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

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brythain
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The Satou Legacy (One-Shot, up 20150101)

Post by brythain » Thu Jan 01, 2015 2:23 pm

Here is a story from an as yet unnamed reporter, set in 2014.
You never know what you may find when you dig into the wreckage of the past.


The Satou Legacy has been moved, at the request of Natsume Ooe, to a different thread.
Last edited by brythain on Tue Jan 06, 2015 11:45 pm, edited 2 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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Re: After the Dream—Lilly's Arc (Complete; Legacy 20150101)

Post by Serviam » Fri Jan 02, 2015 1:24 am

Let me guess: Naomi.
"What the government is good at is collecting taxes, taking away your freedoms and killing people. It’s not good at much else."
- Tom Clancy summing up l'état in a nutshell

In order of completion:
Lilly > Hanako > Rin > Emi
Currently on: Shizune

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Re: After the Dream—Lilly's Arc (Complete; Legacy 20150101)

Post by brythain » Fri Jan 02, 2015 11:01 pm

Serviam wrote:Let me guess: Naomi.
Most people would guess so. :)
The relevant journalistic incident, prior to this one, is recounted in Natsume's arc here, though.
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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Re: After the Dream—Lilly's Arc (Complete)

Post by Oddball » Sat Jan 17, 2015 11:20 am

It's not very good. I'm sorry. It is by FAR the weakest section of your multi-story story. So far it's the only one I've read that isn't told directly from a characters point of view or even their memories and the lack of inner monologue really hurts it. I just never get a feeling for how she's taking everything. Your overly flowery narrative further hampers the story. It never feels natural. There's just sections where it comes across like you're trying too hard before you get back to the meat of the story.

When you do slip into first person narrative halfway through the story, it's a rather jarring change.

It also contains two major pet-peeves of mine. Granted, to some extent they're apparent in other sections, but they just seem to stick out more here coming from Lilly's character.

Everybody seems to call Hanako “Hana.” Everyone. She's never given that nickname anywhere in canon, not even from the people that know her the best and are closest to her, but it just keeps popping up in fanfic. Even in the game when Lilly and Hisao were baring their emotions to her and holding nothing back, she was “Hanako.” Calling her anything else, especially Lilly calling her something else considering how proper she always acts, feels wrong.

Also, I have issues with the use of Japanese honorifics. They weren't present in the original works for starters, but really whenever I see them come up in English works, it always makes me feel that the story either wasn't translated properly or that the writer is hung up on how much cooler Japanese words are than English. At worst they come off as the characters speaking some stereotypical broken English, Daniel-san.

(Oddly enough, they didn't seem to bother me as much from Hideaki in another section of your story, but he's an odd duck anyway.)
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Re: After the Dream—Lilly's Arc (Complete)

Post by brythain » Sat Jan 17, 2015 11:33 am

Oddball wrote:It's not very good. I'm sorry. It is by FAR the weakest section of your multi-story story. So far it's the only one I've read that isn't told directly from a characters point of view or even their memories and the lack of inner monologue really hurts it. I just never get a feeling for how she's taking everything. Your overly flowery narrative further hampers the story. It never feels natural. There's just sections where it comes across like you're trying too hard before you get back to the meat of the story.

When you do slip into first person narrative halfway through the story, it's a rather jarring change.

It also contains two major pet-peeves of mine. Granted, to some extent they're apparent in other sections, but they just seem to stick out more here coming from Lilly's character.

Everybody seems to call Hanako “Hana.” Everyone. She's never given that nickname anywhere in canon, not even from the people that know her the best and are closest to her, but it just keeps popping up in fanfic. Even in the game when Lilly and Hisao were baring their emotions to her and holding nothing back, she was “Hanako.” Calling her anything else, especially Lilly calling her something else considering how proper she always acts, feels wrong.

Also, I have issues with the use of Japanese honorifics. They weren't present in the original works for starters, but really whenever I see them come up in English works, it always makes me feel that the story either wasn't translated properly or that the writer is hung up on how much cooler Japanese words are than English. At worst they come off as the characters speaking some stereotypical broken English, Daniel-san.

(Oddly enough, they didn't seem to bother me as much from Hideaki in another section of your story, but he's an odd duck anyway.)
Actually, I think you're right. I wrote Shizune's arc and this one when I was still relatively 'young'—I'd only just got the idea, and I do believe I hadn't quite discovered how to do it better. It's the influence of people like you and other more experienced members of the forums that have helped me improve, and I hope to one day rewrite some parts of it. I've been thinking about rewriting Lilly's arc for almost a year now! The closest I got to it was [this]. :(

So, no need to say you're sorry, even if you are. I am also sorry for inflicting this early version on all of you, and I say this without irony or sarcasm. I know (almost a year later) that I could have done better. And I'll take this occasion to say that since then I've read some of your writing too, and some of it has been really inspiring.

Edit: Oops, forgot to explain the editorial oddity that led to 'Hana'. I think that people close to her call her Hana-chan, but the suffix didn't get translated. It's difficult, because if you don't like suffixes and yet there are people calling her Hana-chan, I guess the closest would be 'dear Hana' from Lilly, or 'Hana dear' from her husband. Difficult call. Sorry! (Of course, I don't speak for anyone else when I say this; it's my problem here.)
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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Lilly: Testament1 (T +50)(up 20150129)

Post by brythain » Thu Jan 29, 2015 1:12 am

Editor's Note:

You are looking at the first page of 'Testament', the brief autobiography of Lilly Satou, my friend for many years. It is a fascinating journey through her mind and perceptions, as well as an interesting historical document in its own right. I trust you will enjoy it for what it is. [N]

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

=====

Being a transcription of some of the last writings of Lillian Alexandra Anderson Satou, penned in her own hand in the month of June in the Year of Our Lord 2074, and dedicated to the memory of old friends and the glory of God. The original documents may be found in the care of the archivist of the Church of St. Stephen, in which graveyard her mortal remains are interred.


Lilly: Testament1 (T +50)

My dear reader, I trust you will pardon the inconsistent recollections of an old lady with nothing better to do but potter around in the mountains and occasionally half-remember the moments of one’s marginally regrettable youth. It has often been said, even in my hearing, that my dear friend Hanako Ikezawa has written accounts of my life that seemed true. Of course they do, because they were based on her real-life recollections of what I told her, or what my much-beloved sister might have told her. My friend, it must also be said, tends to be overly self-critical and self-censoring, which is why her accounts leave her readers generally feeling good about themselves and sad about others.

As I sit in the twilight, however, and gaze out over the cold heights, I do sometimes recall different memories of that life. Some of it seems incredibly distant, and some of it can evoke painful echoes. I do not entirely yearn for that long-ago lost life, but there were things in it that have left an indelible mark—not a stain or a symbol of moral impurity, but something beneath the skin that is small and beautiful and burning—something that will not go away.

An old woman’s memories are sometimes overly sentimental and somewhat prone to gloss over the rougher elements of her younger and more adventurous days. In my case I eventually learnt that, as Lillian Alexandra Anderson Satou, I had my own identity; there was no need, nor space, for subterfuge or circumlocutory evasion. This was true because I had lost something of inestimable value, and I had lost it by not recognizing what it was.

Hisao Nakai has gone to be with his ancestors this half-century past. Indeed, a couple of months will see the fiftieth anniversary of his death and burial. As a Catholic, I do believe in the immortal soul. But I do not claim to know how God compensates in His righteous love for those who do not profess a spiritual belief of any particular kind. I will not do such a disservice to my own beliefs.

Tonight, as I go through what my dearest friend Hana (it means ‘flower’, you know, and she is no longer a child as we once were) has written about me, I very much want to believe that something of Hisao remains. If that is true, I hope he understands that the old lady who sits here still remembers what it was like to be in love. So, dear reader, if you would be so kind as to indulge me, this is what I would like to say about Lilly Satou.

*****

I was born on 7th February 1989, the second daughter of Mr Hiroyuki Satou of Miyagi Prefecture, Japan, and the Honourable Catherine Elspeth Anderson, Mistress of Nairn, Scotland. No unusual omens attended my birth, although my sister Akira once claimed that when she heard the news, she tripped and fell, which explained the unusual scar she had across her right elbow.

Father was trained as an engineer at Tohoku University, and continued his education there to earn his MBA. It was during this time that he met the young and quietly opinionated exchange student who called herself ‘Cat’ (and apparently at one time ‘Neko’, or even 'Karla') and fell in love. Love is an unusual thing; it is an agent of change with consequences that can reach far into time and space. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it does not.

In Cat’s case, she was initially amused by Father’s earnestness, and then enthralled by his accounts of living in a little fishing village with a horde of sisters, my notorious Satou aunts (of which more, later). As an exchange student, she was rather keen to explore the less urbanized regions of the country. It was with some reluctance, however, that Father brought her home to visit the family.

My father seldom spoke of his humble background. He was proud of his parents, but uncomfortable about his origins. I never quite understood that; after all, my mother’s family were fisherfolk before they were gamekeepers, or merchants before they became lairds. My paternal grandfather was proud merely to be Japanese, and glad to be useful with his hands. His wife, my grandmother, was a weaver and seamstress—she also took pride in work well done, but also taught us that we should be humble because someone else would always be better.

Father’s many sisters were all much younger than he, who was born in 1953. The eldest, Aunt Mayoi, was six years his junior, and thereafter, my grandparents produced a daughter every few years until Aunt Michiko was born almost two decades after Father. Then, as Grandmother used to say, “The factory was closed down.” These girls were all much taken by their brother’s friend, and from all accounts, she was equally captivated by the horde of young Japanese girls who listened to her every halting word.

My parents were married at the end of 1980, and Akira was born two years later. By this time, Father was a busy corporation executive and Mother was helping him find contacts for expansion into the European Union. It helped somewhat that Scotland had a history of doing business with the Japanese. With greater success came greater responsibilities, and Akira and I were left in our grandparents’ care for increasingly long periods of time when we were still young.

So it was that I was educated at a local Catholic school for girls, a school whose emblem was the white lily. Inevitably, it was there in primary school that I first had my name shortened to its present form, which has become so much part of my identity that to be called ‘Lillian’ elicits a rather slow response.

Akira had also received her education there, and I believe she chafed somewhat at the kindness of the Sisters, once calling them ‘annoying busybodies’. She also had unkind words for the uniform, which on one occasion she likened to my favourite nightwear. She did, however, allow that I looked fetching in dark blue with white piping. I liked the sound of this, because she told me that this particular shade of blue was deep and mysterious, but the white clarified its borders and gave a sense of innocence to the mystery.

To this day, I have no certainty as to whether the many things Akira told me were serious or in jest. Akira was the strongest personality in my life, and when she passed on, it was as if half my world had vanished. But I am too far ahead of the order of my narrative now, for which I do apologize.

Life in that school was tolerable, and people worked with me generously in almost all things that mattered. However, when Akira had graduated from university and begun to work full-time in 2005, we were faced with some difficult decisions. My grandparents were getting on in years and disinclined to be making daily trips into Sendai; Akira, who had been providing transport for some time, was soon to be posted overseas or, at the very least, would be travelling a great deal.

Thus it was that, in April 2005, I was admitted on special transfer to the first-year class of the Sendai-Aoba Mountain District Academy, colloquially known as Yamaku High, where I would spend my senior high school years. At first, I was a day boarder, returning to my grandparents’ home in the evenings with Akira’s kind assistance. However, this quickly became too onerous an arrangement, and in December that year, we made arrangements for me to move into the dormitories as a full boarder.

One advantage of the transfer, my distant and constantly-travelling parents had thought, was the fact that Aunt Michiko, the youngest of my father’s sisters, had married a teacher in that school. I remember the 1997 occasion with gladness because I had been flower girl and Akira had been bridesmaid. My uncle-by-marriage was very unassuming but passionate about his profession. His story is told elsewhere, so I will just note here that he had always been my favourite uncle by a rather large margin; I believe that my sister shared these sentiments.

I completed my move into the Yamaku dormitories in March 2006. Regrettably, my aunt and uncle were no longer man and wife, having severed their connection in February that year. I believe I had been a fairly sociable creature up to that time, but the horror of the event chilled my soul—I stopped talking to people, began to lose weight, and developed the habit of having tea alone in a small auxiliary classroom that had once been a Student Council meeting room. My move was therefore not as happy as I had anticipated; the joy of meeting my favourite uncle and hearing his mellow bass-baritone daily was much reduced by the absence of my aunt, who had always been friendly and supportive to me.

I could not bring myself to visit him in his staff apartment. It reminded me too much of better times, and when the cherry-blossom scent my aunt wore was slowly displaced by the sharper fragrance of quality whisky, I resigned myself to loneliness. Akira continued to visit him when she was in town, and sometimes we would meet in some out-of-the-way hamlet for a meal. My uncle had always been conscientious about avoiding any appearance of nepotism, or worse.

In retrospect, the year 2006-2007 was the first major watershed in my life. I felt I had to learn to be independent, to be alone and to be satisfied with that. It was harder than I thought it would be.

I have never had many close friends; in my first year at Yamaku, I had none at all. I performed reasonably well in my studies, and was even appointed class representative. My classmates were generally friendly, but I suppose that something about my demeanour must have put them off. I have always been a little competitive, although in a way that most would consider introverted. There is almost always a dignified method of accomplishing any given task, and I tended to keep my own counsel when others, more outgoing, wanted to do things in a more obvious and indecorous way.

Moving into the girls’ dormitory at the end of that academic year was a chastening and educational experience. It was good that the layout was clear and easily memorized. However, living in proximity with many others, and being exposed continually to their sometimes eccentric personal habits (all of which had to be learnt, in order to avoid or reduce social friction), was difficult. It turned out that my nearest neighbour completely agreed, and that is how Hanako Ikezawa and I first began our initially rather tentative alliance.

A few months into our friendship, while I was mired in melancholy and having a quiet cup of tea in a deserted room, I heard a timid knock on the door. Not being in the mood for company, I remained silent. A slight movement of the air, however, reminded me that the door was slightly ajar, and that to keep quiet would have appeared somewhat rude. So, “Hanako, is that you?” — to which she replied, “Y-yes, may I perhaps join you?” — and thus, the beginning of many pleasant afternoons.

Hana was far stronger than anyone realized, although she could be brittle too. My more flexible stubbornness complemented her strengths, and I believe that we both were the better for this. It was through her indirect encouragement, and with the blessing of my dear uncle, that I decided to run for a place in the Student Council. It would give me something to do, although in retrospect I might have done it because I wanted to be everyone’s mother-figure.

In the end, as representative of my class, I almost automatically gained election. I then ran against my cousin Shizune for the presidency of the Council and lost by a fair margin. I did not really mind, except that it reminded me of one thing: I had a secret to keep and would have to be a little more vigilant about keeping it. Shizune, you see, was not to know that Aunt Michiko’s husband was a teacher in our school. I had no idea how they had managed to keep it a secret from her all those years. Akira had once explained to me why Aunt Mayoi had decreed it, and I complied even though the whole matter left a bitter taste in my mouth.

Perhaps a few words of explanation are in order. Shizune’s parents, my eldest aunt and her husband, had themselves parted on somewhat unpleasant terms the year after Aunt Michiko had been married. With Aunt Mayoi then seeking sanctuary with Father, and eventually moving overseas, she had no desire for this conflict to spill over to the rest of her family. In essence, Father and Aunt Mayoi formed the ‘overseas branch’ of the Satou family, while the rest remained ‘local’. Akira and I were caught in between, since we lived in Japan but were Father’s children. My cousins Shizune and Hideaki, in the care of their eccentric Hakamichi father, were therefore brought up not knowing much about their mother’s other relatives.

To this day, I have always believed in true love and the sanctity of marriage. I realize that this might seem terribly old-fashioned, or even hypocritical of me. I do not pretend that my stand has always been consistent. It is often hard to decide which is more important, and for a Catholic girl growing up in Japan, it is possibly a choice that is even more difficult to make. I do not offer any excuses for my past actions; I have never done so, and will not do so now. What I did was what I did, and at this end of my life, I am afraid that I cannot find in me much regret for the sins of my youth.

I do, however, keep an old music box. The memories associated with it, and the boy who gave it to me, are too precious to discard, no matter how many acts of contrition or penance have been required of me over the years.

I have digressed again. To sum the matter up, Aunt Mayoi became a brooding presence at Inverness, where Father had bought some sort of castle (not the kind with turrets), while Mother was her bright counterpoint. Lovely Aunt Michiko, after her own distressing break from my uncle, was to join her there for a while. I understand that Akira spent a great deal of time with both of them; obviously, I had far fewer opportunities, and that still saddens me.

The fondest memory I have of the happier days is that of a skiing trip to Hokkaido with Aunt Michiko and her husband. It might surprise many of my readers (although I suspect it is rather more well-known now) that I was taught how to ski and have done quite a bit of that. I also used to ride, and although brave old Warlock is long gone now, I will never forget the thrill of ‘sitting a horse’. Akira’s gift to me more than sixty years ago was irreplaceable: he was faithful and affectionate to the end and always solicitous of my welfare, even when he could hardly walk and then had to be put down.

My, an old lady can indeed ramble on! Back to Yamaku, then.

The end of my second year was mostly uneventful. I do think that Shizune made a more effective Council president than I would have been, although her inability to communicate hobbled her efforts somewhat and eventually alienated a few of her fellow councilors. My cousin had always had a tendency to arrogate work to herself when she felt others were less capable, and in the end she wound up doing most of it and chasing some of those others away. Matters only came to a head at the beginning of our final year.

Shōwa Day was first commemorated on Sunday, 29th April 2007. It was meant, I think, to be a reflection on the sobering realities of a previous Emperor’s reign. Different people reacted in different ways, some in humility and some in anger, some with pride and some with wishes for peace in our time. Yamaku reacted in the time-honoured way of having a school festival. The student body ignored the turbulent political undercurrents and decided to have fun. We, in the Student Council, were already a little anxious at the effort required to run three festivals in a single school year. Our calendar included, at that time, the Day of the Sea in mid-July, during which our school celebrated with a festival; the Sendai Tanabata Festival in early August (which the whole city would be celebrating); and Sports Day, on the second Monday of October.

My cousin, of course, merely kept an accusing silence as we voiced our concerns. Then she ‘said’, rather characteristically, “We’re the Student Council!~ We live to do our best for everyone!~ We can think of it as early preparation for the other festivals and keep all the pieces so that we can rearrange, reassemble and reuse them the next time!~”

I have always wondered what my cousin would have sounded like if she had found her own voice at a much younger age. The synthetic voice she adopted in her later life was nothing like Misha’s interpretation, now difficult to dissociate in my mind from my memories of her. Poor Shizune! I admit that I was uncharitable to her on many occasions, and sometimes downright seditious to her leadership. I am glad we made peace years ago.

On that particular day, however, although I was still smarting from my defeat, I offered my support and actually felt willing to help her get things going. I told her so, and after a brief Misha-pause, when she momentarily squeezed my hand in token of acknowledgement, I had nothing but goodwill towards her.

I shall not dwell on what followed. We worked fairly well together, but our styles were perhaps too different. It suffices to say that after this somewhat rushed festival, during which some things had not quite gone according to plan, Shizune and I were no longer friends. We were tired, the mid-term examinations were looming, and too much had happened between us.

We were very young then, passionate about our own principles, ideals and ways of getting others to perform the tasks we felt were essential. I was bitter, Shizune was angry. We left it at that. At the back of my mind, I rejoiced that I had a secret which she would probably have given much to discover. As you are possibly shocked to find, I was not always a nice person, and sometimes I was unfortunately a bit… dislikeable.

That was how things stood at the end of May, in the Year of Our Lord 2007. Subsequent events are well-attested—especially at Yamaku from 4th June that year—and I wonder how much I should elaborate on those. Besides, my fingers are getting a little stiff. This is probably a good time for me to get up, pour myself some tea, and say hello to Hanako’s family to remind them that this old lady is still alive. I shall probably resume thereafter: writer’s cramp alone will not defeat a Satou girl, dear reader.

=====
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Last edited by brythain on Sat Apr 29, 2017 10:21 pm, edited 13 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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Re: After the Dream—Lilly's Arc (Complete; Testament 2015012

Post by Serviam » Thu Jan 29, 2015 4:39 am

I...can't help but ponder how Lils managed to endure most of her high school years practically friendless without losing her sanity.
"What the government is good at is collecting taxes, taking away your freedoms and killing people. It’s not good at much else."
- Tom Clancy summing up l'état in a nutshell

In order of completion:
Lilly > Hanako > Rin > Emi
Currently on: Shizune

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Re: After the Dream—Lilly's Arc (Complete; Testament 2015012

Post by brythain » Thu Jan 29, 2015 4:42 am

Serviam wrote:I...can't help but ponder how Lils managed to endure most of her high school years practically friendless without losing her sanity.
Akira, and her uncle. Bowling sessions. Really. Look it up. :)
Lils has always had a tendency to under-declare the facts. That's why the reasons for the 'bad ending' are so ironic.
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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Re: After the Dream—Lilly's Arc (Complete; Testament 2015012

Post by Serviam » Thu Jan 29, 2015 4:46 am

brythain wrote:
Serviam wrote:I...can't help but ponder how Lils managed to endure most of her high school years practically friendless without losing her sanity.
Akira, and her uncle. Bowling sessions. Really. Look it up. :)
Lils has always had a tendency to under-declare the facts. That's why the reasons for the 'bad ending' are so ironic.
Tenpin bowling? You got me.
"What the government is good at is collecting taxes, taking away your freedoms and killing people. It’s not good at much else."
- Tom Clancy summing up l'état in a nutshell

In order of completion:
Lilly > Hanako > Rin > Emi
Currently on: Shizune

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Re: After the Dream—Lilly's Arc (Complete; Testament 2015012

Post by azumeow » Thu Jan 29, 2015 9:05 am

It always makes me sad to read this, because Lilly feels so lonely and melancholic. Lilly neutral end, to me, is the worst ending. Emi's bad end is right there, maybe even equivalent, but...the relationship between Lilly and Hisao just falling apart like it does is fucking tragic. It might also be because I've had similar experiences, and Lilly's route may have saved what was once a truly beautiful relationship if it hadn't come too late, though.

Dammit brythain, how are you so good at digging right into a person's heart and sundering their happiness? It's not fair.
"I don’t want to be here anymore, I know there’s nothing left worth staying for.
Your paradise is something I’ve endured
See I don’t think I can fight this anymore, I’m listening with one foot out the door
And something has to die to be reborn-I don’t want to be here anymore"

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Re: After the Dream—Lilly's Arc (Complete; Testament 2015012

Post by brythain » Thu Jan 29, 2015 11:58 am

azumeow wrote:It always makes me sad to read this, because Lilly feels so lonely and melancholic. Lilly neutral end, to me, is the worst ending. Emi's bad end is right there, maybe even equivalent, but...the relationship between Lilly and Hisao just falling apart like it does is fucking tragic. It might also be because I've had similar experiences, and Lilly's route may have saved what was once a truly beautiful relationship if it hadn't come too late, though.

Dammit brythain, how are you so good at digging right into a person's heart and sundering their happiness? It's not fair.
Yes, it is a very sad ending. It just... ends, as if the universe has just fallen apart. You're right. I too have had similar experiences, and that's what goes into my writing. I don't think I'm particularly good. I just remember certain things from long ago, and I try to write the story as I feel it, in the light of those memories. :(
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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brythain
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Lilly: Testament2 (T +50)(up 20150201)

Post by brythain » Sun Feb 01, 2015 8:58 am

Being a transcription of some of the last writings of Lillian Alexandra Anderson Satou, penned in her own hand in the month of June in the Year of Our Lord 2074, and dedicated to the memory of old friends and the glory of God. The original documents may be found in the care of the archivist of the Church of St. Stephen, in which graveyard her mortal remains are interred.


Lilly: Testament2 (T +50)

My dear reader, if by some happenstance you should have come across my previous scribblings, please understand that I am an old lady who grew up in the days of pen and paper, wooden desks in poorly-ventilated schoolrooms, and the idea that one should have a single life and a love that would last that lifetime.

I take up this pen now, duly fortified by hot sweet tea of the Indian variety (a gift from a young lady of my acquaintance, but of a different generation), to continue my story. My foray into the common dining area of this lovely old house gave me the opportunity to spend time, as I have done so often in the past, with my closest friend. I must admit I was a little sniffly, and Hanako detected it at once. She came over to hold me for a while, and I felt much better. I shall apologize in advance for any blots that appear on this primitive paper, because such is the price of being sentimental about many things.

*****

Monday, 4th June 2007, was a warm day and rather breezy. During lunchtime, I had escaped from the burden of my class, making my way to my sanctuary with some alacrity. I put some water on to boil, then waited quietly with my face turned towards the window, because I liked the sensation of the sun upon my skin. From what a rather jealous Akira has told me, I seldom freckle nor burn; I merely turn a little pink. I gather this is related to the prickly sensation I sometimes get when I have been out in the sun too long, and this is how I have always thought of the colour ‘pink’.

I felt Hanako quietly slip into the tearoom and turned away from the sun to indicate that I had heard her. “Hello, Hanako! How was the turbulent environment of 3-3 this morning?”

“T-there’s a new student in our c-class.”

“Well, she must have made quite an impression on you. Do tell.”

“He. It’s a b-boy. He sits in what used to be S-Saki’s place, near the window.”

That was my preliminary taste of Hisao Nakai, so to speak. I learnt little more from my rather flustered friend on that occasion. As you have probably gathered by now—it is all ancient history, anyway—our young Mr Nakai made his way to the tearoom eventually and repeatedly over the next few days. Weeks passed, and by the time the Day of the Sea festival was over in July, I had come to appreciate his company very much. I cannot now fully enjoy writing this down, but I fear that my memories will die with me, and what then? So I will now commit to paper what has hitherto been hidden in my heart.

They call it a whirlwind romance, these things. I am blessed to have learnt at first hand why this is so. I had hardly known him for a week when he was already helping us prepare tea while we played chess in the tearoom. As the song goes, the duet had become a trio. I was not at all sure how to take this, and this sense of indecision was a little galling to me.

To be sure, there had been warning signs. He had been surprisingly forthright in showing support for me against the authoritarian fervor of my cousin in one of her darker moods. He had been kind enough to look out for Hanako when I had been otherwise occupied. I knew he was about my height, a little above average for a Japanese man, but he did not seem to mind walking beside me as many of my male peers did. He was pleasant to be with, I told myself, and that was that.

But I had to touch his face. I had to know the physical reality of this pleasant young man. And so I made that fateful request after a game of chess; I felt his warm breath on my fingers as I ran my trembling fingers over his poorly shaven cheeks, and realized that he reminded me of my uncle, but with younger, softer features. The sudden rush of unreasoning affection that I felt took me quite by surprise. I could not resist running my fingers through his hair, and I sensed a sudden sharp intake of breath on his part.

“Thank you for letting me do that, Hisao,” I said, afraid that I had offended him by doing something so intimate. His lips twitched slightly as my hand left his face, almost as if he was unsure about whether he should smile. That was when I said what I had not prepared myself to say at all: I told him I thought he was handsome.

Sixty-seven years have passed, dear reader, and that moment has never been lost from the reach of my memory. Even now, when I find myself unable to recall the events of a few days past, I can still remember his uneven breathing, the curve of his jaw, the uncertainty in his voice as he wondered how I could say such a thing. Yes, I think it was at this moment that I wondered if it were possible to be in love.

*****

Our relationship became something established without much fanfare. We were like any couple; we went for walks, we went shopping, we discussed families (insofar as my family could be discussed without awkwardness) and futures. I helped Hisao with his terrible English, and he helped me with the science topics for which my personal insights were insufficient. The moments I spent with him allowed me to learn to ‘read’ him by instinct. It was so natural that only very much later did I realize that apart from Father and my teacher uncle, I had not done this for any other man.

It was not much later, however, that a wrinkle in the fabric of our relationship appeared. Akira had been brooding for some time, and had finally seen fit to communicate the message she had been told to convey to me. Father had summoned her to join the Europe office as part of the legal team for a major unit. Her knowledge of Japanese law would be her ticket to a strong career path with excellent prospects. We arranged to meet on a day I had scheduled for a shopping trip.

Since it was likely that I would have to miss Hanako’s birthday, I was forced into slightly devious behaviour. I got Hisao to come along with the specific intention of buying Hanako a birthday present, and then allowed Akira to palm off cousin Hideaki on Hisao, while I went off to endure a private chat with my elder sibling. She and I discussed several things, including the possibility of me leaving Japan with her.

My first instinct, strangely, was to ask her about Shinjirō, whom she had been dating for years. Rather bitterly, she replied, “You know I love him, Lils. He’s passionate and intelligent, but first he was off to Columbia, and now he’s into politics, and he seems to have little time for a small-town lawyer who will soon be off to Europe. Besides, he seems to be embarrassed by his foreign-looking girlfriend, these days. So… yeah.”

Somewhat naïvely, I wondered out loud if in these days of fast and economical air travel, a long-distance relationship might work. Akira muttered something about his visiting the Yasukuni Shrine, and how his views were increasingly different from hers. It seemed to me that something more fundamental than distance might be the problem. But who was I to say such things? This was happening on a little trip to town that I had undertaken with a boy whom I myself was not quite sure about.

The boy himself? He was, I think, quite sure that it qualified as a date, and that is how I have remembered it. Sunday, 24th June 2007. Some things never leave your mind, no matter how feeble it becomes. More significantly, the boy bought his lady a music box, that day. It is battered and has gone a little off-key, but it sits within my reach even now, a tangible reminder of those vanished days.

Whirlwind, you say? It had only been three weeks.

*****

I have been trying, in this second session of writing, to speak more of my love for Hisao Nakai than of my own family. But as I think back across all those wasted years, I hear the voices telling me that I cannot separate the two—it was my family, and my own folly, that drove a river of stars between us. There have been times I have blamed him for it, and to be sure, he was not blameless. Yet I have forgiven him, and I think he had, at some point, forgiven me.

On the last day of June, I flew to Scotland with Akira to meet my family. This gave me an odd sensation. I remembered my mother’s feel and scent, but had only a rather misshapen sense of what my father was like. When I was a child, I had known his face; now as a young lady, I had forgotten much of him.

Part of the reason for our flight to Scotland was genetic. Yes, indeed, blood is thicker than water—but some kinds of blood carry a taint that travels down through the generations like an invisible curse. One of our aunts was dying, and while my father had had several sisters, he treasured each of them; to him they were equally precious, regardless of whatever trouble they might have brought to the family. All I could remember thinking of at that time was that my aunt used to call Akira ‘Kittycat’, and nobody would ever use that nickname again.

As we listened to the sounds of her laboured breathing from the hospital bed, I think I was pondering how strength of character could not always sustain life. I also thought about how grievous it must be when a dying woman could not say her goodbyes to her own children. Sometimes there is too much water, and too little blood.

But the Lilly I used to be did not linger over such things; she was only desperately sad, and anxious about her own future. For the other part of the reason for that journey was the discussion as to whether I should return with Akira to Scotland. Clearly, the tides of my heart were telling me to stay in Japan. Father, however, was keen to bring me around the Highlands and Edinburgh. He had plans for my dislocation; it was as if he was not listening at all to what I myself thought.

Later, I was to realize that I never said to him that I would rather not return—indeed, I had not confided in him my relationship with Hisao. From this old lady’s point of view, perhaps the trouble was that I had always had difficulties in sharing my deepest thoughts with others. It is far easier to think about my youth now and conclude that I had much in common with my cousin Shizune; both of us felt peculiarly estranged from our parents, albeit for different reasons, and had a sibling whom we loved but did not quite understand. And of course, we had similar tastes in men.

We were about two weeks in Scotland, Akira and I. In that time, I confess that I missed both Hanako and Hisao, but my heart was divided between them. Perhaps part of me wondered if my two friends were developing a friendship apart from me, and whether I was being jealous. But who was I jealous of, and why? It troubled me not a little that I felt so unable to clarify my own feelings.

*****

Flying back into Japan troubled me further. Was this home? Would Scotland be home instead? I did not think my parents would return. I felt guilty that I had not visited my grandparents for months, although Akira had. I even felt guilty that I was at all considering the move to Scotland.

I needed to know how Hisao felt about me. Did he think of me as a woman who would always be right behind him? Or as one who could be his equal partner for life? I had seen two of my aunts decide that the game was not worth the candle; I admired their resilience, but I did not think myself as strong as they. I suspect that Akira was thinking related, even if not identical, thoughts on the way home. It was in a rather miserable and reflective mood that we arrived eventually at Sendai.

Hisao and Hanako were there to meet us, and while that was pleasant, I remember feeling suddenly very tired. Seeing them only sharpened the discomfort of the hard choices ahead, and this was something I could not very well share with either of them. Fortunately, Akira had already suggested something that would serve to give us a reflective break of sorts, and I was able to introduce the idea into our awkward conversation. She then left to visit our grandparents and update them on our situation, while I returned to Yamaku with my friends.

We spent that part of July—during the Day of the Sea festival—in Hokkaido, at a place in the hills some distance from the seaside town of Yoichi. The small house there had been my parents’ home in the days when Father had been working with the fisheries and distilleries in northern Japan. Before the turn of the century, the increasing demand in Europe for imported Japanese items had given fuel to his ambitions. He had at first been responsible for packing machinery, then bulk transport. In 2001 he received an even bigger promotion as some sort of regional director for the Eurozone. It was many years before I realized that while his business was large, it was only a subsidiary of Hakamichi Industries.

The house had been sitting there untenanted for a while. Most recently, it had been used by Akira and her boyfriend, but I had gathered that their increasing estrangement had not made it as comfortable a stay as they were used to having. There was an aura about the old place; people had loved each other there—Father and Mother, Akira and Shinjirō. As I looked around the sadly empty rooms, I felt awfully lonely. It was the kind of loneliness that comes from not having anyone to be with, something hard to explain and yet known to almost every young person.

The early train ride up to Hokkaido and thence to Yoichi had taken its toll. Although Hanako and I had slept relatively early, Hisao seemed to have had a difficult night. Assigned to the convertible bed in the living room, he collapsed in a snoring heap shortly after our arrival.

Of that part of our stay, I remember little except the wonderfully enchanted sound of his voice when the boy said, “It really does feel nice and homey, here.” I felt a twinge deep within my heart at that; I could see the two of us living a quiet life in such a place, lovers and friends till the ending of days. I think it was in that moment that I committed myself to him. It was the wrong thing to do.

*****

When we returned to Yamaku, I was no longer a virgin. Yes, that is no longer as shocking as it used to be in a long-vanished era. Even in those days, it was not as terrible a matter as you might have expected. We were a modern young couple, and I had long ago learnt how to use methods designed to avoid certain consequences. We had a bright future, but between that future and our present was a deep, deep cloud. It frightened me that I could not feel my way through it.

Do you believe in the Sight? My mother did, and strangely enough, so did my Aunt Mayoi. I myself am ambivalent about such things; I think of time as the passage of voices and touches. Something of my long-dead aunt that yet stays with me, however, is this: her thin, tired voice telling me, “Poor Lillian, memory is a difficult thing, but it must be shared. If people cannot share their fears and… disappointments, how can they share love? And love, once given and lost… not easily found again.”

At that time, all I could think of was the faintly breathed Rs in her voice as she tried to pronounce my name. She had spent years in Scotland, and was still a foreigner. Perhaps she was talking about Uncle Jigoro, or one of my other relatives.

My cousin, Madam Council President as she was then, had found out about Scotland. This was no surprise, after all, we were family, and family has its ways of finding out about family. What shocked me a little was how readily Hisao seemed to have given up the secret of our love—it wasn’t a dark and shadowy thing, but it was ours, and when I heard Misha gossiping about it in the dorms, I felt cold and a little sad.

Did Hisao really love me? I had too many doubts, and I dared not ask him. After all, the other question would have been whether or not I truly loved him. I dared not ask myself. We shared bathrooms and bedrooms, we had begun almost to behave as a husband and wife, a father and mother. What did that all mean? Now, of course, in the perfect vision of hindsight, we who survive all know the truth.

*****

Weeks later, in August, I prepared to fly back to Scotland for an indefinite period. Perhaps ‘indefinite’ was the wrong word. It was rather definite—I tried not to think of it that way, but the icy fist of permanence had an unrelenting grip on my heart. I could hardly feel it beating as the last day came.

“I promise I’ll contact you once I’m in Scotland,” I said, as we stood outside the dormitories at Yamaku. It took me more strength than most things I had said before. I could sense that over the weeks, Hisao had grown uncomfortable with me. We had shared a last beautiful dinner at a restaurant to which my uncle had once brought his nieces.

In my heart, I told myself that if the boy asked me to stay, I would. If, like Akira’s Shinjirō, he seemed unwilling to at least make the gesture, I would follow my sister instead, and go into the West, and remain Lillian Alexandra Anderson Satou till the end of my days. So melodramatic! The romantic joys and sorrows of youth, however, sometimes lead into the quagmire of a long adulthood.

I had thought love would last forever. What is love? What is forever? Decades later, I have my answers.

*****

Hisao’s music-box (how else could I think of it?) sits at my right hand now, its voice squeaky and dimmed with age. I will wind it again after dinner, gently and carefully. But even an old lady must eat. Memories are not the stuff of life.

=====
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Last edited by brythain on Sat Apr 29, 2017 10:21 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.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

azumeow
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Re: After the Dream—Lilly's Arc (Complete; Testament2 201502

Post by azumeow » Sun Feb 01, 2015 6:57 pm

You made me cry. I was already feeling a bit sad, because of some music I'd heard on the way home from work, but.....

I miss her, brythain. She was terrible and in the end truly a wretched person, but I still love her and I miss her so, so much. I wish I had read Katawa Shoujo the day it came out. It might have saved it all. I still wonder if the way things are now is for the best or not.

On to the writing itself: It was good. It mentions the flaws of both characters in LNE. Thank you for writing this.
"I don’t want to be here anymore, I know there’s nothing left worth staying for.
Your paradise is something I’ve endured
See I don’t think I can fight this anymore, I’m listening with one foot out the door
And something has to die to be reborn-I don’t want to be here anymore"

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Serviam
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Re: After the Dream—Lilly's Arc (Complete; Testament2 201502

Post by Serviam » Sun Feb 01, 2015 9:36 pm

Ouch.

Ouch.

Lils, you magnificent woman, I've read your letters. They hurt.
"What the government is good at is collecting taxes, taking away your freedoms and killing people. It’s not good at much else."
- Tom Clancy summing up l'état in a nutshell

In order of completion:
Lilly > Hanako > Rin > Emi
Currently on: Shizune

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Oscar Wildecat
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Location: A short drive west of Kingdom Come.

Re: After the Dream—Lilly's Arc (Complete; Testament2 201502

Post by Oscar Wildecat » Sun Feb 01, 2015 9:47 pm

I would hope that somewhere in the "After the Dream" universe, someone may be just a bit happy ... possibly. But if so, it seems that knowledge of that fact will never make it past brythain's firewall of despair. :wink: :(
I like all the girls in KS, but empathize with Hanako the most.
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