After the Dream—Hanako's Arc (Complete)

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brythain
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After the Dream—Hanako's Arc (Complete)

Post by brythain » Mon Mar 17, 2014 7:23 am

This is the first part of Hanako'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.


Hanako's arc consists of:

Hanako 1 — Friendship
Hanako 2 — Fellowship
Hanako 3 — Family
Hanako 4 — Failures
Hanako 5 — Faith
Hanako 6 — Flowers
Hanako 7 — Findings


Hanako 1: Friendship (T -17)

My life’s been a runaway roller coaster, sometimes. But the rails keep together because of words, all the words in my head that I’m not so good at sharing with people face to face. In that way, I’m like Rin Tezuka—but Rin’s difficult because she sees in pictures, and a picture is a million words to her, and there’s no time to find the right ones in the whole mess.

If I were to say all that to you, it would have come out something like this: “H-hello? I’m not very g-good at…” whatever it is, and I’d probably find something else to do. If you knew me in school, you’d remember, if at all, that I was the shy one hiding in the beanbags deep within the library. But I’ve got better at this, and there were two people I loved very much, and they were my chrysalis.

So, let this older me begin to tell you the story of Lillian Alexandra Anderson Satou and Hisao Nakai, who loved so much and so often that they both forgot to love themselves. It is one of those romances for the ages, although it was very brief. But I’ve read so many tales and so much history, and they tell me that the duration is not what matters, but the richness of it all, and the manner of its passing.

Be warned, sometimes I find myself immersed in the past and I use the present tense; sometimes the past is immersed in me, and receives its proper tense. So here goes. Let me bring you back to Yamaku, to a time that’s outlived itself.

*****

“L-Lilly? I think you need to t-tell him. I already k-know, and he is sure to find out… what if you break his heart?” I gasp, realizing that this is unfair. Part of it is that my heart is feeling fragile too.

My dear friend sits there, as if carved of ice. Sometimes I think of her as a Valkyrie from Norse legend, waiting for some hero to leap a ring of fire and bring her eyes to life. I’m already saying to myself, no, no, it’s between them and nothing to do with me, when she sighs.

“The last few weeks, we were really close. But Hisao’s drifting away. I think he knows, but he’s hiding it well. And Hanako, I know you’ve been keeping secrets in your heart too. All three of us, we’ve got too many secrets that we’re not sharing.”

I know it takes effort for her to be this blunt with me. It hurts her to speak this way. It hurts me to watch her hurt herself. Everyone is hurting here.

Impulsively, I get up from the floor and squeeze onto the bed next to her. As I hold her, my workaday flannel against her midnight silk, I feel her trembling from some deep emotion.

“Hanako… what if he doesn’t really love me? Or what if our love doesn’t survive this? Was I lying to him when I said I loved him?”

I don’t know what to say. In another universe, Hisao and I might have been more than friends. Still, our hearts might have been broken. Here, Lilly and he are more than friends. And anything I say right now might break everybody’s hearts.

So I hold her, and her warmth reassures me that this is this universe, the one we are in, the one we have to do our best in. I whisper to her as I stroke her hair: “T-tell him. G-give him a chance.”

I cannot tell her that I have imagined the heat of him in my loins too, and wept for the unfairness of it all, and am trying to grow up.

*****

It would be nice to tell you a neat story, one with all its edges trimmed and its loose threads cut. But that is what the spinners of fate do. I’m not one of those. I’m only an orphan flower-child, one whose tastes in books mix modern literature and ancient myth equally. I like Celtic, also Norse. They are clean and cold on the outside, warm and tragic on the inside; and they are full of half-formed, half-broken things.

So here is the short version, and then the deluge.

I wasn’t able to persuade my friends to use their love as a shield against fate. Lilly’s family wanted her back in Scotland, a whole world away. Lilly’s sister forced the issue, Hisao misread things, Lilly herself made peace with old enemies, and we had the makings of an ending. I put on a good do-you-have-to-go performance to give Lilly one last chance, but she had made up her mind.

So there I stood with Hisao as the great love of his life—she was surely that, no matter how young and foolish we all were—went off in a black chariot, never again to be seen by him in this life.

He was too empty to take comfort from me, and I was too tired to offer much. At the end of it, Lilly had still been trying to reassure herself that she had done her best by us. I knew she had not. But I thanked her, at the end of our first act. And Hisao, brave but not yet brave enough, wished her a long and happy life.

This is where the canonical story must end. That’s the way simple tragedies dissolve into the mundane lives of ordinary people. Little did I know then that this was not quite to be the case.

*****

Very early on the morning after Lilly had left, I let myself into her room. Emi Ibarazaki caught me in the corridor, but she gave me a sympathetic look, clapped me on my stiff shoulder, and passed by wordlessly.

I found very little of my dear friend in that room. Her books had all been sent ahead to Inverness, save for those returned to Yuuko at the library. All her knick-knacks, her cane, her clothes, gone. Empty rooms, empty chairs, empty tables—these things are the stuff of melancholy. In a corner of the abandoned room, a heart had been scrawled in some long-dried claret liquid: H/L. I sat down next to it. It’s the little things that break you.

“Hana-chan?”

Misha, at a time like this. But she sounded tentative, concerned. This was Shiina, my colleague in shyness, not the Mouth of Shizune.

“Y-yes?”

“Are you okay? May I come in?”

“P-please do.”

I felt her move towards me hesitantly. So polite. So tea-and-Lilly. I could have hugged her, and when she knelt down besides me, I did. Misha always carries with her the scent of wild apples. As she put her arms around me, it was like a memory of better days.

I don’t know how long we stayed like that, wild apples in a dead room, my own scented skin cream mingling with suddenly angry tears. It was long enough for me to understand that Misha too held a deep sadness, and that I was not alone.

Her lips gently brushed my neck. With something like regret, they stopped. Misha’s hands held my shoulders for a moment more. Then she released me.

“Hana-chan? Can we talk a bit?”

It didn’t matter to me, really. I just felt weary, and I was happy for her company.

“S-sure, Misha.”

“Shi-chan… she's gonna try to fix him.”

Of course, I understood her meaning. But I felt, at that moment, a red-hot bubble of unreasoning rage well up in me. Her. That woman. Yet… It is good to have the habit of stuttering; if you stutter, people think you are nervous or shy, not guilty nor overcome with fury. It gives you time, I think, to control what you say.

“T-that’s g-good. I h-hope she h-helps.”

I would be damned if I let her get her claws into him. Hisao was my friend—and Lilly’s. Lilly had made peace with her cousin, hadn’t she? I felt the fire fade. I reached out for Misha’s hand, squeezed it.

*****

“H-Hisao? What’s on your m-mind?”

We are sitting at the Shanghai, and Yuuko has tactfully disappeared. I am nibbling at my chocolate mousse cake, while a cup of dark tea steams faintly in front of him. He gives me a look.

One thing I’ve always liked about Hisao was that he’s mostly uncomplicated and direct. I remember him telling me that one of his first thoughts on seeing me was, “How beautiful, but what if she thinks I’m staring at her as if she’s ugly?” His next thought was, “Oh no, if I look away from her now, that’ll be worse!”

Now, he is looking at me thoughtfully. That’s a completely different kind of look, and on Hisao, it always means that he’s come to a conclusion whether he knows it or not.

“Hanako, we’re friends. Friends can keep secrets, but friends don’t have to.”

“Y-yes?”

Sometimes, that’s not a stutter, you know. I’ve also had difficulties because my right jaw muscles were a bit stiff and my mouth didn’t move properly. When I was younger, I needed years of physiotherapy, and old habits die hard. When I’m tense, it comes back a little.

It feels like hope, and I don’t know if I want it to be.

“Have you been talking to Lilly?”

Yes. I have, and she’s told me how uncommunicative you’ve been. She says she misses you but you seem to not miss her as much. Which is not true, and I can’t say anything about it because she said not to tell. And you’re not over her, and probably never will be.

“Y-yes. She’s l-learning about her family’s b-business.”

For years I’ve wondered if this sentence of mine was what started Hisao on his particular journey. It’s a terrible burden to bear.

His jaw sets unconsciously. I think that perhaps he has not quite come to his conclusion, has been mulling it over.

“Well, she’s getting on with her life, it seems. She says she misses us, but there are many things to do over in Scotland, and I suppose she’s told you she’s going to Edinburgh to study.”

He’s still hurting, I realize. That’s the difference between thinking something is true and actually having evidence for it. He sounds bitter. He sounds as if it’s all been a bad dream, but with a Lilly-sized hole in his heart at the end of it.

The worst moment for me, though, is when his eyes crinkle the wrong way and he looks at me half-blind and says, “Sometimes I wish I hadn’t ever loved her.”

=====
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Last edited by brythain on Mon Aug 03, 2015 10:25 am, edited 21 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—Hanako's Arc (Part 1 up 20130317)

Post by Hotkey » Mon Mar 17, 2014 7:44 am

Hot darn. Been looking forward to this. I'm enjoying your Hanako narrator.

If you stutter someone's name, should you capitalize the first letter of the stutters? I'm not sure myself, so I'm happy to be informed on the matter, but somehow it seems weird reading "L-lilly" and "H-hisao"!

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Re: After the Dream—Hanako's Arc (Part 1 up 20130317)

Post by bhtooefr » Mon Mar 17, 2014 7:59 am

The style I saw in the VN, and that I personally follow, is that proper nouns are stuttered like this: H-Hisao

Words at the beginning of a sentence are like this: G-goodbye
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Re: After the Dream—Hanako's Arc (Part 1 up 20130317)

Post by brythain » Mon Mar 17, 2014 8:16 am

bhtooefr wrote:The style I saw in the VN, and that I personally follow, is that proper nouns are stuttered like this: H-Hisao

Words at the beginning of a sentence are like this: G-goodbye
Ah, thanks bhtooefr and hotkey. I had a problem there, and I kept having to count how many 'l's or 'L's in 'L-Lilly'. Fixed! :D
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—Hanako's Arc (Part 1 up 20130317)

Post by dewelar » Mon Mar 17, 2014 11:12 am

Off to a good start. I like the framing device of older-and-wiser Hanako telling this as a story. A couple things I want to point out:
brythain wrote:I remember him telling me that his first thought on seeing me was, “How beautiful, but what if she thinks I’m staring at her as if she’s ugly?” His second thought was, “Oh no, if I look away from her now, that’ll be worse!”
Actually, he had seen her before then. She was the first person he noticed on his first day at Yamaku, and he didn't even mention the scarring, just that her hair was "eye-catching". Of course, he could have just been misremembering, or waxing poetic.
Sometimes, that’s not a stutter, you know. I’ve had difficulty learning to move from consonant sounds to vowels because my right jaw muscles were a bit stiff and my mouth didn’t move properly. When I was younger, I needed years of physiotherapy, and old habits die hard. When I’m tense, it comes back.
I don't think that's quite it. If you read through the scene where Hanako and Hisao talk in the park, which had to have been very tense for her, she only stutters twice (three times if you count the one where she's crying), and each time it's on a vowel at the beginning of a sentence. She also pauses less often (which in her case may or may not be stutter-related) during "Adulthood" than through much of the VN.

Otherwise, well done!
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Re: After the Dream—Hanako's Arc (Part 1 up 20130317)

Post by brythain » Mon Mar 17, 2014 11:25 am

dewelar wrote:Off to a good start. I like the framing device of older-and-wiser Hanako telling this as a story. A couple things I want to point out:
brythain wrote:I remember him telling me that his first thought on seeing me was, “How beautiful, but what if she thinks I’m staring at her as if she’s ugly?” His second thought was, “Oh no, if I look away from her now, that’ll be worse!”
Actually, he had seen her before then. She was the first person he noticed on his first day at Yamaku, and he didn't even mention the scarring, just that her hair was "eye-catching". Of course, he could have just been misremembering, or waxing poetic.
Sometimes, that’s not a stutter, you know. I’ve had difficulty learning to move from consonant sounds to vowels because my right jaw muscles were a bit stiff and my mouth didn’t move properly. When I was younger, I needed years of physiotherapy, and old habits die hard. When I’m tense, it comes back.
I don't think that's quite it. If you read through the scene where Hanako and Hisao talk in the park, which had to have been very tense for her, she only stutters twice (three times if you count the one where she's crying), and each time it's on a vowel at the beginning of a sentence. She also pauses less often (which in her case may or may not be stutter-related) during "Adulthood" than through much of the VN.

Otherwise, well done!
I think she's remembering whatever he told her, and paraphrasing, but I might have overdone that first bit. For the second bit, hmm, needs editing too. Thank you!

I think that of all our heroines, Hanako is the one who sees the most broadly, but who also tends to romanticise the narrative the most. She's a story-teller, a bard if you like. In fact… oh, that would be telling. But just remember, all of them are unreliable in their own ways. :)
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—Hanako's Arc (Part 2 up 20140317)

Post by brythain » Mon Mar 17, 2014 12:41 pm

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

Hanako 2: Fellowship (T -15)

Many years ago, I discovered one of Shakespeare’s secrets. Tragedies require an odd number of characters trying to function together; comedies require an even number. That’s because in a comedy, no matter how tragic, everyone ends up with somebody.

Right now, we’re ending our first year at Todai, the former Imperial University and now merely the great University of Tokyo. I’m just happy to be a scholarship student, majoring in the arts and letters. Hisao and Shizune, however, they’re developing reputations. They seem a natural couple—or at least, people who don’t know them very well think so, though I know they’re not.

Let me describe our setting. There’s an open area in the heart of the university, more or less. In it is the Sanshiro Pond, a beautiful piece of 17th century classic landscaping—boulders, bridges, trees—that resembles from above the word for ‘heart’. On the north side, Hisao, at the cluster of buildings where they do science; on the other side, Shizune, buried in a tower of economists. And in the direction of the setting sun, my world of literature and what makes us human. Yes, I’m in the middle again.

There are only three of us here from our class at Yamaku, and if I were inclined to think like Shakespeare, that’s a disaster waiting to happen. But as my friend Lilly told me, I’ve grown confident; I have my own hopes and dreams, and I think I’ve had a good life, all told. Yet, there can still be different kinds of tragedy between two people, and I sometimes think I’ve seen too much of it.

*****

We have lunch together, most days. Sometimes, Hisao’s stuck in his lab and it’s just two of us, but we try to make the time. Having been at Yamaku tends to keep people together, a kind of fellowship shaped by society’s mutual love for the normal—and its unease towards the different. In these months, I have come to know Shizune a lot better, and so has Hisao.

“She’s asking if... we have thought of our futures.”

Hisao’s translating. Shizune’s not one given to nuance, which I suspect is partly personality and partly a limitation of the translation process. Me? I am watching, because that’s what I do. And I notice that she’s staring at him, not me. So, his future, and in relation to her.

“D-do you mind if I g-get some food for us first?”

Where Shizune’s signing is sharp, exact and emphatic, Hisao is less precise, almost graceful. It’s like watching communication between Helvetica and Garamond fonts. Somehow, it works. I feel a touch of envy.

“Thanks, Hanako. From both of us. But we should help you carry stuff?”

I toss my long dark tresses. “No, I’m fine.”

Not really, though. At Yamaku, where many of us were lacking in function, we took it as a matter of course most of the time. Here at Todai, I walk through the corridors and people take a secret second look at my burn scars and notice my slightly awkward body positioning. I hate being stared at; most people do, except that most people don’t have some reason to be stared at so much.

I get to the counter and order some indifferent sandwiches from a fake-cheerful young man whose eyes slide away from my face. In this era of Starbucks-style Japanese cafés, I wince at the matcha-enhanced soy latte on offer and get tea for us all. I endure the stares as I bring the tray back to our table.

It’s almost worse when I get back. I approach my friends from the side so that Shizune can see me coming. I can see she’s been frowning. Hisao is avoiding her gaze. She’s just finished signing. He doesn’t look up as he translates.

“Shizune says, it’s about time that we start planning for our future. We’ll legally be adults soon, and the world is not always a good place. As the top students of Yamaku, we should perhaps think about making the world a better place for students such as we were.”

Shizune ‘sounds’ different now that it’s Hisao and not Misha doing the translation. But the Shizune philosophy, the drive, the kind you can’t really argue with, good intentions with a hint of big sister—it remains.

“D-did you d-disagree?” I ask, just at the point when Shizune is turning her face from his nose to me.

“We’ve agreed that this is a noble goal. But I think I want to go back to Yamaku as a teacher,” Hisao says neutrally, signing to show Shizune what he’s saying to me.

Since his hands are occupied, it’s Shizune who stands to help me with the food. But as she does so, she looks me straight in the eyes. She’s not angry. She’s… sad? Concerned? Is she asking me to do something? The moment passes and we distribute our apricot-chicken-vegetable salad meals.

“A-a teacher?” I ask. It’s not just courtesy. I’m wondering if this is Mutou-sensei’s influence or Lilly’s.

Hisao looks tired as he translates my question. Shizune makes a sequence of very emphatic gestures and spears a morsel of chicken with unnecessary force.

“She says that I can be more than that. We’ve already discussed what I think, by the way,” he says, attempting a smile and not quite succeeding. “Good sandwich.”

“T-thanks.”

I think we must look strange to others — the intense girl with the blue-tinted hair communicating entirely with gestures and faces, the quiet girl with the words she doesn’t quite know how to choose, the sad-faced boy who tries to bridge their gap with light conversation.

As we eat in punctuated awkwardness, I make my daily decision; walk back alone, accompany Shizune, or accompany Hisao. It’s like one of those visual novel games. I wonder which would score more points towards a good ending.

My analysis today looks simple: longer walk with Hisao, who speaks—higher chance of finding out what’s on their minds; shorter walk with Shizune, with stops to communicate—lower chance. Or not: Hisao, notoriously able to deceive himself, and thus confuse others; Shizune, notoriously unable to deceive when upset. The study of literature tends to make people think about life as a novel, and I try very hard not to think about my life as a computer game.

Sometimes, I succeed. That’s good; I can fall back on non-narrative intuition, which may be one of my greater strengths. I sense that Hisao’s already made up his mind, but it’s Shizune who hasn’t. Something has got to her, and knowing what it is could be important. I’m no Lilly Satou, trying to protect everyone. I just don’t like people going through unnecessary pain.

And that is why my walk turns southward, with Shizune, although I am reasonably sure Hisao would have preferred otherwise. Indeed, he cuts a dejected figure as he heads back to his lab. I’ll call him later.

*****

[He says he doesn’t think about her. I don’t think that’s true. Maybe he still hopes she’ll be an English teacher, come back to Yamaku, happy ever after.]

Shizune has whipped out her cellphone and is using it in text mode. I do the same with mine.

[Will she?]

[The family says not. She reads the Financial Times. Wants to do her MBA after Edinburgh.]

That tallies with what Lilly has been not-telling me, even though it’s such an un-Lilly thing to do. Then again, different environments bring out different aspects of personality. And I think I know where this is heading.

[She thinks it is a competition!]

Oh dear. My, my, as Lilly would have said. At this point, I’m not sure which of us knows her better—the best friend or the now not-so-badly-estranged relative.

[Why do you say that?]

[My cousin can be competitive too. Passive-aggressive.]

I don’t know what to say. Should I be cautious, or should I press? It’s another of those moments when I’m sure that this is all a game and the author is forcing the player/reader to make a decision. I gingerly push a pawn forward.

[What is the nature of this competition?]

I want her to say it. Say it’s about Hisao. I’m surprised when Shizune sighs instead, and the tightness in her face crumbles. And then I’m even more surprised.

[No, it’s not a competition with me. I think she wants to show that she has something even though she gave up everything. If Hisao doesn’t still love her, well, he has you.]

My mouth opens in surprise. What can I say to her? Should I tell her that I’m still a virgin? That I am not defined by my relationship with Hisao? That he is drawn to her like a moth to the flame, just as he was drawn like a butterfly to Lilly’s sunlight? That the chance of Hisao ending up with me is as high as the chance of Shizune being my sister?

[He does? We’re only close friends, you know.]

It hurts me to show her that line, because all of it is true. Shizune stands there stricken, as if I have played an unbelievable gambit. She looks at me, pleading—I’m not sure for what.

[I only want the best for him.]

There is a kind of anxious hope in her eyes and she cannot disguise it. I feel I have to say a bit more, because it’s only fair.

[I think he’ll always have this first-love thing for your cousin. Working through his science degree is best for him. He’s your friend too. Who knows what will happen in the future?]

We’ve reached the School of Economics. Shizune pockets her phone, turns to me and clasps my hands briefly. Her hands are small and fine, mine are awkward though not much larger. She looks grateful for our little conversation, and it’s with a small smile that she waves at me before she disappears into her tower. It’s a smile that I will remember, it’s so rare.

Who knows, indeed?

=====
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Last edited by brythain on Wed Mar 19, 2014 12:13 am, 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—Hanako's Arc (Part 1 up 20130317)

Post by Wei Tzu » Mon Mar 17, 2014 12:50 pm

I must say, I very much enjoyed reading this, and I look forward to more. However, due to the formatting of the date you have listed, I was initially disappointed by how little is there. Always a hassle, getting accustomed to writing the new year.

Regardless of my nitpick on that what I will comment on is the minor inconsistency with the tenses used through the tale. While they may be grammatically conflicting, I feel it adds a rather personal touch to the story, as if we're having it actually told to us, instead of reading it from a screen. Kudos on accomplishing that.

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Re: After the Dream—Hanako's Arc (Part 1 up 20140317)

Post by brythain » Mon Mar 17, 2014 12:53 pm

Wei Tzu wrote:I must say, I very much enjoyed reading this, and I look forward to more. However, due to the formatting of the date you have listed, I was initially disappointed by how little is there. Always a hassle, getting accustomed to writing the new year.

Regardless of my nitpick on that what I will comment on is the minor inconsistency with the tenses used through the tale. While they may be grammatically conflicting, I feel it adds a rather personal touch to the story, as if we're having it actually told to us, instead of reading it from a screen. Kudos on accomplishing that.
Argh! Corrected the post title dates. Thanks very much. This is actually the fourth arc of a growing story—I've done Shizune, Lilly and Emi already, in the same continuity. Also thanks for acknowledging my work on the tenses; it's exactly the effect I was hoping to achieve. :)
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—Hanako's Arc (Part 3-1 up 20140318)

Post by brythain » Mon Mar 17, 2014 9:46 pm

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

Hanako 3: Family (T -4)

What I’m writing now is, in retrospect, the ending of beginnings and the beginning of endings. We’re in our thirties here, not newly adult, far from being middle aged. Our youthful awkwardness, our missteps and mistakes, these little things are again catching up with us. And family, whether here or there, wherever ‘here’ and ‘there’ are—that’s always a part of it.

I don’t know if this won't be the last I write about my friends, the only family I have. When I started writing, it seemed like the right thing to do. It gets harder, much more difficult at times, often because you try to remember the good—but you know what lies ahead. Even the gods have their twilights.

*****

3-1: Sendai, Japan

I have a tiny place back in Sendai, a little apartment a short walk away from the Yamaku staff quarters. I’m home, visiting old friends: Hisao, whom I once loved, is now married to Emi, whom I had few feelings for, and they keep their spare room for Rin Tezuka, whom I used to avoid.

That was in the past. Even people you don’t know well become friends, if you maintain your connections. Sometimes it was hard for me. Now, I’m happy to visit and take tea with them, and later dinner. It is like being part of a family.

The evening sun is lighting up the room enough to cast shadows into the corners of their small apartment. We sit at a little wooden table that makes me half-yearn all over again for the old days, although they were painful days too. Tea is brewed, and sipped with formal appreciation. After a polite interval, I ask an obvious question.

“W-when are you due, Emi?”

“Were. Yesterday. She and Hisao were almost parents. Still waiting, though,” says Rin, looking at Hisao while talking to me. Her hair is a beautiful mess of red flame.

Emi has gone huge. She was never very tall, but it is strange to me to see her reclining in such obvious discomfort, looking almost like a beanbag. She’s grinning though, obviously very happy.

“I can’t wait! We think it’s a girl, we told them not to tell us male or female. We’re so glad you’re here with us!”

Hisao is smiling too, proud father-to-be. But he has huge bags beneath his eyes and I feel a bit of worry for him. With his condition, he needs rest. He hasn’t shaved either, and that’s always a bad sign.

“I’m h-honoured. I’ll be h-here till tomorrow evening? S-sorry I can’t stay longer…” I let my voice trail off, because Emi really looks sad that I might not be around for the birth. She has this puppy-dog look. Not for the first time, I think complicated thoughts about this woman whom Hisao finally loved and won.

I look at the rings on their fingers. They are gold, braided or wrapped around cold grey metal of some sort. I’ve seen them before, but not close up. Rin interrupts. Sometimes, I think she sees everything, but just can’t say what it is she sees.

“Ruthenium. Very lasting. I think they say ‘lasting’ because it’s still there when the last thing comes round. Which is good for rings.”

I’m caught by surprise when I see Hisao smile tenderly—tenderly?!—at her. I sip tea, and cough a bit.

“T-that’s interesting! I d-didn’t know…”

“Yes! Mutou-sensei got them made. They’re from some mysterious project of his, so Hisao was very lucky. He bought the leftover metal,” Emi says, oblivious of the wide-eyed look Rin now gives Hisao.

I don’t know what to say. Maybe something is wrong with me and I’m seeing things that aren’t there. I tell myself that the days of me minding Hisao’s business are long gone.

“T-they’re unique. M-may I take a closer look?”

It’s only polite to explain my staring. Wordlessly, Rin bows out of the room, taking her fiery halo with her. I hear her pottering around in the kitchen. How does Rin cook? Emi grins at me.

“Sure! My ring has Hisao’s name in it and his has mine in it. I can’t take mine off easily now, though. Dear? I’ll go help Rin put dinner together.”

With noticeable effort, she gets up and gingerly makes her way towards the back. Hisao looks fondly after her. I decide I’m just not good at figuring out relationships. And then it’s just me and Hisao in a small tea-room, with a chess set in the corner, as the light fades around us. Just like the old days.

“H-Hisao? You’ve n-not been sleeping enough.”

“I’m fine. Really! Healthy as a water buffalo. Emi won’t let me get unfit, and I haven’t had any problems for a long time.

He takes his ring off and reaches out for my right hand. Instinctively, I flinch a bit, but he’s used to it and grabs my fingertips. All kinds of inappropriate words and thoughts flash through my head.

“Here, have a look.”

I turn the ring over in my palm. Inside, in fine script, it reads: Emi Ibarazaki • 5th August 2018. I remember the wedding, a very auspicious date and just before Tanabata. My feelings are all over the place. I have to collect the pieces of myself.

“Oh! It’s very b-beautiful. N-nice inscription.”

There’s nothing else to say, as my long-time friend beams happily and retrieves his wedding band. It will soon be their second anniversary.

*****

After a simple dinner, he insists on walking me home. “It’s only a short distance, but I wouldn’t feel good letting you return alone. Back in a short while, dear!”

Emi smiles cheerfully and waves him away. Rin just stares at us, unfathomable as always. We walk out and down the familiar road. A cool, slightly damp breeze touches us, typical for this time of year.

“H-how are things at Yamaku these days, Hisao?”

We’ve talked about Yamaku over dinner already, but this is a different question with the same words. Hisao glances at me. He understands, I think.

“Ah, Shizune has always been a slavedriver. But the work is challenging, and it’s really interesting to learn from Mutou how to be a good Head of Sciences. All that admin work! No wonder he always seemed distracted.”

I look back at him. His gaze doesn’t flinch. Since the old days, it never has. I wonder if I do indeed look beautiful to him as he has said before. My eyes ask him to continue answering me.

“Dealing with Shizune as my actual boss…” he sighs, and continues. “Remember when were at Todai together? She was always about work. But sometimes she would look at us in that funny way? And then go back to normal again?”

Yes, I do remember. I feel an old tightness in my heart.

“Well, she looks at Emi and me that way. And I think to myself, I’m such a blind fool. And then I think, ah, such irony to think that.”

We’re almost at the entrance to my walk-up. He stops and very naturally clasps my right hand, always my right hand with the old scars on it, in his hands.

“Hanako?”

Not now. What’s this? His wife is about to give birth! And, and… I grab hold of my old self before she can say her trademark ‘Ivegottogodosomething’ and run away. I’ve grown up. Right?

“Yes, H-Hisao?”

“I’m not good at this. But I’d like to say that I’m happy we’re friends, and I confess that there were times I thought we could be more, although nothing came of it.”

He pauses for breath. I haven’t been breathing for a while either. Perhaps I have misjudged things. Maybe, all along. He continues.

“I am deeply, deeply grateful to you for always being there for me. The walks, and the talks? When we shared poetry together, and you gave me your care over the years? That is never going to go away. Thank you, Hanako Ikezawa, for being a friend to someone who didn’t give you half as much.”

That. It’s too late, but it’s all I’ve got for now. I have a bittersweet affection for this messy-looking man I’ve known for so long. Now, more bitter, more sweet. My feelings churn like an egg custard, some happiness, some sadness, a touch of anger even. In the end, something pops out.

“H-Hisao? It’s been more than t-ten years now. I am h-happy to have been your f-friend. Y-you cared for me too.”

I think that’s true. I look at him. He looks full of ghosts. It can’t be easy for him either, so I disentangle my hand and squeeze his shoulder. I try to sound natural, more cheerful. I don't think it works.

“I’ll b-be around. Y-you should go back and look after Emi, it m-might be your b-big day tomorrow!”

He nods, smiles. I could cry. I don’t know why that must be the case.

“Thank you. Good night, Hanako.”

“G-good night, Hisao.”

For some reason, it’s important for me not to stutter his name now. He steps back and gives me a little wave. I return it, and he turns away. I step into the musty darkness and shut the door gently behind me.

*****

Two days later, I’m on the road. It’s a long way back to Europe. The baby still hasn’t come. I’m in a taxi, almost at Narita, when my phone lights up. Hisao’s number. I answer but it stops almost at once and then a text appears:

[at mgh baby otw hs tired fell asleep em asked me call u to tell but easier text rin]

Old me asks new me, what will the taxi-driver think? New me says, you lived in New York City for a few years, what the f… Old me runs away before new me can get rude. I tell the driver to turn back, head for Miyagi General Hospital. What’s another five hours’ travel between friends?

[heading back 2u will be there b4 dawn]

=====

This is the first half of a long post (see next post).
Last edited by brythain on Mon Mar 17, 2014 9:55 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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AtD—Hanako's Arc (Part 3-2 up 20140318)

Post by brythain » Mon Mar 17, 2014 9:51 pm

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

3-2: Edinburgh, Scotland

Tonight is about three girls, all a bit drunk, sitting in a restaurant in Edinburgh with the doors locked and the lights out. Akira has sent poor Hideaki away to do some errands, so we’re all alone. Around the time of the Tanabata festival, too.

Who’s ‘we’? There’s me, an increasingly unreliable narrator, but fairly reliable professional food critic; Lilly, my best friend, childhood crush, good friend’s childhood crush, and so on; and Akira, our boss lady by virtue of being a wee bit older and always our liquor supplier. This is all you’re going to get about us for now.

I’m sitting in the shadow of a pillar, where I often sit when I’m eating in this beautiful place. Northern Light is jointly owned by Akira and Lilly. It’s a clever name for a bistro specializing in Hokkaido-style cuisine in this part of the British Isles. Hokkaido—‘The North Sea’s Road’—is to Honshu as Scotland is to England, in many ways.

It’s the older of two restaurants. The second one only opened earlier this year, some distance away, towards the Royal College of Surgeons. Tapestry serves Catalan food (there’s a long story behind that and I won’t tell it here).

Nobody can see my face in this darkness, but that’s okay since the only people here are close friends. Akira is across the table from me, a foul cigar in her off-hand supplying some faint light, and Lilly is sitting next to me, with her hands primly clasped in her lap. We’ve had a few.

“L-Lilly?” I stutter, which I don’t do very much these days because it’s normally under control. Except when I’m not really in control and I’m feeling maudlin.

“Yes, Hana dear?”

“How does it m-make you feel, n-now that we’re in our th-thirties, and n-nobody seems to love us?”

“Oy! I’ll have you know I’m pushing the forties in a while, so pipe down a bit, yez?” says the ragged blonde facing me.

“I feel o-old. I feel like I’ve missed the bus and taken a plane instead,” my best friend mumbles, tilting her head down at her empty plate and glass.

Oh dear. It’s been more than a decade—except that we cannot really forget, and it comes out sometimes. I’ve just asked a very stupid question. I try to make up for it. Gently, I grasp her near elbow and half-fill her glass.

She sips a bit and seems to brighten up. Akira dips her finger in some water and draws [STOP AT #3 HANA] on the table before lifting the finger to her lips. She’s noticed Lilly has been consuming most of the two bottles we’ve opened.

“Is something the matter, Akira?” Lilly inquires. Her senses are as sharp as ever.

“Oh, I was just about to ask Hanako to tell us about her recent time in Sendai.”

“Yes! I’d like to hear about our friends too, if you don’t mind.”

The difference between Lilly and me, where Sendai is concerned, is that I’ve stayed in touch, kept real friendships going. I don’t think she’s spoken with Shizune or Hisao for years, and certainly not Emi. I’ve told her relatively little about our years in Tokyo.

I can’t say no. Lilly will hear about everything sooner or later. I’m quite sure Akira has already heard the news. So I begin with an update on Hisao’s life at Yamaku and how Shizune is treating her new science head, and the usual jokes ensue.

There’s no way to avoid it. I talk about Hisao’s home and how it’s furnished. I mention how Rin uses a kitchen, and this holds their interest for a while. I tell them that Hisao still keeps a chess set at hand, but that it seems to be gathering dust—although the tea-set from Scotland is not.

Lilly is still smiling when she asks, “What about Emi? How are Emi and Hisao getting along? I had heard she was… expecting.”

So Akira didn’t tell her. Hmm. What a dirty trick, I think furiously to myself.

“H-Hisao and Emi are f-fine. The b-baby’s doing w-well.”

“The baby?” Lilly’s face shifts slightly, her smile beginning to fade. “Oh. How sweet. Tell us everything.”

“H-her name is Akiko. She’s very s-sweet. About four and a half k-kilos. Light brown hair, big b-bronze eyes.”

In my mind I see Hisao and Emi’s first child. You could see summer and prettiness even though she was still all pink. My words are not enough. As I think about what to say next, Lilly empties her glass and quietly puts it down.

Akira has gone silent for a while. She seems unsure as to whether her sister is ready for this particular slice of reality yet. Then she speaks up, a bit too brightly.

“Wow! We should send congrats and a little gift, Lils. Does the kid resemble Emi or Hisao more? For a girl, better Emi, I guess. Did they appoint a godmother?”

Curses, Akira. That’s a big mistake.

“R-Rin declined. She s-said that she didn’t know anything about being a g-god or a m-mother. Emi was d-disappointed. B-but…”

Akira can be slow, but also fast. In water, she writes [YOU? OH SH DN SAY IT]. But it’s too late. Lilly’s figured it out. Slowly, her posture begins to wilt.

“Oh, Hanako. C-congratulations. They’ve made an excellent choice.”

“T-thank you, Lilly.”

“I’m so h-happy you were able to be with them. Must’ve m-meant a lot.”

She’s crying softly and trying very hard not to show it. I feel awful. Part of it must be the wine, but there’s also so much else behind it: Hisao suffering through Todai, Lilly throwing herself into work, both of them bottling it up even though we all tried to help. They might have had a fairy-tale romance, I keep thinking. That child might have had blue eyes.

“Lils? We should go to bed soon. Had a bit much to drink, me. I’ll go get the designated driver.”

A rather embarrassed Akira kicks her chair back and wanders off in search of Hideaki. As I did thirteen years ago, I hold my best friend tight. The smells of food and wine wrap around us.

“I’m being silly, Hana. So silly. I’ll be fine tomorrow. Promise. B-but… oh, we were foolish once. We dreamt of being together, having ch-children of our own. Why didn’t it h-happen?”

Maybe because Hisao Nakai was a thick young fool, and Lilly Satou likewise. How much does it take to tell someone you really love them?

I should talk. It took too much for me to say it, and I had more time. Our tears are mingling freely now. When their cousin arrives, Akira bundles us into the Range Rover and we somehow make it back to the family residence intact.

As Hideaki opens the door, I am still a little weepy and thus nonplussed when he reaches for my hand. Then I realize he’s helping me out of the car. How gentlemanly! Or not—he seems to be searching my face, which is a bit rude for a younger man, and uncomfortable to me.

I step down, avoiding his gaze. That’s when I feel him press a small packet of something gently into my hand. I look down in surprise. Disposable tissues! How Japanese! Wordlessly, he escorts me into Wayne Manor. Or at least, the Anderson-Satou equivalent.

*****

Some time later, when it is still dark, I am awakened by the sound of Lilly’s music-box. Over the years, I’ve come to know that she listens to it most nights. Now, it seems to raise the old sad ghost of an evening in Hokkaido. Except that then, Hisao chose her while I tried to sleep; and now, he has chosen to have neither.

Maybe it’s a sign that we should all move on.

=====
first half of this post | prev | next
Last edited by brythain on Fri Mar 21, 2014 6:01 am, 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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AtD—Hanako's Arc (Part 4 up 20140319)

Post by brythain » Wed Mar 19, 2014 12:08 am

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


Hanako 4: Failures (T -0)

This, dear imaginary readers, is the piece I told myself I’d never write. By now, you know that I am your shy, retiring Hanako—but also the woman who needs to write, who loves books, and appreciates others who love such things.

It has taken me this long because there is so much anger and so much grief in it. But there is also forgiveness, and a kind of mercy in the forgetting of things. I have had much to think about, and I have had at least two loves with whom to think it through.

So I shall write things, and I ask you to forgive me if what I say offends. I don’t come across well here, but it is my choice to tell the truth, and I do it for the memory of one who came to love that.

*****

“H-he’s dying, L-Lilly.”

It’s very hard to share a grief between two people who have also shared a love. Not for the first time, a small but hateful part of me shouts that the beautiful blind woman in front of me does not deserve any part of him. I am choking on that, and also on anger and frustration.

“Hanako, don’t be angry with me. I will fly down as soon as I can. 5th August is a bank holiday and I’ll be on leave; I did promise him once that I’d see him at Tanabata, you know.”

Oh yes, and you broke that promise just like every promise you made to him. Even your cousin Shizune has spent more time with him. A lot more, all these years.

But I cannot say all that. Another small and diminishing part of me says that it’s because she doesn’t want to believe Hisao’s heart may have finally failed, that she will never see him again.

Yes, but she could have. Many times.

I clench the dragon’s teeth in my fist, and try one last time to hold back. I fail, to my long-lasting regret.

“I-if h-he’s g-gone b-by then, you’ll regret it!”

Those last few words erupt from my mouth like lava. My best friend gasps as if slapped. I don’t know what comes out next, but it isn’t good. To this day, I cannot remember one word after that. I’m sure she does, but she’s never mentioned it.

I storm out of her room and haul the door shut behind me with all my strength. It’s strong, heavy wood, with polished oddments of black iron. It slams well. And then I am alone in the corridor with the kind of empty grief that one experiences when one has no friends at all.

There’s a gentle throat-clearing from below. I take a deep breath and move towards the staircase on my right, then find my way down, stepping only on the French flowers woven into the carpet design and then swearing silently at myself as I realize what I’m doing.

Someone dressed almost like a stereotypical Yakuza boss is waiting for me. Over the years, Lilly’s cousin Hideaki has grown to resemble his father, but with a better taste in clothes. It’s odd to hear the clear, light tenor of his voice, coming as it does from a large man almost a head taller than I am and sporting a thick blue-tinted black ponytail.

“Hanako-san, I’ve put your bags in the boot. I take it that Lilly-san is not joining us?”

He says it with a light Scottish accent. Hideaki has developed a talent for mimicry and a sense of dry humour over the years, and now one is never sure if he is joking or not. To be sure, it is a vast improvement over his faux-Shizune days.

I stare at him unhappily. He bears my gaze innocently, unflinching. Almost like Hisao. Who is dying in a white room somewhere half a world away.

“Many t-thanks, small one. No, y-your esteemed cousin is not.”

“Ah, then I have only your beautiful self for company on this long trip to the airport. I am truly blessed.”

“M-my ‘beautiful self’ would r-rather you placed your full attention on the r-road.”

My anger is gone. I am sad to have been so badly-behaved, but I wearily accept his arm and climb into the old Range Rover’s front passenger seat. As he comes round the other side, I send a quick message to Lilly: [SORRY.]

I do not wait for an answer.

*****

It takes me a whole long grey day to fly into the sun and head back to Sendai. I read my messages but do not respond. The first person I call from Narita is Shizune. Her brother has given me all her contact codes. I automatically alert other local numbers while I wait for a response.

My tabphone flashes almost immediately: [hi h meet mgh will send cab sendai stn w exit 4h tx]

Why is she in such a hurry?

My phone flashes again: [pse rd pr tech fail det later sry at mtg] with an attachment.

Well, that’s an explanation.

I head to the high-speed train station while scanning the attachment. It’s a press release of some sort, headed: Yamaku Academy Staff Receives Experimental Heart Device. A chill runs down my spine. It’s dated almost two years ago, when Hisao almost died and miraculously recovered. My journalist’s instincts kick in.

About three hours later I’m at Sendai and I’ve absorbed a fair bit about RICARDO, the experimental ruthenium implant that had been running what was left of Hisao’s heart. He’d been the first human candidate. This isn’t mentioned in the press release at all, but the Net is a magical place.

I take a few minutes to drop off my bags at my deserted lodgings. There’ll be no one at the Yamaku staff quarters, I suspect. A few more minutes, and I’m at Miyagi General again—I’ve not been there for four years, and the last time, I became a godmother.

There’s nobody waiting for me this time as I head into the still bright and cheery foyer. I stop at the Information counter, wondering why I’ve not received further details from anyone. A sense of dread has been creeping up on me for some time, and it is very heavy now.

Someone taps me on the left arm before I can say anything. I turn, and at first I don’t recognize the face. Then I realize this is Shizune, without glasses, in one of her usual dove-grey suits. It looks rumpled. Her hair, usually neat, is a mess. She looks as if she’s about to collapse, more tired and dispirited than I feel. Her eyes and nose are red.

I have learnt to sign a bit since our university days, and that’s what I do now.

[How are you? Where’s Hisao?]

[Long meetings. Hisao still on machines. Intensive Care Unit.]

[What actually happened?]

She jabs at my tabphone impatiently and sends me something from her own.
It’s a long message, likely prepared earlier, in yellow text on a black background for easy reading.

[Hisao’s implant failed while at school. Found him in office six days ago. Kaneshiro-san and I got him to MGH but his brain scan showed many deficits. Many meetings with cardio team and tech team re RICARDO. No tech solution available though I said spare no expense. Lost temper today. Doesn’t help Hisao. On life support now. Two, maybe three months max.]

She pockets her phone, and looks up at me as if lost, in need of comfort. She is more defeated than I’ve ever seen her, and the reality of what has happened is only now reaching me. Suddenly, a stray memory of bright days at the university strikes me: the Sanshiro Pond, three friends, a triangle that bent but never broke. Until now.

I reach out to wrap Shizune in my arms, but as I do this, she shudders and moves away. It’s not what I expect. What is it that I’ve done?

She steps back a little, making space for signing.

[Hanako, I need to know if I’ve killed him.]

No. Why? What does she mean? I don’t understand.

[I saw Emi shout at me. Misha says she thinks I worked him to death. She took Emi away to talk to her.]

The bitch killed him, whispers the same tiny sneering evil voice that thinks Lilly deserves nothing of him. She as good as admits it.

I know I'm bigger than that. Shizune’s in pain, and I should comfort her. But suddenly I’m not big enough, and the flight was too long and I’m too tired. Brutal me wins.

I sign at her, short, sharp: [Did you?]

She flinches, broken. [I. Don’t know.]

And just like that, I think maybe we’re no longer friends.

*****

When Kaneshiro-san lets me into the room, it’s not white, but some sort of beige with nice wallpaper. The reason I notice this is that my eyes refuse to let me see Hisao at first.

“Kaneshiro-sama, Ibarazaki-sama,” I begin, bowing automatically to our former school nurse and Emi’s mother, a strikingly handsome woman for her age.

Nurse, now Dr Kaneshiro, nods back. “No need, no need,” he smiles, but with less of his usual quirky vigour. “Could you please ask Shizune to come in and stop hanging around outside?”

Mrs Ibarazaki is as usual very forthright. “Hello, Hanako! Doctor has been telling me more about you. Happy that you’re here! It's Meiko, remember?”

And then my eyes refocus on the form on the bed. No matter how good modern technology is, there’s still a lot of tubing and wiring needed to support the human body when it won’t support itself.

He’s so still. It’s worse than anything I had imagined. Somewhere behind me, I hear Shizune take a step into the room and stop.

Meiko looks at me and Shizune. Then she whispers to Nurse and stands up. “Doctor and I need to take a walk. Emi and Misha aren’t back yet and you two can keep my son-in-law company for a while. He’d appreciate having the two of you to himself!”

I see Shizune sign something to them as they leave, and some murmuring; Kaneshiro-sama replies to her also in sign. But most of my attention is on Hisao’s face, which is careworn but innocent. They’ve shaved him bald, and he looks completely vulnerable.

You don’t know just how much you miss people until you see them after you’ve missed them. I’ve not seen him asleep for many years.

“H-Hisao?” I venture. “I-it’s Hanako. I hope you can h-hear me.”

There’s a ghost of a smile on his lips. But it startles me when he speaks.

“Ha-na? That you? Nice of you to come.”

His voice is soft, winded.

“That my boss? I can hear her over there.”

“Y-yes.”

Laboriously, he brings his hands up. [Hello boss.]

“It‘s funny. Got a lot of things to say, little time. Mutou told me the truth.”

He takes a reflexive breath or two. Then he begins to get words out, painfully.

“Implant was wired to brain. When it died, not only oxygen-starved. Neural net shorted. I’m losing brain. Optics went first, can’t see. Soon, not Hisao anymore. Like science fiction, Hana.”

It’s going to get worse. How cruel, how terrible, I think. I feel warmth in my eyes.

“D-don’t strain yourself, H-Hisao.”

What a silly thing to say.

“Is like Todai, except now I’m the experiment that doesn’t work.”

Shizune is completely still. I can’t tell what she’s feeling, but I’m going to cry.

“Don’t cry. Listen, please?”

I try my best.

“One. Shizune. Not her fault. Mine. Worked too hard. I’m sorry I can’t read her hands anymore.”

He is still signing, and it takes a lot out of him. I can tell he means it. From the little sounds she's making, Shizune feels it too.

“Two. My own parents gone. Emi, Meiko, kids. That’s family. But also you, Hanako.”

He’s weakening. So am I.

“Three. Remind Akira. My lousy haiku.”

What?

“Bye for now. Sorry. Tired.”

It’s the rule of three. You can’t have more than three at a time. I’d settle for just one wish, though.

“O-okay.”

He lets his hands fall and his lips close. This is too hard. Why is there never enough time with those you love?

I turn away. Tears are already falling quietly. Some are mine, some are not. It’s like the rain in an empty park, many, many years ago.

=====
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Last edited by brythain on Mon Dec 15, 2014 5:32 am, 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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Frankyo
Posts: 37
Joined: Fri Jan 31, 2014 1:49 am

Re: After the Dream—Hanako's Arc (Part 4 up 20140319)

Post by Frankyo » Wed Mar 19, 2014 1:07 am

Wow, I just love your AtD series. Brings out so many emotions. Interesting how each Arc adds some more details to the full story.
Girls: Hanako/Misha > Lilly > Emi > Shizune/Rin
Routes: I realized that every route has its own charms, but felt that Shizune's was lacklustre. It has Misha though!

"No masters or kings, when the ritual begins"

Hotkey
Posts: 68
Joined: Tue Dec 31, 2013 5:36 pm

Re: After the Dream—Hanako's Arc (Part 4 up 20140319)

Post by Hotkey » Wed Mar 19, 2014 1:33 am

Yeah, this Hanako arc almost feels like the saddest of them all to me so far, even surpassing Emi's.

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brythain
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Location: East Asia
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Re: After the Dream—Hanako's Arc (Part 4 up 20140319)

Post by brythain » Wed Mar 19, 2014 1:45 am

Frankyo wrote:Wow, I just love your AtD series. Brings out so many emotions. Interesting how each Arc adds some more details to the full story.
Glad you like it. I didn't feel comfortable uploading large pics, but if you want (or anyone else wants) to see the Sanshiro Pond where Shizune, Hanako and Hisao spent time during their University of Tokyo (Todai) days, there's always Google. It's a lovely place. Here's a link to a short vid I found in which you see Sanshiro Pond, the Faculty of Law and Letters where Hanako studied, and a couple who look a bit like how some might imagine Hisao and Hanako. Sadly, Sanshiro in fall/autumn is not as beautiful as it is in spring/summer. But if anyone wants to take the trouble, there are lots of other beautiful pics available online.
Hotkey wrote:Yeah, this Hanako arc almost feels like the saddest of them all to me so far, even surpassing Emi's.
I think it gets better. All our protagonists see things differently. Shizune's arc tends to make us feel unsympathetic because she's so uptight and she's clearly not telling us everything. Lilly's arc is clearly over-romanticised. Emi's is focused on life burning down to a finish, just like her races. But Hanako… hmmm. Different. :)

Thanks so much for taking the time to comment. I'm still trying to improve. Won't always succeed, 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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