm surprised at his earnestness.

"Hey, it's cool, man." I reassure him. "They were a bit much for me, but I could tell they meant well."

He gives me a nod, and I turn back to the stairwell, rushing back to my room. Honestly, I'm not all that sure that they did mean well, but Taro seemed genuinely remorseful, so I wasn't about to argue the point.

---

Maybe 20 minutes later, I've gotten changed and am waiting by the front gate. Surprisingly, I was the first one to arrive. Hopefully Miki gave me the right spot?

After about 5 minutes of standing around, I start to worry I'm at the wrong place, and move to walk back towards the dorms when I see a group approaching from that direction. At a distance, only Taro's bulk and Suzu's distinctive hair really stand out, but I'm pretty sure the other two students must be Miki and Molly, then. Sure enough, as they get closer the party of four turns out to be the expected group.

"Oh, there you are, dude. We were just wondering if you decided to skip out after all." Miki says with a wink.

"Yeah, sorry, I thought you said we were meeting outside the gate."

She stops, blinks, and then smiles sheepishly. "You know, maybe I did. We usually do that, but I guess we just happened to come out at once and all met up by the dorms. My bad. Anyway, have you met Molly and Taro?"

"We just met a few minutes ago, actually." said Taro, giving me a nod. The other girl, Molly, slowly steps up with a nod of her own, though she only holds my gaze for a moment. I shake her hand, and she gives me a timid but polite 'nice to meet you' which I quickly return. I've noticed her prosthetics before, of course, but seeing her walking on them is still an odd sight. It's pretty obvious that hers go up further than Emi's do, certainly above the knee. Probably no hope of her being a track star with them.

We start down the hill towards the town below. Miki and Taro quickly pull ahead a bit, chatting excitedly about various gossip that I immediately tune out. Suzu and Molly are moving a bit slower and talking quietly. I bring up the rear, moving a tad slower than I normally would so as not to intrude on their conversation. Occasionally, Suzu glances back in my direction, but she doesn't say anything to me.

After a minute or so, she speeds up and catches up with Miki and Taro a few meters ahead, joining in their conversation. Molly is left alone, and I instinctively move up to match her pace.

"Um, hey." she says, giving me a shy smile. Her dark complexion makes her stand out among our classmates, and briefly I wonder if one of her parents is foreign.

"Hi. I'm sorry we haven't actually met before today. It's been taking me a while to get used to things here." It's a lame excuse, but it's what I've got.

"Oh, don't worry about it." She has a calm, soothing voice that makes me feel relaxed almost immediately. "It takes everyone a while to adjust, especially if they transfer in suddenly like you did."

"Still, we sit right by each other. I could have at least introduced myself." I genuinely do feel bad about it, now that I'm walking right beside her.

"Really, Hisao, it's okay. Oh!" She glances at me with embarrassment. "I'm sorry, is it okay for me to call you Hisao?" Ahead, I see Suzu glance back at us with an odd expression.

I wave away Molly's concern, never having been one for the formality of going by family names. "Yeah, everyone just calls me Hisao. Except for the teachers, I guess. Not a problem."

"Okay." Her shy smile returns, and she gives me a nervous glance. "Kapur is my family name, but my friends all just call me Molly."

I guess that implies that I should as well, although I don't think we're exactly friends yet. Are we? Is it really that easy here? Her family name doesn't sound Japanese at all, which confirms my suspicion that she's at least part foreign, like Lilly. Well, probably not like Lilly.

"Right. Molly then."

An awkward silence follows our exchange, and we continue walking, neither of us apparently willing or able to break the sudden tension. It's weird; just a moment ago I was relaxed, but now, I just feel tense…

Ahead, Suzu glances back at us again, although I notice that she looks distinctly more tired than she did the last time. Her eyes are barely open, and she seems to be slowing down, dropping behind Miki and Taro.

"Uh, Suzu?" I ask, feeling concern wash through me as the smaller girl stops walking and just sort of… sways. Miki and Taro both stop talking and turn back, and I see Miki's eyes widen a bit as she notices Suzu. She rushes forward just as Suzu starts to collapse back, and manages to catch her before the girl hits the ground. Taro moves a bit slower, but is soon there alongside Miki. I rush forward to see if they need help, and Molly picks up her pace a bit as well, as best she can.

"Hey, is she okay? What happened?"

To my surprise, Miki hands Suzu off to Taro momentarily, and he holds the apparently unconscious girl somewhat upright while she turns around and squats a bit. He helps her lift Suzu up onto her back and get her arms wrapped around her neck, and then gives Miki a pat on the shoulder.

"Don't worry; she's okay." Molly says from my side, apparently having caught up.

"What happened?" I realize that I need to calm down; my pulse is racing. I take a moment to take a few long, steady breaths.

"She just had an episode. She gets them all the time. Don't worry, she'll probably be awake by the time we get to the restaurant." Molly glances at me, her brow scrunching slightly. "Hey, are you alright?"

"I'm fine." I say quickly. "Just got a little freaked out for a second there."

Apparently this is a common enough occurrence that it's not bothering any of the others. Miki and Taro look back at us expectantly.

"Coming?" Miki asks. "She's not that heavy, but I'd rather not just stand around holding her, you know?"

"Uh, sorry. Yeah." I stammer, catching up with the two of them with Molly by my side. Together, we proceed into the town and around a few blocks to a small noodle shop I apparently missed in my few previous trips into the little village.

---

Contrary to Molly's prediction, Suzu is still totally out of it as we find our seats. Miki puts her in the corner of the small booth, sitting beside her. Taro sits beside Miki, oddly, leaving Molly and I the other side of the table. The place isn't particularly busy, and we're quickly approached by a kind looking older woman who takes our orders. I just get a bowl of noodles, as it seems that's what everyone else is doing. The woman doesn't seem bothered at all by the sleeping girl in the corner, but then again this is the town near Yamaku, and I get the impression these four come here frequently besides.

Come to think of it, I'm the only one she gave a second glance at…

I figured it was just because she'd never seen me around before, but as I glance around at my companions I think I realize why I stand out. With Suzu unconscious, Miki's stump, Taro's bad arm, and Molly's obvious prosthetic legs, I'm the only one without an obvious malady of some kind. I actually find myself embarrassed at the realization that even among a school for crippled kids, I don't really fit in.

I know I'm not the only student at Yamaku without an obvious disability, not by a long shot. Hell, Hitomi seems totally normal pretty much all of the time, at least as far as being disabled. And I still have no idea what Misha's problem is, other than her inability to control her volume…

I'm pulled from my moping by a gentle nudge from the girl beside me. I realize that everyone at the table is looking at me with concern.

"You're really okay?" Molly asks again. I feel myself becoming annoyed, but I suppress the urge to snap and just nod quietly. Wanting to change the subject quickly, I ask the obvious question.

"So, what happened with Suzu back there?"

"Oh, you don't know?" Miki asks casually. "Sorry, I thought she mentioned it on Monday. She's narcoleptic."

I blink, trying in vain to recall the meaning of the word. "Um, right, so… sorry, what is that?"

"Basically, she falls asleep a lot. Or can't sleep at all, sometimes." Taro explains, glancing over at the unconscious girl. "Been that way her whole life, I think. She seems to handle it pretty well."

As he says this, Suzu begins to stir. She opens her eyes slowly, blinks a few times, and looks around at the rest of us before closing her eyes again. "Took a shortcut." she mutters with a faint smile.

Miki laughs, grabbing and gently shaking Suzu's shoulder. "Hey, one of these days I'm gonna have to start charging you fare for all the rides."

"Then I guess I'll have to charge a membership fee for the workouts." Suzu shoots back, opening her eyes again. The two of them giggle, and Taro and Molly join in. I give a courtesy smile, but inside, I'm left wondering how all these people manage to just act like everything's normal when their lives are so affected by their issues. Will I eventually be able to laugh off a heart attack like that? I can't even imagine it. Just the slightest pain in my chest has me terrified for my life, even if it turns out to be nothing at all.

"So, Hisao, where are you from? Your family live around here?" Taro asks. I'm not really in the mood for personal questions, but I guess that's not his fault.

"No, I grew up in Tokyo. I just moved down here last week when I transferred."

Crap, how do I avoid further questions about this…

"Um, what about all of you?"

"Tokyo too. Glad to have another man of culture around here. All these hicks make it hard to have a decent conversation, you know?" Taro gets a playful punch in the shoulder from Miki for that.

"I'm from Osaka, ass." Suzu responds to him, although there's no real bite in her voice.

"My family lives here. Well, not here, but in Sendai." Molly mutters from beside me. I'm briefly disappointed that she didn't share more, considering I'm curious as to her heritage, but I suppose I can just ask her sometime.

"Well, I guess I'm the only true hick here, then." Miki finishes. "My family lives up in Hokkaido, kinda in the middle of nowhere. You'd all shut up if you got to see it though."

Taro makes a face that earns him another punch, while Suzu just give a flat "Pass."

I remember Hitomi saying that she also grew up in rural Hokkaido, and wonder briefly if she and Miki know each other. Probably a long shot.

Having all answered my question, I'm momentarily worried that the group will turn their attention back on me, but fortunately our food arrives before that can happen and we all dig in immediately. The noodles are surprisingly good for the price. I'll have to remember this place is here.

Taro and Miki both eat with an enthusiasm that reminds me of Emi, although perhaps not as extreme. Suzu takes her time with her food, by contrast, seeming to consider each mouthful of noodles thoughtfully. Molly eats with a more measured grace that the other three all seem to lack. It makes me think of Lilly, though compared to her, Molly isn't particularly well-mannered. Just in contrast to this group, I suppose.

As each of them finishes, Taro, Miki and Suzu go back to exchanging playful banter, Suzu teasing Taro about him apparently passing out in class and snoring loud enough to wake her the other day. He retorts with a comment about her not being one to judge, but quickly backs down under the combined shaming from both Miki and Suzu. Meanwhile, Molly and I quietly finish our own food and observe the conversation silently, occasionally laughing at a particularly witty comeback.

I find my attention quickly wandering from the conversation to Molly herself, though. She's not particularly beautiful, but definitely cute in a way. Her long, dark hair partially shields her face from my view, though she's not actively trying to hide behind it like Hanako does. Her smile and laugh seem to come easily and naturally, and her brown eyes seem to draw me in whenever she glances in my direction, though I find myself quickly turning away each time. This happens again now, and I realize with a blush that she caught me looking at her.

---

We settle the bill and make the climb back up to Yamaku. Again, I find myself walking alongside Molly for most of the trip, although we only exchange occasional small talk interspersed with more awkward silences. I don't ask to stop and rest, so by the time we reach the school, I'm pretty out of breath.

Despite the distractions, I've still had Hitomi on my mind most of the evening. Now that we're back, I want to find her so I don't have to wait until tomorrow. I'm sure she has her reasons for rejecting Lilly's help, but I'm a bit curious what they are.

When we get to the dorms, I thank the group and make a point of following Taro towards the male dorms, before splitting off and heading back to the female building. Not wanting any awkward questions, I wait a few minutes before entering.

I don't hear anything beyond Hitomi's door when I knock, but I wait a few moments anyway. Normally, she and I have come back from the clearing by now on days she's practicing. The sun has nearly set, and it'll be dark not too long from now. Could she still be in the woods?

I briefly consider asking Lilly if she knows where Hitomi is, but decide against it. After my response to her at lunch, it would be a bit hypocritical of me to show up asking her for help now. I exit the dorm and start on the path towards the running track, picking up my pace in the increasingly dim light of dusk. Breathing heavily again, I reach the woods and make my way up the now familiar path, growing increasingly worried.

What if her condition flared up while she was alone out here? What if she hurt herself, or just can't find her way back? What if she got lost? Dammit, I should have been out here with her! She was expecting me, relying on me even, and I didn't even tell her that I-

A sudden spike of pain shoots through my chest, and I grunt in shock, stopping in my tracks. The pain surges, and I drop to the ground, sitting in the dark forest path, clutching my chest and trying desperately to breathe.

Not now, not here, please…

Slowly, I force myself to take deep, steady breaths, massaging my chest and trying to think of anything but the terror I just felt as I realized how alone I was out here. Fortunately, the pain subsides rather quickly, and I can feel my heartbeat slowing, its irregular pace calming from a frenzy to a more manageable cadence.

"Hisao?"

Opening my eyes, I see Hitomi standing frozen on the path ahead of me, dressed in her usual archery gear and holding her bow. After a moment of shocked staring, she rushes forward at an almost blinding speed, dropping everything from her hands as she goes. Within a couple seconds, she's kneeling in front of me with one hand on my shoulder and the other on my neck, checking my pulse, I guess.

"What happened? Are you okay? Hisao!?"

I've never seen or heard her like this. Her tone is so unusual for her that it takes me several seconds to respond.

"Yeah, I'm okay. Just pushed myself a little too hard, I guess." I grimace, trying to stand, but finding that I'm immediately dizzy when I try and plop back down on my ass. "I just need a minute."

Hitomi shakes her head, clearly not buying it. "No. You're going to the nurse right now. Come on, get up." She tries to help me up, but instinctively I shake loose from her grip. She looks at me in shock, but right now I'm just annoyed with her. I didn’t want her to see me like this.

"I said I'm fine. Just give me a second, okay?" I try to keep the bitterness out of my voice, but I'm sure some of it got through. Hitomi backs up a step, her face quickly slipping back from concern to her more neutral expression as she waits to see what I do. I take a few more deep breaths, and slowly stand, this time successfully.

"See?"

She looks away, refusing to hold my gaze. "Yeah. I see that you're fine. Sorry."

Her voice is back to its flat, quiet tone, and I immediately feel guilty. I step towards her, not sure how to handle this. Seeing the look of fear and pity in her eyes when she saw how weak I am was horrible, but it's not her fault. Hitomi glances up at me as I approach, then away again.

"Sorry... I just hate it when everyone worries about me, you know?"

She nods slowly, her gaze still fixed on the forest around us. For a moment, I wonder if she can't see right now, but her eyes seem focused. Just not on me.

I do what feels natural before I have time to overthink it, closing the remaining distance between us and wrapping my arms around Hitomi. I can feel her stiffen momentarily, but then she relaxes against me and returns my embrace. She presses her head against my chest rather hard.

"You're the only person I feel like I can be around without having to worry them. You have no idea how much that means to me right now." I stop, thinking it through. "Or maybe you do."

"I do." she replies simply, her already quiet voice nearly impossible to make out as she mumbles it into my shirt. She turns her head, pressing her ear to my chest, and I move one hand up to cradle the side of her head.

"I'm sorry, Hisao. I don't want you to worry about me, either. You just really scared me there." Behind her somber tone, there's a slight tremble, and I realize that she's shaking slightly against me.

"I know. I'm sorry for that, too. It was my fault. I already took a long walk today, and then I came out here looking for you, and I just didn't pay attention, I guess. I'll go see the nurse tomorrow."

We separate, and she looks up at me, smiling slightly. I don’t think she was crying, exactly, but I do notice that her eyes look a little moist.

"Let's get back."

After picking up her dropped items, she takes my hand. I'm a little surprised, but I'm not about to argue, and together, we walk back to the dorms at a much slower pace.

-----

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Wordcount: 4,411 / 28,993
Last edited by Xeraeo on Sat Oct 03, 2020 6:38 pm, edited 8 times in total.
Girls: Emi=Hanako=Lilly>Shizune=Rin
Routes: Lilly=Emi>Hanako>Rin>Shizune

(Name is pronounced "Zero". Stole it from Quake, I think)

My projects here:
To Miss the Mark - An OC Pseudo-Route (Hitomi)
Rebound - A Post Lilly NE Epilogue / Iwanako Story (On Hold)

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Chatty Wheeler
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Joined: Mon Aug 24, 2020 5:56 pm
Location: Pacific Time Zone

Re: To Miss the Mark - An OC Pseudo-Route (Hitomi)

Post by Chatty Wheeler » Mon Aug 31, 2020 3:14 am

Alright! It looks like I didn't have to wait long to get my hands on the next scene. This chapter did some unexpected things and I think the result pretty much nailed the things that it was trying to get across. There's a lot to enjoy—both on the surface and under the hood—about this chapter. Let's dissect it, shall we?

To start, if I had to give a name to this scene, I think an appropriate name for this scene would be "Contrasts," because that's what this chapter is all about: the contrasts between our cast of characters.

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Off the bat, seeing more Miki was more than welcome! It looks like she's going to be a mainstay in this story, and I'm thrilled that this is the case. I'm digging your portrayal of Miki in this story—she's a little different from how I had interpreted her from the visual novel. I stated before that I speculated that Miki hadn't yet come to terms with her disability, but in this story, she seems very comfortable with her missing hand—even literally waving it around at Hisao at times. I like how this story gives Miki a relaxed attitude about her disability: it perfectly contrasts how concealed and uptight Hisao is about his disability. See, we didn't even go one paragraph before I found an example of contrasting character traits. Maybe Miki's attitude can inspire Hisao to lighten up a bit. Here's hoping!

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Xeraeo wrote:
Sun Aug 30, 2020 2:14 am
After my stupid speech about hoping to get along with everyone in my class my first day here, I really shouldn't be turning down every invitation, after all.
Okay! Yes. This is good. Hisao has the chance to make some more friends. Awesome. This is just what he needs right now. Don't waste this chance now, Hisao...

While we're talking about them, let's give Suzu, Taro, and Molly some attention. I think they make a really nice cast of friends. I'm a fan of Suzu's snark, I adore how much of a sweetheart Molly is, and Taro... Taro's personality and quirks gave me some serious nostalgia. He reminds me of a guy I used to know; this guy had a habit of teasing people before immediately feeling bad and apologizing, even though he never said anything remotely offensive or hurtful. The way that Taro made a quip about Shizune and Misha before immediately backtracking on his joke felt like an exchange ripped directly out of a conversation that I had with the guy that I knew. Haha! You're probably wondering why I'm telling this story. Well, I think that I really connected with Taro because I saw my friend in him. I hope we see more of Taro, because I liked his presence in this scene. :D

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The trip in town with Miki, Suzu, Taro, and Molly was a swell time all around. Learning bits and pieces about these new characters was fun and their banter was on point... Er, on the mark. Hehe. This was where I grew quite fond of Molly. We don't know much about her yet, but she seems like she'd get along with Hisao quite well—both of them are pretty quiet, awkward, and languid in their movements/actions. Similar to Taro, I'd be delighted to see more of Molly in the future.

By the way, can I just say, it is so weird that they didn't have dinner at the Shanghai! After reading the visual novel and various fan fictions on these forums, I began to wonder if the Shanghai was the only restaurant in town, because we never see Hisao—or anyone else for that matter—go anywhere else! Haha! :lol:

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Alright, let's talk about that ending. Short and to the point—I love it. What an awesome fake-out. Hisao has spent the whole chapter worried about Hitomi. He doesn't even have a real reason to be worried about Hitomi for most of the day, he just is. Even when he knocks on her door and doesn't get a response, that's not a real logical thing to get worked up about—Hitomi could have been in the bathroom for all he knew. Instead, Hisao impulsively rushes out to the clearing, rationalizing to himself that Hitomi would be in trouble if...
Xeraeo wrote:
Sun Aug 30, 2020 2:14 am
if her condition flared up while she was alone out [there]...
However, Hisao never once stops and realizes that the reverse is also true. If he were the one to have an incident at the clearing, he would also be in just as much—if not more—trouble than if Hitomi had an incident. Sure enough, Hisao has an incident right before he gets to the clearing, and thank goodness Hitomi wasn't in the bathroom, and that she happened to be there to calm Hisao down when he was immobilized on the ground.

This whole incident at the clearing exposes how much of a hypocrite Hisao can be.

Think about it. Hisao can't stand it when anybody worries about him or gives him attention on that front, but he spends literally all day worrying about Hitomi. He was so worried that he put himself in danger. I'm willing to wager that this kind of hypocrisy is bound to come back to haunt Hisao further down the line. Hisao can't keep doing this forever—someone's eventually going to see through him and get mad. At the same time, I don't think that Hisao, Hitomi, and everyone else should flat out stop worrying about each other. Hisao and Hitomi need to learn that caring and tending to each other is what friends do. They need to learn that there is such thing as a "middle ground."

The other wonderful aspect about this ending is how it so clearly contrasts the trip into town from earlier in the scene. When Suzu has a bout with her narcolepsy, Miki, Taro, and Molly have already prepared a calm, graceful routine of how to handle the situation. Miki, Taro, and Molly don't even need to talk to each other; they jump straight into their routine and efficiently take care of business. On the other side of the coin, when Hisao has a bout with his arrhythmia, Hisao and Hitomi scramble and flail in an utterly stressful display of clumsiness. Hitomi has no idea what to do, and when she tries to help, Hisao pushes her away, making Hitomi even more confused. The contrast between the two episodes (Suzu's and Hisao's) featured in this scene effectively puts it in perspective to the reader how much work Hisao and Hitomi have in front of them in the name of better handling their conditions.

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Finally... I found a line that miiiight be a typo, or maybe I miiiight just be crazy.
Xeraeo wrote:
Sun Aug 30, 2020 2:14 am
Suzu and Molly are moving a bit slower, and are talking quietly between them.
Should "and are talking quietly between them," be "and are talking quietly between themselves?"

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Great work, once again, Xeraeo! I had fun reading and analyzing this one. Looking forward for whatever's coming next! :D

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