After the Dream—Lilly's Arc/'Testament' (Complete)

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After the Dream—Lilly's Arc/'Testament' (Complete)

Post by brythain » Sun Mar 02, 2014 1:27 pm

This is the index page for Lilly's arc in my post-Lilly-neutral-end mosaic, 'After the Dream'.

Completed arcs: Shizune | Lilly | Emi | Hanako | Rin | Misha — Main Index

The Main Index contains the different parts in chronological order, along with other fragments.


Lilly's arc consists of:

Lilly 1 — Transit (see below, this post)
Lilly 2 — Transform
Lilly 3 — Trapdoor
Lilly 4 — Timing
Lilly 5 — Transmute
Lilly 6 — Transpose
Lilly 7 — Terminus

Lilly herself wrote a short autobiography, and so 'Testament' can be found here:

Part 1 (1989-2007)
Part 2 (2007)
Part 3 (2009-2029)
Part 4 (2029-2030)
Part 5 (2030-2044)
Part 6 (2044-2064)
Part 7 (2064-2074)

There's also a little one-shot called 'The Satou Legacy' somewhere.
There's a second interview HERE.

=====

Lilly 1: Transit (2007)

There is nobody as conflicted as a Catholic young lady in love. This is not always a true statement, but it often comes too close for comfort. What is interesting, but hidden and thus disputable—if not, at times, downright disreputable—would be a view of what images run through such a young lady’s mind.

In the case of the young lady, rather tired, walking with an erratic rolling gait beside a more disreputable-looking companion as they transit through London-Heathrow, this would be a lot less interesting to the voyeur. That is because she is blind, despite having the most beautiful aquamarine eyes in history—but we only have Hisao Nakai’s word for it, and he was a man under extreme stress at the time.

It is thus, perhaps, best for us to adopt the role of audience at a concert, and listen to the sounds, the lyrics, and the occasional clearings of throats that manifest at such events. So, without further ado, I shall introduce the highlights of the programme and provide notes such as lyrics and useful historical facts.

*****

1. Don’t Let It Bring You Down

Our first piece is sponsored by Akira Satou, Lilly’s elder sister. Lilly is not one for technological contrivances unless absolutely necessary, but Akira has music on a little device called an iPod or somesuch, and Lilly is bored with the inflight entertainment. She is also suffering an internal monologue that has driven her temporarily insane through repetition of a classic he-loves-me-he-loves-me-not refrain. Akira, for reasons known only to her, identifies with someone called Annie Lennox, and Lilly’s first attempt at listening to such music has brought her to an album called Medusa (1995).

It is an interesting little piece. But it is not particularly helpful, especially as it relies partly on colour imagery, which loses some impact on the visually impaired. However, as we know from Lilly’s experience, she associates colours with specific substances, scents, and textures. She has a colour-map. And this makes her random selection rather unfortunate.

Blind man running through the light of the night
With an answer in his hand
Come on down to the river of sight
And you can really understand

Red lights flashing through the window in the rain
Can you hear the sirens moan?
White cane lying in the gutter in the lane
And you're walking home alone


She’s flying home alone, even with Akira next to her. She had visions of a romantic suitor making one last-gasp effort to reach her, but he never came. As she reaches the last lines, she is in tears, and our sponsor has sworn volubly, confiscated the little device, and asked for two beers. All this, while flying over what appears to be Russia, which fact then necessitates a further request for vodka.

2. Without Guile

Our second piece is sponsored by Mrs Catherine Anderson Satou, Lilly’s mother. Mrs Satou grew up listening to music by one John Michael Talbot, and seems to have spent a lot of time on an album called Troubadour of the Great King (1981). We do not form any hypotheses, but should merely note that some lines of the song were often repeated in Lilly’s hearing as she grew up.

It is not for us to be wise
It is not for us to calculate our gain
We should be lowly and pure
As the children of the kingdom…

We should not seek
To be in charge of another
We should seek just to be
The servants of all men…


It is all very religious stuff. Yet, what children hear and what they do of their own free will at some later time can be rather different, and also productive of conflict. One could speculate that the philosophical subtext has put Lilly in direct conflict with other family members, or even with her own nature; but that would be mere speculation, since Akira shows few signs of such influence.

At some point as the flight BA006 lands at Heathrow and taxis to a stop somewhere near Terminal Five, Lilly has essentially resolved to forgive Mr Nakai, confess her sins, and be a good Catholic girl again. It is this piece of music that she hears in her very good acoustic memory as she makes this resolution.

3. Suite No. 4 in E-flat Major, IV: Sarabande

Our third piece is purely instrumental. It is sponsored by Mr Nakai himself, our missing associate in this endeavour. He apparently, in a fit of adolescent tenderness, purchased a music-box of unknown provenance but undoubted charm from one of those mysterious Japanese antique-shops that can be found in an old city and never visited a second time. He then took advantage of some other young lady’s special occasion to pass said music-box to the younger Miss Satou. Take note: this music-box will appear a lot in our story.

Akira, ever the conspirator, made sure the music-box was packed in Lilly’s cabin luggage. This has resulted in Lilly attempting to find her toothbrush, and finding the box instead. Opening the box has incited a storm of mixed emotions, somewhat undermining the effect of the previous resolution.

As the eloquent Ms Kate Rivers says about this piece: “… the solo melodic line is capable of a penetrating emotionality that is out of reach of the heavier, faster-moving textures. The demands of this music are immense, and the rewards equally great.” This emotionally trenchant piece was crafted by Johann Sebastian Bach c. 1720. Clearly, it has not lost any of its power in nearly three centuries.

Some of the other passengers begin to demonstrate a little annoyance, although a few of the kinder ones express their gentle concern for the softly sobbing girl at the window seat. Akira is embarrassed, but deals politely with them while holding her sister’s trembling right hand.

*****

It is no wonder, then, that the private flight from London-Heathrow via Edinburgh to Inverness is fraught with deep and broody silences mixed with vocalized anguish (of the kind only young love can manufacture), and a steadily more alcoholic atmosphere. At some point, the flight attendants courteously decline to provide more fuel for this process.

After landing at Edinburgh, it is the maintenance of said atmosphere over the next few days that results in Lilly being an even worse ‘morning person’ than usual. Akira takes to hiding the key to the liquor cabinet.

This is why, when Mr Nakai repeatedly attempts to call her, he fails. It is from such minor threads that the fates of men and women are hung.

=====
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Last edited by brythain on Sat Apr 29, 2017 10:17 pm, edited 55 times in total.
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
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Re: After the Dream (PostLilly NeutralEnd) Lilly1 up 2014030

Post by dewelar » Sun Mar 02, 2014 2:11 pm

Heh...interesting to read this just as I'm bringing Lilly back to Yamaku in my own post-neutral-end fic.

A quick note: I've always found it odd for someone who's trying to discover an artist to choose, as their first taste of their work, a piece that's entirely made up of their interpretations of other artists (e.g. Medusa). I suppose it could serve as a bridge into their oeuvre if they're set on exploring it in its entirety, but I don't think it would be fair to use it as a judgment of them as an artist.
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Re: After the Dream (PostLilly NeutralEnd) Lilly1 up 2014030

Post by brythain » Sun Mar 02, 2014 2:21 pm

dewelar wrote:Heh...interesting to read this just as I'm bringing Lilly back to Yamaku in my own post-neutral-end fic.

A quick note: I've always found it odd for someone who's trying to discover an artist to choose, as their first taste of their work, a piece that's entirely made up of their interpretations of other artists (e.g. Medusa). I suppose it could serve as a bridge into their oeuvre if they're set on exploring it in its entirety, but I don't think it would be fair to use it as a judgment of them as an artist.
That's what you get when you randomly access your weird sister's iPod. :)

Heh, I had just re-read yours because of your latest chapter, and I was wondering what on earth could have kept Lilly away until Hisao's death...
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
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Re: After the Dream (PostLilly NeutralEnd) Lilly1 up 2014030

Post by dewelar » Sun Mar 02, 2014 2:38 pm

brythain wrote:
dewelar wrote:Heh...interesting to read this just as I'm bringing Lilly back to Yamaku in my own post-neutral-end fic.

A quick note: I've always found it odd for someone who's trying to discover an artist to choose, as their first taste of their work, a piece that's entirely made up of their interpretations of other artists (e.g. Medusa). I suppose it could serve as a bridge into their oeuvre if they're set on exploring it in its entirety, but I don't think it would be fair to use it as a judgment of them as an artist.
That's what you get when you randomly access your weird sister's iPod. :)
*laughs* If she's got it, give a listen to Lennox's Bare album. There's some stuff that might be really appropriate for the tone of this story on it.
Heh, I had just re-read yours because of your latest chapter, and I was wondering what on earth could have kept Lilly away until Hisao's death...
I'm interested to find that out, too... :)
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Re: After the Dream (PostLilly NeutralEnd) Lilly1 up 2014030

Post by bhtooefr » Sun Mar 02, 2014 3:47 pm

For what it's worth, Katawa Shoujo is set in 2007, and Lilly turned 18 in February, before Hanako turned 18 during the VN.

That means she was born in 1989. My leading theory is that her parents manipulated things to pass her off as developmentally disabled, to delay her entry into school. (Normally, for her birthday to be in February, she would've been 17 for most of her third year (which she would've graduated from in March 2007, well before Hisao comes to Yamaku), which would make 1990 correct, but she canonically turned 18 near the end of her second year.)

(Interestingly, this means that Emi's actually mistaken about her being a year older than Hisao, too (and Hisao turned 18 in the hospital and we know he didn't get held back - so Emi's at most 2.5 months older than Hisao), and Rin either got held back a year before entering school as well (she could far more easily be seen as developmentally disabled, though), or she's 17 during the VN timeline (which I'm pretty sure the devs were explicitly trying to avoid).)
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Re: After the Dream (PostLilly NeutralEnd) Lilly1 up 2014030

Post by Guest Poster » Sun Mar 02, 2014 4:08 pm

Rather than coming up with theories about the parents of 3 of the girls all holding their kids back, it may be easier to go with the fact that the devs overlooked the school year issue and stretch suspension of disbelief a bit to let all the girls (except Emi) enter elementary school at the same moment in time. Sometimes an oversight is just an oversight.
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Re: After the Dream (PostLilly NeutralEnd) Lilly1 up 2014030

Post by Oscar Wildecat » Sun Mar 02, 2014 7:53 pm

brythain wrote:Heh, I had just re-read yours because of your latest chapter, and I was wondering what on earth could have kept Lilly away until Hisao's death...
My guess is that, much like with national debts and yakuza loans, the interest payments on awkwardness compound to the point to where repayment becomes impossible...
I like all the girls in KS, but empathize with Hanako the most.
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Re: After the Dream (PostLilly NeutralEnd) Lilly1 up 2014030

Post by brythain » Sun Mar 02, 2014 8:35 pm

bhtooefr wrote:For what it's worth, Katawa Shoujo is set in 2007, and Lilly turned 18 in February, before Hanako turned 18 during the VN.

That means she was born in 1989. My leading theory is that her parents manipulated things to pass her off as developmentally disabled, to delay her entry into school. (Normally, for her birthday to be in February, she would've been 17 for most of her third year (which she would've graduated from in March 2007, well before Hisao comes to Yamaku), which would make 1990 correct, but she canonically turned 18 near the end of her second year.)

(Interestingly, this means that Emi's actually mistaken about her being a year older than Hisao, too (and Hisao turned 18 in the hospital and we know he didn't get held back - so Emi's at most 2.5 months older than Hisao), and Rin either got held back a year before entering school as well (she could far more easily be seen as developmentally disabled, though), or she's 17 during the VN timeline (which I'm pretty sure the devs were explicitly trying to avoid).)
I've read the threads on this so far, and it's true the the predominance of 1st-quarter birthdays makes the situation a tad awkward. My own mother taught in a Japanese school for more than 30 years. During that time, I went through a school system which had school years starting in January as well as one which had school years starting in September. It was rather confusing, all round. Perhaps I should just leave the year out. :)
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
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Re: After the Dream (PostLilly NeutralEnd) Lilly1 up 2014030

Post by brythain » Sun Mar 02, 2014 8:36 pm

Oscar Wildecat wrote:
brythain wrote:Heh, I had just re-read yours because of your latest chapter, and I was wondering what on earth could have kept Lilly away until Hisao's death...
My guess is that, much like with national debts and yakuza loans, the interest payments on awkwardness compound to the point to where repayment becomes impossible...
They can be helped along that path by further borrowing and other such awkwardnesses. :)
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
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AtD (PostLilly NeutralEnd) Lilly2 up 20140303

Post by brythain » Sun Mar 02, 2014 10:30 pm

This is the second part of Lilly's arc in 'After the Dream', my post-Lilly-neutral-end mosaic.

Lilly 2: Transform (2008)

One of the lovely things about living in a large home in the country is the fact that you can do what you want without being frequently disturbed. The long blonde girl in the even longer bath is taking advantage of this particular fact, as she feels the hot water seep into her cold, cold flesh.

The problem, these days, is that I feel disturbed all the time! It’s not something I should be feeling. After all, my family has made every provision for my comfort, and I ought to be grateful. My education is to be continued at Edinburgh, which is an historic city, and where there is a university which provides excellent education in the academic disciplines I intend to pursue. A school of literatures, languages and cultures… my, my. It sounds so civilized.

Lilly sighs, sinking just a little more into her bath. The justifications aren’t working. Her armour is crumbling.

I’m just missing my friends.

I’m just missing my friends more than they miss me.

I’m just missing Hisao, and I’m very upset at him. He called me several times when I was tired and asleep for days, and when I finally woke up and tried to reply, he was so uncommunicative. And I’m missing Hanako, who says she misses me a lot, but is very busy with the yearbook and… the Student Council, or so she claims. I think she’s keeping secrets.

She shivers at these thoughts. The bathwater cools too rapidly, in this season of frost. There is a faint and incongruous scent of lavender and bath salts.

Before she can help it, she feels a pang of misery. It feels as if I’m young, and immature, and everyone else is growing up and leaving me behind in this alien land. They’ll be graduating soon, and Hisao will be up there with those two, the outgoing Student Council, and…

Oh, take hold of yourself, Lilly Alexandra Satou. It’s not all about yourself. A young lady of breeding should always…

I miss Hisao. I miss the warmth of his hands. I miss his density and his gravity and his awkward touch. I miss the comfortable smell of his ever-present vests. Why didn’t I just stay at Yamaku?

Why indeed? For a moment, Lilly felt surrounded by the invisible presence of the hundreds of people at Yamaku, all whispering at her, “Why did you leave?”

I left because it was the easiest thing to do. I left because it was the hardest thing to do. I left because it was the right thing to do.

I’m not the sort to always do the easiest thing. I don’t think I do things just because they are difficult and I need a challenge. Therefore, I must have left because it was the right thing to do.

The right thing for whom, she ponders, as she has for so many days and nights. Idly, she trails her wrists in the water, wonders if she’s now gone beyond the point at which she can be made to wake up. “Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?”

She sniffs, sits up, water tepidly rolling down her back and breasts. There is no scent of iron in the air. And there will be no drama here, because she is Lilly Satou, and she has made vows to herself.

*****

Breakfast, the king of meals, served on what must be a prince of tables. Lilly hears the clink of cutlery and the chink of porcelain, each set of sounds telling her who is present, what they’re eating, and sometimes, what they’re thinking. The acoustics in the great hall are wonderful. It is like being in a cave of bats.

“We don’t make financial reports in Braille.”

“That’s not necessary, Father. Akira’s been teaching me how to use an assistive display. Just send me the reports in whatever formats you have and I can read them.”

“Why do you want them, anyway?”

“I’m interested in your business, Father. It’s about time I learnt something about it. I might want to be an English teacher some day, but that’s no excuse to not understand the family business.”

“You’re the beautiful one. All you have to do is get married and you’re set for life. Just don’t marry some useless layabout like my sister did.”

Across the table, Lilly hears her mother’s soft, sharp ‘tsk’. It’s unlikely anyone else has heard it. To her right, Akira shifts her bony rear, uncomfortable, probably irate. Slight scratching of knife-teeth on porcelain. Yes, certainly irate.

“Well, Father, I’m glad you agree that being a useless layabout is a Bad Thing. This is not what we’ve been brought up to be. 35-hour weeks have conditioned me to work hard, and eight hours of English a week have made me proficient enough to understand the basic language of a financial report. I’ll have Akira to help me translate the rest.”

The table is silent, she notes. Even Mother, normally just doing her own thing in the background, has quietly laid down her cutlery. She suspects everyone’s attention is on Father, who seems to have run out of words.

Lilly deliberately steers a cherry tomato towards the tip of her knife. With slow precision she spears it and cuts it in half. The first half enters her mouth. She tastes salt-sweetness, juice. Her lips enfold the fruit. She takes delight in it and wiggles her tongue in its pulp before regretfully chewing and swallowing. There is another half left if her father needs more time to think.

“You have a computer of your own?”

How unexpected. He’s giving in. Lilly places her cutlery neatly on the plate.

“Yes, Father. Akira has been kind enough to help me obtain everything I need.”

“But you are going to Edinburgh to read English, are you not?”

“Yes, Father.” And then, after that, I am going to get an MBA, and we’ll see how far that goes. However, Father’s line of questioning is veering towards the uncomfortable.

“What a waste of time.”

She’s prepared for this. “Oh no, Father. I believe that an understanding of language and culture can only be an asset in doing business well. Especially in the European Union, which is an amazing patchwork of languages, cultures, and old scores still left unsettled. I also believe that with my unusual hybrid background, I have some natural advantages. Finally, I have six months to kill, and I don't want to be a 'useless layabout'.”

Father has the disadvantage of having to go to work. He also has the disadvantage of not having been given the time to read his morning newspaper and think about things. Her sudden volubility leaves him without resource.

*****

That night, Lilly reads financial reports. Then she listens to the music-box for a few minutes and says goodnight to Hisao as always; although, being more than 9000 kilometres away, it is unlikely that he can sense it.

=====
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Last edited by brythain on Sat Apr 29, 2017 10:17 pm, edited 6 times in total.
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
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Re: AtD (PostLilly NeutralEnd) Lilly2 up 20140303

Post by dewelar » Sun Mar 02, 2014 10:54 pm

brythain wrote:“Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?”
Ah, the Scottish play, for the lady who is now of Scotland! Excellent! :D

One thing that may or may not be a hiccup:
The long blonde girl
Continuing to enjoy this!
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Re: AtD (PostLilly NeutralEnd) Lilly2 up 20140303

Post by brythain » Sun Mar 02, 2014 10:59 pm

dewelar wrote:
brythain wrote:“Yet who would have thought the old man to have had so much blood in him?”
Ah, the Scottish play, for the lady who is now of Scotland! Excellent! :D

One thing that may or may not be a hiccup:
The long blonde girl
Continuing to enjoy this!
Thank you! I've had the great fortune to spend time in Scotland, and this brings back some interesting memories for me. As for the 'long blonde' part, I was visualising (not in a creepy way, mind) Lilly stretched out horizontally in the bath – hence 'long' rather than 'tall'. I also see her with her hair bundled up in a towel, but that's not so relevant to this piece. :)
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
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Re: After the Dream (PostLilly NeutralEnd) Lilly2 up 2014030

Post by Helbereth » Mon Mar 03, 2014 1:13 am

Parenthesis being used in exposition, in my opinion, is just wrong, especially when used repeatedly. As my brother often comments, "Information presented in parenthesis is marked as such typically because it's essentially impertinent and has no bearing on the surrounding text." I might be paraphrasing. In the case with the parenthetical statements presented here, they aren't merely useless asides, so marking them as such just feels incorrect. Using a dash - or em dash—is considered less jarring in that respect.

The contents are another matter.
London-Heathrow (NRT-LHR, about 12 hours and change)
*blank stare* I have ... absolutely... no idea what this is supposed to mean. If it's perfunctory information, it would perhaps be better to leave it out rather than cause your reader to stare at it and ask "what the fuck is that?" To me it's utter gibberish—at best it's something off a ticket stub, maybe?—and thus disrupted the very beginning of the story, which is a really bad place to do that.

Okay, once I got past the initial messy bit, which seems entirely pointless in retrospect, the story then leaps backward—I think—to the airplane ride over Russia—granted I'm basing that on the fact that it mentioned they were in London at some point in the previous section. That basically fine and all, since there's nothing that says you have to write an omniscient story in linear fashion. The problem I have is that once we're on the plane, we just spend the whole time reading lyrics to songs we—or at least I—have never heard in my life.

Instantly I'm propelled out of the story and sent straight back to my desk chair, practically spinning in the seat from the force of the ejection. I was already less than immersed following the shaky start, and then I get to read someone else's lyrics for half a page? Needless to say, I didn't read all the way through, and I'm quite disappointed that the same author who treated Shizune with such care has made me even less accepting of Lilly than I had already been.

I see there's a second part now... should I bother?
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Re: After the Dream (PostLilly NeutralEnd) Lilly2 up 2014030

Post by brythain » Mon Mar 03, 2014 1:23 am

Helbereth wrote:Needless to say, I didn't read all the way through, and I'm quite disappointed that the same author who treated Shizune with such care has made me even less accepting of Lilly than I had already been.

I see there's a second part now... should I bother?
Only if you want to. I'm in a way rather glad I got this response from you, because that was partly the intention of the piece. I'm a Lilly fan who felt an automatic dislike of Shizune at first. But in this case, I have deliberately reversed that and taken what I think is a stylistically more exact approach with the latter, while throwing the former - temporarily, at least - under the bus (or plane). However, I will review the text and see if I can make it feel less jarring while retaining the deliberately rickety nature of the construct. It's a hard balance to maintain, and I'm sorry you felt thrown off by it.

As for the parentheses, hmmm. I think you can delete all the material in those parentheses and still receive the key facts. I'll think about that too. Thanks!
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Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
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AtD (PostLilly NeutralEnd) Lilly3 up 20140304

Post by brythain » Mon Mar 03, 2014 11:30 pm

This is the third part of Lilly's arc in 'After the Dream', my post-Lilly-neutral-end mosaic.

Lilly 3: Trapdoor (2018)

This is quite amusing, and I like being amused. It’s always good to keep busy, to do work that is useful. My sister isn’t quite like that; she works because she feels she has to.

“Hey, Lilly!”

Under the sounds of eating and drinking, the distinctive bass-baritone growl made her smile a little. Finding a young German head chef with a love of Italian cuisine for a Japanese bistro — that sounded like one of Akira’s three-men-walk-into-a-bar jokes, and also a rather unfortunate coincidence in an historical sense.

“Andreas? What can I do for you, my friend?”

“Well, lovely boss lady, could you confirm please our e-procurement budget and update Japan side? I am changing the menu the month after that, and I think the eel dishes are somehow becoming unusually popular with the locals. Also, eggs.”

She felt him move away into the depths of the building. From the sound of his gait, he was probably looking over his shoulder at her. She wondered what his face was like; in the two years they had been working together, she already knew how tall and broad he was, what shoe size he bought, and what kind of muscles rock-climbing built in a man’s hands.

“No problem, prince of the kitchen. Updating now.”

In her head, the numbers called out to her, and her fingers danced across her desk interface. More eel. She wondered how much profit they’d get from it and decided it would do. More eggs. And while she was at it, more Hokkaido salmon. She checked three varieties and noted the delivery timeframes. She calculated rice portions, and projected increased requirements in noodles, wasabi and soy sauce. Underneath her fingers, the updating display danced with her, a partner in crime.

*****

It hadn’t been easy, learning to navigate the Internet and use its many services. Akira had been helpful in bringing the equipment in and putting her in touch with Father’s business contacts in Japan, but dear Hanako had been the real help at the beginning.

Friendship and an odd love of shopping in Edinburgh had brought her back several times. They would have a few meals, a few drinks, talk about old times and new. For Lilly’s 25th birthday, Hanako had done something rather different: signed her up for a course in e-commerce at the School of Informatics just down the road.

At some point, Lilly had felt the sudden extension of her grasp. Running her fingers lightly over a terminal surface, she could call up numbers and file them in the shelves of her mind. Her brainspace and the space beyond exchanged information through her desk interface, and she had her fingers on the pulse of that exchange.

In the very next year, on Hanako’s annual visit, she’d clasped her friend's face in her hands, gently rubbed her nose against hers, and planted a careful and heartfelt greeting on the dark side. She felt a reflexive twitch, but the returned embrace had been no less warm. “Hana? Thanks for everything. Thanks for being a thoughtful, intelligent, wonderful friend. Can we talk about something… something new?”

Father had been skeptical at first — blind girl in big city, doing business like a man — nothing new from him there. She’d learnt to ignore him when it came to that sort of thing. But Father was shrewd, and apart from his prejudices, able to make objective decisions.

She had pointed out that she knew Edinburgh well, having been finding her way around for at least eight years, and that she had good relations with people there. She and Akira had prepared a business proposal, with a location right smack in the middle of Edinburgh’s rather international student population. The likely returns would beat inflation based on current trends. He’d actually bothered to read her proposal, and then staked them 50/50 with a long-term interest-free loan and an option on shares after five years.

And now, here we are. It feels good to be a boss.

*****

Andreas carried the scent of veal with him, somehow. People described him as sandy-haired, which gave her the sense of something gritty and uneven, rough to the touch. His voice rolled out from a spot perhaps six inches above the top of her head, making him noticeably taller than most of her acquaintances.

He’s uncomfortably tall. You can’t talk to someone like that without getting a crick in the neck, someone once said. It took her a minute to realize what her basis for comparison was. And why her treacherous mind had drifted in that direction.

Weeks ago, a heavy envelope in her hand, thoughtfully addressed in Braille, as well as handwritten text, from the feel of it. No sharp edges. Someone had chosen very well; creamy texture and some sort of pleasantly tactile stippling. She wondered why they hadn’t just emailed her.

There was a return address on the back. Yamaku Academy? A reunion, then. She would regretfully have to decline. She opened the envelope anyway.

Stiff paper stock, with what felt like a brushed texture. Well, well, well. Emi Ibarazaki and Hisao Nakai. A winter invitation to a summer wedding. She could not say she had been unprepared. Hanako had related the story Hisao had told her, about how Emi and Hisao had been caught kissing, rather enthusiastically, in the corridors of Yamaku. Their new vice-principal (yes, She-who-must-be-obeyed herself) had given them a stern warning about improper behaviour before students. Apparently, they now had a fan club of sorts, with a weekly column from the student newspaper dedicated to the perfect romance from a teenager perspective.

She had once cut her hand while slicing vegetables. The unexpected sensation, followed by the eye-watering pain: nothing new. This time, she’d have to deal with it her own way.

“Andreas?”

*****

These things never work out, she reflected. She had a new head chef now, and was busy thinking about expansion plans. Sadly, everyone else would be at the wedding. But someone had to take care of the business. When she'd mentioned it, her sister had tensed, probably to say something rude, and then thought the better of it. "I hope you know what you're doing, Lils."

It’s always good to keep busy, to do work that is useful, she reminded herself.

Her fingertips trailed through the dust on the old music-box. Seized by a momentary impulse, she opened it, listened for a while, closed it. Good night, Hisao, wherever you are. Ten years ago and five thousand miles away, the trapdoor had shut.

=====
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Last edited by brythain on Sat Apr 29, 2017 10:17 pm, edited 4 times in total.
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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