"Rin and Shizune argues over sketchbook." (Interpret it as you wish)
This was enjoyable in a way I have mostly lost, from back when I was writing oekaki as a fan and alpha tester, once I got inside the project instead. There are quite a few liberties taken here, but then again, who knows much about the past behind Katawa Shoujo? :3
Storycodes: mi rin shi fan nosex
-Two years ago-
I thought middle school was never, EVER going to end.
But finally, here I am at the entrance of my new high school. I must admit, the place looks rather impressive. Suits me fine - the grander the prize at stake, the sweeter the taste of victory when I'm going to win it.
'Win' in the metaphorical sense, of course - but even so, getting to a position of authority and power in this large a place should allow access to perks that are nothing to sniff at.
Entering the student council and climbing to its head over the course of the next three years should be a snap. No, let's make that two years. I'm confident in my skills gained in my previous school, and in my determination.
I push up my glasses and hitch up my bag, which contains what feels like a ton of books. Since I don't know what I will be doing after the meeting with the principal, and I don't want to be caught out and forced to run back to my dorm to get my texts, I took along my material for basic everything.
Everything, plus one little thing.
The one thing that doesn't really belong with school and study, but which I want to hold close to me. A small sketchbook. Nothing out of the ordinary, just a standard one, and starting to show its age at that; but its appearance doesn't matter to me, only its sentimental value.
It's a memento of my mother. Back when I was little, I used to spend time with her, doodling in it. I have fond memories of drawing things in there for her when I couldn't find the right way to express myself otherwise.
...Later on, I stopped. But I kept it as a reminder of happier times.
I exhale then shake myself. This is not the right moment to reminisce. I had best be getting to the administrative floor as soon as I can.
'You must be Hakamichi.'
The principal addresses me fluently in sign. It was to be expected that she'd be proficient in it, being the school's head and public face.
'Welcome to Yamaku Academy. Your request to frequent the standard classes is somewhat unusual, but not irregular. You're lucky, there are also circumstances in your favor so we're going to try and accommodate you. Therefore, you need to report to class 1-3. Your homeroom and science teacher will be Muto, and you'll meet him there, since he's going to teach the next period.'
'There will be a trial period at the beginning, during which we'll review your academic performance and test results very closely. Needless to say, should your marks be less than satisfactory during the trial, or insufficient at any time, you'll be moved back into the deaf-mute class. Do you understand?'
I nod crisply. This is nothing that I wasn't expecting already.
'Very well. I understand you have already familiarized yourself with the school grounds?'
'Yes, ma'am. I visited the Academy before enrolling.'
'Then that will be all. Again, welcome. I hope you'll find your stay at Yamaku to be educational, enriching and happy.'
The rhetoric's a bit stale, but the principal's smile seems genuine. Bowing, I respectfully retreat from the office and start making my way to the classroom she spoke of.
Made it. Navigating the corridors got a little fussy since it's the time for changing school periods, but I found the correct room and in time for the next lesson too.
Entering class 1-3, I find the students relaxing and chatting, while the teacher is nowhere to be seen. I uncertainly scan the classroom from the doorway for a few moments, sizing up what will be my new companions for the next year. I wouldn't admit it to anyone, but I'm a little nervous.
A tap on my shoulder makes me step a little further in and turn around.
A pair of shaggy eyebrows curl like caterpillars above the eyes of a man that towers over me like... well, like a strip-pruned tree, to be honest. The shock of dark hair at the top of his long frame makes me think of that.
I bow in apology, since I probably blocked his entrance to the classroom and didn't move when he spoke to me.
He mouths at me what I assume to be the very obvious question.
I nod, and tentatively sign a respectful greeting to this tall unkempt man, which I take to be teacher Muto.
The result is not what I expected. He looks utterly lost, on the verge of panic, even.
Looking around the class, he beckons exaggeratedly at me and starts moving, turning around every few steps to make sure that I'm following him.
I'm very puzzled. When I was told about 'circumstances in my favor' the first thing I thought was that the teacher had at least rudimentary knowledge of sign language, even though he was teaching a standard class. Looks like it's not going to be that easy.
Obediently, I follow him along like a puppy, for the very short distance needed to arrive to a desk. It's a nondescript desk, like any other in the classroom.
There the professor switches to a different pantomime, though not one any less overblown.
Inwardly, I bristle. The whole situation is more than a little ridiculous, and the 'puppy' analogy is getting entirely too far to be funny.
I'm not going to make a fuss on my first day, though. Especially since it seems quite probable that whatever help I'm supposed to get has been mislaid or sidetracked somehow.
So I sit, start unpacking my stuff and look diligent, like a good girl. The professor goes limp with relief and retreats to his own place.
I ignore the curious stares of the other kids. Not that I can blame them, one would expect to get a proper introduction to someone new.
Still, someone's gonna pay for this.
My classmates start getting in order and into their desks. A girl that I didn't see earlier sits in the window desk to the left, next to mine.
'Sit' doesn't quite convey the right idea, though. Had I not been looking in her direction, I would still have noticed her by the vibrations she set off along the floor when she plunked herself in her chair. It's a miracle she didn't break her tailbone.
She's just barely pretty in the healthy, buxom way, cheery-looking, and with smooth, long black hair. In short, were it not for her unusual gold eyes, she could be a poster for the 'typical Japanese schoolgirl'.
Not that anybody's exactly typical in here; but I digress. Anyway, she certainly doesn't look particularly interesting, so I turn eyes front again. Lesson's about to start, and I have to be extra alert if I don't want to miss anything, since I can't rely on hearing the teacher's explanation.
That was harder than I hoped, but easier than I feared. I could follow along all right, but I'll need to look up some finer points in my textbook.
With the class over and lunchtime rolling in, the class empties quickly. Students flow from the classroom like water from an upended bottle.
I don't hurry, partly because I want to tidy up my stuff and partly because I want to get to the bottom of these supposedly favorable circumstances. Muto IS my homeroom teacher after all, we'll communicate in writing and get this sorted out.
While I'm getting everything in order and thinking up how to proceed, Muto says something and calls someone towards his desk with a 'come here' gesture.
For a moment, I think he's trying to talk to me. But he's not, since while he's looking in my direction, his eyes aren't making contact with mine.
Sure enough, someone else is his target. The girl at my left bounces up from her desk and fairly skips to him.
Good heavens. Did nobody tell her that we're in high school, not elementary... huh?
I am Muto's next target. He's making his beckoning motion so broad that it looks like he'll dislocate his arm.
Stopping my reorganization, I stand and walk the few steps to his desk.
'Ah, Nakamichi. This here's... Mikado?. Yes, Mikado. She's going to help you out.'
I'm stunned enough by the girl signing out what Muto's saying that I can't muster the mental coordination to correct his mistake, and just stare at the two of them.
She blithely goes on with a starry-eyed look and smile.
'Hello, I'm Mikado Shiina~! Nice to meet you, Nakamichi! Ehehe, sorry, I kind of got in class at the last minute, so I didn't know I was supposed to help...'
'I actually tried talking to you earlier, but of course you didn't notice. You were concentrating on the lesson... Ah, but! I thought you looked really cool when you were behaving so serious and diligent, though~!'
'So I guess I can forgive you for ignoring me, wahahaha~! Let's get along well and be friends, okay?'
'Ah, lunchtime's wasting. Come on, we can talk more while we go eat. Bye, teacher~!'
I'm grabbed with considerable force and bodily dragged away through the door while I windmill my free arm for balance.
In the now-empty class, only a bemused-looking Muto remains.
'...So how come you got in so late?'
'I slept in, of course~!'
Oh for... she's going to be helpful, I suppose, but she seems to be such a ditz that I doubt she'll be MUCH help. "Favorable circumstances", my foot.
We're coming back from the cafeteria. Mikado's been steadily talking a blue streak, but it didn't seem to slow down her intake of food. She inhaled her plateful, while I picked at mine diffidently, and with good reason. I'm not sure everything that got on it was supposed to be edible.
...Anyway, sometime inbetween then and now, she has become 'Misha'. Or at least, that's how I'm supposed to address her. While I...
'It's fine, it's fine, Shicchan!'
'Getting lots of sleep is the secret to a girl's beauty~ and besides, I never liked history classes very much.'
'That's not fine at all.'
Signing all the while, we make our way to the classroom to collect our stuff before going to PE. We stop briefly as Misha slides open the door.
An intruder raises her head, barely, at our entrance.
She's seated... well, not really seated at Misha's desk, as much as on top of it. Which makes some sense, as she looks like she'd find working on a desk from a normal chair uncomfortable.
She's dressed in the school's uniform, but the knotted sleeves of her shirt hang limply. And she has her bare feet on my desk, leafing through my stuff with her toes.
'HEY! What do you think you're doing?'
That's what I was signing, but Misha actually beat me to it by a fraction of a second.
The girl lifts her gaze from whatever she's doing. ...She's so thin. The skin on her face looks nearly stretched on the bones, and dark green eyes peek enormous and fey from under the tangled mess of reddish hair.
'Oh really. Well those are my things. Don't you think it's rude to go through them without asking?'
'Why would it be? It's not like you were using them. If you were, I could have asked but you'd have had to stop to let me.'
'Don't try to make this look like I'm the one in the wrong! And those are your FEET you're using, they're dirty.'
'I eat with my feet. What's your friend doing? I don't get it.'
'That doesn't make them any cleaner. ...And ahahaha~, I'm saying things for her, because she can't. That's how she tells me what to tell you.'
'Then how do you know when you're saying what you are saying, instead of what she's saying? That looks confusing.'
With a small shrug, the girl gets down from her perch and gets busy with her shoes. Between her being thin to the point of malnourishment and her movements, she reminds me of an enormous stick insect.
...She also showed herself in a most unladylike way in the process. Looks like someone wasn't thinking things through when they provided her with her uniform.
Anyway, that has nothing to do with me. I walk to my desk and check my things for signs of damage.
At first, there don't seem to be any. Riffling quickly through the textbooks laid open shows nothing, but a flash of red from my history book looks out of place, so I hunt for its source page by page.
When I find it, I have to blink and ask myself what the hell I'm looking at.
'What are you looking at, Shicchan...? BWAHAHAHA!'
That was Misha peeking over my shoulder. While the red crayon lines and crossouts made over the historical portrait of a famous personality certainly look comical, I'm not at all amused. I sign angrily, and Misha sobers up in a hurry to deliver my outrage.
'Hey, you! What the heck is this?'
Still fussing over her shoes, the strange girl spares a single brief glance at the damage before answering.
'Is that you or her talking? Anyway, they're corrections.'
'Corrections... of WHAT?'
'Of that picture. I thought it was obvious.'
'...You're seriously telling me you think a centuries-old picture from a history book needs correcting?'
'I don't think that, it does. I'm surprised nobody noticed so far.'
'Listen, you... what is your name, anyway?'
'Listen, Tezuka, you don't mess with ancient art. It's just not done.'
'Why not? Besides, that's not ancient art. It's a reproduction on a book. You really ought to think things through. Or maybe it's the other you, I'm not sure.'
The warped sense of values of Tezuka is infuriating. Talking to her is like trying to convince a rock to shift. I give that up entirely, as I flick frantically through page after page.
Oh. Oh, no.
The books are mostly fine. But... my sketchbook.
Leafing through it gently, as though the paper might feel hurt, I find place after place covered in angry red scribbles.
All... just... gone.
Picking up the sketchbook, I wave it in Tezuka's face.
'And I suppose this needed 'corrections', too?!'
Calmly, she nods.
'Yes, but not as many. The stuff in there is actually interesting sometimes.'
A cold anger grips me.
'You can see lots of care, especially in the later stuff.'
My head feels tight and buzzy.
'I also liked the use of colors, here and there. I can show you where, if you'll let me.'
Tezuka prattles on, but I can hardly take notice of Misha's increasingly upset signing.
'Are you the one who drew this? ...Um? Shicchan?'
Everybody shuts up. I picture the silence outside of my brain, but for some reason there is none inside.
'Misha. You should go. I'll catch up with you later.'
She picks up her bag and goes, worriedly and with a frown of disapproval at this whole thing. Tezuka and I are left alone.
Slowly and deliberately, I start signing.
'You scrawled all over the pictures I drew for my mother.'
There is no point to going through this, and I know it.
'You messed up the only thing I had to remember her by, and I hate you for this.'
Tezuka can't understand what I'm doing, nevermind what I'm saying.
'But even more than you, I hate myself. Because if I had been just a little more careful...'
I am not even looking at her, anyway. I'm looking down at the floor.
'This would not have happened. So it's as much my fault as yours.'
I guess she's saying something, baffled by this show. Or maybe not.
'So I will make sure to never, ever let something like this happen again.'
My vision is clouding up with tears. I'm so pissed off at myself.
'I will guard what I value. So it can never be r-ruined again.'
You don't stutter in sign. Why did I falter at that point?
Done with what I wanted to say, I let my arms fall limply at my sides and fight to avoid breaking down entirely.
An enormous face swims up through my hazy sight, nearly bumping noses with me.
Startled, I jump back, colliding with a desk. I'd have shrieked, if I knew how.
Tezuka straightens from the crouching position she assumed to look at my face from downwards up.
What the hell was that for? She's saying something, but I can't figure what, and I'm freaked enough not to care. Pushing past her, I shovel my things inside my bag.
...I don't take the sketchbook. I don't think I could anymore.
Finally, I flee from the classroom in turmoil, leaving her behind. I'll be late for PE.
Later, I found out Tezuka was supposed to go to her class, but she was even more late than Misha and mistook our classroom for hers.
The sketchbook was no longer there when I came back to class. I accurately avoided going to the lost and found for a long time after that.
'Eeeee~, cold! Anyway, happy holidays, Shicchan!'
'Happy holidays to you too, Misha, but it's a little early for that.'
'Yeah, but... I'll have to go home for Christmas, so I won't be able to tell you at the right time. Boo~.'
'Ah, I see.'
Crunching through the early snow, we head towards the main building.
'So, you do like what I did with my hair?'
'Yes... it's much cuter this way.'
Misha is happily twirling her fingers around her newly-pink, newly-styled hair.
Truthfully, I do like it. The stripes and ribbons from before... were a bit much. Let us say no more of that.
'Let's hurry, we have to do council work after lessons. The classroom'll feel nice and warm.'
We take off, leaving puffs of breath in the winter air.
We just got into the student council office after classes. It feels cooler than the rest of the school, being deserted nearly all the time except for us.
Ah well. It's ours to use, that's the important thing. Even if that means doing work.
While we shed our bags and supplies, Misha reacts to a knock at the door. A visitor? That's unusual.
'Come in, the door's open~! Welco~...me?'
The door opens and in strides Rin Tezuka, toting a bag herself.
She looks better than I remembered. I have seen her on occasion, walking through the corridors of Yamaku, it's pretty unavoidable since our classrooms are close to each other. But we never stopped for each other. And why should we?
It's not like we have a history.
Anyway, she still looks thin, but not cadaverous as I made her out to be back when. Her hair is somewhat better groomed, and her masculine uniform seems well-cared for.
...I still remember the fuss over that, and about 'causing unnecessary distress to other people'.
I offer only that, and a nod, in greeting.
'Got something for you.'
She has even less courtesy to spare for me, it seems. I'm not really surprised, from what I was told she is not treating me any worse or better than anybody else she crosses paths with.
Since I don't make a move, she turns to Misha and glances over her shoulder until she decides to help and diffidently unzips her bag.
Out of that bag come two identical things.
'Here, take them.'
...I'm not sure I am seeing things right.
It figures she might have picked up my old sketchbook. I don't know what she could have seen in it, but it attracted her enough to scrawl all over it; odd as she is, she could have kept it for more than one year, as is clearly the case.
But how come there seem to be TWO copies of it, now?
Misha's holding them at arm's length like they are dead snakes, or something. She looks at me with pleading eyes, and I nod at her and extend my open hand.
'It's all right.'
Relieved, she drops them into my hand then scoots behind me. Not knowing what to expect, I open the first one.
I still can't believe what I'm seeing.
It's my old sketchbook. Only it isn't. It's like new. No, better than new.
It's just like I remember it before Tezuka wrote all over it, and in addition the paper feels crisper and looks whiter. The cover is less worn, too. But when I compare the two side-by-side, I see the exact same lines traced. Maybe I could find differences if I decided to look hard enough, but I'd probably need a magnifying lens to even try to do it.
Opening the second one, I find it to be the original. The pages I remember, and the red marks over them, too.
The red marks that are gone from the perfect copy.
Mesmerized, I don't notice anything until Misha taps me sharply on the shoulder. Raising my eyes from the pages, I see her struggling to keep up.
'...two months to find the exact same brand and type, then it took me some more time to get the correct type of crayon, only when I was about one third through I made a stupid mistake, so I had to start over, good thing I had got a few extra copies, but not really because it was a bad thing that I had to use more than one, then I had to pause because I had some doubts about the correct shade of ink and I had to try it out on the one with the mistake so it turned out to be useful after all, also I experimented with the pencil and found I could erase it well enough for it not to matter if I made some mistakes with that, which helped because I didn't have to concentrate as much when I was working with it, which is better I think because I get better results when I'm relaxed than while I'm focused, but anyway it took me this long to get things right... ah, ah~, HELP, Shicchaan~!!'
'Whoa, whoa, whoa! Both of you settle down.'
I make calming movements in both sign and gestures, and Misha and Tezuka shut up as though turned off by a switch, the first tearful-looking, the second as lacking in expression as ever.
Pushing up my glasses, I reflect for a little while before I feel secure about speaking.
'Why did you do this?'
As soon as Misha passes that along, I see Tezuka taking a deep breath. Misha winces, and I have to move quickly to prevent a second wordflood.
'Belay that! Uh, Tezuka, try to answer using a dozen words or so, please.'
She purses her lips, looking clearly disappointed. Tilting her head to one side and leaning in the other direction, she looks a little like a living question mark.
'Because you were upset.'
That brings on a fresh little stab of hurt.
'You didn't seem worried about that before.'
'I didn't think you'd get upset before.'
'So... this is your way of saying "sorry"?'
'Yeah. That. ...I shouldn't have messed with your drawings. I know that now.'
She shifts her weight and shuffles uncomfortably. I ponder a little.
It's time to let go.
'Well, I have overreacted too. I don't really care about that anymore. Your apology is accepted, let's say we're even and leave it at that.'
'What does that mean?'
Tezuka seems genuinely baffled. I sigh.
'...It means I'm sorry too, Tezuka, and thanks for your effort.'
'Oh. Okay then. Bye.'
Now that she has taken care of her business with me, she doesn't seem inclined to linger any further. Tezuka turns on the spot, stalks out of the door and closes it behind her by hooking it with her foot.
We are left alone in the council room. Misha, looking a little worse for wear, is the first to break the quiet.
'...She's a strange one.'
'No kidding. Come on, pull up your chair, we have work to do.'
Later that night, I toss and turn in my bed wondering whether I'm making the right decision.
I don't want to take that risk again. So it follows that I should get rid of the damned things and be done with them.
I have moved beyond this kind of thing because of that incident, but still it seems such a waste to destroy something that was once precious to me and reappeared so miraculously.
Doubts are making me restless, but I steel myself and try to think positively. It is the best solution to this situation, I just need to convince myself of it.
It's not incense that I'll be burning over mother's grave when I next visit her, but a different gift.
Closing my eyes, I picture her familiar image inside myself and find that I'm finally able to sleep.
Merry Christmas, mom.
Last edited by Silentcook
on Mon Dec 22, 2008 10:28 pm, edited 2 times in total.
Shattering your dreams since '94. I also fought COVID in '20 and all I got was this lousy forum sig.