I struggle to find the words to explain what I’m feeling, which is made even more difficult by trying to figure this out in real time. On one hand, it would be great to be able to focus completely on my studies and not worry about things like rent or finding a part time job...even though I’d still try to find one. On the other...that’s the problem.
I wouldn’t need
to find one, and I’m not so sure I feel at ease with that situation and how easy it might be to fall into it. Whatever reservations I had about how my teachers and friends might have coddled me, I know that with my parents, it might be even worse.
“I think I might end up getting too comfortable at home,” I finish.
“You hit a speed bump, but you want to keep moving forward?”
I laugh. “It was
of a speed bump.”
She smiles in response. “I get you.”
A thought in the back of my head starts to form, an irrational seed that actively resists any attempts to silence it. Despite all the objections that immediately form in response, it’s one that grabs my attention and refuses to let go.
“If you both go to Tokyo, maybe I’ll try to go too.”
The words fight their way out of my mouth, my jaw seemingly shackled by rust and disuse. The metaphorical squealing of the metal angrily lashes back against my doubts. This is the first time I’ve even tentatively voiced a plan to myself
about what happens after Yamaku, beyond a forced and tenuous apathy. Even as I think it, it doesn’t seem like such a crazy idea.
No, it is
crazy. Absolutely crazy. But it could be a doable
“We could all get a place together and sell the rights to some television station to use as a sitcom,” Chisato teases. “We could be celebrities if we play it right.”
“I’m not so sure I’d like that…”
“No, it would actually work really well! We could pay for the place that way. I could be the fragile musician struggling to balance her passion and personal life. Saki could be the voice of reason.”
“Compared to you,
maybe. What would I be?”
“The comic relief. You know, the one who just tags along, doesn’t really know what’s going on, but says something unintentionally profound near the end of each episode. Then once a season you get an episode to yourself that doesn’t really advance any plot but reminds everyone you’re a good guy but nobody remembers next week.”
“Thought this out, have you?”
“Okay, okay, maybe not something that
extreme. But it might be nice to get together once in a while, you know?”
“...I think it would.”
settled at least,” she finishes, moving to stand up. I quickly move to do the same, and watch her as she tries to toss her coffee cup into the nearby trashcan. She misses and curses, taking a few long steps over to bend down and deposit the trash properly.
“Let’s hope our new place doesn’t have a basketball hoop in the backyard,” I say.
“Oh ha ha.
Glad to see you’re warming up to the idea at least.”
“I barely survive being around you two at school as is. If we lived together I’d be dead in the first month.”
Chisato stretches, reaching an arm over her head and pulling it back down with the other. “You’re probably right. Besides, maybe it would be better if I lived on my own. I could still get a deal. I’d still be the struggling female musician trying to make it in the world. They would be able to shoot on locations a lot more so I’d get to go to a lot more places.”
“That’s the spirit,” I laugh, walking over to her and giving her another hug. It starts lightly enough, but after a few seconds, her grip on me becomes...fierce. Not because it’s me specifically...but because she needs something to hold on to. I can feel the brave face she’s making starting to crack, and it’s threatening to take mine with it.
“Can I ask another question?” Chisato mumbles into my chest.
“Go for it.”
“I’m sorry if it sounds personal.”
When I don’t answer, she continues.
“What would you
No. She’s not just asking what I would do in her situation specifically, but what I would do in a similar one. Not just with exams, or a relationship, or college, but finding a waypoint from this life-defining nexus in general. How I would choose what to leave behind, and what to take with me. How I would choose what - and who
- is worth fighting for.
are you going to do?
“I wish I knew,” I reply, letting the full weight of that realization sink in.
Gods, I really do
have no idea what to do when it comes to Saki. Sure, we’ve talked about it a bit over the last few months, but I’d be lying if I said we talked about it seriously. We’ve always evaded the subject whenever it seriously came up. It’s easy to deflect with a witty observation or a sarcastic remark, especially when we’ve been able to get so much practice
at it the last few weeks.
It’s easy to congratulate oneself for being clever; it’s much harder to dig deeper.
And yet, for all that, there’s still the thought of Tokyo. It’s buried for sure, but it steadily persists like a small pebble in a shoe. You might not remember it’s there, but it’s sure to remind you of its presence every time you manage to hit your stride.
If I was really as fearless towards the subject as I’ve been trying to tell myself, then why does that idea simply refuse to go away?
Maybe bravado only lasts until something genuine can come along to challenge and ultimately replace it.
Chisato senses the subtle change these thoughts force onto me, and her hug gets tighter - bracing and supporting me both physically and mentally. I’m very grateful for the contact. I know that I’ll at least have one person I can bounce stuff off of like this.
She finally lets me go, and smiles sadly. “Well, when you figure it out, let me know.”
“I’ll probably be running it by you at some point,” I say, trying to make a joke but realizing just how true those words are as I speak them.
“I’ll be around. Thanks, Hisao.”
The two of us somehow wordlessly decide that it’s probably a good idea to get back into the dorm. Neither one of us has looked at our watches, but the glow of the various lamps along the pathways warns that we have to be fairly close to curfew. We make our way up the steps and are about to go our separate paths when Chisato stops.
“Oh! One last thing,” she says, reaching into her handbag and pulling out a manilla folder. “Can you give these to Saki when you see her tomorrow? It kind of...slipped my mind earlier.”
“What is it?” I ask, taking it from her. It’s a bit too dark to see what she’s handing me without squinting. I can tell there’s a stack of papers inside, but I can’t make out what’s written on them with a casual glance.
“It’s a copy of the sheet music we were going to use for the recording. I have the originals but I didn’t want to scribble notes on them. If Saki can look at them tomorrow and add her own notes then we can get a jump start at practice after classes.”
“Sure thing,” I say, tucking it under my arm. “I’ll throw it in my bookbag before I go to bed tonight.”
“Thanks again. For...everything.”
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