After the Dream—Emi's Arc/Akiko's Story (Complete)

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brythain
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After the Dream—Emi's Arc/Akiko's Story (Complete)

Post by brythain » Sun Mar 09, 2014 11:45 am

This is the first part of Emi'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.


Emi's arc consists of:

Emi 1 — Qualifying Heat (in this post, see below)
Emi 2 — False Start
Emi 3 — Second Wind
Emi 4 — Final Stretch
Emi 5 — Finish Line
Emi 6 — Warming Down
Emi 7 — Victory Lap

There's also the story of Emi's daughter, Akiko:

Akiko 0 — Remembrance
Akiko 1a — A Letter to Mother (31 Jul 2036)
Akiko 1b — A Letter to Mother (07 Jan 2039)
Akiko 1c — A Letter to Mother (06 May 2040)
Akiko 2 — Mothers and Daughters (Winter 2040-41)
Akiko 3a — A Change of Heart (10-11 Mar 2044)
Akiko 3b — Breaking News (12-25 Mar 2044)
Akiko 3c — Time, Space and Destiny (05 Aug 2044 onwards)

=====

Emi 1: Qualifying Heat (2007)

“T43 in 2012, T43 in 2012, T43 in 2012…” I chant to myself as my blades slash the track. It’s my goal to medal in the big one, at least for my no-legs T43 category. Probably won’t make the Olympics next year, but a girl can dream!

Whoof, one more lap complete. That was a good sprint; I can feel the burn in my buns, fire in my ass, nope not slowing down—give it a last burst then we can take it light then a slow one, then off to…

He’s over there. Huh. How interesting. He should go back to his tearoom, but there’ll be nobody to make tea, poor kid. Damn, I should be polite at least. Nakai looks so moody his heart might not go on.

“Hey Hisao!” I wave at him as I stride loosely round the bend in my last round. I turn my face to him in the final stretch and tiptap my way to the finish for formality’s sake, cutting my warm-down to a walk. It’s a nice day; the sun is shining through a light mist.

“Hi Emi!” he replies tiredly while getting to his feet but I can sense there’s a little spark of enthusiasm hidden deep inside somewhere. At least he’s outdoors. Satou really did a number on him. He should let it out somehow and I don’t think playing chess with Ikezawa helps much. But who am I to judge?

“You gonna join me on morning runs again?” I walk over to him, just doing my duty for Nurse, helping a fellow-student out. Hopefully I can cheer him up a bit.

“Maybe not. I think I’d slow you down. I’m a bit out of shape,” he says.

“A bit? A bit?!” I wail at him for effect and then try out my pout-weapon. A bit? Who’s he trying to fool?

“You’ve gone slack and your posture is bad. You’ve clearly not been having enough sleep, and you look like you’ve been eating too much bad food! Oh yes, I’ve heard the stories about pizza dinners in the Student Council room—with extra fries and wasabi mayo—what horrible stuff! Or at least, very bad if you’re not exercising properly!”

Builds helluva bust on Hakamichi though, I remind myself. Even Mikado! I ought to try it for a while. I wonder why I’m making such a big fuss. It’s not as if I know him very well… but Nurse did want me to keep an eye on him.

He flinches, as if I’m making too much noise. Which I am but it’s for his own good, right? I hate it when people give up on themselves. The first sign is not shaving and then, if it’s bad, not bathing and stuff like that.

“Maybe quite a lot,” he concedes.

That’s good: admission is the first step towards doing something about it, Nurse keeps telling me. So I give him a second look. I realize I haven’t actually looked at him for a long while, good bones in there, we can probably work on his cardio in stages, build some muscle, some flexibility… help him get healthy instead of hanging out moping in closed-up rooms.

“See you tomorrow morning, then!” I whap my towel gently against the side of his head for effect. People always get shocked when they get hit high up from below their line of sight. He looks gratifyingly stunned, so I give him the sweetest grin on no cheekbones, and saunter off to my daily appointment and lower-limb adjustment session with Nurse.

Tell the truth, I’m at something of a loss. My best friend Rin’s off at her art exhibition, where she’s been for a long time—it’s like losing your soap in the shower, you look around and curse because you’ll never get it back and you can’t really get on with your life. She’s been my friend for so long, and now her idea of communicating is sending me weird—well weirder than usual—texts in blocks of four unrelated words.

And there I am at the medical centre, ready for my checkup and the bad jokes that will go with it.

*****

“Well, sunshine, your legs are good to go.”

Nurse is a great guy, but you can always tell when he’s holding something back. I wonder what it is because normally he’ll tell me after some teasing. So I try one more time.

“Thanks! Hey! Aren’t you forgetting to give me the boyfriend-advice package or something?”

“Heh, if you want boyfriend-add-vice packages, I can give you a few of the small square ones, but it would be a big surprise to me if you needed them!”

“Oh yeah? What makes you so sure?”

He gets that whole patient-confidentiality-sorry-can’t-tell-you look on his face, and then he changes the subject. Which means I can tell he isn’t really changing the subject but more shifting it around to a less uncomfortable direction.

“Have you been getting Nakai to run?”

Wow. He must have spies on his spies, I think to myself. I frantically try to recall if I’d seen Miura or somebody else lurking at the corners of the sports complex.

“Errm, not quite but I’m trying! He’s been a little sad lately, and his posture is kind of bent over, so I guess he needs more than just running. I’ve asked him to join me tomorrow! Really!”

He gives me the great-white-shark grin and says, “Don’t overwork him, you’ve already made him collapse once and he wasn’t even running. So, no extraordinary exertions, young lady. He’s not quite ready for that!”

The fact that he’s talking openly about the Nakai means that he’s glad I’ll be doing it, which feels nice. I’m being trusted with something which I’m good at doing. I know I’m not the smartest girl with the fastest mouth, but elsewise I’m a good trainer and I don’t give up.

“No problem! See you tomorrow!”

And with that I’m up and out and into the dorm for a quick shower and then class. Mr Nakai, your heart is mine! No, I don’t think I meant it that way.

*****

We’re graduating already. I didn’t expect to feel sad, because normally it’s just all about moving on and getting to the next lap, but this feels like a false start some nervous idiot off the blocks and everyone starts again but all feeling off.

Ah well, can’t say I haven’t enjoyed high school. Tried almost everything and almost anything and earned myself a reputation for speed—even beat Miura, though she’s pretty good. Had a lot of fun, though I’m still sad about Rin deciding to leave school and become a full-time artist.

Strangely, one of my major achievements for the student body has been keeping Nakai alive so that Hakamichi and Mikado can make use of him especially with her cousin gone and all. Happy for him and all that, but there’s more to life than doing carpentry and water-carrying for bossy people.

Aww, that’s sweet. Hakamichi’s finished talking and all three of them are posing for pictures on stage. Wow, there are even some hugs for the camera; Nakai looks slightly weak at the knees as if he hadn’t warmed up enough, but he does look pretty warm now.

I find myself pouting. Why am I pouting? Hmm, he’s looking over here! Aaaaah! What’s he doing? He’s jumping off the stage; that can’t be good for his heart. Now he’s heading over here, maybe he’s heading for Miura, but he’s way too nice for her, even though she’s got the hots for him—no, please no, not her…

Birds outside stop chirping. The wind dies down. Somewhere, a man is drinking a cup of coffee. He freezes with the cup at his lips. Wha-a-a-at. What.

And the winner is Ikezawa? She looks so embarrassed, but she’s smiling! I’d never have seen that coming. Heh, bet Hakamichi didn’t see it coming either.

=====
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Last edited by brythain on Mon Aug 07, 2017 10:53 pm, edited 38 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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AtD—Emi's Arc (Part 2 up 20140310)

Post by brythain » Sun Mar 09, 2014 8:08 pm

This is the second part of Emi's arc in 'After the Dream', my post-Lilly-neutral-end mosaic.
Edit: This part has also been edited, in line with the previous part.


Emi 2: False Start (2012)

“Morning, Mom!”

“Hi, sunshine!”

There are only two people in this room, but they have enough warmth between them for five. Not a thought that would consciously occur to either of them, though—even if this is how they’ve greeted each other for years.

And that is why Meiko Ibarazaki knows immediately that something is weighing on her wonderful, sweet, determined daughter. Besides the fact that she’s actually home for breakfast.

“What’s up, dear?”

Emi makes a face, and temporizes by stuffing a large scoop of granola and yoghurt into her mouth. As the light gleams on her cobalt-pink hair, Meiko can't help but remember a girl who preferred strawberry-gold and then grew older.

“I… hmmm… bumped into somebody the other day, guy I knew from Yamaku, name of Nakai.”

Meiko lifts an eyebrow just enough to indicate an entire line of questioning. Her smile remains in place.

Emi swallows. The eyebrow-lift dissuades her from rooting around in her bowl with her spoon for the last dried raspberry. She puts her spoon down.

“Well, ’s funny because he’s the guy I almost killed by bumping into him in the corridor when he’d just arrived at Yamaku. Wham into the chest, and it turned out he had a heart condition. Two innocent bystanders almost fainted. Later, Hakamichi was all oh gods Emi what did you do. Errm… did it again.”

Meiko lifts her other eyebrow. Distracted, Emi still thinks her mother is the most beautiful thing on two legs, but that those eyebrows have a creepy life of their own.

“Yeah. Same guy same hit, it’s a good thing his heart is a lot tougher now, but I did put him down—wait, that’s not quite right—I ran into him and we both fell down. Quite an impact: he was running too. It was around a blind corner and there we were. Hadn’t seen him for a while.”

Emi looks at her mother. She knows she hasn’t met the information quota yet; if Mom had a third eyebrow she’d probably have raised it by now.

“I picked him up—no, don’t look at me like that it wasn’t like that—and dusted him off and we had breakfast after he recovered. Talked about Gakudai which he’s checking out because he wants to be a teacher— he doesn’t want to stay at Todai all his life—and I laughed and told him that sounded more like me.”

She swallows again, blames the granola for the roughness in her throat.

“Then he asked me what I’d be doing after Ochanomizu. So I told him about the Olympics, and Oscar Pistorius, and about the track team. He sounded really happy for me. We did a lot of catching up. Then I saw him back to his apartment and…”

Emi frantically waves a hand in the air as her mother’s imaginary fourth eyebrow strains in the morning air.

“No, no! Mom! Just making sure he didn’t collapse or something, didn’t want to have to deal with that kind of guilt again!”

“I’m sure you know what you’re doing, dear. Are you carrying?”

“M-om!!”

Meiko gets up and throws an affectionate arm around her daughter, grinning. It’s always a joy to see Emi make new friends—or regain old ones.

*****

Meiko rushes home the moment she hears the news. She’s cancelled all her appointments by the time she enters the gate. Her heart leaps in her chest when she sees a leg hanging from a bush along the side of the house. Frowning with anxiety, she rushes in.

“Emi! Emi?” She turns the corner and finds a closed door that is normally open.

“Mom. It’s unlocked.” The words sound faint, unusually lifeless.

She tries the handle, feels it give, steps into the room. It takes her a moment to find her daughter.

Emi is sprawled on the bed with her face to the wall. She’s kicking her knees in the air, slowly, aimlessly. Her stumps look bruised in the winter light. Behind her, the window is open, with a cold wind blowing through it.

“It’s OK, Mom. I threw them into the bushes, sorry. But they’ll be fine. I’m gonna keep running. Maya’s already thinking of ways to get the funding.”

The phrases are clipped, tortured. Meiko knows that it hurts her daughter to be dependent on anyone else for anything. She also knows that if anyone can find a way it will be Emi and her resourceful friends in the Paralympic team.

“That’s good of Nakanishi.”

Inside, she seethes at the way the country treats its ‘disabled’ athletes. Sure, it’s been improving since ’64, but clearly Japan still has a way to go. Even the top ones have to pay for their own airfare and lodging. What can she do about that?

“Hey, Kaneshiro-san and I can help a bit, you know.”

Immediately she knows she’s made a mistake. Stupid, stupid. Never put Nurse and self in same sentence. We’re just friends, need to be just friends, and Emi has always liked it that way.

Emi has gone completely still. Meiko moves towards the bed, uncertain.

Then a phone warbles.

Emi sits up, glaring at her mother. They lock gazes for a while, but Emi needs to grab her phone. Meiko takes the opportunity to disengage and sit down.

Emi answers on the third warble. She sounds distinctly unhappy. “Hey, Hisao.”

Meiko watches her carefully. There are advantages to being thought of as flighty and altogether too vibrant to be a widow; even your daughter forgets that you hear and see everything. Or at least, you try. She wonders distractedly if Emi will turn out that way, then crushes the thought. One young widow in the family is enough.

She hopes that Emi is getting along well with Nakai. He comes across as a little vague, focused more on the big picture rather than tying his shoelaces. But he’s a nice boy, considerate, polite, quite good-looking too. He might cheer Emi up.

“You don’t have to do that.”

A frown, followed by a few words from the other side. So much for that.

“But it’d be nice, yeah. See you later? Great!”

Just like that, Emi’s perked up. What a sweet young man… Meiko hopes it lasts.

*****

I’ve not been with Hisao for months since that’s what happens when you get locked into the damn national training camp routine. Didn’t medal either, although Maya came close in T44.

Sigh. Feeling down a bit, but let’s be realistic, Emi. You don’t yet have the muscle though you tried and the best part was really being part of the team. 2016 here we come!

There’s a little park space at the end of the block in which the Koishikawa library sits. Hisao will be there. I grin wickedly as I think of what I have planned for him, because that’s not all you can find there. Yeah, I’ll probably suffer for it, but his lack of experience should balance it out. Maya gave me a great idea in her last email from California, and it’ll make a change from his usual routine.

A couple of hours pass.

“Love!”

“Yeah, that’s right.”

He grabs at his balls, a pained expression on his face.

“Hey, don’t worry about me. I’m fine. Just grip it the way I showed you.”

He stretches, looking very uncomfortable as I wait for him. He looks lean and reasonably fit, his abdominals rippling a little beneath the white cloth. An awkward bulge is shifting some distance below that… haha, no let’s not get distracted here!

He serves a little weakly, I hit it to his off-side avoiding his body and he barely returns it. I go for the net—I’m a lot better at forward movement than sideways—I’m new at this too though not as new as he is, and bam!

“Are you sure people have fun doing this?” he complains with a hint of dry humour, after the ball slots into the opposite corner nicely and he completely misses it. He takes out the second ball from his pocket.

*****

We’ve worked up a nice sweat by the end of the day. Which is when he ruins it all by asking about the calendar. Yes, that calendar.

Yes, we posed nude but we didn’t show any naughty bits. It was fun, yes, I enjoyed it. What the hell do you mean I enjoyed it too much?! Oh I see, I only looked as if I enjoyed it too much. Come on, Hisao, you can’t be that much an idiot, it was to raise funds for the team!

You were only joking? You were really joking? Could have fooled me. I don’t need this kind of attitude. Well, fine. Now you're complaining about the date I planned? Dammit you can go plan your own f’ing dates Nakai!

*****

Or at least, that’s how I remember it. I still wince at the memory.

I was crying by then, a girl can be herself and it isn’t too much to expect someone who claims to love you to let her be herself and it had been months and he was spoiling everything.

There was one last secret to share, and damn if I wanted to share it with him anymore.

=====
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Last edited by brythain on Sat Apr 29, 2017 11:50 am, 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)

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Re: After the Dream—Emi's Arc (Part 2 up 20140309)

Post by Hotkey » Sun Mar 09, 2014 11:04 pm

Loving this build-up. It's gonna hurt so much when...

Your Meiko is most enjoyable, too. I'm always interested in writer's portrayals of her.

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Re: After the Dream—Emi's Arc (Part 2 up 20140309)

Post by griffon8 » Sun Mar 09, 2014 11:43 pm

Two things:

1. This is post-Lilly, so it would have been Lilly & Hanako who witnessed Hisao & Emi’s first meeting, not Shizune & Misha.
2. If memory serves, this is the first stab at giving Nurse a name in any fanfic.

And now that I’ve finally posted in one of your AtD threads, I suppose I should offer my opinion.

As much as I dislike the scattered nature of your vignettes—an unavoidable defect unless you want to make your tales 100 times longer—I am enjoying these. My main problem now is the lack of surprise: everything that is going to happen is already heavily foreshadowed. And yet you manage to sneak in Hanako and Hideaki getting married.

So you’ve been able to take vignettes and make them entertaining. Your writing is better now than it was when you first proposed what I originally thought was going to be a train wreck. I say ‘train wreck’, because I didn’t see how you were going to do anything interesting with it. Imagine my surprise when that turned out not to be true.

That said, I can’t help but think this would have been better as a long story with changing POV and a purely linear style. But that is not the story you are telling.
I found out about Katawa Shoujo through the forums of Misfile. There, I am the editor of Misfiled Dreams.

Completed: 100%, including bonus picture. Shizune>Emi>Lilly>Hanako>Rin

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Re: After the Dream—Emi's Arc (Part 2 up 20140309)

Post by brythain » Sun Mar 09, 2014 11:55 pm

griffon8 wrote:Two things:

1. This is post-Lilly, so it would have been Lilly & Hanako who witnessed Hisao & Emi’s first meeting, not Shizune & Misha.
2. If memory serves, this is the first stab at giving Nurse a name in any fanfic.
1. Aaaaaaah! I knew something was bugging me about that line. Gottagodosomethingaboutit!
2. Not sure about that, but that's interesting indeed.

To both you and Hotkey, thanks for the encouragement. I will try to wreck any trains carefully and artistically, and in the long term, time permitting, I hope to tell a reasonably compelling narrative that combines the mosaic vignettes into a mosaic novel. Cheers!
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—Emi's Arc (Part 2 up 20140309)

Post by dewelar » Sun Mar 09, 2014 11:56 pm

OK, so, I decided not to wait and read these...twice through. Not sure I can put my finger on it, but something about how you've written Emi seems...off-putting. I sort of get what you're going for, with the jumping from thought to thought, and that maybe as time goes on it's gotten harder and harder to open up, but...just not quite sitting right. Will think about it harder and try again later.
Rin is orthogonal to everything.
Stuff I've written: Developments, a continuation of Lilly's (bad? neutral?) ending - COMPLETE!

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Re: After the Dream—Emi's Arc (Part 2 up 20140309)

Post by brythain » Mon Mar 10, 2014 1:57 am

dewelar wrote:OK, so, I decided not to wait and read these...twice through. Not sure I can put my finger on it, but something about how you've written Emi seems...off-putting. I sort of get what you're going for, with the jumping from thought to thought, and that maybe as time goes on it's gotten harder and harder to open up, but...just not quite sitting right. Will think about it harder and try again later.
I'd appreciate anything that would help. It's hard to write Emi, for me. Thanks!
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—Emi's Arc (Part 2 up 20140309)

Post by forgetmenot » Mon Mar 10, 2014 2:25 am

So... I, uh.

That is to say, I've enjoyed all of the vignettes up to this. Not that they weren't without flaws, but that's another post.

However, there is something to be said regarding dewelar's comment about how you write Emi.
dewelar wrote:OK, so, I decided not to wait and read these...twice through. Not sure I can put my finger on it, but something about how you've written Emi seems...off-putting. I sort of get what you're going for, with the jumping from thought to thought, and that maybe as time goes on it's gotten harder and harder to open up, but...just not quite sitting right. Will think about it harder and try again later.
I think I might see what he's getting at.
brythain wrote:Won’t make the Olympics next year but a girl can dream a girl can dream a girl can dream can dream can dream!
See, this right here. It's not inconsistent with how I'd imagine Emi to think, but it is inconsistent with regards to how you've been writing so far. Shizune and Lilly's internal monologues were different, to be assured, but they had consistency when it comes to grammar, punctuation, and syntax. Emi's internal monologue seems to be a distinct break from that pattern. And while it's not wrong, it's jarring. This is how I'd expect Rin to think, not Emi. This kind of disjointed, repetitive thought process doesn't seem like it would come from someone who is so careful in her interpersonal interactions.
The Nakai
I feel like this exemplifies it most of all. "The Nakai" just seems too disconnected, too spastic for Emi. Like she's not an immediate part of her world, but thinks as an outside entity, observing something that's happening to her. This isn't a proper reflection of Emi's personality. Maybe Rin, but that's not what we're discussing.
Awk-ward. Hmm am I being bitchy-bee there?
Just seems like you're painting her as a bit of a self-conscious "valley girl". I dunno. It just doesn't fit what's canonically regarded as Emi.

Throughout this chapter, and chapter 2 of Emi's arc as well, your perspective varies quite a bit, which I'm sure is intentional, since it's well-written. I could always tell who was thinking what.

However, in a narrative sense, it doesn't really work. Especially with such an out of character Emi. You've painted her in such a different light than she appears from canon, or any other number of fanfics. It may work for your story, but it doesn't quite work from the perspective of fanfiction. Writing inside of an established universe is tricky, as you're really constrained to the characters as they are at that time. Emi may grow and develop into the person you're writing her as, but her internal thought process doesn't quite mesh with the Emi that's canon around the time of Hisao and Lilly's breakup (I hate to defer to fanon as example, but if you look into how dewelar writes Emi in Developments, I think it's a much better example of how her thought process would disseminate though this whole ordeal).

I don't really have any suggestions (sorry), as you seem to have already outlined what you'll be doing with Emi post-Hisao's death and beyond. This is just what's jarring to me as a reader. Take it or leave it (two cents and all). Regardless, I'll keep reading. You've got a good thing going here. I just thought I'd offer my thoughts.

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Re: After the Dream—Emi's Arc (Part 2 up 20140309)

Post by brythain » Mon Mar 10, 2014 2:34 am

I shall lapse into a deep meditative trance because I think both forgetmenot and dewelar are telling me important things and I need to reconsider Emi. *crumples virtual paper*

Very important things. Hmmmm. Back to work.

Edit1:

Some hours later, I wake up at my desk, clearly having dozed off in my deep meditative trance. I hear a feminine throat-clearing behind me and turn around in surprise. It's Emi Ibarazaki herself. She shakes her head sorrowfully and then scrunches up her face in a ferocious scowl.

"Not content with depriving me with a nice long life with Hisao, you've made me sound like a ditz. I'm not like that. You know I'm not. It's unkind of you and I thought you should know it. And why are you making me think such cruel thoughts about my friends? It's true that I think of them by their surnames; I even think of myself by my surname, so that's fine. But it doesn't mean I hate them. Shizune scolds me, but I know I deserve it and she knows I know. And Misha, Hanako, even Lilly? Come on!"

She sighs deeply, her disappointment filling the room.

"The least you could do is edit the silly bits out. Give me some dignity, something like what you did for Mom. You don't want to be remembered as the author who made Emi pout."

The least I can argue is that she makes herself pout all the time, but I get what she means. I am appropriately chastised, and nod contritely.

"Thank you. Now give me some time with Hisao and I won't haunt you anymore. Please?"

She gives me a small half-grin, and although there is a deep sadness in those emerald eyes, she looks as if she might yet be happy. I feel as if by telling the story of this particular alternate timeline, a puppy has been kicked in the ribs.

Although my throat is very dry, I say, "Yes, Miss Ibarazaki."

"Emi!" she says, as she vanishes. And I wake up.
Last edited by brythain on Mon Mar 10, 2014 1:54 pm, edited 1 time 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—Emi's Arc (Part 2 up 20140310)

Post by MyCaptain » Mon Mar 10, 2014 9:10 am

That's probably the cutest editorial note I've ever read! Gave it a quick glance and it feels like it holds up better now, though I can't say for sure yet.
I really enjoyed what you made of Shizune and Lilly in their arcs. This, so far, seems abit lacking in comparison but I'm not going to judge yet. In previous arcs it was brought together when I could read it all in one go, and so I hope that you can bring this together as well.
I want to say this however: I really enjoy your writing, and I hope you can power through all the arcs you had planned. In fact, I'm looking forward to it.

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Re: After the Dream—Emi's Arc (Part 2 up 20140310)

Post by Helbereth » Mon Mar 10, 2014 10:37 am

“You going to join me on morning runs again?”
Emi is likely to use the contraction 'gonna' here, as opposed to the more formal-sounding 'going to'.
[Rin's] been my friend for so long, and now her idea of communicating is sending me weird—well weirder than usual—texts in blocks of four unrelated words.
So Rin is writing quatrains now? Is she predicting events 500 years ahead, also? Tezuka Rin, Nostradamus of the intergalactic era.
so I guess so he needs more than just running.
That second 'so' needs to go, or get a comma placed after it - depending on how you want the sentence to read.
the Nakai
Is there a reason that 'the' is there?

The other commenters have pointed at the erratic thought process and said it sounds un-Emi-like, but I don't completely agree. Emi is a very focused runner, and she compartmentalizes her life almost as well as Shizune, but she's prone to manic, somewhat childish behavior as well. One of the first things Hisao learns about Emi is that she's a master of puppy-dog looks, which are very closely related to pouting. There's an asocial aspect to her as well; she chooses to spend a lot of time alone under the guise of maintaining her runner's physique.

My few forays into writing from her perspective (I think chapter 3 or 4 in FYI and several chapters in The Kenji Files) have been third-person, but I found myself writing inane tangents into her internal monologue because they seemed appropriate.

Mental note: try not to write story reviews when you're awake past your bedtime...

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Re: After the Dream—Emi's Arc (Part 2 up 20140310)

Post by brythain » Mon Mar 10, 2014 10:58 am

Helbereth wrote:The other commenters have pointed at the erratic thought process and said it sounds un-Emi-like, but I don't completely agree. Emi is a very focused runner, and she compartmentalizes her life almost as well as Shizune, but she's prone to manic, somewhat childish behavior as well. One of the first things Hisao learns about Emi is that she's a master of puppy-dog looks, which are very closely related to pouting. There's an asocial aspect to her as well; she chooses to spend a lot of time alone under the guise of maintaining her runner's physique.

My few forays into writing from her perspective (I think chapter 3 or 4 in FYI and several chapters in The Kenji Files) have been third-person, but I found myself writing inane tangents into her internal monologue because they seemed appropriate.
Grind, grind, polish, polish… thanks. Am aiming for something that is believably Emi without being overdone… see above editorial daydream. :)
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—Emi's Arc (Part 2 up 20140310)

Post by dewelar » Mon Mar 10, 2014 11:02 am

Helbereth wrote:The other commenters have pointed at the erratic thought process and said it sounds un-Emi-like, but I don't completely agree. Emi is a very focused runner, and she compartmentalizes her life almost as well as Shizune, but she's prone to manic, somewhat childish behavior as well.
Yes and no. I actually agree that "racing" from thought to thought is probably something natural to Emi, but I don't think she compartmentalizes all that well. She tries to, yes, but it just doesn't work for her because she isn't wired that way. The manic behavior she displays is often a direct result of that -- it's her way of getting away from the uncomfortable thoughts she's having, or the uncomfortable topic being discussed. Childish...well, yeah, can't argue with that :) .
Rin is orthogonal to everything.
Stuff I've written: Developments, a continuation of Lilly's (bad? neutral?) ending - COMPLETE!

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AtD—Emi's Arc (Part 3 up 20140311)

Post by brythain » Mon Mar 10, 2014 1:51 pm

This is the third part of Emi's arc in 'After the Dream', my post-Lilly-neutral-end mosaic.
It dovetails with this part of Shizune's arc.


Emi 3: Second Wind (2017)

It’s been a confusing decade, reflects Miss ‘Take-No-Prisoners’ Ibarazaki as she stalks down the familiar corridors, students greeting her, some cheerful and some avoiding her gaze— they don't know she knows what they call her, and that she loves it. Been a good one though, all said; if I had to think of it as a race, I’d say we've done well so far.

She’s on a runner’s high, really. It’s not just the morning run with the love of her life and the old ritual of checking in with Dr Kaneshiro, it’s the residual impact of a great six months. The headlines are still in her head, each one shared with her mother, laying the past to rest. Then, her posting back to Yamaku. She grins.

Somewhere in the back of her mind, she’s running the highlights reel.

*****

Sports and nutrition science at Ochanomizu, training for 2012 and the sour taste of defeat, visiting the cemetery with Hisao, enduring a rocky relationship with moments of horrible discomfort…

They’re sitting at a small café, five years ago. It’s a farewell dinner for Ikezawa and Hakamichi—the Todai gang, in her mind. The smart ones who’ve spent four years with Hisao at the most prestigious university in the country, and who look like they’re going for more, she gloomily reflects. Chicago. Columbia. Or the other way round. Everyone’s animated, chatting.

And my boyfriend’s hands are fully occupied translating for one of them while his eyes seem to caress the other one. Which is why I’m not being Emi and I’m being… I don’t know. I should be talking more.

She still hadn’t decided if he’d slept with either of them yet. Was that being unfair to him? She wasn’t sure. Love, affection, these bred introspection, and Emi Ibarazaki had never quite been one to enjoy that; she’d normally left it to Rin, who had enough for both of them—Rin, who when they had invited her had laughed in a disturbing way and then disappeared into the night.

But people change, or your feelings about them change. Look at Ikezawa: she’s so confident now. I’m happy to call her Hanako after three months of helping her with physiotherapy, and she’s even giving me boyfriend advice. She knows Hisao very well, but I sense regret there. It’s over between them, whatever it was. And if I hadn’t fought with him and made love with him, I’d not be thinking like this!

And look at Shizune Hakamichi: as intense as ever, but with a disturbingly maternal attitude towards him. Did she nourish him at her breasts? Gah! No! They’re just friendly competitors or something, right? Or maybe she’s been trying to make the point all along that she’s better than cousin Lilly, although I thought they’d patched things up between them.


Tonight, we’ll need to talk, she remembers thinking. And her grin broadens as she strides past the old 3-4 classroom, as memories of that particular late-night talk send unexpected warmth through her.

*****

The Rio de Janeiro Paralympics in 2016—she remembers thinking of Brazil as a hot place with lots of nudity and pickpockets, the legacy of overzealous administrative instructions not based on real experience. Pockets can’t be picked if you don’t have them, and nudity had never really been a big problem with her. What she can’t quite get used to is that it can be rather cool, sometimes chilly, even on the beaches.

What she hates is that Hisao can’t be with her very much. The Japanese way of athletic training is sometimes brutal, with little compassionate leeway for those who have chosen to compete professionally. In this case, she’s required to push herself mercilessly or be pushed, and she’s thankful that she’s always done the former and thus need not suffer the latter.

She gently puts the thought of Hisao to one side as she blasts off again and again and again. As she does the resistance training, the sprints and slow recoveries, like an intense mantra of personal punishment. Again and again. She can feel herself growing larger, stronger, faster. Since the much more relaxed days of Yamaku, her upper body has bulked out; her lower body has become harder. A lot more muscle now.

In the rare privacy of her room, in the shower, she touches herself, massages her new muscles, dreams of being caressed. She embraces Hisao. She feels him in her. But he is nowhere near. The fastest thing on no legs, she thinks, may be the saddest thing on no Hisao. But she won’t give him the satisfaction of knowing that. Yet. She smiles as steam fills the cubicle.

*****

“Silver medallist, representing Japan, Emi Ibarazaki!”

In this race she’d been second-best; the Dutch girl with the difficult name had beaten her by a whisker in a hard fight. But Emi’s small haul of precious metals has already turned out to be one of Japan’s best ever, and the Asahi Shimbun has put her on the front page. Dad would have been proud. On the podium, she smiles. Perhaps Shizune and I, not so different after all?

Which brings her sharply back to the present, and the news they’ve all just received. She isn’t quite sure how to handle it. It’s not that she doesn’t like Shizune. In the few months before Shizune and Hanako had left Japan, she and Hisao had spent some time making sure everyone remained friends. Being in an institution like Yamaku builds camaraderie, and at the very least, a sense of being united in a rather uncaring world.

She enters the staff room, where everyone is still talking about the bombshell. Mutou-sensei is faintly smiling to himself, like a proud uncle, but he’s in the minority. Hisao isn’t at his desk yet—he’s always been one to waste time in the showers. More than she is, anyway.

“Good morning, Mutou-san!” She bows appropriately. She’s never been comfortable calling him anything less formal. He’s one of her reporting officers now, and especially in public, she shows him some of the traditional deference.

“Hello, Emi! How’s Hisao taking the news?” Mutou nods back, as informal as ever.

“I don’t know, boss. We’d only just finished our morning run and he went off to the shower just before the announcement was made on the PA system.”

“Ah, yes. I must say I’m happy you are still keeping our friend fully fit. He has many more good years in him, and even more because of you.”

She blushes a little. It might be true, but this is the kind of compliment that she’s still unused to getting. She bows again, conscious of the many ears pretending not to listen.

In this place, she is the most junior of the staff. She’s quite aware of the fact that a part-load biology/PE teacher, who also moonlights as a school physiotherapist and nutritionist, might be considered about half a rank above the swimming pool maintenance staff. Mutou, to his great credit, has stuck to his guns, always treating her as he would any of the other teachers in his department.

But he’s the odd one out. Nomiya brushes past her, snarling at something unseen but vastly irritating. She’s never liked him. She thinks of Rin as a victim of his machinations. Others probably mutter that she is favoured because her boyfriend is a rising star. She doesn’t care, she just works harder.

While waiting for her young man, she muses. Dr Shizune Hakamichi, alumna of Yamaku, to be appointed Vice-Principal with effect 1 August 2017. She wonders how, she wonders why, and most of all, she wonders what’s on Hisao’s mind.

*****

In July, they collide in the hallways. Literally. Metaphorically. Repeatedly. Sometimes without planning, and sometimes for fun. Sometimes with tongue, sometimes not. It’s a celebration of ten years of a life that Hisao jokes has already gone on longer than planned. She gets angry at that kind of joke, but she cannot stay angry.

They are still young, although she fears that thinking about it too much will mean they do not grow old together. Hisao comforts her, tells her that he loves her, that he thinks she’s beautiful, that he’ll be there for her when she wakes each day. He tells her that they’ll go on living until they stop, and they’ll at least have had time together, and there’ll be no regrets.

They are so much in love that when they meet it is like the sun rising early enough to catch the moon before it sets. Sometimes, the students gasp; sometimes, they clap. There is lightning and thunder. It is as if Yamaku has become a place out of time, not of this Earth, and not of this Japan.

Summer has come, and with it, they tan beautifully and tango even more so. In the night, the staff quarters sometimes echo faintly but reproachfully with the reverberation of their passion. They are without care. They run everywhere.

On a warm Tanabata, as fireworks blossom across the sky, the young man who never thought he’d live so long opens a small black box. “Emi Ibarazaki, I do not know how many years we have left, but I have wasted too many already. Will you do me the honour of accepting the rest of them?”

A fire opal blazes in the dark. It is not the sterile promise of eternity, but the burning of an invincible flame. Five tiny gems encircle it, like talon-tips. Emi looks at it, looks at his face. Hisao looks apprehensive, as if he thinks she will reject him. Emi is breathless in turn with love, fear, sadness, and finally, desire.

She lets him put the ring on her finger. Suddenly, from the ground beneath the roof on which they’ve spent so much time over the years, a long-restrained roar goes up and the student body rejoices. She had wondered why the rooftop had been so deserted.

On the first day of school after that, they are summoned to the office of the Vice-Principal.

=====
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Last edited by brythain on Sat Apr 29, 2017 11:50 am, edited 5 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—Emi's Arc (Part 3 up 20140311)

Post by dewelar » Mon Mar 10, 2014 2:02 pm

"By George, I think he's got it..."

First impression of this: much, much better. Will read it again later for more detailed thoughts :) .
Rin is orthogonal to everything.
Stuff I've written: Developments, a continuation of Lilly's (bad? neutral?) ending - COMPLETE!

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