The Haunting: A Love Story
Prologue: Till’ Death...
ACT I -Black and White-
Chapter I: Funeral
Chapter II: Passing
Chapter III: Haunting
ACT II -Light Colors-
Chapter IV: A Drop of Green
Chapter V: Between You and Me
Chapter VI: What Lies Ahead
Chapter VII: Chained
Chapter VIII: Let me Love You
ACT III -Crimson Dusk-
Chapter IX: Dreamland
Chapter X: Sleep Walker
Chapter XI: Nightmare
Chapter XII: Shadows
Chapter XIII: Recollection
ACT IV -Clear Sky-
Chapter IV: A Drop of Green
I walk into the classroom on an early Friday morning, about five minutes before homeroom starts. All around me I see the faces of the students as they chatter playfully with one another—some, of course, prefers to lay their heads on their desks and take a quick nap to make up some of their lost time. I quickly made my way to my seat, hang my book bag by my desk, and sighs lightly. The air is getting a little colder and the leaves are changing its color from the usual green to a slow fade of yellow and red. I look out the window and smile after noticing a few students pack warmer apparel in preparation of the coming season. Yes, it’s going to be a lively fall this year.
“You look happy, Hicchan!”
The voice of a bubbly girl to my right quickly refocus my attention from the scenery outside to her, now standing with a grin as wide as the Cheshire cat as she hangs her book bag by the table. She chuckles a little, pulls her seat, sits, and then leans uncomfortably close to me—all the while still maintaining that grin of hers. “Did something good happen to you today…or is it, yesterday?”
I shift my seat restlessly to avoid unwanted incidents happening so early in the morning—that, or unwanted rumors. “Nothing what-so-ever…”
“If there is something, it doesn’t relate to you anyway, Misha.”
Clearly disappointed by my reply, she returns to her desk and sighs heavily. Still, that didn’t stop her from poking her nose a little further. “Nothing about you and Lilly yesterday…?”
“How do you—!”
“It’s nothing to be embarrassed about, Hicchan,” she interrupts followed with her trademark ‘wahaha’ that echoes throughout the class as loud as the school’s announcement chime. “I saw—and heard—you guys in the courtyard! Surely your smile today has something to do with that~!”
She continues, “So~ what did you reply to her? Come on, tell me Hicchan~!”
I sigh and wave my hand dismissively. “Even if something did happen, I won’t tell you.”
“Even if a cute girl asks you to?” she puts on her best ‘cute’ look. I admit she can be pretty cute when she wants to—but my answer will remain the same.
“Nope…not gonna’ work.”
“You’re hard sometimes, Hicchan…” another ‘wahaha’ echoes across the class. “But whatever it is, it’s nice to see you smile again!”
She retracts herself back to her seat just as Mutou-sensei made his way into the class and apologize for his tardiness before pulling a ‘Friday joke’ out of the blue to humor the class. As I observe the entire class—a smile imprinted on my face nonetheless—I realize that everything seems to have returned to normal. Hanako enters a few minutes later—ignored by most students and Mutou as usual—and have her attendance recorded, Misha who rests her head on her desk after that early-morning energy spurt, and I who will be leaving the class for the regular ‘Council meeting’. Though unofficially, it’s a ‘smart’ way to skip homeroom period. Maybe Shizune thought of it as the same? Who knows…?
But what Misha said earlier is true; I did
start smiling. But it isn’t because of what happened yesterday with Lilly—true, it does have its points, but that’s not it.
“By the way, Hicchan~,” Misha calls from her desk with a voice that can barely be described as a ‘whisper’. “Your hands are signing. Is there something you’re trying to hide?”
Chuckling, I take a short glimpse to my left before returning to Misha and grins gleefully. “Just practice.”
I smile because Shizune is here
The night before—or more accurately, this morning—Shizune appeared before me. I wouldn’t exactly say she ‘materialized’ like most ghosts or spirits—or at least, what I believe they’d do anyway—but more accurately ‘appear’. I don’t understand how it happened or why, but nonetheless she too share the same amusement and surprise as I did. We remained in the same position like marble statues for minutes; I was on my back on my bed, hand extended forward, clutching her arm while she stood at the edge of it. When we realized what was going on, I hastilyrelease my grip and threw my cover to stand beside her and confirm everything that had happened. Similarly, she also share the same sentiment.
[Shizune…you’re alive?] I sign before I move a little closer. Unconsciously I raise my hand to feel her face, which is rewarded the next second with a quick slap.
[Don’t touch me,] she sign. [I haven’t given you any permission to do so.]
She puffs her chest outward, slightly emphasizing her figure before she continues, [And if you’re wondering, I am as confused and amused as you are right now.]
She tilts her head and curiously observes me from head to toe. At some point, she raise her eyebrow in amusement then curls them in shock as if she has just seen a ghost—the thing is, she
is the reason I should have those expressions in the first place. As she curiously maintain her focus on me, I accidentally release a hail of chuckle and laughter—even if she lacks the ability to hear, my face and my expression is a dead-give away for her to understand what is going on.
[What’s so funny?] She signs with a puzzled and surprised look. [Is there something on my face?]
My hand struggles to sign a proper reply as I break into laughter. Taking a deep breath, I clear my throat—unnecessary, but a good way to relax—and work my hands for a reply. [I’m sorry, I just find it funny.]
[The way you observe and look at me depicts as if you have just seen a ghost. Ever thought that you are
one?] I reply with an emphasis on ‘are’. Her face instantly flushes red before she quickly tries to generate an effective reply, but fails nonetheless after she sees me unleash another hail of laughter. It’s times like this that I’m glad I did not drop that class on sign language. How cute.
[Well played, Nakai,] is her reply. [Well played.]
[Hey, it’s not that often I manage to beat you in a short banter.]
She grins playfully and—I swear—her glasses glint for a second. Maybe it’s the moonlight, but nonetheless I can see she’s up for some retribution. [I’ll get you next time. Be ready.]
[Bring it on.]
[I’LL DEVOUR YOU!]
For the first time in four weeks, I broke into a fit of laughter. It echoed across my room for minutes with no end and in that time, I feel alive. But it wasn’t just me. Facing me, Shizune cupped her hand over her mouth and joined me with her muffled laughter; I found it strange for a moment, but somehow it felt natural and real that my thoughts just froze over. We laughed and laughed until my lungs gasped for air and she needed to remove her glasses to wipe a droplet of tear that formed in her eye; everything felt welcoming and natural, like a reunion between two siblings after years of separation. When our laughter died and our nerves calmed, we returned to the initial solemn atmosphere that started it all.
With a mixed expression of nostalgia and curiosity, Shizune kept her eyes trained on me like an eagle. Having seen enough, she then raises her hand and signs. [How can you see me?]
I gave a shrug. [I don’t know.]
Nor do I even care. When she appeared before me, I felt as if I had escaped the nightmare and entered a new dream—one that was a lot more favorable and forgiving than the other. As far as my selfishness goes, I couldn’t care less of the actions that allowed me to see her in the first place. I was startled at first, but when I took my first long look at her slender figure before I release my grip from her arm I felt the sudden but gracious return of the colors of my world, the muse of my life, and the lighthouse of my soul. It was as if I had just been awoken by a sudden rush of cold water on an early Monday morning. It was as though I had risen from the dead—I was back alive. But that wasn’t the time for me to think about myself—I was happy, yes, but ‘longing’ would be a more accurate word to describe me. Shizune had been absent for four weeks—forever, if I were to count the days ahead. But no, in that time there she stood before me as happy and confused as I was. To each of our own, we shared the same questions and feelings that had been amiss ever since that accident.
We were missing each other, and none of us could deny it any further.
I gather my confidence and decided to work my hand, [It’s been awhile, Shizune. How have you been?]
She nudges her eyebrow in amusement and fixes her glasses with her thumb and index finger, all the while keeping a relaxed smile in-check. Then, she raises her hand and work a reply. [If you’re asking if I’m alive, then that’s a no.]
She sighs disappointingly. Well, that part is obvious.
[But if you’re wondering how I am feeling,] she continues, raising her head high and proud. [Then right now, I feel ‘alive’.]
[I still find it funny to hear that from you.]
She leans forward and—with a slightly irritated face on display—stresses on her delivery. [I didn’t ask to be like this in the first place, Hisao!]
Shizune straightens herself and huffs, establishing a position that I am forced to accept. Once upon a time, she was a living person—a very competitive and driven one, at that. But when that truck came rolling down the hill, she was reduced to nothing more than a vague memory to some and a fragment of the past to others. Now, she no longer stood amongst the living and wanders Yamaku High as an embodiment of what she once was. Shizune may have returned—or should I say, ‘appeared’ before me, but it was different than what it was before. Along with the feeling of nostalgia and longing, it was also accompanied with uneasiness and mystery; to describe, it felt so familiar yet at the same time foreign and strange. I was never into the paranormal or the unknown, but now may be a good time to start giving a damn about them; as long as I can stay with Shizune—to be with her, then I’ll move mountains and even part seas.
I will not lose sight of you for the second time.
[Everything that is so familiar to me feels so alien,] she continues. [It’s like existing but nobody noticed me.]
She sighs with frustration. [Don’t even get me started how I feel about that flower vase on my table.]
Flower vase? If I remember correctly, it was removed around the second week after we cleared her room of her belongings and before then she’s…
[Shizune,] I sign with a hastily gathered courage, powered heavily by curiosity and slight sense of panic. I fear the worse. [How long have you been here? I mean, ever since you’ve...]
Shizune stops my hand from signing with a grip, sighs, and gaze at the window before releasing. With tragedy, she turns and looks at me—and then I realize how it has already been part of reality.
[Long before you can see me.]
Her hands dances swiftly as she tries her best to word everything that happened for the last four weeks—the things I might never learn. First she told me about the accident and the short but near-unbearable pain that swallowed her after the collision; the pain that she describe to be of similar feelings to having all your bones crushed and your head cracked by cinder blocks before everything fades. When she opened her eyes for the first time after the accident, she describe how ‘light’ and ‘free’ she is yet at the same time, there’s a certain chill that lingers around her—it feels right, but it isn’t. Despite her early suspicions, she never realized that she is no longer amongst the living—no, not until she met Misha. The bubbly girl returned to the dorm early that day after the funeral—Shizune’s funeral, unbeknownst to her. She told me how she stood in the hallway and snapped her finger—not once, but three times
before she realized what had happen to her.
[I have died,] she signs with an air of solemnity and hard realization, as if depicting her feelings at that time. [I’m a ghost.]
What comes next is a shock to me. Having nowhere left to go, she went looking for me and found me talking with Yamaku High’s security concerning my intention—it was already late back then, and I had just finish my little guilt-trip near the scene of the crime. Just like Misha, I couldn’t see and walked right pass her before I made my way here, back to my room. There, she stayed until 3AM in the morning before she left to wander and from it, came to me the realization of the validity of Kenji’s claim. So, that’s why he heard the door at around three; it wasn’t me, but Shizune who left the room at that hour. Even then, he couldn’t see her either—even with Kenji’s claim breathing down on my neck, I failed to do so. Me, the person who was supposed to provide refuge in the most troubling times—her boyfriend—couldn’t even do a single thing but grief and mourn. She was there all this time, yet I couldn’t see her; she was so close, but at the same time far from my reach.
I should’ve noticed it sooner.
The days after were a torture. If having been secluded from the rest of the world due to her inability to speak or hear weren’t enough, then being ignored by people she cared about felt like an insult from The Creator Himself. When she entered the classroom, she noticed the vase that sat atop of her table and from then on, the realization came in full circle. To everyone, Shizune died in the car accident. Even when she stood beside me when Mutou-sensei discussed about what to do with the Student Council, wondering about the conversation and catching bits and pieces through Misha’s habit of signing subconsciously, when she sat on Mutou’s desk before the entire class, and even if she screamed—if she could do so in the first place…
Nobody could hear her.
Nobody could see her.
And nobody would heed her. She is left alone.
After the accident, she was reduced to nothing more than a fragment of a memory; an echo to her existence.
[I’m a ghost,] she concludes. Her slender finger reaches for her glasses and removes it to allow her to pinch the marrow of her nose. Even after all that, she still tries to act strong and reliable. [Nobody is aware of my presence.]
She sighs solemnly and put up a smile, [Until now.]
I tried to say something—or sign in this regards, but my hands are as heavy as led as to how tied my tongue is. What she has experienced for the last few weeks weighs far greater than what I have been through; the thought of being isolated, ignored, and left forgotten is too much for one person to bear. No matter how strong you are, humans can’t last forever against a backdrop of infinite isolation and solitude—most would be driven mad. Shizune carried that sentence for almost four weeks and even then she’s walking on a very thin tight-rope; I couldn’t even imagine if she is to carry it for years to come. To her, the opening of my eyes is a welcoming change to the now-bleak, desolate world that has driven her further into alienation.
[After realizing that nobody could see me,] she continues. [I simply gave up. I thought that maybe following you could one day grant me that attention I yearn for.]
She sighs heavily once again, still holding her emotions back. [It didn’t, and when I saw you and Lilly together and later in the courtyard I…]
“Stop…!” I didn’t bother to sign anymore. I heard enough, and with or without her permission I’ll do what I believe is right. In quick succession, I leap from my position and envelopes Shizune in an embrace. “Just…stop.”
She struggles for a minute, and then gently pushes me off of her with a sour look on her face with tears that are slowly threatening to break free. [I don’t think I’ve given you permission to hug me.]
[Sorry.] Even through it all, she still tries to preserve herself from breaking—admirable, yes, but also stubborn and foolish. She doesn’t have to hold it in and keep everything to herself; sometimes it’s ok to let it go. [I just thought…]
She smiles, stopping my hand once again with a clasp before she signs. [We’re fools, aren’t we?]
I nod as she continues. A smile creeps up my face.
[When I saw you and Lilly, I believe that it was time for me to let you go,] she shook her head and hastily flicks the few droplets that gather in her eyes. [But I couldn’t bring myself to accept that.]
[Are you the same, Hisao?]
Shizune sighs and gave me the brightest smile I have ever seen in a long time. [Then I wasn’t wrong about you.]
When Shizune asked me that question, I gave an answer that was driven by impulse and signed a simple ‘yes’. To her, my reply held a deeper meaning than what it represents in the outside—reassurance, perhaps, to ease her troubled mind. I was happy—rejoiced, even—to know that she shares the same feeling as I. At least, I’m not the only fool in this situation, right? As the clock ticks in my small room and the early chirp of the birds welcomes the coming dawn, I notice a faint glow around her that radiates so much beauty and grace. It’s mesmerizing, almost as if she’s an angel sent by God Himself to guide this lost soul, but then again it could be an optical illusion my tired eyes generate from the lack of rest.
Well, no matter. Shizune has returned, and that is an answer I am willing to accept.
[You’re not going to do anything to me?]
A slow grin creeps up my face. If there is something Shizune want from me, I’ll make
her say—err, sign it. [What do you mean?]
[Don’t play stupid, Hisao,] she quickly interjects. [I can read your face like an open book.]
[I don’t know what you are talking about,] the grin I suppress finally takes a hold of my face. I chuckle openly, a challenge for her to step forward. [Can you iterate it further?]
She pouts, cross her arms, and stares me right in the eyes with irritation and annoyance. For some reason, I find her reaction to be slightly cute and welcoming—well, even if she’s a ghost Shizune is still ‘Shizune’.
Finally sighing in defeat—which happens rarely, mind you—she straightens her glasses with her index finger before dancing her hand with a reply.
[You can hug me if you like.]
…well, that was…surprising?
She tries to continue as a flush of red builds up and is barely visible just by her cheeks, almost hidden by the rim of her glasses which slightly emphasizes her cuteness and immaturity even further. If only she acts like this a little more often, I don’t think my heart can take it—though when I think about it, I don’t mind joining her the second it gives out…maybe. [I’ll let you off this time, Hisao, so I’m giving you permission to hug me.]
This girl…sometimes, I can’t understand the way she thinks.
As the bird chirped outside the window, I took a step forward and embrace Shizune which she returns in kind. We stayed in that position for as long as we can, trying to feel each other’s warmth and make up the lost time between us. When my alarm rang, we parted for a moment before once again falling into a deep embrace, as if it was our last. Sadly, as time wasn’t on my side, I hastily separate from her to fetch my towel and my uniform to prepare for the new day. She insisted on following me throughout the entire day both to make up the lost time and to catch up to the things she missed, which I approved without a second thought—besides, the idea of being haunted by your girlfriend doesn’t sound like such a bad idea.
I step out the door and quietly whisper under my breath without bothering to sign. I knew that I have new day ahead of me, one that is brighter and warmer.
“Welcome back, Shizune.”
So here I am today, walking in the halls of Yamaku on a clear autumn morning and heading towards the Student Council office for the daily meeting. To be honest, there isn’t much to do in those hours due to the lack of members, but nonetheless it gives some of us a quick exit from homeroom. Hanako part with us half-way and head to the library—which can be overlooked, considering how the Student Council has returned to its initial headcount of ‘three’ just like it was under Shizune. With a key in my hand, I unlock the office door, step inside the temperature-cooled room with zest, pull the presidential chair, and claim it. Like any regular morning, Misha decides to spend the time to rest on one of the available tables; ever since Shizune died, she spend most of her mornings snatching extra ‘Zs’ when we are not particularly busy, such as today. As she dose off in the first two minutes since we arrive, I turn my attention to the other
person in this room who curiously loiter around the pile of things—her things—stacked neatly in the corner.
[Is this really everything?] Shizune signs with slight concern over her belongings. I nod.
[Do you need any help?]
She shakes her head, [No, I’m fine. I’ll ask you if I need anything mr. President
Putting a little emphasis on ‘mr. President’, she playfully smile before continuing to rummage through her belongings. I observe her move from the distance, opening this and that and shuffling through item by item with full concentration; aside from doing this, there’s nothing much to do but look at the boring papers and documents that needs to be sorted sooner or later. I wonder what she is looking for, seeing how almost zealous of her to look into every single cardboard box and containers for a particular item she seems to be fond off. She pulls out a cat doll—the
cat doll I gave her during the festival last summer, caress it for a second, and then place it on top of one of the nearby table. But she doesn’t stop there, for she returns to the pile in search of something even I am unsure of.
With curiosity getting the better of me, I leave my position and approach her from behind. Quickly, she turns and smiles almost playfully while pointing at the boxes; it’s amazing how she can sense my presence with the blink of an eye.
[What are you looking for?]
[A book,] she signs hastily, quickly returning to her current box. I tap her shoulder once again.
[What kind of book?]
[Journal,] again, she ignores me and return to the box. After satisfying herself on the current container, she quickly shifts to the next box and opens them with haste—this causes her to be brimming with a smile.
[You found something?]
She nods and takes the book from the box, shoving it right in my face. It reads in bold texts ‘Art of War’.
She does takes things seriously—albeit too
Before I can ask her, she is already back on her box and pulled a second book—this time, it’s a lot more simple in design and is not as thick. She turns swiftly to me, causing the wind to kick lightly around her but not enough to lift her skirt. With a smile and the book in hand, she sits on a nearby table and crosses her legs almost lusciously as she reads the content—not to mention, her thigh-high socks and skirt combo is too enticing it’s almost criminal. I swear she’s doing this on purpose to get me…maybe, but then again it might be my own paranoia kicking up. Huh, I wonder, when is the last time I experience such feelings…?
The speed and power she uses to close the diary immediately catches me off guard. With a look that has the potential to turn a tiger stripe-less or a lion bald, Shizune concentrates her beady eyes on me as if sucking my soul away from my body. She rests her journal on her lap—her legs still crossed, mind you—and dance her hand powerfully with both authority and grace. [You haven’t read what’s in here, have you?]
[Even if I know what it is, I am not touching that if it has the chance to incite the wrath of a demon.]
[Are you calling me a demon?] She stresses, increasing the intensity of her dances and deepening the expression on her face.
[I know you’ve been staring at my legs for a while, Hisao,] she continues, looking mischievously as ever. [Don’t make me embarrass you in front of the class.]
I chuckle in return. She’s a ghost, what can
she do to harm me? [Try me.]
[I’ll take that as a challenge!] With a grin as wide as the Cheshire cat, she returns to her journal and—I swear—there’s that glint on her glasses again.
Now that I think about it, there are a lot of things she can
do to humiliate me in public. She’s a ghost; nobody can see her but I, and that is enough incentive for her to do things she couldn’t do back when she is alive. As much as I find this conversation between Shizune and I entertaining, I might have to consider where I land my feet next time or there will be hell to pay. But then again, what can she do without drawing too much attention? Scribble my notebook? Drop my pencil case? Pull my chair? Whatever it is, it shouldn’t be something I should be worried about. Either way, whatever mischief she comes up with it wouldn’t be too much of a problem as long as I can get my notes down and keep up with the rest of the class.
The echo of the bell ends homeroom period, dispersing us from the Student Council office and back to class 3-3. Of course, Shizune is following me closely from behind. When class starts, I realize I have underestimated the extent of her capability. Shizune’s a ghost, an ethereal being that is unseen by the naked eye. No one in the class notices her presence but me, but that is all she needs to exact her revenge. No one in the class can feel her presence but me, and that is all she would ask for. And of course, no one in class can touch her but me, and that is exactly what she wanted.
As I take my seat, Shizune hops on to my table and treats it as her stool—legs crossed, of course, followed with the utilization of her full feminine charm. Once in a while, she’ll hop down and leans behind me while pressing her chest on my back, claiming she’s ‘helping me concentrate’ by pointing the mistakes on my notes and what-not. But that’s not even the best—or worse—attempt she has come up with; after the end of the period, I take my time to ease off and stretch where she quickly takes the opportunity to slip in and sit on my lap
. Throughout the entire period until lunch time, she clings, cuddles, and embraces me while lusciously breathing down my neck and ear; not to mention her sweet scent that tickles my nose at every passing second.
I don’t know whether I should call it a blessing or a curse, but nonetheless she has accomplished what she came for.
From the start of first period until lunchtime, nothing stays permanently in my head but Shizune and the scent of lavender and vanilla.
[You’re evil.] I sign. [You’re a demon for putting me through that torture.]
[But you seem happy.]
She tilts her head high and smiles teasingly, fixing the frame of her glasses with the thumb and index finger before replying gleefully. [Hisao’s a pervert!]
[You forced me in that situation in the first place,] I reply hastily, [You’re toying with an honest, young man’s heart!]
By the end of the day, both of us have exhausted ourselves with endless banters and flirting unknown to the general public. Even if things do get ‘physical’ in a sense, it never extend any further than simple teasing and flirting; no fondling or kissing, and even then I’m still surprised how she still manage to be so open and aggressive while maintaining her virtue and rationality. Despite how tired this day has turn out to be, I am glad to know that she is still the same Shizune I knew; the driven, determined, and competitive girl that stole my heart on that summer night. I steal a glance at her and notice her wide smile brimming with confidence as we walk towards the dormitory, feeling accomplished and fulfilled—at least, for now. If she had survived that accident, I wonder if this is the kind of life we would have? The days spent with the two of us exchanging random banters, teasing, and flirting to pass the time, wouldn’t it be lively? But it doesn’t matter now and I shouldn’t think about it; for what I have—what has been given—is definitely better than the life that is permanently chained and bound to the ghost of the past. Today’s events almost make it seem that the accident never happened in the first place, and that Shizune has been here all along.
No. She has
been here, wandering Yamaku in a solitary world—both of us have, but all that changed today. We have been missing each other completely for four weeks; not anymore. I guess now I can say that things are turning for the better.
A tug on my sleeve quickly puts me at attention to the girl that is walking beside me. [You’ve been smiling all this time. Are you thinking about something?]
[No, nothing in particular,] I reply with a smile that I failed to hide. Speaking of which, I wonder why nobody notice the ‘floating books’ or the ‘haunted cat-doll’ that has been hovering beside me all this time.
I tap her shoulder, [Shizune, wouldn’t people notice the ‘floating books’ or the ‘haunted cat-doll’ that you’ve been carrying?]
[These ‘books’ is my journal and ‘The Art of War’ by Sun Tzu and the ‘ghostly cat doll’ is definitely not haunted,] she signs, squeezing the items on her armpit to compensate the freedom of her hands; funny how she mentions it’s not haunted when she
is carrying it around. [And I don’t think people would notice.]
[Because we haven’t met a single soul in the first place,] she huffs confidently. [And I don’t think we will. It has gotten pretty late, and most would probably be back in their dorm or homes.]
[But since you’re worried,] she continues, putting up the best smile she can muster. [You’d be a good gentleman and carry these for me, would you?]
Without time to muster a reply, she quickly passes the items to my arm before walking ahead and heading off on her own. She quickly turns to me for a second to reveal what she’s up to; nonetheless, it doesn’t change the fact that I have to carry these to my room. [I’ll see you in your room later!]
She takes a few steps and stops, turning once again before signing with utmost authority and order one can muster. [And don’t you dare read my journal…!]
[You don’t trust me?]
[Not with that grin on your face!] She huffs and smiles softly, mustering a reply before finally running off to wherever she is going. [If I found out you even peek into it, the wrath of God shall fall upon you!]
Really, sometimes I wonder how much more childish she can be when she often strikes most people as a serious, irritable, and mature individual who once dominated the Student Council. True, Shizune often poses as a strict, bossy, annoying, and slightly unsociable individual due to her inability to speak and hear in the first place, but when she is left alone with me—barring Misha with the crowd as well—she can be surprisingly daring and forward with her way and sometimes even childish. It amazes me how different her character can be from the inside when she’s so capable of maintaining the antithesis of what she is on the outside—it’s like two sides of the same coin, yet it isn’t. Here I believe that I know everything about Shizune, but I have come to the revelation that there are still hundreds of secrets and mysteries yet to be uncovered. I want to know more about her, understand her, and find out what makes her tic and what makes her smile. Let’s be honest, I have never
encountered a ‘Shizune’ who acted so daring and open in the middle of class
. As much as I like it—scratch that, enjoyed it—I find it similarly surprising. Then again, maybe it has something to do with her not being able to be seen.
Certainly, the days ahead of me will be full of surprises coming from her.
My thoughts freeze over by the time I reach the male dormitories. Rather than having a normal entrance before entering my own territory, I am forced to make a spectacular ‘run and dodge’ when the entire dormitory is focused near the entrance due to some public display of a certain individual I am not too thrilled to meet. Kenji—with all his ‘sanity’ usually left within the boundaries of his room—is found near the entrance propagating his bloody theory like wildfire while screaming ‘spies’ and ‘infiltrators’ or what-not. As much as I am amused by this scene, the residents of the dormitory are practically disturbed and none even dares to approach him and his mad rambles; they are, however, waiting for someone who knows him to calm him down.
And guess who draws the short stick?
“Sorry folks, nothing to see here,” I said as I quickly grab him by the arm and drag him away from the crowd. “Just him being, uh…’Kenji’…!”
“LET GO OF ME YOU FEMINIST SPY!!”
“Yeah, just him being him…! There’s nothing to worry about!” I turn to face the deranged hall-mate who—even until we are right in front of his room—still tries to struggle. “Kenji, it’s me Hisao!”
“How can I trust you? You can even be that FEMINIST SPY…!”
“Just take a closer look.”
Just this once, I let him inch uncomfortably close to my face. Shifting his massive glasses with his finger and squints his beady eyes, Kenji observes me like a deranged mad doctor towards its victim. Satisfied, he pulls back and smiles—an entire 180 degree shift in character from a mental asylum patient to the pupil of Buddha. He smiles with calmness and assurance and poses with his right hand in his pocket almost as if nothing has happened; I don’t know if I should be amazed at his quick mood-shifts or my ability to tame a raging tempest and come out unscathed.
“Oh, it’s you, what’s up man?”
“Yeah, it’s me,” I reply, sighing in relief after successfully defusing the situation. “You’re ok?”
“No, I’m not. We have a spy here—A SPY!!”
“I hear you and I’m listening.” I can’t believe I just said that.
Kenji smiles; a sense of ‘trust’ radiates from him. “Ok man, I know you’re not a spy, but listen to this…”
“They’re here…” he inches a little closer. I take a step back a little further. “They’re making their move now!”
“Really…?” I reply humorously. I need to start questioning my own sanity soon enough for talking with Kenji. Huh, maybe Shizune herself is a figment of my imagination and I’m going insane, but let’s hope not. “And how are they infiltrating the male dormitory? Cardboard boxes…?”
I still can’t believe he failed to catch my hints of sarcasm. “I’ve checked those. No man, they’re not snake-y enough to pull that off.”
“Anyway, they’re here and they’re planning to kill us all,” he continues. As of this moment, I’m expecting him to pull a list or something from his scarf. “It starts in the bathroom!”
Kenji takes a sigh and peers left and right as if expecting something to come in and listen. He inches closer once again, to which I take a step back to avoid the discomfort he gave me earlier, to which he finds mostly irritating. Nonetheless, he starts to speak when he feels the entire coast is clear from any possible ‘spy’ or ‘infiltrators’. “They are planning to turn the bathroom into a gas chamber!”
I chuckle lightly. Really, a gas chamber…?
“You don’t believe me, but I saw it with my own eyes man,” he continues as he squint his brows a little further. “When I’m about to take a shower, I heard that someone else was already in there—at this hour!”
Of course there would be. It’s not yours
in the first place.
“I thought it was you, but when I checked it and open the curtains there’s no one there—the shoewr even shut itself! ONLY SPIES CAN DISAPPEAR LIKE THAT!!”
Yep. Now I’m starting to believe this is another one of his drunken ramble. But maybe…it can’t be, can it?
“The next thing I knew, I was knocked unconscious by something. When I regain my consciousness, I knew the feminists have made their move! It must be gas!”
Without any further attempt to humor him, I just nod in agreement to whatever he has to say. Finding his ‘job’ to inform me complete, he quickly unlocks his door and rushes into his room—not to forget to peek into its interior before rushing in. Before he disappear, he warns me to be careful of the people that live in this dorm and who I am to interact with—again, rambling about that ‘spy’ he thinks to have exist and is lurking somewhere in this all-boys dormitory. I sigh with relief, reach for my key, unlock the door to my room, and rest all the items I carry on my desk before waiting for her to arrive. As much as I find it revoking to live in one room with someone of the opposite sex, it can’t be helped since she has lost the rights to hers. Or at least, that’s what I said to convince myself; I’m not exactly against it, mind you, in fact I am looking forward to it. But aren’t ghosts able to walk through doors and walls...? If so, shouldn’t she be able to use her room even without the keys? Guess I’ll have to ask her about this later.
Shizune arrives five minutes later and invites herself into the room calmly and politely. To my surprise, steams are fuming out of her body while her face is flushed red. I assume that it is another thing ghosts and spirits tend to do aside from leaving ecto-what-not—or so I remember from a book I read back then—and is to be considered a ‘normal’ occurrence. But when I ask her what she has been up to, her reply changes my question drastically.
[Can you repeat what you have been up to in the last hour…?]
[The girl’s dormitory initially,] she replies. [I was thinking of taking a shower there, but it was occupied.]
[Ghosts take showers…?]
[No one say I couldn’t.]
So ghosts do find the urge to maintain their hygiene. As much as I find this amusing and funny at the same time, my brain starts to ‘click’ into gear for realizing where this is going.
[Since it may be problematic, I decide to use the boy’s dormitory. Besides, I’ll be staying here for tonight so it’s also for convenience sake.]
[Can’t you go through walls?]
She pouts for a second. [No, I can’t. Tried that, it’s a myth; I’m still bounded by the laws of physics apparently. Do you mind letting me finish?]
[Luckily, it was unoccupied. So I step right in.]
I raise a palm of my hand high and interrupt her for a second. [Let me guess, someone came in when you’re in
Shizune crosses her eyebrows. [Yes. I gave him a good whack in the face for peeping.]
Right…now everything starts to make sense. Good thing Kenji can’t see her, or else I might add another blow to his face.
Yep, the days ahead will be filled with surprises. This is going to be a long, lively autumn.
END CHAPTER IV