Finger Training

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Minister of Gloom
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Re: Finger Training

Post by Minister of Gloom » Sat Sep 24, 2011 5:24 pm

You really thought I'd let this abomination rest in peace? Not until I've squeezed the last bit of foul ichor from it's twitching, bloated carcass.
I considered working a little more on this chapter, maybe going over it once again looking for typos or something, but it's already been more than a month. So maybe I'll edit it later.
You're going to notice that I have, once again, made a few experiments with this chapter. For once, it's far, far longer than the former ones. Almost twice as long.
Another thing is that it's almost all conversation. Between four original characters, no less, each one it's own brand of disgusting cliche and flat, witless writing. I have pulled some characters from earlier stories of mine, made a few surgical changes to mutilate them further until they were barely recognizable as one dimensional pseudo human beings, and threw them together with some I have made right on the spot and a few memories of my childhood. God help us all.
And just in case this seems big and boring to you, do know, the original draft for this chapter had five characters. There were originally three new characters, in addition to Yuno and Tomiko, but after much deliberation I have come to the very, very difficult decision to cut one out. The chapter was getting way too big as it was. Maybe I'll include this character later. This, of course, also meant rewriting the conversation completely from scratch, to compensate for the absence of a rather talkative fellow. His interactions with the other four highlighted a few aspects of their personalities that I think still deserve to be highlighted, but this can wait for another time. He also had a pretty long exchange with another character that ended with a joke about French literature. Unfortunately, nobody likes French literature, so in retrospect, this was a pretty bad idea, wasn't it?
And Tomiko originally revealed a lot more of her background. This, too, will wait for another chapter. Assuming there will be another chapter. You'll be the judges of that.

Brace for impact:

Crew Meeting

I have had memories of such times from before, though far less pleasant ones. Perhaps there really was something different about this school, something less obvious I couldn't exactly point at, that made it all seem so much better than in my memories. Or perhaps I was just more mature. People change with the passage of the years. Many things that were unbearable to me as a child I didn't even notice anymore by that time. Perhaps it was for the better, after all.
Lesson passed after lesson, hour after hour, the strange, wonderful rhythm of an organized day. Maths, science, history, literature. I knew most of the material. Maybe many of the others did, as well. It didn't matter to me one bit: the details, the small elaborations, the anecdotes, these were always new. No two teachers, be they both the best teachers in the world, have exactly the same way of explaining their subjects. It kept me focused and interested.
Sometimes we listened to explanations. Sometimes we had to work, mostly on our own. Twice we were told to work in groups, and it made me both scared and excited. The first time, I wasn't sure how to approach the problem of finding a group. It all seemed to come so naturally to the others. One moment we were each alone, and then there was noise and movement and the dragging of chairs and before I could speak a word they were all set for work. Maeda came to rescue me again some five minutes after I've already made up my mind about simply working alone. "I told you nobody should stand alone", she said, and pulled me towards a group.
In the end, it was much like working on my own after all, since I didn't speak one word and nobody seemed to mind, but I was still thankful for the gesture. I told her as much when class was over, and she just laughed gave me another one of those wide waves of the hand nobody really uses in real life.

It somehow made me even more nervous about her invitation to dinner, if you could call it such. I was thankful for the help.
It's just that I wasn't really sure if it was the kind of help I'd wanted. Was this kind of help, in the end, really different from a teacher tying my ribbon for me? Did I want to have one, but not the other? Did I want them both? None?
I felt foolish and ashamed for not even knowing anymore what it was that I'd wanted. When it came to it, I didn't have one tenth of the conviction I had hoped I would. On a certain level, I knew that most people, at the moment of truth, were not nearly as strong as they'd imagined themselves to be. But it didn't make me feel any better about myself being the same.

Four hours later, I had to miss a period for a meeting with one of the school's medical staff. We had a lot to talk about, though few things were really new to me, or unexpected. In a sense, these were the clauses for which I have chosen this school over others, after all. A personalized regimen of therapy, exercises, and lessons designed to help me walk better, write better, speak better, to move and communicate more like a normal person. We talked about swimming, which sounded nice. There was a doctor specializing in yoga which I was supposed to meet at some point. This didn't sound as nice- I hated yoga with a passion. People think that if the movements are slow and relaxed, than the exercises must be easy. For me, at least, this couldn't have been further from the truth. What it doesn't demand in speed or coordination, it demands in strength and endurance and flexibility, all things I didn't have one bit of. I was mentally preparing myself for a lot of pain and frustration.
The part of me, that weak willed, immature part that I despised, was also not looking forward to most of the other lessons. Saying the same long, complex word again and again a thousand times until you can pronounce it properly isn't fun, and no amount of pretend singing and wordplay is going to change that. So is trying to draw a picture while a nice lady touches your hand awkwardly every minute to correct your grip of the pen once again.
But there was another part of me who couldn't wait to get to those, no matter how painful and boring and humiliating they sounded. No pain, no gain, after all. On a certain level, I knew that if I'd wanted to be more like a normal person, to be treated more like a normal person, there was no choice for me but to exercise as hard as possible, and to meet as many doctors and therapists and possible, and to endure whatever small suffering I had to by the power of my conviction, small as it might have been.

I checked my watch when I got out of the office. Dinner has already started, so I made haste, in my own unique way, which means my clumsy stretches across the floor where a bit more energetic than usual and that I advanced at a blinding rate of a meter a minute.

The cafeteria was loud, smelly, and colourful. This was my first impression of it. The second was that by that point, the first one shouldn't have surprised me so much.
I couldn't see anybody familiar, which was somewhat of a disappointment, but one advantage of never having much hope in the short term is that you don't have much hope to lose. Mentally shrugging, I went forward to get myself something to eat.

My eyes lightened up considerably when I discovered, to my great surprise, that they had western style utensils sitting right there on the counter for the taking. Maybe it was like this in most schools back then, but all of my knowledge of schools back then came from one terrible year and a few TV shows. I really didn't expect western utensils. I didn't even have to ask for them specifically. I didn't have to go on a great and dangerous quest to get to them behind everything else. Nobody had to go looking for them- they were just there in the open. In my mind, at the very least, I have just been saved from great humiliation, a stained skirt and perhaps a burn, all likely results of me trying to use chopsticks. It's not like I had any delusions about it: even with the western style utensils, It'll still probably take me far longer than one dinner-time to finish my food, and that's if I didn't mind messing up the tables too much. But it would still be far more comfortable than wrestling my numb, retarded fingers with the sticks. It was one of those things that made me stand out in my previous schools (when it wasn't being actually fed by an adult that did that), that nobody would probably mind here. It made me a little happier about the whole thing.

As I was stumbling my way to an empty desk, the sound of a recently familiar voice calling my name made me stop. It only took a second of looking around to spot the wild, theatrical waving of hands of a possibly-very-tall girl in a wheelchair, by a table with another girl whom I didn't know. Since I did not expect any further company, I was naturally a little overly cautious and extra slow in my approach. This, unfortunately, gave the madwoman in front of me, the other girl, just the few seconds she needed to cry out a surprising expression like roaring thunder.

"Avast, me mates! 'Tis one fine li'l beauty here be approachin' from t' starboard!"

It was one of the most passionate, warm, joyful cries I have ever heard in my life, over absolutely nothing at all, and for all of its lack of even basic internal grammar, it did very well to instantly catch my interest and make me fix my somewhat horrified gaze at the speaker. She was currently laughing loudly to the great embarrassment of virtually everybody else involved.

She had her long, dark hair in a ponytail, and a large portion of her face was obscured by a black, old-fashioned eyepatch. Between her wild laugher and the previous expression, she seemed practically exploding with zest. In fact, from my point of view, she seemed so lively as to be seconds away from a full on transformation into some terrible wild animal of a very dangerous sort.
Being me, I reacted by freezing in terror in my place and blinking in disbelief. This only seemed to make her even more amused. From the other side of the table, Maeda was shrugging apologetically, eyeing the crazy girl with the eyepatch with some visible caution.

"Please forgive the Captain for being like this. I assure you you'll get used to it eventually", said another voice, as different from the first one as night is from day. Emotionless, bored, and tired. It belonged to a person I have somehow missed completely thus far: a tiny girl with a pretty face who was apparently so used to it by now that she didn't even bother taking her eyes off her food.

"A mighty fine introduction 'hat was, wasn'it? Grand timing, Jack", continued the Captain as Maeda nodded silently in appreciation.

"I aim to please, ma'am", replied the tiny girl with the same amount of excitement, that is to say, none at all.

"A pleaaye t' meet ye, landlubber! I'm yer new Captain, and this fella here be me loyal first mate."

"And for clarity's sake, neither is my name Jack nor did I ever agree to join the Captain's so called crew."

The Captain just laughed mightily again, until Not-Jack had enough of it and let her dissatisfaction be known with a subtle, though powerful clearing of the throat.

"Tomiko told us about you," the Captain finally started, now sans the crazy accent, "we thought it might be nice to get to know you. The more the merrier, right?"

"She's the weird second-year I told you about before. She showed me around when I just came here, and since we're both basically still new, I thought it might be a good idea to introduce you to her", Maeda explained.

"Damn right-" the Captain begun before suddenly stopping. "-wait, what was that about "weird" there?"

"The sprog still doesn't grasp the full extent of your brilliance, Captain", interjected the tiny girl flatly before the situation could escalate any further, still focusing completely on her meal, at which she nibbled slowly but surely.

"Well, I guess in light of the circumstances, you will not be walking the plank today, seaman. But watch it next time!"
Maeda seemed relieved.

I really couldn't say if it was all a big joke to the Captain or if anyone was taking the whole thing with the slightest bit seriousness.

In the awkward silence that followed, I had the time to get a better look at each of my dinner companions. As far as I knew Maeda Tomiko, she was being her usual self- flailing around dramatically with every word, as if everything that came out of her mouth was the most exciting thing ever.

My eyes moved from her to the tiny girl, Not-Jack, sitting between her and the Captain. I think I already mentioned her having a pretty face, but until I got a closer look, I couldn't really appreciate how much of an understatement that was. Not-Jack's face was absolutely gorgeous, awe-inspiring, almost angelic.
Actually, that word could work very well to describe it: it looked as if it belonged to a cherub in an old European painting. Young, innocent, bright, and androgynously perfect in a childish kind of way. With the rest of her body being the general shape and size of a child's as well, and with her hair being cut in such a fashion as to be neither particularly masculine nor feminine, for a moment I was almost starting to doubt my classification of "her" as a female. If you looked at her the right way, she could just as well have been an extremely beautiful young boy.
Even with her much shorter hair, you couldn't mistake Maeda for a boy: her face was obviously feminine, she wore a girl's uniform (with an extra-long skirt, since she was always sitting), she acted like a girl, and besides, she had a couple of rather distinctive feminine characteristics.
Not-Jack wore a girl's uniform. Aside from that, she was simply "beautiful". Or maybe he was.

The Captain, sitting nearby, was currently loudly debating one thing or another either with herself or with Not-Jack, from whose eagerness you could think the matter at hand was of her own horrible execution. Now when I could afford to look at her more calmly, it didn't take me long to notice something strange about the Captain, even if you ignored the disturbing eyepatch and the fact that she acted completely crazy: she appeared to be wearing some sort of winter uniform. The sleeves were thicker, the collar was pulled all the way up, and she even wore gloves. All throughout the day I've been sweating like an animal under my uncomfortable summer uniform, and though you could argue this had a lot to do with me simply not being used to it, I still think it was a very hot day. Far too hot for a healthy person to go around with what was essentially winter-wear.

Maybe she just had a cold. It's not like I could ask.

I tried to focus on eating for a few minutes. Maeda was right: the food here was delicious. And the things that came in small pieces were very well cut, too: small enough pieces for me not to choke on them, but big enough for me to be able to pick them up from the plate.
Give or take a few failed attempts.
Mom and dad would always feed me far smaller pieces- better be safe than sorry, after all, and they didn't have any physical issues with them. Mika probably would have done so too if she could use a knife as well. She's a fantastic cook, but not as good at cutting things down to air-thin slices as my parents.
I did not exactly share the family's knack for fine manipulation.

Maeda finally broke the ice, as well as my concentration, causing me to drop a piece of vegetable back into the plate for the third time in a row now.
"How about we introduce ourselves support-meeting style? You know, where you say your name and what your problem is and like, maybe some interesting fact about yourself, and all the others clap a little?..."

Not-Jack rolled her eyes mockingly.
"Right, because everybody here likes support meetings so very much, of all things. Besides, it only works like this in the movies. In real life you sit for three hours with ten other people you don't know, nobody says a word, and everybody feels too guilty to be the first to reach for the cookies. And when someone mentions that it's already 1AM and they have to go to school tomorrow, everybody just leaves like that, because nobody wants to get caught stilling the cookies when the lights are out."

There was silence. Whether this was a bit of actual wisdom, evidence of some past trauma, or simply a nasty little person being nasty as they were, nobody felt it appropriate to continue for a while.

Maeda, however, was not one to give up so easily. After checking around again with quick head movements and hearing no further objections, she started. "My name is Maeda Tomiko, and I've been in a chair for three years now, and, hmmm…" she stopped and rest an elbow against the table in deep thought, as if looking for the right way to continue, some interesting fact about herself, as she said.

"Well, I know "A Midsummer Night's Dream" by heart."

This made me take my eyes off my food and stare at her for a moment. Amusingly enough, it also made everybody else around the table do the same. She moved her eyes from one face to the next, puzzled, and finally explained "It's a play by William Shakespeare. He was an Italian playwright really long ago."

"I think h-he was English, a-actually", I said after a moment. "B-but do you r-really know the play b-by heart?" Somehow, I didn't expect her to be the type who knows Shakespeare plays by heart. To be honest, I didn't expect her to be the type to know her own apartment's street address by heart. The others probably had similar thoughts, and she was clearly enjoying herself about their reactions.

"In English, too. Both ways."

"Both ways?"

"Like, from the end to the beginning, you know?"

I blinked. "W-why?"

"I had a lot of free time on my hands", she shrugged. "Whose turn is it now?"

"We never agreed on any-", Not-Jack began to protest, but the Captain was already in the mood for madness again. Fortunately, perhaps having wasted all of her strength for the night traumatizing me as I approached the table, she was now a lot quieter about it.
"I am your Captain, you see", she declared with a proud, self-satisfied grin. "And you scurvy dogs'll call me by me rank, be 'tat clear?!" She was laughing again. Not-Jack was sighing wearily. I just stared again. I did a lot of staring that evening. I do a lot of staring generally, now that I think about that. Can you blame me?
This didn't seem to be the reaction she was hoping for, and she looked somewhat disappointed. "What, you think I should've brought my hat, too?"

"I highly doubt that this would've been necessary, ma'am", answered Not-Jack automatically.
"Really now? I have the most wonderful black hat, you know? Back in my room. I wear it for special occasions".

"Drives the teachers mad, it does".

"-I'd carry a sword, too," she continued excitedly, "but turns out that's not allowed, and right now I am not really a member of some fencing club or something-"

"They clobbered her to tears a while back. You should have seen her poor, sweet face."

The Captain gave the now smugly smiling Not-Jack an angry look, then turned to me and sighed quietly. "Well, yes. There was also that."

"Turns out it's really quite difficult to block strikes with no depth perception", Not-Jack continued. "As I've advised repeatedly. But what do I know?"

"It's one of those things you don't really mind until it costs you a good beating", the Captain concluded.
"-or twenty", added Not-Jack nonchalantly.
"But I'll join again one day. You'll see!"

"God save us all, when the day arrives."

I was too confused to ask why in the world a school like this would have a fencing club. It seemed like a dangerous sport to have around so many… well, relatively fragile people.

The Captain, apparently finished, waited for a short minute for someone to continue, and when nobody did, simply pointed at Not-Jack and started "Well, this here's-"

Not-Jack interjected, calmly but firmly. "Ishii Katsuo. That would be Ishii for you."

I intervened, barbaric as I was. "W-wait, isn't K-katsuo-"

"Yes, it is a boy's name, no, I am not a boy. Why do people keep asking me this all the time? Seriously, I wear a skirt. Do you want me to hang a sign from my forehead stating this?"
She looked really annoyed about his, in her cold sort of way, and I shrank back into my chair in shame.

"Anyway," she continued, "my problem is…" she seemed to be thinking now.
"I am a werewolf. Really, I swear. Went on a trip to France a couple years ago, full moon in the sky, got bitten by some strange animal off the road. When I got back, I discovered that once a month I wake up naked with no memory somewhere in the woods, blood in my mouth and all that. Totally a werewolf, I am telling you."

The Captain nodded seriously, a thoughtful look on her face. "That would certainly explain quiet a lot of things, wouldn't it?"

"Indeed", Ishii replied with a frozen expression, and went back to eating her dinner.

It's in times like this this that I sometimes feel happy for not having so many natural facial movements. Sometimes, being unable to smile or cringe or frown quickly can make you stand out in a social setting as a weird outcast. Sometimes it allows you to look calm and uncaring when showing emotion would be unwise. I believe this was one of those times.

The table went silent again for a while. Everybody was looking at me now. I didn't fidget, naturally. But I would've if it was easier.

"Come on, Yuno. You can do that," Maeda said from the other side of the table, waving a hand cheerfully.

Was this all just a setup to get me to speak? It sounded crazy, but it felt like it, somehow.
Maybe in the long run, it was for the better.

"Okada Yuno," I simply said. The Captain listened intently. Ishii was eating again, seemingly uninterested.
Another troublesome piece of food was fighting for its life on my plate. I tried using both hands at the same times to pick it, no simple an operation, and it ended up landing miserably on the table surface in front me, joined by its many formers in a big, dark stain. I pitied the person who'd have to clean up my mess later.

The Captain, perhaps hoping that it would encourage me to say more than my name, asked me whether Maeda has already taken me on an introductory tour of the place.

"Lots of places to see, and many really nice people to meet."

"This school is rather huge, all things considered", Ishii agreed silently.

Turning her head around in a disturbingly long arc, probably to compensate for her limited field of vision, the Captain begun to point at various students she recognized in the cafeteria and calling their names. I didn't want to turn my head, but I could bet everybody was looking at us.

"This one there with the glasses would be Daisuke, he's a lot nicer once you get to know him. Hasegawa was somewhat of an idol before coming here, kind of a sad story. Those two there are the student council, stay out of their way and you should be fine. Hikaru's awesome, you can't really miss him, and that blind guy over there is…" She bit on her thumbnail trying to remember the name.

"He's from our class", Maeda joined, pushing herself up with her arms against the table to get a slightly better look. "Can't remember his name though. Looks kinda cute, in a bland sort of way. He's not blind, you know. Just wears big glasses."

I struggled to follow up, moving my head around quickly and trying to follow the Captain's finger. "Can you p-please slow d-down?"

This took the wind out of the Captain's sails. "Well, I am sure we can introduce you to them all later, right?" she attempted to say with a comforting smile that wasn't very good.

I sighed.

"What are you hobbies?" Maeda intervened. "What do you do to pass the time?"

She already asked me that earlier, and I've already answered. Maybe it was more for the other two, or to get me more involved generally.

"I don't know", I said. "Think. Look at things. Books. Some m-music."

Ishii's eyes suddenly lightened up. "Is that so? What instrument? Do you have any favourite composers? Styles? Compositions?"

"I-I don't know", I mumbled. "I can't play," I took a breath. "a-and I just listen to a-anything".

"Oh… that's nice", she replied, clearly disappointed. For a moment, her face actually seemed to have more compassion than cynical aloofness. The moment passed very quickly.

"Is there anything in particular you'd like to do here? I mean, there are a lot of clubs, and, you know, you could just pick up something…" Maeda struggled to find a lead.

"I'm fine", I said. "I don't need a-anything like this."

"Come-on, there must be something you can do to have fun? You'd go crazy otherwise."

This made me a little angry. My life wasn't as boring as it seemed to them. So what if I didn't do any sports or arts or things like that? Silent contemplation is very underestimated.

"What about sports? Even if you don't like hitting balls, there's always yoga, or swimming…"

"Or tai-chi", Ishii commented helpfully.

I couldn't really see myself doing any of those things. Which was bad, because some of those I would be doing one way or another as part of my therapy, I knew.

"You could try art", the Captain suggested.

I dropped my food once again, not exactly involuntarily this time, and she went silent.
By this point, I lowered my head as much as I could without getting sauce in my hair, but somehow it didn't make eating any easier.

Maeda suddenly made another one of her dramatic hand movements, scaring me into motion in a very dangerous way, considering my awkward position between a broken neck and a plate full of hot food.

"What about cooking or gardening? You don't have to move your body quickly in those."

Ishii gave her a sideways glance. "As long as you have someone nearby with a fire extinguisher. Did you ever try to cook anything more complex than a cup of instant noodles?"

"I could have!" she protested.

I stopped eating, and not just because I was already horrifically frustrated by the attempt at this point. I even raised my head to face them all. "I like t-this idea."

"Which one? Gardening or cooking?"

"Cooking. I want to l-learn that." I always wanted to, I guess. I wanted to be able to eat my own food and make my own food. It was one of those things normal people did that I never got the chance to really try. This seemed like a chance.

"You want to learn to cook?" the Captain said, looking mildly confused.

"Yes," I replied, now with even more confidence. "I can't cook. And m-my sister can."

I must have sounded very excited about that.

"What, she's some kind of big chef or something?"

"No! She's eleven y-years old!"

Ishii sighed. The Captain opened her eyes in understanding.

"You have a little sister, Yuno? That's so awesome. I wish I wasn't an only child", Maeda said, laughing.

"Oh, no you don't", Ishii answered immediately. "Trust me about this. You had it the best. I have three older brothers. And we all live in an apartment. A small apartment. Can you even imagine the noise? And the smell? And the idiocy? Dear god, if it wasn't for me to raise the balance the average IQ rating of my family would have been in the double digits." The look on her face could only be described as "disgusted".

"You know, there are some pretty sweet benefits to being an only child", the Captain argued. "You always have all of your parent's attention".

I felt that heavy feeling in my chest rising again. For all of having a sister, I always got twice as much attention from parents as any only child could ever hope for.

It was a simple function: they gave me Mika's share. From the moment she was born, she was a secondary in importance. It all revolved around me. I had to be cared for. I had to be fed and cleaned and dressed. I had to be protected. I had to be loved. Only I could ever forgive them for making me the way I am, after all.
Mika was just there to help. She came to this world to be a babysitter, for a person far older than her.

This is why I wanted to know how to cook. I knew it was a selfish, stupid reason. But I just couldn't stand the thought of always being fed by her. She stole my life away from me. I stole her life away from her. I wanted to repent, to make amends, little by little. I didn't want her to hate me.

"I want t-to do this", I said again.

The Captain had a thoughtful look in her eyes. "Well, that's a start, isn't it? Do you think the cooking club will be open this year?"

"Doubt it. Didn't their teacher give birth a few months ago? Besides, you know how it is with them", Ishii answered than turned to me to explain "It's not exactly the most popular of choices, you know. They only open on years when there are a lot of student requests."

I would have pouted if it was a thing I did.

"What about Kobayashi, though? Remember her? Didn't she say last year she was going to make sure this club opens no matter what?"

"Did she?", the Captain said, raising a single eyebrow, which I guess might as well have been her version of raising both of them. "Well, than, I guess I could ask her later. Sounds like a plan to you, Yuno?"

I blushed. This wasn't what I had wanted. Not exactly.

"I'll ask her myself."

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

This is what you get for this month. Hope you like it. Good evening, everyone, and while I am at it, Shana Tova from Israel and the Jewish people!
Last edited by Minister of Gloom on Sun Sep 25, 2011 10:25 am, edited 1 time in total.
Life, what is it but a dream?
זה מגניב אותי כל פעם מחדש, העובדה שיש פה עברית. אני תוהה אם מישהו ישים לב ששיניתי חתימה.

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Mirage_GSM
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Re: Finger Training

Post by Mirage_GSM » Sun Sep 25, 2011 3:35 am

Will you cut it with the self-loathing already? You're worse than Yuno sometimes.
Your writing might not be perfect, but it's certainly nothing to be ashamed of either.
Some comments:
and that I advanced at a blinding rate of a meter a minuet.
I surely hope this is hyperbole, or she wouldn't get to the cafeteria befre bedtime. Also you tend to type minuet instead of minute. Several times in this chapter.
"Ishii Katsuo. That would be Ishii for you."
Hey, Jun's little sister! :D Didn't even know he had one until now!
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
Sore wa himitsu desu.

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scott1and
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Re: Finger Training

Post by scott1and » Sun Sep 25, 2011 6:19 am

Still liking this, chracters are good and the stories the same. keep it up :mrgreen:
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Minister of Gloom
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Re: Finger Training

Post by Minister of Gloom » Sun Sep 25, 2011 10:42 am

Will you cut it with the self-loathing already? You're worse than Yuno sometimes.
Your writing might not be perfect, but it's certainly nothing to be ashamed of either.
This is a common observation, and I would like to believe that it troubles me at least as much as it does those others who care. I believe that the need to bash my own writing constantly (which has existed before I cam to this forum, and still does on several others and in general) is a either a function of some subconscious lack of self-esteem or an attempt at the creation of a psychological shield of sorts from the criticisms of others (by convincing myself in advance that my work is bad, I am making sure that I will not care as much if someone else does end up pointing out that it is). Alternatively, I guess it could also be a subconscious attempt to avoid the impression of arrogance. I used to be a very arrogant person as a child, and while growing out of it I seem to have picked up the (admittedly rather unhealthy) habit of obsessively and loudly pointing out all of my own flaws. It's a essentially a subconscious cry, I believe, of "Look! I am not arrogant! I am not perfect! Just look at how aware I am of my own flaws! I am full of flaws! I am nothing but flaws!".

I have a troublesome personality, and I constantly attempt to fix it, and I thank you for your support.

On a sidenote, many people notice at some point that virtually all of my main characters are self-loathing, at least to a degree. This is not (usually) intentional, but I believe that it is merely another expression of the same underlying problems with my own personality. I project them into my characters for some reason, thought I am not exactly sure which one it might be. I am also aware that this, too, is a flaw in my writing...
I surely hope this is hyperbole, or she wouldn't get to the cafeteria befre bedtime. Also you tend to type minuet instead of minute. Several times in this chapter.
Yes, it was a hyperbole. Yuno actually uses them rather often, as well as general self-deprecating humor. It's the kind of person she is. As I said, in this sense, she actually very much like me. This was not my intention when I first envisioned her, but this is how she came out. As the story progresses, I hope that I will be able to make her less and less like me and more her own person. I make small attempts at this all the time. You'd notice if you knew me... I hope.
Hey, Jun's little sister! Didn't even know he had one until now!
Jun Ishii?... The internet says it's some martial artist. Is this the person you meant? I did not intend to make any such implications. My impression was that this simply was a common Japanese surname.
Still liking this, chracters are good and the stories the same. keep it up
Thank you again, scott1and.
Life, what is it but a dream?
זה מגניב אותי כל פעם מחדש, העובדה שיש פה עברית. אני תוהה אם מישהו ישים לב ששיניתי חתימה.

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Mirage_GSM
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Re: Finger Training

Post by Mirage_GSM » Sun Sep 25, 2011 3:11 pm

Minister of Gloom wrote:
Hey, Jun's little sister! Didn't even know he had one until now!
Jun Ishii?... The internet says it's some martial artist. Is this the person you meant? I did not intend to make any such implications. My impression was that this simply was a common Japanese surname.
Uh, no... Jun Ishii, a character from my own current KS fic ;-)
Actually a little sister would fit him quite well... I'm interested how she will turn out.
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
Sore wa himitsu desu.

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Minister of Gloom
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Re: Finger Training

Post by Minister of Gloom » Sun Sep 25, 2011 3:20 pm

Wow. Wonder how I missed that one :shock:
I mean, the connection, not the fic. I usually read around other fanfics before I give names to original characters in order to avoid just that.
Actually a little sister would fit him quite well... I'm interested how she will turn out.
I had a few things in mind, but this is all mostly improvisation anyway. See what I can do. As long as nothing is determined, it's just an undead cat.

Time will tell.
Life, what is it but a dream?
זה מגניב אותי כל פעם מחדש, העובדה שיש פה עברית. אני תוהה אם מישהו ישים לב ששיניתי חתימה.

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Minister of Gloom
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Re: Finger Training

Post by Minister of Gloom » Sat Oct 29, 2011 6:57 pm

GOD SAVE US ALL THEY JUST KEEP GETTING LONGER. I considered splitting it into two, but I finally decided not to, which is a decision I am still not 100% sure about and might actually change at some point.

Sorry for taking so long to post this one. My computer was broken for the last three weeks or so. Which is a shame, because most of this chapter was already written, more or less. I could have posted it in a week if it wasn't for technical problems.

Now, the fact that it was already written leads us to an another, more interesting problem, but first, the long-awaited exhibit itself...

Sweet and Sour

I have to admit, after seeing some of the other people who were sitting with me in the cafeteria, I didn't actually expect to be the very last to finish her meal. It was a cruel thing to think, but I guess a certain part of me found the thought that some people out there had an even harder time with their food than me a selfish relief.
Then again, I was among the last to finish.
And by "finish" I mean "finally give up about it and return my tray", as opposed to actually "done eating all of my food", which simply wasn't a realistic proposition, since I was pretty sure that by the time I would have done that the janitors would have to push aside my chair with me on it to clean the floor beneath.

The Captain and Ishii apparently had enough of my sluggishness a few minutes ago. "Would'ye look at t' time", the Captain remarked bemusedly, turning her one seeing eye to her watch. She had to pull up two layers of thick sleeves to get to it, and focusing my sight on her hands as she did, I was suddenly sharply reminded of the fact that she was wearing gloves. I suppressed the desire to ask her if she was really that cold, and what sort of condition she could possibly have that made it so. I guessed I'd have to learn quickly to ignore those instincts.

"We'd better get movin', Jack. I'va couple o' thin's t' take care o' before bedtime", she said to Ishii, who rolled her eyes at the name being used again, but didn't say anything. "See you two tomorrow. It's been nice gettin' t' know you, Yuno".

With those words, she dramatically got up from her seat, gestured with her hand for Ishii to follow her, and started walking quickly towards the door. Ishii remained seated for a while, and after making sure that the Captain was outside of hearing range, quietly said "Try to get some sleep tonight. From the way you look, I think you'll feel a lot better tomorrow morning". She had no expression on her face as she said that, neither a smile nor a frown. The tone of her voice was that of a simple suggestion, nothing more or less. She followed The Captain quickly and silently, tiny feet making no noise whatsoever as they crossed the room in tiny steps.
She looked like an elementary school student who somehow found her way into a high-school cafeteria.

Only Maeda stayed with me until I was done, her incessant chatter, cheerful smile and wild swings accompanying me all the way towards the exit, far later into the evening. I was grateful for that, and I said as much, and for the third time that day she happily dismissed my thanks, saying that eating dinner by yourself isn't fun.

"Although", she mentioned a while later as we were making our way outside, as if from deep thought, "you do know you wouldn't have had to even if I did leave you, right?"

"Have to what?" I asked, already lost in another line of thought, a little upset about it being rudely cut.

"Eat by yourself. You don't have to."

"Y-you were with me", I said, trying to sound more grateful about it, which I really was. I didn't think people would ever do that if they weren't obliged to, as my family was.

"Yes, I know. What I meant to say was that there were other people too."

"I saw them", I confirmed, now even more confused.

"A lot of other people. You're not the only one in this school who's a slow eater. Not by a long shot." She didn't look angry, exactly, but she was obviously not putting on the same happy face she used before. "You could try talking to one of them someday."

"I d-don't know them", I said in protest, now realizing were this conversation was going, agreeing, and not being happy about it.

"You didn't know me ten hours ago, either". She was absolutely right, of course, so I didn't answer, as people often do when they know that the one speaking to them is absolutely right.

"Look, I wasn't here much longer than you were, okay? And, like, I didn't know any of them. But how bad could they really be? Like those two guys who were sitting by the window there. They looked nice enough. You understand what I'm trying to say?"

I nodded quietly. I would have looked at my feet in shame, but that doesn't have the same effect when you look at your feet by default.

She sighed and gave out a little laugh. "No need to get all gloomy about it. But people don't bite, you know? The worst that could happen is that they just won't talk to you. So you'd find someone else to talk to, or something."

"I will. I am t-trying".

"Good, you should be", she said. "You are a nice person. I think I'll like being your friend. But I don't have to be the only one. Sitting in the corner's only going to get you so far."

"I know, I know…" I replied, upset more at myself than at her now. And she was upsetting, even if she was right; which she was, mind you, but I didn't think she had to push it that hard. "I j-just need time. It's…"

"It's okay," she said, concluding the conversation. "I think I know what you mean."

I thought about Maeda's expression and about her words as we walked; that is, as I stumbled awkwardly and she rolled. It was as if she had removed a mask to speak to me, one that she was quick to put on again as soon as the conversation ended. Or was it mask? Why it, and not the face I've known?
And did I really know her face, anyway, back then? I've only seen her for less than one day, yet I was so quick to judge her by her disposition, to make assumptions about her personality and nature based purely on a few hours of watching her from afar, of idle talk?
Did I always judge people that way?
Did anybody?

We both exited the building on our way to the dormitories. A wonderful, bright moon hanged from the dark firmament, and a cool wind ran gently through the tree leaves around us. I couldn't really see the green in the dark, but I could smell it, and listen to it's whispers on the night air, and feel it. It felt really good. I wanted to hang there for a while longer, but my companion's movement forced my own until we reached the dorms.

"Take a shower before going to bed", she said before leaving to her room, also on the first floor, for obvious reasons. "Give me a call if you need some help. Or anybody else, you know."

I nodded again before leaving her to my own room myself. It was larger then my room back at home. I wondered if it was originally meant for use by more than one student. I could certainly see how another bed would fit on the other side of it, by the wall. Or was it originally built for one? Were all the rooms here? What kind of school does that?

I sighed, slowly sitting down on my bed and putting aside my crutches.

This kind of school, obviously.

The room looked mostly empty, aside from those obvious things that dorm bedrooms had to include, and I tried to decide if there was anything wrong about it. There were pictures on the walls of my own room back at home, and a few stuffed animals on the other side of the bed, none of which I felt a particular liking to. Mika's room was smaller, but had a lot more things in it. I didn't need many things. Childhood toys were few, since I didn't really play with a lot of toys. And there was a single shelf for books, but even them I didn't touch much because I didn't like turning papers. Clothes were all in the closet. You don't get many chances to leave them on the floor or on the bed when other people do all of your dressing up for you.

So all in all, this big, empty dorm room felt homely enough for me. It was my room in a boarding school. That fact alone made it greater than any amount of decorations ever could. A room not in my house, away from my family, away from my life with my family. I was torn between not being able to wait for the morning and not ever wanting it to arrive. That anxious excitement from before came back at full force, now that I was alone again.
By the faint sounds that could be heard through the closed door, it seemed that most of the dorm's girls were now on their way either to or from the showers, or making various related arrangements. I slowly turned my body until I was laying almost completely upon the soft blanket, closing my eyes in response to the irritating feeling of pressure against one half of my body. My legs hanged from the side, though. As much as I would've wanted that, I wasn't planning on falling asleep, yet.

As I said, I didn't take my shower yet, and my conversation with Maeda a few minutes earlier notwithstanding, I really didn't want to do that with anybody else around. I didn't want anybody else to see me struggling with all the simple actions and procedures that normal people our age never even gave a second thought to. I knew I'd be clumsy, slow, awkward, and pitiful. I knew I'd slip and fall and lost my grip on things, and I knew I'd be frustrated about it and that I'd probably take it out on everyone around me.
And I knew that most likely, none of the other girls would care.
Worst case scenario, they might offer me help. And I didn't want any of that.
Call me stubborn and foolish. By all means, I was, when it came to such matters.

I decided to use the time to call back home. I promised my parents I will, and I guess if I didn't, they weren't above leaping into a car in the middle of the night and rushing here to rescue me from my short independent existence.
Besides, I missed them. It was an incredible day, and I loved the new place, for the time being, but it was different. That was the point, but different is always a little scary, a little disturbing. I very, very rarely spent such long periods away from home. And this one was about to become way longer yet.
It took me a while to find my phone, most of which was spent trying to dig it out of the bag it was left in. It only took a second, though, to speed dial home, which was good, because I wasn't very good with typing tiny cell-phone buttons accurately back then.
Mika answered a few seconds later. She said that she was happy to talk to me, that she misses me, that she was hoping I was doing fine, and watching myself. It was nice to hear her voice, even if talking to her over the phone was difficult. Long conversations always were, even with the benefit of body language and expression. My parents joined in on the conversation a while later. Did I slip? Did I fall? Burn myself? Were any of the teachers harassing me? Were any of the other kids? As I expected, they were desperately looking for the tiniest sign of displeasure or irritation to call the entire operation of and take me back. I told them the truth: that I was having fun, that I had made some friends, that I liked it there. I didn't talk about the more difficult parts, which I guess wasn't very honest of me, but I didn't want to take any risks.

With my eyes closed, I listened to the sounds of movement and speech through the door. It took them about half an hour to diminish to the point that I considered it safe to come out. I took a few personal shower supplies and a new set of clothes, picked up my crutches grumpily, and left the room.

By the time I arrived at the showers, they were already empty. There probably wouldn't be any hot water left, but the privacy was more than worth it, in my mind.

Except they weren't actually empty.

I was in the middle of the long and arduous operation that was undressing myself when a voice from the other side of the room startled me. Already nervous as I was, I was unable to maintain my balance and fell messily back, letting out a soft moan of pain as the base of my spine hit the hard floor. It hurt, but it wasn't anything too unusual. It wasn't even the first time on that day that I fell the same way. This is why I walk with crutches.

Now, let's get a few things clear, before and in case this ever comes up: I generally have no problem with people seeing me naked. As I've already said, if it was up to me only, I'd walk around naked most of the time (fortunately, it was never up to me, and so the people of the world were saved a great deal of embarrassment). I don't even have any problem with people touching my naked body, so long as they don't try anything funny and I know they're coming.
It's not anything perverted, it's just something you get used to after fifteen years of being dressed and washed by other people. My body was never a "private" thing for me.

However, while the essential idea of being naked was not problematic to me, the idea of being seen by others at such a time of weakness most certainly was. This was the reason I've waited for such a long time before coming in the first place.
The voice laughed, meanly. There was a strange smell, a mix of something bitter and burned, and something like a soft smell of sweet almonds, perhaps.
My first thought was, of course, of cyanide, that terrible poison so often associated with suicides or assassinations, because I am a cheerful person like that.

Another girl was sitting in one of the big room's corners, crouched funnily next to a small bag that I assumed contained her clothes and other shower supplies. She was still fully dressed, so I assumed that, like me, she still hasn't taken her shower yet, for some reason. From the little I could see of her features, she was rather plump, with a slight tan to her skin, and a mane of wild, dark hair obscuring her face from me.
The source of the strange smell was clear: she seemed to be smoking, probably a very cheap, very synthetic kind of short cigarette. I couldn't help but wonder about the type of person who'd buy cigarettes that actually smell like poison and whether it would be smart to talk to them. Then again, drugs weren't exactly one of the areas of my expertise.

"Are you planning on getting over with this some time soon, or do you just like the feeling of cold floor on your ass?"

For an introduction, that was very blatant.

"Don't mind me, sweetie, I am just sitting here. Feel free to move any time now."

I still haven't, naturally. I wanted to run away, of course, at top speed, but that wasn't a very practical choice at the moment; or any other moment, actually, me being me. I would have said something, perhaps something harsh, but again, that was me. All I could do was nervously look at a possible escape route and immediately conclude that it would take me way too long to get up.
I imagined all sorts of people I didn't want to meet in the showers, and this kind of girl was only at the bottom of the list because I didn't assume one might live here.

"Wait; are you one of those deaf chicks? You can't hear a word I am saying, do you? Jesus fuck, tell me something. Sign with your hand. Wave one of those walking sticks of yours." She inhaled another lungful of cyanide smoke, sighed, and made a few quick gestures with one hand. She waited for a moment, than frowned when I didn't answer.

"Just a retard, then? I didn't think we had any of those yet. Wouldn't be surprised to find out otherwise, though."

This did it. "I a-am not a r-retard!" I replied, anger suddenly overwhelming fear. Even I have my sensitive spots.

"Right. Should've figured it was something like that. Feel free not to say anything, then. Wouldn't want to break that tongue of yours on it."

Another inhalation, another second of eyes closed in a strange peace. "Do get that whole shower crap going, though, it's not that I don't enjoy the view, but, well, I am not enjoying the view."

"What view?"

"You on the floor. No offense, honey, but you're no supermodel. Not the first person I'd have in mind if you asked me which one I'd like to see lying naked."

I blushed with anger and embarrassment. There are few emotions that I hate more than anger. Not just frustration or annoyance, which I've experience every moment of every day, and by that point was no longer very vulnerable to, but real, pure, raw anger. Not necessarily a deep rage or anything, just regular, cruel anger the kind most people face once or twice a month. You see, the fact that I've never had a functional body to vent this anger through doesn't mean that I feel it, as far as I know, any differently than other people do. Except, as I said, I have no way of venting it. I can't hit a wall, can't throw away whatever I may be holding, I can't even scream or swear or just run off. Well, I guess I can scream, but not to any useful degree, in such a case.
So that angry energy just keeps building inside me, a painful pressure in my stomach that gets more and more terrible until it is finally condensed into something more manageable, like the urge to cry myself to sleep pathetically.

At that moment, I felt this kind of anger starting to rise to dangerous levels. I didn't think this is how people usually act, and in retrospect it turns out I was right, but back then I've attributed my vulnerability purely to my previously sheltered lifestyle and social inadequacy, which only made me even more upset. I never did anything to her. I didn't even know her. I just happened to be in the same room as her, and she just started hurling random insults at me.
I didn't consider myself someone who gets insulted easily, but then again, when I thought about it, few people ever actually tried to insult me on purpose. I also didn't consider myself a person who retaliates to insults.

"Who a-are you t-to s-speak?"

It wasn't a very witty retaliation, or even an intelligent one, and the fact that I could only mumble it slowly like the retard are was previously referred to as didn't make it sound any better. But some childish part of me just really wanted to hurt her back.

She stared at me in disbelief for a while, then laughed. Holding the cigarette between her fingers like some movie character, her eyes closed in mock self-satisfied smugness, she simply said "Nah, it's all a matter of preference. Some guys like them big."

Something about her own line made her giggle, and I didn't want to think exactly what.

"Besides, I am not really fat. It's not my fault this school is packed with fucking anime heroines. Not you, though."

"Thanks", I replied, not actually managing to sound sarcastic. I'll have to work on that with my speech therapist.

"So you do have a spine after all. Could've fooled me, pumpkin. I still insist, though, put some fucking clothes back on, it's like watching one of those World War II documentaries."

I slowly raised one hand, still clutching a part of my uniform, to cover the front of my body.

"Better now?"

"Not much, no, but I guess there isn't a lot we can do about the rest of you, right? So what brings a sweet innocent thing like you here in the middle of the night?"

It was a shower room, not a back alley.

"No, wait, forget I said anything, it'll probably take you the rest of the night to answer. Let me take an educated guess, okay? You're here, after everybody else has already finished their business, because you have some sort of deep-seated personal complex related either to you being an ugly ragdoll of a thing, or to some traumatic experience from your childhood you're going to be oh-so-eager to share with me once I kiss up to your self-esteem a little?"

She looked pretty confident in herself, and usually that would've annoyed me, but I was too busy being shocked about the violently blunt yet scarily accurate description of the situation.

"Wow", was the only sound I managed to utter, struck by disbelief.

She put on another ugly smile. "You're new here, aren't you? You seriously thought you were the only one with this bright idea? Get a ticket, sugar, there's a line stretching behind you all the way to fucking Kyoto."

I would have raised an eyebrow, but I couldn't manage that even if I wasn't in such an unnerving situation. "Is that so?"

"Oh, you haven't the faintest idea, ragdoll. It's a school for messed up kids with rich parents who got tired from having to deal with their shit. Every second bitch here thinks she's in the center of some big fucking drama, with the entire world revolving around her and her tragic little accident five years ago, her time in the fucking hospital, and how her parents don't love her anymore because she's a few limbs short or a few brain tumors heavier or god-knows-what. And two of every three think that they'd have to take care of their washing businesses all by themselves, because really, who else in this woefull world would ever be able to understand their deep and important suffering?"

"It's n-not l-like that!"

She gave me a profound look. "Is that so?"

"No. N-no, it isn't."

She didn't seem particularly annoyed by that. She just shrugged and said "Give yourself a couple months more here, then tell me about it. For every guy who likes to joke about being blind, you have some twenty fuckers moping around on and on about their cystic fibrosis, or epilepsy, or indigestion like it's the saddest, most horrible thing to ever happen on this fair Earth. Like they're the troubled, tough, silent guy from some shitty manga who gets up once in a while to punch some bastard who dared mention his precious trauma. For every deaf chick who's damn proud of it, you get thirty winy bitches who'll run crying to their rooms if someone mentions that they got their nice crispy filet-mignon skin tone when their father tried to set them on fire."

"I'd d-do the s-same! I-it isn't their f-fault."

"…wait, wasn't that from that old movie? The one where the kid dies…?" She was almost certainly listening, but she made quite a show of not.

"So what I was saying before is: step off your fucking stage. Everybody here's just as messed-up as you are. You aren't any better than them and your shitty body absolutely isn't worse, trust me, so don't go around imagining that you are a delicate, lonely fairy in this cruel, cruel world; who has to fucking clean herself up an hour after everybody else does so that nobody may accidentally see her stumps, or her scars, or her ribs poking through her paper-thin skin like some alien spider out of a horror movie. Which yours do, by the way. Put some clothes on already, dammit, it's disgusting."

I couldn't tell anymore if I was more angry or more confused. "Where d-did the b-big speech come f-f-from?! I-it sounds to m-me like you are thone w-w-with the prblmes ere… I-is that j-just somethng ydo? Ambush r-r-random pple in t-the shower to…"

She stuck her fingers in her ear, making a pained exprssion. "Wow, wow, slow down there, cherry-pie. I told you not to break that tongue of yours. See what happens when you don't listen?"

In my defense, I was very nervous at the moment and I wasn't used to saying so much so quickly. The results far from surprising.

"What are y-you doing here, a-anyway?" This time, I spoke very slowly and deliberately, trying desperately to avoid giving her another reason to insult me.

"Laughing my fat ass off. You sound so fucking hilarious when you're angry."

I nearly cringed, trying to find words that seemed to fly away from me in the confusion. "They... th-they let people like y-you into this k-kind of school?"

"What kind of people? Delinquents who smoke in the showers or assholes who actually tell others what they think about them from time to time?"

"Both!"

"Well as for the delinquency thing, all I have to say to you is that you haven't seen shit. I used to have piercings, you know? Now that's something that gives teachers a fit. I'd bleach my hair, too, but that's mostly for boys and sluts, and I'm not nearly enough of a slut. As for that other thing, you'd be surprised with how lenient they can be here sometimes with "emotional outbursts". Like I said, half the kids here are fucking crazy with angst and self-importance and shit. But that's okay, you know? We're all sick or injured, so we totally have an excuse to act like egotistical asshole to everybody else. They don't expel you for that; they give you a meeting with the school counselor. Then another, and another, and another…"

"You are in love w-with the sound o-of your own voice. D-did anybody ever t-tell you that?"

"See? Now you're making progress."

"I d-didn't mean…"

She placed the burnt out cigarette carefully at her side, perhaps for later disposal.

"Wait," the question suddenly came to me. "W-why are you e-even smoking here anyway? Why n-n-not in your r-room?"

"You moved in here from Mars or something? It's a high-school shower room. People come here to smoke, masturbate, and peek at hot blind girls soaping their tits. Hygiene is more of a side-effect."

I wished so hard at that moment that I could twist my face in disgust, but alas, my muscles failed me. "You…?"

"Hell no, I'm no fucking dyke. I just wanted to see the look on your face. Very impressive, by the way, you almost-kind-of managed to pull up your lip for a moment."

"Hey, d-don't you t-try to change the s-subject."

She grinned. "So, the reason I smoke here and not in my room is "smoke detectors", my innocent little muffin. And the smell will stick to everything. The detector in this part of the showers has been broken for ages now, but I guess nobody cares because, hey, what are the odds of a fire starting in the showers? And any evidence can be easily washed clean and away. They don't really mind antisocial behavior and all that, but they can be really, really harsh about cigarettes. Because of all the asthmatics around and all the other kids with fucked up lungs. Like that one guy last year who yelled at me until he pretty much coughed himself into unconsciousness, the fucking idiot. I mean, you already have cancer, what's my smoke going to change? Save your air instead of throwing it at me."

"You t-told him that?"

"No, I called a nurse. I am an asshole, but I don't want people to die on me."

"Wait. If you c-called a n-nurse, than they d-did find o-out about the cigarette."

"Yup, and they gave me one hell of punishment for it. And they actually went easy on me that time; if only because they were too busy trying to save dear mister Black Lung."

She took out another cigarette from the packet and lighted it. I stared at her quietly, as I usually do.

"Those things will k-kill you."

"My god, really? And here I was doing it all for the health benefits! Look, sweetie, I appreciate your concern, but I really don't give a fuck. My body, my problem."

"But… but…"

"You actually can't pronounce "hypocrisy", can you? Too many syllables, I bet your mouth will melt. Let's not do anything risky here. Say, you feel like doing me a little favor?"

"What?! Why would… You j-just insulted m-me again! Why should I d-do y-you a favor?"

"I don't know. It's a favor; I guess you do it because you feel like being a nice person."

"To s-someone else who is!"

She sighed, took a little wallet out of her bag and threw me a couple of coins, one of which ended up hitting my nose, because I'm not exactly the coin catching type. "Just go to the hallway and get me a soda, okay? Keep the change."

"You n-need my help to g-get a soda?"

"I could do it myself, but if I get caught one more time the Creepy Nurse will have me."

"The who?"

"The Creepy Nurse. You'll meet him soon enough. Never opens his eyes. Never stops smiling. Looks like a fucking child-molesting serial-killer, if you ask me. He catches you doing something you shouldn't be, he's going to guilt-trip you so hard you'll actually hit the floor. Guilt-trip you into oblivion. Tear your soul to shreds with his fucking smile. And he's always watching. Always."

"He p-probably means w-well."

"Maybe, but that doesn't change the fact that he's creepy as all hell and if he catches me by one of those vending machines again, I'm done for. The only reason I can even to talk to you like this here is that I am pretty sure he isn't allowed to place fucking cameras and shit in the girls' shower room. Which I'm pretty sure he did everywhere else. Wonder what happens if someone gets a seizure or something here."

She was obviously exaggerating this all tremendously, but the original subject of the matter remained.

"So, w-why aren't you a-allowed to…"

"-diabetes. I shouldn't be drinking so much sugar."

"You r-really shouldn't!"

"Well, thanks, d-d-d-d-d-doctor, b-b-b-b-but I happen to enjoy d-d-d-d-drinking sugar, so screw them."

"That w-was uncalled for."

"So was your comment. I sit here 24/7 with a needle up my ass filled with pig juice, I better as fuck be allowed a soda once in a while."

"Pig juice?"

"Well, not really, I think it's synthetic these days. Still, needle up the ass. But if you don't want to…"

"No. I'll go."

Her eyes widened in surprise. "Wow, talk about unexpected."

It took a while to gather all of my things, dress back up, and go out to the end of the hallway. Luckily, as I said, it wasn't curfew yet. She didn't say anything about how long it took me, because I guess even with her personality, she didn't want to do anything to risk her soda. The buttons on the machines were large, but getting the coins into the slot was still somewhat of a challenge. By the time I got back, all I could hope for was a short, cold shower before bed.

I was in the middle of undressing when I heard the disappointed groan from the back of the room. Fortunately, I didn't have to try very hard to hide my nigh-invisible grin.

"What's with this diet shit?"

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

So, as I was saying, this chapter is very weird because most of it was actually already written (give or take a little editing and changing here and there) long ago. The entire "Showers" part, originally a chapter unto itself, has the dubious honor of being one of two scenes that were not only planned (and even those are pretty rare in this story) but actually written in advance, waiting for a time when it would be appropriate to insert them. Months in advance, actually, and this is where the crazy part begins.

I finished writing the second-to-last draft of that scene on June 10th, just a few days after posting the fifth chapter, in a mad to rush to come up with some interesting ideas for the future of the story when I had none. That's three days before Mirage first posted his excellent story "Tripping", to some parts of which this chapter has almost creepy similarities (cigarettes and asthmatics, irritable diabetics, shy girls taking there time in the shower...), . Great minds think alike, and I guess it does make me a little proud to know I had the same ideas as Mirage, but I am still disappointed with myself, somehow. I felt so creative and original when I first wrote them! It's only relatively small details, but I just can't seem to get over how I should have known I wouldn't be the only one to come up with them.

sigh

It wouldn't be the first time I subconsciously steal from his stories, which always makes me immensely ashamed because if there's anyone on this forum who deserves my utmost respect it's him, who always lends me a helping hand when I need a review or an opinion, or even a simple spellcheck. Except this couldn't be the case this time, because I haven't seen his story before stealing ideas from it.
Presumably, I possess psychic powers of precognitive plagiarism (Pardon the paranormal ploy, please pretend the premise was passable)

Then again, I was never the most original of people and I am probably blowing this way out of proportion. I assume that if I looked around, I'd find out that almost everything I've written was already done by someone else. But I admire Mirage's stories!

And now for something completely different: you might notice that the style of the second part of this chapter, as well as Yuno's behavior, do not exactly match more recently written ones. I tried to rewrite it a little to get around this, but obviously there was only so much I could do, being lazy and five days after my self-determined "deadline". Also, the swearing. Gosh dang it to heck, so much freaking swearing. I think I originally meant this part to poke fun at something, but I honestly can't remember what anymore. If it proves to be too insufferable, just let me know and I'll edit it out.

One last thing: the incident in the end? Based on a true and amusing story related by a diabetic friend of mine. Pleaded for a coke, friend bought her one of those zero-taste pseudo coke mystery liquids that are basically brown water. Kind of a jerk move, I guess, but this (for now) unnamed here deserved it, or so thinks this early version of Yuno, who was probably a little more vindictive back when I wrote this chapter.

Good night and good week!
Last edited by Minister of Gloom on Sun Oct 30, 2011 2:45 pm, edited 3 times in total.
Life, what is it but a dream?
זה מגניב אותי כל פעם מחדש, העובדה שיש פה עברית. אני תוהה אם מישהו ישים לב ששיניתי חתימה.

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Mirage_GSM
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Re: Finger Training

Post by Mirage_GSM » Sun Oct 30, 2011 4:47 am

Wow, someone accusing me of originality... That has to be a first ;-)
Joking aside, the bits you mentioned could hardly be considered "stolen" There's only so many ways, things can turn out when a smoker runs into an asthmatic, and your scene played out completely different than Jun and Kenta's.
Also, there's a part in your current chapter that will come up in a similar way in a future chapter of Tripping, and I don't even have the excuse that the chapter is already written. It's part of one of my character's backstories, and I don't exactly know where to use it yet. Then you can accuse me of plagiarism ;-)
That said, I really like your new character. She's like Ikuno's evil counterpart. The even both have diabethes. It's only that Ikuno's sarcastic, while your character is spiteful. It is incredibly fun to write such characters!
Regarding the length of chapters.... I never give that any thought at all. When I write a chapter, I have a rough idea of what is supposed to happen, and the chapter will continue until all of that has happened. If I decide to leave bits out, it's not because the chapter gets too long but because I can't find a way to insert it into the dialogue in a believable way. So try not to count the pages of your chapters until you finished writing them. That way they will always be exactly as long as they need to be.
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
Sore wa himitsu desu.

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Re: Finger Training

Post by scott1and » Sun Oct 30, 2011 7:07 am

Hey, its me (da da da daaaaa) Another good chapter, although I noticed you got the wrong tense in a few places, like where you wrote "I decided to use the time to call back home. I promised my parents I will" it should be "would" instead of "will". There's a couple of other instances I think but I can't remember where they are, which means they can't be that important.
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Minister of Gloom
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Re: Finger Training

Post by Minister of Gloom » Thu Dec 01, 2011 8:45 am

Once again, I will have to apologize to you for the delay. I was in no shape to write something like this for most of the last month. There's been a lot on my mind, as of late. Thoughts, and chemicals to deal with the thoughts. When I realized that the month was quickly disappearing, I despaired, took all the parts of the few following chapters that seemed anywhere close to presentable, and stitched them together to create this one. Now, that might seem like a very pretentious thing of me to say, but if there's something that's important to me while writing this kind of stories, it's the flow. And in the original, most basic core drafts, the flow of each of this chapters was... well, not excellent, but it was good. I was almost proud of it.
This sad patchwork has no flow. You can practically see the stitches where parts from different premade chapters were sewn together brutally, chapters written in different times while I was in different moods. You can see the stumps where entire conversations or monologues were amputated, and the holes where descriptions were cut away and removed for lack of time, space, or fitness.

Masks and Cupcakes

Hours flowing into years, days fading into seconds; the passage of time plays tricks on the minds of the tired and the confused. Just as the first day of school that felt like an eternity ended in a few hours of restless sleep, the following week seemed to disappear into a single, blurry instant. Time has turned into a strange, thick liquid, stretching and mixing and swirling around me chaotically, as my mind struggled to adept to the changes in the world around me, changes that scared and thrilled me immensely at the same time.

Every morning was a new ordeal for me. I could never fall asleep early enough, which isn't surprising, considering that I still made every effort to stay out of other people's sights as I went on my personal business, caring, yet never enough to follow, the suggestions and encouragements of my few new friends, or those who cared for me. I'd wake up every morning long before anybody else did, or so I wanted to think, brutally pulled from my uneasy rest by the hum of my cellphone's alarm clock going off by my head. Gentle and likeable as the tune might have been to me while awake, it always felt like a horrible screech boring its way into my brain after half a night of sleep, and it took me an unbearably long time to reach for it and fumble around the interface with my clumsy fingers before I managed to turn it off.

I'd then pick up all of my clothes and shower supplies and hurry to the showers as quietly as I could manage, secretly hoping not to be seen by anyone, painfully aware of the fact that by the time I was done, the room would almost certainly be full. A few of the girls who, like me, didn't want to be seen hid inside their stalls during almost the entire process, but unfortunately for me, I needed far more room than that to be able to dress up in less than an hour. Big as the stalls might have been, I just couldn't manage it yet while standing up. Actually washing myself was one embarrassing challenge, but trying to put on those stupid uniform shirts while bracing myself against the wall with one hand, my legs shaking dangerously beneath me, was even more so.

I ate short, small breakfasts, rarely talking to anyone, focusing on finishing quickly and making as little a mess as possible, and usually failing.

But deep inside me, I loved and cherished and yearned for all of that small suffering. All of this was by my choice. All of these challenges were my own, chosen by myself, to be confronted by myself, no matter how difficult or frustrating things got. I felt like a normal person my age. I was, or at least hoped with every fiber of my being that I was or could be a normal person my age.

Despite my best attempts and glowing inspiration, I still managed to be a few minutes late to class on my second day. Nobody said a word, naturally, neither the teacher nor any of the students. Mrs. Nakano approached me after the period was over, and I assumed that she would say something to me about it personally. She was, after all, a very "modern" sort of teacher, and this was a pretty unusual school. She didn't, however: she just wanted to point out that my stupid ribbon was, once again, not tied. She gave me another one of those calm, sympathetic smiles of hers and for a moment I could swear that I saw a hint of condescending disappointment mixed in it, as if she truly expected me, of all people, to change my ways simply because she gave me a logical reason to.

But of course, that could have also been just my twisted mind working against me.

My weak protests were all in vain: once again, with annoying ease, she reached down gracefully and tied it for me, not saying anything further and advising me to go outside and enjoy my break, as if nothing unusual happened. This humiliating little ritual repeated itself on the third day, even though I managed to arrive early by cutting my breakfast even shorter. I realized angrily the futility of arguing with her about this; I might as well have been arguing with my mom. It's really surprising how much a relatively reasonable person can come to hate a little black ribbon given the right circumstances.

Things changed, a little, on the fourth day of the week. Not by my choice, this time, but in retrospective, perhaps for the better. The mornings were certainly a little less stressful after that, if only as a function of an evolving state of mind. I guess you could say it all started with a funny mistake, although it certainly didn't seem that way back then: I got to class very early on that day, nervous, tired and upset as usual. Since I seemed to have been the very first one to arrive and could think of nothing better to do, I simply set aside my crutches and melted into my chair, hoping to gather a few more precious minutes of sleep before anybody barged in.
I swallowed a little yawn, carefully resting my head upon the cold, hard surface of the desk in front of me, only vaguely aware of the fact that my poor spine would make me pay for this on my next physiotherapy session, and not really caring anymore. With my eyes closed and the warm numbness of sleep slowly spreading along my aching limbs, I was right on the cosy verge of falling asleep when the sound of the classroom door opening and closing again pulled me back into reality, angry and disoriented.

Takeda was a boy from my class whose first name I still haven't really had the chance to memorize, although I am pretty sure that tired as I was, I probably wouldn't have been able to come up with it even if I had. I never heard him speaking before, certainly not to me, so I didn't exactly consider it top priority, anyway. I could hear his heavy footsteps as he approached me, tall, wide shouldered, and cumbersome like a stone tower with a permanent frown of concentration on his face. I sat up, embarrassed, trying to avoid his gaze as he seemed to keep staring at me, following my face slowly as I tried to look the other way around. After a short while of relative stillness and absolute silence, he suddenly focused his eyes on my neck and pointed at my ribbon, smiling nervously, as if he somehow assumed that I wasn't aware of the fact that it was untied.

"It's fine", I muttered, wishing for him to go away, but he just kept staring at me confusedly. He pointed again, a questioning look on his face. I could see his gaze moving slowly from my face to my crutches lying beside me and back to my face. I could imagine the grinding of the gears inside his head.

"I don't n-need help. I'm fine", I said a second time, now even more annoyed, and still he stared, rubbing his fingers awkwardly. The gesture looked ridiculous on a person as big.

"C-can you please g-go away, this is m-", I finally started saying before stopping abruptly to let away a surprised, fearful yelp. Perhaps tired of the creeping silence, Takeda took a step forward, bending a little down to my sitting height. I sat paralyzed as his big hands reached for my neck, thick fingers clumsily twisting around each other centimetres from my face. I was torn between the urge not to breathe and the urge to scream, but before I could make up my mind he stood back up, tapping me on the shoulder once as if to verify that the knot is strong enough, then raised a palm cheerfully, looking at me with the hopeful smile of a child unsure whether he just did something good or bad. I was just regaining my composure and about to say something when he finally did.

I'm not sure what exactly, since he said it in sign. Apparently, the vast majority of deaf kids found it extremely difficult to read my lips. It's hard to blame them, I guess, since they move so little and so differently than those of others.

I was ashamed of myself in the beginning, but somehow having this ribbon tied by another student like me was better than having Mrs. Nakano do it. At least Takeda didn't give me that horrible look of condescending disappointment.

It was a crude method, but for my first few days and weeks in the new school, it worked. And it was definitely not without its other advantages. Some of my classmates were friendlier about this than others, but nobody ever passed or walked away or made a nasty comment. Some did try to be helpful, in their own way, but they never pushed too far when they saw I didn't want them to.
Some of them I liked enough to keep speaking to between lessons.
Was that really all there was to having "friends", I wondered? Was that how others did it?
Even back then I realized that these were foolish thoughts, but still, the knowledge that I have just found a few more people to speak to at times, even if I didn't really know any of them, felt surprisingly good. Was it always this easy? Was this what I was doing wrong all along? Maybe the best way to go about it always was never to ask the big questions, never to dwell about deep complexities. Just to stick to those shallow matters of conversation that can rise from a muttered "thank you" over a piece of ribbon tied half-reluctantly, because the alternative was so much worse, and go on from there. Some people I didn't get along with, but some I did. For the first time since arriving at that class I could really appreciate the fact that there were so many others around me, and that a significant amount of them weren't so bad. Some were interesting.

Uchida Jirou, which many had assumed would become class president as soon as Mrs. Nakano decided that it was time to choose one, was admittedly every last bit the stereotype, friendly and considerate yet always proper, if perhaps a bit on the looser side of proper. I don't think anybody minded that much. Young kids often like the idea of being led by someone who seems to understand them more personally, and isn't that half the idea of a class president in the first place?
Plus, he could tie ribbons with one hand, and you have to give a person credit for something like that. I was so amazed the first time that it took me a while to remember that I was supposed to be ashamed.

Then there was Kinoshita Sakura, the constantly shaking girl that immediately caught my eye when I first looked at the class because she seemed so much like me, an observation that seemed to have been rather accurate, if only on a very superficial level. I thought I might have made a friend of her back then, but it ended up taking me far longer precisely because we were similar. Tied ribbons notwithstanding, (that is, mine, since back then I certainly wouldn't have been able to help her with hers) it just felt strange to just have one of those wonderful "shallow conversations" after being so open about our weird little problems. She never asked me why I had my troubles, and I never asked her why she was shaking, but it was nice to have someone who could really, actually sympathize with you about strange things like the difficulty of keeping food off your skirt, or holding a pen properly, or putting in place all the little pieces of your uniform. Of course, those conversations always took way longer than they should have. That's what you get when you try to have a dialogue between two bad stutterers.

It was the lazy beginning of the first truly free weekend of my life. I had no idea what I'd use it for, or what I'd do, but the very fact that it would be spent somewhere other than home, so I thought, would have been enough to make it an unforgettable one. As the sky above us slowly turned the golden colour of evening and the gentle wind cooled, this dream seemed closer than ever.

There was a certain bench, to which I had developed a liking of sorts in the last few days, located right next to the entrance to our dormitory, and aside from being a very nice place to rest my legs after the walk back to my room at the end of the day, it was a perfect spot for short, calm conversations with my newly made "friends". I was recovering from yet another brutal battle with my speech therapist, sadistically placed right at the very end of my weekly timetable, but somehow that didn't feel like much of an issue as the hours passed in shallow talk.

Maeda said once that "another cool thing" about being stuck in a wheelchair was never having to leave it, and so wasn't sitting beside me so much as in front of me as we spoke on that evening. I gave up trying to figure out whether that was a very smart or a very dumb thing of her to say, but I didn't really mind either way, and I'm pretty sure I would have done the same in her place.

"…on the one hand, there was that whole human sacrifice thing, which I guess was pretty bad. On the other hand, chocolate", she finally concluded, bracing her chin against her palm as if in deep thought, perhaps waiting for an answer. I have to admit I didn't quite follow the last few lines of conversation, but I'm certain that they were very informative.
Fortunately, she decided to change the subject before this could become apparent, turning dramatically as if suddenly realizing that the original matter she'd wanted to discuss has slipped her mind.

"So, how's that cooking club thing going for you? You found that Kobayashi girl the Captain mentioned?"

"No. Asked around a l-little, b-but it's hard when you c-can barely say t-the name. A few s-second years said that t-they knew her, but t-that's as far as I g-got."

"You know, I could help you with that, if it's really that much of a problem. You just have to ask. We could do it toge-"

"No! T-this is important to m-me, okay? I want to d-do it on my own."

She sighed, slowly straightened up, stretched both her arms behind her back, then giggled quietly. "There's no way in the world you're going to give up on that, is there?"

I nodded a little, and her smile didn't change. "Well, I can't say I don't admire you for that. Still, can you please at least consider cutting yourself a little slack? You'll have it a lot easier."

"I d-don't want easier! I want t-to do this on my own", I replied, frustrated.

"I know, I know, you said it already, no need to get angry about it." She sat in silence for a while then added "I think being on a club will do you some real good. And like you said, cooking's a useful skill if there's any. Worst case scenario, if you can't find her, you could always just join me in Drama, you know? It'd be great!"

It was my turn to laugh a little, quietly and artificially, as I sometimes did when I wanted the people around me to know I was satisfied or amused. It sounded a lot better than my natural laugher, which was extremely rare back then and was more like choking sound than anything else. It's what you get when you try to laugh without moving your face all the way through.

"Was it really that funny or are you, like, trying to make a point or something?"

"A little of b-both, I think. Thanks, though."

"Any time. Acting may not be as useful a skill around the house, but it does have its uses! Plus, it's really fun. There's just something so releasing about pretending to be someone you're not for a while, like putting on a mask. Helps you clear your mind and all that."

"You're really into t-that, aren't you?"

"Have been for a while," she confirmed happily, waving a hand widely across her body as if presenting herself to an invisible audience. "And the people here are awesome. I think the Captain said that she was in Drama until not long ago."

"I could see that", I agreed slowly. "She quit?"

"Uhm, I guess? Maybe it's like Katsuo said and she went to get beaten up by some fencing team again. Could be some communal thing or somesuch, because I'm pretty sure this school doesn't have one."

I sat silently for a moment, gazing into the distance, before asking "S-speaking of which, what d-does Ishii do anyway? She d-doesn't seem like the c-club type."

Maeda shrugged. "No idea. From what I've heard, it's actually like some kind of mystery here."

"What do you mean?"

"I mean that I've heard people talking about it before, but I never really asked around or anything. What she does on her free time isn't any of my business if she doesn't feel like telling", she said, then lowered her voice as if speaking about a dirty secret "I heard that she's a really good musician, though. Like really, really good. Nationally famous, child prodigy good. Second years talk about it sometimes."

"I n-never heard about her."

"Me neither", she admitted with a shrug. "But maybe we just never watched the right channels or something."

"Some k-kind of o-orchestra then? Or a band? D-do we have one of those?"

"Now, that's the weird part. It seems that we do have one, and ever since she came to this school they've been begging her to join, like, once a month or so, and she always refuses; violently, sometimes."

I kept staring at her for a while, waiting for her to continue, but she didn't. "How's that a m-mystery? Maybe she j-just doesn't feel l-like joining a club."

Maeda seemed a little disappointed at my reaction, pouting childishly and crossing her arms, than releasing them with an amused sigh. "Yeah, guess that's possible. Still, if she's as good as they say she is, it does seem a little weird."

"Even if it's t-true, I'm s-sure she has a r-reason for that."

"Yup, and like I said, it's none of our business to ask her. You think the Captain would know?"

"Knowing the t-two", I commented, somewhat baselessly since I didn't actually know much about either of them, "she wouldn't t-tell even if she d-does."

We sat there in silence a while longer, thinking about it, or perhaps about other things that we didn't consider important enough, or maybe too important, to share like this on a bench by the dorm room during light conversation.

"What's wrong with her, anyway? Katsuo, I mean. Like, why is she here in the first place?"

"B-because she lives nearby?" I suggested, not liking the direction the conversation seemed to be taking.

"Why lie about it, then? She makes such a show of not telling."

"What happened t-to 'None of my b-business'?"

"It's just… it's weird, that's all. She just looks so normal, otherwise. I mean, yeah, she's tiny, but not like a midget or anything. Midgets look like an adult person got squashed to half the size. She looks like, I don't know, they took a fifth grader and stretched her a bit."

I had to admit, she's managed to pique my curiosity, as much as I didn't want her to. As far as I knew, Ishii was a second year just like the Captain. But she wasn't just far shorter than the Captain, she actually looked years younger. As beautiful as she was, sitting between the Captain and Maeda, who, as I've already mentioned before, has been, well, exceptionally blessed by puberty, Ishii looked like the like the closest she ever got to it was reading about it in a book.

Stupid beautiful people and their winning genetic lottery tickets. All I ever got out of that puberty deal was stomach aches and blood on my sheets. Still, a mystery after all.

Maeda crossed her arms again in thought. "But that's still normal, in the end. A little out of the ordinary, but it's not like an eyepatch or anything. Like, if you just met her some random place or something, you wouldn't assume there was anything wrong about her. Some people just get so lucky with their problems."

"We don't know a-anything about it besides. I wouldn't s-say that."

"You're one to talk! You look normal too, except for the crutches."

"I'd look l-like a heap on the f-floor w-without them", I reminded her carefully. "J-just like y-you would w-without your chair."

"Sort of, but yeah, I get your point. Sorry about that. Still, it's like she's doing it on purpose. It's like nobody knows anything about her. The Captain said once that she's really bad at PE, but, like, who isn't in this school? And it's not like healthy people can't just happen not to have a lot of athletic talent. Works the other way around, too; I heard the star of the school's track team has no legs."

I would've raised an eyebrow in disbelief if I could. Jirou could tie ribbons with one hand, but still, this idea seemed a bit far-fetched. "That's amazing."

"I know, right? I mean, I never met him or anything like that, but, like, this kind of people exists! Gets me so jealous to think that there are champion runners out there without legs, and here I am with legs and I can't even walk. Not fair."

"Pretty m-much what g-goes through my m-mind whenever I see someone t-tying their own s-shoelaces."

She shook her head in mock criticism. "Shoes, nothing but trouble. You know they make me wear them even though my feet never touch the ground?"

"Actually, yes, I d-do".

She looked surprised, and not entirely without reason.

"I can't k-keep my neck s-straight up all the t-time. Y-you end up s-seeing a lot of shoes."

"So you're like some kind of shoe expert?"

"…I can r-recognize most p-people I know b-by their shoes."

"Cool. See? There are benefits to everything if you look hard enough. Like, with the shoes thing. My feet never get cold. I mean, guess they do, but I don't really feel it so it's not that much of a big deal."

"Until they f-fall off, t-that is."

She touched a finger to her lip as if in thought, remarking "so maybe that's what the shoes are for", laughing despite the obvious foolishness of it.

We sat there, silent, until the sky darkened, she because she really didn't have a choice and I because I just felt that lazy, and because I appreciated the company too much. She broke the silence before I did, somehow sounding a lot more serious than she did before. I couldn't see her face very well, but for a moment, I think she almost looked sad. There were no wild gestures as she spoke, no quick smiles or giggles or any of the usual loudness to her voice.

"…Always gets to me how its little things like that, you know? You get paralyzed from the waist down, and after a year or two you kind of get used to it. But putting on shoes? That still bothers me every single time."

"I… I don't r-really know. I was b-born the w-way I am, so I c-can't compare it t-to anything. You s-seem to be d-doing pretty well, though."

"Thanks. Means a lot to me to hear someone say that like this. It took me a while, you know? I used to be such a fool about it."

She took a deep breath before continuing "But the show must go on. I could have kept blaming the gods for all eternity, but in the end, no matter how you look at it, it was my fault more than anybody else's.

"Y-you didn't strike me a-as the religious sort."

"Did I now?" she answered, looking vaguely amused.

There was a mysterious warmness to her honest smile, small as it might have been when compared to her usual, bombastic, theatrical laugher.

If indeed it was an honest smile.

She was, after all, a good actor.

We each went our separate ways a little before dinner. She said she had something to do, and I didn't feel like inquiring any further. Besides, I was hungry, and it was a long walk to the cafeteria, and a long walk back. The food was as good as ever, and the fact that I didn't have anyone to talk to had the small advantage of allowing me to concentrate fully on keeping as much of my food as possible off the table, the floor, or my legs. I failed, mostly, but that's what you get for trying.

With the comforting knowledge that the following day I wouldn't have to wake up too early, I allowed myself the privilege of eating to my full satisfaction for the first time that week. I almost forgot how good a full stomach felt, and I have no idea how many hours have passed until I was finally ready to return to my room for a well-deserved full night's sleep.

Fate, however, often has other things in mind for those who plan, and serendipity often presents itself in the funniest ways. I was making my slow way through the now mostly empty corridors of the main building when I stumbled upon it.

The first thing I noticed was the smell. They say that while humans perceive the world around them mostly through their sense of sight, it is the sense of smell that most powerfully evokes memories. And perhaps they are right, because despite the days that have passed since the ultimately insignificant experience, I still could not mistake the strong smell for any other. It came from one of first floor club-rooms, one that I couldn't remember seeing anyone use during the short time I've spent around the place to that point. The door was ajar. The room was fully lit.

The air was filled with the heavy smell of sweet almonds.

I approached it hesitatingly, and overwhelmed by the kind of curiosity that cats die for, carefully tried to peek inside. From the little I could see of it, I assumed it was some kind of lab. The white, dusty cabinets and counters along the walls, the sinks and cupboards, the empty, unused vessels and containers upon the big table in the middle. There was no sign of the source of the smell.

I opened the door slightly, and stepped inside.

It wasn't a lab. It was a small, utilitarian kitchen, an old home economics classroom, perhaps. And on the other side of it, right next to a couple of softly humming ovens and a big refrigerator, standing by a counter covered in stains of all kinds and a variety of carefully assorted ingredients, was a figure I have only seen once, but recognized all too well.

A fat girl whose dark hair, which I've last seen as a wild, unkempt mane, was carefully contained at the moment by a thin, disposable paper cap, wore a similarly disposable paper apron over her school uniform. She was standing with her back turned to me, and didn't seem to have noticed me, which wasn't at all surprising, all things considered.
A tray of small cakes or cookies was lying on the counter in front of her, each one uniquely decorated with a beautiful, delicate pattern of colourful frosting or cream, and tiny, hand-crafted images. She was currently occupied with the soft, fine work of applying or creating those decorations, and seemed completely unaware of anything going on around her, including my presence.

I took a few steps forward to get a better look at her face. She had an expression of zen-like, laser tight focus, and her hands moved with a loving, carefree gentleness that was at the same time as steady as the hand of master painter. She didn't look like a chef; she looked like an artist.

I was wrong the whole time about the smell. It seemed so obvious, now that I thought about it: cyanide supposedly smells like bitter almonds. This smell was very, very sweet. Like a mix of almond and burnt sugar. The last time we talked, she didn't smell of cheap, synthetic cigarette chemicals; she smelled of cheap, synthetic marzipan.

The next realization hit me like lightning. The absurdity of it was almost unspeakable. It was as if all small parts and pieces in a huge practical joke organized by some crazy god finally fell into place. I could almost hear its laugher ringing in my ears.

I tried to wait for a few more minutes, hoping for her to take a break or at least raise her head from her work for a moment, mortally afraid of breaking her concentration too much and interrupting her work, my mind every bit as tense as my body wasn't.

"You sure do love creepily staring at people, don't you, honey?" She didn't stop working as she said that. She didn't even move her head to face me. As far as I knew, she didn't even move her eyes.

I let out a tiny yelp of surprise at that, instinctively taking a step backwards, thankfully not falling down this time.

I could almost see the wicked little grin twisting her face. "If you want anything, you can come over and ask for it. We don't bite here, you know", she said with a bored, lazy voice, before adding "Except maybe for that one really weird chick from the art club. She's been known to bite when provoked. Personally, I just stay the fuck away from her".

I was a little shaken, but I still managed to produce a tiny, mumbled "You… y-you are Kobayashi?"

"Who wants to know and for what reason? Because if it's about that first year from two days ago, then I have no idea who she is and for the record, he started it."

I swallowed a little, unsure as for how to proceed. This new revelation threw me completely out of the little balance I had. "O-okada. Yuno. M-my name i-is Okada Yuno."

"Isn't that fucking nice to know. You want anything?"

"…How d-did you know I was h-here?"

"Those walking stick thingies of yours make a hell of a lot of noise, you ever noticed that? And I only know so many people who use them. Call it an educated guess," she finished as she finally raised her head from the tray full of decorated pastries and turned to look at me. She was a lot bigger than I remembered her now, and I remembered her being pretty big. She would have been more intimidating too, I guess, but there's just something about cigarettes that aprons don't really have. She gave me a quick look, examining me from top to bottom while absentmindedly wiping her hands clean on the paper.

"Huh, you're wearing clothes this time. That's comforting. Now I don't have to worry about an errant rib poking my eyes out. By the way, pumpkin, nice trick that was five days ago in the shower room. I still can't believe you actually kept the change."

I tried to take another step backwards, but my legs didn't feel like listening to me. All I could do was mumble uselessly in terror.

"I-I a-a-am s-sorry-!"

She laughed. "Shit, would you relax a little? I'm not going to beat you up. Keep the fucking change, buy another soda with it or some shit. My fault for not being more careful, should've known you weren't as retarded as you look, you sweet little bitch", she said while moving closer to me at an alarming rate. I could think about nothing except closing my eyes and waiting for the worst, but nothing ever came.

"Okay, now that's getting ridiculous. Open your eyes, take a fucking breath and for the love of god, stop shaking. I really don't feel like wiping your piss off the floor right now."

It took me a while longer than that, but she was kind enough to wait, standing in place with her arms crossed, one eyebrow raised in annoyance. "All better? Good. I'll ask you again: is there a reason you're here right now, or could you really just not get enough of staring at my fat ass? Because I think we've already established that I want nothing whatsoever to do with your sick little ragdoll fetishes." She glanced at her watch then pointed back at the dirty counter, as if all of this was nothing out of the ordinary. "By the way, you want one? Next batch is supposed to be ready in a few minutes. They'd be nice and warm, right out of the oven."

I hesitated for a moment, suspecting some kind of foul play. "You made them?"

"Of course not, they just started appearing out of thin fucking air one day and I felt like it was my duty to collect them."

"I d-didn't know… I-I mean… You cook."

"You got a problem with that?"

"No! N-not at all. J-just… I d-didn't think…"

"At least you're honest about it."

"…what? You… don't l-look like the t-type", I eventually managed to utter, already regretting the deed half a second after I was done with it.

"Peaches, I don't think you want me to tell you what type you look like. Just saying."

"B-but…"

"What? Is it because of the smoking? Because in case you didn't notice, I'm not smoking right now, and believe it or not, I do wash myself from time to time. Unlike somebody else in this room."

"I-it just t-took me a while! You scared me."

"Whatever. So, you want your treat or is there an actual reason for you to be here right now? Seriously, you didn't answer the last four times or so."

"I g-guess I s-smelled the ovens," I answered, and I couldn't really blame her for looking at me the way she did.

"Oh. Well, there you have it, then. You really should try one, by the way. They're really good."

She seemed very serious about it, so keeping my gaze fixed on her the entire time, I slowly made my way to the counter and picked one up, very careful not to drop it.

I took a small bite, then dropped it. Not because it was that good, mind you, although it was really, really good. I just drop things when I'm nervous. Or in general.

"That was very uncool of you. You could just say-"

"No! S-sorry. It was good. I-it was very good. I'll h-help you c-clean up."

She looked oddly relieved.

"Take as many as you want. I can put them in a bag or something for you. Take some for your friends," she said before adding "all zero of them, from the look of it, but whatever."

"Thank you. A-actually, now that… I", I nervously opened before realizing I now had no idea how to continue "T-there was s-something else I wanted t-to ask of you."

"Sorry, told you already, not a dyke."

Responding to that didn't seem like the wisest thing to do, considering the thing I was about to try and say to her.

"You cook?"

"Are you recovering from a stroke or something?"

"I… I was t-told you manage a c-club."

"You were told wrong. There is no club."

I was never an optimistic kind of person, and as I already said before, I took pride in never having very high expectations of anything. I thought it made me immune to disappointment. This was one disappointment I most certainly wasn't immune to, and I think it was actually visible on my face.

"Yeah, that's what I said, except with more swearing and less… squishiness. Stop doing that kind of face. Faces don't suit you, sugar."

"Sorry..."

"Fuck, now you look like a ragdoll and you sound like one. What's it with you today?"

"I thought you c-could teach me."

"Teach you what? Cooking? Baking?"

"Yes."

She burst into a laugher that lasted a good minute or so before calming down.

"No."

"Why not?
"First, you're ugly. You look like an ad for a fucking charity organization; just looking at you too long gets depressing. Second, I saw how you handled that cupcake there, no way in hell I'm letting you anywhere near my kitchen again. Third, you don't want it."

Her first point was obviously meant to hurt me, and didn't. The second one did, but by this point in the conversation it wasn't too shocking. The third one, however, was more than I could take.

"W-what do you m-mean 'I d-don't want it'? I do! I r-really do! It's important t-to me!"

She shrugged as if there was nothing to it. "No, you don't, and no, it isn't. You obviously want something, and something's obviously important to you, but cooking or baking isn't it, muffin. Maybe you're looking to impress a guy, maybe you had a crush on chick and you want to prove to yourself that you're still straight, maybe you're hungry. I don't know, and frankly, I couldn't care less."

"Y-you can't d-deny me entrance for s-something like that! That's m-my problem, not yours."

"Oh, you bet I can deny you 'entrance'. I told you already, creampuff, there is no club in here anymore. There's me, and there's a kitchen nobody uses but me, and I damn well can decide who I want to 'teach' based on whatever fucking criteria I come up with on the spot. And it would be my problem if I start 'teaching' you, fruitcake, wasting my precious time and energy, and in the end you wouldn't be one bit better."

She turned her back on me again and kneeled to open one of the ovens and take out another tray.

"You want one?"

I didn't respond. I was angry. This Kobayashi girl was very, angrily good at making me angry. It was like an art with her. Like those cupcakes, except I had to suffer for it.

"That thing o-on your leg. It's a p-pump, isn't it?"

"No, it's a fucking vibrator, I always wear one while working. Of course it's a pump, you think anyone would let me of all people walk around with all those syringes? That's asking for shit to happen."

"You're d-diabetic. You told me."

"Christ, I did? Thank you so much for reminding me, it's been almost six hours since my last blood test."

"Why are you d-doing that?"

"What? Blood tests? Sometimes I ask myself that, but then they send me straight to a school counselor. Guess what? Turns out I need them it to live."

"No. Baking. What you're doing n-now."

"What're you getting at, sweetie?"

"You c-can't eat them."

"Obviously. I made them, I know what's in there. I have two of those little motherfuckers and I'm halfway to the emergency room."

"S-so what are they f-for? What will you d-do with them?"

"Give them to people. Not all of us start hyperventilating when someone gets within two meters. I don't give a rat's ass as for what they do with them, I just bake. Hopefully they'll eat them, but as far I'm concerned, they can have sex with them."

"How much t-time did you s-spend here today?"

"How long ago was third period?"

"You m-missed school f-for this."

"You think anybody's going to say anything? Half the students here could afford to never leave their beds and nobody would give a damn. Maybe they'll send a nurse once in a while to make sure they haven't killed themselves or some shit, I dunno."

"You spend your p-precious time a-and energy b-baking sweets you c-can't eat, which you have n-no idea what to d-do with otherwise. Why are you d-doing this? What do y-you want?"

Kobayashi stood up slowly, palms resting calmly against the counter, for a few minutes before she let out a loud sigh and raised both hands to her head to massage her temples in annoyance.

"Fuck you so very, very much, honey. Now let's get cleaning that mess you made here before it gets all sticky."

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

As you can probably imagine, the meeting with Kobayashi was originally a chapter unto itself, but of all the things I've cut from this finished work, I think this one was the one I cut with least remorse. You can only stretch a dialogue so much if you don't have the skill or inspiration for it, and most of it was the old exchange of semi-amusing insults, anyway.
This chapter is not a proper ending. Not in quality, not in form or content. But for now, I am afraid that it will be an ending. I don't want to use the word "forever", but at the very least, it would be an ending for a very long time. When I finished high school, the six months I was given of free time before my army conscription seemed almost infinite. I thought I would use them for so much. I thought would create so much, enjoy them so much, improve myself so much. I thought they would never end.
Now they have ended. I only have four more days left to my childhood, and to this seemingly infinite period of free time which I have so carelessly wasted. I have accomplished nothing. People often tell me that no eighteen years old boy is worthy of saying that he has regrets, but selfishly, I believe I do. I have many regrets, for many things I've done. Small and big things. People I've hurt more or less. Things I should have done, but didn't.
This is one of my regrets.

Next month would be completely dedicated to boot camp, and even that's only because (thankfully?) I have such a low medical soldier's profile. Expect no chapter next month, no matter what happens. But even after that, the odds that I would have the time to write anything like this again... they are very slim. I am a slow writer. I need time not to write to write. And even if I end up in one of those lucky roles that would allow me to come back home five days a week, I highly doubt that I would have that kind of time.
For the next three years, at least. Probably more.

This story which I have created was not a good story. It had no plot. The characters were flat and meaningless, cliches stolen from the works of others. The language was lacking, the flow was almost nonexistent. I was ashamed to look at some of the chapters I've written. Yet, now, faced with the truth that I would never be able to continue this story of mine, I cannot help but feel sorrow. I never thought it would become as complex and long as it did. What small plans I had will not come to pass. What little I knew of the characters will not be revealed. What little was supposed to happen will not. I have seeded this chapter, and the ones before it, with foreshadowings to future events that will never happen. I've seeded it with references to plot points and characters that were cut out of previous chapters in vain hope that one day they would be given what little proper respect they deserve. I could have done more, but this is what I have done. This is what you get from me. Maybe in the spirit of it all, I'll finally give this story the great meta-renovation I always wanted to. Maybe I won't.

You few who have read this story and who helped write it and others were all very kind to me. I'm thankful for that.

Have a good day.
Life, what is it but a dream?
זה מגניב אותי כל פעם מחדש, העובדה שיש פה עברית. אני תוהה אם מישהו ישים לב ששיניתי חתימה.

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Mirage_GSM
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Re: Finger Training

Post by Mirage_GSM » Thu Dec 01, 2011 10:03 am

Minister of Gloom wrote:Lot's of emo stuff...
*Sigh*
What am I going to do with you...?

Anyway, the flow wasn't quite as bad as you made it sound. What was worse was the fact that you told some parts of the chapter as the reminiscience of an older Yuno, which is in stark contrast to the rest of the story. Also some more typos and wrong tenses than in other chapters...

I think I told you before not to bother too much about chapter length. A well-written chapter is exactly as long as it needs to be. If a dialogue will last only two pages without seeming unnatural, just write a shorter chapter. It's not like you are a manga artist who always has to fill exactly 17,5 pages every week.

On the positive side, I really like your OCs especially Maeda and Kobayashi.
Maeda's line about the Atztecs had me cracking up and her line about geting used to paralyzation but being bothered about shoes was nice as well.

Got another question, but I'll send you a PM about that...
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
Sore wa himitsu desu.

Silentcook
Carelessly Cooking You
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Re: Finger Training

Post by Silentcook » Thu Dec 01, 2011 2:06 pm

Mirage_GSM wrote:*Sigh*
What am I going to do with you...?
I recommend bitchslapping for emoing writers. I find it work wonders. :mrgreen:
Shattering your dreams since '94.

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Minister of Gloom
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Re: Finger Training

Post by Minister of Gloom » Thu Dec 01, 2011 3:24 pm

...Silence, my deep pain is unique and important. Share my suffering! :|
Life, what is it but a dream?
זה מגניב אותי כל פעם מחדש, העובדה שיש פה עברית. אני תוהה אם מישהו ישים לב ששיניתי חתימה.

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scott1and
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Re: Finger Training

Post by scott1and » Thu Dec 01, 2011 5:13 pm

I liked it...don't ask why, it was just good. No bad things happened, no grammar mistakes I noticed, and I just like the story. And once again, you doubt yourself way to much, even though me and up to three other guys (or girls) say otherwise. And I wouldn't call your characters flat, I feel like Yuno, Kobayashi and Maeda at the very least are likeable, well, I like them anyway. While it sucks you can't update for the next month or two/three/four/five, but hopefully we'll have the actual game soon, so you don't need to feel guilty. Besides, its your life, a few people you'll never meet shouldn't hold you back (apart from me, cause, y'know, I'm awesome :mrgreen: )

And good luck with your life by the way, I know it sucks, and that life needs to be kicked in the crotch every now and then, but hopefully you'll get through it.
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Leotrak
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Re: Finger Training

Post by Leotrak » Tue Dec 06, 2011 5:48 am

scott1and wrote:And I wouldn't call your characters flat,
Especially the Captain :P

Anyways, I liked this latest installment ^_^ Too sleepy-headed right now to point at specifics, though... I have no idea why -_-"

Oh, right! The dialogues were fun ^_^
"ice-cream-flavoured ice-cream" -Rin
"oh moe is me" -me
Numbered Days, my first piece of fanfic
Leotrak's Library, my other depository of written stuffs
Before: Hanako>/=Emi>Rin>Lilly>Shizune
After: Emi>Rin>Hanako>Lilly>>>>>>>>>>>Shizune

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