Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 10/13)

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GorisTheKing
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 2/14)

Post by GorisTheKing » Sun Feb 16, 2014 12:54 am

Keep it up, enjoying these updates. She seems to be quite similarly constructed to Lilly, I prefer that to themocaw's extroverted interpretation.

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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 2/14)

Post by timetravelzero » Sun Feb 16, 2014 3:37 am

GorisTheKing wrote:Keep it up, enjoying these updates. She seems to be quite similarly constructed to Lilly, I prefer that to themocaw's extroverted interpretation.
I must be the only one who kind of liked the dark-edged, outgoing Saki then. ;_;
Akira>Lilly=Shizune>Emi>Hanako>Mutou=Nurse>Saki>Misha=Rika>Yuuko>Meiko=Miki>Suzu>Kenji>Rin=Iwanako>Jigoro>Nomiya>{POWERGAP}>Hisao Eh, my opinion anyway

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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 2/14)

Post by Eurobeatjester » Sun Feb 16, 2014 4:07 am

timetravelzero wrote:
GorisTheKing wrote:Keep it up, enjoying these updates. She seems to be quite similarly constructed to Lilly, I prefer that to themocaw's extroverted interpretation.
I must be the only one who kind of liked the dark-edged, outgoing Saki then. ;_;
As I mentioned, I haven't read the other route or any of Themocaw's work. I have talked with a few others to see what they thought about his take on her though, and people have also chimed in here in the thread.

I'm not trying to make my take on her any more official or any "better" than his, so while I do appreciate the compliments on what I've done so far, I have mixed feelings when someone says "I like your version better," you know?
Stuff I'm currently writing: Learning To Fly: A Saki Enomoto Pseudo Route
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 2/14)

Post by timetravelzero » Sun Feb 16, 2014 4:32 am

Eurobeatjester wrote:while I do appreciate the compliments on what I've done so far, I have mixed feelings when someone says "I like your version better," you know?
Oh no you misunderstood. I like both fairly equally. Thermo's was just appealing to my sense of dark humor while your's appeals to me in a more civil way.
Akira>Lilly=Shizune>Emi>Hanako>Mutou=Nurse>Saki>Misha=Rika>Yuuko>Meiko=Miki>Suzu>Kenji>Rin=Iwanako>Jigoro>Nomiya>{POWERGAP}>Hisao Eh, my opinion anyway

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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 2/14)

Post by Guestimate » Mon Feb 17, 2014 1:45 am

Great to see this up again! Woo! \o/

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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 2/14)

Post by Mahorfeus » Mon Feb 17, 2014 4:07 am

I have to confess, I almost did not give this one a chance. I have a bad habit of letting other people's interpretations of "blank slate" characters stick in my head. The notorious "head canon," so to speak. The topic has already been beaten to death by now, but I'm sure that you can guess that it is themocaw's Saki that I am getting at. I actually rather liked his pseudo-route, but the project suffered from not really being complete in the end. But enough about that.

I'm rather glad that I did start reading this one, though. I hesitantly agree with the general consensus that your Saki is more likable than themocaw's, but I don't think you should feel too uncomfortable about that; it's not really a competition. And after all, it looks like we've only seen the tip of the iceberg.
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 2/14)

Post by SheLovesMeNot » Thu Feb 20, 2014 2:57 am

You've been given the honor of being the subject of my first post. Congratulations. :mrgreen:

From what I know, Saki is supposed to be a somewhat complex character and I think you've already nailed it on the head. It might be too early to really say anything, but what little you've got right here is thoroughly good. Forgive the bad analogy but where most of the fics around here are like watered down rum, so far this seems like a much more distilled wine. You only have a few drops, but making a good brew takes time, and I'm more than willing to wait.

I'm terrible at specifics when it comes to my opinions, so there isn't much more I can really say. I like your writing style and your version of Saki is pretty much exactly how I would imagine her.

I'm definitely looking forward to when that full glass of wine knocks me on my ass.
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 2/14)

Post by Oscar Wildecat » Thu Feb 20, 2014 8:26 pm

I'm also enjoying the story very much. Especially this line:
“They get here, they run into people who try to treat them like they're made of glass, and they shut down. They never accept what happens because people around them keep trying to sweep it under the rug like it never happened. So they feel like failures because they can't get over it when everyone is trying to tell them they should. And they just...give up.” She shakes her head. “Nobody says 'It's okay to feel sorry for yourself once in a while. It's okay to think that whatever happened to you isn't fair. It's okay to get pissed off and cry and scream and punch a wall or throw something.' So they get into their own little world of pity and never come out of it. I don't want to see that happen to you, Hisao.”
I can't really put a finger on it, but that line resonated with me...

It also doesn't hurt that the story shares a title with one of my favorite Pink Floyd songs. :)
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 2/14)

Post by Leaty » Fri Feb 21, 2014 7:26 am

Does "end of Part 1" mean "end of Act 1?" As in, are we done with the Festival from here?

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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 2/14)

Post by BlackWaltzTheThird » Fri Feb 21, 2014 8:34 am

I believe it means "end of part 1 of Electric Daisies", which is the current chapter and was labelled as part 1 in the post. So, we'll see an Electric Daisies part 2 in the future.
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 2/14)

Post by Eurobeatjester » Fri Feb 21, 2014 6:01 pm

BlackWaltzTheThird wrote:I believe it means "end of part 1 of Electric Daisies", which is the current chapter and was labelled as part 1 in the post. So, we'll see an Electric Daisies part 2 in the future.
Leaty wrote:Does "end of Part 1" mean "end of Act 1?" As in, are we done with the Festival from here?
BW is correct. Currently finishing up Part 2. Wanted to get this posted as I realized it was 11 pages and probably only halfway done :P
Oscar Wildecat wrote:I'm also enjoying the story very much. Especially this line:
“They get here, they run into people who try to treat them like they're made of glass, and they shut down. They never accept what happens because people around them keep trying to sweep it under the rug like it never happened. So they feel like failures because they can't get over it when everyone is trying to tell them they should. And they just...give up.” She shakes her head. “Nobody says 'It's okay to feel sorry for yourself once in a while. It's okay to think that whatever happened to you isn't fair. It's okay to get pissed off and cry and scream and punch a wall or throw something.' So they get into their own little world of pity and never come out of it. I don't want to see that happen to you, Hisao.”
I can't really put a finger on it, but that line resonated with me...

It also doesn't hurt that the story shares a title with one of my favorite Pink Floyd songs. :)
Thank you, I'm glad I was able to get that reaction. This was something I experienced in depth when I had my own injury and was laid up in the hospital for a while. It was therapy, tests, counselors, etc. day in and day out. After I was released from the hospital they sent me right back into school without any downtime at all. Everyone tried to keep me busy to take my mind off the fact that I had been horribly injured, and some days the positiveness was just...nauseating. Not one person shared with me or let me have my moment of "Holy shit, I almost died," so those moments were mine alone, and I was made to feel wrong for having them.
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 2/14)

Post by Redoxide » Sat Mar 08, 2014 12:26 am

I would like to dedicate my first post to this, I'm really liking this so far and hopefully it will continue soon.
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Suzu > Rin = Emi > Misha = Saki > Shizune = Hanako > A Kitten on Fire > Lily

Lily is completely unappealing to me.

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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 2/14)

Post by Eurobeatjester » Thu Jun 19, 2014 2:02 am

OK, lots of ground to cover here.

I'm sorry this took so long to update. The only real excuse I have is that I've had very little free time the last few months, and what time I have had to write hasn't been syncing up with my desire or mood to write. I can find time, but all I do is sit and stare at a blank page. Nothing comes out right. I've gone back and deleted whole pages the next day because it wasn't salvageable.

I can't try to force it and I won't update or release something until I'm happy with it.

But! I hope the length of this update makes up for it.

The first part of Electric Daisies was 9 pages. This second part is nearly 20. I am finally happy with it :)

Good news though. I did write plenty of other scenes when I simply couldn't find the words to write this one, so now that Act 1 is over, it should go by more quickly since I'm not trying to shoehorn in any extraneous plot. I'm not saying that I'm going to be updating once a week, but I shouldn't go months between them either.

I also don't think other chapters will be quite as long as this, but I don't know yet. Several scenes I've already written are this long.

About this chapter: Music is a big part of my writing, and there are always songs that fit the mood of my characters or the scenes I'm trying to portray. It always helps to listen to that song or songs when I write. This chapter was inspired by the Lindsey Sterling song “Electric Daisy Violin” since I had a few people ask me about it and guess correctly.

The song that Saki and Chisato play together is this.

So here it is, the end of Electric Daisies and Act 1.

Act 1: Life Expectancy

Scene 3: Electric Daisies (Part 2)


Saki and I continue down the path towards what appears to be the largest food stall, dodging people moving in the other direction. I can tell we're getting closer from the smells permeating the air and the increasing number of people we see carrying plates of food.

“How about this one?” I say, stopping in front of the first one we come to. The large variety of signs advertise all different types of traditional and fair-exclusive foods at what look to be decent prices.

“Looks good to me,” Saki agrees. The two of us find what appears to be the back of the line and park ourselves in it.

“So about today,” I ask, idly craning my neck around the people in front of us to scan the menus, “Is it the whole band that's playing today or is it just a few people?”

“We're all doing a few songs together first, then a few people are doing their own thing.”

“Oh? Are you doing anything like that?”

“Yep.” She smiles. “Chisato and I are doing a piece we've worked on before.”

I realize that while I know Saki plays the violin, I've never seen Chisato with a case that holds her own instrument, or even what that instrument would be.

“Really? What does she play?”

“Chisato plays the piano. Well, not today, obviously. We drag the keyboard out for that.”

“Oh thank god. I thought you were going to ask me to move a piano next.”

“Only at the end of the year. That thing's a bitch to move but we do it for the concert we put on. Makes it more authentic, I guess. At least it's on wheels...” Saki's voice trails off, her focus returning back to the menu as we move up in line.

I recognize a familiar face behind the stall, in an intense discussion with another student. Well, maybe not technically a face as it's turned away from me, but there's no mistaking that blonde hair and black ribbon.

“This must be Lilly's booth,” I mention to Saki.

“Oh wow, if this is 3-2's booth, they really outdid themselves this year,” Saki replies, giving the size of the booth another appreciative glance. “This is twice as big as the one they had last year.”

“Maybe they combined it this year with another class like yours did?” I ponder aloud, stepping forward again as the person in front of us wanders off with a bowl of soup.

“Could be,” Saki mutters as we find ourselves at the front of the line. Lilly turns in our direction to address us without stepping up to the order window.

“I apologize, I'll be with you in a moment,” she says, her voice a little ragged to anyone who knows her well enough to pick up on it. Otherwise, she's putting up a very good front to hide that things most likely aren't going as expected. She’s counting off on her fingers, her eyebrows knitting in concentration.

Finally, she turns back towards us.

“How can I help you?” she asks in her usual pleasant, if strained, tone.

“Hey Lilly,” I say, both as a way of greeting and a way to let her know it's me. Her face lights up in mild surprise.

“Hisao?” she questions tentatively.

“Yep, it's me. You okay? You look like there's something wrong.”

Her shoulders slump. “There was a mixup with our order. We're a lot more popular this year than I thought we would be and somehow it looks like we only ended up with half of what we needed. We might run out at this rate.”

“Ouch,” Saki says. “We have the opposite problem. I think we ended up with too much.”

Lily recognizes the voice as Saki and turns to address her. “Hello, Saki. Nothing ever does go perfect at these things, do they?” she mumbles in resignation.

“I don't know, can you cook fish? We have way more than we need of those. Hisao can bring over a bucket if you need it.”

“Wait, what?” I start to protest. Before I can finish my objection, I hear Lilly laughing.

“Thank you for the offer, but sadly, I don't think that would work. What we could really use is some more of our classmates that said they would be here. Ms. Miyagi went off to try to find them but hasn't had much luck.”

“We'll keep an eye out for any that we see,” I assure her. “Would smaller portions help out with the shortage problem?”

Lilly frowns in disappointment. “I suppose that will have to do for now. The day isn't over yet, however.” With a quick start, she suddenly realizes what she's supposed to be doing. “Oh, I'm so sorry! What can I get for the two of you?”

Crap, I forgot about the food. I quickly offer to let Saki choose first, using it as a cover to buy time while I make a frantic last glance at the board to reach a decision.

“Can I have two yakitori and a bowl of miso soup?” Saki asks, staring at the board hungrily. “Actually, make that three yakitori.”

“Three?” I ask.

“What? I haven't eaten today. Or most of yesterday.”

“I'll just have a bowl of soup too,” I say, reaching to pull out my wallet. Saki stops me with a quick touch of her fingertips to my wrist.

“I'll take care of it. You helped set up the stage, so I owe you.”

“You sure?” I hesitate.

“Yeah, absolutely. It's the least I can do.”

“Well then,” I say, grinning. “I think I want to try the yakitori too.”

Saki rolls her eyes and gives an exaggerated sigh of frustration. I only laugh as she hands the money to Lilly.

Lilly takes only a moment to expertly count out the coins with her fingertips, placing each one in a designated slot in the cash box behind the counter they've set up. She counts out the change in a similar fashion, then holds it out in her hand expectantly. Saki lightly brushes the bottom of it with her own, signaling Lilly to gently drop the coins into her palm.

It's such a fluid exchange that I find myself staring at it with my full attention, realizing I would have had no idea what would have been socially acceptable in that situation, or how I would have handled being either of them at that moment.

Just that simple interaction that I or anyone else would take for granted becomes a fascinating ritual to observe.

“It will be a few minutes,” Lilly says, breaking the spell. “I'll let you know when it's ready.”

“No problem, we'll be off to the side,” I answer, moving with Saki out of the way so the people behind us have a chance to place their order. Saki sits down on the edge of a low wall behind the stand in the shade, sagging visibly as she takes out a deep breath. She really is tired.

“You sure you're gonna be okay?” I prod, sitting down next to her.

“I'll be better once I get some food in me,” she reassures me. She brushes that stubborn lock of hair out of her eyes again, her watch glinting as it catches a ray of sunlight peeking through the foliage.

We sit for a few minutes, just watching the festival as it passes around us, enjoying the immediate tranquility that surrounds our little bubble. Having been so caught up in the preparations for the festival all week, it's nice to be able to sit down for a second and actually enjoy it. The guests seem to be enjoying it as well, and the sight of a few patrons greedily devouring their food makes my stomach rumble in anticipation. I close my eyes and let it all wash over me; the sounds, the smells, the feeling of a slight breeze over my skin...

My thoughts are interrupted when I hear Lilly call out our names. “Two miso soups and four yakitori?”

“Thank you,” I say, jumping up so Saki doesn't have to. I quickly move over to the side of the stall where Lilly has our food set aside and ready for us. It looks and smells delicious, and I make sure to tell her so.

“I hope you two enjoy it,” she says, with genuine enthusiasm. “Can you make sure to bring the bowls back later?”

“Sure thing,” I say, placing the plate of chicken on top of a bowl and performing a balancing act with the items in my hands. “Try to take a break if you can. You look like you're working really hard.”

Lilly gives a small smile at my words. “I'll try, if I get a chance. Thank you for your concern.”

I turn away and make my way back to where Saki and I are sitting. She looks up expectantly as I delicately place the food down between us.

“It looks good,” I say, bringing the soup up to my mouth for a taste. The broth is a little saltier than I'm used to, but the flavor doesn't disappoint.

“It better be,” Saki growls, her words muffled by the bite she’s already managed to take. “I paid for it after all.”

I laugh. “Oh please, you're going to lecture me on taking advantage of others?”

“No, but I'm still going to scowl at you anyway,” she says, leveling a menacing glare at me that has absolutely zero malice behind it. The fact that there's a skewer of grilled chicken hanging out of the corner of her mouth makes the image even more comical.

My own yakitori is pretty damned tasty, I have to admit. Usually whenever I would get them they would be dried out or slathered in sauce to the point where you couldn't taste the meat, but whoever they have helping them cook these really knows what they're doing.

Saki makes a noise of approval as she tries her own soup, having finished one of her three skewers already. “Just as good as I remember,” she says, placing the bowl down to attack another piece of chicken.

“What about your fried food?”

“Oh, I'll get that later. Right now I just need the energy.”

The rest of the meal passes without incident with light conversation, both of us too focused on the food to do much more than eat. Afterward, I throw the plate and empty skewers in the trash, and drop the bowls off at Lilly's stall. I was going to thank her for how good it was, but she seems to have vanished. Maybe she finally was able to take a break.

Saki’s finished standing up, taking her cane in one hand and brushing off the back of her skirt with the other.

“How much time do we have?” I ask.

She glances around to make sure she hasn't forgotten anything, then looks at her watch again.

“We should have just enough time to head over there if we hurry.”

I nod and the two of us fall into lockstep again, turning towards the dormitories where the stage was set up yesterday. The crush of people here is as large as I've seen, this main thoroughfare between all of Yamaku's different buildings being shown off to parents and other guests. Saki moves a bit closer to me, pressing her side into mine. It's an innocent gesture designed to make as small a target as possible for the human torpedoes darting around us, but one I find myself welcoming.

After a few seconds we make our way through a particularly stubborn knot of people and Saki moves away from me...although not quite as far away as she was before. Then we come into view of the stage and all that is forgotten.

Chisato seems to have finished directing others to set up chairs; if I had to guess, there are a hundred or so out in front of the stage with an aisle running down the middle. Maybe a quarter of them are filled by people waiting for the next show to start, although it's just as likely some of them are sitting down to take a quick break from the activities of the day.

The stage itself has two rows of chairs on it, along with an equal number of sheet music stands. A keyboard is set up on one end, with various wires streaming from its base to somewhere out of sight.

Saki spots Chisato before I do, in the middle of a group of students milling around off to the left of the stage. Most all of them are carrying instruments of some kind, either in hand or in their cases. I see a few more violins, a big violin that some nagging memory tells me is a cello, several flutes or close enough to where I can't tell the difference, and other things I don't recognize.

“Where the hell were you?” Saki demands by way of greeting as soon as Chisato runs up to us, bowing apologetically.

“I'm sorry!” she says. “There was a problem with the sound system, it hasn't been working right all morning.”

“And you're the only one who could fix it? I don't believe that for a second.”

I'm taken aback for an instant. I can tell Saki's genuinely angry, but just as soon as it flares up, she lets it go. There are other things for her to focus on right now and she knows it.

Chisato tries to placate her friend. “No, I'm not the only one, but I'm the best at it. I keep telling Ms. Sakamoto that we need a new setup but they're probably going to keep using this one until it melts.”

“Ugh, fine. But after this, you're going back to the booth if I have to drag you there myself. Is my violin here at least?”

Chisato moves over towards a bench where everyone has gathered, pulling out a black case. She turns back towards Saki, holding it out like a peace offering, but ready to use it like a shield at a moments notice.

Saki snatches it and sits down, wordlessly struggling with the closures.

“So...” I venture, my voice a bit awkward. “Just...find a seat anywhere?”

Chisato turns to me, acknowledging me for the first time. “Oh! Yes, sit anywhere. We're supposed to start in about ten minutes.”

Saki finally manages to snap open the case, looking up at me in triumph. “Hisao...are you going to stay and watch?”

The question kind of catches me off guard. I guess it was just assumed that I was going to stay, although I hadn't given it any active thought. Truth be told, I'm actually curious to hear Saki and the others play. I've never known too much about classical music, outside of attending the mandatory assemblies at my old school where the band would play something to close it out.

“Sure,” I say. “I saw how hard you were working all week, so I'm looking forward to seeing it.”

Her eyes brighten at my answer, and she moves the case onto the bench next to her. “Can I ask you for a favor?”

“What is it?”

“Can you hold on to my cane for me? I would normally leave it here, but...” she says, her voice trailing off. I see the chaos around me as everyone is setting up their instruments, some nearly as large as they are. It could get very easy to lose something like a cane or have it buried under all the confusion.

“I can do that,” I reply, “but don't you need it for the stairs?”

“It's only a few steps. I'll be fine,” she says, holding the cane out to me. I nod and accept it from her. It's a bit heavier than I thought it would be, and very sturdy.

“I guess I'll see you after, then?” I ask.

(continued...)
Last edited by Eurobeatjester on Sun Oct 28, 2018 7:51 am, edited 8 times in total.
Stuff I'm currently writing: Learning To Fly: A Saki Enomoto Pseudo Route
Two Turtledoves - A Lilly/Hisao Christmas Oneshot
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 2/14)

Post by Eurobeatjester » Thu Jun 19, 2014 2:07 am

“That works,” Saki says, using her now-free hands to pull her violin out of its case. “We have a few songs to play with band, and then Chisato and I play something, and then I can get off the stage and sit with you.”

I make a mental note to sit near the stairs so Saki doesn't have that far to walk. “Okay then. Good luck!”

Saki breaks her attention from setting up her violin to smile and nod back briefly, but then immediately turns and starts to talk to a bandmate on her left.

Right, then.

I take the opportunity to find a seat a few rows back, and idly glance around as more people make their way over. A little less than half the seats are filled, but that’s probably going to change once the band visibly gets onto the stage. I look down at the cane I have in my hand, and turn it in my fingertips, idly contemplating it.

The shaft is about a meter long, with a rubber cleat on one end and a molded plastic handle coated in a thin layer of rubber on the other. A small loop of braided cord hangs from one end of the handle to slip a wrist through. I confirm that it's a bit beefier than I would have thought, but I'm no expert in these things. As I turn the cane in my hands, the barely visible pattern of wood grain on the shaft tells me why.

The cane is made of solid wood, something I find surprising. I had always thought that these were made of hollow metal tubes.

I notice a few more details, such as the quality of the fasteners and gold bands at either end of the wood between the handle and foot. There's also some kanji stamped into the handle, but it's so worn I can't make it out for sure.

This cane isn't like any I've ever seen. It looks to be custom made, just for Saki. No wonder she wanted someone to hold onto it. How much does it cost to make something like this?

While I finish this thought, the band members shuffle onto the stage. Saki has her violin in one hand and her other on Chisato's shoulder to help balance her. After making sure her friend is situated, Chisato makes her way to the keyboard down at the far end.

An older woman stands up in front of the group, her salt-and-pepper hair pulled into a bun to compliment her blue blouse and long skirt. She takes a minute to scan the crowd, with a few members of it starting to quiet as they notice her.

“Hello,” she announces, her voice loud enough to let people in the audience know the show is about to start. Her voice resonates a quiet dignity as she bows slightly to the crowd. “My name is Hana Sakamoto, and I'm pleased to say that I've been the music teacher here at Yamaku for the last seven years. I'd like to thank all of you for coming today. I know there are a lot of games and food to see, but we greatly appreciate you taking the time to listen to us today.”

Polite, scattered applause drifts up from the chairs around me. I join in for a few seconds.

“This year has been an amazing one for us so far,” she continues. “We have a truly talented group of students up here today and they've all worked very hard to be able to play for you...”

As Ms. Sakamoto drones on, the faces of the band behind her register a variety of emotions. Some are excited, some are bored, and some seem annoyed. One boy is actively rolling his eyes.

“...we're hoping that you enjoy, and help us out by either donating or checking out several of the booths we have running,” the teacher concludes. With a flourish, she turns around and nods to the band, which starts playing.

It's a standard tune, one designed to appeal to as many people as possible while offending none - the type of thing you would hear in an elevator. The same students that were bored during Ms. Sakamoto's speech haven't changed their expressions in the least, despite the fact they're now playing.

I will say this. There's something oddly fascinating about using that level of skill while being completely disdainful doing so.

The music shifts and changes, letting some instruments come through ahead of others, then switching places. Each individual person a chance to shine and also be part of the overall group. Saki is one of three violinists, and all three of them play together when called for, their fingers moving over the necks of their violins, the bows gliding across the strings.

The first song ends after a few minutes, followed by another round of polite applause. After a few seconds another one starts up, the tempo slightly upbeat compared to the previous tune. It sounds a bit playful actually, and before I know it I'm tapping my heel in time with the rhythm. Once again, there's no real effort to have certain elements outshine the others.

With the change in mood, I look at the students again. More now have a positive look on their faces, while some have intense looks of concentration as the song slips in and out of complexity. I look at Saki, who is wearing a mask of calm composition as she mirrors the motions of the players on either side of her. She's focused, but there's also a sense of satisfaction written on her face. The rest of the crowd seems to pick up on the energy as well, with more people smiling than there were when the show started.

That song comes to a close as well, with yet more clapping. Ms. Sakamoto turns back toward the crowd after the last stanza fades, with a look of humble pride on her face.

“Thank you for your applause. We would now like to take this time to allow some of our students to showcase their own talents. We firmly believe here at Yamaku in developing each student to their fullest potential and letting them shine, whether it's in music, sports, art, academic studies, or any other area they want to pursue.”

As she continues, I notice members of the band shuffling to leave the stage. Chisato retains her spot at the keyboard, and Saki draws her legs closer underneath her chair to allow the students to her side to pass unimpeded. When the procession ends, she scoots over to the chair nearest the keyboard.

“Our first piece is from two very talented students, performing a twist on a classic composition. I would like to introduce you to Saki Enomoto playing the violin and Chisato Souma playing the piano.”

Chisato raises a hand and waves, and Saki gives a slight bow before resting her violin in the crook between her shoulder and chin. All eyes in the chairs are fixed on the two of them for a few seconds of silence.

Chisato and Saki look at each other and both give an almost imperceptible nod.

The melody starts with Chisato playing a few opening notes, moving down and up the scale. Saki brings the bow up and joins in with long, slow strokes that compliment Chisato's playing. The bow moves across the string, eliciting a mournful sound that balances perfectly with the flow of the piano. Instantly, the first few seconds tickles some recognition deep in my brain.

The piece picks up in complexity while keeping the same basic structure, both girls trading off the lead while the other plays an accompaniment in the background. I would be closing my eyes to better experience the music, but I can't take my eyes off Saki. Unlike when she was playing with the band, her body is relaxed, her eyes are closed, and her fingers aren't moving with the formal rigidity they were earlier.

They're dancing.

Image
<Art by Scott Bennett>

I've never had a big taste in music. I don't have any real favorite genre. I don't have any presets on my radio back home, or any posters for bands hanging on my wall. I couldn't carry a tune if you gave me a bucket. The few times I've been at assemblies and dragged along by my family to events, I've had to watch other people clapping to get the timing right half the time.

There are a few songs I've heard over the years that just make an instant connection, tied to places or people or events in my life. When I hear one, time seems to stop for those brief few moments as I'm placed right back there. Some of those moments are good, some of them are painful.

Like my appreciation for most things, music was tainted by my long hospital stay. When I was first admitted to the hospital, I spent several weeks in a shared intensive care ward. None of the doors could be closed so each room and bed had a direct line of sight to the nurse's station. That particular station had a radio that played day in and day out, recycling the same dozen songs every two hours.

I didn't mind at first, but then they started to cut back the good medication.

You can only hear the same song so many times before you begin to understand why the doctors don't keep sharp instruments in the patient rooms.

Being moved to a shared recovery room with one other person didn't help much either. They insisted on playing their radio on the same station as well, and they happened to be on the side of the room with the radio. It wasn't until after nearly two months that I got my own room and sweet, blessed silence.

I guess I'm trying to say I'd grown kind of numb to music as a whole the last few months. All that said, before I know it, I'm completely absorbed in what I'm hearing.

A quick look around me shows that many other people are having the same reaction I am.

Rapt attention.

Far away, there are still the sounds of the festival. People laughing, children shouting, and the general hustle and noise. But right now, all that exists is this little bubble and the control the two on stage have of it.

All too soon, the music ramps down, with Saki finishing first. The piece ends the way it started, with a final, sad string of notes by Chisato. When Saki lowers her violin and bows, an enthusiastic round of applause starts through the crowd, and I'm gladly swept up in it. No matter what your taste in music, anyone who heard that would have to admit it was quite a show.

I just know I've heard that song before. Either in a movie, or on the radio, or maybe in the background of a store somewhere. I'll have to ask Saki about it.

As the applause dies down, Saki and Chisato give one final bow and move off the stage, Saki's hand gently resting on Chisato's shoulder. I get up and move by the stairs to meet them and give Saki her cane back. “You two were amazing!”

“Thank you!” both girls say in unison. Chisato has a look of self satisfaction, while Saki smiles tiredly. Her shoulders sag as if a huge weight has been lifted off of them. She’s been running on nothing but anticipation and adrenaline, and now that it's over she's deflating like a balloon.

“That sounded really familiar. I swear I've heard it somewhere,” I comment.

Despite her exhaustion, the light never leaves her eyes as she looks into mine. “Pachelbel,” she answers. “It's called 'Canon in D.' It's one of those songs that has probably a hundred different versions. It's usually pretty boring though, so we changed it a little bit.”

“Ms. Sakamoto mentioned it was an 'original twist.' Did you come up with the changes yourselves?” I wonder aloud. “That's pretty incredible.”

Saki's expression loses just a bit of its cheerfulness, and I don't think it's just because of how tired she is. “Kind of.”

Chisato's face has the same quick look of...something. I can't quite pin it down, but I sense the mood of the conversation just changed subtly.

(continued...)
Last edited by Eurobeatjester on Sun Oct 28, 2018 7:56 am, edited 3 times in total.
Stuff I'm currently writing: Learning To Fly: A Saki Enomoto Pseudo Route
Two Turtledoves - A Lilly/Hisao Christmas Oneshot
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Re: Learning To Fly - A Saki pseudo-route (Updated 2/14)

Post by Eurobeatjester » Thu Jun 19, 2014 2:17 am

I'm prevented from asking anything else as three of her bandmates step up, making us realize we're blocking the stairs. With a quick apology, we move off towards the side so they can take the stage themselves for their own chance to play.

Saki walks the few steps to the bench and sits down fairly hard, her fatigue clearly visible. She opens her violin case, moving to quickly put the instrument away.

“Are you okay?” I ask, showing concern.

She gives a nod. “Yeah, I'm fine. Just really tired. That took more out of me than I thought it would. It's been a really exhausting week."

“Tell you what,” Chisato says. “If you want to get out of here, I'll let Ms. Sakamoto know what's going on. I'll even take care of the booth too.”

“You should have been doing that anyway,” Saki counters, annoyed. “Besides, I thought you had to run the sound system?”

“Oh, that's pretty much done with now. After our group, there's nothing else scheduled until the fireworks.”

Saki shakes her head with a sigh.

“Fireworks?” I question, my eyebrows raising. “They actually have fireworks here?” Fireworks aren't cheap, and the fact they would have them at a school festival shows that Yamaku must have some fairly serious financial backers.

“Mm-hmm,” Chisato affirms as Saki closes the case. “They have them every year. I heard that this year's are supposed to be pretty good. Are you going to be able to stick around and see?”

“I'm not sure,” I hesitate. Saki catches me glancing at her, leaving the decision up to how she’s feeling.

“I don't think I'm gonna make it that far. I just want to get a drink and probably go turn in early.”

Chisato relents when she sees how tired her friend is. “Alright, I'll handle things here. Go get some...sleep,” she says, winking at me with a mischievous tone to her voice.

Now it's my turn to shake my head and sigh.

Saki gets to her feet with her cane in hand, leaving her violin with the rest of the instruments for the band. It's a simple matter to walk off to the side, excusing ourselves from the vicinity without drawing too much attention. Saki's leaning a bit heavier on her cane, her steps not quite as nimble as they were earlier.

“What would you like to drink?” I ask.

“You know what would really hit the spot right now? Some kind of juice.”

The sun is starting to go down, and the area leading down to the food booths is definitely more crowded than it was on our first trip through. “Do you want to look at the vending machines, or try one of the stalls again?”

“Let's try the Lilly’s stall again,” she says. “I want you to see the school lit up at night. You'll love it.”

We round the corner to see the thoroughfare, and I see she's right.

The festival is still bustling with activity, but here's a different mood once the sky starts to darken. The path is lit now by glowing red paper lanterns, illuminating the happy faces of the adults and children wandering around. Some have purpose, making beelines between different stalls. Others are along for the ride, while still others simply seem to be happy meandering around, taking in the various sights like ourselves.

“I'm going to find a spot on the grass over in that area,” Saki explains, pointing beyond the stalls to one of the large open grassy fields between the footpaths. There's already a multitude of people laying out on blankets and sitting in chairs.

“Come find me?” she finishes, looking at me with that ever present twinkle in her eyes.

-~*~-~*~-~*~-~*~-

“All they had left was apple and orange juice,” I say apologetically, sitting down on the grass next to Saki. I offer both cans to her so she can choose which one she wants. She grabs the apple and eagerly pops the tab on it.

“Thank you,” she gasps after downing half the can in three long gulps, then gives a quick cough. I start to chuckle at her enthusiasm as I open my own drink.

“Don't mention it, but I thought you wanted to turn in early and get a good night's sleep?”

“I do,” she says, stretching her legs out in front of her, “but this is the last year I'll get to see this, you know?”

Huh, I never even thought of it that way. I'd spent so much time this last week trying to adjust that I'd never even considered that people might feel sad to know this was their last festival they might see.

Saki lays out on the grass completely, placing her hands behind her head with a contented sigh. I take her lead, gazing up at the mostly-night sky as the last trace of sunlight flees behind the hills.

I take a deep breath. All the smells of the food, the grass beneath me, and just the general crispness of the evening air is like a heady drug that instantly calms me. I think that, for the first time since my life changed that day months ago, I'm at peace.

It's a nice feeling.

Like a highlight reel, my brain replays the last few days. Settling into Yamaku. Working with Shizune and Misha. Meeting Lilly and Hanako. My almost disastrous run with Emi. That painfully awkward chat with Rin in the art room; I lost my ability to form coherent thoughts at the sight of her eating with her feet, and never did quite get it back for the rest of that encounter.

The time I've spent with Saki wanders to the forefront of my thoughts.

I turn my head slightly to look at her. Her eyes are closed, honey-chestnut hair fanned out around her head and shoulders. Her lips are parted slightly, moving gently as she breathes steadily in and out.

She's asleep.

I think about waking her, but decide to let her be.

Why did she take such an interest in me this first week? I came to this school rather bitter and closed off. I barely wanted to be around myself the first few days, so I can only imagine how pleasant I was around others. But she wasn't put off by it at all, instead constantly trying to make me laugh, to see things from a different perspective, and above all keep me busy. I stare at the scab on the back of my knuckle. Not quite in the way Shizune and Misha were trying to, but in her own way.

Maybe she just wanted to keep me busy to take my mind off various things until I could appreciate them, like this very moment here. And to get to this point, where I could just relax long enough to feel it? The girl lying beside me is a big part of that.

More questions form in my mind as I watch her. Why is she here at Yamaku? Why does she need the cane? And why is she so...forward? I appreciate her candor about our...situations, but I wonder what caused her to adopt that attitude in the first place.

“Saki?” I blurt out before I even realize I've spoken.

“Hm?” she says sleepily, her eyes fluttering open to look at me.

Too late to back out now, I ask the question in my mind, both ashamed of doing so and surprised I find the courage.

“Why are you here at Yamaku?”

How I asked that with a steady voice, I'll never know.

She props herself up on her elbows and looks into my eyes, a piercing stare that holds my gaze. There's a seriousness in the air, as if she's appraising me and thinking what to say. But there's also a hint of amusement and approval.

A few seconds go by, each one more uncomfortable than the last. But unlike the other times this week where I've been caught in a taboo, I don't flinch away.

My face might be growing hot, but I don't flinch away.

Saki breaks into a soft smile. “See? That wasn't so hard, was it?”

Okay, now I flinch.

“It's okay, Hisao. I know you're curious. I see you looking at me walking with my cane. I just thought it would be better for you if you were the one to ask me. Besides, just a cane doesn’t give you a lot to go off of, does it?”

I give a short laugh. “Well, you were the one who went off on me earlier. I figured it would be safe to ask you. I didn't think you'd be upset if I did.”

“Oh please. I'm not that hypocritical,” she says, in mock indignation.

“Hey, cut me some slack. I'm still learning here. About...all of this.”

“Excuse denied.”

“Huh?”

“Sorry, but from now on you're no longer allowed to use that excuse.” Her tone turns a little sad as she continues. “Some people never stop using that excuse.”

That one hits a little close to home, but our earlier conversation where she chewed me out helps me understand what she's implying.

“I'm here because I have a degenerative disorder called 'spinocerebellar ataxia,'” she says, reciting the foreign words as if reciting straight from a textbook. “It's a disease that attacks the nervous system and screws up various things all over your body.”

“I've never even heard of that before.”

“Not many people have,” she replies sardonically, laying back down again. “As long as I can still get around and play my violin, it doesn't bother me too much.”

Saki mentioned it's a disease. People can't regrow limbs, or regenerate hearts or eyes. But most diseases are treatable, right?

“Is there any cure?”

“Nope,” she answers, as casually as if I just asked if she knew the answer to a question on a math test. “I mean, I take and do things that help with the symptoms, but no cure.”

There's nothing in her voice that suggests she's uncomfortable talking about it...but maybe this isn't the time or the place.

“Your turn,” she says, catching me off guard. “What brings you to be laying down in the grass next to me on a spring night, waiting for fireworks to start? Something with your heart, right?”

I grimace. “How'd you guess?”

“The reaction to the 'heart attack' comment I made earlier...besides, it's not like you have a cane like me.”

“Maybe I'm one of the normal kids here,” I offer up lamely. “Like Misha.”

Saki laughs. “Run that by me again. Did you just call Misha 'normal'?”

“That didn't exactly sound convincing, did it?”

“Nope. Besides, you transferred in after the year had already started, and it’s pretty obvious you didn't end up here because you wanted to,” she chides, her amusement reflected in the low lights from the festival.

“I have a heart condition called arrhythmia,” I say, trying to match my tone to hers. “My heart decides it wants to do its own thing sometimes because it's weaker than normal.”

“Oh, that's where the beat is off, right?” Saki exclaims, as if she's enthused she knows what the word means. She winces when she realizes her reaction. “Sorry...”

I chuckle. “Close enough. I had a heart attack that landed me in the hospital for a few months, and after that, well, here I am.”

“Can it get better? With medication, or...”

“I swear, I take my own body weight in pills every week. I even take stuff that does nothing but combat the side effects of other stuff,” I say. “My doctors say that light exercise should help, but Nurse convinced me to go for a morning run with Emi and it didn't go so well.”

That's a bit of an understatement, to say the least.

“Well, if you can't run, what about swimming? That's what I do for exercise,” ” Saki muses, her face turning thoughtful.

“So that's the reason why you always go to the pool before school starts? Huh. I just assumed Yamaku had a swim team.”

“Yamaku has some after school clubs, but, well...we don't really have much in the way of teams.”

“Ah.”

I can see why a school for the disabled doesn't exactly have a competitive soccer or baseball team. Actually, that's something painfully obvious in hindsight.

Still, swimming? Nurse did mention that as an option, at least to start out with. The only real downside I can see is...well...I can barely stand to look at my scar in the mirror. The thought of letting other people see it pretty much kills any enthusiasm Saki might have tried to instill in me. I suppose I could swim with a shirt on, but that would draw just as much attention as the scar would...

Saki senses my hesitation. “Just think about it, okay?”

Before I can reply, a booming noise sounds out in the distance, startling everyone. Two seconds later, the sky comes alive with a bright green explosion that turns the sounds of shock into squeals of delight.

(continued...)
Last edited by Eurobeatjester on Sun Oct 28, 2018 7:57 am, edited 5 times in total.
Stuff I'm currently writing: Learning To Fly: A Saki Enomoto Pseudo Route
Two Turtledoves - A Lilly/Hisao Christmas Oneshot
Blank Mage wrote:
Eurobeatjester wrote:I doubt my ability to write convincing lesbian erotica
believe in yourself

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