Golden Room

WORDS WORDS WORDS
vermithrx
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Golden Room

Post by vermithrx » Thu May 28, 2009 10:28 pm

This is the only serious creative writing I've done in about four years, so any constructive criticism is gratefully encouraged and appreciated. There are a few comments I've made at the end. Read them last if you care to do so.



Part 1:

The King wanted to know how his Queen had managed it. Not only had she returned unscathed from the howling giant’s den, but appears to have tamed the menacing beast. Why had it been howling so mournfully in the first place, he wonde-

“Achoo!”

The sudden noise yanks me back into reality, which is a shame. I don’t want to leave the pair’s secret, imaginary kingdom beyond the creek. It reminds me of our private room, how it’s almost a world unto itself. I guess it can’t be helped. We should be heading there soon, anyway. Tearing my eyes from the page, I look up.

Dust motes hover in the warm evening air, visible where there are windows. All about the library they build ethereal prisms from the diminishing light. The girl sitting in one across from me is absentmindedly rubbing her nose, but still otherwise engrossed. Seems I was the only one distracted by it.

Lounging sideways in her large, black beanbag chair in an arched, almost fetal, position, she is completely oblivious to the world. Sunlight, dancing between the motes and her trembling hair, almost appears to cast a halo about her. That, or the dust is getting to my eyes. I blink a few times before I check my watch. Yep. Six twenty-two, almost time to get going. I’d better let her know now or she’ll make us late. I prod her gently with my voice.

“Hanako?”

She barely lowers her book, eyes peeking out from above it. Damn she’s cute when she does that.

“Find a place. We don’t want to make Lilly wait.”

It takes her a second to understand. She must really have been into this one. The silhouette of a man on horseback amidst some trees is depicted in a misty, light blue on the cover. “Peace like a River,” huh? I don’t know whether to find that fitting or ironic, given how skittish she can be. It’s fitting for the moment, at least.

“A-alright. I’m… almost finished.”

She means the chapter of course, but her eyes have already drifted back to the page. It amazes me sometimes, how fast she reads. I close my book and set it amongst my things, then stand and stretch. My arms ache from holding them in the same position too long, so I shake them out a bit while I wait.

It only takes a minute before she closes her book and sits up. Her long black hair casts a silky web over the floppy mass beneath her just before cascading down about her slight shoulders. The way her mussed uniform reveals a bit of her collarbone on her left side makes me blush a little, but she fortunately doesn’t notice. I offer her a hand and she accepts, smiling gently as I pull her upright. She stretches a little before straightening her skirt and blouse, then we pack our bags and she follows my lead as I head toward the exit.

Passing by the reception desk on our way out, I note that Yuuko has gone missing. It’s funny how that doesn’t seem unusual to me anymore. I guess the library will just have to close itself. Hanako and I join hands again as we enter the hallway, which is comfortably quiet. The rest of the floor seems deserted. Most of the other students are having dinner in the cafeteria two floors down or their dorms, so it makes sense there’d be no one around.

Dusky golden light gives the place an air of mystery about it. I start to wonder what strange realms might be hidden behind the school’s white-painted, wood doorways as we pass them by. No, that’s a different story. That’s right, I’m not in a story right now anyway, or shouldn’t be. Not when I’m walking with Hanako. Maybe the dust got to my brain, too.

I notice that she’s already started playing her tile game out of habit, so I join her. The friction of our hands as we move erratically apart, then back together again is a pleasant, familiar sensation. I’ve started to play a private game of my own, attempting to predict her next steps and plan mine so we’ll brush shoulders every now and again. It’s difficult. She’s a lot easier to read when we play chess.

Our match last Wednesday was pretty memorable. I’d asked her why she always likes to play black and in response she’d tilted her head to the side and twirled a finger through her hair. Maybe that explains the rules of this child’s game we’re playing, too. Anyway, I wish she would do things like that more often. I can’t decide which I like better, the girlish smile she had while doing it, or her dismayed embarrassment when she realized she’d revealed her whole face. I hadn’t even noticed until she apologized for it, for relaxing around me. It hurts when she puts me at a distance like that. Huh. I guess I can decide which I like better.

She seems to notice that I’m trying to bring us closer together because suddenly my hand is empty. I think I glimpse a slight grin on her face as she passes me, quickening her pace. Does she want me to chase her? I see no point in hesitating so I speed up as well. We move swiftly towards our destination in a strange mix between sprinting and a game of hopscotch. The way we drift about the hall is almost like a dance, choreographed only by the darker tiles.

She reaches the goal first of course, she’s more experienced at this, but I’m only short by a couple seconds. I find myself gasping as I arrive, so I lean against the wall's cool, metal handrail to catch my breath. It feels oddly bumpy against my palms and I look down to find something embossed in Braille along its off-white coating. Is that why Lilly doesn't seem to need her cane in this building? I'll ask her about it later. Right now I have other things to think about, like breathing properly. Raising my eyes, I see Hanako stands at the door waiting for me. She’s holding the handle looking pleased, so I reward her with a grin of my own.

“So… so close.”

She lets out a quiet giggle and her smile brightens. I find it contagious. Breath caught, I straighten, then she opens the door and I follow her into the tearoom. It appears to remain as we left it this afternoon, clean and tidy. Another of those prisms floats between our table and the window across the room. Turning on the lights makes it less visible, but only slightly. Besides a few chairs and that table the place is mostly unadorned. The counters and cabinets we use to cook along the left wall make me wonder if this school once had a home economics club. If it did, it must have disbanded before any of us enrolled. I’ve never bothered to check.

Leaving the door slightly ajar in anticipation of Lilly’s arrival, we head to the right of the table and set our bags next to our usual seats. Hanako moves to start preparing things, but I catch her by the elbow. She looks back at me in surprise and I take the opportunity, lean closer, but the angle is wrong. Shit. I try to pull back, but my momentum betrays me and all the cheerfulness from a moment before is gone in an instant. The flesh of her right cheek is rough and surprisingly warm on my lips. Hanako gasps and jumps back.

“D-don’t. Not… not there.”
“Why not?”
“I-I already told you. I’m… there I…”

She falls silent and stares at the floor. I already know what she’s getting at, but I’m not about to complete that sentence for her. After a moment she lets out a barely audible whisper.

“I’m ugly.”
“No, you’re not.”
“But I-I… don’t…”

This is frustrating. We’ve had this conversation too many times already. She’s stammering and her voice is hard to make out, but I know exactly what she’s trying to say and I don’t want to hear it anymore. I step forward and cup her face in my hands. Her eyes snap upwards to meet mine, wide with horror. She trembles and mouths, “No.” but no sound comes so she tries to shake my hands off instead. I release her by gently pushing the hair away from her face. I hold it away lightly and my fingers barely brush her temples.

“D-don’t.”

I’m tired of her hiding from me, tired of her pushing me away, and I’m not going to back down this time. I lean in, eyes locked with hers. Our foreheads touch.

“You…”
“No.”
“…Are…”
“S-stop.”
“Beautiful.”

A shock runs through her body and her eyes narrow. She pushes me away hard, arms suddenly straight in the air I was just occupying.

“DON’T PATRONIZE M-ME!”

Between her palms hitting my chest and my back crashing into the wall behind me, all the air is forcefully expelled from my lungs. I feel dazed a moment before pain shoots through my chest like a hot poker. My ears start to ring in alarm. My heart is racing. This is bad. I gasp loudly trying to get my breathing under control. Relax, Hisao. Calm down and breathe deep. In, then out. Hanako is saying something, but I’m too busy listening for my own heartbeat to pay attention. In, then out. In, then out…

It’s slowing. I sigh in relief and rest my head against the wall behind me, looking up. It takes a moment for my eyes to focus. White ceiling tiles and the beige plastic lattice supporting them endure my gaze with indifference.

“Hi-Hisao?”

Fear is evident in her voice, so I lower my eyes. She’s wearing what might be a confused frown.

“I’m okay.”
“Y-you looked so… so scared just now, but all I… did was p-push you.”

She obviously doesn’t know her own strength. I sigh again. Did Lilly not tell her? That would have made everything easier. I don’t want to explain, not again. Maybe I can get this over with quickly so we can get back to preparing for our dinner appointment.

“I have a weak heart. If I get too excited or get hit in the chest I could have a heart attack and die.”

That may have come out harsher than I meant it to. Her mouth drops open and she stares at her, now shaking, hands in dismay.

“I-I-I’msosorry! I-Ididn’tmean to… I didn’t… know.”

She’s worried now. Damn it, that’s exactly why I don’t want to talk about this. I’m not a child and she has her own problems to worry about, which reminds me of something I want to think about even less.

“I have a scar there, too.”

Wait. Did I just say that out loud? Hanako is staring at me now; lips pursed, shoulders squared, arms rigid at her sides. The look in her eyes makes me freeze like a cornered animal.

“Hisao.”

Her voice is low and even. I’ve never heard her sound like this before. I feel like I’ve just been slapped, but her hands remain still.

“Let m-me… Let me see it.”

She’s actually demanding something. That’s… I don’t know how I feel about that, but I don’t like where this conversation is going.

“It isn’t important.”

She watches me, waiting.

“It’s not really much to look at.”

She raises her eyebrows slightly. Shit, she almost looks… angry.

“Why do you want to?”
“You get to… l-look… at me.”

Oh. The way all her willpower seems to deflate as she says this makes her point all too clear. I guess since she can’t hide her scars it’s not fair for me to, not from her at least. Fine. I nod, loosen my tie and begin unbuttoning my shirt. She steps a little closer and, when I pull the cloth away, just stares at it. I stare with her.

A smooth line of white, hairless flesh runs straight along my breastbone, the only visible proof there’s anything wrong with me. It makes my ribcage look like a hatch you could pry open to get at my insides. Looking at it makes me feel sick. I don’t want to see it. I don’t want anyone to see it. If they see it they’ll know I’m different and they’ll worry. They’ll treat me like my parents do, as if I’m made of glass. Like they can see right through me and I’m not even there.

Hanako lifts her hand to touch it. I flinch against the wall, but that doesn’t cause her to hesitate. Her fingers feel cool and soft. It makes me shiver, but then I notice how insignificant my scar looks next to the ones on her wrist. My blood runs cold. It really isn’t much to look at. How could I have said something so thoughtless? I want to take it back, or say I’m sorry. Hanako seems unaware of my anxiety though. She starts running her index finger slowly up and down my scar as if trying to memorize the feel of it.

“H-how… How did y-you get it?”

I don’t want to answer that. I don’t like having to think about the hospital. I hate remembering how lonely it was filling the endless, empty hours, but it’s a fair question. I can tell how she got hers just by looking.

“Surgery.”

My voice sounds odd, detached. Like it’s not me speaking, but someone else instead.

“Many surgeries. They were trying to fix my heart.”
“So you’re h-here because… I-it didn’t work?”

She looks up at me as she says this, simple curiosity in her gaze. Oh well, I guess I’d better go ahead and tell her everything. Opening my mouth to answer, I notice my throat feels tight, like there’s something blocking it. I don’t like what I’m about to say, but realize that keeping my mouth shut won’t make the words any less true. I force them past anyway.

“Not really.”

Then they start to come faster.

“I have to take medicine every day, lots of it. If I don’t I’ll get worse. I have to exercise to make my heart stronger, but straining myself could kill me. That’s why I’m at this school. So there’s people to keep an eye on me if something happens.”

There’s more, but I’m afraid to tell her. I don’t know how she’ll react. I watch her a moment as she goes back to examining my chest, brow lightly furrowed in thought. I don’t want her to think less of me, but maybe it’s too late for that. I’ve already scared her, made her mad and practically insulted her. If this isn’t the end I’ll have to tell her eventually, anyway. Might as well get it over and done with.

“One of the nurses said, when she thought I was sleeping…”

My face feels hot. Hanako’s hand pauses and she looks up again. Her eyes go wide with surprise, but I don’t know why. I haven’t said what’s important, not yet. I find my voice again and it comes out in a whisper.

“I probably won’t live as long as most people.”

I feel dizzy and my whole body tingles. I’ve never said that out loud before, not even to myself. Hanako looks down, hand trembling a moment above my chest. She nods to herself as if making a decision then leans against me. I feel her arms encircle my waist and her body feels warm and soft against the right side of my chest. A muffled, “I’m sorry.” Issues out from below my chin.

Now I’m really confused, and the press of her blouse against my bare skin isn’t helping me think. Aren’t I the one in the wrong here? Why is she apologizing? The blank wall across from me has no answers and neither do the cabinets where we keep the tea supplies. I look down intending to ask Hanako, but an unexpected sight greets me.

She’s leaning against me with her good side. She’s never done that before. Struck by how utterly vulnerable she looks that way, I lift my left hand and gently stroke her cheek with my fingers. It feels as warm to them as it did my lips, just not quite as rough. Hanako stiffens and starts to slowly push herself away, but stops suddenly. She’s gazing at my chest again, but this time her face turns pink and she looks up at me in embarrassed surprise.

“Y-you weren’t… l-lying to me?”

Right. Now we’re back to what started this mess in the first place. It’s too late to back down now, so I shake my head.

“No. I wasn’t lying before and I’m not lying now.”

She reddens even more and smiles a little, but it’s filled with unspoken pain. Her eyes are brimming with tears.

“Y-y-y-you… r-really think I-I-I’m…”

Her hands are clenching the sides of my shirt and she’s wobbling slightly. I don’t think she can bring herself to finishing this one, so I try to give a reassuring smile.

“Yeah, I do. I think you’re very pretty.”

She opens her mouth, closes it, and leans her forehead against my shoulder. Her whole body is shuddering violently. I think I hear her mumble something, but it’s too soft to make out. Then she starts to sob.

This… I wasn’t prepared for this. I thought she’d be happy, and maybe she is, but first I got her mad and now I’ve made her cry. I just can’t seem to do anything right today. Damn. I need to do something to salvage the situation. Raising my arms for that purpose, I notice our position is awkward. I want to hold her, but I can’t since she’s standing a little apart from me. I don’t know what to do.

While trying to think of something, I start gently stroking the top of her head. After a few moments she quiets and her hands open to lay flat against my waist. She stays like that until her breathing goes back to normal, then backs away and starts wiping the tears from her face. She smiles at me shyly from underneath her fringe and I breathe a sigh of relief that she seems okay.

“S-sorry. Now we’ve b-both been crying.”

Huh? When did I…?
I lift a hand to my cheek. It comes away wet. I stare at the liquid glistening on my fingers. I never even cried at the hospital, so why now? Trying to think about it makes me feel a little dizzy.

“I guess we have.”

Hanako giggles softly at my confusion, then impulsively takes my hand in both of hers and kisses my knuckles. She peeks over them with worried eyes.

“Y-you’re… not m-mad at me… are you? I-I made you t-tell me about pain… painful things.”

Even if I was angry, I don’t think I could’ve stayed that way after such a sight. Instead of answering her I take her hands in mine and move them to our sides. She starts in confusion as I step close and tilt forward, but I don’t mind and hopefully she won’t either in a moment.

This time, I don’t miss…



[End: Part 1]

Sorry about the cliffhanger, Part 2 is on the way. (It would ba a shame to waste all that foreshadowing, wouldn't it?) The only reason I didn't wait and post the whole thing at once is I'm having trouble getting a handle on Lilly. What you see above took me about four days (and a year of editing to reach the current incarnation), and it'll be a good long while before I'm finished with it...and I keep thinking up scenes to add beyond this one...so I made outlines for them...and, uh...yeah. :shock: It just keeps growing.

I wrote this because ever since I played through Hanako's path I've wanted to see her pissed off, and I've wanted to see Hisao cry for a while now. Figured I'd kill two birds with one stone. *shrug* Never done something quite like this before, so I hope it turned out alright.

Update (06/14/2010): I can't believe it's been over a year already. I've scrapped and re-written part 2 about twice now and it's looking like it might come together the third time around, but I won't hesitate to do so again if it doesn't satisfy me.
Last edited by vermithrx on Mon Jun 14, 2010 1:32 am, edited 17 times in total.

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Ozymil
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Re: Golden Room

Post by Ozymil » Fri May 29, 2009 12:09 am

Quite the fine read you've concocted vermithrx. The language and diction were smooth, the imagery grasping and vivd, and the characterization spot on. The writing directly before, leading up to, and after the moment when Hanako pushes back Hisao was especially dynamic and engaging, and the following heart-to-heart had me bawling manly tears of love.

What I liked most about this fic is that you wrote Hanako and Hisao in a way beyond what was seen in the demo and still kept them true to their respective characters, something I've not yet noticed in the plethora of oftentimes cringing KS fanworks. Hanako's sudden outburst was a welcoming surprise to me, as I had pigeonholed Hanako into the stereotype of the ever-quiet, never-aggressive "Shy Girl."

Nothing much else to say except excellent work, and I wish you godspeed with part 2. :wink:
Donnes-moi le chocolat, Hisao! Gib mir die Schokolade, Hisao! Dame el chocolate, Hisao! Dammi il cioccolato, Hisao! Ge mig choklad, Hisao! Giv mig chokolade, Hisao! 私にチョコレートを与える, 久夫! Daj mi czekoladę, Hisao! Geef me de chocola, Hisao! (Thanks for the Dutch ver. Leotrak) Bigyan mo ako ng chocolate, Hisao! Geef mij de chocolade, Hisao! Дайте мне шоколад, Хисао! Dá-me o chocolate, Hisao!

OtakuMegane
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Re: Golden Room

Post by OtakuMegane » Fri May 29, 2009 1:38 am

This is impressive, like I was reading a good book or in KS itself rather than what I'm used to as fanfiction. I'm especially pleased you were able to keep to Hanako's character so well, including the fact she CAN get angry. You captured exactly the way I imagined she would react if pushed just a bit too far. She probably looks really cute when she's angry too. :D
Lilly > Hanako > Misha > Yuuko > Emi > Rin > Shizune

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Bara
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Re: Golden Room

Post by Bara » Fri May 29, 2009 1:39 am

Exellent. I'll be glad to see the 2nd part. :D

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Re: Golden Room

Post by Silentcook » Fri May 29, 2009 11:15 am

vernicious knid
The only thing I have a real issue with. There were a few other stumbling blocks I noticed before, but you cleared them up from when I first read to when I actually got around to posting.

Good show. :)
Shattering your dreams since '94.

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Seroanth
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Re: Golden Room

Post by Seroanth » Fri May 29, 2009 2:27 pm

Part2part2part2part2part2.

Great read so far. Try not to rush the second part as well, that usually makes fan-fictions turn out worse then they should.

fanatic
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Re: Golden Room

Post by fanatic » Fri May 29, 2009 11:38 pm

Ozymil wrote: bawling manly tears of love.
tears so manly their made of whiskey

you had me glued to the screen the entire time i look forward to part two

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abscess
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Re: Golden Room

Post by abscess » Sat May 30, 2009 2:35 am

Very well done, I think. Just a tiny little too emotional for my very particular tastes at this moment, but that part of me can go screw itself for now. Congratulations!
Siiiiigh....

DuaneMoody
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Re: Golden Room

Post by DuaneMoody » Sat May 30, 2009 3:46 am

You know it's good when you start hearing the music in your head.
("Afternoon", btw)

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Super Guest Man
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Re: Golden Room

Post by Super Guest Man » Sat May 30, 2009 6:02 am

I greatly enjoyed this. It was touching and I felt very true to the character source. Flowed nicely and wasn't too halting. Had a believable progression, more so than some of the other fics I've read.

Overall good job man. Look forward to the second part.

Seroanth
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Re: Golden Room

Post by Seroanth » Tue Jun 02, 2009 10:41 am

Very last sentence in your post, two BIRDS.

Unless you meant 'birst' as a crippled bird.
By the way, I have no criticism for the text, Well written.

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k8n
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Re: Golden Room

Post by k8n » Wed Jun 03, 2009 5:35 am

Very nice work, I'm looking forward to part 2.
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SirMax
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Re: Golden Room

Post by SirMax » Sun Jun 07, 2009 1:24 pm

very nice. Quite engaging and very authentic seeming.
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SpectralTime
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Re: Golden Room

Post by SpectralTime » Wed Jun 17, 2009 11:16 pm

crud calls the best fanfiction that which takes from its source material and extrapolates. With that as a guide, well done. Good, believable characterization. I could easily mistake it for actual in-game scriptwriting.

And, as you say, it was fun seeing Hanako mad and Hisao getting over his fear of his own problems.
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EmP|ty
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Re: Golden Room

Post by EmP|ty » Thu Jun 18, 2009 4:00 am

Nice, very nice, I like it.


Now go make a damn good part two ;)

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