A Future (Complete Version)

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Fardels
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A Future (Complete Version)

Post by Fardels » Wed Jul 25, 2012 10:39 am

This story projects one future for Hisao. It is based on the Lilly Path (happy ending), but it incorporates elements of some other paths as well. There are five parts - four parts to the story and a set of afterthoughts. The afterthoughts were written for people who don't care for the premise (which includes me, in certain moods).

P. T. Bridgeport

Part One: Sing a Song of Sad Young Men

Autumn turns the leaves to gold, slowly dies the heart
Sad young men are growing old - that’s the cruelest part…


Chapter One – That Look

That stunned look – Hisao Nakai saw it again in his cup of tea. He’d seen it in mirrors, on the shiny surface of ponds, in his reflection on shop windows. The face had changed over the years. His hair was shorter than before, and the skin below his eyes had begun to sag, partly hidden by the addition of glasses. But that look, it was still there. Or maybe it had come back.

No, it was something he saw every so often. Sometimes it meant he was overtired, sometimes it meant he was working on a problem, sometimes it came with bad news. He’d seen it a lot through his PhD program. But it always went away. Lilly saw to that. He winced, then grinned. He still became embarrassed when he made sight-based mental observations, though Lilly never minded when they came from his mouth.

He rapped the cup ever so slightly with his index finger, watching the ripples travel across his reflected face. For once, he didn’t think about the physical properties of the ripples, nor how they could parallel whatever problem he was working on. They just obscured the reflection, and that was what he needed right now. That stunned look – it had been there for a month, and he wanted it to go away.

He sat at the table, on the side by the wall, because Lilly needed the side open to the kitchen. It was his customary place now, even though no one else was home. He looked at his watch, deciding that he had to leave for his cardiologist appointment. Was it worth going? It would probably be more bad news. Still, you must deal with things by knowing as much as possible. It was time to see what this month’s problem was, and try to adapt to it. He drained his cup, rinsed it briefly, and put it on the drain board. Lilly would never approve of such sloppy housekeeping, but he had to go.

The street lamps sent pale beams through the living room window when he returned, the only illumination in the darkened house. He could see the dust particles dancing in the light. He crossed the room and turned on the soft lights in the kitchen. They would remind him to eat later, when he was hungrier. The appointment had not gone badly. Things were the same, maybe a little worse, but not much. There was to be an appointment was another specialist.

Hisao moved to his computer in the bedroom, flicking on the desk lamp. He checked his email, knowing that it would take hours to respond to everything. He had only returned to teaching a week ago, and much of the departmental traffic while he had been away required detailed thought before he answered it. He scrolled briefly through the messages before addressing them one by one. He stopped at the one labeled “Nishimura”. Who? Oh, that was Hanako’s new name. He’d met her husband – nice man. He didn’t relish opening the message though – if he was sad, Hanako had gone into free-fall.

Journalism had given Hanako an outlet, a way to express herself, and she was good at it. Writing was something she gravitated to anyway, and when she was emotional about something, like now, she wrote with power and style. And length. The Hanako who wrote for periodicals was not shy Hanako, not in print.

As predicted, it was long and powerfully written. He read through it three times before typing the reply:

I don’t know how to answer you, and you are our oldest and most trusted friend. So I will respond to you in perfect candor. In bad times, it is only natural to hide your feelings from everyone, even your closest friends – we both know that. But I will not hide in this reply.

I had this same discussion with Akira and her husband when they came back to Japan for the funeral. If I filed a lawsuit, I would probably win. I have their assurance on that. Akira is still upset with me for not doing so. But winning a lawsuit would not restore my life, so it has no purpose.

As someone who deals with knowledge every day, I have always been impressed with how much we don’t know about the physical world. We know even less about ourselves as humans, how we react and what we pay attention to. I have asked myself over and over – if a person is driving a car and paying even a little attention, how do they fail to see a blind woman, a tall blonde one with a cane, in a crosswalk? How do they fail to see the red light? I don’t know the answer. But we must all deal with the consequences.

I have my work, and I must tend to my physical problems. That takes much of my day. The rest of it is filled with the usual things people do to keep their lives in order. Lilly was quite as busy as I was, and we spent more time thinking of better ways to teach English than we did on household chores. I was the guinea pig – if it worked for me, it would probably work for her students. I don’t regret that for a minute – for one thing, my English is not as poor as it once was. Yes, I am frequently sad – my life has been taken from me again. But after it happens once, you learn how to get through that, and I am trying my best now.

You know how much has left me. At first, everything was hard. Now I am working again, and I get out of the house and do the things I must do to keep going. That is better, I think, but there is a long way to go until things are good. Maybe too far. I know that Akira and you suffer this same sense of loss.

I spent a decade with Lilly. There must have been bad times, but I can’t remember any of them now. Who she was and how we spent our time together fills my empty moments. The memories are happy, and I treasure them. The sadness only comes when I think of the future without her.

Thank you for your help and support at the funeral. I don’t know if I could have coped without you there. I hope you will stay in touch, as you are a big part of that treasured past. I promise you I will live on, as best I can.

Your devoted friend,
Hisao


Hisao logged off the computer and went to bed. That was all he could take this evening. The kitchen light stayed on until he left in the morning.

Chapter Two – The First Time

Cleaning out Lilly’s things...

She was extremely neat – she had to be in order to find what she needed. And yet, here was this CD stuck in her cabinet, away from her other CDs. Hisao looked at it with a raised brow. He remembered it, sort of.

As he finished the first draft of his dissertation, he had developed a taste for American jazz, not the noisy, seemingly endless improvisations of the 50’s and 60’s, but the quieter and more structured things that came after. Lilly’s command of English helped him immensely, but she hadn’t shown much interest in the music itself.
Still, here it was. Clearly American, and clearly from that time period. Roberta Flack. Hisao opened the case, cracked and partly opaque with age, and a piece of paper slipped out. He slid the CD into the player and opened the paper. The CD started with a little instrumental introduction. Then he read the paper and remembered. No, he was transported back in time…

He had been very tired, something to do with his paper, and was stuck. She came to his desk and held his hand. “Will you listen to something with me?”

“Sure.”

They moved to the living room and she put the CD on. As the music started, she handed him a piece of paper, apparently the lyrics in Japanese, and sat down next to him. That paper represented a substantial effort on her part, probably listening to the song, typing out the words in Braille, and then translating them. Roberta Flack began to sing, and he followed along from the sheet.

The first time ever I saw your face,
I thought the sun rose in your eyes.
And the moon and stars were the gifts you gave
To the dark and the endless skies, my love
To the dark and endless skies…


That voice, that haunting, lilting voice, polished the beauty of the words.

Lilly smiled broadly, and a little crookedly. It was something she did now, where she used to giggle in high school. “Do you remember the first time I saw your face?”

“I do. It was in the room we used for tea. You asked to touch my face. You took some time about it, and I relished every instant. I was already half in love with you, you know. By the time you finished, I was all the way there. I was rather silly and self-conscious then. I should have said something straightaway.”

Her smile grew broader and less crooked. “Perhaps. But it worked out well in the end.”

He smiled back, though she couldn’t see it, and squeezed her hand. “Yes. It certainly did,” he whispered.

The first time ever I kissed your mouth
I felt the earth move in my hands
Like a trembling heart of a captive bird
That was there at my command my love
That was there at my command.


“As I said, silly and self-conscious. You had to confess your feelings to me, and even then, you had to ask for a kiss.”

Her smile grew slightly crooked again. “Well, I certainly got one.”

They leaned toward each other at the same time, resulting in a small collision that they both laughed softly at. She put her head on his shoulder and he wrapped his arm around her as they listened the last verse.

The first time ever I lay with you
And felt your heart so close to mine
And I knew our joy it would fill the earth
And last 'til the end of time my love
And last to the end of time


The last line shocked him into the present. “Until the end of your time, my love, at least I hope so,” he murmured. “But not until the end of mine.” With a quick movement, he killed the CD player and tottered toward the bedroom to collapse in a heap on the bed. It would be hours before he left it, and he did not attempt to clean out Lilly’s things again.

Chapter Three – Journey to the White City

Hisao seemed to spend an awful lot of time in labs. If it wasn’t for the university, it was for tracking the health of his heart. Tuesday morning would be spent with Dr. Yamato, having his heart tested and going over the result with the Doctor himself. He sometimes wondered why he bothered, but then his love of detail took control. More knowledge is better.

For once, he almost ignored that love of detail. Yamato and his labs were south of the city, in a hospital complex that was supposed to serve everyone in the region. It was probably a good idea, but Hisao lived in the north and getting there was a nuisance. He left his hand on the steering wheel for a few seconds after he started the car and sighed. Then he put the car in gear and started the journey.

Once out of the city, the road broadened to a highway, flowing delicately on the rolling hillside like a strip of icing on an undulating green cake. There was little traffic, and Hisao began to relax. Ten minutes after the city’s edge, it went over a particularly high hill and when it descended, he saw a large campus of white buildings on the right. That was it – the regional hospital. The large complex of buildings seemed out of place on the green countryside.

Finding the hospital and finding Dr. Yamato were two different things. Yamato was in the third building he tried (and that with explicit directions), but the labs were in still another building. Since he had never been to this hospital, there were the usual forms and the usual questions (he could never remember whether he had mumps as a child or not). They drew his blood, ran tests, put him on the EKG. It was all familiar, and still vaguely disturbing. From long experience, he soldiered through three hours of it. The last stop was Yamato’s office.

Yamato was a small man with a thin goatee, younger than he expected, but with the same friendly but slightly distant air that most of Hisao’s doctors had. His desk had a mountain of paperwork on it.

“Pleased to meet you, Professor Nakai. Please sit down.”

Yamato cleared his throat. Do they all do that?

“Professor Nakai, I’m going to address you as a serious professional man. We don’t have all of your lab results back, and if they indicate anything serious, we’ll let you know. In the meantime, I want to talk about your future. Are you willing to do that?”

Hisao nodded.

“Right now, your heart is about the same as it was a year ago. This is not quite as good as after your second heart attack, but still pretty acceptable. Some things have worsened, but not enough to indicate a change in treatment. There are some things we can do surgically if it gets worse, but none of them will cure the arrhythmia. Short of a heart transplant, we have no cure, and the transplant is an exhausting and painful experience that would significantly deteriorate your quality of life for whatever time you have left. Assuming we could find a suitable heart in the first place, and you were lucky enough to float to the top of the waiting list. Are we clear on that?”

Hisao nodded again.

“Up to now, the medical community has treated your immediate symptoms, because that’s all we could do. Now, you are old enough that we must start looking ahead, preventing future problems as well as treating current ones. Your form of arrhythmia is not at all common, but not unknown. I spent some time gathering statistics from here in Japan.

There are a lot of exceptions, both good and bad, but for a man like you, here’s the statistical profile. You are twenty-eight years old. You will probably see age thirty. You might see age forty. You will have to be an exception to see age fifty.” He handed a chart to Hisao.

Hisao looked at the paper. It was a bell curve, and there were exceptions, but Yamato had described it precisely.

“Starting now, you will have to be a full participant in the fight to outlast the average. If you do that, you may well live on. So far, it’s been ‘take your pills’ and ‘don’t do things that make an attack more likely’. Now you are going to have to start doing things on your own to make living more likely. You don’t do cigarettes, you don’t do alcohol, and from the blood tests, you seem to eat carefully. That’s a great start. Now, I would recommend starting an exercise program. Swim, or walk, or lift weights. Don’t try to cross the English Channel, lift a truck, or run a marathon. You’re not doing this to build muscle, you’re doing it to tone and strengthen the muscle you have.
Most people faced with this choice do the walking. When I say walk, I mean walk. Don’t jog, don’t run, don’t sprint, and don’t walk for long periods. Start slow. You live in the north of the city, near to the university, yes? I have made an appointment with a physical therapist for you close to where you live. Keep the appointment, do the exercises, and start walking using the technique they teach you. If walking outside doesn’t appeal to you, or in bad weather, use the university health club. The therapist will tell you how much and how often, depending on what we find in the final labs.

How you live is your own business. From here on in, how long you live will be your business too. Medicine can help only so much. The rest is up to you.

I’ve been blunt with you, even for me. You deserve to know what you are facing. After I answer any questions you have, we’ll make an appointment for six months’ time. By then, we should be able to see if your efforts have had any result.”

It was a chilly trip home. He fully appreciated Dr. Yamato’s candor, after years of doctors telling him to take his medicine and we’ll see. But the timing was awful. His numbed and deflated life now had a deadline.

Chapter Four - Adoption

His cell phone was ringing, startling him. It never rang at home anymore, and he preferred it that way. The string of numbers on the screen didn’t mean anything to him, and he nearly didn’t answer. Then his mantra about “more knowledge” kicked in.

“Hello, this is Hisao…”

“Hey, Hisao. Akira here. From Scotland.”

“What? What time is it there?"

“It’s either too early or too late, depending on how you look at it. But when your business is split between the UK and Japan, most things happen then.” She chuckled briefly.

Strange… when she came back for the funeral, her voice seemed to have dropped a half octave, and she still sounded that way.

“How are you doing?” she asked.

“Um…okay, I guess. Day to day, you know.”

“No, be straight with me. What’s happening with you?”

“I don’t know that there’s much to talk about. I’m almost caught up in university work. I still see a battery of doctors, who all assure me that my heart isn’t in any immediate trouble, but they don’t see much of a future. It’s been kind of quiet since the funeral, and that’s fine.”

“Uh-hunh. So you’ve told me about everything around you. How are YOU?”

“I’m …sad, Akira. I’m still sad.” This was Akira, Lilly’s sister. Could he open up to her? Maybe a little. She had lost almost as much.

“My life with Lilly was… charmed, and I knew it even before it went away. Everything worked just the way we planned. She got her teaching position right out of college, so I could afford to go to graduate school. We bought the little house and I got the university job I wanted. Mostly, we were so… content with each other. I felt like I had everything I wanted, at a ridiculously early age. It’s gone now, and I understand that. I know I have to move forward and I am, but some days, those steps come slowly. Most days.”

“Yeah. I know.”

“Once I told you I was an expert at looking pathetic, and I still haven’t lost the touch.”

“Balls. Did you expect to dance right through this? Give yourself time and space. The last thing you need is to get down on yourself.”

“That’s hard too. I see myself moping and I know I shouldn’t. I can’t help it. I tried to move some of Lilly’s stuff and…,” he coughed to avoid choking up, “I couldn’t.”

“Too much, too soon, Hisao. You need more time and more space.”

“Yeah, I guess. Now you be straight with me. How are you doing?"

Akira exhaled into the phone for a full five seconds. “It threw me, Hisao, it really did. I was still really angry when we came back for the funeral. I calmed down, but if you ever decide to sue the bastard in the Lexus, I will send you enough legal talent to have him shot at sunrise. Yeah, I’m calmer now. I know, because the hubby has stopped creeping around the edges of the house like a lizard. But it’s still not okay.

I raised her, you know? All the stuff she did, all the things she got through, I felt I had a hand in that. Some people think that they are responsible for everything good their kids do and the kids themselves are responsible for all of the bad things. That’s garbage. Lilly was always going to be who she was. I just kept things out of her way, even the folks. Except maybe twice. But you know about that.

I’m like you, a little bit. Some days, it’s really on my mind. I have to watch that, because I tend to make bad decisions on those days. Other days, it stays in the background. After we got back from the funeral, I took a day off and sat on the beach. It was a nice day for Scotland – it only rained twice. I watched the sun come up and I nearly watched it go down again, just sitting there.

The question was ‘what am I gonna do about it’? That’s hard, because the obvious answer – nothing – just didn’t sit right. I was never good at doing nothing.

Lilly got along with everybody – well, almost everybody. But there were only a few people she really cared about. Those people are what’s left to me. So I’m going to care about them, just like I’d care about Lilly. It’s not the same, but it’s what I have. In one case, it’s no problem at all, because the guy is a prince. You know who I’m talking about.”

When he stopped making embarrassed noises into the phone, Hisao simply said “Thank you.”

“When you married Lilly, you inherited a big sister. The big sister is still there. I don’t know how much use a big sister is to a grown man, but she’s there.”

He said “Thank you” again, much more softly, almost shyly.

There was a pause before she started speaking again.

“Having said that, I have something to ask of you.”

“Okay.”

“The folks have decided to endow a gold medal at Yamaku Academy. It comes with a stipend that will get any kid through their first year in college and maybe more. Trust fund and all of that. Since it’s the folks, it’ll be called the Lilly Satou medal, not the Lilly Nakai medal. Gotta have their own name on it, right?” Akira’s voice had taken on a sarcastic edge.

“That’s okay. Your parents never really knew Lilly Nakai. They barely knew Lilly Satou.”

Akira guffawed. “That’s a great way to look at it. So sometime later in the spring, there’s going to be a great whacking ceremony at Yamaku to announce the endowment and unveil the medal. I’ll be there to do the presentation. We need a family look and since I hate these things, I’ll need somebody to help keep me sane. Can you come?”

Hisao stayed silent for a few seconds. That was the last thing he needed. But maybe by then, it would be better, and this was Akira asking. “Yes, I’ll come. If your folks want to commemorate Lilly Satou, fine. Lilly Nakai remains mine.”

“Thanks, Hisao. Doing this without an actual friend there would be too maudlin. And I need to see my little brother. It’s a big deal for me now.”

“I’d like to see you too, Akira. More than ever.”

“Hey, Hisao?”

“Yes?’

Akira hesitated briefly. “I heard you about being happy with Lilly. And I am really upset you can’t be with her anymore, even sadder than I am for myself, okay? But don’t turn Lilly into some kind of icon. I know. She could be prissy, and she could be a bit full of herself. She didn’t get angry often, but when she did, you didn’t want to be around her. If you give her a halo and wings, that makes it impossible to meet anyone else. You will always compare them to Saint Lilly. It’s not right, and it’s not fair to yourself. As much as I loved her, she was very, very human.”

Is that what he was doing?

“Akira, you know I listen to jazz, right?”

“Um, yeah. Lilly told me.”

“My favorite jazz piece is called Concierto. They brought together some great musicians, and each of them took a turn with the melody. It works because the mood and style of each solo fits with the rest. Apart, the musicians had terrible issues. One had drug problems for much of his life. When they made the song, another already had the lung cancer that killed him. But for twenty minutes, they played together in complete harmony with each other. Twenty minutes. Some people say it’s the best jazz ever.

Lilly and I had ten years together. Neither one of us was perfect, but we kept harmony for ten years. I miss Lilly and I miss the harmony. We knew and appreciated each other. Some people live without that for their whole lives. Once you’ve had it, it’s hard to go back to standing on the stage by yourself or with people who don’t truly know or care what music you play.”

Akira’s end of the call stayed silent for several seconds. “I understand. I’ll get back to you. Good night, Hisao,” she said finally. Her voice had slipped a half octave even lower and seemed to end with a slight sigh.

Part Two: http://ks.renai.us/viewtopic.php?f=52&t=6812#p115448
Last edited by Fardels on Wed Nov 05, 2014 12:07 am, edited 13 times in total.

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Kyvos
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Re: A Future - Part 1

Post by Kyvos » Wed Jul 25, 2012 1:25 pm

Well, the writing was good. You really portrayed the characters well and I could feel the emotions.
Why, though? Why did you write this? Why couldn't the good ending just end up with everything good? I know you're not the first person to do this sort of thing and I know you won't be the last, but why?
Lilly > Emi > Hanako > Shizune > Rin
100% get!

Bridgeport

Re: A Future - Part 1

Post by Bridgeport » Wed Jul 25, 2012 1:46 pm

For Kyvos -

Experience. Life among we evolved primates is rarely either amiable or tidy. We are much more primate than evolved. You may feel better about it after the other parts and the afterthoughts are posted. If nothing else, please read the afterthoughts. Thanks for getting this far.

PT

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Brogurt
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Re: A Future - Part 1

Post by Brogurt » Wed Jul 25, 2012 1:54 pm

Kyvos wrote: Why, though? Why did you write this? Why couldn't the good ending just end up with everything good? I know you're not the first person to do this sort of thing and I know you won't be the last, but why?
Because we here on the KS forums are grimdark loving gaylords.

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Re: A Future - Part 1

Post by ShinigamiKenji » Wed Jul 25, 2012 2:36 pm

Brogurt wrote:
Kyvos wrote: Why, though? Why did you write this? Why couldn't the good ending just end up with everything good? I know you're not the first person to do this sort of thing and I know you won't be the last, but why?
Because we here on the KS forums are grimdark loving gaylords.
But we always know it's gonna be good in the end... Or not.
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Xanatos wrote:Shinigami...Kenji. Oh, you poor guy. You have my sympathies. :lol: But at least with you around, our supple Japanese women won't be raped by lesbians. :mrgreen: ...Actually, that'd be pretty hot

:lol:
Avatar made by OtakuNinja. Yeah, it would be pretty badass if it happened, don't you think?

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LOL WUT
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Re: A Future - Part 1

Post by LOL WUT » Wed Jul 25, 2012 3:02 pm

DEM FEELS
And Some Manly Tears.
Xanatos I'm Sorry.
Xanatos wrote: I was totally going to include the leaf. Otherwise it's just a Ken(ji) doll because I can't model cocks from nothing.
Hello! Did I mention that I have a form of Arrythmia?
LOL WUT: I Am Feeling The Urge To Get More Posts Than You By The End Of The Year. May The Best Man Win
Xanatos: Bring it, Clifford.
JOIN US

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Re: A Future - Part 1

Post by TheSongofRaven » Wed Jul 25, 2012 7:48 pm

Don't know how to react this writing. It's feels........ sad and please make another part :3 I'll be waiting to read another one.

Ps : Somehow Hisao's loss of Lilly remind me of Craig Boone's story from Fallout : New Vegas :shock:
"I believe everything like horse race. When you are lose, simply ride the horse again and face any challange"
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Fardels
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A Future - Part 2

Post by Fardels » Thu Jul 26, 2012 7:39 am

Part Two: Lost in the Middle of My Years

Chapter 5 – Turned Tables


If he kept the physical therapy appointment, he’d miss the last half of the departmental meeting. That wasn’t a terrific idea for a professor who still hadn’t been tenured, but a heart attack in the middle of a class wouldn’t earn you any points, either. He explained the situation to Chairman Nakamura, who nodded briefly with a sympathetic grunt. Nakamura must really like him; between Lilly’s death and his medical problems, he had missed an awful lot of meetings.

Dr. Yamato really knew what he was talking about – the physical therapy building was precisely three blocks from the university. That might count toward his walking requirement. He’d decided to do the walking – swimming or weightlifting just weren’t him. About halfway through the meeting, Nakamura asked for a quick recess. Several people bolted the room, and Nakamura smiled vaguely in Hisao’s direction. Hisao unobtrusively and gratefully slipped toward the door.

He peered out the glass doors in front of the building. It would have been a good plan if the first of the great spring rains hadn’t started today. Water poured out of the sky and winds whipped it around, ensuring that anybody who went outside would be soaked through by the time they went in again. Hisao had an umbrella, but all that would do was keep his hair dry – the wind was too strong.

He was wet to his knees by halfway down the first block. By the second, he felt the rain soaking through the back of his sport jacket, a thick herringbone that had come from Scotland in the early days of their marriage, courtesy of Lilly. By the time he reached the therapy building, he was cold and waterlogged almost to his shoulders.

Hisao didn’t walk in the entrance so much as he dove through it. He stood in the hall for a microsecond, noting that he was ten minutes late. There was a small sign labeled “Registration” on a doorway to the left – that must be the first stop. He took two quick steps in that direction and then some object stopped his progress, immobilizing him from his chest down. He couldn’t keep his balance and heavily to the floor as the object yelled “Hey!” in a loud and aggrieved voice.

Hisao had fallen on his stomach unhurt, just stunned. He looked quickly to the right, toward the object that had taken him down. He saw a gym shoe, and a sock and above that, a leg, plausibly human had it not been for the faint shine of hard plastic. Embarrassment washed over him – he had collided with somebody who had lost their leg. He rose to his knees, and noticed that the other leg was a twin to the first. Great. He had tumbled over somebody who had lost both legs. He turned in the direction of the body. Even better. He had knocked down a woman who had lost both her legs.

A heartfelt apology probably wouldn’t mean much, but he started his anyway. He got about five words into it when he stopped. The woman was smiling at him somewhat sarcastically, but also with great amusement.

“I guess you owed me that,” she said in a wistful voice.

“Wha..?” he replied. He had never been clever when disoriented.

The smile grew broader. “Collect yourself, Hisao. Right now, you remember about as well as you walk.”

Okay. Short woman, around his age and pretty, straight light brown hair to below the shoulders, big smile, huge green eyes. Nope. No connection. Wait. What if you changed that hairstyle to twin tails?

“Emi? Emi Ibarazaki?”

“Okay, you can think again. Let’s see if you can stand.” He rose unsteadily from his knees to his feet. He exhaled and dusted himself off, although most of the dust still clung to his wet clothing. It took a few seconds before he noticed that Emi was still sitting on the floor, smiling up at him. This time, the edge had returned and strengthened.

“Hey, if you’re going to bowl people over, the least you could do is help them up!”

Hisao offered her a hand, enough leverage to allow to her get to her feet. He stammered stupid apologies and he knew it, but he wasn’t used to knocking people to the ground. After he’d said the same thing three times, she quieted him. They spent perhaps five minutes saying how glad they were to see each other, and all those things that people from a past lifetime say. Hisao looked at the clock again. Nearly twenty minutes late now. One more pleasantry, then he would break it off. He probably had another set of apologies to issue to the therapist.

“Emi, I’m here for my first appointment. Do you come here too? At Yamaku, you did your own workouts.”

Her smile grew a little fishhook on one side. “Yeah, I’m pretty much here every day. But I work here now. And I have a patient who is way late. A college professor who needs to start to walk. Sanely, I mean. I was on my way out to see if I could find him. At least I accomplished that.”

Chapter 6 – Flashback to Reality

Lilly wore her winter coat, the navy blue one that came almost to her knees, with the wide belt wrapped tightly around the waist. She had her round white knitted hat on, and her pale yellow skirt showed under the coat. She wore white gloves and had a white scarf wrapped around her neck. Her thick blonde hair cascaded down beside the coat collar. It wasn’t as long as it was in high school, but it was still graceful and well-kept. Hisao smiled to himself. If a woman wears winter clothes, that’s how she should look.

“I’m going to the book shop,” she said. "My order from last month is finally in. I still miss Yuuoko so. She could always get things quickly…”

Hisao flew into a panic. “No, don’t do that. You’ll get hit by a car!”

“It’s time for mid-term assessments, too. I’ll probably work on those when I get back.”

“Can’t you hear me? Don’t go! You won’t come back!”

Lilly turned toward the door, the pale yellow skirt sweeping around her ankles. “Oh, will you please boil some water for me in about an hour? I should be almost back by then, and I’ll have some tea to warm me. I’ll see if the grocer has those crackers we like.” She smiled back at him, that brilliant familiar smile that encapsulated their relationship.

“No! Don’t!” He lunged toward her, and didn’t move an inch. His legs, his arms, nothing worked.

He watched in horror as she found the door with her cane, opened it, and walked through. The door closed with a soft click. With that click, he knew she had gone forever. That knowledge surged through his system like a giant wave, and it was enough to wake him. The bed was a rumpled mess, and his bedclothes were wet with a cold sweat. Tears streamed down his cheeks.

It took him thirty seconds to collect himself. Why did I have to go there? What’s the point? For one thing, it wasn’t like that – I was teaching the day she died. They pulled me out of class to get to the hospital. I only knew how she was dressed by what was missing from her closet. They wouldn’t show me her clothes – they just had me identify the body. That was bad enough – why this melodrama?

He spent the three hours until sunrise thinking about it – not the dream, but why he dreamed it.

His problems surrounded him, and he used them like a wall, to keep other people away. Other people couldn’t feel his pain. Well, so what? He couldn’t feel theirs either. And now his problems were strong enough to feed on themselves, creating hallucinations and nightmares. What if he’d acted that way when he first met Lilly? Would she have ever been anything more than polite? Stupid. The problem wasn’t that Lilly went away, the problem was that Hisao had. He had lost Hisao too.

He couldn’t do anything about Lilly, but he could recover Hisao. Hisao was a bespectacled academic with a short timeline and a recent tragedy, but that was better than whatever it is he’d become. Maybe he needed to go back to Yamaku for awhile – he’d forgotten the things he learned there.

Chapter 7 – A Little Mending

Dear Elder Sister –

The attached box contains the cross and chain that Lilly always wore. She told me it was given to her on her confirmation. It is dear to me, but so much of Lilly still surrounds me. I would like you to have it in her memory.

The spring rains are slowing, and the hillside at the back of our house is becoming green. If it follows other years, the grass will be followed by small purple flowers, extending back to the trees. We used to sit on the small balcony, Lilly and I. I would watch them, and she would listen to the wind rustle through them and smell their fragrance. It was a special time for us. I hope you can see it someday.

When we talked last, I said something about Lilly Nakai belonging to me. That was dumb and selfish, and you are the last person I should have said it to. Lilly belonged to Lilly, as you had already pointed out. Lilly Nakai was as bright a light in your life as mine.

I am better than I was. A wise woman told me about her resolution to care about the people that Lilly cared about. That was not only a good decision, it was great advice. I am going to take it.

As soon as you know, please tell me when you will arrive in Japan. If at all possible, stay a little extra time with your younger brother. It will be the best of the spring for me.

With love and respect,
Hisao


He was never quite awake in the early morning and never would be, but he would walk at sun-up today. He dressed, did his pre-walk stretching (an exercise that the insistent and supportive Emi Ibarazaki demanded) and headed toward to forest next to the field behind his house. Early mornings were still cool this time of year, and he put the nylon jacket over the sweatshirt.

Halfway up the hill, he slowed and then stopped. He looked at the ground, then up at the sky. His face fell into That Look again. Slowly, that look changed, just a little – the brows lowered and something like determination appeared on the face.

He reversed course and headed around the house toward town. He walked as he had been taught – more slowly and powerfully up grades, faster and with less effort down them – just like the gears on a twelve-speed bike.

The walk required only a few minutes. The street was empty and the shops were shuttered – it was too early for them to open. When he reached the bookshop, he stopped and peered down the street. The grocer was there, down a block further and across the street. He walked on. Half a block further, he stopped again. He checked the street signs briefly. Yes, this was the one.

It was an utterly common crosswalk. The signs, the chipped paint, and the traffic light were standard and featureless, like the cafeteria or his dorm room at Yamaku. The breeze picked up briefly and the sun began to shine on the awnings of the silent shops.

He felt nothing. Not numb, he just didn’t respond.

He’d avoided this part of town before now, doing his shopping nearer the university. That was rather inane, because they’d moved here to be close to the shops as well as the hillside.

The breeze came up again and ruffled his hair. He looked down the street again. He had about two miles more to do this morning. He’d head toward the university and come back this way. The grocer would probably be open by the time he returned – he’d pick up some of those crackers that they both enjoyed so much. He exhaled slowly and began walking toward the large towers that marked the university in the distance.

Hey Hisao-

I got your e-mail suggesting changes to the medal program. If you think you can pull it off, that’s the way we’ll do it. I’ve been contemplating a small change myself, but it’s going to make my life way complicated. I need to think about it more.

The package came last night. I like whiskey, but that’s the first time I’ve ever needed one. Can’t tell you what it means to me. That cross cost me most of my first paycheck.

Akira


“We’ll take care of the books and tapes you gave us, Professor Nakai. We liked and respected your wife here, students and faculty. We’ve cleared a space in the library, and we’ll put up a sign, The Lilly Nakai Collection.”

“Headmaster, Lilly would just want her books to be well used. Just make sure that the students who need them can get to them.”

“It’s funny, Professor. Most students really don’t care for studying English. But there are always a few who really love it. Those are the students who’ll use the collection, and those are the students who thought the most of her. I think it will work out fine.”

(beep)…”Hanako, this is Hisao. I have a really big favor to ask. I’d like to talk to you about it in person. Let me know when you will be back in town, and we’ll have lunch…”

Hisao looked in the closet. There were the small collection of the dresses she wore for teaching, the blouses, the sweaters… At the very end, what was that? The peach off-the-shoulder top she wore in high school. He’d bet it still fit her. He blinked twice and shut the closet door. Nope – he wasn't ready to do this yet. Maybe next week.

Chapter 8 – A Grave Man

He didn’t like to come here, but he was invested in it. Lilly’s parents wanted to build some mausoleum in Scotland, and he wasn’t having that. Akira had served as the go-between, but he could sense the tension behind her diplomatic proposals. Lilly would stay in Japan, where she belonged – that had always been the point. The whole thing was ridiculous – underneath, Akira agreed with him anyway.

So he came to the small cemetery beside the financial district. Sometimes he brought flowers, pointless as that was – this time, some of the flowers from the hill behind the house. The grave was small and the setting was quiet, away from the street. It probably wasn’t up to Satou standards, but it replicated in some faint way the life they have lived together. The house was small and quiet, and their lives had been small and quiet. And inexpressibly beautiful.

He fussed with the grave as he always did, removing leaves and bits of dried grass. He always felt better when it was neat. The first few visits, the memories flooded back, increasing his aversion to the place. Now there was nothing. He never talked to her, because she couldn’t hear him. He didn’t grieve or remember, because he had done far too much of that already. The grave simply commemorated the woman he’d loved.

When the grave was tidy, he stood beside it for a few minutes, listening to the wind blow softly through the leaves of the large oak growing in back of the grave. Then he turned and walked slowly down the path that led back to the car.
The path curved around a small hill with headstones on both sides. As he rounded the curve, he saw a woman turn from a grave a little ahead of him and walk ahead of him toward the parking lot. She had only taken three or four steps before he realized that her gait and form were quite familiar. He increased his pace.

“Emi?”

“Hisao! What are you doing here?” He had never seen that face on Emi before – sharp, a little hard even. Not really glad to see him.

He jerked his head backwards toward the direction he came from. “Lilly.” Her face softened immediately. “Oh.” She pointed to the grave she had just left. “My dad.” There wasn’t really much to say, and they started down the path together.

At the physical therapy sessions, Emi was demanding, but she was always good company. Her comments and compliments were always interspersed with random observations, small jokes, and wisecracks. This was different, and he didn’t care much for the difference. Maybe he could get the mood back to where it belonged. He decided to try an old pickup line.

“Come here often?”

That earned him a wry grin from Emi, but her face fell again.

“Not so much. You?”

“Nah. Every now and then.”

She glanced up at him, and he caught an unexpected look, like when she was trying to tell whether he was doing his exercises right. It left her face when she saw him look her way. All of a sudden, she continued.

“My dad died in the car accident that crushed my legs. For a long time, I came here on the anniversary of the accident. It was a big deal – I got pretty wrought up about it when the day got close. I vowed not to let anyone get as close to me as he was. Now I just visit when the mood strikes me, to remind myself of him, you know? I got over his death, but he’s a pretty big part of my past.”

Hisao nodded. “That’s the way it should be, I think. I hope I’m headed in that direction. I don’t mourn Lilly much anymore, but she’s really a big part of who I used to be. I only stopped being that person a little while ago. The death changed me. I can look forward now, but that’s a recent development. There’s a ceremony for her at Yamaku next week. After that, I can start to figure out what to do next.”

“Yeah. Things happen.”

“They do. And sooner or later, your life takes over again, and you live in the present. If you do it right. I had a lot of trouble with that part.”

Emi winced a little. “Looking back on it, me too. I mean, I always have lived in the present, but I’d pack a year’s worth of grieving in that one visit. The annual melt-down. It’s been nineteen years now. There isn’t any point to an annual melt-down.”

“Yeah – there isn’t any point in carrying it around every day either. An annual melt-down would have been far better than what I did.”

They were close to the gates now, and Hisao really didn’t want to break off just yet. Emi’s mood seemed lighter, and that made him feel better.

“Hey Emi, want to go grab coffee someplace? You’ve made this a little better visit for me.”

“Oh! Sorry, Hisao, I just don’t feel like it. Another time, maybe?"

“Sure. I’ll make it a meal. We can sit somewhere and chat.”

“I’d like that, Hisao. Bye now.”

“Good bye, Emi.”

He thought about it on the way home. Maybe she’d gently flat rejected his company. Probably; he wasn't much fun to be with. It really didn’t matter, but he hoped not.
Last edited by Fardels on Wed Nov 19, 2014 9:51 am, edited 4 times in total.

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Fardels
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A Future - Part 3

Post by Fardels » Thu Jul 26, 2012 8:28 am

Part Three – The Big Day

Chapter 9 – Event Preparation


Once, a few years ago, Hisao visited his old house. Not the one his parents lived in now, but the one they had lived in when he was five. The house that had seemed a huge cavernous affair as a small child had shrunk, almost beyond recognition. The playground that was a five minute walk then was ten strides now, and the playground itself was a dinky affair instead of the vast field he remembered. He’d been away from Yamaku for ten years. As he drove up the hill, he wondered whether that too would shrink.

As he rounded the hill to the gate, one glance put that notion to rest. Yamaku was still full size, nearly the same size as the university. Ample grounds, large buildings, dormitories, and clusters of small labs and therapy buildings rose up to meet the eyes. It was the size of an American Ivy League university. He pulled his car into the visitors’ parking lot and walked slowly to the main administration building. The auditorium was there, and he had been asked to report to the chancellor’s office just down the hall. From his experience with classes, Hisao was used to audiences, but this one would be vast. The auditorium would be filled to near capacity – administration, faculty, staff, and the entire student body. Yamaku hadn’t stayed well-endowed by ignoring its benefactors. It was a flagship occasion, and it made him a little uncomfortable.

The front doors opened to the foyer directly in front of the auditorium. As he remembered, the foyer was perceptibly cooler than the outside and filled with the humming of blowing air from the massive air conditioning system on the roof. The chancellor’s office was down the hallway to the left of the auditorium, a hallway lined with a thick red carpet. When he was a student, a walk down that hallway was considered a prelude to disaster – the administration had caught you doing something, and the consequences were usually unpleasant. He had never taken that walk before.

He opened the double doors and walked in. The chancellor’s office was the size of a large classroom, and much more richly furnished. Today, the people who made Yamaku run stood in groups, waiting for guests of honor. He apparently fit that definition. The chancellor himself stepped forward to greet him, and he was passed from mover to shaker, planning directors, therapy administrators, board members, and other critical functionaries. Universities run the same way, and Hisao could perform “grip and grins” as well as anybody, but as he cleared the last handshake, he wished he could find somebody he knew. Akira clearly wasn’t there yet. Ah – there in the corner, he spotted a figure he recognized.

She once seemed almost as short as Emi Ibarazaki, but that was a long time ago. Hanako hadn’t grown, but her posture had straightened, and her shoulders were normally held, not slumped defensively forward. Hanako had matured a lot in ten years – he and Lilly had frequently mentioned it after Hanako’s visits to their home. She had travelled widely, written much, received awards, and been given respect. In many ways, she was the old Hanako, but for the public, she had developed a face that masked her remaining insecurities.

The new Hanako wore a jet black suit with a white blouse. The suit was somewhat like Akira’s but much more femininely cut to fit her figure. Her hairstyle was the same as the one she used years ago, but her hair had been brushed until it gleamed, and the ends folded toward her face in a stylish curve. Her eyes darted around the room, as they would have in past days, but the eyes showed analysis and assessment, not fear.

Her expression changed when she spotted Hisao walking toward her. She was clearly happy to see him, but there was something else there – relief? Sympathy? She stepped forward and hugged him tightly. He responded to the pressure of her face in his chest with the same tone of voice he used to use with her. “Hi, Hanako. I’m so glad to see you. I put a lot of pressure on you to do this. I’m glad you accepted.”

She looked up at him smiling. “I didn’t know if you would come either, Hisao. You were pretty upset.”

He nodded. “I was. I still am, somewhat. But I’m getting through it. Are you ready?”

Something like the old fear crossed her face, followed by a look of vague discontent.

“As ready as I’ll ever be. I never liked these things, but I got used to covering them, so it’s time to be part of one, I guess. I wouldn’t do it for anyone else, you know.”

She sighed and glanced around the room again to make sure no one was approaching them. “You and Lilly were my best friends even after Yamaku. You know how often Lilly and I talked. We could be thousands of miles away from each other, and her voice still felt like home to me, like she was right next door. I can deal with the silence now, but I don’t like it.”

“Lilly said the same thing about feeling like home when she talked to you. When you came to visit, it was like old times. It brightened her day whenever she read one of your pieces or heard about something you’d done. Me too. We hoped you’d visit more after you married Ichiro. Is he here today?”

She grinned shyly. “He’ll be here, somewhere in the audience. He makes me really happy, Hisao. I never thought I’d find someone like him. I don’t know what he sees in me.”

Hisao grinned. “I do. He told me once. He said that sometimes magicians wear bright red bowties. People focus on the tie so much that they never notice what the magician is doing. He said he was just the first one to notice the whole magician.”

She grinned again, almost to herself. “I can see him saying that…” She blushed and her eyes sparkled.

The door opened and Akira burst through, in her usual brusque fashion. She was visible for a few seconds, and then the cream of Yamaku converged on her. If he was a guest of honor, she was the guest of honor. Hisao shook his head. He didn’t envy her. She worked through the greetings in her best business manners, and then indicated that she wanted to talk to Hisao and Hanako. The Yamaku officials melted away enough for a path to clear, and she sidled up to them.
“Everybody having fun?” she asked. There wasn’t a hint of irony in her voice, but both of them knew her too well. Hisao looked closer. She looked tired. He had seen her angry, irritated, motivated, happy and sad. He had never seen her tired before. Maybe it was the plane ride. The lines under Akira’s eye were distinct now, and her eyes seemed a bit more bloodshot. Like Hisao, she had acquired a pair of glasses over the years, and they seemed to highlight the weariness. Akira approached Not Being Young Anymore, and the pace of her life and work seemed to wear on her a bit more now.

“I despise these things, I really despise these things,” she whispered. “I made a list of reasons why I hate the guy in the Lexus. This goes on it. Number 26, I think. It’s not the biggest one, but it goes on the list. For a microsecond, she scrunched up her face and then it assumed her normal business-neutral look. “Excuse me, I’m a little thirsty.” She headed toward the table where the bottled water sat in iced buckets.

Hisao and Hanako stared at each other briefly. She’s still grieving too, Hisao thought. All this is bringing it back for her. And she’s trying to do it alone. That won’t work for her any better than it worked for me.

Akira walked back to them, the picture of self-control. “Hey, did you leave some time for me?" Hisao asked.

“Some, yeah. Is your hillside still in bloom?”

“A little past peak, but it’ll give you the idea. Why don’t we get this over with, and then you and I will head back to town. I laid in supplies, including some that are twelve years old. We need a quiet evening, both of us.”

“Sounds great, Hisao. Thanks. You gonna do one of your special meals?”

“Yep. You’re my excuse. Cooking gets old after awhile, and you hate to go to much trouble just for yourself. For you, I can do things I’d be embarrassed to cook for me alone.”

“Dunno if you’re trying to me feel better, but you are. Thanks, Hisao.”

“Aaah, little brothers can’t be pests all of the time.”

Then it was time. They walked to the auditorium, surrounded by the best of Yamaku.

Chapter 10 – Cripples

The chancellor stood at the lectern and introduced the guests of honor, who sat in a set of chairs to the left. The eminences of Yamaku sat to the right. For the guests, Akira, Hisao and Hanako, it almost resembled an oral exam, except in front of the entire school. After some thoughts about the goodness and wisdom of the gift, the chancellor announced that the benefactors would like to make some remarks. He turned and smiled at the guests. The guest speaker arose, her beautifully brushed hair framing her face, and walked to the lectern.

“M-m-my name is Hanako Nishimura. I am a graduate of Yamaku Academy – at the time I was here, my name was Hanako Izekawa. The Satou Foundation asked to me tell you something about the award they have endowed.
When I was here, my best friend was Lilly Satou. Although she was born without sight, Lilly became my friend and guide. Although she had her own problems and difficulties, she stopped to help me with mine. I owe Lilly Satou a debt I can never repay.

Here at Yamaku, we learned to deal with our problems, compensate for our problems, and live with our problems. Lilly not only did that, but she helped those around her. She was gracious and kind and gentle with almost everyone she met. And she directly helped many of the other students. As the result of her efforts, many Yamaku graduates have gone on to live rich, satisfying lives. I am one of many.

After she left Yamaku, she married Professor Hisao Nakai, another graduate, who is also with us today.” Hanako turned her head slightly to smile at Hisao. “She went to teach English on at the Northern Humanities Academy and was a popular and well-respected member of the faculty there.” Hanako’s voice had become stronger and her tone more confident. Her brow lost the fear that it had shown. “After she left Yamaku, she learned a lesson that we all have learned, one that you must learn too. As Lilly Nakai, she learned to deal with cripples.” The word sucked all of the air out of the room.

“When you leave Yamaku, you too will have to deal with cripples. Their ailments come in many varieties: anger, greed, and inability to concentrate. Drug use, alcoholism, vanity, ignorance, and despair. The list goes on. Despite having whole bodies and minds, these people cannot function as happy, creative members of society. That’s what a cripple is.

Here at Yamaku, you have developed your personal resources to deal with your problems. You’ve had to. You have been trained to overcome or compensate for your problems. Yamaku has provided a refuge for you while you did these things. The cripples have had none of these advantages. There is no special school for their problems. I ask you to do three things.

First, understand their problems. Try to be kind and encourage them. But understand too that you cannot solve their problems for them. Only they can do that. There are times when you must back off and let them work it out for themselves. They cannot grow unless they do.

Second, understand that many of these ailments are contagious. Anger begets anger and ignorance begets ignorance. Because your physical limitations have required it, you have developed fortitude, patience, and problem-solving abilities that the cripples never dreamed of. If you do not use those abilities, you run the risk of catching their diseases. You must fall back on your own resources to avoid them.

Third, you must understand that there are many situations in which you will be crippled too. I cannot fix an automobile, or speak Russian, or supervise a nuclear collider. I don’t know how. Fortunately there are those who do. You will be placed in many situations where you don’t know the right answer. Some of them will be beyond your capabilities to solve. You must reach out to those who have those skills.

There are even situations where everyone is crippled – nobody can solve the problem or compensate for it. Lilly Nakai was run down by an automobile in a crosswalk. There is no fix, no compensation for that. Lilly is gone, taking something from each of us who knew her.

Today I announce the Lilly Award, a gold medal and scholarship for the senior student who best exemplifies her characteristics and achievements. It is called the Lilly Award because it honors the characteristics of both Lilly Nakai and Lilly Satou. The award also carries responsibilities. If Lilly was still with us, there would be no award. You will be expected to act as she would if she was still alive. That will not be an easy task.

Thank you.”

The room stayed silent for precious seconds. Then several of the faculty arose and clapped. They were followed by the rest of the faculty and staff. They all stood. The seniors followed and the applause swelled. As it reached an apex, a student in the far corner started to cheer. Then a second, then all of them. Hanako stood in the middle of the stage, her black suit and hair contrasting with the light wood and white background, making her appear smaller. After her words finished, she looked like the Hanako of old, frightened and hesitant. As the applause swelled, her expression turned to determination and then to satisfaction. She turned slightly to look at Hisao again. The smile on her face radiated warmth. She turned to the audience and bowed deeply. They cheered louder. When the applause finally dies down, she continued.

“Now, I call upon Professor Hisao Nakai and Akira Satou Ishihara, Chief Operating Officer of the Satou Foundation, to unveil blowups of the medal.” Hisao turned to look at Akira. Her face was her business face, stern and impassive, but a single tear dribbled from her eye. He never thought he’d live to see Akira cry.

They shuffled to the center of the stage, where two card-table size ovals hid beneath sheets. They each took one of the sheets and removed them simultaneously.

Hisou didn’t know what he expected – maybe something like they used to do with Lenin – a stern face, plastic and expressionless, with the neck sawn off at the bottom. His oval showed Lilly Satou, the Lilly he had first known. She had that serene expression, the calming smile, the open friendliness that became so familiar to him. The ribbon in her carefully brushed hair and on the uniform were both there. Her hair was held back and tied just as it had been in school days. She seemed to sit before a window, with sunlight streaming in behind her to illuminate her. She sat in three quarters profile, her form extending to the very bottom of the medal.

Akira’s oval showed Lilly Nakai, the Lilly who he had married. He recognized the pose – it had been taken from a photo he snapped just before Lilly died. He had sent a copy to Akira. This was a Lilly with slightly shorter, more stylish hair, a Lilly whose expression showed warmth and skill and confidence. The setting was at night, with stars dotting the sky around her. They almost filled the sky – there wasn’t much space between any of them.

Not long before, the depictions of Lilly would have destroyed his composure. That same horrible lump was still in his chest, but he could deal with it. There were two faces to the medal, but no indication of which was the front and which was the reverse. It didn’t really matter, because they were both Lilly. Two sides of the same coin.

As they walked back to our seats, Akira mumbled to Hisao, “Okay, I get this place. Now I get it.”

Hisao thought for a moment. “Akira, the medal is terrific. Who made it?”

Akira grinned. “I found a guy named Kawase Sasaki. He did the work. From a design by Rin Tezuka. Remember that name? Sasaki couldn’t get here, but she’s supposed to be around somewhere tonight. Haven’t seen her though."

Chapter 11 – The Stars

He had a hunch. He left the auditorium and went over the main building. He walked up the stairs, using the slow and powerful steps that Emi had taught him. When he reached the roof, the door was slightly open. Score one for Hisao.
She wasn’t hard to find, even at dusk. Her hair was little longer and she was a little more carefully dressed, but not much. She heard him crunching across the gravel of the rooftop and swiveled slightly to meet him.

“Hisao.”

“Hi, Rin. Thought I’d find you here.” No response. “What are you doing?”

“Looking at the sky. The stars are beginning to come out.”

“Rin, Akira told me you did the design for Lilly’s award. Thank you.”

She nodded, and for a moment, a fleeting grin crossed her face. Well, that’s more response than he would have gotten ten years ago. They stayed there for awhile, watching the sun set and the stars ignite in the sky. For lack of anything better, his curiosity led him to a question.

“Rin, what do you see when you look at the stars?”

She stayed silent for several seconds. “Funny you should ask. Kawase and I talked about the same thing when we did the medal. I looked in a book. It said the light from the stars comes from a long time ago, right?”

“That’s true, Rin. Most stars are light years away, and it takes a long time to get here."

“And it said that the stars are running away from us, right?”

“Yep. They’re travelling away at a pretty face pace.”

“When Kawase sees the stars, he thinks about the future. But if the stars were the future, we’d be colliding with them all of the time. They’d be moving toward us, not away. I can’t agree with Kawase. He’s my… friend. But maybe the stars are the past. Something that went away, something we can’t ever get back to.”

“I understand that, Rin, all too well.”

“Maybe the dots of light, those are the happy times, the ones we remember. The darkness is the time between, the ones we have forgotten, or want to forget. Whichever, the lights move away.”

“Then where’s the future, Rin?”

“The future is in the ground.”

“That’s a little morbid, isn’t it?”

Rin shook her head. “No, I don’t mean graves. I mean you excavate the future from the stuff you have at hand, like the soil. You have to work at it. If you don’t create it, you fall into it eventually, and it doesn’t fit well. It makes you sad and uncomfortable.”

“Yeah. Sometimes you fall into it anyway.”

Rin shrugged. “As long as you can still dig…”

Yeah.

They fell silent again. Eventually he caught Rin’s attention enough to wave goodbye to her and started down the stairs. He looked back at the lonely figure on the roof as he closed the door. He wished he’d understood her better ten years ago.

Chapter11 – Aftermath

Akira looked around the house. “You made some changes.”

Hisao nodded as he poured two fingers of the 12-year-old whiskey onto the glass. “Yeah. The things that… used to belong to Lilly went to places that could use them. The books went to where she used to teach and so on.”

“Good. That’s good,” Akira replied. She lapsed into an exhausted silence. Hisao brought the glass to her and she took a sip. “Good stuff, Hisao. Thank you.”

“I need to start doing the vegetables, but I’m listening in the kitchen if you want to talk.”

“Okay.”

Akira lapsed into a silence. After about ten minutes, she spoke to the general area of the kitchen. “Hey, Hisao. That stuff that Hanako said about “normal” people…

He grinned. “Yeah?”

“Does she really believe that?"

“I don’t know. But it’s certainly a different way to look at it. And it caught her audience – that’s what all the cheering was about. The things that she said about being patient and kind, practically every student has heard them, except the students were the subject, not other people. An awful lot of people at Yamaku were persuaded that they needed pity before they got there. Hanako was one of them.”

“Yeah, well she sure made her point.” Akira took another sip of whiskey. More silence.

“How are you doing?”

“I’m doing fine. The vegetables are almost done and I’m working on the salmon.”

“Not that.”

“Oh! I’m doing all right. The pieces are mostly back together, and I’m starting to feel like I survived.”

“Great. Dating yet?”

“Nah. I’m not ready. And I haven’t found anyone I’d want to go out with. Well, maybe one, but she’s not interested and like I said....”

“Uh-hunh.”

“Same question back, Akira. And how are you doing?”

“Aaaah, every time I think I have it beat, it sneaks up behind me again. I used to stay busy so I didn’t think about it much. Now it sneaks up on me even if I’m busy. I almost screwed up a meeting last week. Had to hide in the bathroom until it passed. I think about it, and then I get emotional. Bad business tactic.”

“Yeah. Anybody talking with you about this? You don’t call here, but that’s understandable.”

“The last thing you need is me calling you about Lilly’s death, Hisao. It would mess both of us up.”

“Maybe. I got through the worst of it with a lot of help from people like Hanako. And my elder sister, of course. But I got my help. Who are you using?”

“I’m using me, Hisao. There isn’t anyone else. My parents are busy looking noble in the midst of the family tragedy. I had a very ugly conversation with my father about renaming the medal –he almost fired me. When my beloved Geo senses that I have the accident on my mind, he stays out of my way. Geo’s thing is microchips and software. He a sweet guy and I love him, but I can’t really talk to him about this. He didn’t know Lilly all that well.”

“So basically, you’re out there alone. I don’t know, Akira. Is that really the best thing?”

“You’re probably right, but it’s what I have.”

Hisao sighed. “The first time I was in the hospital, one of the nurses came to visit fairly often. She’d talk about the weather, what’s in the newspapers, her family, anything. I think she was almost as lonely as I was. About the only thing I remember from all of those conversations was her being upset over a child dying on the operating table. She said the most horrible pain of all was of a parent burying a son or a daughter. You don’t have the same thing, but you come close. You raised her. Maybe you need to discuss this with somebody. Maybe you’re selling Geo short.”

“Like I said, he really doesn’t know much. He didn’t even know Lilly that well.”

“Yeah, but Akira, he knows you pretty well, right?”

“I guess. We usually get along better than most.”

“And he’s seen you bounce off the walls every so often for the last few months, right?”

“That he has. I kind of snarled at him just after the accident, and he’s left it alone since.”

“So he’s already in it, Akira. He just doesn’t know what he’s involved in. Maybe it’s time to open up. Maybe he can make you feel better and maybe he can’t, but he’ll feel better being informed. And Geo’s pretty sharp. Just talking to him about it has to help. I tried to get through it all by myself, and I just made it worse. Having someone there helped. That elder sister conversation couldn’t have come at a better time.”

Akira looked thoughtful for a moment and stayed silent. Finally she gave her head a quick tilt to the right. “Maybe.”

After dinner, they sat on the balcony. The moon shined on the hill behind the house, glinting on the purple blooms. Akira wasn’t that much of a nature lover, but she seemed mesmerized by the peace and beauty of the scene. After awhile, she grunted and rose from her chair. “Gotta go, Hisao. It was all terrific – thanks. It’s time to get on the phone with the microchip guy I live with. I think we need to have a long talk.”

Part 4: http://ks.renai.us/viewtopic.php?f=52&t ... 15#p115636
Last edited by Fardels on Wed Nov 19, 2014 9:52 am, edited 3 times in total.

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theartificial
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Re: A Future - Part 3

Post by theartificial » Thu Jul 26, 2012 8:53 am

Hey, I think you should put this ongoing story in one topic and add to it there, instead of making a new topic for each part.
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Re: A Future - Part 3

Post by Fardels » Thu Jul 26, 2012 9:58 am

For TheArtificial:

I started to do that, but the story runs about 16K words. The admins warn against overlong posts. Also, doing it this way allows me to post things I have done an edit on while I am still editing the back sections. If anybody wants, I'll see if they will allow me to post the entire story after I get Part 4 and the Afterthoughts out. I like the idea.

Thanks!

P. T. Bridgeport

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Re: A Future - Part 3

Post by theartificial » Thu Jul 26, 2012 10:03 am

You could make them separate posts on the same topic, like most of the other writer's do. But I do see why you chose this method of posting your story.
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Re: A Future - Part 3

Post by TheSongofRaven » Thu Jul 26, 2012 10:22 am

Excellent story part mate. Can't wait for part 4. Hope Hisao get better ending. Because.....i think everyone deserve happy ending :D
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Re: A Future - Part 3

Post by Breaker deGodot » Thu Jul 26, 2012 1:41 pm

As much as I'm enjoying this story (and it is excellent), I can't fathom your reasoning behind making a new thread for each part. Is that really necessary?
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For Breaker DeGodot

Post by Fardels » Thu Jul 26, 2012 3:10 pm

If I had it to do over, I'd probably do it the way you suggest. See my answer to the same suggestion above.

Longer answer:
I decided to start posting before I did the final edit. Since I have the same amount of reality to deal with as anyone else, I thought that there might be a week or more between posts. That would mean that posting sections in the same thread would have the sections interrupted by comments on the last post. I thought it would be easier and more intelligible if I just opened a new thread for each section. As it happens, I have been able to get to the final edit more quickly than I thought (so far). I have also noticed some places in this thread where my editing broke down, but that's my problem.

Assuming I continue to have time to get through the final edit of the last two bits, I will post them as one thread, two posts, as you say. Based on the comments, I will then open a new thread and post all sections in sequential posts, based on the comments here.

I'm glad you are enjoying the story, even with the posting issues.

PT

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