Part 114: Desperate GloryUpdate 103: Desperate Glory (Act 4, Scenes 3-5)
Katawa Shoujo OST - Caged Heart
Rin just freezes for a long, long second until she falls on her knees, hitting the floor ungracefully like a sack of potatoes.
WOMAN: "Are you all right?"
RIN: "I don't know..."
NOMIYA: "Tezuka? What's wrong, girl?"
RIN: "I don't know what's wrong..."
A terrible silence falls upon the people gathered around Rin. Everyone is petrified, not knowing how to react to her sudden... seizure, or something. She breathes with deep, trembling gasps as if she was running out of air, staring ahead of herself with hollow eyes.
Seeing that nobody does anything, I force myself to step to Rin and lift her up from the floor, letting her lean against me to keep standing.
HISAO: "Would you like some fresh air? OK, let's go outside for a bit."
I don't even wait for her to answer before grasping her shoulder and pulling her past the stunned-looking Nomiya, Sae, Emi and guests.
HISAO: "Excuse us."
(Silence, Street Sounds)
The cool evening breeze hits my face at the door.
I let go of Rin and she leans against the stone wall, trying to catch her breath.
HISAO: "Are you all right?"
RIN: "I couldn't say anything..."
Rin is still not looking at me, so I look away too. The streetlights and colored neon signs twist my vision into a blur of near-blindness, forcing me to look back. At least she talks, even if she's not directing her words to me.
HISAO: "What did you want to say?"
Maybe both of us can imagine that we are talking to an invisible friend.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Raindrops and Puddles (Street Sounds Continue)
RIN: "I don't know. Something that would have meant something."
The silence lasts for a long time. I don't feel comfortable being alone with Rin. I am not good at imagining things that don't exist, do... or that things that exist, don't.
HISAO: "We should go back in. The guests Sae invited are in there, they probably want to meet you and talk with you. You know, ask you questions and stuff. About those paintings you worked so hard for."
RIN: "I don't want them to ask me questions like that. I can never say the right things."
HISAO: "What do you want then?"
RIN: "That someone wouldn't have to ask questions from me."
>"But aren't you happy people are interested in your paintings?"
>"But if you found someone like that, then what?"
Lets think: should we ask the person who has trouble understanding the motivations of others whether she understands the motivations of others? Or should we ask her how shed feel about someone who didnt demand she explain herself?
=>"But if you found someone like that, then what?"
But if you found someone like that, then what? Do you really think that it would be some kind of be-all, end-all thing, star-crossed lovers and happily ever after?
My question is met with a blank stare, the darkness in her eyes unfazed by the thinly veiled bitterness.
RIN: "No, I don't think that. But at least then I wouldn't have to be alone."
She whispers the words to the lights of the town but I hear them anyway.
RIN: "I shouldn't have done this. Not yet."
HISAO: "The exhibition?"
She nods and closes her eyes, breathing calmly out as if to prove she can, and then continues talking to herself.
HISAO: "Why? Wrong conjunction of the planets?"
RIN: "No, not that. I double-checked, and I got up with the right, I mean left, foot and did everything else left, I mean right.
RIN: Its me.
RIN: I was wrong."
She stands straight and stretches before stepping past me out into the street.
HISAO: "Wait, where are you going?"
She stops on her tracks and turns around, looking at me quizzically.
RIN: "School. I'm leaving."
HISAO: "What... why?"
RIN: "Because I want to be me."
Rin walks off, leaving me behind utterly confused.
But... something she said really touched me, or maybe it was the way she said it. Maybe it was the fact that she said it. I want to say something back to her, before I forget this feeling again. As if granting me a wish, Rin stops in her tracks. She doesn't turn around, just keeps waiting for me to say what I want to even though I didn't have time to think what...
HISAO: "Rin... listen. I... I don't believe you have to be alone, even if you never meet anyone like that."
I don't know if she heard my words, but either way, she doesn't react in any way. For the final time, she starts walking away from the gallery.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Raindrops and Puddles (Street Sounds Stop, Crowd Sounds)
NOMIYA: "So? Where's Tezuka?"
I can only shake my head, but as it doesn't seem to be a sufficient answer I have to say something.
HISAO: "She ran away."
The horrific realization spreads on his face like wildfire.
NOMIYA: "This is a fiasco! Catastrophe! What is that girl thinking, the most important event of her life, and she just runs off? And you! Why didn't you stop her? I'm going to hold you personally responsible..."
Sae interrupts him, holding her hands up calmingly. It's good she intervened; the teacher was starting to get a few weird looks from the nearby guests.
SAIONJI: "Now, now, Shinichi. She probably just had stage fright. I don't know her as well as you people do, but I did get the image that she is somewhat peculiar. This kind of thing can happen. It'll be fine. I'll explain that she suddenly became ill. The guests will surely understand."
SAIONJI: "Look around you, everyone seems to be rather happy with their free wine and chitchat."
NOMIYA: "The guests will be fine, but we are missing on opportunities here! Networking, making contacts and acquaintances!"
As the adults keep arguing about something that can't be helped, Emi tugs my sleeve to get my attention. She doesn't look very happy either.
EMI: "Come on."
EMI: "We are going to find Rin and kick her ass."
EMI: "I can't believe it, she is so stupid! That Rin, how can she do this? I'm telling you, she doesn't have a bit of common sense in her head!"
Emi is seriously angry, only missing steam rising from her ears. I guess I understand Emi, she is that kind of a person. Give up has never felt like a part of her vocabulary, and maybe she feels it shouldn't be a part of anyone's vocabulary.
HISAO: "It's probably best to leave her alone for tonight."
EMI: "What? Are you a Rin expert now?"
She takes a firm stance and puts her hands on her hips confrontationally. It's like she wants to pick a fight with me too.
HISAO: "No, I don't think that's even possible in the first place. I just don't think kicking her ass would do her any good."
My melancholic remark surprisingly works, as Emi slumps her shoulders a little and sighs.
EMI: "I know that."
HISAO: "You do?"
EMI: "The last time I did that, it changed nothing."
(Silence, Street Sounds)
The ride back to school in an empty late-night bus is silent. Both of us keep staring at the lights flashing past the windows without saying a word.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Air Guitar
The nightly grounds are quiet, lit only by the wan moon and yellow lamp posts. We say our goodnights in front of my dormitory.
Emi reflexively clenching her fists compels me to ensure that she won't assault Rin the moment I let her out of my sight.
HISAO: "Promise me to not go scold her?"
She looks up at me, her eyes again flaring with anger that I match with as calming a stare as I can. It's only easy to face an angry woman if you are not the target of her ire. After a minute of the mismatched staring contest, she sighs and shakes her head in defeat.
EMI: "You are too nice, Hisao. Did you know that?"
Hints of a smile are tugging the corners of her mouth as she says that, and she seems a lot more relaxed. What a sudden change of mood. Maybe she wasn't as angry as it seemed to begin with. Maybe her moods change easily.
HISAO: "If I was, I would've let you have your way."
EMI: "Does that mean you are only nice to Rin?"
Both of us are hiding our concern behind empty jokes, but at least it puts me in a good mood. Emi waggles her eyebrows with a half-amused smirk, trying to push my buttons. Not gonna work.
HISAO: "No, it just means I'm not nice only to you."
HISAO: "Good night, Emi."
Katawa Shoujo OST ~ Passing of Time
Katawa Shoujo OST - Daylight
The last day before summer vacations is waning slowly. Science is the final exam of the trimester and then we are free. The collective yearning for liberty is almost palpable in the classroom, even though the weather seems a tad cloudy. It might rain today, who knows.
The camera pans over a page filling up with doodles, mostly of Rin.
I've already finished the test because it was pretty easy, so I'm doodling lazily on the flip side of the paper, waiting for Mutou to call time. It also prevents Misha from trying to covertly look at my answers over my shoulder. She might fool the inattentive teacher, but I can tell that she is trying to look. I guess it's her best bet at passing the test. Doesn't make me feel any mercy though, so I just ignore her and look around me. It's quiet. The only sounds in the classroom are the quiet shuffling of papers and Mutou's constant coughing. It makes my awareness of the surroundings slowly drift to the backstage of consciousness, giving room to other things.
Vacation, huh? Some people will stay at the school even over the holidays, some will go back to their families. I don't know what to do. I should go buy a train ticket for my trip back home, but I can't bring myself to do it. I bet I'm going to get a call from home again. Mom's going to pester me about when I'm coming back, and I'm not going to know what to answer.
I think this is the first time weve heard from his parents since the opening.
This is really lousy. In the current state of things with Rin, it feels like I can't just bail out of here and pretend we are through. And now, she has other problems of her own. I thought that the exhibition opening would give her a breather, but I was sorely mistaken. The tangle just seems to thicken.
A sharp knock on the door interrupts the quiet but frantic mood of the last 15 minutes of the exam.
MUTOU: "Come in."
Katawa Shoujo OST - Track 19 (High Tension) HQ
The opening door reveals the art teacher, who steps in with his jacket swirling around him as though in a gust of wind. He glances at Mutou, who glances back at him. A frown spreads simultaneously on both of their faces as the men measure each other with their gazes.
NOMIYA: "Excuse me, could I borrow Mr. Nakai for a moment?"
MUTOU: "Excuse me, Mr. Nomiya, but we are in the middle of an exam here."
A chilly atmosphere suddenly spreads in the middle of the summer afternoon as the two men try to stare each other down.
NOMIYA: "This is urgent, and it seems that Nakai has already finished."
Both men turn to look at me, staring at me like a pair of basilisks trying to petrify a tasty snack. It's true that I've been idle for a good while now, so Nomiya is right, but...
MUTOU: "Nakai, would you like to check your answers one more time?"
Mutou speaks with an odd intonation, weighting certain words as if trying to send a message. The pressure from their stares makes me rapidly shake my head, which is apparently interpreted as an answer of some sort.
MUTOU: "Very well. Nakai, go with Mr. Nomiya, if you please. Take your bag with you and bring your test paper to my desk. You have a nice vacation."
HISAO: "Umm. Er, you too, teacher."
The entire world... well, at least the classroom seems to hold its breath just for me, putting the exam on hold until I stand up, collect my stuff and walk to the door. I can feel the stares in the back of my neck. My classmates probably think I'm in for some detention or something, on the last day of the school before summer vacation. I don't know what the teacher wants from me, but I can guess it probably is not detention and also that it probably has something to do with Rin again.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Stride
Nomiya doesn't take me anywhere, contenting himself with the hallway as it's completely abandoned.
NOMIYA: "Do you know where Tezuka is?"
So she is trying to avoid the teacher... par for the course, probably. I wonder if she realizes that she can't avoid dealing with this indefinitely.
HISAO: "I have no idea. You have probably asked from her homeroom next door."
NOMIYA: "Of course I have! I have searched every nook and cranny of this blasted school and the girls' dorm. You are the last one to see her since yesterday and you are her friend. Work with me here. Aren't you worried?"
I am, but I don't know what I could do. Rin did something incomprehensible yesterday, even for her. She seemed really confused.
HISAO: "Maybe she just wants some time to think then. I got the feeling that she had second thoughts about having that exhibition."
Or something. She really didn't explain what was wrong.
NOMIYA: "What second thoughts?"
HISAO: "I dunno. Just got that feeling."
I am being a little dishonest with the teacher, but this is not something I should be meddling with. He came to me... yes, why? Maybe he thinks I'm some kind of confidant of Rin's, but I don't think I can help with this matter. The teacher huffs and scratches his head in confusion.
NOMIYA: "What's up with that girl? This is so unlike her, she's always been so goal-driven."
Goal-driven? Those don't really strike me as words to describe Rin with. To me, she always felt obsessive at best.
HISAO: "Er, I don't mean to be rude, but wasn't it you who pushed Rin to that direction in the first place?"
NOMIYA: "Her goal is my goal. That is a mentor's job."
HISAO: "I guess so. I just don't know if painting can make her happy."
NOMIYA: "That's pretty preposterous of you to say, Nakai."
He suddenly sounds pretty irate. Did I say something stupid?
NOMIYA: "You don't understand, do you? It is not a question of happiness. For every gain there is a sacrifice to be made. There is no free lunch, but could I... would I let that girl waste away her talent if she has a moment of doubt? Never! Painting is work just like any other. Tezuka might make it look like child's play to you, but she works hard every day to make her art. To become extraordinary, one has to make an extraordinary effort."
The more the teacher talks, the more I feel that Rin doesn't think like that, even though I have no idea how she thinks.
NOMIYA: "I can very well understand why she would sacrifice her summer vacation and make up for the lost classes and exams to get a chance at showing her art. This is the path she has taken, and to go all the way, that's not easy. I know she is young, and things are hard for her just like for all the kids here in this school, but that's no excuse."
He is finished.
NOMIYA: "Do you have anything like what art is to Tezuka?"
That's right. I have only vague ideas of my future, no goal to shoot for, no dream to blindly reach for. I joined the art club in search of something I could be interested in, to get inspired by. Did I find something like that? All I found in the end... was Rin.
HISAO: "No, I don't have a passion like that."
NOMIYA: "Then you can't understand."
His flat statement allows no counterargument.
HISAO: "But... she might not understand even herself."
Still, I carry on arguing, out of spite if for nothing else.
NOMIYA: "How could she not? She's been at it so hard for the past few weeks that she put off even coming to school, not to say anything about attending class. Don't be ridiculous."
I don't think I'm being ridiculous, but as I have no rebuttal, Nomiya seems to consider this one his win.
NOMIYA: "At any rate, the opening was quite successful despite Tezuka hardly showing up. Many people were interested in her work and one piece was even sold for a reasonable price."
HISAO: "Well, that's nice isn't it?"
NOMIYA: "Yes, it's fantastic news! I hoped that Tezuka would come to her senses when she heard about this, but..."
He sighs and takes off his glasses, cleaning them against his jacket before putting them on his nose again.
NOMIYA: "At any rate, I should be going. There is this mess to be settled with Sae and everyone. If you see Tezuka, please ask her to come see me. Otherwise, have a nice vacation."
After he has disappeared around the corner, I ponder where Rin could really be. It feels like she has not one, but at least half a dozen of these secret places. I balance between the desire to solve this tangle and to drop it for good.
The disused classroom is just a few feet away. What to do? ... As I push open the door, only the shadows greet me from the inside.
HISAO: "Hey there."
Katawa Shoujo OST - Moment of Decision
HISAO: "Nah, I already found you, didn't I?"
RIN: "Did you?"
She furrows her brow, looking so puzzled that it makes me wonder if the question was asked in all seriousness. Maybe it was.
HISAO: "Are you talking metaphorically now?"
RIN: "Do you mean like eels, caves and dark, stormy nights? I am bad at talking like that."
The abruptly-ended greetings give me the chance to close the door behind me and sit down on a dust-covered desktop. Rin stays standing, but at least she turns around. I soon wish she didn't though, so oppressive is her expectant stare. This is her place and I'm an intruder, although a tolerated one. Despite that, she still waits for me to say something. If I only knew what.
The sunlit silence presses me towards decisions. I came here without really thinking what I would do, apart from delivering Nomiya's short message in case Rin was here. She was, and now I don't know what else I want to say... what else I should say? I hover between my two options for a moment. Rin being troubled troubles me too. It's a surprising revelation, almost as big as realizing that she really is troubled was. Nothing I can do would probably help, and I might be partially to blame too. Does it mean I should just wash my hands of her?
Didn't think so.
HISAO: "So... what's wrong?"
She starts to turn away again, as if trying to physically exit a conversation she doesn't want to have.
HISAO: "Rin, stop trying to dodge me or I'll leave."
HISAO: "Do you want me to leave?"
RIN: "Are you still angry?"
It took us - or was it only me? - ten seconds to swamp the conversation into this. I wish we could erase the past, or failing that, forget all about it. I've wished for that more than once in the last few months.
HISAO: "Let's put that aside for the time being, all right?"
RIN: "If you say so."
HISAO: "I do. So... what's wrong? Sae and Nomiya were not too happy that you just ran off yesterday. You left them in quite a pinch, and I suppose the teacher wants some kind of an explanation. It seemed like you just threw out everything you had worked for. And I don't get why."
RIN: "Did I make a mistake?"
My reprimanding and her flat answer go so much against the usual expectations and presumed interactions that it might just as well be somebody else talking. Neither of us is like we used to be, this stiff, constricting feeling I get every time I look at Rin nowadays seems to be mirrored in her own behavior. I hate things that go irreparably wrong. Ever since February, I have hated them. What can I say? Her question is trailed by a compelling, quizzical stare that makes me sigh and frown. Conversations nobody wants to have are the worst.
HISAO: "I don't know. I mean, it's not the end of the world but it probably was pretty stupid."
She responds with a sigh of her own, although hers is not nearly as heavy as mine was.
RIN: "I just couldn't do it."
HISAO: "But... why? What's wrong?"
A pause, a furrowed brow, a quiet voice.
RIN: "Let it be, Hisao. I don't think I can really explain it in a way that would make sense."
Yeah, Rin doesn't want to have this conversation either. That may be for the better. But how rare of her, to admit that even she has some kind of limits. I always thought Rin was all but ignorant of her tendency to get distracted, so much that she inadvertently obfuscates everything she says.
HISAO: "You never explain anything in a way that would make sense."
RIN: "Nobody else has ever asked me to."
I guess that's how it is. But I always wanted to make sense of you, to find out who you are. I still want to, can't you see? ... I know you can't. But I do. Is that why I keep this up? It pains you as much as it pains me. It's unlikely to be of any use to either. We did things and said things that can't be undone. It's as if... you and me being close to each other just hurts us both, but we still deliberately keep doing it.
Isn't that silly?
Even now, I can see how you force yourself to respond even though you owe me nothing. Even if it's hard to talk about things like this. Why?
HISAO: "Why is it that you paint?"
RIN: "I... because I don't know what else I could do. It's like this feeling that there is no choice, that it's the only possibility. Like when there are only watermelon-flavored popsicles left in the store but you need to eat a popsicle."
Her poor metaphor aside, she didn't really answer anything. If possible, this makes even less sense than not knowing.
HISAO: "But... if you don't want to paint..."
RIN: "Not like that. You had to come to this school even though you probably didn't want to have a heart attack."
She pauses, frowning as if something in what she said didn't please her.
RIN: "At least I think you wouldn't."
Her careful follow-up is followed in turn by another, shorter pause with another, smaller frown.
RIN: "Would you like to have a heart attack?"
HISAO: "No, I wouldn't and I didn't want to."
RIN: "But you're doing fine, aren't you? Or are you still sad about it?"
Rin's question makes me realize that I haven't really thought about my illness for weeks. Aside from chugging down my medication every day there has been no need to concern myself with my broken heart, which I'm only thankful for, really. Getting to know new people, a new school, a new town... a new life, it all has caught me and made the past fade away.
HISAO: "No... heh, I guess even I can't dwell on the past indefinitely."
RIN: "See? Even watermelon doesn't really taste bad if you have to eat it."
Her half-nonsensical closure seems to put an end to the subject in Rin's mind, so I just nod in uncertain confirmation.
There are two kinds of silences: awkward ones that you want to break, and comfortable ones that you don't mind. The first kind is bad, because it makes your thoughts go awry. Like mine do, now. Looking at Rin makes me feel bad. I don't want to feel like this. Looking at Rin makes me feel... exhausted. I really tried my best, she tried to... I have no idea. But we ended up like this, and she ended up screwing up her exhibition opening.
It feels like we are at a dead end. There is no direction to continue to. I reached out for her yesterday, thinking it would be the last time. She walked away. I want to be me. What the heck does that even mean? Rin, if anyone, is most definitely herself. I feel kinda relieved that I am not the one to blame, but this still grates on my mind. Why did she run away? It didn't make sense yesterday. It doesn't make sense today. The things she said feel like they should make sense but they just don't, to me.
HISAO: "You know, about that thing you just said..."
RIN: "Which one of them?"
HISAO: "Umm... painting... Sae said something like that to me before... that a true artist does not paint because she wants to, but because she must. And I've been wondering about what she said. Why do artists have to paint?"
My question is probably pretty stupid. At least Rin looks at me in the blank way that seems to say so.
RIN: "I don't know. Am I an artist?"
HISAO: "Well, you paint stuff and you have an exhibition too. I'd say you qualify."
RIN: "I think I still don't know, but okay."
The thinking pause that follows seems to last for half an eternity. Unlike most people, Rin doesn't flavor her thinking pauses by body language or saying like or umm or anything. I've noticed that I might prefer her way. The usual way even annoys me, as if people were so infatuated by the sound of their own voice they just have to keep making some noise even when they are just thinking what they could say next. Rin just... comes to a full stop while she is thinking. It's disconcerting, because reacting to people spacing out is always hard, but she comes off as less obnoxious.
RIN: "I think I want someone to see what's inside me. Not the way doctors and serial killers do. The way that doesn't make me feel lonely. This is what you call metaphorical, you see."
HISAO: "Please don't lecture me about self-evident things."
RIN: "It's not self-evident that this is self-evident."
HISAO: "So, you present a painting to someone and expect him to magically see a glimpse of your soul?"
RIN: "It's not like that. It's just a little like that but not really. Don't you understand?"
HISAO: "I do... and I don't. You know, I feel a little bit of despair every time you ask that question."
RIN: "What question?"
HISAO: "About whether I understand you or not."
She seems almost surprised at my clarification.
RIN: "Oh, it's not really a question. It's one of those kind that you don't have to answer."
RIN: "Yeah, that's the word, a question that is not a question is a rhetorical question. How nice. That reminds me, it doesn't really make sense. What kind of a question is one that isn't a question?"
HISAO: "A rhetorical one."
RIN: "What kind of an answer is an answer that doesn't answer anything?"
HISAO: "Is that a rhetorical question?"
RIN: "You are not funny. But if you don't like it, would you like me to say something else instead? I don't have any good ones though. How about... Your pants are on fire? This can be our secret language."
Rin's honest-to-goodness silliness, made twice more ridiculous by the fact that I know she is dead serious, derails me like it always does. It's like some kind of a safety lock to prevent me from becoming too much of a worrywart, dragging even my own thoughts off the ground where they should be. It makes me smile confusedly, but only on the inside. Even though the corners of my mouth are not drawing into a grin, I'm still impressed by her ease of wrecking any attempt at being too serious. Could she (should she will so) forget and ignore things that bug her, things that bother her? Could she (should she will so) be free of whatever burden being her means? Or am I the only one who feels burdened by being myself?