Can You Remember Me? Chapter 10
“Wahaha! So it was you!” Misha looks genuinely surprised as Hanako comes out from hiding. She and Shizune sign each other, but at a slower pace than usual. It seems like Shizune is tired…
“Y-yes…” Hanako barely manages to peep out. Emi and Rin are there by her side… but that might be doing more bad than good right now. But right now, the situation is resting on her…
I feel a little ridiculous for believing in a girl who barely believes in herself most of the time… but that smile she gave me still lingers in my mind. She can see this through.
Misha loudly continues, contrast to Hanako’s gentle voice. “Well, then! Why do you want to know~?” While the sentence may have been threatening from anyone else, Misha’s lightheartedness makes the sentence less blunt.
Hanako has no answer, and is left to stand there sheepishly. Emi quickly jumps in. "Well, Hanako is his classmate! I ask about classmates all the time!"
Misha interprets this sentence for Shizune, who responds to Misha. "Shicchan says that it may be true for you, but its surprising from Hanako~!!"
Rin moves in between the two groups, as if what she says will break up the stalemate. If I know Rin like I think I know Rin, it probably won't. "I would also like to know. For reasons."
While it doesn't solve anything, it seems that Rin has momentarily confused everyone... including me. Shizune isn't reacting much... in fact, she has a sad look on her face. Right now, she's not the intimidating girl I remember her to be...
I lean forward to get a closer look at Shizune... when I notice that Misha is glancing at the tree from the corner of her eye.
...Did she see me? If she did... it's all over. Council servitude for the rest of my amnesiac life. I feel Hisao getting farther and farther out of reach...
I accept my fate, but remain behind the tree. I can't go out there right now, even if I know the result already...
Misha interjects, disrupting my thoughts. "Okaaaay..." she drags her first word. "Since you went this far... i'll tell you where Hisao is~"
Everyone seems just as shocked as I am. Hanako and Emi turn to each other, as if they don't believe what each of them has just heard... Meanwhile, Rin remains stoically in place.
"But!" Misha continues, not skipping a beat. She puts a finger in the air for emphasis. "It's on one condition~!"
I feel worried over what the condition might be... and the only one sharing my sentiment seems to be Hanako. Or that may just be her worried look. I know how difficult this must be... I was in the same position not too long ago.
Misha doesn't change directions, but makes herself especially loud. "Seiki, meet me at the Shanghai tomorrow morning~!"
...she did see me. But I also notice that she hasn't made any signs in a while... and Shizune remains distracted and spaced out. So... Misha is the mastermind of this right now. I didn't expect that... what is she planning?
Suddenly, Misha hugs Shizune, spreading her arms quickly and capturing her friend in an embrace. Shizune seems the most surprised by this, but doesn't try to push Misha away. She must do that a lot... instead, Shizune is actually looking at Emi and Hanako curiously. It's as if she expects Emi or Hanako to explain for her...
I notice that Misha is pointing at a building, obvious to everyone but Shizune as they are locked in a hug. Its the main school building. "The Nurses Office!" Misha blurts out as she points.
The Nurse's office... okay, Misha. I don't know why you want to meet, but... thanks. I'm going to trust you.
She lets Shizune go, who seems to be blushing after the hug. She faces us one more time, no sign language included. "I'm doing this for Shicchan, too~!"
With that, she collects her friend and practically pushes her up the stairs to their destination... What just happened...?
To be honest, I don't remember how the conversation began... it seemed to have spiraled out of control and out of memory very quickly.
Making sure that I'm truly safe, I wait behind the tree for another moment. I give the tree a celebratory pat, near the place I was hiding. Thank you, tree. I'll make sure to never sleep under a different tree again. While I feel a little crazy talking to a tree, it only seems fitting after what I just experienced.
"I guess... we did it?" I ask as I come out of hiding and rejoin the others. I should be the most excited right now, but that's impossible as long as Emi is around. Her jumps for joy are not taken for granted, however. Rin is still pensive to the point that it worries me a little. Hanako is short of breath, slightly panicked...
I can't help it. I walk towards Hanako, the girl who just saved me, and give her a hug. Well, more like hanging my arms around her shoulders since Hanako is pretty tall. Her initial reaction is a surprised gasp, but she doesn't move from where she is... Woops. Did I go too far?
Surprisingly, I feel Hanako return the hug lightly. I might not have noticed if I hadn't paid attention. I pull away from her. "That was awesome of you, Hanako!"
Hanako recovers from the hug relatively quickly... although one doesn't normally need to recover from hugs. "I-it was n-..nothing..." she smiles mid-sentence. "...Y-you needed m-my help..."
Aww. That was adorable in every sense of the word.
I'm not the only one who seems to be thinking similarly. Emi seems to be beaming with joy and pride. "Yeah! Friends should help each other out!" She shoots me a smile... it brings back a memory. I call her the Comet. I had forgotten that for a little while. Her smile brings me back to her tour guide days, when she showed me I wasn't the only one who got lost around here. I smile in return... and it occurs to me that she has done nothing but make me smile ever since we met. So much that its a little tradition to smile at each other now, without an exchange of words...
Hanako gasps as the word 'friend' is uttered, as if the word is surprising to her. Emi and I both notice simultaneously, and we share our smiles with her. She seems taken aback... but eventually she smiles back. Nervously, but happy.
With Emi's old smile and Hanako's adorable moment, I find it harder to tell myself that I might not remember this moment. How could I not? I'll remember this.
I notice Rin is still standing to the side. I feel like I need to apologize to her... we must have scared off some people and no one has come to look at her mural... I can't help but it feel it was because of me. "Rin, sorry-"
Before I can finish, Rin falls onto me with the gracefulness of a girl without arms. It's only being this close to her that I remember her missing appendages. Her chin meets my shoulder, where she lets her head rest while she wiggles the sleeves of her shirt. "This is a hug. Girlfriends should hug, too."
A final rush of happiness reaches me, removing the gray cloud that's been above my head today. What would I do without you all?
"Thank you... Rin. Emi. Hanako. I'll never forget-" I bring Rin in for a deeper hug, resting my head on her shoulders this time. The last word is muffled into Rin's shirt. 'You' is what I wanted to say. I don't care if I have to write all of your names down until my arm is completely covered in marker... I will remember. I promise.
Our goodbyes are short promises to meet later. The time is fitting... the sun is setting, and the crowds have spread out enough that Hanako felt okay to leave by herself. Emi and Rin are headed to the stalls, which neither of them have seen yet.
I head to the main building on my own. Despite protest from the Comet, I promised I could find the Nurse on my own. Besides... they've done enough. It's my turn.
I make it to the stairs where I met Emi earlier today, and I remember her enthusiasm. I try to mimic it as I push the doors to the building open. The first thing I do is head to class... which is a number. And numbers are not my friends.
Good thing I keep my enemies close... I roll my sleeve up to my elbow and examine my forearm. "3-3" is written in fading black numbers... How long ago was it that I wrote this?
No time to get stuck in the past. I fix my shirt and continue on, denoting the classroom numbers very carefully. As I walk, I jog my memory to Emi guiding me through the halls. Where did she go, and where should I go?
Although the numbers written on the classroom doors could help just as much, I give my memory some much-needed exercise. The halls begin to form themselves in my mind. She took a left here... and then a right.
Another right... my memory begins to fall apart here, and I find myself in doubt. This hallway is unfamiliar, although a sense of fear grows in me. Something really is familiar about this one...
On the other end of the hall, I see a set of stairs and an empty classroom near them... Oh!
This is the hall I was in during lunch quite some time ago. And that classroom... I had met a very interesting girl in there. Good memories! And I had my first kiss in there, too... Mostly good memories.
I remember leaving by using those stairs. I walk over to them and... was it down one floor, or two?
Picking back up from Emi's memory of walking me to class, I feel like we went down two floors... I take a gamble.
I walk slowly down the stairs, until I notice the orange sky pouring down from a window. It's this late already?
I rush down the stairs, skipping the last step and sending a small shock through my leg.I know I'm panicking for no real reason, but... I think of the worst case scenario. I completely forget what I was doing or where I'm going or who I'm going to meet. What happens then?
Before I know it, I'm in front of Class 3-3... it was just a short walk from the stairs. Now to the Nurse's Office... Nurse's Office....
I turn away from the door, acting as if the Nurse is right behind me, waiting for me to take the lead. Come on, Seiki. You do this almost every day. You can do this.
Down this hall, take a left. Now a short walk. Turn right... the Nurse writes something down when we pass by this window... which means I got it wrong.
I turn around and go the other way, leading me to a set of stairs. This is a little more familiar. His shoes make a very loud tapping noise as we come down here.
At the bottom of the stairs, I end up in a circular room. Three hallways... Oh no. It's THAT room. I find myself a little panicked just from being here. Each hallway exactly the same, no obvious end in sight for any of them, my waking nightmare...
Okay, okay. What do I do here? I stop, tapping my foot in contemplation. Left... no, right... middle? What do I do? Just leave?
Think, think, think. Remember. I clench my fists as I start to fill with anger. I squeeze my eyes shut, as if cutting off one of my senses will help me focus. Still, the "eureka" moment doesn't arrive. I hate being like this. This isn't fair... This isn't...
I stop in the middle of my frustration. A flash of memory seeps into my mind, something about this room... a lame surprise.
I turn around, slowly. This feels more like muscle memory than anything. I hold my breath and reopen my eyes.
In front of me, is a hidden entrance. It's blocked by the stairs until you turn around and look...
Anyway, Nurse's Office. I'll celebrate this later! Maybe I'll remember this the next time the Nurse takes me through this maze...
I walk down the hidden area, which has opened up into a large corridor. A small sign is visible at the other end. "Nurse's Office." I made it! The orange sun is still up, but its falling fast...
I start a very light jog, a smile radiating on my face. I feel like I accomplished something today. Left, right, left, right, left, right....
I stop at the door of the Nurse's office. My heart is almost beating out of my chest, but... why?
What am I even doing here?
My hand is halfway to the doorknob, but I don't know why I'm reaching for it. All I know is... the Nurse's Office is important right now. For some reason or another. I think I came here to meet someone? I stand there, completely still and concentrating hard, on what exactly is hiding on the other side of this door.
I follow my heart and gently twist the handle of the door. It swings slowly open, the slightest creaking sound coming from it... the orange glow is especially bright in this room... the lights are off, and the setting sun is giving an eerie glow to the room. Some corners of the room are getting dark and shadowy...
I don't see the Nurse around, although hints of him being here are everywhere. Some spare coats are hanging nearby, disorganized papers shuffled on his desk, a few open drawers.
I must be here for some reason. I take a look around... I haven't fully explored the room, either. The room has several beds, but several are hidden behind curtains... the room is shockingly quiet, though. I do remember meeting the Comet here. She exploded into the room and broke something... but that was a while back.
I sit down on the nearest bed not obscured by curtains. I kick my legs back and forth... Did I kick like this earlier today?
Whatever brought me to this room... isn't here. I think. Maybe I was just lost again?
As a joke, I call out to the empty room with a musical tone. "Hellooo....."
To my surprise... somebody answers. "Seiki?"
I jump up from the bed, wondering where the voice is coming from. From what I see, nobody else is in the room... but these curtains... it just occurred to me that somebody might be in there. "Uhh... hi."
"Hey." The voice is male, kind of raspy, and coming from the bed right next to me. The voice is so faint it sounded far away, and the thick cloth surrounding the bed certainly didn't help. "Did you come to see me?"
Did I? You're asking the wrong person... rather ironically. "Well, first of all... who are you?"
I hear a laugh come from the other side. "Ha... It's Hisao." He has a rather joking tone.
I think hard. It's true I came here for a reason... but to meet someone I don't even know? But, he does know my name. Classmate, maybe? "Sorry... I don't think I know a 'Hisao'."
Another small laugh, and a slight cough afterward too. "Hmm... Team Coffee?"
I scratch my head as I sit back down... uhh? "Well, I like coffee..."
It feels funny, talking to someone I can't see. Or particularly know. Strangely, talking with this 'Hisao' is very comfortable. It's like we've skipped all the awkward motions of first meeting someone.
Again, I'm clueless. I didn't even know we had a club like that. "Sorry, I'm in the Astronomy Club. You know, telescopes. Come check it out some time." I know this isn't really the time to be recruiting somebody, but we are short on staff...
"Well...What about today's festival?" His voice continues in its whimsical tone. It seems weaker, though. I wonder why he's in the Nurse's Office?
To answer his question... I don't know. The only thing that comes to mind is Rin's mural that I saw today. And then she and I talked for a while... I think it was about cake. Rin definitely would have a conversation about cake. But was that all?
Either way, he's probably just asking to make a conversation with me. "I had fun."
This is the first time he doesn't laugh. "Uhh... Aren't you going to ask?"
Uhh. I'm not really sure what he wants me to ask. "...Ask what?"
There's an awkward silence before he continues. "It's okay, you know."
I'm definitely missing something here... "Really, I don't know what you're talking about." I ask plainly, with the upmost of honesty in my voice.
He laughs again, but its not a real laugh. I can plainly hear how forced it is. He speaks again, still muffled by the curtain. "...Alright, the joke kind of hurts now."
After saying that, he remains silent. I can hear his breathing, but no words come out anymore. I try to think about what he meant by 'joke.' I've been speaking pretty truthfully...
I decide that enough is enough, and move to open the curtain. "Listen, I don't-"
The scene in front of me stops me mid-sentence. The first thing I notice is his bare chest... A large scar is running across the left side... right over his heart. The skin has barely recovered and has obvious stitch marks... has he been this hurt the whole time we've been talking?
I finally look up to his face... and his eyes. Those... eyes... A diminishing light, slowly fading as the seconds tick away. Eyes that are becoming shallow with worry, almost despair. Eyes that are fighting to hold up a fake smile. Lost... in time...
It all comes crashing down. A sharp pain rings in my head as the memories reawaken like wildfire.
He... took my seat in class. We talked for the first time at the Shanghai... Team... Team Coffee... He walked me back to Yamaku... fell down... on top of him...
I... I lied... Physics Club... Astronomy Club... someone took him away... but I found him... under a tree...
Almost forgot... festival... he found me...
...A cliff... with a swing... but he fell down, and...
...Had to find him...
"Seiki? What's wrong?" His voice huffs out.
Oh... I'm crying.
"H-Hisao..." I barely manage to say in between my quick breaths... I can't even stop to wipe the tears off of my face. They don't seem to be stopping any time soon.
I try to walk calmly next to him, but my crying causes me to stumble a little with each step. In the end... my emotions catch up to me, the tears flow faster... and I fling myself towards Hisao.
"HISAO!!" I wail out, hugging his neck, burying my face into his neck and shoulder. "I'M SORRY BUT I HAVE AMNESIA AND I BARELY REMEMBERED NOW AND I LIED TO YOU ABOUT PHYSICS CLUB AND YOU STOLE MY SEAT IN CLASS AND SEEING YOU WITH SHIZUNE MAKES ME FEEL JEALOUS AND I REALLY DID HAVE FUN WITH YOU AT THE FESTIVAL BUT I WAS SO WORRIED I CAME TO FIND YOU BUT I GOT SAD AND THEN I GOT LOST AND THEN YOU WERE IN PAIN AND IT MIGHT BE BECAUSE OF ME AND NOW YOU MIGHT NOT LIKE ME BECAUSE I HAVE AMNESIA AND-"
I practically scream into his shoulder... although, after a while, even I don't understand what I'm saying.
All of these thoughts crash down on me as I cling onto Hisao's shoulder. He says nothing as I let my emotion pour out, only holding onto me gently. His breathing has calmed down.
I finally stop crying after a few minutes, but I don't move away. Hisao notices my silence. "Are you okay now?"
I find it too awkward to move right now. "I should be the one asking you that."
Hisao doesn't move either... we just talk. Comfortably... as always. "...Says the one who came in here crying."
Haha. Laugh it up, Nakai. "...Says the one in the Nurse's Office."
He laughs. A nice, relaxed laugh. I'm glad he doesn't feel the need to build tension right now. "Fair enough... I'm just fine now. Your turn."
I blink a few times. My eyes burn a little from crying. "...Yeah, I'm okay."
"Maybe I should introduce myself again."
Ahh... the elephant in the room. I move away from his shoulder. I take the chair next to the bed and bring it close, letting him sit up as we supposedly introduce ourselves again.
He straightens himself up before looking me in the eyes. "Hisao Nakai...." He points at his chest, specifically to the scar. "...Arrhythmia."
I meet his eyes... mine are still a little wet from crying. "Seiki Misato..." I pat myself on the head. "...Amnesia."
I don't really tell people my last name, for personal reasons... but this is important. Maybe one day, I'll even tell you that story, Hisao.
Before either of us can say another word, the Nurse comes into the room. He doesn't look up from his clipboard as he walks in. "Hisao, I think it's safe to say your clear to... oh, Seiki too? Did you come to visit him?"
I nod my head. "Yeah. He had me worried all day!" The last line is a bit of a stab at Hisao, but its still true.
"Hey! That was your choice." Hisao says defiantly. He's in much better shape than when I came in.
The Nurse laughs at our banter and asks me to leave the room so he can check on Hisao... so I end up waiting in the hallway. The orange light is completely gone now... but the sky isn't dark. The festival lights are still illuminating the clear night sky. Wasn't there something special about this festival closing?
Hisao comes out of the Nurse's Office, meeting me in the hallway. Before the door closes, I notice the Nurse cleaning up his desk and shifting messy stacks of paper around. Looks like he's got the late shift here.
Hisao looks out of a nearby window, out into the sky. "So... Astronomy Club, huh?"
I look away. It feels pretty bad to be caught in a lie. "Yep... sorry about that."
He turns to me, an energetic expression on his face. "Well, impress me! I might still join you." His face tells me he doesn't really plan to refuse... but I'll humor him.
"Oh, that won't be a problem at all." I turn around. "Come on, then."
Before I start walking, Hisao stops me by tugging at my hand. "The door is over there." He points at an obvious exit... not before laughing at my expense.
He wins this round.
The door leads right to the festival, just a short walk away. The crowds aren't as lively, but the festival feels far from over. Hanging paper lanterns light up the stands, and the smell of food is still lingering in the air. The heat from the stalls is leaving a comfortable aura as we walk past.
We walk past everything, taking note of certain details. Like all of these yukatas... I wish I had one, just a little. They looks so fancy. My school uniform is a little plain. We pass by a coffee stand, and I'm just a little tempted to have a drink.
In the end, we walk right through the festival and make it to the front of the girls dormitory. It only occurs to me now that it might be strange to bring a guy here...
"Wait here, okay?" I ask Hisao. "I'll be right back."
Hisao agrees and I make my way to the stairs... I should be fine to do this on my own. The stairs are either straight up, or straight down. No getting lost here.
I make my way up, looking into each floor as I pass by. Its virtually empty, save for a girl or two just passing by. Everyone must be at the festival...
By the time I make it to the top, I'm gasping for breath. I am truly out of shape... Maybe I can get the Comet to train me. She is a pretty fast runner, especially in school hallways.
My telescope is nicely packed in a thin rectangular box, under the stairs to the roof, where I've always left it. It has been a while since I've taken a look at the stars though... I'm actually excited.
I'm more careful heading down the stairs, the box resting on my shoulder as I carry it in my hands. By the time I make it back down, I'm no longer winded.
Hisao is standing exactly where I left him, hand in his pockets. I think we've both had a very long day.
He sees me and takes the box from my hands, putting it in his own. I ask him worriedly. "Are you sure you can...?" I don't want to hurt his pride or anything, but I think its better than getting himself hurt.
He smiles. "I'll be fine. You just worry about impressing me." He seems set on carrying the box, so I relent.
I give him a stern look. "Fine, but don't overdo it. You'll 'guilt trip' me again." I say this with a laugh.
"Wouldn't dream of it." he says as we start walking. You want to be impressed? I'll show you impressed.
We don't walk into anyone as we make our journey. The route we're taking is nowhere near the festival... and there's no way I'll get lost. It's practically an open field of grass. We're typically quiet as we walk through the grass.
Finally, we make it to a certain cliff. With a swing nearby. Hisao sets the box down near the tree, sitting on the swing himself. "Ahh. This is probably a great place for stargazing."
I get to work unloading the box. Hisao offers to help, but I decline. This is my delicate, beautiful equipment. Hands off. "Yeah, this is the dark side of Yamaku." My phrasing reminds me of something... I hope I remember so I can tell Hanako about this. She'll probably laugh... or run away.
I set the telescope not too far from the edge of the cliff, but still out of harm's way. The dark sky is above us, and we can already see a large mass of stars above us without the telescope. But, Hisao wants to be impressed? I can't take that challenge sitting down. "Have you ever done this before?"
Hisao moves from the swing and stands next to me. He's still surprisingly tall when he's close by. "No, I used to live in the city. It was too bright for something like this..."
"Oh, this is going to be easy." I taunt him a little before leaning towards the lens.
I look into the telescope to test the sight. I would be lying if I said I wasn't waiting to see it for myself too. The stars could impress me even if I looked at them every day...
And tonight is no exception. The twinkling masses fill my vision, with a blending of colors you would never see elsewhere... this is a countryside view. This is the galaxy, just behind a piece of glass. It's breathtaking and grand in scale, as always... Dream-like, but so realistic its terrifyingly beautiful. I love that about watching stars... you can go from awe, to amazement, to fear, to calmness, to downright terror... but you never want to look away.
Hisao clears his throat, and I'm reminded that he's still there. And while I don't want to look away... I want him to see this even more. I move away from the telescope, and motion for him to take a look. He takes his time, slowly leaning into the lens as I just did.
For some reason, it makes me really tense. I wonder what he's thinking right now... does he see them like I do?
After a long pause, Hisao moves his face away from the telescope, a thousand yard stare in his eyes and a smile on his face. "Okay. Wow. You win." He rubs his eyes.
A big grin blooms on my face. Success. Was there ever any doubt? "We'll worry about that later. Unofficially, Hisao... Welcome to the Astronomy Club!"
As the words leave my mouth, a flash of light and an explosion go off in the distance...
Hisao and I are both distracted by the sudden sensory overload. Another goes off... this one is a blue color.
Hisao whispers. "Fireworks..."
I look up at the explosions, too. I'm taken aback by their beauty as well. "They're beautiful..."
One after another go off, building towards a grand finale. Hisao and I stand there, feet planted on the ground. It's... surprisingly human.
The finale comes, illuminating the sky in a flash of brilliance that I had never seen before. Again, Hisao and I are left wordless as the sky darkens again. I see a smile on Hisao's face, and I feel my own face get stuck into a permanent smile.
What did I say this morning... it feels so long ago, but I remember. 'Today will be a victory.'
Today was a victory.