Chapter 5 ~ At Once Jaunty and Circumspect
A ray of warm sunlight rests on my face. I come to around nine o'clock, thankfully much less frantic than the day before. I roll over, and try in vain for the next half hour to fall back asleep. It's a wasted effort though, the world is in full swing around me. Even with my pillow over my head, chatter, laughter, and other sounds of the festival drift by already, accompanying the smell of deep fried foods that waft through my open window. Supposedly, the event officially starts at eleven, but judging from the abundant sounds and smells, the festivities are already well under way.
Unable to lay around any longer, I toss off my covers and begin to get ready for the day. After a quick shower and shave, I glance outside to get a feel for the festival dress code. I see a good number of yukata, but slightly more in their school uniforms. Darn, I was kind of hoping for a chance to get back into my casual wear, which have gone untouched at the bottom of my closet since I got here. I guess my uniform will have to do, no sweater vest today it seems.
Only one thing to do before I leave... pills. I swallow them dry and forcefully bury any frustration that tries to rear its ugly head. None of that Hisao. You can feel sorry for yourself some other day, but today, today is a beautiful day. Fake it 'till you make it... right?
Nakata told me we would meet in the classroom on the third floor, the same one I first met them in, around noon the day of the festival. I guess they meet there often, since the room is currently going unused by the school. That's still two hours off, so I have some time to kill.
The sunlight dazzles me as I exit the boys dormitories. There isn't a cloud in the sky, so I'm forced to shade my face with my hand. As my eyes slowly begin to adjust, I see the festival sprawls over the entire grounds. A large collection of stalls is concentrated in the school courtyard, and there's another, albeit smaller, group of stalls in front of the main academic building. That isn't to say the rest of the school is going unused. On the ground unoccupied by stalls, there's a variety of games that seem to be free to play. A long row of boards have been set up for beanbag toss, and people take their turns playing as the sun rises higher into the sky. Even beside me, families sit in the grass next to the dormitories, eating takoyaki and yakisoba, your typical cheap festival food. It smells good though, and reminds me I have yet to eat any sort of breakfast. Naturally, filling my empty stomach is the first thing on my mind.
The closest group of stalls is also the largest, so it's where I assume I'll have my best chance to score a meal. Many stalls I walk past are games of some sort, but there's also a lot of club booths, with information pamphlets out for the taking and members encouraging their fellow students to join. I did make it a point to look for smoke, indicative of a succulent barbeque where I can sate my hunger, but as I round the corner the first smoky stall I come to turns out to be fog from a plastic pot owned by the Occult Studies club, run by a single, and rather odd, second year girl. I feel robbed.
Near the end of the third row, I still haven't found a food stall, but I do see a rather large twin booth at the end. A bin of basketballs sits on the front of the booth, and 3 hoops are set up behind at varying distances and heights, point scores assigned to each. Only two guys are shooting hoops, watched by a bored looking attendant, but the booth attached to the basketball game is where the majority of students are clustered. So many people crowd around the attraction that I can't even see what's behind them, but I do recognize the curly black hair of the girl standing on the right side, managing the booth. This must be the shooting gallery Nana was talking about.
I approach the stand from the side, avoiding the line and crowd and instead making my way towards my acquaintance. I stand behind, just watching for a bit. The stall is nothing short of extraordinary, at least fifty targets of varying shapes and sizes are set up in a large tent. The stand is themed in three sections from closest to furthest, seemingly representing difficulty levels. The closest somehow manages to be impressively unimpressive, if that makes any sense. It seems the book Yuuko picked out for me is having more impact than I thought... Anyways, the front section consists of large plywood squares with simple red targets halfheartedly spray-painted on. I'll bet it's intentional, to encourage students to shoot for harder targets.
The second row is more colorful, but the last section is the most decorated, tin cans, bottles, and other reactive targets resting on tabletops and hanging by string replace the plywood. In dead center, I vaguely recognize a cardboard cutout as Yamaku's principal. It looks like the photo was taken specifically for the event, since he has his arms up in a sort of zombie walk and a silly look on his face. I've never met him, but I've heard that he's well liked by the student body, and has a very good, very informal relationship with them. Or rather... us. I guess that's why he allowed this seemingly offensive choice of target.
Two girls from my class are on the firing line now, slinging rubber balls downrange. Just one slingshot is in use though... the long brown haired girl Miki holds the slingshot in her only good hand, with Suzu on her right, pulling the slingshot back while Miki aims and calls targets. The spectacle is too ridiculous not to laugh out of sheer incredulity, and the crowd, along with both the participants, know it. The mirth is loud enough to drown out the rest of the festival around me, and only grows louder when the pair actually manages to down a few targets. Still, even this lighthearted reminder of Yamaku's purpose is unpleasant, I look for a distraction on instinct.
It's only now that I notice how ingenious the design of the stall is. The entire floor is sloped, and the stall is of course enclosed, to prevent any errant shots from adding single eye blindness to another students patient file. This means that every shot fired falls and rolls to the front of the stall, where a line of buckets catch the ammunition. Class 3-6 put a lot of work into this one.
Nana's inside the booth, her back turned and leaning against it facing in to the shooting gallery. I'm there for a few minutes before Nana recognizes my presence with a start. I've noticed she's a little spacey.
"Don't sneak up on me like that! You scared me," she says, giving me a light, playful shove.
I raise my arms in defense. "I've been here for more than a minute!"
"I really have!"
She looks skeptical, but turns back to her ward. "What do you think?" she asks, arms opening wide.
"It's really impressive. When you said shooting gallery, I was expecting three or four targets, not a whole set-up like this. You guys outdid yourselves with this one."
"Thanks, we've been working on it for weeks."
"The floor setup is genius by the way. Makes running the game a lot easier."
She throws her head back to look at me, curls bouncing and a twinkle in her eye. "That was my idea."
We watch Miki and Suzu exhaust their ammunition, and Nana greets the next group, an excited first year boy with thick glasses and his family, after which she returns to her post.
"I'm surprised to see you up this early Hisao. From what I've heard you're not exactly a morning person."
"Where'd you get that idea?"
"Come on, new kid gets kept after class less than a week after he arrives? This is a small school Hisao, word gets around quickly," she says with a sly smirk.
"Yeah, just because Nakata and Eiichi kept me up all hours of the morning! Besides, why did you take such an early shift at the booth? I assume your class all signed up to run it throughout the day?"
She shrugs. "Wanted to make sure I'd be done by noon, so I could join everyone for the rest of the festival."
"Good idea," I say, as we continue watching the shooters on the line. The first-year isn't the most accurate of shots, and his thick glasses make me doubt he can see very well. He's aiming for the close plywood targets, and yet still missing. Luck seems to be on his side, however. One of his last shots goes wide, and ends up striking the furthest bottle and knocking it from its pedestal.
"Nice shot!" says Nana excitedly. I'm not sure if she recognizes the luck involved with the young boy's victory.
"What happened?" the boy asks, looking around confused.
"You hit a winning target, so you can pick any of the prizes in front of you," she says, gesturing to some baskets filled with small trinkets. Erasers, pens, pencils, and stickers, some bearing the Yamaku symbol. Pretty simple prizes, but I guess for most it isn't hard to hit the winning targets.
A rumble in my stomach reminds me why I'm here. "I'll let you get back to work Nana, see you this afternoon!"
She glances back over her shoulder, "see you Hisao!"
I carry my steaming bowl of yakisoba and can of juice as I wander the grounds, looking for a good place to sit. All the picnic tables and benches are taken, so I settle with a seat on the grass against the academic building. The spot is shaded by a zelkova tree, and gives a good view of the entire festival, so it's a nice place to eat my meal. For as cheap as it was, it's actually pretty tasty.
I entertain myself by watching the festival goers go about their day. Smaller children scamper through the legs of older attendees, and intermittent cheers of celebration can be heard from students winning the occasional prize. The slingshot gallery has gotten even more popular in the past half-hour, and the line reaches back at least three stalls. On the sidewalk in front of me, I see an entourage of suited men accompanying a wheelchair bound businessman in his forties or fifties. He carries an aura of power, and the staff following him, along with the expensive looking suit and watch, suggest considerable wealth. I imagine the benefactors of Yamaku like to visit during the school festival. So this is what they call people-watching.
As I eat, I continue to passively observe my surroundings, and as the sights and sounds of the festival surround me, my mind wanders back to my conversation with Lilly the other day. "They do have a reputation of being rather... tactless. Most of the student body doesn't have a problem with that, but some... are more sensitive." I guess that "some" would include me.
I want to be like them. I want to just forget about everything and go back to living my life. I want to be like Lilly or Shizune, the people who have taken to their conditions so well. They've adapted, they've come to terms with who they are. Even right in front of me, the deaf smile, the blind laugh, the ones with a missing hand shoot down targets with the assistance of their sleepy friend, but the boy with the bad heart watches from a distance. I don't know how they do it, but I want it.
The carillon bell draws me from my rumination, and the PA system crackles to life. The principal gives an unintelligible opening address to a festival that was already in full-swing an hour and a half ago. When the static ends, everyone gives a halfhearted applause, pretending to understand the presidents' little speech. I join in, resigning myself to just follow the crowd. When in Rome, so they say.
Eleven forty. I pull my book out of the small bag I brought with me and start reading while I wait. I'm a little early, but I have nothing better to do. I'd rather visit the stalls and play the games with my new friends, instead of exploring the whole festival by myself.
My new friends. As I sit on a desktop swinging my legs, I find myself wondering why this group picked me up so quickly. I guess they were a man down, with this "Ling" apparently never showing up, but that's no reason to pick up the first guy that walks through the door. I think it's just who they are. Nakata strikes me as just a friendly guy in general, obviously not one to let a new student hole himself up in his room with a book, as I was planning. The rest seem pretty laid back, but it was Saki after all who finally convinced me to come along. I wonder what their motives were. Speaking of Nakata...
"What's up!?" the door flies open with a bang, and Nakata barges into the room with the subtlety of a freight train. Eiichi and Rebecca enter right behind him.
Rebecca is wearing her school uniform, like me, but Nakata and Eiichi are dressed more casually. Nakata wears typical shorts and a T-shirt, but Eiichi eschews the T-shirt for a tank top, and wears a ball cap slightly skewed to the side. It's so stereotypical I want to laugh, he looks straight out of one of those American college frat movies, but honestly, he pulls it off well. He's probably one of very few on campus who could, at least. That sort of look requires a build that many at Yamaku simply can't achieve, for one reason or another, myself included.
"Hey guys," I say, happy to see I wasn't left behind. Not that I was worried about that, but still.
"Put that shit away bookworm, we've got better things to do today," he says, obviously referring to the book in my hand. Meh, I wasn't really paying attention to it anyways.
"You ready man!?" he asks excitedly, extending a hand. I take it, and Nakata pulls me into a brief chest-bump, man-hug... thing. I am so not used to this kind of crowd. Back at karaoke, I remember both of the guys saying they grew up in Tokyo, and I'm from the city as well, but I guess I made friends with very different types of people than they did.
"Nana and Saki should be here in just a second," says Eiichi. As if on cue, the door swings open again, and the last of our party enters. Nana is still in her uniform, but Saki is dressed in a light blue yukata, adorned with an intricate pattern of white lace flowers. Her hair is drawn up into a bun, though her bangs hang freely. I've never seen her out of her uniform, and she must have put a lot of effort into today's attire. It's paid off, she's really pretty.
"Everybody ready?" she asks.
Nods all around. "Should be, let's do this!" replies Eiichi.
"Alright! Let's get some grub, I'm starving," says Nakata in his typical boisterous voice.
Everyone files out, Nana and Rebecca chatting on the side, us guys following behind, and Saki leading the way.
We approach a wide stall, easily three times longer than the others nearby. Rows of pots bubble and steam, drink cases are stacked four rows high, but for a stall as large as it is, it seems woefully understaffed. The few students behind the counter can be seen unpacking boxes of ingredients, and a girl stands frantically doing dishes. The student behind the counter seems particularly flustered... and I recognize her. It's Lilly. This must be class 3-2's stall.
I lean in to Nakata, "Y'know, if you're trying to ditch working at your stall, going there for food probably isn't wise..."
"Shhhhhhh!" he replies in a hushed voice. "Don't worry about it man. I'm the one with by far the best eyesight in the class. If I can't see them, they sure as hell can't see me. Just get me some takoyaki," he says handing me some change, "I can't order myself, they'll recognize my voice."
"Nakata!" An older man with graying hair and a beard stands and calls out from behind the stall. "Where have you been, we were expecting you thirty minutes ago!"
I can't help but laugh. "Don't think that applies to the teacher," I say.
"Shit..." he mutters under his breath. "He wasn't supposed to be here until two o'clock..."
"Smooth dude," says Eiichi with a smile on his face.
Shaking her head, Rebecca motions towards the stall. "Well, go on! No getting out of it now."
"Alright, alright!" Nakata says under his breath as he starts making his way to the stall. He calls out behind, "meet you guys on the hill!"
"Have fun!" Rebecca calls back, obviously teasing.
We end up eating there anyways, and Nakata is quickly put to work arranging the front of the stall to be more aesthetically pleasing. I guess if you're trying to set up something to look good, you want someone who can actually see.
With Nakata out of the group, everything became a lot less... loud. That didn't keep it from being fun though. After eating, we wandered the stands for a while, playing the occasional game and observing the flow of the festival. We made our way past the track field, where a huge array of tubes and launchers marked the set up for the fireworks later tonight. The extravagance of the festival impresses me, no cent was spared in making sure this celebration would be an unforgettable one. It's large enough that even people seemingly unaffiliated with the school have stopped by, easily recognized by their wide-eyed stares at the strangeness that surrounds them. I don't know what they were expecting. Come to a festival at a school for the disabled, don't act surprised when you see the disabled. I sigh, and push the topic out of my mind. I don't want to sour my good mood.
Ahead is a familiar sight, the crowd and massive tent marking the shooting gallery of class 3-6. Even if the rest of the festival is slowly winding down, the shooting gallery remains packed. It takes almost half an hour for our turn to come, but we eventually find ourselves on the firing line. There's just enough slingshots for all of us, and the attendant starts counting out ammunition. Twelve shots each, it seems.
Eiichi picks up his slingshot and speaks without even looking at me. "Wanna spice things up?"
It takes me a second to even realize I'm the one he's talking too. "Huh?"
"Let's make a bet. Shoot for the prize targets. Whoever hits the most wins, loser has to chug one."
"Do what now?"
"Just say yes dude."
I have no idea what he's saying, but I'm sure as hell not backing down from a challenge. "You're on."
...a minute later, I find myself rubbing a sore ego. Eiichi downed the other six targets before I hit my third. He looks at me, grinning. I extend my hand for a shake, "nice shooting."
He returns the shake. "Thanks man."
"So what was the wager?"
He waves his hand in dismissal, "meh, you'll see up on the hill dude."
On the hill... I still don't know what they mean by that. Nakata said something similar earlier, but I guess I'll find out by the end of the night.
Eiichi and I have already burned through our ammunition, but the girls are still firing away. Nana shoots true, but I notice that Saki seems to be having the slightest difficulty in using her slingshot. It's not terribly noticeable, but her movements take just a little bit longer than usual. Little things, like fumbling with the ball when trying to insert it in the slingshots pouch. She's having particular difficulty with this one, the shot ends up dropping to the floor, and for the briefest second, I see the slightest hint of annoyance on her face. It's gone before I know it, replaced with her usual carefree smile.
We finish out the round, and squeeze our way through the crowd surrounding the booth. The sun is low in the horizon, and beams of light pierce horizontally through the clouds. There's a lot of people out now, but there's only a few by the stands. The majority are seated on the grass, interspersed over the courtyard and the rest of the grounds.
"Oh!" Saki looks up from her phone. "Fireworks start in less than an hour, we gotta get up there."
"Well what are we waiting for!?" says Eiichi, excitement obvious in his voice.
"Where are we going?" I ask.
She smiles mischievously, "you'll see."
It should have been obvious enough. There's only one hill that makes sense to go up after all. Yamaku is nestled halfway up a large hill outside of town, and we quickly start a hike the rest of the way up. It really isn't far, but for obvious reasons, our group makes slow progress.
In particular, Rebecca seems to be struggling. Her limp is getting noticeably worse, and she stops momentarily to rub her knee. She pulls out the bottle of pain killers from her pocket, and gives the bottle a small shake. Judging by the sound, there's only a couple left. She pops the cap and tilts it to her mouth, finishing the bottle.
"Dammit..." she mutters under her breath. "Hang on guys," she calls out, leaning on her cane a bit. "I need a second."
"OH NO YOU DON'T!"
Eyes snap as Nakata bolts past me from behind, bee-lining for Rebecca. Before she has a chance to react, he's already swept Rebecca off her feet, after which the objections begin.
"Nakata, what are you doing!? Put me down!" She's trying to maintain her serious demeanor, but it's already beginning to crack.
"We've got places to be Blackburn! No time to stop now!"
He carries her on in long, loping strides up the hill. Rebecca finally drops the serious act entirely, and her laughter fades as Nakata runs further into the distance. How this guy managed to sneak up on us I will never know.
The four of us remaining exchange bewildered glances before giving in to a fit of uneasy chuckles. We set off again, eventually meeting at the top of the hill.
"Ahhh..." Eiichi breathes a sigh of relief as he plops himself down on a log.
"Awesome," says Saki, looking at her phone. "About thirty minutes until the fireworks start."
"Thats it?" says Rebecca.
"We better get started then!" exclaims Nakata. He stands and reaches into a nearby bush, and comes out with an old, worn out, and very full backpack, which clinks as he moves it. Eiichi lifts his head from its place on Nana's lap and looks over to Nakata.
"Toss Hisao two, he owes me one from earlier."
Nakata raises an eye. "Oh yeah? What for."
"Lost a bet at the shooting gallery," he says, lowering his head again.
Nakata laughs as he unzips the backpack. "Rule number one about hangin' out with us Hisao, never make a bet with Ichi. Fucker wins at everything." He tosses a bottle at me, which I catch.
Beer. It's a bottle of beer. Now, I wasn't exactly the best of kids back at my old high school, I was almost never home, but then again, neither were my parents. I never missed class, my grades were near the top, and was rarely late... okay I guess I was pretty straight edge. I've never drank before, and to be honest I'm a little nervous at the prospect. Besides, I don't know how this will affect my heart.
"Hisao!" I glance up as Nakata yells my name, only barely in time to catch a second bottle. "You gonna drink it or just stare at it?"
"I'm not sure if I should..."
"You're chuggin' at least one dude, you owe me," says Eiichi, sitting up.
Nakata continues passing out bottles to the rest of our company, and grabs one for himself. He swings his left arm around me, bottle in his right.
"A'ight man, here. I'll chug it with you."
"I really don't..."
Nakata gives me a shake. "Live a little Hisao! Okay how about this, we'll all
chug one with you," he says, looking around
I follow his gaze, everyone has a bottle in their hands. The guys and Rebecca all have beers, and Nana and Saki both have something more colorful, and probably sweeter. They're all nodding in agreement.
I sigh, defeated. "Fine."
"Yeah! Alright guys," he raises his glass in toast. "To our newest friend, to Hisao! Kanpai!"
I feel my cheeks grow hot as everyone raises their glasses and joins in the toast. "Kanpai!"
I throw my bottle backwards and start drinking... and quickly stop in a flurry of coughs and sputters. This stuff is strong
Next to me, Nakata's already finished with his drink, and everyone else is finishing up. "C'mon man, go go go!" He wipes his mouth with his sleeve, and quickly starts a chant. "Nonde nonde nonde!..."
I resign myself as the others join. I guess I'm not getting out of this one. Trying not to pay attention to the taste, I throw back my bottle once again and drink until it's empty.
My success is met with boisterous cheers all around. Nakata gives me another shake and lets go, satisfied with my performance. I wipe my mouth on my sleeve as well, "dang man, you couldn't get something a little less strong?"
Nakata smiles. "We splurged a little for the festival, it's the best time of year to celebrate! Besides, you don't know strong yet until you've tried this.
." He pulls out another bottle from the backpack, a large, glass one filled with clear liquid. I wouldn't have the first clue what it was, had the front not been clearly labeled "vodka".
I sigh, and hang my head. Tonight will be interesting at least, that's for sure.
I stare upwards, half aware, and the canvas of stars spin and blend into a spiral pattern above me and my eyes lose focus and the world splits in two. My head rests on a rock, wholly uncomfortable but too drunk to care. I grunt as I throw my body forwards, attempting to sit and take part in the lively conversation that surrounds me. "Hey... Ichi?"
"Pass me another beer?"
A wide grin spreads on his face. He reaches into the backpack and pulls one out. "Thought you'd never ask."
As the night progressed and I became further intoxicated, my inhibitions quickly dropped. After the first beer, we enjoyed a second, and not ones to start a first timer off easy, join them for a shot afterwards, which very nearly came back up. Needless to say, I'm feeling more than pleasantly buzzed, but the taste of beer is slowly growing on me. It's not horrible, at least.
The alcohol has only made Nakata louder, if that was at all possible, laughing at his own joke while Rebecca, sitting next to him, has her head in her hands. Nana and Ichi have switched places, she now resting her head on Eiichi's lap while he drinks straight from the bottle of vodka. Saki sits by herself on a tree stump, happily yet passively observing her surroundings.
"Nice of you to join us again Hisao," says Saki, giggling.
Dang she's cute...
The thought passes as quickly as it formed.
"Hisao! Welcome to the world of the living! How you feelin'?" The pale boy asks.
"Never better," I lie.
"Yeah bullshit," he laughs, "you're red as goddamn tomato!"
I grin sheepishly, and everyone else joins in for a laugh at my expense.
My gaze drifts over the merry scene in front of me. Six friends, the top of a hill, seated under a canopy of stars and celebrating the end of a festival with drinks in hand. I am so glad I stumbled in on these people my first day here...
A whistle sounds behind me, and everyone is briefly illuminated in a flash of blue light. The sound of a whip cracks through the air... followed by a shriek. My head snaps to the source. Rebecca tenses, drawing her arms to her face as if shielding herself. In the moment before she covers her face, I catch a glimpse of her expression. Is that... fear?
"Hey, hey! Rebecca, it's just the fireworks, it's okay." Nakata kneels in front of her, grasping her shoulders. His voice is... tender, certainly an adjective I've never used on him before.
She seems to have called down already though, without Nakata's aid. She lowers her arms.
"Yeah, right- sorry. Surprised me, just wasn't ready for it."
Nakata nods. With... whatever just happened behind us, our heads turn to the show. Seconds later, more shapes and colors bloom from the blackness, heralded only by the tinny screech as they slice through the summer sky.
"Fuck yeah! Wohoo! Yeah!" Nakata wastes no further time in welcoming the celebration. He leaps to his feet, pumping his fists in the air, and lightly jogs over to the ridgeline at the top of the hill, intent on getting the best view possible.
We're slow to follow, but follow we do. I find myself standing next to Nakata, between him and the couple, which joins us shortly thereafter. Nakata has his leg up on a rock, arms folded and unironically trying to look majestic as hell while Eiichi stands tall with his left arm around Nana who cuddles close to him, head resting on his shoulder, right arm around his waist, and left resting gently on his chest.
The light strobes over the ridgeline and the courtyard and the quaint village below and the whole world flashes between blackness and light as if blinking and the colors swirl and mix and play off the smoke of their precursors which hangs over the school and obscures it like a mist and I stand with my hands in my pockets and gaze upwards, into the calamity. We watch silently for a moment breathing steady and calm in contrast with the spectacle before us and Eiichi's smile becomes melancholic as he rests his head on Nana's rested on him.
He breaths out, sighs in barely more than a whisper. "God damn
I love it here."
He sounds tired but instinct tells me more lies within that sigh than mere fatigue from the events of the day. His admission carries a weight to it, an exhaustion, a weariness that would be reserved for only the most elderly among us if only this world was a fair one but it isn't. Here it is, coming from a young man who should be in the prime of his life yet has grown world-worn and weary before his time. His eyes tell the stories of the days he wishes he could recall, a time before whatever landed him here blindsided him like a bat out of hell and changed his life forever. Like what changed my life forever. Like what changed all our lives forever.
We're all standing now. Rebecca and Saki have joined the line, flanking us and guarding our sides like good commanders should and as we stand overlooking my new home the smile on Eiichi's face and the faces of all my companions tells me that there's still more to that sigh than misery. In it lies a sort of grim determination, an acceptance of their lot in life and a resolution to press on.
For the first time ever, I feel the same smile begin to creep across my face.
Unable to contain myself any longer I loose a savage roar and jump and pump my fists and throw my arms around my friends beside me and pull them close and they reciprocate and cheer and thrust their own fists into the air and the girls join in too and the fireworks flash brighter and the explosions boom louder as if responding to our excitement and the cheers from the crowd below swell and grow and envelop me, an outcast amongst outcasts and for once I simply do not fucking care. Whether it's the alcohol that courses through me or the people who stand by me or some other reason unbeknownst to me the universe seems to say, "welcome home."
I may not be there yet, but I'm through with hiding within myself. I will not allow my condition to define or control me. I cannot allow myself to join the likes of some I have seen here, terrified to speak to or even be noticed by those around me. I may never flaunt or laugh about my condition the way Nakata does, but at least my heart is in the right place now. At least I'm willing to try.
And we stand rank and file, veterans in a world for which we were poorly designed, but as veterans as soldiers and so we will fight until the bitter end, don't close that coffin yet, I'm alive
. Together, we stand rank and file, steely and resolute, united defiant against the mistakes of our creator.
End Act 1
Next Chapter ~ Mercy! Let her Conscience Guide Her