The Haunting: A Love Story *UPDATED 02/26/2015*

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andros414
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Re: The Haunting: A Love Story *UPDATED*

Post by andros414 » Sat Sep 08, 2012 6:37 pm

Kyvos wrote:Also, a club that investigates paranormal activity and is lead by a girl who keeps a black triangular paperweight that says "Chief" on her table? A reference, perhaps?
Actually there's two references. The one you noticed is obviously Suzumiya Haruhi, but the second is "Dusk Maiden of Amnesia," which is not only where Miyazaki's explanation about ghost appearances comes from ("You see ghosts as you want to see them."), but also why the 7th Mystery is called "the Dusk Maiden."
Shizune > Emi = Hanako > Lilly > Rin

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Megumeru
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Re: The Haunting: A Love Story *UPDATED*

Post by Megumeru » Sat Sep 08, 2012 10:55 pm

Kyvos wrote:I was kinda hoping Hisao had just gone crazy because he wasn't able to give up Shizune, but it looks like that's not happening. Oh well, it's still been a good read so far.
It's too early for someone as young as Hisao to lose his mind. That was the original premise before, but it was scrapped early on in the draft as it would be predictable and make the story a lot shorter than what it is now :)

Besides, what fun is there to torture someone who has lost his mind? :twisted:
andros414 wrote:
Kyvos wrote:Also, a club that investigates paranormal activity and is lead by a girl who keeps a black triangular paperweight that says "Chief" on her table? A reference, perhaps?
Actually there's two references. The one you noticed is obviously Suzumiya Haruhi, but the second is "Dusk Maiden of Amnesia," which is not only where Miyazaki's explanation about ghost appearances comes from ("You see ghosts as you want to see them."), but also why the 7th Mystery is called "the Dusk Maiden."
Ooh sharp! :D
Indeed there are a number of shout-outs in this chapter, and it doesn't just end in those two. See if you can spot them all 8)

'Dusk Maiden of Amnesia' makes one of the most intriguing take on ghosts and the paranormal. It is currently my favorite take on the subject of ghosts and the unknown, so I might make future shout-outs to the series :mrgreen:
Last edited by Megumeru on Sun Sep 09, 2012 3:52 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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They say they hate Shizune? What is this? BLASPHEMY!

SHII-HAEL!
Shizune>Rin>Emi>Hanako>Lilly
"A writer is a light that reveals the world of his story from darkness. Shapes it from nothingness. If the writer stops, the world dies with it." - Alan Wake
Yes, I write stories. Currently working on: The Haunting: A Love Story

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DelusionsOfGrandeur
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Re: The Haunting: A Love Story *UPDATED*

Post by DelusionsOfGrandeur » Sun Sep 09, 2012 12:27 am

This is getting pretty good. I'm feel a little anxious about reading the upcoming fallout when Lilly comes back, so many " what if? " moments can occur.

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Re: The Haunting: A Love Story *UPDATED*

Post by griffon8 » Sun Sep 09, 2012 8:50 pm

Megumeru wrote:Besides, what fun is there to torture someone who has lost his mind? :twisted:
Didn't Doomish write a whole story about that? :lol:
Megumeru wrote:'Dusk Maiden of Amnesia' makes one of the most intriguing take on ghosts and the paranormal. It is currently my favorite take on the subject of ghosts and the unknown, so I might make future shout-outs to the series :mrgreen:
Well, my favorite take on the subject is that ghosts are all bullshit. But that doesn't mean I don't like reading stories about them. 8)
I found out about Katawa Shoujo through the forums of Misfile. There, I am the editor of Misfiled Dreams.

Completed: 100%, including bonus picture. Shizune>Emi>Lilly>Hanako>Rin

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Megumeru
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Re: The Haunting: A Love Story *UPDATED*

Post by Megumeru » Mon Sep 10, 2012 12:44 pm

DelusionsOfGrandeur wrote:This is getting pretty good. I'm feel a little anxious about reading the upcoming fallout when Lilly comes back, so many " what if? " moments can occur.
Tbh I am anxious about writing that part too. I've drafted a number of possible scenarios to use, and some of them are...NTR-ish, maybe? It isn't final though but we'll see~ :mrgreen:
griffon8 wrote:Didn't Doomish write a whole story about that?

Indeed he did 8)

And it's awesome.
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They say they hate Shizune? What is this? BLASPHEMY!

SHII-HAEL!
Shizune>Rin>Emi>Hanako>Lilly
"A writer is a light that reveals the world of his story from darkness. Shapes it from nothingness. If the writer stops, the world dies with it." - Alan Wake
Yes, I write stories. Currently working on: The Haunting: A Love Story

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Re: The Haunting: A Love Story

Post by Scissorlips » Thu Sep 20, 2012 8:04 am

Finally found a chunk of time to catch up on this story. While I'm definitely curious to see where things are headed now, you really built up the conflict with Misha in the beginning, only to completely drop it later. Explaining the cultural callouts in parenthesis only breaks the flow of the story, as does censoring harsh language - the game itself uses the F-word, so why refrain from using it here?
There's a slew of technical problems here and there, mostly verb conjugations rather than tenses this time. It can be difficult to follow Hisao's thought processes, a lot of the things he does or thinks don't really make sense, like his dramatic outburst in the paranormal investigation clubroom. It all just kind of blends together to feel like a (somewhat loosely) translated Japanese story, which clashes with the style of the original source material. It's still an interesting and compelling story, it's still definitely worth reading, it's just difficult to follow and difficult to digest at times.
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Re: The Haunting: A Love Story

Post by Megumeru » Thu Sep 20, 2012 4:03 pm

Scissorlips wrote:Finally found a chunk of time to catch up on this story. While I'm definitely curious to see where things are headed now, you really built up the conflict with Misha in the beginning, only to completely drop it later.
Don't worry, Misha isn't forgotten, dropped, or left-out.
Scissorlips wrote:Explaining the cultural callouts in parenthesis only breaks the flow of the story, as does censoring harsh language - the game itself uses the F-word, so why refrain from using it here?
Hmm...I see. I'll keep that in mind.

Wait, there's the F-word in the main game? Ooooh :D
I missed that, so I'll remove the censorship immediately
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They say they hate Shizune? What is this? BLASPHEMY!

SHII-HAEL!
Shizune>Rin>Emi>Hanako>Lilly
"A writer is a light that reveals the world of his story from darkness. Shapes it from nothingness. If the writer stops, the world dies with it." - Alan Wake
Yes, I write stories. Currently working on: The Haunting: A Love Story

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Re: The Haunting: A Love Story

Post by Scissorlips » Sun Sep 23, 2012 6:10 pm

Megumeru wrote:Don't worry, Misha isn't forgotten, dropped, or left-out.
Well of course I understand that, it's just that, in a fairly huge chapter, you reintroduced a conflict early on and then dropped it entirely. Combine that with your sporadic update schedule (which is fine by itself, people have priorities) and it feels even more disconnected.
Wait, there's the F-word in the main game? Ooooh :D
I missed that, so I'll remove the censorship immediately
There are several, most of them in The Deep End.
I'll wager that most people forget that it included the words "dickgirl porn", too.
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Chapter VII: Chained

Post by Megumeru » Fri Oct 19, 2012 2:37 pm

The Haunting: A Love Story

Chapters
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 VII: Chained

I couldn’t sleep. No matter how tired and exhausted I am or how dark it has become, my conscious has been demanding me to keep me up on my wits with my head facing the window. The clock made a ticking sound at each passing second, the crickets outside sings the song of its species, and the night grows colder and colder with the moon rising to take its rightful throne as the king of the night. I check the time and saw that it is 3:00AM in the morning—four hour since I first rest my head to catch a wink and prepare for tomorrow. But with each echo of the clock, my mind kept me awake with anxiety and fear as each images of ‘what ifs’ stream constantly over the course of the period.

What Miyazaki said—what the Paranormal Research Club theorized—are lies. Or at least, I want to believe it as such.

In just a few hours, the theories of the Paranormal Research Club has embedded itself in the depths of my mind and established a root that corrupts my view on the paranormal and my circumstances. ‘People chose to become wandering spirits due to lingering attachment in the physical world?’ Don’t joke around. ‘A ghost appear ‘as is’ because of how we want to see them?’ Don’t screw with me. ‘Wandering ghosts and spirits exist with the purpose to ‘spirit away’ the living?’ Please, if that is so I would have disappeared weeks ago. It can’t be true; yeah, it couldn’t be. What the Paranormal Research Club spouts and claims to be ‘facts’ and ‘theories’ are nothing more than child’s play or the rambles of otakus and geeks on something they don’t even understand. For weeks now I have been living with a ghost—a ghost! And here I lie in my bed wondering if what they say is true and proven when I know more about the topic than them?

Hah, this is funny. They almost got me there; swayed me into believing, but nope! Shizune can’t be a malicious, vengeful spirit—no, she isn’t like that at all! After all, I literally spend almost 80% of my time with her haunting me day and night; there is no way she is there to spirit me away, nor is there proof of it. Even in death, Shizune stayed true to what she is when alive; competitive, strong, determined, disciplined, and childish—a side of hers that I thought to have never existed. If there is anyone out there that can replicate her very character, it’s her and her alone. When I start to think about, there’s no reason for me to doubt my haunter, believing she’ll kill me one day; it’s very unlikely! Yet here I am resting, wondering—doubting her very existence just because someone believed she is the embodiment of remorse and regret; a vengeful spirit vying to take another unfortunate soul to accompany her for an eternity. What a load of bullshit…



…but what if it was true?

What if the Paranormal Research Club was right and that Shizune’s presence is based solely on my memory of her? What if that ‘shadow’ really is the collection of negative emotions left by Shizune? What if the life that I have been leading all this time is nothing but an illusion—a complete lie that was fabricated by my own confusion and trauma after the incident? What if that shadow…

…what if it wasn’t Shizune at all?

My head cringe at the thought, and I slowly pull my blanket higher as I observe the poorly lit room—the sudden feel of insecurity and unwariness crept upon me like a shadow. Out of fear, I search the room for her presence and am relieved the moment I realize I have been alone this entire time. The whole thought—the premise of her being a vengeful spirit isn’t too far off. At such an age, she was denied the right to live with an untimely death and a cruel disposition over a bleak reality where no one could see or understand her; heck, her own denial towards her circumstances could very much influence her motives as a vengeful spirit! If I was in that position for the next millennia to come wandering in this plane as nothing more than an ‘existence’, I would not hesitate to find and drag something—or someone—to spend an eternity with. The premise and mystery surrounding her return is still an enigma to me, with reasons and conclusions of it passing more as guesswork and assumptions; it is still uncertain to why she materialized to me—and only me—in the first place. Am I…its prey?

A brief image flash before me; it is that of Shizune, a product of my imagination that nonetheless managed to stop my heart for a beat or two. She was dressed in a white kimono akin to the one she wore during her funeral; but what strikes me wasn’t how she was dressed, but how she appeared in my imagination. Her arm was grey in color—pale, to be exact and was bristling with wounds, bruises, and blisters that never seemed to heal. Her skin was rough and flaky, with bits of it dangling or falling off from her figure; some of the wounds seep blood that runs along her hand down to the top of her finger. Her face—dear Lord her face! Her clear, sharp blue eyes that watches cautiously behind her glasses was gone and replaced with a dark, empty gaze that stare right into my soul; I realize soon after that her eyes was missing in the first place the moment insects started crawling out of the empty hole. Her mouth was agape, her left cheek was missing and revealed the tissue of muscle and rows of teeth beneath it; blood seeps from the pores and runs down from the edge of her lips. Her smooth, short hair was in chaos and disorder, some of which were falling off at each second. I didn’t turn—I couldn’t; for that is the same ‘Shizune’ I saw earlier today.

A ‘Shizune’ that is akin to a rotting corpse.

I start to sweat—not because of fatigue or excessive heat from the heater, but out of fear of the one thing I cared for; a mysterious entity that could very well spirit me away the moment I let my guard down. As much as I want to deny it, the premise of ‘she’ being something else exists, and there is no way for us—for me—to prove it. It’s a gamble; this lifestyle I’m going through with Shizune is starting to feel like a roulette—a Russian one at that. Nobody know when the bullet will leave the barrel of the pistol and snatch my life; similarly, no one know whether Shizune really is ‘Shizune’ or what Miyazaki and his goons describe as a ‘vengeful spirit’.

The gears in my head continue to turn, forcing my decrepit head to churn an answer that probably never existed in the first place. Before I knew it, a dim ray of light begins to shine through the cracks of the blinds and my alarm goes off a few minutes later; its morning and I have spent the entire night wondering—dazed and confused—about a subject that is alien to man. Quickly I rise from my covers and turn to the nightstand beside my bed and gulp a handful of medicine before the door opens and she comes into the room, like a routine that never escape us since.

[Oh, you’re awake. That’s unusual.]

I yawn, stretch, and quickly work my hand to sign a reply; a quick observation of her immediately brings a surge of relief in contrast to my previous image of her. [Good morning.]

Shizune smiles in return and quickly pulls the blinds obstructing the morning light before stretching her hands and back. It’s odd seeing what is happening before me; here is a girl who supposedly passed away last season but is now assisting me in any way possible as if nothing had happened to her. I may have gotten used to the strange feeling, but now I began to question her motive, reason, or—as the Paranormal Research Club calls it—‘grudge’ that kept her in the world of the living, or if it is there in the first place. Soon after she turns to me and ‘commands’ me to quickly take a shower and get dressed for school before making her way out of my room into god-knows-where and what she’s up to. Shizune…

I always find myself enthralled and excited every time she pull one of her antics; her feisty, competitive, and demanding nature that keeps me on edge each time she expresses her thoughts with each gesture and stroke. It’s expressive; lively, considering her limitations with words. She kept me thinking, ensnared by her bewitching character developed from my curiosity to what ‘wonders’ or ‘adventure’ she’ll attempt to next.

Now I can’t help but find myself frightened by her very existence…

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

“You seemed out of it, chief.”

I turn to the curious onlooker whose carrying a bucket of red paint and dressed in the more-traditional black navy uniform. “Whose fault do you think it is, Miyazaki?”

“…Yours?”

It is the last day of preparation before the festival and once again the members of the Student Council—as per the agreement with the Paranormal Research Club—gathered together in the now-transformed Class 3-3 into a full-fledged haunted house. In preparation for the festival on Sunday, the school granted the request of the students to have Saturday open for preparation and have some of the booths ready for a quick test-run—mainly, the food stalls and drink stands. Though it isn’t much, the smell of okonomiyaki and yakisoba waft the air as we pass through the grounds carrying buckets of paints, papers, and other paraphernalia we retrieved from the front gate; Miyazaki mentioned it is the contribution of the club’s female president and said that some of these miscellaneous ‘haunted’-theme items came from her own room.

“Yuuko Hanekawa is quite an occult maniac,” Miyazaki states as he pushes the door with his shoulder and hold it for me. “I can’t imagine what her room looks like with all these strewn about.”

“I can’t imagine there is someone who’d kill for these in the first place.”

I’ll be honest. Some of the stuff I’m carrying does not look like it came from a girl’s room. If any, it came from a funeral home or a long forgotten cursed building somewhere in the middle of nowhere; makes me wonder how creepy her room is or she is in the first place. Speaking of which, I don’t believe I’ve met the president of the Paranormal Research Club…

“Touché…!”

When we rendezvous in Class 3-3, all the members of both the Student Council—or what’s left of it—and the Paranormal Research Club are seen scurrying on both ends of the room setting up boxes and putting up barricades using tables and paper to create the haunted house they vision it to be. On one end of the room are the boys with the hammer, saws, and brooms building the set—just one, if you discount Miyazaki and I. On the other end were the girls who prepare the costumes and were dressing up quite nicely to fit the theme. One of the members of the Paranormal Research Club is seen directing her group of three—two of which are Misha and Hanako—as she measures and fits them into the desired costume. Misha giggles and shifts almost uncontrollably the moment the club member draws her measuring tape and presses them to her waist and chest spawning laughter that echoes across the room while Hanako waits patiently with her costume all-ready; a simple white yukata that is stained with a few droplets of red dye to simulate blood. Even with the getup, Hanako still fails to look frightening in the slightest and instead adorably cute—maybe it has to do with how timid she is, or because no makeup hasn’t been applied yet.



Is it wrong of me to find admiration in all this?

“Yamaku to President, hey…!”

A light tap hits me from behind. “We’re here to work. You can ogle the girls later.”

“Yeah, I know,” I rest the items down near the other male member who has been hammering since we got here. “Just out of curiosity, what role does Hanako play?”

“Hanako of the toilet,” he reply followed with a chuckle. Sometimes I wish to slap him for his crude sense of humor. “Is what we originally planned for her, but instead we made her to be the ‘lady from the well’; you know, like that girl from that horror movie that crawled out of the well and the television, and have the knack of whispering 'seven days' to anyone who answers her calls. It's that girl; too bad I can't remember her name...was it 'Hadako'?”

I sigh, arms rested on my waist. “Sometimes I don't know whether I should applaud you for creativity, or slap you real hard for your crude sense of humor.”

“Don’t look at me, the entire member approves it so what the heck?”

We lay down our materials and decide to work on what’s left to finish. From our corner of the room we can hear the laughter of the girls—or Misha in particular—and the raised voice of the club member who was in charge of them. Paired with the rhythmic sound of hammering in our side, the entire classroom sounds like a pre-festival concert of hammering, zips, laughter, and other miscellaneous echo that actively occupies class 3-3. But beside us and the noise we created, there is someone—or something—else that occupies a space in this room, isolated from the world that surrounds her yet diligently observes them regardless. For a second, I lay down my hammer and pause to observe.

From the corner of my eye, I watch as Shizune silently stands in the edge of the room over by the girl’s side with her back leaned against the wall.

This morning she came prepared—draped with her iconic white kimono she wore during her funeral and packed with child-like excitement over the coming festival and eager to help anyway she can. Now as hours went by, she stood there like a doll without its puppeteer, watching the group as they laugh, tease, and push themselves to create something worth remembering for years to come. It’s odd; one moment I feel as if she might be the end of me, the next I can’t help but feel sorry for her. She notices me for a second and questions my lollygagging as swiftly as she noticed it; as if to keep in-character to what she was before the accident. For a time now, I realize it was one of her way to bury her own problems out of sight and minds of others. Everything is a torture to her—or feels like one, I believe; the thought of wanting to participate yet being unable to do so crushed her more than ever. It’s painful to watch, yet it is even more unbearable to live with it for an eternity.

I bit my lower lip. The noise around me seemed to dim as my space focuses itself between me and her.

Both of my hands are free from the restraints of the hammer, and thus I put it to work.

[It suits you.]



That’s it? Is that all I can think of? Damn it Hisao, it doesn’t even leave an impression! What are you thinking?? I may have made a fool of myself…



…or not…

Shizune pause, blushes slightly, then proceeds to push the rim of her glasses and returns a smile that is beaming with energy and spirit that I’ve known her for. I exhale in relief over my small—though probably insignificant—accomplishment, feeling slightly energized and fluttered after receiving her smile. She takes a deep breath, straightens herself, walks to a nearby table, and works her hands for a reply.

[What a cheap line.] She replies mischievously. I notice soon after she crosses her arm over her chest and shifts her weight to her right foot that her white kimono accentuates her figure more than I thought it would. Nothing wrong with me indulging in a little private eye-candy moment now, is it?

[I’m not sorry for being uncreative.]

[It’s cute and all but,] She smiles playfully. [You might want to return your focus to your work though.]

“Not to be a bother Prez, but I’m getting creeped out here.”

And just like that, the focus of the world around me explodes and expands by the second. A number of eyes—mainly from the Paranormal Research Club—locks on to me and observes me with utmost bewilderment that unfailingly causes my face to flush with red. Oh god, what have I been doing? I must’ve looked crazy back there with my hands dancing around in a direction that point to nothingness! Immediately I check Shizune who—at this point—cups her hands together chuckle mutely as if enjoying the entire scenario like a bad sit-com. You may not be able to speak or hear, but laugh it up Shizune! You know you have your hand in this public humiliation of mine, intentionally or not.

“If you’re lacking sleep, you just have to say so; no need for that shaman-hand-thing because,” Miyazaki lowers his hammer and sighs. “You just went full retard back there, man. Never go full-retard.”

The only response I can muster soon after is a wave of dismissal and a light chuckle, which was quickly followed by Miyazaki with a shrug and creeped-out look with ‘weird’ written all over his face. Soon after, everything returned to normal; we are back to finishing the last of the walls and decorations that needs to be set before the end of the day, the girls return to their focus on the costumes, and Shizune continues to observe them silently. In between my work, the Paranormal Research Society’s banter, and matters concerning the Student Council that pops in once every minute or so, my attention never fails to return to the girl dressed in a pure-white kimono who stands in a lonely corner of the room undisturbed like a doll without its puppeteer. Every now and then, a smile would creep upon her face; one of satisfaction, as the members accomplished one task after another without fail. By lunch time, the girls cheered for their success in completing the costumes while we—the boys—finish the last few decorations. As they cheer, Shizune claps her hands to congratulate them and smiles at their success…

…all the while riddled with an expression best described that of dejection and loneliness.

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

I once saw a man with a look that imposes fear and respect akin to a bear. Though not personally, I met this man during one occasion and shared the opportunity to spend the night together in a situation best described as mournful and depressive. Beside her casket, the man mourned and mourned for the loss of his daughter in the untimely accident as I rest in the corner and watch him from a distance, all the while his son tried to comfort him to no avail. The next morning, he said his words of goodbye to his beloved daughter before returning to his seat and shed once more; this time, his son followed suit. We part ways after the funeral and I never met them since.

This is Shizune’s father.

He was the man I was destined to meet during summer vacation if the accident never happened in the first place, the person I am supposed to familiarize with if I were to spend more time with Shizune. There is no way for me to judge him at first glance; when I first saw him during the funeral, I remember how he cried continuously upon the revelation of his daughter’s fate—it’s easy to tell yet difficult to forget. On the night of the ‘Wake’, he kneeled beside her casket almost indefinitely until the rooster crowed and the sun shone its face once again. Not a word was spoken from him except that of prayers and mourning that lasted until the end of the ceremony, and not a single word was muttered between us. If it wasn’t because of Hideaki—Shizune’s younger brother—I would have never recognized him directly as the father of my lover and we would remain as complete strangers; even so, knowing who he was doesn’t change the fact about our standings.

Strangers; to me, we are anonymous who happen to love the same person in an entirely different light. I recognize him as Shizune’s father.

To him, I was the man held responsible to his daughter’s death. I am recognized as a murderer.

It was one late afternoon, a few hours into the last day of preparation.



“The hell is these holes for?”

“I told you before, didn’t I?” Miyazaki replies. “The entire ‘haunted house’-thing is just a setup; these holes will allow our cameras to capture the ghost on video without messing the quality of our little attraction.”

I chuckle lightly, “You guys take this too seriously.”

“Everybody’s a critic,” he peeped through the hole, eyeing the girls across the room before setting the first wall in position. All female members are accounted for with the exception of Misha who volunteered to bring everybody their take-out order and the Paranormal Research Club’s president. “Besides I know for a fact that the ‘dusk maiden’ is here in this room.”

“What makes you think so?”

Miyazaki chuckles lightly—scratch that, eerily—and places his hand on his left eye patch. He smiles an almost sinister smile, “My left eye can see the dead, Hisao. Do you want to know what’s under this eye patch?”

And just as he does so, the boy’s side of the room fall deathly silent. Miyazaki’s ominous grin stretches by the second as I start to sweat uncomfortably; no, it isn’t because I’m afraid of his bullshit or the fact that he actually is telling the truth—this is the Paranormal Research Club after all! Of all the fears that sprang, it is that which concerns Shizune’s very own existence. Out of my own selfishness, I want to keep Shizune’s presence a secret—like a taboo that only I knew even exist. The thought of having someone else notice her—regardless who he or she was—bothered me, yet at the same time I was afraid of the possibility that Miyazaki mentioned yesterday concerning Shizune. What if the moment Miyazaki ‘saw’ her, he confirm that it isn’t Shizune and in fact a malicious spirit? Jealousy, perhaps…or is it something driven more along the line of ‘fear’?



But of course, none of it actually happens the moment the other male member of the Paranormal Research club break into laughter—Miyazaki, too, follows suit.

“Relax, prez,” he starts as he lowers his hand and looking at the bewildered me. “My left eye can’t see shit and there’s nothing under this eye patch in the first place!”

Right…of course. Sometimes, I couldn’t differentiate the moment when Miyazaki cracks a joke or when he’s being serious—you can’t tell from his face and that eye patch of his. If any, it gives him the impression to be more intimidating than comedic. Not to mention, all this talk about the paranormal for the past few days may have driven me insane; I’ll be shouting conspiracy in a matter of time now, will I?

“What makes you think it’s true in the first place, anyway?”

“First there’s the lack of sleep,” and there’s you to blame for it; of course, I won’t say that right inhis face. “Then there’s this thing going on with the Paranormal Research Club for the past few hours that it made everything sound almost plausible.”

“Even if I tell you that our club’s president is a ghost?”

Exactly…!

I never saw it coming, nor do anyone in the room—not even the person who led him to me in the first place. In between the laughter, in that small little window of humor between me and the two Paranormal Research Club’s members lies a looming threat that grew by each second—like a long fuse of dynamite or the digital display of a time bomb that warns of the inevitable.

“Hicchan,” Misha calls from the door. “There are two people wanting to speak to you.”

“I’ll be right there.”

Excusing myself from the group, I stood up and walk callously towards the exit; onwards to what I will remember as another near-death experience bestowed none other than by the hands of Shizune’s father.

Again, nobody saw it coming.

“Oh hey Hideaki, Mr. Hakamichi; anything I can help you guys with?”

Not even Hideaki.

“Hisao, we heard that you’re the go-to person if we’re going to inquire about—”

“Are you Hisao Nakai?”

For a moment, I feel the ground tremble before me as the man that accompanied Hideaki in a blue Hawaiian shirt and carrying with him a Katana (how the hell did he pass security?) roared across the hall. I feel the need to run, the break from their sight, from the vicinity of the campus, and especially from the man before me. There’s something different from his voice—sure, I met him before during the funeral and I recognize him as Shizune’s father, but aside from that the man that stands before me today spells more than what he is just by the question that demanded my identity. Demanding…maybe that’s the feeling that he imposed in the first place.

No…it isn’t quite right.

“Y-yes…I’m Hisao Nakai, head of the Student Council. Is there anything I—”

His tone, stature, and the cold stare that comes from his eyes, it’s best described that of…

“MURDERER…!!”

Bloodlust...

‘!!!’

*CRACK*

…ah! W-what is this…pain…?

Like a hammer his fist flies with a force comparable to a 10-ton truck rolling down the hill and ran straight into my face. I feel the life and air sucked away from me in seconds as I fly about a meter or so from his position before landing violently across the hall, tumbling and sliding in the process. My head spins and my vision blurs as an echo of what I believe to be screams from nearby classes rings all around me; the man himself, towering like a giant machine walk towards me unfazed from his surroundings. The Paranormal Research Club storms out of the room almost immediately upon hearing my collision with this 1-ton gorilla and tries to stop him to no avail. I watch as his moves closer and closer as fear slowly creeps upon me. I have to stand up, get the hell away from here and run. I have to…!

…!!!

M-my heart…

D-damn it n-n-not now…I beg you not…now…!

It’s that feeling again; that familiar near-death sensation I experienced last winter with Iwanako under a blanket of snow. It isn’t much different here; the cold flooring of Yamaku High feels awfully familiar with that white background of snow—the air’s similarly dreadful too. What kind of sick joke is this? I survived back then just to die here, in a near-similar condition? If it isn’t because of my heart, it will be by the hands of the encroaching monster with a thirst for blood…I guess I deserve this kind of ending, huh? Neglecting my responsibility back then clearly led me to this path. My feet stopped responding for a while now, and no matter how much I massage or claw my throat nothing’s getting through but the spiking pain that runs along my arms and body.

I feel weak. My vision starts to blur and fade; before me, that monster stands and towers before me as the screams of the students echo across the halls. This…is it…I guess…

“MURDE—!”

…?

He…stopped…?

With the last of my strength, I force myself to look towards the face of the person who would soon snatch my life. Instead of finding the ravaged and bloodthirsty face of a soon-to-be murderer, I find myself staring at the shoulder of a girl with a body that is ten times less than that of the man yet dared enough to stretch her arms open to stop the giant—and stop him she did. It’s soothing, oddly enough, yet in these last few moments of my life I find myself rescued by the person whom I failed to do the same last summer; it’s comforting, though embarrassing at the same time but I guess it isn’t such a bad way to go. What a joke…and here I thought you’re here to take my life away. I’m such a fool…

…Shizune…

I…I’m sorry…

“Shi…zune…?”

Before darkness engulfs everything, the last things I remember is the voice of Miyazaki and the mutter of Shizune’s father calling his daughter’s name—wait, did he…?

“SOMEONE CALL THE NURSE!!”

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

When I regained my consciousness, I find myself resting in the Nurse’s office under a warm blanket and still in my uniform. The lights are slightly dimmed and though my vision is still blurry from the after-effect, I can clearly make out the shape and figure of what I believe is Nurse himself over by the table. The ticking sound of the clock irritates me, as if to mock me once again and remind me how my life slowly ‘drains’ away at each second with this…infernal heart of mine. At the pass of each second, my vision returns bit by bit followed with a slightly uncomfortable grunt due to the stinging pain on my face—particularly the lower jaw and lip. Did I cut myself from the punch…?

…!

The ‘punch’…

That’s right…

Before I lost consciousness, I was confronted with Shizune’s father whom—of all things considered—has the right to act beastly and respond with violent force after losing her daughter under what supposedly under my responsibility. My responsibility…isn’t it common knowledge in a relationship for the male to protect its partner from harm? Her old man packs one hell of a punch that packs enough power to send a Yakuza boss crying back to his mother; unluckily, he has the right ticket to use it against me in all manners possible. For now, the ice cold plaster that embalms my lower jaw soothes the pain a little and the supervision of the nurse provides me enough comfort and safety, but if I ever step out of that door…

“Glad to see you’re awake.”

Click! And there goes my vision as the light of the infirmary shines brighter than a thousand suns the moment Nurse flicks the switch. With a smile that never seems to leave his face and a slightly disturbing grin, the nurse—or ‘Nurse’ as we call him—makes his way to my bed carrying with him a clipboard and his notes that he probably uses to track his patients. I shy away from him a little, shielding my eye with my left hand and struggling to regain clarity of my vision from the blinding burst of light; still, I’m impressed how he can tell that I’m awake under the influence of low-light conditions. With him standing a few centimeters away from the edge of my bed, Nurse sighs in relief, clicks his pen, and prepares to write. I’m expecting an interview about my condition—and probably a lecture to follow.

“You almost bought yourself a ticket to the afterlife, Nakai,” he starts with a smile. As far as I can see, this is no laughing matter—I almost died back there! “It’s a good thing you’re in Yamaku and not somewhere else that lacks a 24/7 nursing staff. Tell me, how do you feel?”

“I feel…” I pause, checking my head and the gnawing pain that emerges the moment I start to speak. “I don’t know what to describe.”

“A stinging pain on the lower jaw, maybe a slight headache…is it something along that line?”

I nod. “Yes, more or less.”

“Then it’s normal. I don’t normally treat fight wounds, but there’s always a first in everything—though considering this is Yamaku High, you may very well be the ‘first’!”

He smiles reassuringly. Sometimes I never understood his crude humor or his attempt at one; this is one of those cases. It doesn’t take long, however, for the tension in the air to quickly return the moment he purse his lip and refocus his attention to me and my wound.

“In all seriousness, Nakai, what did you do to end up like this?”

“I…”

I stop. Something inside me refuses to continue, unwilling to expose anything further, and afraid of what is to come. I can’t say what I think I did to him without creating major misunderstandings, nor would he believe me in the first place. Even if I am going to explain what I did to Nurse, would it made everything better? Shizune’s father will still hunt for my head, she would still be dead, and I will most likely end up hospitalized—or worse, dead by the hands of that 10-ton gorilla who wanted me for ‘murdering’ his daughter. What am I supposed to tell him? That I watched that man’s daughter’s last moments, stood there, and did nothing? That I ‘accidentally’ killed her? That’s right, I killed Shizune. Not because I want to—I don’t—but because I just stood there when it all happened. I didn’t tried to stop her, to run up and push her out of harm’s way or even to resist against her ego and chase her fluttering sun hat—she’d hate me for it, but nonetheless it would’ve saved her. So why didn’t I do anything? Why, I say, WHY??

I can’t. Even if it’s just simple admitting to someone totally unrelated I still can’t manage to do so.

The Nurse shakes his head. “We recognize him as a student’s parent of Yamaku High—well, former.”

“Whatever it is that happened between you and him,” he continues. “I can vaguely guess the reason why. You best clear it up with him, or your heart condition is the least of your worries.”

Like an ultimatum, the word came down to me hard. Yes…there is no escape from him; after all, he is connected by blood with Shizune whom I was responsible for. Without anything left to say, Nurse tilts his feet and turns towards the door in a full-body rotate akin to that of a soldier on parade. He tells me to get some rest in the office and wait for tomorrow; the clock that hangs on the wall tells me it’s already past 11PM and way after curfew. He reassures me one last time not to worry about tomorrow, that he’ll excuse me by noon, and of course, to watch for my actions. Due to Hideaki’s plead, the school’s board of staff decided to overlook the incident and called it an ‘unfortunate mishap’ and only fined Shizune’s father the amount of my medical expenditures; what bullshit. He commented how ‘lucky’ I was to have survived the last heart attack and lived through it—though, he did mention the next one may not be so fortunate. With that, he dims the light once more and leaves the office.



Sometimes, I hate seeing his face.

It’s like rendezvousing with a death-god, dressed conveniently in a doctor’s garment, waiting for the right moment to reap my soul. Every time I see him it will always be because of my condition or how close I am to visiting the netherworld that it’s almost discomforting; just venturing into the infirmary is like walking to a preview of the pearly gates and that he—Nurse—is like the death god in-the-flesh who measures your remaining life expectancy. Even with as much comfort or hospitality he can muster, it still doesn’t change the fact that he has the lives of me and many other students in the palm of his hand—I couldn’t even imagine how many had actually passed away in this infirmary alone due to their disability…nor do I want to think about how I might be next.

If she had lived that day, I wonder how…



Shizune…!

In the midst of my thoughts, I immediately am reminded of her who—despite the odds—stood up and shielded me from the attack. To my fortune, she stopped her father’s rampage just by standing in between us…but how? So far, I’m the only one who’s capable of seeing her—not even her bubbly other-half is capable in doing so, and yet back there she stopped him; he even called her name! Does that mean he, too, can see her? Where is she now?

I raise myself to a half-seated position and explore the dimly-lit room for any sign of the mysterious girl before everything vanished. The curtains of the infirmary is opened halfway, allowing the light from the moon the shine through and give moderate illumination, yet still I can’t find any sign of her nowhere near me. After a few minutes of searching, I decided to give up and rest—surely, she must’ve had other plans at night, a time where I often am unavailable due to the limit of my physical vessel. Yes, she must be outside right now doing…whatever it is she wanted to do.

…or so I thought…

When I rest my arm, I feel a tremendous chill running down my right arm. The chill itself isn’t unusual in its own sense as it could be anything, be it drafts or ventilation; but what came to me is how it is concentrated on a certain area of the bed—particularly along the edge of my right hand, close to my waist. The cold never ran pass my leg or does it reaches further up. It’s strange—mystical, would be the correct term for it—yet feels comforting and familiar. I play with my hand a little along the lines of the ‘cold spot’ as the moonlight shifts its angle across the room, illuminating just enough. Still, I couldn’t see anything—at least, I believe there is nothing. If what Miyazaki said is true…

I shift my eyes and focus just enough at the strange cold spot, and there she is.

As if fading in, a figure—a girl—slowly shapes itself at the edge of the bed. I raise my right hand as it materializes, first with her head that is rested peacefully on her arm, then her smooth but short hair, her small shoulders, and finally her steady, peaceful breathing as she soundly sleeps in her position, tempting me to caress her even for just awhile. There is nothing wrong of me to do so now, is there?

Without further doubt, gently I touch her silken hair and caress it as carefully as possible not to wake her up. It’s soft, smooth, and its texture reminds me of the expensive silk kimono my mother used to wear during festivals back a few years ago. A scent from her hair tickles my nose, and immediately I can tell it is that of lavender with its unmistakable fresh, sharp, and most importantly soothing quality. Yes, I remember this scent…it is the same as that time when we embraced during Tanabata; her favorite shampoo, maybe? I chuckle lightly as I remember that time, back before the accident, and up to the time when she was alive. Even in death, she isn’t much different than what she was before—or, at least I believe it to be so. When I look at her sleeping soundly like this, I couldn’t help wondering the reason why I believe she wanted to take my life in the first place.

I stroke her hair one more time, feeling its texture before—in a short notice—she jolted in surprise and blinks once, twice, and on the third time wells up before leaping and embraces me to what seems to have been eternity.

It’s warm…

Her embrace—even in death—bequeaths a familiar feeling I longed for. When she parts, she quickly wipes the moisture away from her eyes, pulls her glasses into position that was conveniently worn like a headband before, and clears her throat.

[You really should stop making me worry,] she starts, putting up the toughest front she could muster at the moment. [I won’t be able to ‘rest in peace’ if you don’t.]

[Your body’s permanently rested, remember?]

[My soul is still wandering,] she grins. [Wandering and haunting you!]

I give a light chuckle before working my hands for a reply. [If something like this happens again, sooner or later I’ll be joining you and you won’t have anyone left to haunt!]

[Let’s hope it doesn’t happen ‘soon’ then!]

The two of us shares a snicker and muted-laughter that echoes humbly in this sleepy infirmary, as if nothing had happened in the first place. Shizune smiles childishly and toys with her spectacles, pushing it higher as if to over-dignify her character while I continue to tease and reply to her remarks as the night grows darker and darker. At some point, I wanted to ask inquire her about her father—or at least, what he’s like in-person, but decided against it so as not to spoil the mood; but she knew that already. Within the laughter, the banter, and the humor between us, Shizune slips in an apology that I never saw coming.

[I’m sorry about my father’s action earlier today.]

I pat her head softly and chuckle in reply. [It is quite a wake-up call.]

[Speaking of which,] I continue. There’s more I wanted to ask—things I want answered. [How did you stop him in the first place?]

[So you saw?]

[Can’t say I didn’t.]

Shizune raises her finger to answer but as soon as she did, she lowers them and ends up crossing her arm; her expression reflects that of doubt. She too wonder how she managed to stop her old man’s rampage in her condition—up to this point, she believes I was the only one who is able to see her. Her family, the people whom actually relates to her by flesh and blood instead is unable to do so—much less understand her. Yet in that short window, that small moment during her father’s lust for my blood she stands gallantly, stretches her arm, and stops him in his track. And at that point forward, he muttered her name as if he could see her—Shizune, her daughter, a ghost.

How…?

[I would be lying if I told you that I am not concerned at the slightest about my family,] she states with her usual strokes full of confidence and honesty. [At least I want to know how they are doing.]

She smiles and pushes the rim of her glasses to its correct position. [Maybe in that short time, someone up there turn its favors to me?]

[Or to me,] I remark with a hint of sarcasm. [If you didn’t jump in I might’ve joined you sooner than expected.]

[“Might have,”] she replies followed with ‘air quotes’ at the end of her signing. [You’re still alive now and that’s all that matters.]

[Aren’t you worried?]

She sighs and nods. A pang of guilt made its way slightly into my conscience for asking that question. [When the nurse came running with a defibrillator, I was worried about your very condition, Hisao.]

[Its strange hearing this from someone like me, I know,] she continues with a much stronger stroke than before. [But this feeling of concern for you is genuine!]

[I believe you.]

[You should,] she huffs her chest proudly, slightly emphasizing her figure. [And you should be thankful for it.]

In the end, we never figured out the reason why or how she managed to materialize in front of her father in the first place. But is ‘materializing’ the correct word to use in this sense? During that time, the only ones who managed to see Shizune are her father and I. While there were onlookers around, I highly doubt the possibility of another who witness her stopping that brute by just spreading her arms—or is it? I might have to ask around about this—particularly the Paranormal Research Club who were at the scene; Misha and Hanako might know a thing or two as well, so it won’t hurt to inquire from them as well. As we continue our conversation, I start to realize one thing that is keeping Shizune ‘chained’ to the grounds of Yamaku High—one of which is her concern over her family, now living with a missing piece that she possess. She wishes to see some sort of closure, particularly from her father. Shizune’s father—Jigoro, as I am told—is described to be overprotective, headstrong, stubborn, and most likely dense according to Shizune herself. She believes he loves his daughter and son—though expresses it oddly, mind you—and treasures them close to his memories. The loss of his daughter—Shizune’s death—devastates him which is further emphasized by his brash action earlier this afternoon.

‘An unaccomplished task or a lingering doubt may very well be the source of energy that keep spirits and ghosts attached to this world’, or so Miyazaki and the rest of the Paranormal Research Society agrees upon. If that is so, then wouldn’t helping her ‘resolve’ these doubts may very well allow her to rest in peace, to unchain and help her continue towards the afterlife? Wouldn’t that mean she would…?

…no, I shouldn’t think like that.

If any, it is for the best…

As my body succumbs to fatigue, I politely excuse myself from Shizune to catch a goodnight’s sleep. She agrees with it and decides to watch over me and would “sing me a lullaby if I beg hard enough”, just this once. Of course, the latter easily falls out of favor. When I rest my head against the pillow, I start to ponder about my current situation, the life I’m leading, and what is possibly to come. I start to realize that she vanishes from my view at one point to another; when I came to earlier, I couldn’t see her sleeping soundly beside me yet there she was. Why? There’s still a lot of unanswered questions and not enough answers. Thinking about it will only give me a headache that will last for a lifetime.




Will I be able to accept everything once this is all over?


END CHAPTER VII



Author's Note
Brace yourselves for ACTII finale, next chapter! I admit, updates are slow (probably once a month...maybe longer) as I have things to do as well.

If there are any questions, comments, etc. feel free to express it whichever you fancy.

R&R.
Megumeru, signing out...for now :D
Last edited by Megumeru on Thu Feb 26, 2015 7:07 am, edited 13 times in total.
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They say they hate Shizune? What is this? BLASPHEMY!

SHII-HAEL!
Shizune>Rin>Emi>Hanako>Lilly
"A writer is a light that reveals the world of his story from darkness. Shapes it from nothingness. If the writer stops, the world dies with it." - Alan Wake
Yes, I write stories. Currently working on: The Haunting: A Love Story

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nemz
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Re: The Haunting: A Love Story *UPDATED*

Post by nemz » Sat Oct 20, 2012 3:00 am

I do find it a bit hard to take that they just dismissed an assault on a student that very well could have killed him. In such a situation wouldn't someone be asking if Hisao wants to press assault charges, or given that he's a minor wouldn't that fall to his parents to decide?

Otherwise good stuff!
Rin > Shizune > Emi > Hanako > Lilly

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Mirage_GSM
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Location: Germany

Re: The Haunting: A Love Story *UPDATED*

Post by Mirage_GSM » Sat Oct 20, 2012 3:44 am

I agree, pleas from Hideaki wouldn't matter at all - he's not even a student at Yamaku.
It's solely up to Hisao to press charges or not. (Assuming he can persuade his parents)
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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Megumeru
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Re: The Haunting: A Love Story *UPDATED*

Post by Megumeru » Sun Oct 21, 2012 12:45 am

nemz wrote:I do find it a bit hard to take that they just dismissed an assault on a student that very well could have killed him. In such a situation wouldn't someone be asking if Hisao wants to press assault charges, or given that he's a minor wouldn't that fall to his parents to decide?

Otherwise good stuff!
Hmm...true.

I want to elaborate a little on how it came to be, but doing so might extend this chapter by a few hundred words--and as of now, its length might break the word-limit on the forum.

I'll address that next chapter and why it came to be so; there is a reason for it :)
Image
They say they hate Shizune? What is this? BLASPHEMY!

SHII-HAEL!
Shizune>Rin>Emi>Hanako>Lilly
"A writer is a light that reveals the world of his story from darkness. Shapes it from nothingness. If the writer stops, the world dies with it." - Alan Wake
Yes, I write stories. Currently working on: The Haunting: A Love Story

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Megumeru
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Joined: Wed Feb 08, 2012 10:17 am
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Chapter VIII: Let me Love You

Post by Megumeru » Tue Dec 04, 2012 2:41 pm

The Haunting: A Love Story

Chapters
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 VIII: Let me Love You

It is the day of the Cultural Festival, marked by the festive sound and hollers that echoes across from the grounds of Yamaku High to the base of the hill. Outside, students—both bearing their disability or no—proudly display the result of their labor through the booths, events, and festivities that is happening in and around the campus. Even from within the infirmary, I can hear the sound of many running to and fro just outside the door as they give their best for the festival—for some of us third years, this will be our last and weights more than any that we’ve accomplished so far. The clock on the wall points at half past nine, half an hour after the opening ceremony and by now guests from outside are expected to be streaming in and out of the campus. As the festivities continue outside, here I rest in the infirmary waiting for the green-light to be permitted by Nurse once he return to procure my medicine from my room; in the meantime, I am accompanied by my haunter who insisted on waiting for me to take her to her—excuse me, the Paranormal Research Club’s set where she is expected (without knowledge or consent from the members) to ‘perform’ as a ‘ghost star’. The Paranormal Research Club once stated how low-light conditions and dark, eerie, and/or creepy atmosphere creates optimal situation for the brain to invigorates the sense of ‘fear’ and the ‘unknown’…whatever that means. In laymen’s term, it sometimes allows many to see ghosts where we couldn’t see them before—or so Miyazaki explained to me previously. The power of the human mind is frightening indeed…

For now, my priority here is to convince our ‘ghost’ to head over to its appropriate location instead of wasting her time here.

[Like I tell you before, I’ll see you later in the set once the Nurse returns with my medicine and permit.]

[There’s no point in going when you can’t have fun.]

[You can still have fun scaring people in the set…maybe.]

[It still isn’t as fun as…] she stops and hesitates to sign for a moment. I watch as she fidgets nervously from left to right while not to forget to steal glances towards me every now and then; frankly, I find myself confused and uncertain of her sudden spurt of nervousness. Part of me finds it odd seeing it all unfold before me, while the other half finds it dangerously cute knowing that this side of her does exist beneath that steel-laden character of hers. Shizune often teases and flirts as a way to express her affection—not to mention this is mostly done physically and can often get pretty arousing for a healthy adolescent male with a slightly uncontrollable hormone. But even so, we never went further than holding hands and hugs—a pity, I know, but she does know her limits…or at least my limits to keep me ‘contained’.

And frankly, I don’t mind it at all. It’s a win-win situation, right?

But even so I still find this reaction of her slightly odd; half of the time I’m expecting her to pull a plug or twist a corkscrew full of surprises enough to send my heart straight to Valhalla. After a minute or so of fidgeting she bites her lower lip, inhales a copious amount of oxygen, and positions her hand at the ready. I better prepare my crippled heart for any unwanted cheap surprises she might have hidden under her sleeve; this is Shizune I’m talking about, chances of her doing something ‘new’ and ‘exciting’ with a little bit of risk here and there has approximately 90% chance of happening.

With her hand in the air, I clutch the sheet of the bed and brace for impact.

[…still isn’t as fun as spending it together with you...]



I didn’t expect this today…

This is rather…cute. Haven’t seen her this far in ‘dere’-mode…



…oh god, I think my heart just stopped for a second…

….

...still beating? Good.

I raise my hand to form a reply but hesitate almost the second my eyes turn to Shizune, realizing a similar feeling of diffident that overwhelms me and sends blood right up to my face, forming a blush. I must’ve look like an idiot right now, blushing and stubbornly trying to contain a grin that slowly reaches out from the edge of my lips like vines—one that is soaked with a jar full of high-octane pressurized joy, nonetheless. This time Ifidget nervously, stealing glances at a more slightly-tamed Shizune who reflects similar conditions but under different circumstances. When I glance at her, I notice the small detail that builds up around the contours of her face, from the crimson patches that flushes across her cheeks, her eyes behind the pair of glasses that constantly wanders for answers, and her small, wet lips that she puckers and bits at each passing second. It’s cute and I might as well die happy right now! If she actually plays this part more often, then I might have to reconsider her nickname I kept to myself; Shii-‘TSUN’-ne just doesn’t cut it.

With my lips—err, thoughts sealed tighter than a cookie jar, the time it takes me to conjugate the usual snarky response triples from the standard; my mind is so occupied by the memories of the last few minutes that my hand decides to work itself as a cheek scratcher for the time being instead of attempting to word something to Shizune. On the other hand, Shizune manages to regain her character—just enough to come up with a reply, but insufficient to keep a full eye contact; it’s cute and dangerously lethal to my health. I can hear the tempo of my heart multiplies by the tens the longer I keep my eyes on her.

[You’ll rue the day you made me spell that.]

I may, but right now I’ll be sure to burn this image in my memory for reference, just in case it disappears completely.

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

“Are you the ‘flesh and bone’ Student Council President guy, or are you his ghost that returns to haunt us?”

“Miyazaki, I will slap you hard if you keep that up.”

At around 10AM, the Nurse returned with my prerequisites and my long-awaited ‘green light’ to once again venture towards the world outside of this small, cold infirmary. Before I set out, he warned me beforehand about my current condition and how I shouldn’t force myself too hard; ‘take it easy’, he said with a smile. Further, he asked me to call my parents who has been worried sick after the little incident with that 10-ton gorilla and to clear up anything if need be; being called a ‘murderer’ for one complicates my side of the argument. Upon leaving the infirmary I gave my thanks to Nurse, made a call to my parents down in Tokyo and tell them not to worry and convince them that it is a misunderstanding that is best left forgotten—the latter was more of an incentive suggested by Shizune. As much as I want to restrain that beast 10 feet away from me, I can’t simply ignore the plea of his daughter whom I was held responsible for; my failure to protect her resulted in this, I can’t turn away from it as that’s an insult to my own conscience!

In time, I know I will have to come face to face with him.

After a quick shower, I change to my uniform, head over to the hall where my homeroom—now a full-fledge haunted house courtesy of the Paranormal Research Club—and here I am right now, standing behind the counter while the members and the other two volunteers work tirelessly inside the darkened and well-decorated classroom. I have to say, it went well…

“IT’S REAL…! IT’S FUCKING REEEAAALL….!!” cried another as he stumbles through the exit with a face as pale as snow.

It went far better than expected.

Within the haunted house, we have about two volunteers and one member working as the ‘ghosts’ while the rest are free to enjoy the festival until the allotted time to switch—well, officially. Unofficially, there’s three volunteers with one of them being a genuine spirit well-versed in the arts of haunting after months of practice and dedication—not that she has any choice in the matter, mind you. Still, I’m impressed to know that the theory of the Paranormal Research Club is proven to be true; they’ve done their research, I’ll give them that.

The second the poor student left the premise, the culprit that frightened a staggering record of ten in the first thirty minutes pops her head from the exit and smiles excitedly towards her achievement. It’s funny to watch; though, I still feel bad about her victims and how traumatized they might be by the end of the festival. The moment our eyes meet, I can exactly tell ‘fun’ it is for her. Good.

[That’s the tenth person you scare today. What did you do?]

She smiles cheekily, [I just stand in front or behind them, sometimes reach my hand out and touch their shoulder.]

[You do know the ‘ghosts’ aren’t supposed to touch the ‘victims’, right?]

[Officially, yes.] She smiles mischievously. Right, I see where this is heading to…

[Another one is coming in. Show them the way and I’ll get to work!]

“Are you in charge of this station?”

Sure enough, the moment Shizune retracts into the darkness, a couple stands before me curious and looking slightly worried. From their uniform, they’re not Yamaku students and probably came from a neighboring town; no matter, they’ll end up the same as their predecessors anyway.

“Yes, I am. This is the Paranormal Research Club’s Haunted House. Interested?”

With a smug look, the boy braves himself and takes the girl inside. It takes about four to five minutes to get through the entire ride, and around two to three minutes to reach Shizune’s area. I shrug as a smile secretly creeps up along my cheeks. I check my wrist watch just in case and in three…two…one…

“DON’TWANTNOMOREGHOSTS….!!!”

…and there they go, running for their lives away from the premise and into the crowd. That’s quite an exit too, ‘no more’ he screamed...now that’s a jab to that guy’s ego.

I turn towards the exit and sure enough, the culprit once again pokes her head out and grins with satisfaction.

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

By the time we reach our break, the other half of the Paranormal Research Club returns to the station to relieve us from duty. Everyone who participated in the first half of the fair are now relieved from duty, from Yuyuko who is part of the Paranormal Research Club playing as the spirit of a woman who died under a cherry blossom, Misha who’s tasked on changing the SD cards in the hidden cameras, Hanako who is recognized as the last ghost of the entire joyride, and myself who watches the counter—Shizune is also included in the list of ‘relieved’, unofficially. As we stretch and laugh at the stories that we pass amongst one another, it suddenly became clear that the entire credit of the scare falls on the last ghost of the set—Hanako. This of course, comes as a surprise to most of the members—I know what actually happened through it all, so it came naturally for me.

“What did you do to scare them like that, Hacchan?” asks Misha. Did she just come up with an absurd nickname again? “You obviously scared a lot of people~!”

“It’s always the quiet one, is it?” Miyazaki continues.

“So what did you do, Hacchan? Tell me, tell me~!”

Like a little pup surrounded by its bigger brothers, Hanako retreats slowly as her timid nature kicks in. Although her time with the Student Council has helped her to open up further than what she originally is—partly thanks to Lilly’s support before she left—Hanako has never gotten used to being the center of attention in a crowd eager enough to congratulate her. It almost looks like they’re ready to gobble her up whole and she’s taking the slow step back to avoid them at all costs. But nonetheless, she braves herself to speak up and answers the crowd of hungry enthusiasts and one particularly loud council member.

“I-I just cry out...” she starts, raising her hand up high as if imitating her actions before while keeping her head low and her bangs over her face. “U-urameshiya~!”



And the crowd went silent.

“…that’s it?”

She nods in reply.

Miyazaki scratches his temple, “I can understand if it’s the makeup and all, but crying out like that doesn’t scare anyone—hell if anything, I’ll die of heart attack due to an overload of cuteness!”

I clear my throat, causing Miyazaki to flinch and chuckle. “No offense, Prez.”

“B-but I-I…” Hanako trembles, eyes searching for a quick-exit, and—just like the first time I met her—she jolts and stutters something we barely understand before dashing out of our sight like a jack terrier. “Idon’tknowwhatelsetosay…!”

Miyazaki watches Hanako as she dashes away, his hand on his chin before chuckling lightly. “A ghost who tries to scare people but gets frightened instead, not to mention is overloaded with cuteness…”

He pauses, and then grins.

“Youkai-moe,” he said chuckling. Frankly, I take a few steps to the side after to keep our distance. “It’s youkai-moe, I tell you! YOUKAI-MOE…!”

If it isn’t his crude humor, there’s always a screw loose in his head that screams ‘SLAP ME HARD’ each time he starts one of his strange antics; maybe one day I might do just that.

After the small ordeal, those who are relieved from post went our separate ways to enjoy the festival. As Hanako has wandered off somewhere by now—though I can make a quick guess where she could be—Misha decides to take Yuyuko from the Paranormal Research Club to check the food booths, while Miyazaki, on the other hand, prefers to stay and monitor the haunted house; he did left me an order of yakisoba and three pieces of taiyaki for him later. As for myself, the festival has allotted me enough time to explore and enjoy the setting with my dedicated haunter who—after the end of our shift—has tallied a record of twenty scares.

[You’re frightening, you know that?] I sign jokingly to her as we take our seat on a bench. She huffs proudly and raises her chin up high, taking my remark as a compliment. [You scared off twenty people and you didn’t even flinch!]

[Why should I?] She replies, still keeping her figure bold and proud. [I am a ghost and it is common knowledge for all that we are supposed to be frightening. It’s our job!]

I shake my head jokingly, chuckle, and take a mouthful of takoyaki. The snack is hot and it burns the tongue, but the sweet and salty taste of the octopus ball and the sauce gives out a sense of nostalgia to the days before the accident; back during my first summer festival in Yamaku High. I still how we spent that day checking the booths, buying fried snacks, and watching fireworks from the rooftop of the campus, just the two of us—well, considering Misha fell asleep earlier than usual. Back then I couldn’t even understand or even able to communicate with her, yet somehow in that time everything felt so…magical, so right. In that short moment when she opened her arm and showed me the expanse of the stars behind her, I felt the need to reach her—to figure out and understand her, to see what makes her tick and cause her to laugh. It is the beginning of our relationship…

Those were times…

Before I managed to take another bite, a tug on my sleeve steals my attention from my meal to the girl sitting on my right. She rests her own lunch down to her side, freeing her hand to communicate; a cycle I am quite familiar with. With that in mind, I shove a mouthful of takoyaki into my mouth while I give her my full attention; my hunger can’t wait and damn, these things are hot!

[You prefer the ‘Shizune’ you’re currently with,] she signs, giving off a slightly more mature aura than before. [Am I right, Hisao?]

She isn’t far-off from her guess, that’s for certain.

I nod and rest my box of takoyaki to reply, but immediately she raises her hands and clasps them on mine to stop me from doing so. She shakes her head, sighs lightly, and smiles before letting go of my hand and proceeds to spell another sentence with her hands and gestures. I pick my lunch back up and devour another takoyaki.

[Hisao, what do you think of me?]

*COUGH*

Woah, that’s a shocker…nearly choke on my lunch there.

[I think you’re pretty cute.] I reply with any available honesty. They can tell me what they want, but they can say otherwise the moment they catch the radiating blush as bright as a rose around her cheeks, her futile attempt to cover her smile dismissively, and her sudden urge to avoid eye contact that I notice at this very moment—frankly, I find that cute.

[No, silly,] she returns with a much greater self-composure. That was a quick recovery. [I meant physically, my outward appearance.]

I pause for a moment to answer her question and observe her from head to toe. From the sole of her shoes, her thigh-high socks, the ‘absolute area’ between the skirt and the socks, her well-rounded chest, up to the tip of her hair and the rims of her glasses. She notices this and quickly—with a face filled with slight irritation and embarrassment—covers the area between her chests before assuming a bend-over position for the ones below. Her eyes immediately shoots straight at mine with such intensity that, I swear, even without the use of gestures and signs she’s screaming ‘you’re better doing this for that question or I’ll brand you as a pervert’-look that pierces right into me. I chuckle lightly and cracks my fingers while quickly taking short glimpses at her figure; there’s nothing wrong of me admiring her, is there?

Now then, where should I start?

I fill my lungs with air, raise my hands, and start to think of what I’m going to say—err, word. Anxiously she watches me with those eyes that rest behind the pair of spectacles, waiting for my answer to thrill, encourage, or—maybe—disappoint her; but most of all, they dictate with a powerful radiance that tells me how ready she is against whatever it is I’m throwing at her. It’s that determination of her—that spirit that defies almost everything around her as she struggles forward for the best—that resonates the best even after death. Even now, she’s defying the very logic of ‘death’ alone and continues to exist and walk amongst the living…such vigor is almost inseparable from her character.

But that’s not what I’m supposed to compliment in the first place.

[Your hair is short,] I start, first with the crown that is bestowed to all women. [But smooth, silky, and straight.]

[And your skin,] I continue. [Your skin is white, almost transparent.]

A smile perks up from her lips, [What about my eyes?]

I take a short notice to stop and gaze into her eyes. It’s mesmerizing, and in a blink my heart begins to thump a little faster. [Your eyes are dark in color, but sharp and clear.]

[You’re also have a small but slender posture,] I added. She places a hand on her lips and chuckles mutely; clearly she’s enjoying this, but so am I. [And that is my Shizune.]

[Then please keep seeing me like so.]

I nod humbly and smile after the conclusion of our little discussion, to which she reply with her own. The way how she expresses her last message through sign language is almost difficult to watch, and there isn’t an easy way to describe it; what I can say is how content she seems to be yet carries with it a fair amount of tragedy and loneliness. Shizune knows and understands full-well of the ‘theories’ of the Paranormal Research Club and has to live with it as long as she remains here, in Yamaku High. They say that certain conditions and atmosphere heightens the perception of the human mind that will allow us to see—to picture—something that we’re unable to in the first place. According to them, ghosts manifest in the form of how we our minds perceive them to be, whether it is a tattered and bloodied vengeful spirit or a kind and gentle one that of a long lost friend depends on us alone. As we spend the remainder of our time together, I continue to watch Shizune from the corner of my eye and observe her carefully. Sometimes, I’m capable of reading into her despite the absence of her own volition—and it’s no different now. Shizune may have elevated the Paranormal Research Club’s Haunted House’s title from ‘creepy’ to ‘down right heart-stopping’ with her remarkable tally, but at the same time it surfaced her worries of how others will come to see her—particularly those who are close to her. To many who visited the little setup, she is seen as a vengeful spirit—a genuine vengeful spirit that haunts the set. It came as no surprise that those who saw her immediately ran for their lives, terrified to the bones.

To this, she’s worried that I, too, would someday saw her as a monster. It was a simple question centered to ease her growing fear of isolation.

I feel guilty…

I feel guilty because sometimes, the images of ‘corpse Shizune’ persistently exist in my mind.

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

“Hey Prez, someone’s looking for you.”

Immediately I flinch from my position, taken aback by my previous second near-death experience. If there’s one person I wish to avoid, it’s that hulk in a blue Hawaiian shirt. “W-who…?”

“It’s my class’ ex-representative,” Miyazaki replies. “Lilly’s in the tea room; don’t keep the lady waiting!”

When we return to the set, the line that previously crowd the class has decreased in number and the audience that left the attraction are less ‘thrilled’ than what they were before. The audience probably heard of the ‘scare’ from their friends and colleagues, but since the ‘main attraction’ isn’t currently in the set the point of visiting is mostly moot to most the onlookers and curious visitors. Still, the Paranormal Research Club persistently does not operate the set with dedication and without complaints nor rest— a good thing in Shizune’s book that compels her to return quickly and help them in their plight. Less to her knowledge, the set was meant to capture her on film in the first place.

It was just before I relieve the post of one of the members did Miyazaki appear from behind the set and led me to head over to the tea room.

“Don’t forget to fetch Hanako too if you happen to see her.”

We part ways, leaving Shizune under the ‘care’ of the Paranormal Research Club and their attraction. When she ask me the reason of my extended break, I casually reply the need to find Hanako and take her to the set—never even once did I mention about meeting Lilly, mostly because I’m afraid of sudden unexpected repercussions that might come from her. With her now being invisible to most—although I can’t say if it is still the same case with Lilly—chances of Shizune suddenly going ballistic at the sight of her rival is not improbable. But if it did happen, I prefer not to be the guy who translates her sarcasm and witty remark to-the-letter.

Though with Shizune being officially recognized as ‘deceased’, chances are slim to my relief.

Shizune’s expression sours for a second, but she shrugs in acceptance and sends me off with a wave and a glare that spells ‘return quickly’; immediately, I head to the tea room.

The walk to the tea room usually takes about 2-3 minutes, but on this occasion it is multiplied by two considering the crowd that is going to and fro from attractions to attractions. The air within the campus feels drastically alien with the size of the crowd and the increasing difficulty to breathe, but the experience it gives—the atmosphere— is similar in regards to the summer festival and Tanabata that was organized by Shizune, and that made me happy. Who would’ve thought I’d achieve near-similar success as Student Council President? I’m starting to understand the joy and ecstasy of accomplishing such difficult task with limited manpower; I guess this is one reason why Shizune likes being at the top of the game most of the time.

After the shuffle with the crowd, I finally reach the door of the tea room where Lilly is supposed to be waiting. Outside, I stand with bated breath against the only remaining obstacle before our reunion; has she really return? Is she here right now, waiting inside this room? Ever since she joined the Student Council—and prior to her dismissal months ago—this room sometime served as our auxiliary office during lunch periods when long periods of labor is imminent. The tea-set is a welcome addition to our asset, not to mention the flavor of chamomile and French vanilla soothes the mind and relieves the stresses; the tea she—Lilly—brew are often top-notch and unmistakable, a feat commendable considering her disability.

But now isn’t the time to reminisce about this. I should quickly open the door and…



…and then what…?

A moment of hesitation and awkwardness slowly seeps into me after I realize what I am about to face. Since our last conversation, Lilly has been inquiring about the reply—my reply concerning her unanswered feeling before distance came between us. I couldn’t answer her back then, nor do I know if I can say the same as of now; Shizune is still here with me, as such the thought of betraying her over Lilly is unthinkable…or at least that’s what I want to believe.

Over the course of our time, Lilly has been my closest aide ever since Shizune’s funeral. She was there that day and tended to my broken heart, knowing full well of the loss she has to face herself. When I decided to take up the position and continue the Student Council’s legacy, she volunteered to assist me in my plight by providing experience and knowledge. When the Student Council collapse and shatter after my outburst, she stayed and continue to support me until she was forced to return to Scotland by her family. Also in spite of being blind, she dedicated most of her time in Yamaku to me—for me, yet I didn’t feel anything for her? No, that isn’t true. I’d be lying if I say that I have not an ounce of feeling towards her—I do.

I can respond to Lilly; I know the answer and what to expect.

Because if it’s Lilly, then…

*C-CLACK*

“H-Hisao…?”

“Ara…? Hisao’s there?”

I freeze, flinch, and take a step back; unexpectedly the door to the tea room opens from the inside and reveals to me the two girls who occupy it for the time being. As usual, the timid Hanako flinches and backs away from the door in three rhythmic steps to keep a distance; unintentionally, it’s as if she’s opening a path for the taller girl who stood akin to her shadow just a few minutes earlier. With a cane dangling on her left arm by a strap, a pink casual dress as overalls topped with a scarf wrapped around her neck, and that long golden hair that dangles loosely in ponytail fashion, it’s very much real and unmistakable who it is.

“It’s been awhile, Lilly.”

Yes, Lilly has returned.

She stumbles upon me, hands reaching out for my very presence as she takes a step forward and advances inch by inch before collapsing into an embrace. Carefully I catch her, bearing the weight on my body as she tightens her grip around me—she feels light and is enveloped with the scent of golden rayed flowers of Japan, light and intoxicating with feminine charms. Before long, she parts our embrace and starts to feel the contours of my face with her hand, confirming one last time of her assurance; I close my eyes and accept her means perception.

“It really is you,” she states with a smile that slowly build around her cheeks. “I thought I’d never see this day to come.”

“To ‘See’ is an understatement, Lilly.”

“You seemed to have developed a rather witty tongue since we last met—not to mention, you lost weight.”

“You can tell?”

She nod and smile before we break into chuckles and laughter. How long has it been since the last time I feel her presence, I wonder? The scent of her hair, her radiant smile, her gentle touch—it all feels familiar yet nostalgic, I can’t describe it in words. For a moment, everything feels surreal—like a dream—standing face to face with Lilly and having a normal conversation. Our conversation is done usually through phone, and now that she’s standing before me—here, in Yamaku High—it left me speechless and trapped in a trance. When she starts to speak, everything seems to come together perfectly like puzzle pieces as I slowly relieve our brief time together before.

“U-umm…”

I even manage to forget my other reason for a visit.

Like a mother bird towards her youngling, Lilly immediately shift her figure towards the voice that came from one end of the room. “My apologies Hanako, we’re a little carried out.”

“I-it’s fine,” she replies timidly. “I-I-I think I have something to do…did Miyazaki ask you to f-find me Hisao?”

“He sure did.”

She nods and in haste, excuses herself from the room, leaving Lilly and I to contend with the recently found tranquility that began to blossom. We remain silent for the moment, uncertain and unsure of how we are supposed to approach this awkwardness—fumbling with words that somehow manage to crawl its way into our very head. Just by looking I can tell how terrible Lilly felt for neglecting Hanako earlier, albeit unintentionally; I too understand and feel similarly, though probably to a lesser degree than she is. The passing of a minute feels like an eternity until eventually, Lilly decides to break the silence with a question; I feel awkward and pathetic for having her break the ice when I am supposed to after our anticipated reunion.

“Hisao, do you know about the folk dance at the end of this festival?”

I nod, though mostly it is due to reflex after spending most of my time with Shizune. “Yeah, I heard of it.”

“Are you…participating?”

“Probably no,” I sigh. “I don’t know the dance, nor am I familiar with the whole folk dance and how it is supposed to be.”

Like a mother, she replies with a warm smile and offers a hand. I can immediately sense where this is going, “I can teach you, if you so desire.”

Yes. As odd as it sounds, a blind girl is teaching a rookie to dance—a fact that escapes me when she asks me to find the music player in the room. After fumbling through a number of CDs—all of which has braille stamped on each of the covers—she stops at one of the least peculiar CDs and skips a few tracks. I look at the cover and notice the crest of Yamaku printed on it; seems like it’s an original track made by the alumnus of two years ago. I didn’t even realize we have a light music club; though, the name ‘Misty A. Lorelei’—last year’s graduate and the acclaimed perpetrator of ‘Song of the Sparrow’-case as stated by Miyazaki—portrayed as the head vocalist convinced me of its existence before possibly disbanded. After a few minutes fumbling through the player, Lilly finally finds the song she is looking for; a soft melody and a vocal, a ballad, echoes in the air. She taps her cane twice on the ground in search of my presence, to which I quickly respond like a game of Marco Polo. After orienting herself towards me, Lilly detracts her cane, dangles them on her arm by the strap, and offers her hand.

“If you please, Hisao…?”

Without hesitation I accept Lilly’s hand into my palm. Gently she takes them and proceeds to listen—to observe—the tune and the melody of the song that is supposed to accompany the dance and with it, she proceeds to lead. Even without the help of her eyes, Lilly flawlessly—though clumsy and rough at best—replicates and performs with the use of her memory, following only the rhythm and the tune alone to determine on what to do next. It starts simple, first with the two of us adjacent to one another, our left hand extended and our right behind our backs as we take one to two steps in a circular fashion. We take half-a-bow and Lilly—with a voice that is gentle yet assertive—commands me to raise our conjoined arm and spin her once before pulling close, where we take five steps forward. With my right hand rested on her shoulder, my left extended far with hers and her back on my chest, the distance between us closed in an instant and the sound of her breathing—the beat of her heart—resonates with mine in rhythm to the song. I blush a little as my heartbeat rise in tempo, but I best not let that distract me.

“Take a slow step back, Hisao.”

I nod and proceed to do so, retracing our path before and stopping at our start point where she slowly spins to face me, raise her hand high in the air, asks me once again to take them, and slowly rotates counter-clockwise, using it as a pivot. The melody slows down almost passionately as the music slowly comes to a slow end and as a final, she reach her hand on to my shoulder and circles around me once before finally stopping at the exact position to where we start; we are now standing adjacent to one another. I am impressed, but most of all charmed by how she dances and effort to keep up with the beat. “I’m supposed to go a little faster, but that isn't possible with my condition.”

“It still doesn’t change the fact that you pulled it off by relying on your hearing and memory alone,” I reply with a chuckle. “Who taught you?”

“Shizune taught me back then. Though I’m not sure she actually follows the melody of the song.”

My curiosity piqued. Shizune, of all people…? I thought they’re on hostile grounds? “Were you close?”

Lilly pause with a hesitant look, telling me indirectly that it is a subject she didn’t wish to explore. I feel slightly guilty for asking, but nonetheless my curiosity overwhelms such guilt and presses her a bit further; eventually, she complies with a nod. “Yes, we were.”

“What happened?”

“That, Hisao,” she replies with a rather forced smile. “Is something I’ll tell you about another time; now, let’s practice a few more times for tonight’s folk dance.”

I comply and we dance a couple more times. Though her movements are slow, her ability to remember what to do just by using the beat and the rhythm of the song is most impressive; somehow, I even get the hang of it and know what to expect and what to do. By the time we repeat the steps on its third or fourth rotation, I forget about counting and dance away throughout the length of the song. By the time it’s over, the festival is at its closing hours.

Lilly parts herself from me, keeping both of her hands on my shoulder and made some distance. She looks up to me with those murky blue eyes, seemingly able to see and—with confidence—asks, “Hisao, will you dance with me tonight?”

A question with only one answer,

“Yes.”

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

-Continue to part II-
Last edited by Megumeru on Thu Feb 26, 2015 7:07 am, edited 10 times in total.
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They say they hate Shizune? What is this? BLASPHEMY!

SHII-HAEL!
Shizune>Rin>Emi>Hanako>Lilly
"A writer is a light that reveals the world of his story from darkness. Shapes it from nothingness. If the writer stops, the world dies with it." - Alan Wake
Yes, I write stories. Currently working on: The Haunting: A Love Story

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Megumeru
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Chapter VIII: Let me Love You (Pt. 2)

Post by Megumeru » Tue Dec 04, 2012 2:47 pm

-Back to Part I-

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

We part ways after our reunion, with her staying in the tea room while I make my way back to the ‘Haunted House’ set. Lilly mention how Akira will come pick her up later and not to worry, as well as apologizing for keeping her company longer than expected—despite it being something that doesn’t even bother in the first place and in fact, enjoyed. Lilly has been a great friend to me and—perhaps—something greater; just thinking about it makes my heart race and my face blush that will most likely cause others to distinguish me as another ‘love-struck idiot with that creepy smile for no apparent reason’. At least, that’s what I think I look like right now. Lilly’s a good friend, though sometimes I wish we are more than ‘just friends’; such thoughts are troublesome as Shizune is still a part of my life right up to this point.

But is it the same, though? Is the affection and feeling I have for her when she was alive still hold true, unspoiled and strong? Or is it simple infatuation?

“Hey, Prez…!”

Miyazaki’s sudden intervention interrupts me, to which I quickly regain my focus and look straight into his weary eyes. His breathing is heavy and erratic, but even so he still holds considerable amount of energy to quickly jump to his feet, straightens up, and lands his left hand on my shoulder while pointing to the general direction where he came from with his right. I know in an instant that it is the general direction of their attraction.

“Where the hell have you been?”

I shrug his hand off my shoulder and clear my throat, “I was in the tea room with Lilly earlier. Sorry for skipping it out, but I’m heading back there right now.”

“Screw that, skip that part; that caveman that tried to crack your skull yesterday came back and he’s out for blood—yours.”

Shizune’s father’s back? Why is the school still…?

Shit.

In a second's notice my brain sends a clear message of ‘danger’ that resonates throughout every corner of my body, restricting my movement from heading to that particular direction. I can sense it; that dark, oppressive aura that emanates from the hall that leads towards the ‘Haunted House’, a strong murderous killing intent that feels like a sharpened knife before my throat. I should run, avoid any and all contact with him if I value my life—I know I should.

But I can’t.

Shizune’s old man’s killing intent came from the loss of his daughter, a fault that legitimately rests on my shoulders. Even if it was an accident, there’s a considerable amount of responsibility that hovers around my negligence which made me a legitimate suspect—not a spectator. Jigoro’s vie for my head is a natural response and so will others if their daughter is taken from them by the hands of death, more so if her partner was at the crime scene. I didn’t do anything but cried that day, now I have to face him and clear this up which—hopefully—will bring peace to both of us. There is no choice but to confront him; I have to.

“Just out of curiosity, Prez,” Miyazaki asks. “What exactly did you do? He’s branding you as a ‘murderer’, that’s quite a conviction.”

In an almost similar fashion to the Nurse, this particular member of the Paranormal Research Club locks his attention on me and questions the viability of Jigoro’s claim on my ‘status’—a murderer. It’s not much of a surprise for strangers to have a misconception of the situation after yesterday’s incident; it was rowdy to begin with, not to mention a student ended up having to struggle between life and death, much to the horror of the school. Still, the issue is downplayed for the most part and everything is resolved in a civil manner—everything except the lingering grudge that remains in Jigoro Hakamichi and his thirst for my blood. This is my problem to begin with, my issue, and my responsibility. I was Shizune’s boyfriend and on that day, I stood on the sideline and watched everything happen before me where I could’ve been there and made a difference.

This is my responsibility. There is no escape from it, only salvation.

I will have to face it.

“Miyazaki,” I start. “Could you keep what I’m about to tell you a secret?”

He nods silently.

“Then, please listen. I also have a favor to ask from you.”

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

If the Nurse is the embodiment of a ‘death god’, then Jigoro is its messenger. There’s nothing in this world that can describe how terrifying it is, how much fear dictates every step I take and every move I make; if any, it’s like walking to the gallows under the intense scrutiny of crows waiting to pick your carcass for whatever’s left. Just near the end of this hall is the talked about ‘haunted house’, the station that is under the supervision of the ‘Paranormal Research Club’, Shizune’s haunting spot for the duration of this festival, and also where I am heading for. Heeding Miyazaki’s warning, I have been forewarned of the presence of Jigoro, Shizune’s father who now stands guard by the entrance of the attraction, awaiting my arrival—delivering what I believe to be ‘judgment’. Earlier I asked Miyazaki to go on ahead, to clear out the last of the guests so as not to create further disturbances while I confront the demon himself inside the classroom as the Student Council office is locked and its keys in the hands of the staffs.

But that isn’t the only reason—well, partially, maybe.

When I arrive at the scene, Misha quickly approaches me and warns me of the impending danger that I may face in the next few minutes, opting for a ‘quick escape’ as the better solution than confronting what could possibly lead to my certain death. I kindly decline, instead asking her not to worry and enjoy the remaining hours left in the festival. She initially refuses the offer, but relents nonetheless after realizing that I will not be swayed from confronting Jigoro any later.

“Don’t do anything stupid,” she advises as she walk pass me with Hanako not far behind her. “We’ll be at the courtyard.”

What’s left after is Shizune herself. True to a ghost, she watches her family from a distance as they wait restlessly for my arrival, biting her thumbnail with utmost irritation and stress over their well-being. It is as if she’d burst at any moment, to rush them with all her might, grab them, and tell them with any means necessary that ‘I am here’—Shizune is here. Immediately she recognizes the danger her father have towards me and quickly takes my presence into consideration, rushing to my side and stopping me from going any further—or attempts to, at least. Gently I shove her to the side which she responds with a protest, but nonetheless complies after a brief explanation. It needs to end; the misunderstanding, the suffering, the sorrow—everything has to go, for the Hakamichis, Shizune, and myself.

[Wait inside the classroom,] I tell her discreetly, so as not to gain attention from the slow but dying crowd that is still present all around us. [I’ll reason with him.]

[You understand the risk you’re taking, right?]

[Yes, I understand.]

For a minute or two, Shizune returns with the longest stare that pierces right into my soul. With a sigh she takes a step back, straightens her spectacles, and finally complies. [I guess nothing will sway you from your decision.]

I nod in silence.

[Then go do what you must,] she clenches her fist tightly then relaxes. [I trust your decision, Hisao.]

Quietly she backs away and, just as what she’s been told, enters the now-vacated ‘haunted house’. Miyazaki walks out seconds later, nods at my general direction, and then signals me with body language to go confront Jigoro—who, by now, is clouded with irritation—before leaving the scene. With no obstacle left between us, I take the slow steady step towards Shizune’s father and Hideaki. I am not expecting a warm welcome, but what I wish to achieve in this is clarity for myself and the Hakamichis.

“So you’ve come, boy,” greet Jigoro…or at least, as much as I can call it a ‘greeting’. “I thought you’d be hiding.”

“I have no intentions to do so, Mr. Hakamichi.” Though, it did cross my mind considering how much damage your fist can inflict.

“Then I shall get down to business, you second-rate murderer.”

I led him into the ‘Haunted House’ to discuss the matter. With the guests vacated, the entire classroom feels cold and eerie—perfect, nonetheless. Jigoro isn’t exactly friendly for obvious reasons, and that I can understand. Hideaki, on the other hand, isn’t being that much of a help at all by keeping quiet the entire time. He didn’t mutter a word when Jigoro states his purpose and trash my name like a drill sergeant, or when he raise his fist in a fit of sudden rage that engulfs him each time he mentions his daughter’s name and how she died. He rant on and on, saying how much he wish it’s legal for him to draw his sword and cut me in two right in the spot or how he used to deal with ‘punks of your kind who gets near my daughter’ with ‘extreme prejudice’. But for now, a court hearing that is arranged to be held in due time is enough to satisfy his lust for ‘justice’.

‘Justice’ that runs by his own definition.

“I know how it feels, Mr. Hakamichi,” I reply at the end of his lengthy threats and provocation. “But there is nothing I can do right now to make it right, except…”

Jigoro’s eyes is soaked with pure-concentrated hatred as he locks his eyes unto me, watching as I willingly fall on my knees and bow before him with a face that nearly kiss the floor. For a moment I feel the tension grinds to a halt, as if the air freezes over and the world stops spinning. Jigoro didn’t say a word and nothing echoes in the air. With a mustered courage, I try the best I can to convey what I have to say to him.

“If it takes me to throw away my pride, then I will do all it takes for you to approve me. I’m terribly sorry!”

Jigoro grunts dismissively. “You think an apology is enough? You don’t understand how much she meant to me.”

Without raising my head from the floor, I listen to the man as he tells his side of the story. Unlike previously, it’s…different—tragic, more or less. The man tells the side of Shizune I never knew, from the moment she was conceived by her mother, the time when the family learned her disability, up to the events that shaped Jigoro into the character he is. When his wife died, the man was left to care for Shizune who—as much as he can tell—resembles her uncannily, from facial features up to its rather competitive and overbearing personality. He sees Shizune more than just his daughter, but also as his wife’s legacy, the last remnant of a previous life.

And now she’s gone, taken by fate. Taken by me.

“You’re the worst creature that has ever crossed my path.”

I keep my lips shut and my face to the floor. “All I wanted is to watch her grow up, graduate, live a good life, and get married like any other normal girl. I want to see her smile once more…but you took her away from me.”

“You took everything away from me,” he continues. “And you expect me to spare forgiveness for someone like you? Don’t fuck around…”

I can’t feel any further malicious intention from him, despite his insults and provocation; but even that is slowly toned down the longer we talk. It may have been my imagination, but as I remain in the position I hear a stifled cry from the man that it almost feels…misplaced, but nonetheless appropriate for the situation. Slowly I raise my head with anxiety and curiosity, fully expecting to see a—so to say—‘different’ side of him, only to meet his ferocious predatory glare and that unchanging hatred of his. Was it all just my imagination? Surely, I heard that…well, never mind.

“It’s been four months since, but still I longed to see her again,” Jigoro continues, but a lot softer this time. “It may have been my mistake to treat her that way in the past, but is it really necessary for god to take away my eldest child, just to make me realize this?”

“Father…”

“I’m sorry, Hideaki,” he sighs with remorse. “I’m sorry to have showed you this disgraceful side of mine.”

“Stand up. I’ll be honest with you, boy,” he turns to me once again, to which I now see him eye to eye. “I do not wish to forgive you, nor do I have any intention to. If any, it will take my daughter herself to convince me that you are innocent in this matter.”

“I just…” he pauses, taking a deep haul of air. “I just want to see her smile once more.”

I knew by this point of time how much pain he’s been through. The details of Shizune’s family is shady at best; what I know are based of what Shizune told me before and that’s about it. What I know about Jigoro himself is purely based from what Shizune described—a stubborn, uncompromising, and vehemently in denial of the reality that surrounds him. Always calling the shots, in control, and in charge of whatever it is that came to face him—even if it is reality itself. Now after what he’s been through, I don’t think it’s fair to judge him the way I used to—if any, I can see him as a tragic character; though that doesn’t mean I actually feel complete sympathy for him. I do, but not to that great extent.

Hah, this is funny.

No matter how you try to deny it, you can’t help but realize that he’s quite similar to you, Shizune. Just as they say, ‘apples never fall far from its tree’.

“I believe she feels the same way about you, sir.”

Jigoro sucks his teeth and glares at me with discuss. “What do you know about it, boy?”

I turn around towards the darkness behind me that is cluttered with decorations and setups for the ‘haunted house’ and slowly raise my hand, garnering both Hideaki and Jigoro’s bewildered attention. I stop my hand in mid-air, sighing one last time as I look forward to the conclusion of this chapter between Jigoro and I; now, there is one last thing to do.

“Mr. Hakamichi,” I said to him with my hand still up in the air. “How do you remember Shizune?”

“What is this, some kind of trivia?” he sighs in irritation. “Boy, she is my first child and only daughter. Are you telling me that I don’t know how she looks?”

I smile in relief, “Then I can be at ease.”

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

I walk out of the haunted house, feeling exhausted and relief nonetheless. Immediately, Miyazaki greets me with a wave and a rather malicious smile before taking a step forward to confront me, arms crossed over his chest. “That’s smart of you, Hisao.”

I chuckle in return, “I’m just doing what has to be done. Thanks, Miyazaki.”

“Still, I can’t believe it,” Miyazaki remarks as he glances at the dark interior of the ‘haunted house’. Satisfied, he shrugs and sighs. “To think that the ghost of the ex-Student Council President is actually haunting you. That’s quite something.”

I give a light chuckle in return, “Yeah, I guess it is.”

About an hour earlier, I told Miyazaki everything—about the accident, Shizune’s haunting, and why the man wanted my head in the first place. He was surprised at first—cynical, even—but decided to follow through in good nature and curiosity of the paranormal. He inquired about everything; the circumstances, possibility, outcomes, even to the point in which he began to question the theories the Paranormal Research Club came up with followed with an eagerness to prove its validity. I was bombarded with questions after questions, but he soon realized that he was keeping the inevitable and asked what I am going to do with Jigoro Hakamichi—or how I would confront him without having to lose my life in the process. It was then that I remembered what Shizune said to me the night before.

[I would be lying if I told you that I am not concerned at the slightest about my family. At least I want to know how they are doing.]

I want to help Shizune, to repay her kindness and patience when she was alive; part of that feeling also came with a considerable amount of respect towards her and her efficiency, despite how many disagreed upon it. So first I told Miyazaki to ‘paste’ a note for Shizune near the exit in a place she can visibly see, telling her of my decision to confront her father directly and to wait inside the set until everything was settled. Next, I asked him to clear the guests—for now—and relieve both the volunteers and rest of the Paranormal Research Club; the tapes, too, were to stop recording. I wanted it to be a private moment between us without any disturbances and although Miyazaki objected about the tape for the first few minutes, my insistency and stubbornness finally swayed him into favor.

“Here’s the recording,” he said as he hands me the memory card of all video recorders that was set. “The chief would kill me if she knew I delete them, and I can’t hold on to them either—you keep it instead.”

I open my palm and receive the SD cards that contain the data. Now her privacy is safe with me. “Thanks, Miyazaki.”

“You better return the favor,” he replies with a chuckle. “I heard there’s a good ramen shop near the station, you should treat me there sometime.”

When it was all carried out, I took Jigoro inside the ‘haunted house’ and confronted him directly—all with the intention to clear my name, paired with a slight optimism in hoping to reunite both Shizune and her family. It was a longshot—a far-fetch attempt that may fail. But when I remembered how Shizune’s father was stopped dead in his tracks from beating me to death the first time from seeing her, I was convinced of the possibility of fulfilling one of her concerns. It was a gamble, but nonetheless one that pays off handsomely.

I glance one last time into the haunted house. Right now, Shizune is with her family probably catching up with things they’ve missed—I even gave Hideaki a notebook and a pen to help in the occasion. I decide to leave them be and allow them some privacy. When I saw Shizune reunited with her family, I can’t help but notice a faint ‘glow’ that surrounded her the moment she embrace her father and brother lovingly before it disappear. Was it just my imagination or…?

“I guess now you’ve freed her from one of the shackles that stops her from passing on to the afterlife,” Miyazaki said before sighing lightly. “I can’t see her, but if she returns as a ghost in the first place then there must be some unfinished business that’s keeping her, right?”



Of course, why didn’t I think of it? I saw that glow before when she first appeared before me on that night, and again today when she was reunited with her father and brother; it doesn’t take a genius to connect the dots. As of now, Shizune is a spirit—a ghost that is shackled to the school grounds due to unfinished business, one of which is the issue with her family. Now that it’s over, she’s ‘freed’ from one of the issue that binds her to this world in the first place. She’s currently ‘living’ in borrowed time, and if I help her clear all of her unfinished business then…

…then that means she’ll vanish.



Will I be able to accept that…?

“So Prez,” interrupts Miyazaki. “Are you going to the folk dance later?”

I nod. “Lilly invited me.”

Miyazaki chuckles lightly. “Really…? Well, wow! Good for you.”

“Are you going?”

“Me? Well, I have someone I plan to ask so we’ll see about it,” he grins and places his hand on my shoulder. “In the meantime, take care. If you need anything just find me in the Paranormal Research Club’s clubroom. We owe you for the success of our attraction in this festival, so it’s natural for us to pay you back…somehow.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.”

With a grin that stretches as wide as the south-pacific and posture that is as sharp as servicemen, Miyazaki salutes, pivots, and walk towards the empty hall. With his back turned on me, he raises his hand for a wave of goodbye before saying, “The chief sends her thanks as well, see you around Prez!”



Speaking of which, we never have the opportunity to meet their club’s president. All this time Miyazaki always act as the de facto leader of the group, so who is she?

Before I have the chance to ask him, Miyazaki has vanished from my sight.

…sometimes, the Paranormal Research Club is as mysterious as they claim to be.

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

The crowd of students and onlookers now gather at the field where the last part of the festival is to be held. At the center of it, a towering organized pile of wood soaked with gasoline stands tall as it waits to receive the torch that will light up the night sky, brightening up its surrounding and initiating the final part of the festival—the bonfire dance. It is a tradition of Yamaku High and although the dance itself isn’t entirely of Japanese origin and more of a western influence, it is said to be one of the most memorable points of the festival to both the student and the teachers. When I arrive at the scene, I can’t help but be amazed at the spectacle that lies before me, seeing the crowd as they form a pair of man and women—couples—that are joined hand in hand. This may be the first time I attend the festival, but I can see why both the students and the teachers are looking forward to it.

I look onward into the crowd, searching for my promised date before finally locating her standing close near the proximity of the bonfire.

Yes, I can’t be mistaken. That golden locks tied in a ponytail, her pristine figure that is comparable to a porcelain doll, her gentle aura, and that cane she’s always carrying is indeed a dead giveaway. I head into the sea of couples, wade through the crowd, and greet her with a light tap on her shoulder. She turns to my general direction and smiles. “May I help you?”

“I was invited here by a particularly gentle young lady who offered me for a dance. If I may, I would like to accept that offer.”

Acting like a sir...that sounds rather silly if I think about it.

Nonetheless, Lilly responds kindly with a smile and an open palm. “I’d love to, Hisao.”

When I take a hold of her hand, I can feel the increasing tempo of my heartbeat that refuses to rest as I pull her close and wait for the music to start. The crowd of couples increases at each passing minute as they gather around the bonfire, holding hands and cuddling together in search for warmth under this cold night. I wonder, will it be the same today if Shizune is still alive? Will I be dancing with her instead of with Lilly?

What is she up to now?

I constrict my hand a little tighter, causing Lilly to turn for a moment and wonder. I reassure her that everything is fine—or so I want to believe. Deep in my stomach I feel as if thousands of butterflies decide to flap its wings, yet at the same time my heart ache to search for the answer, the missing piece to my question—and no, it isn’t because of my heart condition. Last summer during my first festival, I spent the finale up on the roof of Yamaku High with eyes directed at the sky as fireworks explode in a magnificent show of performance. I was led there by Shizune, who guide me like a lost child through a hedge maze of confusion, irritation, and grief that came with me when I first enrolled. It is a memory I can never forget—partly because I remember how dumb-struck I was to how compelling she can be that night.

If my memory serves me correctly, it should be relatively close and provide a vantage point to this field. Shouldn’t be too hard to find—I’ve been visiting the roofs of Yamaku High for the past months with Shizune in the first place.

I look up to the roofs of Yamaku High where I believe to be the location where we watched the fireworks last time. I gaze at the spot and reminisce about the time for a moment, the sound around me slowly falls into a complete standstill as I immerse myself in my own little world—it is then that I notice something, a figure—at the edge of the roof. I can tell clearly from this distance and—despite the lighting—it is still relatively easy to make out the shape to be that of a girl. I squint a little and immediately I realize who it is.

“Lilly,” I said while keeping my eyes on the figure. “I’m sorry.”

“For what, Hisao…?”

“I just remembered I have something to do. Is it ok if we…uh…”

“Call it off?”

“Well…do you mind?”

Lilly slowly releases her hold from my hand and folds them before her. She smiles reluctantly, almost sad and disappointed but nonetheless complies with my request. “If it is something important, then go.”

“What about you?”

“I’ll be fine.”

I suck my teeth and take a quick look around. The crowd of people is slightly obstructing my view, but I can never mistake that flashy pink-hair despite how short she cut it to be.

“Misha…!” I call out, hoping she’ll notice right away amidst the sea of couples. I raise my hand and call her once again, this time I receive a response in return and she quickly signals her friend to come over—it’s Hanako, perfect!

“Heya, Hicchan! You need me for something?”

“Yeah, can you accompany Lilly for a moment? I have something to take care of.”

Without waiting for a response, I dash out of the crowd and with haste rush into Yamaku High to leave the group, Lilly, and the dance behind me. Even after I reach the interior of the school, the cheer and the echo of the tune still persists and vibrates across the serenity of the now-empty halls. To my right and left are the booths and attraction of the festival—the now vacant classrooms left by its occupiers, who now has gathered near the bond fire. I navigate through the passage, making my way to reach the roof where I believe to have seen the figure from the field below. With just illumination from the bond fire outside and the moon, the abandoned hallway feels strangely welcoming and assuring—it’s quiet, a contrast to what it was throughout the entire day.

I navigate through the all-too-familiar corridor and eventually end up near the hallway that leads to class 3-3, just by this corner. By this hour, there shouldn’t be anyone here—or at least I believe it to be so, until the moment I turn a corner and meet Jigoro and Hideaki Hakamichi.

It has been drilled into me to avoid Jigoro at almost all cost after his recent outrage—it took most of my courage to confront him previously, but even then I was half expecting another punch to land and kill me. Thank God it didn’t. Confronting them one more time, I take a ready position and give a light bow as a greeting before slowly and cautiously, meet them eye to eye. There’s a different aura that surrounds him, unlike the usual—a serene, peaceful, and content air that envelopes both Jigoro and Hideaki. When he walk pass me, no words are muttered between us as if we shared a common bond…as weird as it is.

“Boy,” he said in a deep voice. I turn around towards him, finding his back before me. “Thank you for what you’ve done.”

I nod silently, “I’m just doing what I think is necessary, sir.”

“I see.”

He turns around and faces me—almost ceremoniously—and takes a few steps forward, keeping approximately a one meter distance in between us. He reaches for his sword and instinctively I take a step back, pulling my guard in instinct but lowers them the next after he takes them in his hand—sheath and all—and presents them to me, like a gift. In a manner that is what I can best describe as a display of formality and military-like discipline, he holds his katana with its sheath horizontally as he extends his hand and his body in a half-bow and present the token to me. Reluctantly I refuse, but his persistent insistence eventually won him over. By standards, such display of formality is rare—even amongst the adults. The only time I’ve seen similar formality is from textbooks or historical reenactment.

I extend my arm and receive the token, pulling it close to my chest. Now I have to start thinking where I should put this thing—or at least, somewhere where Kenji won’t find or see.

“I have taught her everything I believe she needs to know,” She…? It must be about Shizune. “My job is done.”

To my surprise and the shock of Hideaki, Jigoro continues with a great bow and barks his words, “Until that time, take care of her for me…!”

I nod silently, not knowing what to say or do as I clench the katana he gave and hold it close to my chest. After a while, he raises his head and turn towards the corridor before walking away in stride. Hideaki smiles politely and takes a short bow as thanks and appreciation.

“We’ll come in a few days’ time to retrieve her belongings.”

“Call me if you need anything else, Hideaki.”

After a quick and solemn bow, Hideaki returns beside Jigoro’s side and walk away into the abyss that is Yamaku’s hallways. As for me, I return towards my initial direction—to the roof—and seek the figure that I saw earlier from below.

I have to say, this katana is actually pretty heavy.

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

I reach the top of the building and clear through the door that remains as my last obstacle and is greeted with a vast expanse of the night sky and a chilly autumn air. Immediately I feel the cold air rushes back into my nose and lungs as I take a deep breath, while my eyes wander the solemn field of concrete and search for that mysterious figure I saw previously before. The light from the bonfire below bleed into the night, providing some illumination while the moon quietly passes across the sky and light the area before me; there, leaning by the low fence with her arm over by her chest is the figure I’m looking for. Just as how I saw her before, she keeps her eyes on the festival below and is entirely oblivious of the sounds around her. I smile in thought, knowing full well that she’s still here in Yamaku High.

Slowly I creep up behind her and place my coat on her shoulders. Swiftly she turns around and smiles in relief the moment our eyes meet, extending her hand to communicate.

[I’m a ghost, silly,] she signs lightheartedly. [I don’t think I’d catch any.]

[You’ll never know.]

The mood slowly settles itself as I draw myself a little closer towards Shizune, accompanying her as she watch the festival’s final hour unfolds below. She notices the katana I’m carrying for a moment and I swear I notice a tint of blush that builds up around her cheeks—though probably, it is something that came with the cold. I rest the weapon to my side and sighs with satisfaction towards the festival—if I think about it, everything up until this hour has been a great success. Am I proud to be the person in charge of all this? The one who made it all possible? Yes, I am; but it’s more than just that. When I watch as the crowds starts to form in pairs and dances following the rhythm of the song, I smile knowing that everyone could share the same amount of joy and satisfaction as I.

Huh, maybe this is what Shizune has been feeling all this time when she was the Student Council president.

I feel a slight tug to my left, followed with Shizune’s mildly excited face that points at the crowd below. She extends her left arm and points at one of the couple who—by now—is going through ‘practice runs’ before the dance itself. The couple—much to my surprise—is none other than Miyazaki himself who bashfully confronts a girl with long, dark hair. Unfortunately, she has her back against us, so it isn’t clear who this girl is—could it be Yuuko, the leader of the Paranormal Research Club? Whoever she is, I may never figure out who she is or what she looks like—the Paranormal Research Club, as mysterious as it is, is run by a similarly shady female character, so let’s leave it at that.

I feel a tug on my shoulder once again, this time she prepares herself for a conversation.

[Why are you up here?]

I shrug. [I don’t know. I just feel like it.]

[Aren’t you going to dance with someone?]

[Well, yes.] I reply bashfully. I want to iterate about Lilly and how she invited me for the dance, but I decide not to. [But I just don’t feel like it.]

[That’s not right,] she responds immediately. [This is a festival; you’re supposed to have fun! Go down there and dance!]

[Then why are you up here?]

Shizune’s expression changes almost instantly the moment I ask the question, as if mocking and telling me that I already knew the answer—which indeed I do. Quickly I reassert the situation and clear my throat out of embarrassment; it’s obvious why she’s up here in the first place. Being a ghost means she’s isolated from the eyes of the rest of the world except to a select few, which bars her from properly participating and left her in the sideline as a spectator. When I glimpse at her, there is a barely noticeable hint of envy and excitement as she watches the crowd morphs into small group of couples who by now are readying themselves for the finale; it doesn’t take a genius to see where this is heading for the moment she turns to me with eyes filled with expectations.

[You want to dance?] I ask curiously. With a smile that radiates akin to a child and an unmatched excitement, Shizune adjusts herself by pushing the rim of her glasses in part due to her reddening face.

[Do you know the lore that surrounds this dance?] She asks. I shrug nonchalantly and watch as she reasserts herself for an answer. [They say that couples who dance at the end of this festival will never be separated.]

….

Ah…I see…

So that’s what Miyazaki’s grinning about.

[I appreciate your invite, Hisao,] she continues. [Do you know how to dance?]

Quickly I assert myself and offer her my right hand. She raises an eyebrow in amusement and mutely giggles with glee before taking my offer, to which now we position ourselves adjacent to one another. It may have been short, but I’m relieved to know that I’ve practiced before with Lilly—even if originally, it was for her in the first place. Without being able to say a word, our only means of communication relies heavily on eye contact, expressions, and understanding of one another as the song from below starts to play its familiar, soft melody; for now, Shizune wants me to take the lead which I will gladly comply to.

The melody starts softly as the sound picks up from below. Her eyes impatiently demands for me to move, to lead the dance and sweep her off her feet. I wait a little longer, letting the song and the melody seeps in before I start to move.

Just as what I practiced with Lilly, we start off adjacent to one another with our left hand acting as a central pivot point as we take three light steps forward followed with a short half-bow. I raise my hand as I see fit and let her spin around it before pulling her close, just as practiced. With her small body against me, I can feel the strange warmth of the living from her soul that struggles to ‘live’ day by day; her heartbeat also resonates lively. We take three steps forward, my right hand on her shoulder and my left extended far to our left as we follow the rhythm of the song—or at least we are, as long as I am leading. But Shizune isn’t one to be contained for long.

Whereas Lilly familiarizes the dance with slow three-four step backs, Shizune follows through with a faster and bolder move; one that undeniably accentuates the beauty of the partner. We take quick step backs as our arms extend to the sides. One, two, and on the third step she leaps and twists before landing in a position to face me; her left hand connected to mine and her right at her side. It isn’t anything new at all; it’s similar to what Lilly taught me but much more fluent, faster, and bolder. She then takes a loop in and around the arc under our arms once, twice, and thrice before she lets go and joins both of them (her hands) with mine in its respective adjacent position; her right on my left, and her left on my right. She pulls down lightly, letting go once more before my cue to clap which is followed closely with her circling me once.

Just like before, her movement is faster—in fact, she dances and glides around me gracefully before ending the cycle at our original position. My eyes opens wide and my lips are left speechless, stunned and mesmerized by a beauty that is bold and aggressive, a direct contrast to Lilly’s soft and charming move. Different as they may be, both are equally captivating. The cycle ends and we repeat the steps before, once again with me taking the lead to keep her in-check with the tune.

I can say, I can say…

…I can never say it...


I raise her arm high once more, forming an arc and allow her to loop once, twice, and thrice.

There’s really nothing else I wanted.

We finish another cycle, but the song continues and so do we. I turn towards the door for a moment, feeling as if being watched but turn the thoughts away as my focus is occupied by the ghost I am now dancing with. I hold her close once more, feeling the ever present warmth and comfort.

I can say, I can say…

…I can never say it…


I raise my arm again and she loops once again, following the same pattern. I notice her smile and the growing tint of crimson red that builds around her cheek.

I’m fine with just having you…

She follows the pattern precisely, parting our hands and joins them once again in its respective adjacent position, lightly pulls down and…

…!

…and she kisses me.

Let me love you…

For a brief moment I feel her soft, moist lips brushing mine, her sweet scent tickling my nose, and a taste I have never experience that envelopes, overwhelms, and causing my heart to race. It isn’t a dream nor is it my imagination; that feeling, the entire sensation—though brief—still lingers around the area where we touch, where we kissed. I place my fingers on my lips, feeling her warmth that still remains as I watch her do the same. With her eyes locked on mine, Shizune blushes even more than usual but nonetheless still manage to muster her confidence to say her piece.

[It’s my thank you for today,] she signs hastily, persistently maintaining eye contact between us. [Be grateful, that’s my first.]

Please, just a little bit more already…

I smile and take a few steps towards her until we are but ten centimeters apart, where I proceed to embrace her. I use my hand to gently raise her head and look into her dark blue eyes that lies behind her spectacles, inching forward ever slowly. She complies and slowly closes her eyes as I do the same before finally we kiss once more—softly and passionately—under the expanse of the stars and the warm blanket of the festival.


Don’t go away…


End Chapter VIII



Author's Note
This is probably the longest, most problematic chapter I have written. I do apologize for the delay it is simply...long and retarded. This chapter gave me a lot of difficulties, spanning with 2-3 rewrites with some of the more difficult scene--the dance--included that adds further chaos. But this chapter wraps up ACTII, and we'll be going in deep into ACTIII next--stay tuned!

As a recommendation, I advise you to listen to 'Let me Love You' by Haruko Momoi during the dance section *just* to add the feel :)

Don't forget, leave a review if you feel like it! Tell me what you think, criticize, and speak out! Or if there are questions, ask them and I'll be sure to answer them as best as I can. :D

Megumeru, signing off for now~

ps. I'm starting to feel like writing an entire light novel out of this, its hilarious :lol:
Last edited by Megumeru on Sun Dec 09, 2012 11:03 am, edited 4 times in total.
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They say they hate Shizune? What is this? BLASPHEMY!

SHII-HAEL!
Shizune>Rin>Emi>Hanako>Lilly
"A writer is a light that reveals the world of his story from darkness. Shapes it from nothingness. If the writer stops, the world dies with it." - Alan Wake
Yes, I write stories. Currently working on: The Haunting: A Love Story

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Mirage_GSM
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Re: The Haunting: A Love Story *UPDATED*

Post by Mirage_GSM » Tue Dec 04, 2012 7:22 pm

Well... Let's just say it is obvious that the second part saw a lot less proofreading than the first one.
Mostly it's about verb forms - not only mixed up tenses but also stuff like "I is"...
Could be because of all the rewrites.
The story itself is coming along nicely. If they haven't kissed before I take it this story is set before the summer holidays?
It's been a while since I read the first chapters, so I'm not really sure if the summer holidays "happened" somewhere in there...
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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