'Boundaries'

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Silentcook
Carelessly Cooking You
Posts: 2524
Joined: Thu Mar 06, 2008 8:22 am
Location: Imola, Italy

'Boundaries'

Post by Silentcook » Fri May 30, 2008 10:47 pm

First off, my humblest apologies to all. That includes poor unsuspecting readers, creative people who do this stuff (and generally much better than me), creative people who do different stuff (but still much better than me), and lots of others that I am just plain forgetting about. Forgive me. I suck. orz. Please? :oops:
...All I can say in my defense is: A22 made me do it. :mrgreen:
Storycodes: bi de emi hi rin shi tsu fan nosex

BOUNDARIES

---

The afternoon sun is warm, despite the sky being a bit cloudy.
I stretch happily. School is over for the day, and for once I'm pretty well caught up on my subjects.
Not that I can really brag about it, since it was luck as much as hard work, but... I'll just take what breaks come my way.
Now I can either afford to take it easy for the next few days, or I can diligently keep at it, improve on my weaker points, and probably raise my overall average a bit.
...So off I amble towards the school gates, fully intending to relax and have a good time in town. That sort of thing is no contest in my mind.

'Hisao!'
I get an energetic greeting from Emi and stop for a brief chat with her. She has Rin in tow, and the two of them seem to be going to some sort of study group.
Judging from the expression on Rin's face, this was clearly not her idea, nor is she really agreeing to it.
Of course, I'm not interested either. I keep my poker face up as much as possible, and either Emi assumes that I don't need help, or it just doesn't occur to her to invite me along.
And thank the heavens for that. While I probably could have managed a good enough excuse this once, I have learned in time that refusing Emi is about as easy as stopping the charge from an angry elephant, barehanded.
A cheery wave from her, a nod from Rin, and they're gone.

I resume my walk, my good spirits actually enhanced a little by the memory of Emi's eagerness. I leave the quad behind me, walking the road that leads to the gates.
I slow down, then I stop.
The road sides are dotted here and there, at irregular intervals, with wooden benches. Possibly those are intended to give visiting family and such a chance to sit and admire the Yamaku grounds and buildings.
...I suppose the sight might be worth looking at, to someone who doesn't actually live in them. But since nearly everybody who isn't just visiting the school does, much more often the benches end up just being convenient spots to have a little privacy away from the campus bustle. Like now.

There's a girl sitting on the bench closest to me. That by itself wouldn't be making me take notice, but well...
For starters, she's smoking. Next, she's not in uniform. While there could be several perfectly good reasons for the second, the first is outright forbidden.
She looks maybe a little younger than me, in the orange afternoon light. She has a pair of crutches carelessly leaning on the bench next to her, clearly used to compensate for her missing left leg. The stump is bandaged almost up to the hem of the short black dress she wears.
An ugly, angry-looking scar cuts vertically across her closed right eye, seeming almost inflamed. Her other eye, half-slitted in enjoyment, is a bright, brilliant shade of blue.
Her hair is... well, I wouldn't really know how to describe it apart from 'cut short' and 'mostly white with a black streak and back'. I get a brief mental image of Misha clucking disapprovingly and launching into a detailed explanation about hair dyeing and styling, which just makes me want to firmly avoid the subject.
I guess it says something about me that the first things I noticed were her behavior and age, rather than her appearance. Maybe I am really becoming more used to school life and less hung up on people's disabilities.

Regardless, she looks like a newly-transferred underclassmate more than anything else. I had better warn her before she gets in trouble, just in case.
I walk the last few steps needed to stand right next to her and wait for a few seconds. She either chooses not to or really does not take notice of me, continuing to take deep, slow drags on her cigarette.
Well, that didn't help much. I'll just have to initiate conversation myself.
'Hello.'
...Still without looking at me, she just beat me to it.
'Ah, hello. Excuse me, but smoking is forbidden on the Academy grounds. Would you mind putting that out?'
That single eye deigns to track me. 'Would I? Why yes, I would. Don't worry, I'm nearly done anyway.'
I blink. That isn't the answer I was expecting.
'Or am I bothering you, personally? In that case, I'd feel obliged to stop. I'm just passing by, in any case.'
'You're not- I mean, you are, but not me-'
My broken attempts at a protest just seem to amuse her. She pats the bench next to her with her left hand.
'Then why don't you sit and keep me company for a little while? Unless cigarette smoke makes you ill, that is. I'm not quite clear on that yet.'
She is DEFINITELY making fun of me. My pride can't stand this kind of sting, and from a younger girl, at that.
More stiffly than I'd like to, I sit next to her as she shifts her crutches to make room for me. I'm not used to the smell of smoke, but I'll be damned if I'm going to show any discomfort now.

'So, I suppose you're not a transfer student after all.'
Showing more animation than she has so far, the strange girl moves from her slouching pose to sit a little more upright and lean against the bench's back in my direction.
'That's right. While you definitely are a student here. Looks like an interesting place. I might not have minded being here, back when.'
'Back when... what?'
Hisao, you are an idiot. Think before you speak. That could only mean one thing...
'Oh, back when I lost my leg and eye. Right now, you couldn't keep me in here if you tried.'
...And what's more, you're an idiot that's right only at the worst times. The only good point is that she doesn't seem to be upset at all, if anything her widening smile shows that she's positively enjoying this.
'Uh, then... are you visiting or something like that? Do you have a friend or relative going to school here?'
Taking a last drag on her cigarette, she shakes her head while closing her eye. She carelessly flicks the smoking butt in the middle of the road. Exhaling smoke, she looks older for a few moments.
'No, nobody. I was just curious, and crossed the border to take a look inside.'
Grinning impishly, she suddenly reverts to the age I had figured for her, and then some years younger for good measure.
'There, gone. My terrible, dangerous habit shouldn't worry you any more.'
I find myself getting annoyed at this last crack at my expense. That, and her avowed lack of ties with the school, make me answer coldly before I can check my temper.
'I don't really need to hear this kind of stupid remark from a kid younger than me.'
For a frozen second, she blinks at me while I gaze at her steadily. I already wish I could take that back - she IS younger than me, and I should act more mature, and...

'Hahahaha!!'
Her laughter strips away my concern like a cloth cleaning dust from a windowpane. Fully turned in my direction, foot perching on the bench with her right hand resting on her knee, she laughs and laughs happily.
It's a... most refreshing sound to hear. I'm more used to girls laughing in a restrained way, or even not at all. Lilly, for example, has a laugh that while genuine, is clearly trained and cultured into shape. If I should compare to somebody else I know, this odd girl sounds more like Emi or Misha.
Only, I don't think that either of them alone could hold a candle to her. I can't really articulate how, but she seems to have the best features from both. It's like getting the sun to shine on my face afresh.
She winds down to a chuckle, and I smile. Her good humor is contagious, and that, coupled with my amused realization that I just found something positive to say about Misha, is more than enough to wipe my annoyance away.

'Good, very good! I thought you were just one of those stuffy types, but it looks like you have it in you... "from a kid younger than me"... hehehe...'
'Anyway, I apologize for making fun of you. I shouldn't have. I'm glad to see you can say what you really think, though.'
I'm not quite sure how to respond to that. Girls being happy at me insulting them is a completely new leaf in my book, even though I know I basically WAS in the right.
Also, I just realized that the new position she took is... um. How to put it. Not very ladylike. I can see... stuff. Black...
Thrown badly off my mental balance, I start hemming and hawing. I try to look straight in her eye, but it's difficult.
'Don't worry, you won't wear them out by staring at them. But I might decide to charge you.'
ARGH!!
'Er, I wasn't... I mean, I'm sorry... I didn't mean...'
I blush and look away, to a counterpoint of her giggles.
'Like I said, don't worry about it. You seem to be a nice boy. I would have been surprised if you HADN'T looked.'
She resumes a proper sitting position, and tugs her dress down into place, grinning all the while.
..I can't figure this girl out. I'm just lucky that I got one more break.
So I had better stop trying, and attempt to change topics instead. Let's not push my luck as long as it seems to hold.

'Well, I have plans for relaxing in town. I could escort you to the gate if you like. Do you live somewhere nearby?'
Oh shit. I just realized how that might sound. Good going, Hisao, get used to the taste of your feet.
'Nearby? No, not really. You go right ahead, I'll just cross the border again.'
I furrow my forehead in confusion. 'I didn't know there was another exit. Well, at least not one as close or as convenient as the main gate.'
She looks at me sharply. 'No, not the perimeter wall. The BORDER. You know?'
'Aren't those the same thing?'
She purses her lips. 'You DON'T know. Hooo boy.'
I'm getting really confused, but she seems serious this time.
'What are you talking about?'
She shakes her head. 'Can't really tell you, sorry. I'm just not good enough at explaining it. It'll be much better if someone else who knows what she's talking about gives you the correct facts. Me, I just make use of it.'
I have no idea what she's saying. But the gist is, she isn't going to come along, and she isn't going to explain.
She didn't take my proposal badly either. Good enough for me, time to retreat in good order. I stand, brushing down my pants.
'Well, gotta go. Nice talking to you.'
She nods. 'Same here. Good luck, and hmm... try not to get too surprised. I have a feeling you're in for an interesting night on the town.'
I shrug at that, and wave at her. She waves back with a sunny smile, still sitting comfortably.
Resuming my march towards the gate, after a minute or two a bend in the road gets the bench in my line of sight again. She's gone.
Odd, I can't see her anywhere nearby either. She must be really fast with those crutches. Maybe she's like Emi.
Smiling a little bit at that thought, I exit the Academy grounds and make my way onwards.

***

The night air is getting rather fresh. I have had a pretty good time so far... wandering through the streets among the crowd, checking out shops here and there, and eating out at a food stand just for the hell of it.
Cafeteria food does get old after a while, and though a plate of yakisoba and a mug of green tea certainly isn't an inspired example of gourmet cuisine, when it's prepared with the intention of actually PLEASING the customer it can be rather tasty.
Pushing back the plate with a satisfied sigh, I pay my bill, which is fortunately easy on my limited finances. That done, I hop down from the stool I was sitting on, shove the stand curtain aside and away from my face and walk off at a leisurely pace, slowing down for passerbys now and then. The evening went off pretty much without a hitch.
Except maybe when that short, bespectacled girl bumped into me outside the convenience store. Her groceries scattered everywhere, and it took a bit helping her pick them all up. I wonder what was up with her having bought so many puddings, but eh... it's not my business after all. And I didn't waste all that much time either.

I sort of enjoyed having a little time to myself alone, for once. While I definitely wouldn't want to be alone all the time, sometimes it helps to clear the mind.
I'd also like having some male company now and then... to talk about guy things, boast, swap stories... but I really don't seem to mix well with the guys in my class, and the one other alternative is Kenji.
For a moment, I envision taking Kenji out to a night on the town. The mind boggles.
...Yeah, that might take some careful consideration to pull off. Preferably from a long distance away, and in a bomb shelter. In the meantime, I'll just enjoy being friends with the girls, and maybe see if I can talk one of them into doing this another time.
That might be too much like a date though. Hmm. I'm not really sure who would go for it.
My attention, already considerably distracted by the bellyful of food I am digesting, wanders as I ponder theoretical scenarios. I am just now beginning to consider going back to Yamaku, but curfew isn't a concern yet.
So, I'm trying to go in the general direction of the school... as I envision it. After all, how difficult can it be? I have navigated this town several times already.
I should really, really have known better than to think that would be true.
I am now passing through some dimly-lit back streets. The neighborood is unfamiliar, deserted and not overly clean, and the alleys don't inspire confidence. Just as I consider rethinking my cunning plan, the sound of a footstep alerts me to somebody stepping out into the street at my back.
I don't even get to be alarmed. It's instantly lights out.

'Unnnhh...'
I open my eyes to the light of the full moon. I am... stretched out flat on the pavement of a back alley. I don't feel too much the worse for wear, except for a tender spot at the back of my head and a pulsing headache.
I sit up slowly and carefully, fighting against nausea. The moon illuminates me as though it were a spotlight, but the mouth and the sides of the alley are bathed in shadows.
One of the shadows at the exit detaches itself from the walls. I have an impression of inhuman, cold, shining eyes that I shouldn't be able to see.
The shadow spreads his arms wide, and says almost gently:
'----Now then,
welcome to this wonderful killing chamber.'
I hear the words, but they refuse to make sense.
'There is a box behind you. Open it.'
The voice doesn't give alternatives, nor threats. No 'open it, or else'. It simply is certain that it will be obeyed.
It would take a better man than I am to refuse.
Slowly standing, I turn my head gingerly to see that indeed there is a carton a few steps behind me. It is a simple thing of cardboard, similar to any other you could find in refuse.
I turn my back on the shadow and kneel down in front of it.
My fingers feel frozen. Stiffly, I pick at the flaps. My headache throbs in time with the beating of my damaged heart.
This headache. The pain worsens until it feels like the eyes will burst from my head.
I throw the final pair of flaps open.
My disembodied face stares up at me from the depths of the boxy thing.
As I look into my own eyes in disbelief, something cuts my neck. Cuts it horizontally through my pulsing veins.
Making no differentiation between skin, muscles, arteries, bones, without mercy or compassion, like plucking a lily, without even any resplendent pain.
Thud.
On the hard pavement, something that's shaped like a bowling ball drops.

I am cold. White noise seems to be looping through my head.
'You really are stupid, you know.'
What... is this?
'You make decisions, conscious decisions, that you know to be wrong.'
I am dead. I must be dead. I can see my headless body, still kneeling and stopped in the last position I ever took. So how can I hear somebody speak?
'Yet you purposely make them.'
Are these, perhaps, the last moments of my brain before oblivion claims me?
'Are you so interested in seeing where they will bring you?'
I desperately try to blink, without success. The speaker makes an exasperated noise.
'Well, this time they brought you here. Lucky for me, so I shouldn't complain, I guess. Still, it pains me to see you display such monumental idiocy.'
My body moves by itself like a marionette, reaching into the cardboard box. It pulls out what couldn't be there, yet it is.
My head, glassy-eyed and bloodless, expressionlessly gazing at the night sky.
Carefully handling it, my hands rotate and settle it in place.
A new, whole me slowly stands up in the crystal moonlight, looking down at me in pity with my eyes.
'I'll be going now.'
I want to laugh, but I'm afraid I will fly apart into shards if I try.
'Try not to take it too hard, after all you only have yourself to blame.'
My vision goes crimson. So cold.

---I blink, and my eyes focus. A momentary feeling of disorientation passes through me.
Okay, this was not a smart idea. Taking random turns into narrow alleys is not the sort of thing to do at night.
Heck, it probably wouldn't be a great idea during full daylight either.
I cluck my tongue in disappointment. I was thinking that I was going the right way, but the wall right in front of me makes my trust in my sense of direction moot.
Idly toeing an open carton lying at my feet, I turn right around on my heel and go about the business of retracing my steps from the end of this cul-de-sac.
It shouldn't take me very long to get back to that food stand, but I still hurry. I have wasted enough time to make me worry about breaking curfew, and this place makes me uneasy. At the back of my mind, something nags me, saying that I had better move.
Behind my back, the shadows thicken and writhe in the brilliant moonlight.

***

I am making my way towards the bus stop. I could probably get back before curfew on my own by walking, but only if there are no further mishaps. And it doesn't feel like a good night to assume that kind of thing.
As I walk, I count out the loose coins in my pocket, trying to estimate whether I need to make change for my ticket. I look down for a moment, slowing down to avoid bumping into someone as I look at my hand pulling the money out.
And that someone grabs hold of me and drags me along, making me scatter coins everywhere on the sidewalk and windmill my other arm to avoid losing my balance.
'HEY!!'
'Just come along.'
I get a faint impression of perfume from the long, dark hair that's streaming in my face. The voice belonged to a girl, but the grip and pull seem to belong to a gorilla.
I realize that it'd be useless to attempt resistance, so I fill my lungs with air to yell for help instead.
'Don't make a fuss, or I'll go away and you'll never see me again.'
...That was remarkably nonthreatening for somebody who's forcing me to come along. Instead of calling for help, I confusedly settle for asking her instead.
'What do you want? What do you mean? And where are we going?'
'I want you to come along, you need to hear what I have to tell you, and we're here already. Stop asking unnecessary questions.'
True to her word, she releases me. We're a little way inside a sidestreet. The place doesn't look or smell very savory, but there's enough light filtering from the main street to see. Shadows from passerbys and the occasional traffic flicker around our feet as they pass us by. She leans against a wall in front of me.
The girl had grabbed my arm and yanked me forward with incredible force. Yet she has not placed herself between myself and the exit. She has made no threats, well unless you count "you'll never see me again" as a threat, which at this point would be kind of... lame.
She is just standing there, silently studying me as I study her.

Her silhouette is a little hard to distinguish in the dim light, since she's wearing a long lacy black dress with a pair of purple belts and a similarly purple ribbon at her throat, has dark hair, and even her large eyes look black. The only real accent of color in her figure is her extremely fair-looking skin. Her hands, face and ankles nearly seem to glow in contrast to the rest.
...She might look a little like a goth, but she doesn't really look like a kidnapper or mugger.
I'd place her at around my age or so. Well, I assume she would have tried something already if she wanted to. So I summon my bravado and ask her.
'What did you need to tell me that required dragging me about like a sack of potatoes?'
Ha. A fair enough show of offended pride, if you ask me.
She nods. Letting a noticeable interval pass before answering, she says, 'I do not need to tell you anything, you have that backwards. Like I said, you're the one that needs to listen, Nakai Hisao.'
Damn, offended pride just got shot down. Wait a minute...
'How do you know my name?'
'I have good sources. Do you think I'd just grab somebody off the street without being absolutely sure who it was? Now shut up and listen.'

She pauses again, closing her eyes and perhaps gathering her thoughts.
'You have others crossing your boundaries. That's not bad by itself, but you need to know how to deal with it before it gets you into real trouble.'
I blink. 'Boundaries? What do you mean? ...Hey, I got a similar talk by some girl earlier...'
She cuts me off sharply. 'Yes, and that's exactly why I'm here wasting my time with you. Do not say unnecessary things. Do you even know what a boundary is?'
'Well... a limit, a border, some sort of barrier that separates this from... that.'
Something tells me Professor Muto would not be overjoyed at hearing this definition from me. This girl, however, just nods curtly.
'You have this right at least. Well, there's boundaries that define your existence and keep it separate from other existences. And those get occasionally invaded or broken, more or less peacefully or intentionally. That's happened to you thrice today already, and this would be the fourth time.'
I stare at her. This is just sounding like crazy talk.
She lets out a sigh, and seems to soften a little. 'I know how this sounds. In order to gain your trust, let me tell you something. Stop me as soon as you are convinced, alright?'
Without waiting for me to answer, she takes a deep breath and begins to recount, as though reading facts from a book.
She starts going through an account of my fateful meeting with Iwanako. With excruciating detail, she says things I have never disclosed to anyone, things I tried to forget myself, things I had only thought.
My eyes grow wider and wider, and just before she gets to my first attack, I tell her to stop. Trembling with my head bowed and my fists tightly balled, I stand in the night air that seems to me now colder than ever before.
'Hey. Are you all right?'
The face of the girl swims into my vision. She has a look of concern that seems very out of place on her.
Taking a couple of deep breaths, I nod. She releases my shoulder, which I never even noticed she touched, and stands back in the middle of the sidestreet, crossing her arms under her breasts.
'I'm... sorry that it upset you, but you need to believe me for me to help you. And that was the only way I knew how to make you do it. You do believe me now, don't you?'
Feeling very shaky, I nod again.

'How do you know all of that?'
I take some pride in the fact that my words come out in an even tone.
'Well... that sort of information is available to someone who can cross the boundaries, and I have more practice at that than most who do, as well as very, VERY good sources.'
'Anyway, let me finish explaining. There's different kinds of boundaries. The simplest ones behave like bubbles, surrounding an uncomplicated existence. That doesn't mean that they're any less important, just simpler.'
'The next step are those who behave like ribbons, where existence flows from one tip to the other.'
'Then there's the ones that behave like the roots or the branches of a tree. Mine is of that kind... as is yours.'
'Existence within those boundaries "flows" from the trunk towards the tips. As though it got frozen, you could travel further and further along and see it develop, little by little. ...And if you are able, you can travel backwards and see things reverse themselves, and sometimes change them by going into a different path.'
I look up sharply at that. Before I can ask the question that's on my tongue, she raises a hand and continues quickly.
'But that can't be done by the owners of the boundary themselves. It takes an external agency to change things, or indeed even to observe. And changes are limited in scope.'
'So no, you can't go back and change the fact that you had that attack. Even I can't. I'm sorry.'
I let out a long, slow breath. I can't deny I was hoping for that, after hearing what she had to say. She rushed through the explanation because she knew, and wanted to spare me as much disappointment as possible.
She also tried to warn me when she started going over my history earlier.
It occurs to me that she is very blunt, but she's a pretty good person.

'So... how does all this help me?'
She looks a little uncomfortable. 'Well, just knowing it is enough to grant some protection. Should somebody enter your boundary, you will notice from now on. You will also be able to enter other boundaries in turn. That tends to discourage existences from crossing too aggressively, since it means one can always get back at whoever causes oneself grief.'
'I... see. That makes some sense. Tell me, does this kind of thing get, uh...'
I make a circular motion with my hand. '...Easier as one gets practice?'
The girl shrugs. 'Not really. But don't lose heart, I can promise you that at least it gets more fun.'
She has the tiniest smile on her lips. I am sure it's there, though.
'Well, thank you. For everything. May I ask your name?' I extend my hand, hoping for her to take it.
She looks nonplussed for a moment. Then with a sniff, shakes mine with her slender hand.
'I'm not like everyone else. Don't act like I'm your friend, alright?'
'Ah, I suppose that's a no. What a shame.'
'You're damn right that's a no. You'll need to find it out yourself and come surprise me, if you really want to know.'
I laugh in the face of this parting shot. 'I see. Well, I guess I really need to run now.'
'I guess you do. Good luck, you'll need it. And Nakai...'
Her black eyes look utterly serious.
'...never, EVER give up. You've been given choices. Many people don't. Try to make good ones.'
She smacks me on the shoulder, hard.
'Ow!'
'Now get. You won't be late, but only just.'
I know better than to ask how she knows, or if I should accompany her somewhere, or anything else. I take off and run out to the bus stop. After all, I won't be late. But only just.

-SC
Last edited by Silentcook on Sun Dec 21, 2008 12:23 am, edited 1 time in total.
Shattering your dreams since '94.

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Peorth
Zenryoku Zenkai!
Posts: 244
Joined: Thu Apr 26, 2007 7:02 pm

Re: 'Boundaries'

Post by Peorth » Mon Jun 02, 2008 4:00 pm

O_o;;
Even if the author is silenced, the performance is stopped, the story will not end.

Whether it's a comedy or a tragedy, if there is cheering, the story will continue on.
Just like the many lives.
For the us who are still in it and still in the journey, send warm blessings.

---We will continue to walk down this path until eternity.

ukshadow
Posts: 29
Joined: Thu May 03, 2007 2:46 am

Re: 'Boundaries'

Post by ukshadow » Sat Jun 14, 2008 6:23 am

Bikko?

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