Re: Hanako's Story (UPDATED 09/05/2013)
Posted: Thu May 09, 2013 5:39 pm
Hopefully it's been worth the wait, apologies for leaving the next update for this long. Full time work doesn't leave a massive amount of time to write, when I have thee inclination to do so in the first place (some days, after all, I'm sure everyone understands that writing isn't really what we feel like doing after a long day at work... particularly when dealing with some of the people I have to deal with xD). Anyhow, here it is, at long last. Enjoy!
Act 3 – Chapter Six: Plaster and Porcelain (Part 1)
It's the night of the party, sort of, to celebrate the one day I don't feel like celebrating. Not to mention Lilly's going-away, which I'd rather not be reminded of. Even so, I find it hard to stay depressed. I'm with friends, and I feel like I'm finally recovering at least somewhat from the other day, when I had the breakdown in class. I still haven't returned to lessons, but maybe tomorrow I'll be up to it. Possibly. It depends a lot on what happens tonight, and although I've heard stories from Lilly I haven't experienced so much myself the kind of fun that happens when Akira turns up to an event. Lilly told me she probably wouldn't be coming though, since she wouldn't be able to get away from work and make it here in time. Still, it'll be nice to spend some time with Lilly and Hisao together, and in a rather ironic twist it will, definitely, help me focus less on the hardest day of my year.
A knock on the door drags me away from my thoughts, as Lilly calls out, “Is that you, Hisao?”
“Yeah, it's me,” comes the reply, and I rise to unlock the door and let him in. He enters as I quickly return to my place on the floor opposite Lilly, smiling briefly at him as he walks in. Hisao locks the door behind him, without needing to be asked. Rather perceptive really. He sits on the floor between us, on one side of the low table where our evening tea is already set up. I can't help but notice him steal a few glances at the plain brown bag next to Lilly, but if he can tell what's inside he doesn't give it away. Which is a shame, really. I have even less idea than he does, and I'd like to know myself, but if Lilly doesn't want us to know yet then I guess it's her decision.
“Hey, Lilly?” asks Hisao. She finishes her own drink before replying in the affirmative. Hisao continues, “I was just wondering about that brown bag...”
How cheeky he is! I wouldn't have dared to ask of my own accord, but Lilly smiles a little in a playful manner, in the direction of his voice, before answering. “That would be Akira's present. Unfortunately she said she was working and can't join us.” Nevertheless, she reaches a hand into the bag and feels around a little before pulling two long necked items from its depths.
“Wine...” I comment, realising now why Lilly was so adamant about the door being locked. She must have known already, considering she knows full well what Akira is like (more so than I do, naturally). The bottles are full and still sealed, one red and one white, as she places them both on the table between us all.
“Alcohol? Seriously? Are you sure this is a good idea?” I'm almost surprised that Hisao would be so considerate of the rules at Yamaku, more so than Lilly, who fails to hide her apparent joy as she laughs at the 'present'. A present for who exactly?
“These would be the presents from my sister. I know it's a bit questionable, but a little shouldn't hurt.” I know that Lilly has had alcohol before, she mentioned to me once that she's occasionally partaken the odd glass with a meal, but now I'm starting to think she wasn't being entirely honest. She seems far too happy that Akira decided two bottles of wine would be an appropriate present for a soon-to-be eighteen year old. Maybe if we weren't in Japan, it would be fine, but if the faculty were to find out, missing lessons would be the least of my worries.
Unfortunately, Hisao also seems a bit eager to break the rules. I'm hardly a stickler for following the rulebook, certainly not to Shizune levels, but there are still limits. “Well, in that case, I won't complain,” he says. “They don't look bad, either.”
I have to concede, he has a point.
“Shall I open one?” asks Lilly, leaning forwards.
“Sure,” Hisao replies, “I'll get some...”
BANG. BANG. BANG. Sorry, that was the best way I could really say it. I think. Three loud knocks suddenly come from Lilly's door, shocking us enough that I swiftly turn my head to see what's happening, while Lilly closes her eyes (not that there's much need, I guess) and listens for any further sound. “Who is it?” she calls. A familiar voice answers with the slightest, barest hint of a Scottish accent.
“Lemme in, I'm cold!”
Lilly sighs in a sort of defeated, yet pleased, resignation, raising a hand to signal myself or Hisao to open the door. I rise and unlock it, not one hundred percent certain but still reasonably happy that the intrusion is from someone friendly, not the staff of Yamaku. As the door opens, a tall, blonde woman walks in, not so far into her twenties, wearing a dark suit that does little to enhance her feminine features. “Happy birthday, Hanako,” she greets me with as I move back to let her in.
“Th-thank you... Akira...” I bow slightly and smile at her weakly, happy to see her but also a bit nervous in anticipation of how the night is likely to continue. At least, according to Lilly's stories. Apparently Akira is a bit of a hard drinker, and the wine she provided is likely to help us along the same path tonight, albeit with a lower level of tolerance on our parts. We walk back to the table and take our seats, Akira sitting opposite Hisao.
“It's nice to have your company after all, Akira,” says Lilly. “Did work let you off?”
“Yep.” comes the reply. “I have to go back there in a bit, but I managed to get enough of a break to drive down.” As she speaks, Akira has a slightly odd look on her face, kind of pouting but endearing at the same time. When she finishes talking, she looks over at Hisao. I'm not sure what Lilly has said about him to her sister, but whatever has been mentioned I'm a little nervous, even if that's rather irrational. “So... this would be Hisao, then?” Maybe we should have warned him actually. Akira takes informality to new levels. Maybe it's the Western influence in her upbringing. While Lilly has clearly taken the Japanese influence and embraced it, Akira has always been more forward and happy to take a... less traditional approach to interacting with people. Regardless of the impression her suit gives.
While Hisao nods in response, Lilly directs her own comments to directly to him. “Sorry for not introducing you, Hisao. This is Akira Satou, my elder sister.”
“I see. Nice to meet you.” Upon hearing Hisao's reply, Akira claps her hands together loudly, making me jump a little. It's enough to make Akir hesitate, a small miracle in itself, before she carries on in her usual stride.
“Well then, I assume the presents got through?” Got through what? Yamaku isn't exactly renowned for its airport-like security and constant border patrols. “No point in waiting, considering Hisao and the birthday girl look like they're pretty eager.”
I wince a tiny bit at that word, though no-one seems to notice, and glance at Hisao. Opposite me Lilly giggles, while Hisao turns away. He's not exactly great at hiding his feelings on things, which for me is both a blessing and a curse. I suppose if he does feel anything for me the way I hope he does, however naive my hopes may be, I want to know, and yet I want it to stay hidden. Maybe he can hide his feelings after all, or maybe not and I'm just clutching at non-existent straws. The wine is a different matter though, as he seems a touch embarrassed to have been caught so easily in his desire.
Our eyes meet, and I can tell Hisao is just as keen to try the wine as I am. For my part, though, I'm particularly interested in trying it with him. Maybe he can tell, maybe I'm not so good at hiding things as well (though years of experience suggest otherwise), as he quickly changes to a look of indifference that does nothing to fool the female population of the room. I rise to look for some glasses, while Akira uncorks the first bottle, and Hisao pours the four servings with white wine. I'm not certain Akira should be drinking, given she mentioned she was driving, but as nobody else mentions it I stay silent.
“Here's to Hanako, and to Lilly's trip,” Hisao says, as we raise our glasses in toast. “Cheers,” we all call, though my own cry is punctuated with my usual stammer. We take sips of our wine, which has a remarkably fruity and sweet flavour. Apparently Hisao likes it as much as I do. “This isn't too bad,” he says. “I was expecting something... harsher.”
“If you hadn't liked it, I have a few other varieties you could have chosen from.” What does Akira mean by that? Did she bring even more wine with her?
“You sound like you know your stuff when it comes to wines.” Hisao speaks with a tinge of admiration, which again brings with it that mild pang of envy on my part. Those feelings still surface occasionally, but they're becoming less so now. Maybe I'm starting to realise, subconsciously, that it really is irrational of me. In a way I suppose on that level I'm just clinging to the idea of someone actually caring about me, whether I deserve it or not.
“Only a bit,” Akira replies. “I'm more of a beer kind of person.” To be fair, her appearance suggests that more than it does the whole 'wine connoisseur' personality. “I have the drinking side down pat, though.” She refills her drink as she speaks and takes a long sip. So long that when her head finally comes forward again, there's not a trace of wine left in her glass.
I steal a look at Lilly, who doesn't seem impressed. It doesn't stop her from gently sipping her own drink, though. “Anyway,” she says, “now that Akira's gift has been opened and sampled, shall we move on to ours?”
“G-gifts?” I shouldn't be too surprised, given what Hisao told me on the day of my breakdown, about his and Lilly's trip to the city. Nevertheless I wasn't really prepared for this. I suppose I'd just put it to the back of my mind.
“That's right, we got you presents. It's your birthday, after all.” Again, no-one notices me wince as she says that, but to be fair it's a bit less noticeable anyway this time. “This is from me,” Lilly continues. She hands me an ornately wrapped package that looks a little like a long, thin lump. I carefully take the bindings off, to reveal a beautiful doll in a green dress. It looks so beautiful, and I say as much to my closest friend. I turn it around as I speak, taking in the intricate detail and the hand-painted features that make it stand out so much. It's the perfect companion for my collection.
“I'm glad that you like it,” Lilly replies. “Hisao picked it out, to be honest.”
With this new revelation, I feel my heart stop again, picking up after the briefest of pauses. In a way it's slightly apt that Hisao, who has trouble with his own heart, should evoke the same reaction in me, even for such different reasons. “Y-yes, I like it. Th-thank you, Lilly and H-Hisao.” It's a bit of an under-reaction, really, as I don't merely like this present. Before I can reaffirm my happiness, though, Hisao chimes in.
“Actually, I got you something else...” He reaches down into his bag and pulls out another gift, something bit larger and a lot flatter than the doll. “Here. Happy birthday.” I start to unwrap it, again taking the utmost care not to damage whatever is inside. I realise what Hisao has bought me when I notice the oh so familiar and comforting sight of squares of black and white beneath the paper.
“Oh!”I exclaim in delight, running my fingers across the smooth surface, when I push a hidden catch or trigger that opens up a slot on the side of the board. Inside, I take out a piece at random. The white queen. Maybe it's a sign, but then again I could just be seeing things that aren't really there. For a white piece, it's not as bleached as one would think, its hue holding more of a greyish tint, though the black pieces are dyed like jet. I glance upwards at Hisao without actually querying this, but he answers my unspoken question anyway.
“They're coral. Natural coral, undyed. Or so I'm told.” I can't believe this. I've never been shown so much kindness by anyone, especially since the accident. They say that there's a trigger for most things, some point of focus that acts as a key instigator for people's feelings, or motivations, or their lives in general. I don't know how true that is, but this would certainly count as one for me, if such things are to be believed.
“Thank you, Hisao...” I can barely speak, my words come as a whisper. He must have heard me, though.
“No problem. It's your birthday, after all.” And for the first time tonight, when hearing that word, I don't shy away.
“That's right... my birthday...” I can't avoid hesitating, but the natural instinct for me to avoid the whole idea of my... my birthday... is noticeably less now. For the first time I feel like I can finally get through these days without breaking again.
I look around me as I close the board. Regardless of my own feelings, my own happiness increasing tenfold and more now, Akira seems kind of wary, as if she fears saying or doing the wrong thing. Maybe Lilly told her what happened the other day, which I wouldn't blame Lilly for. Hisao is watching the others as intently as I am, though he doesn't hide it the way I do. Lilly's eyes are still closed, a faint smile on her face. A male voice rises before I can consider what Lilly ma be thinking, though. “I'll have to play you again sometime.”
Another natural instinct jumps into action before I can consciously hold it back. “I'll... make sure I play you first...”
I lean against the bed, finally happy and content. Surrounded by my friends I feel as if nothing can stop me, and I can finally get by and start to recover from my demons. I've all but forgotten the impending departure of both Lilly and Akira, though their trip will be short it seems like a distant dream for me. I clutch the chessboard and the doll to me, treasuring them and holding them as if they were a part of me. Maybe they are, in a way. Symbols that, whatever I may think in my darkest moments, I am not alone. “Thank you, Lilly. Thank you, Hisao.”
The silence continues, but as I thank my friends I drop the queen on the floor. A quick scramble to retrieve it, praying in my head that its not damaged, and I set the doll and the chessboard on the floor beside me where they'll be safer. In my nerves I take a longer sip of my wine, then another, then a larger gulp, just to deal with the tension created within my own mind.
“Hey, easy there, you shouldn't drink it that fast...” Hisao looks at me with concern and moves his hand to ease my descent into inebriation. Lilly takes a slightly dimmer view, however, her tone suggesting him to be something of a killjoy.
“It is a party, Hisao...” Nevertheless, there's another edge to her voice that I easily pick up on, one of concern. I ease back, though not by much, while after a small pause Lilly starts to drink a bit more. She takes a different approach, however, with lots of small sips as opposed to a few larger gulps. After another pause, Hisao starts to follow her lead.
“Since this is kind of a going-away party for you as well, I hope you enjoy your trip at least a little, Lilly. Hopefully your aunt will be okay.”
I follow Hisao's sentiments, concern driving my words as well. “I-I hope your aunt is okay too, Lilly...” With this, I can't help but notice a flash of surprise on the faces of all present. It's not too shocking to my mind, though. I may not have any relatives, any surviving at least, but that doesn't mean I can't wish others and their families well. To do any less would be an insult, I feel. To my own family, and to theirs.
“My my, thank you both,” Lilly replies. “I'll be sure to convey your thoughts to my family when I meet them.”
“It'll all be fine in the end, Lilly. Don't worry about it.” Akira takes a less sentimental view, but behind her words I can still feel a sense of worry. Lilly wears her heart on her sleeve, at least a lot more than her sister does, but there's still a hidden edge that comes out on occasion. In contrast, Akira hides things a lot better, but beneath her hard exterior there's still a softer side. Yin and yang, I guess.
The mood is certainly a lot more depressing now. The conversation has dried up, what little there was to begin with, and we're lost in our thoughts. Maybe he's trying to get things moving again, maybe he just wants to cheer us up, but Hisao is a welcome distraction when he reminds us of our other obligations here. “Well then, shall we start on the cake?”
“Y-yes, please...” I have the advantage of knowing more than Lilly does in this situation, it seems. I didn't miss out on seeing it surreptitiously hiding in Hisao's bag when I let him in earlier.
“Cake?” she asks. “I didn't know there was any cake...”
“I picked one up before I came,” says Hisao the Resourceful, “along with some snacks.”
“Well done, Hisao. At least one of us remembered to bring one.” As Lilly speaks, Hisao retrieves the cake from his bag and begins to cut it into slices. It's chocolate, which I suppose will go well with the wine. We stop talking for a while as we all eat.
Re: Hanako's Story (UPDATED 09/05/2013)
Posted: Thu May 09, 2013 5:40 pm
Act 3 – Chapter Six: Plaster and Porcelain (Part 2)
It's starting to get late, and my head feels a little bit woozy. Not in a bad way, more like I feel a bit dizzy but I can't remember why. I think I know what it is though, the wine, as I try to pour myself another glass and end up with half of it on the table. Not the floor though, the carpet is safe from the wine attack... we'll have to wipe it up from the table though which doesn't matter quite so much... “S-sorry, Lilly...” I say, feeling bad about the accident. “I didn't mean to make a mess... I...”
“Don't worry, I've got it...” Hisao comes to the rescue, yet again, wiping up the spill. He's had a bit less to drink than me. I wonder if it shows? Lilly pulls me into her arms, lovely and soft and warm, and gives me a big hug as I worry about the spill.
“It's okay, Hanako. I'm just happy you're here.” I nod in response, happy as well, but still worrying about the wine staining the carpet. It looks fine to me, though. Was it the white or the red I spilled? I can't really remember... Lilly's arms feel nice, though. Like a big sister, maybe...
We pull away after a while, as Hisao continues to mop up and Akira looks on with a faint smile on her face. Lilly reaches for the other bottle, and I take it from her and uncork it, pouring two more glasses. I guess I'm mostly to blame for the fact the other bottle is almost empty, my head definitely feels like it is. Akira notices as well. I think.
“Looks like you're enjoying the wine, then,” she says. “Just don't go too crazy with it after this, mind.” We all nod and agree, but I don't really feel like taking it easy. Tonight is about making sure I have happy memories, and the wine is helping to no end with that. I'm already laughing at lots more things, everything seems a lot more nice and fun and I'm not thinking as much about the darker things that I usually think about when I'm getting nearer to my birthday...
I play with the doll Lilly got me, idly twirling my fingers around its hair, happy to be with my best friends. A hiccup later and suddenly the doll is on the floor, on its side. Maybe I've had a bit too much. Maybe. I can't help but feel really tired, though. Perhaps I should go to bed? I think so, maybe. I'm sure the doll would want to as well, if she could talk. I don't think she likes being on the floor too much.
“I... think I should maybe go to bed. T-thank you, Hisao, thanks Lilly and Aaaakiraaaa...” I try to avoid the long drawn out drawl as I say Akira's name, and fail miserably. It's such a nice name, though, I want to keep on saying it. Akira. Akira. Akira Akira Akira Akira Akiiiiiira. I guess I giggle a little, but I don't really remember. Hisao could probably tell me...
“Here, let me give you a hand.” As Akira gets up I cough a bit. Maybe I'm a bit more drunk than I thought. It was nice wine, though, fruity and fun.
“Hisao, would you please?” Lilly smiles when she says that. Does she know something I don't know? I think she does, she knows lots of things I don't know. Like English, or Braille. Or how to be a student representative. Or how to get around with a cane. Or how to drink wine without being tooooooo drunk. I know things she doesn't know though. Like how much I like Hisao...
“S-sure,” he says. “No problem.” He picks up the chess set he bought me while I pick up my doll, and give him my other hand. I wobble as we walk out to the corridor. Wibble wobble. Like jelly. I wish we'd had jelly, I've never had jelly at a birthday party before. Chocolate is nice, but it doesn't wobble like jelly does. I keep bumping into Hisao, making him wobble as well. We're like two big jelly towers wibble-wobbling into the hall. I don't want to drop the doll, though. I wish I wasn't quite as much like jelly as I am now.
When we get to my room I turn to my shelf with my other special doll, and make a space carefully. As carefully as I can while I'm wobbling around. That's another word I like. Wobble. I place the new doll with her companion, saying “There you go... you'll be safe in here...” I step back, stumble a little and regain my balance just about. I don't think I like being like jelly any more, if I fall over I won't be able to bounce back up. I look down and start to sway a bit.
“Are you... going to be all right?” Hisao's still here. I want to do something now, but I don't know if I have the courage. I'm still drunk though, so my body does it for me as I stumble forward straight into Hisao's arms. This is nice. Better than a Lilly hug, and that was nice too. I put my arms around Hisao too and stay there for a while. He doesn't hug me back though. I'm thinking it's not like a Lilly hug at all now. It still feels nice but not as much as I thought. “Hanako...” he says. I don't want to let go though. I want him to hug me as well, and then it'll be a lot nicer and he can stay here with me while I sleep and we can be silly little drunk people together, even if he's not as drunk as I am...
“But I want to staaaay with you and Lillyyyy.”
“You know I can't. You're a girl and I'm a guy, after all, and Lilly needs to sleep.” Awwww, I don't want them to go to sleep though, I want to stay up late and have more fun with my best friends, and I want Hisao to stay with me alllllll night. “Don't worry,” he continues, “I'll see you again tomorrow, okay?”
He puts his hand on my head and I take advantage of that, pushing myself closer to his chest. I hope he doesn't have a heart attack now, that wouldn't be very good at all. I can feel it beating and I try to listen, pressing my ear against Hisao's chest and trying hard to listen to the sound, but I can't hear much at all now and I think he moved back a little bit. I don't want him to move though. I'm nice and comfy now. I have a lovely pillow who doubles as a very very nice boy and I get a bit annoyed as he starts to push me away.
“I don't want you to go...” I tell him.
“Hanako, please. Akira and Lilly are going to start thinking weird stuff if I take too long here.” What weird stuff? I think I know... did Lilly know? Or was she just imagining things? I wouldn't mind imagining things too... but I'm all sleepy and I can't stay focused on imagining what I want to imagine and what Lilly might have imagined and whatever Hisao thinks they might be imagining. I imagine. Hic.
I don't... I don't want you to go, Hisao...
“Sorry about tonight, Hanako. I know you probably won't remember any of this, but... happy birthday. I'm sorry I couldn't do more for you.” I look up at Hisao as he speaks, and his eyes are the last thing I remember before I finally fall asleep. My dreams will be happy ones tonight, if I can remember what I was trying to imagine that I think Lilly imagined...
Actually, let's not go too far into that. Some things are a bit more private than others...