To see one's own story immortalized in art is the ultimate compliment, BlackWaltz. You're the second person to draw a scene from this story and the first one (I think) who has actually read it. I realize it's a rough drawing because you used your notepad, but I love the choice of details. It's pretty much exactly how I pictured it in my head.
I didn't imagine Hisao wearing his sweater-vest, though. That was a good call and you're probably right. From his cold dead hands.
Thank you so much, man. It means a lot to me.
Anyways, more Rika. I wanted to finish scene 7 before posting which is why there was such a delay since my last post. Biggest challenge: Alternating between typing "Miki" and "Rika" without typing "Mika" and "Riki."
Scene 5: The New Arrival
One of the worst things about waking up in a new place is that brief moment where you have to remember where you are. Today is the first time in a couple of months that I’ve experienced this. My first week in Yamaku was like this, as was my first month in the hospital. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to this feeling, no matter how many strange beds I find myself in.
What’s always bugged me about this sensation is the fact that it means I wake up under the illusion that I’m somewhere else. As if I’d been dreaming of days gone by. Since coming to Yamaku, my dreams have been less and less frequent. But what that really means, I know, is that I’ve just been unable to remember them.
How much of what happened yesterday was a dream? The events of the day prior are almost a greatest hits collection of dreams I might have had back when I was more of a dreamer. Nightmares, for starters. Big scary animals. A dark forest. Running and running and being unable, no matter what I do, to find my way to safety.
And of course, that other kind of dream. I chuckle like a schoolboy at the thought. As irresponsible as it may have been of us to stay away for the time that we did, it took all of my willpower to leave that spot and return to the camp here. Or rather, to follow Rika back. Much to my relief, and less to my surprise, she knew exactly where we were and we were able to return rather quickly. I didn’t ask how exactly she managed to navigate without a compass. She’d revealed enough secrets to me already last night. Letting her retain some of her mystique is the least I could do for her.
Our camping party was pleased enough to see us when we got back. Rika was right to assume that they’d be inebriated. It turns out that Miki had smuggled some clear liquor in the cooler, in re-sealed water bottles. Miki, Takashi and Lelouch were sitting around the campfire, sipping away. Takashi greeted us as “heroes” and Rika paid him no mind, heading straight to sleep in our tent. I had a quick chat with Miki to apologize for our disappearance and to make sure she was alright, since she’d seemed so shaken up from our little… wildlife encounter. She told me not to worry about it, so I joined Rika, who was already asleep on her air mattress, fully clothed.
As I stare at the bright orange fabric ceiling of the tent, glowing as it is with a faint outdoor light, I’m struck with the embarrassing realization that I want to go home. I took my decision to come out here pretty lightly, and I already don’t know if I can last another day. I miss my creature comforts. I miss the certainty of the daily routine. I miss mornings with Emi, daytime at the school, study sessions with Shizune, checkups with Nurse. Out here, even with the extra noise and in the company of our fellow campers, it feels like Rika has me cornered with nowhere to run.
Rubbing the fatigue out of my eyes, I realize that I can faintly hear voices outside. Rika and Miki are discussing something, but I can’t tell exactly what. It still puts a smile on my face, though. Rika hardly said a word to anyone yesterday, and just knowing that she’s socializing without having me around pleases me. Based on what I know about her, Miki may be the closest thing Rika has to a friend. And while the same may not be true of Miki, I know how eager she’s been to close the gap between herself and Rika. It’s good that they’ve apparently found some time for each other.
Miki laughs, and the sound almost makes me want to laugh, too. As the zipper on the tent quickly opens, I realize the laughter must have been at my expense.
Rika looms at the open tent flap, wearing the same thing she wore last evening. The grin on her face is merciless.
“What would Emi say if she knew you were sleeping this late, Hisao?”
I yawn. “I’d tell her I got all my cardio last night.”
Miki oohs emphatically. I suppose I should have realized she’d be able to hear what I was saying. Rika just rolls her eyes, smiling at me. That couldn’t be what they’ve been talking about. Could it?
“Don’t worry,” she says, kneeling as she steps inside of our tent. “Takashi and Lelouch are gone fishing, so you can relax. I know how you hate sharing the spotlight with other men. It’s just us girls now.”
“You didn’t want to go fishing?”
She shrugs. “It’s not really my thing. Besides, Miki and I don’t trust you to survive an afternoon alone out here.”
Good to see Rika’s ego is still healthy after what happened last night.
“So what are our plans for today?” I ask as I rummage through my belongings in search of my pills.
“Nothing much. We’re waiting for the guys to get back from fishing. Lou knows a good stream around here where you can catch trout. He promised he’d share whatever he caught with us.”
“That’s nice of him. Hey, have you seen my pills? I had them in a little clear plastic container.”
She leans closer to where I am and peers at my things. “You can’t find them?”
I shake my head. My voice, like my searching, grows frantic. “Are you sure? I can’t find them anywhere.”
She puts a hand on my shoulder. “Hisao, we’re going home tomorrow morning. Don’t you think you’ll be okay until then?”
I look up at her. Her expression is opaque and neutral, but her concern seems genuine enough. She shrugs at me. I must be making a face or something.
“No need to get upset,” she says coolly. “You got by fine all those years before Iwanako, after all. You should be fine as long as you don’t fall in love, right?”
Somehow Rika’s mention of Iwanako’s name is startling to me. The fact that she’s committed the name to memory, that is. On her knees, as the tent size requires, she scurries over closer to me and speaks into my ear as I search my belongings.
“Besides, maybe it would be fun.”
I ignore her. Harsh, but it’s what she deserves for talking like this. Now her fingers comb my hair as I face away from her, focused on my objective of finding my pills. Where are they?
“Worried I might be a hallucination, Hisao? Maybe I’ll vanish if you don’t get your dose. How else can you be sure?”
I shudder. I’m now searching all the places I’ve already checked. Is it possible I lost them in the woods? Or misplaced them somewhere after we came out here? If so, what do I do? Should I go out there and search for them? Should I call for emergency help?
I feel her tongue on my ear. My heart, already working overdrive, shifts up a gear. I swallow hard. I don’t even want to look at her right now.
“Stop it, Rika.”
“Erectile dysfunction,” she says. “Decreased appetite. Drowsiness. Loss of life.”
“The only Hisao you’ve ever known,” I counter. She giggles coldly at me, not one to back down from a battle of wits. Her other hand crawls onto my left shoulder like a spider. I stare blankly at the mess I’ve made with my hurried searching, wishing like a bullied child that she’d just let up and leave me in peace already.
“Then show me,” she says. “Show me the boy you were before a glimpse of love brought you to death’s door. I’d like to meet him.”
I turn around to look at her. The look in her eyes is chilling. There’s no feeling quite like seeing the object of your desire staring at you with lust. She lunges forward for a kiss and I reluctantly comply.
The two of us kneeling on the ground, kissing. I feel like a grade-schooler playing spin-the-bottle at a birthday party. And rather than being pushed over the edge, I feel my pulse relaxing.
She pulls back and puts her hands on my cheeks, drawing me in with her bright red eyes.
“How do you feel right now?”
Wherever my medication is, it’s not here. Searching any more than I already have is just going to put me under more stress. I’ll have to try to make it through the weekend. The thought fills me with dread and the anxiety returns to my veins.
“I’m scared,” I tell her honestly.
Rika pushes her lips against mine in a deep, passionate kiss, holding my head, then pulls back and gazes at me with her usual grimness. With a grin, she pats me on the cheek and I stare at her, baffled, frightened, and undeniably aroused.
“Welcome to the wilderness, Hisao Nakai.”
Scene 6: An Omen
Over the course of the afternoon, Miki keeps finding ways to indirectly remind me of Emi. I think back to the luncheon Emi so lovingly prepared for her company on the rooftop. Bland though it may have been, I would kill for that level of cuisine right about now. Loath to do cooking of any kind, Miki doesn’t seem to have brought any food that requires more than a two-step process of preparation. “An entire box of crackers” isn’t exactly the kind of meal Emi would approve of, but this campsite seems to be a place of forgiveness. Still, even though I feel like I’d rather be eating something a bit more substantial, there’s a certain guilty pleasure in subsisting primarily on junk food.
It’s not until I start drinking water that I realize exactly how dehydrated I am. I can almost feel the cells in my body expanding as the tepid water I fetched yesterday courses through my system. Come to think of it, I missed a whole meal yesterday, but somehow I haven’t felt hungry or thirsty until today when I woke up.
Pushing my body to its limits, nutritional or otherwise, is going to be a bad idea. I settle on the conclusion that more food is good food, and the girls snicker at me as I find myself wrist-deep in a bag of mixed nuts.
The three of us sit around the dead fire pit nibbling on what’s left of our snack food. It’s a mild summer afternoon, and much to Rika’s advantage, the sky is completely overcast, keeping the sun off our backs but making it hard for me to tell exactly how late I’ve slept in. The humidity in the air adds to the heat and discomfort. Deep down, I worry about the sweat on my brow, a familiar symptom.
“I should go check out the showers,” I say. Rika and Miki grin at each other.
“Don’t be so civilized,” Rika rebukes me. “A true man of the wild wears his musk with pride.”
“We were going to go for a swim anyways,” Miki says, “until the guys get back. You down?”
“You could bring a bar of soap,” Rika adds, and Miki laughs again.
I guess a relaxing swim couldn’t hurt, I think, even if I have to endure more of this torment at the hands of the girls. After I change into my swim trunks, the three of us hit the trail leading out to the lake. The footpaths are busier at this time of the day and I see a good mixture of families and groups of friends, people riding bicycles, and even a pair of European tourists taking photos. A handful of other people are already swimming in the lake when we get there, and I recognize them as students I’ve seen in the halls of Yamaku. The area around the lake is beautiful and hilly, surrounded by the expansive beech forest which seems to sprawl out endlessly in all directions. A few of the students can be seen diving from one of the higher ledges on the other side of the lake. Miki politely waves at a few of them as we arrive, and wastes no time stripping down to her bikini.
I feel Rika’s elbow in my ribcage.
“Haven’t you ever seen a woman before, Hisao?”
I didn’t even realize I’d been staring at Miki as she undressed. Rika’s already wearing her bathing suit. Compared to Miki's, Rika's swimsuit is relatively modest: silver bikini bottoms with a boy-cut and a matching tank-style top. Her top almost entirely conceals her scar, except for the upper portion that runs between her breasts and up to her collarbone. Seeing her like this instantly calls to memory the events of last night, and she seems to notice that on my face as I blush a bit.
“Well,” she says with a condescending smile, “if you can’t control your eyes, at least stay in the water up to your waist, alright?”
I look back over to Miki who is giggling as usual at Rika’s remarks. I guess I don’t mind being the butt of every joke if it helps the two of them bond a little. As Miki begins to unravel the bandage on her left wrist I self-consciously avert my eyes. I’ve seen my share of amputees at Yamaku but never actually seen a naked amputated limb, and the thought makes me uncomfortable.
I reach for the hem of my t-shirt but hesitate. I haven’t been shirtless in public since…
“What’s wrong?” Rika asks me rhetorically, tilting her head. I notice that both she and Miki are staring at me with expectation.
I lower my hands at my sides, putting them in the pockets of my swim trunks.
“Don’t worry about it.”
Miki looks puzzled, but Rika just gives her a look as if to tell her not to inquire. A look of realization comes over Miki’s face and she gives me a playful punch with her… stump.
“Nobody’s going to stare at you, dude. Not with me around. Come on, let’s get wet.”
I take off my shirt and Miki pointedly retains eye contact with me, smiling with reassurance. Her boldness is contagious. So people are going to stare, I think. Let them stare.
The afternoon swim is refreshing and puts me at ease. Rika is a strong swimmer and rarely waits up for me as she goes deeper out into the waters. Miki surprises me with her swimming ability. It makes me wonder how long it took her to grow accustomed to swimming with one hand.
I’m not quite so game for physical exertion as my companions are, and I spend the bulk of my time in the water relaxing, wading, back-floating, staring at the increasingly dark clouds in the sky, and letting my mind wander. I try to think of the last time that I went swimming, but somehow I can’t remember exactly when it was. Last summer I spent a lot of time playing soccer with my friends in the park near my house. I try to picture my old friends, their faces, what those days were like. But I can’t. All I can see are the new faces of my new life. Even the old names are hard to recall. Why can’t I remember?
The clouds begin to turn amber as the evening approaches, and we’re some of the last people to leave. The three of us towel off and return to the campsite. As we approach, the aroma of fish cooking on the campfire makes my stomach rumble. Discarding our towels, the three of us rush over to dry ourselves by the fire. The sky blackens with the approach of night, and with the increasingly thick clouds cloaking the sky, the glowing orange fire is the only source of light in the camp.
Takashi’s cooking is surprisingly good. The various pots and pans around the fire pit are a testament to the amount of work he invested in preparing our evening meal. No sooner did we sit down than he handed us each a plate with a seasoned fillet on top of a mixture of vegetables and rice. There’s so much food to go around that I can barely believe we’d been storing it all. I almost fail to finish eating mine. Takashi offers me a sip from his water bottle and, remembering what’s in there, I politely decline. Alcohol is probably a bad idea.
“You don’t eat the garnish,” Takashi says to Miki as she contemplates a leaf on her paper plate. She smirks at him.
“Dude, are you trying
to put my cooking to shame or what?”
“Now, now, Miki,” he says, raising a finger in a didactic flourish, “there’s nothing shameful in being bested in the arts by a true aesthete.”
I look over at Rika who is quietly enjoying her food, smiling in spite of herself at the banter between Miki and Takashi. Nobody brings up the events of last night, or the mounting tension between him and Rika. In the glow of the fire, her skin looks bright red. I turn and gaze into the crackling flames and realize that I’m sweating again. My skin feels hot. But it’s impossible to tell whether it’s the result of my illness or the result of sitting too close to the fire. I do seem to have been faring well so far without my meds. As long as I’m careful, I should be able to get by.
“We have a surprise,” Lelouch says suddenly. I’d almost forgotten he was here, he’s been so silent. Takashi eagerly makes a loud muffled noise as he chews his food, as though to reserve a spot in the conversation.
“What kind of surprise?” Rika asks Lelouch.
“Lou says there’s a stream around here where we can catch fireflies,” says Takashi.
Lelouch gives him a dirty look. So much for the surprise.
“Catch fireflies?” Miki asks. Takashi nods eagerly at her.
“Yeah! He says he did it last time he came out here. There’s a whole bunch of them, right Lou?”
Lelouch gives a sage nod as he scribbles something on his notepad.
“Sounds like fun,” Rika says, looking at me for approval. I’m not sure what to say to it. It does sound like a bit of a juvenile pastime, but after all, there’s not a lot of other things to be doing out here. Other than drinking, of course.
“Are we even allowed to catch them?” I ask, and everyone but Lelouch laughs. I guess that was a stupid question.
“It’s lonely,” says Lelouch.
“What do you mean?” Rika asks him.
His expression turns ponderous and he looks at his notepad for a second. “It’s not busy.”
“You mean there’s not a lot of people out there?” I suggest.
He nods a couple of times, and his eyes light up with joy. “Just us.”
Scene 7: Captivity
The clouds seem to thicken even more as an oppressive darkness blankets the campground. The moment we had put out the fire, Takashi’s flashlight became the only thing visible anywhere. Even now, as we walk through the winding pathway, I have to struggle not to trip over shrubs and underbrush that encroach on us. My pulse quickens as I think of all the creatures of night that might be out here.
“At least it’s dark enough that you can’t see anything scary,” Rika says to me, as though reading my mind. She holds my hand as we walk through the woods, steadying a beam of light from her flashlight in the other hand. It’s so much darker than it was last night, and try as she might to instill confidence in me, Rika’s presence hardly puts me at ease. I think about the menacing look in her eyes this morning when she kissed me and convinced me to brave my illness for the weekend. Takashi wasn’t far off base when he told me to be careful with her, even if he thinks so for the wrong reasons.
I wish I could see Rika’s face. This is the first time we’ve ever been together in complete darkness, without even the light of the moon to illuminate her. If she seemed like a supernatural entity before, how much more frightening is she now that I know she’s got powers of invisibility? I shake the thought from my head. By that logic, the whole world is a supernatural entity right now.
“You’re exaggerating,” Rika says suddenly. I realize that I’m trembling.
“You’re afraid of the dark,” she says in a matter-of-fact tone. “And it’s because you have an overactive imagination. We’re the scariest things out here, Hisao.”
“Speak for yourself,” I mutter to her. She doesn’t respond. I wish I could see her face. It’s hard enough as it is to figure out what’s going on in her mind.
I can feel myself trembling more, and she tightens her grip on my hand as though to force me to stop shaking. A cool breeze blows through the woods, whistling through the branches of the trees that I can only imagine are still all around us. I try to conjure the image of the forest in my mind to replace the blackness. Nothing works.
The other three must be pretty far ahead of us, because I can only faintly hear the sound of Takashi’s voice and I can’t even see their flashlight anymore.
Rika holds out her arm and stops me. “Listen,” she says. I hear the sound of a stream.
She shuts off her flashlight and before I can ask her what she’s doing, a hundred glowing yellow dots flicker into view, appearing and disappearing behind what I soon realize are the trees of the forest. Further ahead, I can faintly see the glowing waters of the stream. Wherever they alight, the fireflies revive the imagery I was desperate to see before. Like tiny builders reconstructing the missing forest from a great void.
“There’s so many of them,” I say in awe.
I expect Rika to say something cocky in response, but she stays silent. In the faint light, I can see her mouth hanging open in wonder. She might not realize that I can see her now. Even as far as our relationship has come, I doubt she’d want me to see her like this.
Miki’s voice breaks our concentration, and I look out into the clearing where she’s standing by the stream, waving at us. Takashi rummages through his backpack with his flashlight, while Lelouch gazes wide-eyed at his surroundings. Everything is only faintly discernible under the ubiquitous bioluminescence of the tiny insects. As many of them as there are, the darkness of the night is enormous and dominating.
Rika turns her flashlight back on and shines it in Miki’s direction, and Miki shelters her eyes with her hand. We approach the threesome by the water, the tiny bugs parting around us as we do.
Takashi puts a glass jar in my hand. “You should put some grass in there,” he advises me. He hands Rika a small net and she brandishes it with curiosity.
“Seriously?” she says.
Takashi nods at her. “Unless you’d rather use your bare hands?”
“It’s not a contest,” Miki observes.
Takashi’s eyebrows go up at the idea. “Well, we could make it one, right?”
I search the faces of our company to see what they think of the idea. Lelouch isn’t paying attention and is instead writing something down on his notepad. I can hardly imagine he can even see what he’s writing in the low lighting, but for all I know it doesn’t even matter. Miki looks a mixture of amused and annoyed. Rika looks back at me with an eyebrow raised.
“What are the stakes?” Rika says, turning to Takashi.
Takashi hums and taps his chin.
“Men versus women. We’ll see who can catch the most in an hour. Losing team has to clean the campsite tomorrow.”
Miki scoffs incredulously. Rika just snickers and glances at me. I know her well enough to know she has a bit of a competitive streak in her.
“But you have a one-person advantage,” Miki notes. “And Lelouch has done this before.”
“Oh, well in that case, the ladies can have the Master of Romance on their team. Unless you object, Hisao?”
“Fine by me,” I say. “But I don’t have a watch.”
“We’ll keep time,” Takashi says. “We’ll let you know when time’s up.”
Takashi claps his hands and is about to spring into action when Lelouch clears his throat loudly. We all turn our attention to him, or rather in the direction where we suspect he is. It’s still so dark that it’s hard for any of us to see each other.
“This,” Lelouch says. He yanks the flashlight away from Takashi and bobs it up and down a few times, wobbling the beam of light over the water. A few fireflies approach him as he does so. Miki makes a little impressed noise. He looks at our party to make sure that we understand, and I nod at him with a smile. Nice of him to let us in on a little trick like this. Either he’s overly confident, or just a good sport. The two of them walk downstream, Takashi swinging his net carelessly at his side while Lelouch brandishes the jar and flashlight.
The three of us set to work, and quickly discover that our task is more difficult than we might have thought at first. It almost would have been easier with just two people. Coordinating the net, flashlight and jar is the trick to it, and over time we grow a little more accustomed to the activity. I shine the flashlight around on the ground, more for the sake of making sure we don’t get lost than in search of prey, and only once or twice do I try wiggling it around the way Lelouch had shown us. It doesn’t seem to work when I do it, and it doesn’t even seem all that necessary. Finding the fireflies isn’t the hard part. What’s tricky is getting them into the small net and, from there, into the jar. Rika gets a few lucky catches without just the jar and lid, and I mostly just observe the girls idly while I command our light source. The activity is very low-impact and I’m having an easy time keeping my pulse in check. Actually, I feel better than I have this whole trip.
“Hisao,” Rika says after a while. “Look.”
She holds up the jar and it’s positively glowing with a bright, neon yellow light. It’s so bright it almost looks like she’s carrying a lantern. I click off my flashlight and it hardly makes any visible difference.
“Well, doesn’t that just make me useless?”
She hops over to me and gives me a kiss on the cheek. “Obsolescence is a luxury. It’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
After the remainder of the hour, we hear a loud whistle off in the distance. Our luck had diminished in the last little while but in total we’ve managed to get a pretty good haul. Rika hoists the jar impressively in front of her and wiggles it around in a way that attracts some of the fireflies that have yet eluded us. The charmed insects spin around her in a bright halo. It’s a sight like nothing I’ve ever seen. I would never have imagined fireflies would behave this way.
She contemplates the contents of the jar and turns it around in front of her as we walk back in the direction from whence we came. Her expression is wistful and difficult to interpret. Her mouth is closed in a frown, her brow furrowed. Something’s on her mind.
As we walk, a trail of fireflies occupies her, seemingly drawn to the jar in her hands. Her nonchalant gait adds to the mystique it creates. As though they were under her control.
“Dude, they’re so bright!” Miki says, brimming with energy.
“You’d think they’d be afraid of us by now,” Rika ponders.
“You can be afraid of something and still be attracted to it,” I say with a wink. She surrenders a smile.
“That. Was. Awesome!” Miki says as she skips along the path. “I’m totally pumped up right now, you guys! We got so many. No way did those guys beat us. We’re on easy street tomorrow.”
“It sure was different,” I say. Cheered by Miki’s enthusiasm, mystified by Rika’s enigmatic allure, I illuminate the path ahead of us with the feeble light of our flashlight until we reconvene with our opponents. We can hardly even see the jar in their hands. It’s nearly empty. I hear Lelouch chortle as he apparently sees us from a distance. Takashi serenely shrugs his shoulders. I notice that each of them is carrying a pad of paper.
“I’m no hunter,” Takashi says as we approach him. “I’m an artist.”
He shows us his pad of paper which is stained with black and yellow watercolours, plainly visible in the light of Rika’s firefly jar. The tiny brush strokes perfectly emulate the paths of light that trail behind the fireflies in the night sky.
“He painted,” Lelouch explains unnecessarily, sounding more amused than disappointed.
"As you can clearly see," Takashi says in a grand tone, "I have captured the most fireflies."
"You have twenty," Rika says. Takashi shines the flashlight on her as she speaks.
"What's that?" he asks.
She nods at his painting. "There are only twenty fireflies on there. We still have more. Look."
He narrows his eyes and scrutinizes the jar's content. Then he throws up his hands with an exaggerated sigh.
“Very well," he says. "We may have lost, but the victory is not yours. I was defeated by the power of art. The real error was to have a contest of quantity instead of quality. But we are graceful in defeat, ladies, so we shall honour our end of the bargain.”
What an obnoxious prick.
Our group heads back to camp, Rika and myself hanging back from the crowd as usual. She continues to scrutinize the contents of her jar. The hike starts to take a bit of steam out of me. I’m starting to feel the absence of my meds. It’s only a good thing we aren’t walking uphill.
“Lou,” Rika calls out suddenly. Lelouch turns around and joins us, clutching his notepad in both hands. Is he writing again?
“How long will they live?” she asks him.
He bites his lip and thinks. The answer must be right there. He’s just looking for the word. Rika patiently waits for him to speak as she gazes into the jar.
“In a jar?” Lelouch asks. Rika nods.
“Days,” he says. “A few days.”
“What if I let them go?” she asks.
He tilts his head as he measures his words, then replies.
“Fireflies don’t live long,” I say. “You know that, don’t you?”
“I’m in the same science class as you are, Hisao,” she says defensively. “Lou, how do you know they live longer if you let them go? Does anyone know for sure?”
He looks at the jar and almost reaches for his notepad before sighing and dropping his hands to his sides.
“They suffer,” he says. The choice of words sends a chill down the back of my neck. Pure poetry.
Rika looks at her jar again. Her bright halo is starting to recede as we walk back into the woods. I wish I knew what she was thinking.
“Are you going to let them go?” I ask her. She looks at me with perplexity. A sobering smile reaches her face, but her bright red eyes are sad and distant as she whispers her reply.
“I don’t know.”
Go to Scene 8...