Part 11: The Other Green
This. Also, thank you for tackling this game, it's not at all one I'd play myself but I am enjoying the write-up and your posts are really informative!
Update 10: The Other Green
I quietly back out of the room. As I shut the door in front of my face, I whisper to myself.
HISAO: "What an intriguing person..."
From inside, I hear a muffled, sing-song voice:
RIN: "I heard tha~t!"
Katawa Shoujo OST - Generic Happy Music
MISHA: "What did she hear?"
I jump at the sudden appearance of Misha, who I had not heard approaching despite the completely empty hallway. Somehow she had gotten to jumping distance of me without making a sound. Creepy. It briefly reminds me of Kenji's nutty theory about a global feminist conspiracy, but I push that thought aside. Shizune, standing slightly behind Misha, looks aloof as she couldn't have heard the remark that drew Misha's attention, but Misha is visibly excited.
MISHA: "No wait, more importantly, who is in there? There's no club meetings today."
She tries to curiously peek past me, even though the door prevents her from seeing anyway.
HISAO: "What are you doing here?"
MISHA: "You took so long that we had to come check what's wrong. That's no good, Hicchan~"
She wags her finger at me scoldingly.
MISHA: "I found plywood, but everything else is still missing because you are tardy."
HISAO: "Oh, sorry. Err... I got the things here, was just going to bring them."
MISHA: "I think you were up to some mischief, Hicchan~! Who was in there with you, I wonder..."
Misha signs something quickly to Shizune, pointing at her own ear a couple of times. Shizune immediately pushes her way past me and opens the door into the classroom I just left. I can only imagine the shock she is experiencing. With Shizune's diligence and attitude, the insolence of daring to deface school property by sleeping on top of it must be too much to bear. And indeed, she stares at Rin, frozen in place apart from the slight but noticeable trembling of her shoulders, from suppressed rage I'm sure. Instead of blowing up, Shizune just takes a few deep breaths, adjusts her glasses and slams the door shut, turning to sign furiously at Misha. Maybe she did blow up but I can't understand it. She shoots a very loaded stare at me too, as if it was somehow my fault that Rin is sleeping on one of the tables. I hope she's not getting any funny ideas about the reason of my tardiness.
Rin's voice comes from the other side of the door and it takes a few eyeblinks to realize she might have trouble opening it. I open the door to find Rin directly behind it, looking at us with a half-interested, half-sleepy face.
MISHA: "Miss Tezuka, what do you think you were doing? You absolutely are not permitted to use school property for such... err, disgraceful? activity!"
RIN: "It sure is suddenly very crowded in here. I didn't know I was this popular."
It's hard to say whether she's happy or unhappy about this turn of events. At any rate she ignores Shizune/Misha's scolding so they have no choice but to drop the issue. Shizune taps Misha's shoulder, points at Rin and makes some quick signs.
MISHA: "Popularity aside, please don't do that any more."
MISHA: "Anyway, how is your project going? Will it be done for the festival?"
Rin looks at them blankly, apparently at ease under the pressure Shizune's cold stare is putting on her.
RIN: "I keep wondering about that myself too."
RIN: "Will think about it harder."
As Misha signs her reply to Shizune her face turns into an unsatisfied frown.
MISHA: "Miss Tezuka, please try to take this seriously. It'll be a disaster if the wall looks like someone threw up their lunch onto it."
Rin nods assertively.
RIN: "Will think more seriously."
Misha actually giggles at that, but Shizune doesn't, not even after translation. She just shakes her head, takes the materials from me and takes off with Misha in tow. Rin frowns thoughtfully as she looks after the retreating student council duo.
RIN: "How rude. It's true though, I must finish my project before the weekend. There will be dire consequences if I don't. The end of the world as we know it. Like weekends usually are, but more dire. Much more dire. Maybe I'll postpone my nap. To unforeseen future."
I am about to ask what project she has and what are these apocalyptic consequences, but she walks back into the art classroom.
RIN: "Since you have nothing to do, would you give me a hand? This paint can doesn't fit into my bag but I need it."
She kicks lightly at a huge can of paint that's lying on the floor next to the table she was sitting and sleeping on. It lets out a dull clang. Being the gentleman I am, I naturally pick it up. Heavy.
HISAO: "Yeah, sure. Where do you need to take it?"
And with that, she takes off to the hallway, me and the paint can following since there's little choice for either of us. The hallway is quiet and empty now with Shizune and Misha gone, so we too leave towards the stairwell at the other end. Every ten or fifteen or twenty steps I have to change the can from one hand to another because the thin handle cuts into my palm. At least it keeps my arms from tiring too fast. Rin strolls on beside me with an uneven pace that I have trouble matching, or maybe I am walking weird because of the extra weight. It seems one of us is constantly walking too slow or too fast, and I can't figure out which. Two flights of stairs below, trouble appears in the form of the head nurse and his fox-like grin.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Ah Eh I Oh You
NURSE: "Ah, Mr. Nakai, what a happy coincidence! Tezuka too, of course."
He nods courteously to Rin who does not acknowledge him back, then turns to me because obviously it's me who he had some business with.
NURSE: "There is something I forgot to mention on Monday."
I nod and wait impassively because I can't even begin to guess what he forgot. The feeling of the handle delving deeper into my skin doesn't make me feel enthusiastic about this interruption, either.
NURSE: "It's about your medications. Since you haven't been that long on your current medications there might be some unexpected side effects, which might require adjusting dosages or even changing to another kind of medication. So we will do a few tests regularly, but what I'd want is for you to keep an eye on everything in your condition that feels off, if you get what I mean. Nausea, headache, anything. And come see me if something happens."
HISAO: "All right."
NURSE: "So how are you? Everything fine?"
I give up and drop the can to the floor before answering him. Apparently this takes longer than my biceps can handle. I'm about to say something generic as an answer, but then I realize how often I've done that lately. Other people have asked me that too. Teachers and students here. My parents, visitors, nurses, doctors at the hospital. Everyone seems to be concerned about that. It's natural for a hospital, not so much for a school. Except this school. This is a small school, and both the student base and the faculty seem to be very tightly knit. At least that's the feeling I'm getting. And this is not the kind of school that gets transfer students too often. The thought sends shivers up my spine, but I give a generic answer, anyway.
NURSE: "That's great. Also, one other thing. My sources tell me that you've been at neither the school track nor even the pool, so I'd like to know if you have taken up exercising as I asked.
Of course I haven't, but his way of inquiring gives me the feeling that I should've been running my ass off on the track since the very first day."
HISAO: "You have people spying on me?"
NURSE: "Not as such. I just happen to know a few people. But that's not the issue here, so don't try to slip out of it."
HISAO: "Well, I was actually just doing some improvised weight lifting, as an exercise."
I pick up and lift the can up and down a few times like some sad imitation of a bodybuilder, even though it's weighing down on my arms painfully.
The stupid grin disappears from his face for a second, then comes back like it was never gone.
NURSE: "Tezuka, would you give us a second?"
The nurse grabs me by the shoulder without waiting for Rin's permission which he didn't need in the first place and drags me aside.
NURSE: "When I told you to exercise I wasn't joking. I understand that you are still on your first week and all, but please don't ignore the importance of this. The reason I'm coming down this hard on you is that habits are not easy to form. The more you slip and postpone, the harder it'll be. It's the same with everything, like dieting.
NURSE: "Can you promise me to be more serious about this from now on?"
This decision opens Emis route, and unless Im mistaken (again), if you choose wrong, you lose out on it entirely. That might seem punishing, but seriously, are you really going to take the choice that directly shortens your lifespan?
Ive heard Emis route called the easiest one to get for that reason.
HISAO: "Yeah, I promise. Definitely."
He studies me for a moment and then shrugs, smiling again.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Ah Eh I Oh You
NURSE: "Okay. That's more like it. If you go to the school track tomorrow morning, you'll meet my 'spy,' who probably has no qualms offering consultation to you if you want to jog a bit."
NURSE: "See you around."
He leaves with a wave of his hand and no answer, and I walk to Rin who has been waiting, idly leaning against the hallway wall and staring at the pale lighting fixtures in the ceiling. Even when I approach, she doesn't move her eyes off them.
RIN: "Are you getting medications for your heart thingy?"
HISAO: "Were you listening?"
It comes out more accusatory than I intended, accidentally lashing out on her. But even so, I don't really want to start talking about it. I just met her, I don't know her. It's not her business. The nurse seems to be happily ignorant about confidentiality too, talking about that kind of thing in public. But it's not Rin's fault, is it? I look up at her, suddenly feeling a bit guilty, but Rin is just staring past my shoulder quizzically, her head tilted like a bird's. Sigh.
I don't know why this is so hard for me. It feels like there is some inexplicable lock that prevents me from being more upfront about this.
HISAO: "...yeah. They're for my heart."
RIN: "Will they make you better?"
HISAO: "...no, not really. They just make me a little less worse."
Rin keeps looking at me for a while longer, and she neither says anything further, nor displays any kind of emotion I could discern. I'm thankful that she doesn't. I think I'm still not quite used to all this. At the hospital it was easy, but I still haven't sorted my feelings about having to live a 'normal' life with this disability.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Air Guitar
We leave the main building, and Rin leads us onwards towards the dorm. We stop at the small patch of greenery in front of the dorm building. The dorm is built on a slightly elevated ground, with a wall and a few trees that everyone has to circle around every time they come or go. It's probably the only inconvenient design in the school.
The entire wall, made of the same kind of bricks as the building itself, has been covered with some sort of a painting. Most of it is still mere sketches, quick lines drawn with black and white against the gray plastering that covers almost the entire length of the wall, but some places look a bit more finished. There are human faces and legs and hands, I can't quite say what the painting as a whole might portray. Stacks of what seem to be paint cans are arranged in piles on the ground, beside the wall.
RIN: "See, the left side is hardly off the ground yet. It's because I couldn't get in the mood yesterday so I gave up and went to meditate instead. Then it was suddenly morning. I have to work on it, but the guys from art class are helping with the negative spaces and base surfaces whenever, which is a problem. It's easier to paint big areas if there are a lot of people, with hands. The reach is better, and it's faster too."
She goes on a tangent of a tangent, waving a little with her arm, or whatever of it there actually is, to demonstrate even though I got the point already. The white cotton of her sleeve flaps around, and it makes me think it could look sadder than it does. But it makes me feel out of place, like almost every tangible reminder of the student base's... special properties has in the past few days. This girl doesn't notice my dreary feelings of course, or the fact that she lost me a while ago already... and just keeps on blabbering.
RIN: "...so that's why I'm trying to figure out if there is something I need to figure out and then figure that out before it's too late and all hope is lost."
HISAO: "Why would the hope be lost?"
RIN: "Because paint has to be painted and then it has to dry and then it has to be painted over with another kind of paint. It takes time."
She finally stops, apparently thinking she made some kind of a statement that makes sense. I think it's best to start from the top.
HISAO: "So, this is your project? You did... this?"
RIN: "Yes. Yes."
HISAO: "All of it?"
HISAO: "Nice. But..."
I stumble with my words, suddenly feeling like I've walked straight into the mine field of political incorrectness.
RIN: "It's ok, you can say it. I probably won't get mad."
I blush really hard. I don't really know what would be the right thing to say, if any. It feels that I'm way more sensitive than Rin is, though. This is really awkward.
RIN: "Don't you want to ask?"
HISAO: "...How do you paint without hands?"
RIN: "See, I'm an easy person to talk to, right? With my feet."
HISAO: "I almost guessed that already, but isn't that hard to do?"
RIN: "You're good at guessing. Anyway, I don't think it is. But maybe I'm used to it by now."
I can't get my mind around the fact that she could be an artist, but seeing how adept she was using her feet to eat I figure painting might not be a problem either. Neither of us has anything more to add to the subject.
RIN: "The afternoon light works pretty well. I was afraid it would look too flat but it's not like that after all. I think it's actually pretty interesting. I wanted to see what it looks like in dim light. Do you think it's flat?"
HISAO: "Eeeh well, paintings tend to be flat."
RIN: "Not like that flat. You know, flat. Like some people are, no substance, no meat where there should be some. I know a few girls who"
HISAO: "Okay I get it. But I couldn't really tell, I'm not that good with art. I can't name many artists or artistic terms. So I don't really have anything to say."
Rin shrugs her shoulders at that, saying suit yourself without saying it and looks up at the sky as if trying to look for something up there.
RIN: "I didn't think I'd get any actual work done but if you give me a hand with the paints I could do a little before it's too dark. I wanted to get a halogen lamp like the ones they have at the sports track but there aren't any."
Rin sure is quick to recruit my help, as was Shizune. It really makes me feel that the festival is such a big project that every pair of hands is needed.
HISAO: "Why not? I'm not really sure if I can be of any help, though."
RIN: "It's just mixing some paints, you can do that. Probably. Do you have motor control problems, like you know, those people who have some? Cerebral palsy, maybe?"
HISAO: "Not that I know of."
RIN: "I get it. Heart thingy has nothing to do with that."
She gives me a sly look for no reason.
HISAO: "No, it doesn't."
RIN: "Let's do it then."
So she sits on an empty wooden box and very naturally picks up a wide brush between the toes of her bare right foot. I open a few of the cans and pour some of the contents into shallow bowls for mixing. The thick paints flow lazily from the can to the bowl, like syrup. I mix them, creating funny, hypnotic looking swirl patterns that melt quickly into each other to form a new monotone hue. Rin sets to work, every now and then asking me for a hand with something or the other. ... Finding different brushes is easy enough, but mixing the paints to be the exact tone this girl is apparently seeing in her head is a frustrating ordeal. She wants precision down to the last milliliter before she is satisfied, but her instructions are obscure at best.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Everyday Fantasy
RIN: "Add half a splash of green."
I crouch down to pick up the can of bright green.
RIN: "The other green. This green."
I carefully pour some of the other green paint into the mixing bowl.
RIN: "No, that's almost a whole splash. More white. Is green a good color to add?"
HISAO: "No idea. You're the artist here."
A hint of smile appears in the corners of her mouth.
RIN: "Do you lack an opinion?"
HISAO: "No, it's just that I have no idea."
RIN: "It's OK, because I just got an idea. Add more white."
With this exclamation I pour a minuscule amount of white into the bowl and mix it. It looks slightly... whiter.
RIN: "That's not good. It has to be like... like the color when you wake up and you know that you saw the meaning of life in your dream but can't remember it. Maybe it's yellow..."
... Despite the impossibility of mixing a color like the change of seasons or any other nonsense that's being imposed on me, I find myself enjoying it more than I thought I would.
Seeing a painting being born on the plastered wall feels like magic. I spend the moments I have between mixing paints crouching down on the paving and just looking at her work. It feels slightly intrusive at first, like breaking some imaginary intimacy, but Rin doesn't seem to mind the least bit. Maybe it's just in my head. Her entire presence emits a completely different air as she patiently works the details, adding layers of paint on top of other layers of paint, steadily moving her foot across the wall to add new shapes. When I manage to produce a passable mixture of paint, the rare smile on her face is oddly rewarding.
Apart from the few words when discussing paint mixes, neither of us says a word for the longest time. And even those short discussions soon evolve into a shorthand, both of us developing and using weird impromptu code words for various paints and hues. As if there was some need to conserve words and breath and sound. We stay there late into the evening until it becomes too dark to paint properly.