After the Dream—Rin's Arc/Miki's Arc (Complete)

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Oscar Wildecat
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Re: After the Dream—Rin's Arc (Part 4 up 20140402)

Post by Oscar Wildecat » Wed Apr 02, 2014 1:44 pm

I'm loving the Rin arc, as bittersweet as it is. For that matter, I also loved the Hanako arc, although I didn't say anything in that thread.
Why is there so much crying? Hisao is gone. Nothing’s going to bring him back.
I’m not okay. I’m all wrong. But it feels good to sit without saying anything while somebody hugs you.
I've never been one to cry at funerals myself -- for the very reason Rin stated here. I however, do grieve. So does Rin, apparently, even if she no longer has a Hisao to give her the word for it.
I like all the girls in KS, but empathize with Hanako the most.
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Re: After the Dream—Rin's Arc (Part 4 up 20140402)

Post by brythain » Wed Apr 02, 2014 7:10 pm

Oscar Wildecat wrote:I'm loving the Rin arc, as bittersweet as it is. For that matter, I also loved the Hanako arc, although I didn't say anything in that thread.
Why is there so much crying? Hisao is gone. Nothing’s going to bring him back.
I’m not okay. I’m all wrong. But it feels good to sit without saying anything while somebody hugs you.
I've never been one to cry at funerals myself -- for the very reason Rin stated here. I however, do grieve. So does Rin, apparently, even if she no longer has a Hisao to give her the word for it.
Thanks for the encouraging words. If I can convey that kind of sensation through my idea of Rin's eccentric mental processes, I feel that things are going right...
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—Rin's Arc (Part 5 up 20140403)

Post by brythain » Thu Apr 03, 2014 2:26 am

This is the fifth part of Rin's arc in 'After the Dream', my post-Lilly-neutral-end mosaic.
It runs from 2028 to 2029.



Rin 5: Yarrow (T +4)

I need to spend more time talking to my paper and my canvas. When I talk to people it spoils things. It helps to have my own room. But Hisao’s children come into it and they hug me and that’s nice and I get all warm inside. But my talking time is gone and my paints dry up and then I am empty of colours and I’m not Rin anymore.

The other day I told them a bedtime story. I don’t know why some stories must be bedtime. I always thought stories were anytime. So I told them a story about how once upon a time there were three sisters, and two were blonde and golden and beautiful and their father was a rich man who was never around. The last one was dark and shy and only a stepsister yet she was the most beautiful. And the younger blonde girl stole the prince’s heart and smashed it and the stepsister tried to fix it and in the end the prince married someone else and then he died. The end.

It was easy to tell that story because I painted it once and Hisao was angry with me and I gave it to him and said it was his story after all and he could do what he wanted with it because if he was angry I didn’t want it. And he was sad and said he was sorry but I don’t know what he was sorry for because the story was true.

This time Akiko is coming to eight years of age and she loves her godmother a lot and she sees things quickly. And then she said, “Is Aunt Lilly the wicked one?” and I couldn’t say no because I think that’s maybe what I’ve thought all along and I didn’t say anything. Then Akiko started crying and said she hated Aunt Lilly and how could Aunty Hana be her friend after all that.

I am trapped here, like a butterfly that can’t come out of its cocoon. I always say the wrong things even when I say what’s right.

*****

Little Akira is six years old now. He’s named after Big Akira, who is not so big and is female and is Lilly’s sister, and also his godmother. He likes his godmother and says she is ‘powerful’. I don’t know what that means to him. But he likes his Aunt Lilly a lot too, although he has seen her only two or three times. He got into a fight with his sister about that, and now Big Akira is angry at me because Akiko told her about my story.

“Rin, how could you tell them that crap?! That’s not how it happened! It’s not some fairy tale and you know they loved each other and that was a long time ago anyway.”

And she keeps shouting at me and then Emi walks in and her face is all scrunched up and she yells at Akira. She tells her to get out and not come back. The children are crying and Meiko sighs and brings them out for ice-cream.

So I go back to my room and check my window box because sometimes there are butterflies. I’m glad Shizune let us move to a bigger apartment for Yamaku staff with families and now I have good morning light. I have thousandleaf and violets and dandelions outside, and sometimes butterflies to paint. Today there are no butterflies. Maybe the shouting scared them away. If I were a butterfly it would scare me away.

No butterflies. I close the door and call Miki. Miki is my friend who is too far away. She’s been looking after my parents in Tsushima because I’m not there and my parents are old. Miki has no parents. She came from the same orphanage as Hanako, I think.

“Hey, beautiful!”

She always says that. I think that word is used too much. Now everybody is beautiful. Sometimes she uses ‘lover-girl’, which is strange and wonderful. But I let her call me what she wants to because she knows I’m really Rin whatever she calls me.

“Hell-o.”

I use pictures on my tabphone to show Miki what I feel, but she prefers voice because she says she’s bad at reading pictures. She likes seeing my face too although she says holo is too complicated for her. I like seeing her too. She’s got a very graceful line even when sitting down.

“Your parents have a new cat. This is Chiba. He’s very cute.”

In her flesh hand, she holds up a golden-brown kitten with black and grey markings. Two sharp and curious grey eyes are looking at me over the edge of her palm. He’s very fluffy.

“Chiba?”

The cat makes a thin squeaky miaou sound. I want to paint him but right now I know it won’t come out right.

“Yeah, your mother named him. You know how she is, all the classic poetry and gods-know-what. After years of saying she didn’t want another cat after Kurome, your dad just staggered out down the street and brought him home. I think they’re very caring people.”

Yesss. They sent me far away to be with Nomiya. And gave me lots of money to stay here. It makes me feel cold and sad. I don’t know why.

“Good.”

“Lover-girl, you really should come back over here. If anything, it’ll stop your parents from asking me everyday when I’m getting married.”

I’m missing something again. My memories are all wrong.

“You’re married.”

“Heh, not any more. Bastard punched me and I punched back. Wrong hand. This one was made by the guys who made Emi’s black legs. We both ended up in hospital and he’s gonna be there a few more years. I’m fine.”

“You had a baby.”

“Nope, was having one. Didn’t happen.”

She looks a bit sad at that. I don’t like it when I make Miki sad.

“I have to go to the cemetery next week. Can I bring Hisao a message from you?”

Miki smiles and says with a funny voice, “Tell him it was fun, things could always have been better, but no regrets yeah?”

“I’ll tell him that.”

Things can always be better, but they always end up worse than the better they could have been. I miss Miki a lot. Rin is all alone here, sometimes. Even when there are people around.

“Seriously? Think about coming home. Your parents haven’t seen you for helluva long time. And it would be more fun to be living in your room with you actually here.”

Yes. She lives in my old room now. I can’t remember that room except that the lighting was never very good. I have words to give Miki, even though I’m not sure they’re right.

“Miki. If I had arms, I would give you a big warm hug.”

“Aww, that’s very sweet of you!”

There’s a knock on the door. I look at my spycam. It’s Meiko. What now?

“I have to go, Miki. I would like to see you too. Maybe soon. Bye.”

“Bye, Rin! Be good!”

I wave my foot at her and blank the tabphone. Then I open my door with a gentle poke.

“Rin? The children don’t want to eat ice-cream without Aunty Rin. So they decided to wait for you in the common room. Big Akira’s left, by the way, and Emi probably needs a little chat. Would you go with them to the café? I’ll stay with Emi.”

Escaping Yamaku will be harder than I thought. It’s like the butterflies and thousandleaf. They always stick around for more until there’s nothing left.

*****

It’s been almost five years since Hisao left us. Now that Hanako spends more time in Japan and even Shizune visits the staff quarters more often, I feel as if I am less and less me. I am here for Emi, but Emi doesn’t want anybody except somebody who is no longer here. I am here for Akiko and Akira, but they belong to Aunty Hana, really. My thousandleaf is failing and the butterflies don’t come anymore. The violets are dead.

I start putting my paper and canvas neatly aside in piles. I can’t talk to them properly anymore. Everything is wrong. There’s nobody I can talk to here. I thought that friends don’t keep secrets, but I learnt that some secrets must stay secret even if you are friends. There’s only one person around here who can talk to paper, so I have to try to talk to her.

Emi and Hanako have taken the kids out for parfaits with Aunty Misha. Somehow, nobody is growing fat even though everything they eat is full of cream. I get on the bus, happy for once that I am alone, and visit Meiko.

“Rin! How nice to see you!”

She always acts as if she means it. After so many years, that’s probably true. I am happy that she’s glad to see me.

Suddenly, I have to close my eyes. When I open them, she is looking anxiously at me. Over her shoulder, I see a very sad person with beautiful red hair. I think it’s Rin.

“Dear? You’re so sad! What can I do for you?”

She is already hugging me. There are butterflies in her garden. I wish I could stay here instead of at Yamaku. But I can’t.

“M-Meiko?”

I open my little portfolio, the one with the pencil sketches. I show her the one with butterfly-Rin, half out of the cocoon, half stuck. I show her the one where the butterfly hangs there until its wings dry out and it drops like a dead leaf. I show her all the little sketches that I haven’t shown anybody.

Last of all, I show her the only coloured one, my sketch of the butterfly I painted onto Hisao’s stone as a gift to him. I went back one day and Emi had cleaned it up, she couldn’t even leave me that last butterfly, the only one I had left in me, and now, there is nothing left of Rin.

And then my memories escape. They are pouring out of my eyes, all salt water and heat and lost butterflies, and Meiko is holding me tight and saying things I cannot hear.

*****

I stay at Meiko’s place for a few days. Meiko collects my clothes and washes some of them. She says she told Emi and the kids that Aunty Rin was tired and needed a break. I like it that she told the truth but kept my secrets.

I show her the note I’ve printed. It says, “Please forget about me, and I will forget about you too. It’s easy. After all, I am good at forgetting things.” There is a sad smiley face next to that.

Meiko clicks her tongue at me and makes a little sad face of her own. I don’t mind. I trust her.

“Rin, that’s all true and I know you can do that. But it would be cruel to the children and to Emi. Emi didn’t mean to hurt you when she cleaned Hisao’s stone. She left your butterfly there for a week until she let it go, remember?”

That’s what Meiko keeps telling me. But I think Emi is broken more than I am, and if we go to visit Hisao every year one day there’ll be two dead broken people next to Hisao’s stone. This, I don’t tell Meiko. It would be cruel, as she says.

I take out my little sketchpad, now that I’ve started drawing again. I discovered one last butterfly in me, and it’s taking shape nicely. I have printed next to it, “Butterflies fly. See you someday.”

“How about this one?”

Meiko sighs. I’ve already told her everything about my life, and how I have nobody left here, not even Emi. I have also told her that the only person I would stay for is her, because she is Meiko and not because she is Emi’s mother.

“That’s far better. Dear, you know I’ll miss you. And Emi and the children will too. But you’re right. The butterfly must go free. Can you spend a few more days with Emi and the kids? Then I’ll see what I can do to make it easier. You don’t have to tell them. I can do that if I have to.”

I don’t know how to say it, but Meiko is more my mother than anyone has ever been. Which would make Emi my sister, but that’s sad because it doesn’t feel that way anymore.

*****

One morning, I’m gone.

Goro has to attend a conference in Nagasaki. Three days after Goro leaves Yamaku, Meiko helps me with some stuff and waves goodbye to me early in the morning at Sendai Airport. Everyone at Emi’s apartment is still asleep. The note I’ve stuck on my old door is the one with my final butterfly.

I nap like a cat until I’m landing at Nagasaki. Goro helps me get on the shuttle flight to Tsushima. My tabphone pings gently. Meiko: [They really miss you. But spread your wings. Keep in touch. Love, Mom.]

I feel warm inside, although still a bit lonely. But Goro gave me a hug and his usual funny alarming grin, and that will keep me till later. I look out of the windows of the small plane, and the sea is deep blue-grey, like memories that don’t come to an end.

My tabphone pings once more, startling me. Miki: [Can't wait to be with you again, babe! See you at the airport!]

In my head, I see memories again. But they’ll be memories of things that haven’t happened yet. There’ll be butterflies in some new garden, and also a little golden cat with interesting markings, and a brown woman with graceful limbs. And Rin won’t be alone.

=====
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Last edited by brythain on Thu Jul 27, 2017 11:49 pm, edited 4 times in total.
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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Re: After the Dream—Rin's Arc (Part 5 up 20140403)

Post by Hotkey » Thu Apr 03, 2014 3:17 am

I love all these... little details that get carefully woven in.

Miki backstory. Not sure how I feel.

Meiko the unflappable supermom. Outlives her daughter, finds second love with a doctor, is more of a mother to Rin than her own mother, takes care of the grandkids, keeps a cooool heaaad, a girl in trouble is a temporary thing...

What flaw(s), if any, does your Meiko have? I bring this up because I'm writing a Meiko-centric fic at the moment, and having had to try and answer the same question, I'm very interested in what you think.

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Re: After the Dream—Rin's Arc (Part 5 up 20140403)

Post by brythain » Thu Apr 03, 2014 4:39 am

Hotkey wrote:I love all these... little details that get carefully woven in.

Miki backstory. Not sure how I feel.

Meiko the unflappable supermom. Outlives her daughter, finds second love with a doctor, is more of a mother to Rin than her own mother, takes care of the grandkids, keeps a cooool heaaad, a girl in trouble is a temporary thing...

What flaw(s), if any, does your Meiko have? I bring this up because I'm writing a Meiko-centric fic at the moment, and having had to try and answer the same question, I'm very interested in what you think.
To me, Meiko is vulnerable emotionally but has learnt to be strong for other people; she's a bit like Emi there. She cries at Hisao's funeral but Emi has stopped crying already, so Meiko can 'let go'. She has more pragmatism than sentimentality, but she has an artistic streak; these can be both strengths and weaknesses. She hasn't grown much as a person since Emi's father died, and she still thinks of Emi has a little girl even when Emi is hitting 30 or 40. Unflappable? No... but she recovers quickly and tries to help whoever else needs it. That's my Meiko anyway. :)

Canonically, she is a supportive supermom type - goes for the track meet. But also a bit flighty - may disappear halfway through. And has a cheeky sense of humour. I've tried to keep that too.

Oh yeah, she also conceals Rin's whereabouts from EVERYBODY for years. She doesn't even let on that she knows.

Thanks for noticing the small details. It's always nice when something you didn't think people would see is noticed anyway!
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—Rin's Arc (Part 5 up 20140403)

Post by dewelar » Thu Apr 03, 2014 10:20 am

Oh.

Okay.

Yes.

I am Yes with this.

*nods*
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—Rin's Arc (Part 5 up 20140403)

Post by bhtooefr » Thu Apr 03, 2014 10:53 am

Honestly, not sure how I feel about Miki x Rin in any way, shape, or form.

As friends with benefits, it somehow feels predatory to me (this may be influenced by NekoDude's Miki, though). Like Miki's taking advantage of Rin. And I know, that's falling into the trap that Hisao falls into with Hanako, but still, it just feels wrong somehow.

As anything MORE than that, it goes well past my suspension of disbelief, to think that those two would have anything in common, except maybe experimenting with illegal substances.
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Re: After the Dream—Rin's Arc (Part 5 up 20140403)

Post by dewelar » Thu Apr 03, 2014 11:26 am

bhtooefr wrote:Honestly, not sure how I feel about Miki x Rin in any way, shape, or form.

As friends with benefits, it somehow feels predatory to me (this may be influenced by NekoDude's Miki, though). Like Miki's taking advantage of Rin. And I know, that's falling into the trap that Hisao falls into with Hanako, but still, it just feels wrong somehow.

As anything MORE than that, it goes well past my suspension of disbelief, to think that those two would have anything in common, except maybe experimenting with illegal substances.
Heh...where, as soon as I saw this, it was like I could see the whole story unfolding in front of me. This just shot to the top of the "things I might write once I'm done with Developments" list.
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Stuff I've written: Developments, a continuation of Lilly's (bad? neutral?) ending - COMPLETE!

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Re: After the Dream—Rin's Arc (Part 5 up 20140403)

Post by Helbereth » Thu Apr 03, 2014 11:29 am

So I told them a story about how once upon a time there were three sisters, and two were blonde and golden and beautiful and their father was a rich man who was never around. The last one was dark and shy and only a stepsister yet she was the most beautiful. And the younger blonde girl stole the prince’s heart and smashed it and the stepsister tried to fix it and in the end the prince married someone else and then he died. The end.
Okay, obviously the golden-haired girls are Lilly and Akira, but I'm not sure whether the dark, shy girl is Hanako or Shizune. The word 'shy' speaks of Hanako, but it sounds too meta for Rin to describe her as 'most beautiful'. Either way, this particular fairy tale has some strikingly familiar themes...

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Re: After the Dream—Rin's Arc (Part 5 up 20140403)

Post by dewelar » Thu Apr 03, 2014 12:25 pm

Helbereth wrote:
So I told them a story about how once upon a time there were three sisters, and two were blonde and golden and beautiful and their father was a rich man who was never around. The last one was dark and shy and only a stepsister yet she was the most beautiful. And the younger blonde girl stole the prince’s heart and smashed it and the stepsister tried to fix it and in the end the prince married someone else and then he died. The end.
Okay, obviously the golden-haired girls are Lilly and Akira, but I'm not sure whether the dark, shy girl is Hanako or Shizune. The word 'shy' speaks of Hanako, but it sounds too meta for Rin to describe her as 'most beautiful'.
It's Rin. I expect beauty means something different to her in this context, or even that her standard for beauty is different.
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—Rin's Arc (Part 5 up 20140403)

Post by brythain » Thu Apr 03, 2014 12:49 pm

bhtooefr wrote:Honestly, not sure how I feel about Miki x Rin in any way, shape, or form.

As friends with benefits, it somehow feels predatory to me (this may be influenced by NekoDude's Miki, though). Like Miki's taking advantage of Rin. And I know, that's falling into the trap that Hisao falls into with Hanako, but still, it just feels wrong somehow.

As anything MORE than that, it goes well past my suspension of disbelief, to think that those two would have anything in common, except maybe experimenting with illegal substances.
Perhaps Miki admires Rin for functioning with no arms when she has problems adapting to loss of one hand. Also, lack of verbal censorship in some ways. There are many things that could be justified canonically. But, with appreciation for your sense of wrongness, I did indeed set out to craft a relationship that would be unexpected, as real-life relationships often are. Miki saves Rin's life. Miki has no family; Rin puts her in touch with her family in Tsushima. And over the years, there is a kind of friendship, perhaps even affection. We humans tend to be cynical about others' motives, but at the same time, we have to acknowledge that unlikely relationships grow all the time… :)
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—Rin's Arc (Part 5 up 20140403)

Post by brythain » Thu Apr 03, 2014 12:49 pm

Helbereth wrote:
So I told them a story about how once upon a time there were three sisters, and two were blonde and golden and beautiful and their father was a rich man who was never around. The last one was dark and shy and only a stepsister yet she was the most beautiful. And the younger blonde girl stole the prince’s heart and smashed it and the stepsister tried to fix it and in the end the prince married someone else and then he died. The end.
Okay, obviously the golden-haired girls are Lilly and Akira, but I'm not sure whether the dark, shy girl is Hanako or Shizune. The word 'shy' speaks of Hanako, but it sounds too meta for Rin to describe her as 'most beautiful'. Either way, this particular fairy tale has some strikingly familiar themes...
A story for the ages, and one, notably, that Hanako the storyteller avoids telling. :)
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—Rin's Arc (Part 5 up 20140403)

Post by brythain » Thu Apr 03, 2014 12:50 pm

dewelar wrote:Oh.

Okay.

Yes.

I am Yes with this.

*nods*
That is high praise. :)
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—Rin's Arc (Part 6 up 20140404)

Post by brythain » Fri Apr 04, 2014 1:30 am

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


Rin 6: Tangerines (T +20)

We used to eat tangerines together. Now, there’s no more ‘we’ and there are no more tangerines. There aren’t so many squid-fishermen in Tsushima, and maybe the squid will come back. But I won’t. Rin is good at forgetting, and getting better at it every day.

I am selling the little house in Tsushima. It had very good light, but now there is no more light and the house is empty. Our room smells of Miki, but it is an old smell, buried under other smells. I am getting the contractors to bury all the smells, and when they are done, I will be going away.

Contractors. It’s a strange word to me. I have had to learn many strange words. Miki taught me how to use new words. She helped me bury my Tezuka family when they got old enough and weren’t here anymore. I had memories of things that didn’t happen, memories of Miki and me growing old together. But I am growing old alone because Miki is gone.

Yesss. To forget you have to remember first. Miki is gone like Emi is gone and Hisao is gone. You look and there is a stone, and one by one, people stop looking at the stone and then nobody goes and people forget. All that you can remember fades, like the pictures in my little portfolio that are fading unless I did them in black ink and pencil.

Miki taught me how to put my pictures into my node. That means they don’t have to fade. But you can’t feel the pictures properly, the little blob of paint that you made, the yellow running through the green, the white running through the black. So I have my portfolio in my linen armour which is what Miki called the useful clothes that she designed for me. I’ve had to alter my armour over the years but I’m still me inside.

I am very Rin now, more Rin than ever before. The parts of me that weren’t Rin, that were Emi/Rin or Hisao/Rin or Miki/Rin, those are falling away. Ten years ago, when Miki was still here, she dragged me over to Fukuoka. I am going to remember it. But I don’t think I can forget it.

*****

Begin.

“Rin! Happy birthday! I have a surprise for you, I’m gonna haul your ass over to the mainland for it!”

I never knew what to expect when Miki said ‘haul your ass’. This was ten years ago, when I learnt I had arthritis and my pens and pencils and brushes wouldn’t speak properly to my paper and canvas.

I look at Miki’s node. It has a familiar face on it. I prod the audio prompt with my toe, then realized that is silly. But there is a voice anyway, cold, blue, stiff, matching that face. Hakamichi: “We’ll do it. Good to know Rin’s in good health, thanks Miki for keeping in touch.”

With Miki’s hands, the flesh one and the titanium one, it is much easier to pack stuff and carry it. When she was gone, I put the titanium one in the ground with her. It had a lot of extra parts and those are with her too. Also, the newer hands and the last set she had. She said she tested them for a living. It was only ten years ago that I learnt what that was all about.

I look up at the tall blue building. It says ‘Nakai Foundation’ in big silver characters. It says ‘Hakamichi Industries’ in small silver characters. There are a lot of people in black formal suits here, lined up in two rows, bowing.

Miki looks embarrassed. She whispers to me, “Shizune’s not a monster, you know.”

I know. Shizune is Shizune. She does things and makes people do things. I don’t know why Miki has brought me here on my birthday. It can’t be good. But Miki is like me, we do things quite often with no fixed ideas about why we do them. So I keep walking towards the main entrance where Shizune Hakamichi waits for us. Except that she walks towards us and meets us about one third of the way along.

She sounds like a monster. I always wondered what Shizune would sound like if she could talk. I thought maybe she would sound very fast and very angry. But this voice she has is too nice. It’s not her. And it comes from her neck, without her mouth moving.

“Hello Miki, hello Rin. I have some old friends inside to meet you. We got together to plan something you might like.”

Better from her neck than her hands. I can’t read hands, and I don’t do hands. But her hands are moving anyway. Must be a habit.

“That’s nice,” I reply. It’s what you say when you don’t know what else to say.

We follow her in. Miki chats with her because Miki is good at that. We have to pass through a lot of electronic gates, just like at an airport. Then we get into a passenger elevator. It goes up very quickly and I have to swallow to make my ears more comfortable.

More corridors. The colours here are mostly blue and white, Hakamichi colours. It’s like walking through Chinese porcelain of a certain kind. Cold. But at the end of the corridors are nice warm doors, some sort of pale golden wood.

Two men in dark blue business suits with black gloves open the doors and we walk in. I can’t stop myself. My breath comes out of me.

“Meiko?”

I haven’t seen the real Meiko for five years. She’s aged, grown harder since Emi died. I felt wrong, as if it was my fault. Maybe if I had been there to say goodbye I would have felt better.

I move towards her but she gets past where I’m going first. I wish I had arms, but she has enough for both of us. I wrap my arm-bits around her shoulders. My eyes see the other two people in the background, but all I can hear is Meiko.

“Happy birthday, Rin!”

I am having a very happy birthday.

“Mom…” I mumble very softly.

“Silly girl, it’s so nice to see you again. Mmph!”

I feel her arms around my waist, squeezing under my ribs.

“And you’re eating properly. That’s good!”

When she lets me ago, it takes me some time to remember that Hanako and Hideaki are here. That’s right, they’re married now. How odd. That means Hanako and Shizune are related. And everyone is smiling at me. There’s a mocha-coloured cake on the huge black table. With red candles on top. It’s like having a proper birthday party and I’ve not had one for a very long time.

Upload.

*****

Continue.

But there is another reason they got me to go there. That night, still in Fukuoka, I am angry with Miki and Miki is angry with me.

“Babe, your toes are going stiff.”

“I use my mouth.”

“You need help with luggage!”

“I use my mouth. And wheels.”

“It’s not convenient!”

“It’s not Rin.”

“It’s your birthday present! From me! And even if you don’t like Shizune, why doesn’t it fuckin’ mean anything that we all got together for this?! We love you! I love you!”

They didn’t think I wouldn’t want it. But how can I be Rin? Rin hasn’t got arms. Rin doesn’t know what to do with arms.

“I know you’re damn good at forgetting things. But just try to remember one thing, Rin, please? There was once you wondered what it was like to have hands. And now you can try it out! Please?”

Why is Miki crying again? Why is she angry? She’s got two hands now, and I don’t have any.

All they want me to do is read Hideaki’s paper and scan my eyeball and then go to hospital. I don’t like hospitals.

I don’t like it when Miki is sad. Besides, I remember now. I remember wondering how it would feel if my arm-bits could hug Hisao properly because he was my friend. The Nakai Foundation. Is that part of my friend?

Miki rolls over. I look at her long, dark, messy hair. She is all tired and she has cried until she is damp down the neck and into her hair. I want to hug her. But I have no arms.

Upload.

*****

Continue.

My parents were old when I was born. Maybe that’s why I had no arms. They didn’t have enough left for me to have arms. Now there are only Miki and Chiba and me at home. Miki collects Chiba from the neighbours while I try hard not to break anything.

I have arms now. Arms. The children used to laugh at me, and that was fine because Rin was Rin who has no arms. But now they point at me because Rin is Rin who has two fine and scary arms.

Chiba leaps out of Miki’s arms like a gold-and-grey fireball and nuzzles my ankle. He likes it that my toes can scratch him in so many interesting ways. I wonder how he’ll take to my arms. I bend down to scratch him with my left hand.

He looks up in alarm, his pupils dilated like big shadowy holes in his head. He hisses and spits and then bolts into a far corner. After a while, he starts grooming himself furiously. He catches me looking at him. I feel sad. He glares at me, then continues licking himself and running his paws over his head and ears.

Upload.

End segment.

*****

I can peel my own tangerines now, but there’s nobody to eat them with. This year is a bad year. Miki is gone, and Chiba was sad and he is gone too. He went thin, and then he went away and I never said goodbye because I don’t know if he’s coming back. I put food out for him. Sometimes it disappears. The neighbours have agreed to do that for me.

On the other side of my world, funny old Goro is gone a few years now and Meiko was sad and then something went wrong in her head and now she calls me Emi all the time when I talk to her. And it makes me sad because that means she’s lost Rin. I can’t be Rin with her now, even though she is the only family I have left. But I’m going to try.

So, goodbye, Tsushima. Goodbye, house. I have to go outside to say my last goodbye. I carry my own small bag out because now I can.

It’s a misty February morning, all blurry white gold and shiny leaves. Miki’s stone is a simple one. She already had it designed. It says, “Life was a bitch. Mine.” It is very her. My memories of things that never happened have Miki old and still full of fire. But I am happy I have memories of her young and graceful.

When I get there, I kneel in the soft green grass. My arms whine very softly as I put our basket of tangerines on the ground. I’ve got a butterfly for her. It is in Meiko colours and Hakamichi porcelain. I use the engraving stylus in my left forefinger.

Deploy stylus. Miki’s butterfly. Begin.

Two minutes pass in gentle vibration and then it’s done. I stop and look. It is beautiful, cut deep into the hard black marble.

“Goodbye, Miki,” I say softly. I don’t want to leave her.

Then I feel something bump my hip. I freeze, and there is a cold feeling in my back. I turn slowly.

There’s a skinny golden-brown cat here. The spring light flows over and around the darker patches in his fur. He looks at me with deep green-flecked grey eyes and lets out a soft chirrup. Then he licks my right hand and runs away into the bushes, long black-streaked tail waving behind him.

Thank you, Chiba. Goodbye to you too.

I feel warm again. Rin is free to go.

=====
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Last edited by brythain on Thu Jul 27, 2017 11:49 pm, edited 3 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—Rin's Arc (Complete 20140404)

Post by brythain » Fri Apr 04, 2014 11:35 pm

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


Rin 7: Redress (T +40)

I look into the very big mirror. Rin looks at me and I look back. She is tall and thin and pale and naked, and her red hair flows over her shoulders. It is like flowers and fire. The lava is streaked with ice before it cascades to her elbows. Rin had no arms for 45 years. She had to learn to use new limbs. Foundation doctors say they will never move naturally.

But what is natural? Rin can pick her teeth with a needle because Rin has fine control. What is natural? I don’t know how to smile without making people uncomfortable. Rin has muscles in her upper arms, because her lower arms are heavier than nothing. And these muscles are not natural.

I am surrounded by butterflies. That’s because Rin has wings. I didn’t have wings before, so the butterflies remind me of me. I have a cat. Goro looks at me with two baleful emerald eyes, but he ducks his lynx-gene carnivore head when I pass. I scratch him between the ears with my left foot. Some things Rin does not forget.

I am looking into this mirror for two reasons. First, it reminds me to remember and not forget. Second, Rin needs to dress up because she owes a lot to somebody, and that somebody has just died. I am shaken when people die. I am human. It is something that burrowed into me when I grew old.

I summon a black gown. Midnight can be purple. Midnight can be blue. Or indigo. But Rin is pure. She will go in darkness just this once, for the memory of love that she didn’t recognize and the memory of friendship held over long years. I am not natural. Nature kills people. So I will wear a black that reminds me of what Emi wore, forty years ago.

*****

I walk in by a side entrance. The Yamaku Academy’s new auditorium is large and airy. To me, it is nothing. I only stare at the black box, laid out in the middle of the soaring space. Little mediabots fly like ugly butterflies around me, sending my image into the sky. I am here only to see Shizune. We monsters must stick together. That’s what Miki used to say.

I have one regret left. Yes, it will surprise many that Rin has regrets at all. But in 75 years of life, you collect them like moths. I must clear the stack. Dump the data. Wipe the slate. I have become a machine, but I have also become a woman.

The armoured people don’t stop me. They know Rin, because I have been Hakamichi for a long time. I look at one of them, and she flinches inside her helmet. If I wanted to, I could see her blood pressure behind my eyeballs. I do not smile. It would be wrong.

Shizune is my friend. My friend’s grey hair is still tinted Hakamichi blue. She looks innocent, her pinched face is relaxed, her frown lines almost erased. I am sketching her in my head. This is precious to me, because I have so few friends left. Three of them are here. A fourth is cloaked, but I can guess who she is. And the children, who are not children anymore.

I remember Shizune, because it is right. Because she looked after the orphans.

*****

“Aunty Rin?”

She is tall and golden. Emi-ness shines in her although Emi was not so tall. Yes. I keep her lines in my head. I can make statues now.

“Hell-o. Akiko. You look like autumn. Or a lamp-post.”

She laughs seriously. I didn’t know humans could do that.

“Thank you for coming. I am surprised you have come.”

Then she hugs me. So I hug her back. Then I look at her. I can see she is amazed at how hard I can hug. And how warm. I have had practice. There are things I have to tell her. They are on my memory list.

“Aki-chan. Yes. It has been a long time. Two things.”

Now she is indeed surprised. I can see her pupils change.

“One: fairy tales are lies. Two: don’t still be angry with Shizune. We all loved Emi Ibarazaki. More than you, maybe.”

I remember Meiko telling me I could be cruel. No. I am just Rin. When I tell the truth, sometimes people are not happy.

She turns away from me. Somehow, that hurts a lot. I reach out to hold her arm.

“Forgive people. Wipe the slate. We’ll all be dead soon anyway.”

Her voice has turned hard. I don’t know why.

“I forgive you, my aunt. But Hakamichi-san was only my mother by law. And her cousin, she took part of my father away forever.”

I want to tell her this is all wrong. It is not true. But Rin is good at forgetting and maybe she has forgotten what is true. What if Akiko is right? My air leaves me. Rin will last a long time, but I am tired.

“I am sorry, Aki. Forgive this old lady also for saying inappropriate things.”

Behind her, her brother appears. He half-smiles an apology at me, bows. I bow to both of them. Akiko bows back.

“I am sorry for my great discourtesy, respected aunt. We should not speak ill of the dead. Or of the living, at such times.”

I give her one last pat on the hand. I remember ice-creams at the café and two little children holding onto my sleeves where Rin had no arms before.

I bow one last time to Shizune Hakamichi. Then I leave. I want to talk to my other friend, who will give the eulogy, but I don’t feel I can talk right now because everything is broken anyway. We are all monsters who make more monsters. Except maybe Hanako Ikezawa.

But some things can be fixed. Like me.

*****

I have guessed right. My tracking software warbles. There is a brown presence on the outskirts of town. It is moving south. Like autumn birds. I follow also like a bird. I know where it is going. One blue and silver Hakamichi car follows the other. We are migrating.

The gates open silently for us. The old place is now well-lit at night. The paths have been resurfaced. Clear tags light up in my night vision, but I don’t need them. I know where we will meet.

“Misha.”

“Rin-chan,” she says, dully. “Thanks for coming.”

Her hair has been tinted sepia because pink would be wrong. She is dressed for a funeral, but she has decided not to stay for it. I wonder why.

It is cold tonight. We are both in black overcoats, two old ladies, black on black. I take her by the hand. This no longer unnerves her because we are friends. We sit down next to our other old friends, a little cluster of dark stones. They aren’t all here, of course. But we have our memories, true or false. I put an arm around her because I can. And also because there are missing friends.

She leans her head on my collarbone. It feels heavy and warm. She still has a lot of hair, but she’s let it grow straight.

“Rin-chan? It’s no fun to live so long and never win anything. For years I told myself that was Shicchan’s thing, winning stuff, making people work. I just wanted to make people happy. But in the end she did it all. I did nothing. I made people sad. I’m a bad person.”

I see a caterpillar. It has a very thick cocoon around it. It is all tangled up and cannot escape. It will die in there. I remember old Rin was like that.

“No, Misha. You did not make Rin sad. And you made Hisao’s children happy. You took them out for parfaits. And also their own children.”

“Haha, Rin-chan, you remember that,” she says, trying to laugh. But she isn’t laughing as she continues. She is leaking memories onto my shoulder.

“That was good. But I fell in love twice, and nobody loved me back. I made some people happy at the UN, but mostly they were angry. I was raped in Europe. So shameful. I wanted to die. I came back to Shizune, but she wasn’t all mine. She belonged to so many people. I think we were happy, but now she’s gone.”

Rin’s bad at reading faces, but some kinds of faces make more sense when you think a certain way. Miki used to look at me the way Shizune looked at Misha. There was something there like violets and ice-cream and Meiko’s kitchen with bread and sometimes new pottery from her kiln.

“She did not know how to tell you. Yes. That is true. She did not even know how to tell herself, and she sometimes thought she was a bad person. But you were her best friend and you did not make her feel wrong.”

Misha’s head is really still. Is she alive? She is breathing. Must be alive then.

“Rin-chan, I’m still a failure. Everyone else has done big things.”

I am not angry with Misha for saying what’s not true. She is just being sad. But at least she’s not talking about Shizune now, so she must be less sad.

“Everybody does things. If you are alive you do things and some things look bigger than others but you are just being alive in different ways. When you stop doing things you are dead and many of our friends are that way. Being alive is a big thing. Being friends is a big thing. You have not failed at that because you are still my friend.”

“Aww. Rin-chan, that’s a very sweet thing to say.”

We have spent so many hours in hospitals watching people die. We have spent so many days watching Shizune do things that make us feel tired. We have watched other people’s children grow up and we have no children of our own.

Time passes. I don’t know how much time fails. I don’t think anyone has noticed that we’re off the grid.

I switch off the part of my brain that is not my brain.

“Misha, come with Rin to Osaka.”

“Wahaha!~ Rin-chan, you say the weirdest things. Why Osaka?”

“Because I have a house there, and you need to become a butterfly.”

*****

Rin doesn’t know how to end stories. The years just go on. Everyone slowly fades. But I’m still Rin. Caterpillars become butterflies. What do butterflies become?

End upload.

=====
prev | end
Last edited by brythain on Thu Jul 27, 2017 11:50 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Post-Yamaku, what happens? After The Dream is a mosaic that follows everyone to the (sometimes) bitter end.
Main Index (Complete)Shizune/Lilly/Emi/Hanako/Rin/Misha + Miki + Natsume
Secondary Arcs: Rika/Mutou/AkiraHideaki | Others (WIP): Straw—A Dream of SuzuSakura—The Kenji Saga.
"Much has been lost, and there is much left to lose." — Tim Powers, The Drawing of the Dark (1979)

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