The Library Anniversarie Collection

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Sea
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Re: The Library Anniversarie Collection

Post by Sea » Mon Sep 29, 2014 4:51 pm

Part 3, Mirage_GSM edition!

___________________________________________

Ups and Downs

Scene 1: Ups
With sure, swift movements, Hisao placed the last pieces, completing the puzzle.

He sat back and stared at the picture fondly. It was a custom-made puzzle, a gift from his wife, created from a photograph showing himself and his small family – the same photograph a larger version of which also graced the wall of his living room. Not that he spent all that much time there, his new teaching job taking up as much time as it did.

He’d eventually settled on literature instead of science. Mutou had been a bit disappointed by that, but he’d had talks about it with various advisors, and there’d been several convincing reasons for him to change his major:

For one thing he wanted to stay in the Sendai region if possible. His then girlfriend had found a place in a nearby university, and studying science would have meant to move away to Tokyo or even further to get into a good one.

Also, he’d found that his fondness for reading meant that by the time of his graduation his grades in literature were almost as good as those in science.

And there was a final reason he’d wanted to stay. He wanted to teach at Yamaku eventually, both because the medical facilities nearby were still a factor to be considered for his heart condition and because he thought his condition might make it easier for some students – like he himself had been – to open up to him. However there were no openings for science teachers at Yamaku for the foreseeable future. Mutou planned to teach for at least fifteen more years, and the only other science teacher was even younger.

The literature teacher, Mrs. Tsukamoto, however was due to retire just one year after he would finish university, and Mutou thought if he kept his marks up he would have a good chance to get the job. Right now things were looking quite good on that front. He’d studied hard in the last few years and finished in the top five percent of his year, and though the job he’d accepted after graduation was not all that interesting, he’d probably be able to return to Yamaku in just a few months.

Thinking back to his time in Yamaku stirred some fond memories, and on impulse he picked up his phone and dialed a number from memory.

The phone was answered after just a two rings. “Hello, Setou residence, Yuuko Shirakawa-Setou speaking.”

Hisao allowed himself an inward smile at the double irony of both Kenji accepting his wife taking a double-barrelled name and Yuuko asserting herself enough to convince him. “Hi Yuuko, it’s me, Hisao.”

“Hello, Hisao! We haven’t heard from you in some time. Should I get Kenji on the phone?”

Hisao checked his watch. “That won’t be necessary. He’s asleep by now, isn’t he?”

“Yes, he’s working an early shift tomorrow.”

“I just thought that it’s been some time since we last met, so I wanted to ask if you’d like to come over for dinner this weekend.”

“Well, we’ve got a friend of mine visiting next weekend, but if you don’t mind we could bring her along. You probably know her as well from Yamaku.”

“Yuuko, you know we always order pizza when you two come over, so one person more won’t be a problem. Who is it?”

Yuuko smiled. “I think I’ll make that a surprise, Hisao. Okay, I’ll tell Kenji tomorrow. See you next Saturday. The usual time?”

“Sure. Bye, Yuuko!”

As Hisao hung up the phone, he mentally went through the possibilities. A surprise visitor, huh? That might be interesting.

Scene 2: Downs
A peaceful morning at the beach. It was the first really warm day of the year, and though it wasn’t really warm enough to bathe yet, many people had come out to enjoy the sun, and children played in the sand.

One of those children was Aki who had just turned two the week before. She had taken him out to play with a friend this morning, while she herself was chatting with that friend’s mother nearby.

Suddenly the water began receding into the ocean.

Everything went quiet. Children and parents alike stared out at the water confusedly.

Then the first people realized what was happening.

Eyes widening in horror, she hurried over to Aki. By the time she had fastened him securely in his sling the water was already coming back and rising quickly.

She started to run as fast as her legs would take her, but it wasn’t fast enough. Inexorably the water gained on her, reaching first her ankles, then her knees, then her hips… until finally all that could be seen was her mouth screaming silently against the heavens…

Hisao awoke with a scream of his own. He sat up on his futon and took a deep breath to calm his racing heart.

The nightmares had become less frequent recently, but the events of that day haunted him still and probably would for the rest of his life.

He hadn’t been there that day. Exams had been coming up, and he’d had to study, something he had blamed himself for over and over, even if there would have been nothing he could have done except die with them – something he had contemplated for a short time but dismissed as an illogical reaction.

Of course it couldn’t have happened like that. The earthquake would have come a few minutes before the water, there would probably have been sirens to warn people of the flood…

But apparently nightmares didn’t care much for rational thought.

Hisao sighed and fell back onto his futon. From experience he knew that he wouldn’t get another wink of sleep that night.

Best get ready for the day…

Scene 3: And Ups?
Hisao sat on the couch in the living room and checked his watch again.

There hadn’t been much for him to prepare. He always kept his small apartment tidy, so he’d quickly gone over the shelves with a duster and taken a short trip to the convenience store at the corner to restock the fridge.

He’d managed to take a short nap in the afternoon, so he hoped he didn’t look quite as horrible as he had this morning.

They should be here any min…

The doorbell rang out, and he sprang into motion. As he opened the door he came face to face with Kenji carrying a large basket.

"Hey, Hisao. Nice of you to have us over again.” Kenji was grinning like a five year old who had just been told there was going to be a second Christmas this year. “I’ve brought the whiskey, do you have the pretzels?”

Hisao couldn’t help but smile himself. “Of course. And also Yuuko’s favourite cookies. Speaking of whom – where is she?”

“She’s looking for a parking space. You know I can’t drive with those,” he pointed to his glasses, “and she told me to go ahead and bring up all the stuff.”

He slipped out of his shoes and into some slippers, squeezed past Hisao, through the living room into the kitchen and started unpacking the basket. “There’s a cake Yuuko baked for you, and some ice cream for dessert – you should probably put that into the freezer – and of course the whiskey. That should go in the freezer, too.”

Hisao had followed Kenji into the kitchen and was just finished stowing away the gifts when he heard the doorbell again. “Just come in,” he called out, “I didn’t lock the door.”

Together they returned to the living room, which Yuuko had just entered together with a young woman – a woman Hisao recognized. She’d dyed her hair a light brown, and she had a few more freckles than he remembered, but they’d been in the same class for almost one year.

“Suzu! I should have guessed it was you. You were in Yuuko’s lit club weren’t you?” He walked over to her and greeted her with a slight bow, then went over to Yuuko, who pulled him into a short embrace.

Suzu returned the greeting. “Uh, yes. Yuuko makes sure to keep in contact with all the members of the club, and we visit her sometimes. Except for Leon… You remember the guy who was sitting next to Takashi in class and whose real name nobody could pronounce? He simply dropped off the face of the earth, and nobody seems to know where he is.”

After this torrent of words Suzu fell silent. Hisao led his guests over to the table and offered them a seat. “So what have you been up to since graduation?”

“Well, I went back to Kyoto to live with my parents and study literature. I also write a small column for a newspaper reviewing new books. It doesn’t pay much, but I can work at home. I’m still not quite up to a nine-to-five job, because… Well, you know about my narcolepsy. It’s mostly under control nowadays, but mentioning it is still a sure way to cut short a job interview.”

She let her gaze wander across the room, finally coming to rest on the picture at the wall across from her. “That is…”

Hisao didn’t need to follow her gaze to know what she was looking at. “Yes.”

“Hisao, I’m so sorry. When I heard what happened…”

She was interrupted by Kenji’s cheerful interjection. “So, is anybody up for pizza?”

***

Yuuko returned from the kitchen where she had just finished cleaning the dishes and putting away the empty pizza boxes.

Kenji had been asleep in his chair for a while now – as he usually was after a few glasses of whiskey. Hisao had been chatting to Suzu quietly so as not to wake him, but it seemed the two of them had also fallen asleep now. Suzu’s head had come to rest on Hisao’s shoulder.

Smiling, Yuuko gathered the last of the glasses when Hisao started awake at the soft clinking. He looked around in confusion but relaxed when he regained his bearings.

Yuuko put the glasses back down and instead took a seat in the chair across from Hisao. “So, Hisao, now please tell me how you’ve been doing.”

His first instinct was to deny it, but one look at Yuuko’s expression convinced him otherwise. “Is it that obvious?”

She sighed. “Kenji’s sight is not good enough to notice, and Suzu doesn’t know you as well as I do… But to me it is. Still the nightmares?”

“I don’t have them as often as I used to. I didn’t get much sleep tonight, though. I guess it shows.”

“Still, it’s good to hear that you are getting better… Have you thought about starting to date again?”

Hisao shot her a tired look. “I appreciate your concern, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves here. I…” He shot a glance at Suzu who was still leaning against his shoulder, and his eyes narrowed. “Is that why you brought her along? Because if it is…”

Yuuko raised her hands and shook her head emphatically. “No, no. It was really a coincidence that she was visiting us this weekend. She just got out of a relationship herself, and at the end… Let’s just say the end was not pretty.” Another sigh. “In fact I thought she needed to get out of her house more than you do.”

“Really?” Hisao yawned fighting off whiskey-induced sleepiness, “I didn’t notice anything off at all.”

“Oh yes, this is the most normal I’ve seen her in weeks. Maybe…” She trailed off, noticing that Hisao had fallen back to sleep.

For a moment she watched her three sleeping friends sitting around the table. It would be a shame to wake them.

Yuuko got up, searched the shelf for a book to read and settled back into her chair. Maybe bringing Suzu along would turn out for the best after all…
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forgetmenot
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Re: The Library Anniversarie Collection

Post by forgetmenot » Mon Sep 29, 2014 5:38 pm

I seem to recall an anniversary story I wrote a few months ago being hailed as depressing by none other than Mirage. Pot? It's the kettle. Turns out, you're black.

All kidding aside, that's about as much sentiment as can be packed into such a small space. I think the fact that you left out the identity of Hisao's wife will grate at some readers, but I find the piece stronger for it. Also, the inclusion of Suzu was probably the best choice you could have made when it came to the identity of the mystery visitor. Good job.

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Re: The Library Anniversarie Collection

Post by Oscar Wildecat » Mon Sep 29, 2014 6:13 pm

forgetmenot wrote:I seem to recall an anniversary story I wrote a few months ago being hailed as depressing by none other than Mirage. Pot? It's the kettle. Turns out, you're black.
I'd imagine in the KS "Green Room", Hisao is wondering what he did to ever deserve to put in so many depressing stories... :?

As far as the writing goes, I can find nothing to complain about -- so I won't. (Complain, that is.)

Anyway, depressing middle aside, it does leave some hope for the future, so I would give this one a ranking of "quality bittersweet chocolate" out of 10.
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Leaty
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Re: The Library Anniversarie Collection

Post by Leaty » Mon Sep 29, 2014 6:38 pm

Man. Every time I see one of these kinds of stories, I just want to write one of my own. But I take so long with my story that I could never justify sitting down to work on a one-shot like this.

Anyway, this was really good. I honestly didn't want it to end. I don't usually like Kenji/Yuuko, but here it didn't really bother me that much. I'm guessing that, since Aki could be short for Akira, Hisao's late wife was either Lilly or Shizune.

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Mahorfeus
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Re: The Library Anniversarie Collection

Post by Mahorfeus » Mon Sep 29, 2014 6:45 pm

Hm. I don't really know what to think of it.

Some of the decisions seemed almost arbitrary. The dead wife could quite literally be just about anyone, even someone that isn't one of the girls... and well, Suzu could have been just about anyone else, and the story would not have really changed for it. I don't think the story really gains anything from the ambiguity.

Yuuko and Kenji are more or less canon in my book, though I sometimes have a hard time thinking of how that relationship would even work.
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AntonSlavik020
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Re: The Library Anniversarie Collection

Post by AntonSlavik020 » Mon Sep 29, 2014 6:57 pm

It was pretty good, though huge downers(even if I did figure something was coming based on the name), do affect my overall enjoyment. The final part being somewhat happy again wasn't really enough to counter-act the second part. Character death is just something I can't really get past.
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Re: The Library Anniversarie Collection

Post by brythain » Mon Sep 29, 2014 8:04 pm

A lot of buried sadness and untold secrets in that neat little slice of Hisao's life there. Well-written, ambiguous, a window into a world that's lost. I like how Yuuko is once again the adult in the room, whatever her flaws might be.

If there were some sort of index it'd be easier to find the stories; I came late to the party and it was just a tiny bit difficult to figure out where the latest one was! :)
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.
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Re: The Library Anniversarie Collection

Post by Mirage_GSM » Tue Sep 30, 2014 10:10 am

Okay, the comments have slowed down, so I'll take my turn replying.
So some time ago Sea messaged me about this event and asked if I could provide a story "until the day after tomorrow". I turned himn down at first, but the next day was unexpectedly struck by what might favourably be called inspiration and then wrote down this piece in two hours to meet the deadline. If I had known that it would be a few more weeks until the publication... I'll probably post a slightly revised version later in my own thread.
Anyway...
I seem to recall an anniversary story I wrote a few months ago being hailed as depressing by none other than Mirage. Pot? It's the kettle. Turns out, you're black.
As one might guess from the title, I was trying for a story that alternated between happy (or at least positive) and sad between the chapters. I think everyone has moments when they are depressed while they are alone, and it doesn't necessarily mean they are depressed all the time. I'm not sure how well I managed to convey that in so short a story... If you say the story was depressing, I fear I didn't do too well...
I'm guessing that, since Aki could be short for Akira, Hisao's late wife was either Lilly or Shizune.
Is that the only clue anyone noticed?
I don't think the story really gains anything from the ambiguity.
It wasn't supposed to. It's simply that the story is about Hisao and not about his late wife, and I think anything more about "the wife" would have detracted from that.
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Re: The Library Anniversarie Collection

Post by Rhodri » Tue Sep 30, 2014 10:32 am

Mirage_GSM wrote:
I'm guessing that, since Aki could be short for Akira, Hisao's late wife was either Lilly or Shizune.
Is that the only clue anyone noticed?
Could this be one?
screaming silently against the heavens…
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Re: The Library Anniversarie Collection

Post by brythain » Tue Sep 30, 2014 11:11 am

Rhodri wrote:
Mirage_GSM wrote:
I'm guessing that, since Aki could be short for Akira, Hisao's late wife was either Lilly or Shizune.
Is that the only clue anyone noticed?
Could this be one?
screaming silently against the heavens…
Somehow, that doesn't play well with "she herself was chatting with that friend’s mother nearby."

*grin* I like that even the clues are ambiguous or can be countered.
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: The Library Anniversarie Collection

Post by forgetmenot » Tue Sep 30, 2014 11:30 am

Mirage_GSM wrote:
I seem to recall an anniversary story I wrote a few months ago being hailed as depressing by none other than Mirage. Pot? It's the kettle. Turns out, you're black.
As one might guess from the title, I was trying for a story that alternated between happy (or at least positive) and sad between the chapters. I think everyone has moments when they are depressed while they are alone, and it doesn't necessarily mean they are depressed all the time. I'm not sure how well I managed to convey that in so short a story... If you say the story was depressing, I fear I didn't do too well...
Oh, no, I didn't mean anything by it, I just thought it was funny. For the record, I liked the story.

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Re: The Library Anniversarie Collection

Post by Rhodri » Tue Sep 30, 2014 11:31 am

brythain wrote:
screaming silently against the heavens…
Somehow, that doesn't play well with "she herself was chatting with that friend’s mother nearby."

*grin* I like that even the clues are ambiguous or can be countered.
I did see 'chatting with that friend’s mother' beforehand, but seeing 'silently screaming' just forced it out of my head. Derp moment No. 16254422
"She also ties you up to a chair. You're gonna like that. Chairs are good. Chairs are your friend."

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Re: The Library Anniversarie Collection

Post by griffon8 » Tue Sep 30, 2014 2:33 pm

I could see Hisao becoming a literature major being an influence of Hanako.
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Sea
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Re: The Library Anniversarie Collection

Post by Sea » Fri Oct 03, 2014 6:43 am

Is that it? i think yes.
Because mine totally didn't get forgotten and then later deleted in the terrible calamity of getting a new hard rive and the having your computer not work for 3 days. Because That would be silly. Fuck.
Anyway, thanks everyone who participated, twas a magical time. If everybody could kindly walk in a single file line over to the book club, we can let this die peacefully, although there are links on the Book Club OP for all the things posted here.
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Re: The Library Anniversarie Collection

Post by brythain » Fri Oct 03, 2014 7:12 am

Sea wrote:Is that it? i think yes.
Because mine totally didn't get forgotten and then later deleted in the terrible calamity of getting a new hard rive and the having your computer not work for 3 days. Because That would be silly. Fuck.
Anyway, thanks everyone who participated, twas a magical time. If everybody could kindly walk in a single file line over to the book club, we can let this die peacefully, although there are links on the Book Club OP for all the things posted here.
Wait wait, I'm sure there's one of mine lying around somewhere...
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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