Part 115: Raison d'êtreUpdate 104: Raison d'être (Act 4, Scenes 5-7)
Katawa Shoujo OST - Moment of Decision
HISAO: "No thanks. But still, the times when I feel that I am on the same page as you are pretty rare. It feels like... there is this huge gap and sometimes you just go to the other side, and I don't... have any way to reach to you from where I am. It's like you are in some completely different place at times. Even though you are right here."
That's right. There is an insurmountable discontinuity, an imaginary glass wall that blocks comprehension from happening. There might be such a gap between any two people, but with Rin, it feels more tangible. Rin does not react to my thoughts, not to the ones I uttered aloud nor the ones I did not.
HISAO: "It's even worse with art. I'm not very good at art, I admit it. I joined the art club 'cause I thought it could be interesting. And I guess it is. I like art, I like your art too, but just like with you, I can't comprehend it. And I'm pretty sure nobody really can."
This seems to worry her slightly.
RIN: "Do you think so?"
HISAO: "Yeah. I guess that art is meant to be interpreted, not understood. That's how I'd put it."
RIN: "That's a sad thought."
HISAO: "I guess it might feel like one. Does it make you feel sad for yourself?"
Rin thinks about this for a while, and then shakes her head surprisingly vehemently.
The first thing she focuses her eyes on afterward is me. Both of these things make me glad, and relieved.
HISAO: "That's good, isn't it? Anyway, you should go see the teacher and apologize properly. I think he is worried about you. Can you do that?"
This time, she nods her head. Only, it's not as vehement.
The hallway is empty, almost intimidating. Nomiya's office is the art classroom at the other end of the third floor hallway. Our steps echo disturbingly. The atmosphere is unlike on a normal afternoon. It feels like the school knows that nobody will be coming back for a month, too. "The door is open, but not very inviting.
HISAO: "I'll... um, wait outside."
Nodding barely noticeably, Rin strides in without stopping, and naturally, without knocking. Maybe that's why it takes a few seconds before I hear the teacher's voice from inside.
NOMIYA: "There you are!"
A conflict arises: should I stay here or go somewhere else? I'm not sure if I even want to eavesdrop on them.
Manners lose to curiosity, and so I stay close enough to listen in. Their voices echo in the hallway, but no matter. There is nobody around, save for me.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Cold Iron
NOMIYA: "Dear girl, what on Earth were you thinking, leaving like that on the big night?"
RIN: "I couldn't say anything."
Compared to Nomiya's scolding tone, Rin sounds awfully quiet and withdrawn. Her words seem to drown under his.
NOMIYA: "I have to say, I am very disappointed in you, Tezuka."
RIN: "It was no good at all."
NOMIYA: "Never mind all the things I did for you, but what about Sae? What about all the guests who wanted to meet you?"
RIN: "There was nobody. Even Hisao..."
NOMIYA: "You have embarrassed us very badly, Tezuka. Reputation is what counts, surely you know that?"
RIN: "It's all right. I don't need it."
NOMIYA: "Don't need! What do you think you know?"
Rin's replies only seem to agitate the teacher more, his voice rising with every sentence.
NOMIYA: "The path of an artist is a thorny one, I'll tell you that! Thorny! You have to see the big picture! There will be bad times and good times!"
RIN: "Things are like they are. It'll be all right even"
NOMIYA: "You might now think that it's oh so wonderful and easy, but how far would you have gotten without me? I won't always be there for you! When you lie on the floor of your minuscule room, your rent three weeks late, your mind blank for the fourth week straight, then you will wish that you had listened to old Nomiya a bit more. When you keep measuring how the shadow of your chair becomes longer over the spring because that's all your lethargy allows, maybe that's when you will start caring about your career!"
RIN: "That doesn't matter."
NOMIYA: "Your resolve is not enough."
RIN: "I am not a resolved person."
NOMIYA: "You are not a resolved person... Then tell me, why... why... WHY DID WE GO THROUGH ALL THIS TROUBLE IF IT AMOUNTS TO A MOSQUITO'S SHIT?"
Oh dear, the teacher blew a fuse. Him yelling at Rin makes me feel bystander's guilt. If I had gone with her, maybe he wouldn't have gotten so angry. If I had not let her run away, he wouldn't have gotten angry in the first place. I still could go and save her... I don't think I can. I was the same. I yelled at Rin too, and I'm feeling all the more embarrassed about it now. I felt justified to vent my anger at her face just because... just because I felt it was her fault that I was so frustrated. I was no more justified than the teacher is.
A terrible silence sets upon the hallway. Rin does not have anything to say to Nomiya. Whether she has run out of answers or she knows that arguing would only make him angrier is anyone's guess. The teacher has nothing more to say either, it seems, or maybe he just ran out of breath. For a moment, I imagine the two of them just staring at each other, one full of red-hot anger, the other full of... yes, what? I can't tell how Rin feels, not before, not now. Teacher seems to expect Rin to say something too, but since she doesn't he finally continues in a quieter, but not less angry voice.
NOMIYA: "What worth is there in doing so much work if the outcome is... nothing?"
Still, Rin will not say anything.
NOMIYA: "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have gotten so excited."
He does not sound sorry at all. Rather, his tone is cold and sharp, like he was spitting the words out of his mouth.
NOMIYA: "It seems that I was expecting too much. You are not an artist after all."
Yeah, not sorry at all.
Nomiyas snarling sprite briefly flashes across the screen.
He storms out of the club room and down the stairs without noticing me. After he is gone, I peek carefully inside the classroom.
Rin is left standing there, in front of the teacher's desk.
RIN: "I couldn't say I am sorry."
She says it into the humid air of the classroom, not to me. But since the room won't answer her, I will have to.
HISAO: "That was unfair of him... He was angry, but still..."
I can't decide how to end my sentence. Disdaining the teacher feels like disdaining my own behavior from two days ago. Stupid, but correct in hindsight. Rin won't answer, staying petrified where she stands, so I walk up to her.
She stood up for herself. In a way. I didn't expect that. I can't determine whether it's unbecoming or not, but either way, she did it. Against me, she never did. I sort of wish she had, maybe I would not feel this bad then.
Lately, it really seems that I've been wishing for all kinds of things.
RIN: "Go away."
Katawa Shoujo OST - Shadow of the Truth
HISAO: "Why... what are you saying?"
RIN: "You're angry with me too, right? I thought you were my friend. I thought he was, too."
Her voice is unlike I've ever heard it, it's bitter, sharp like needles, and she keeps staring pointedly at her toes.
HISAO: "I don't think it's about that. He wanted you to be something you are not. And..."
I take a deep breath and finally catch her eyes in my own, locking our gazes.
HISAO: "...I'm sorry. I wanted us to be something else too... more than friends. Maybe that's why I couldn't contain myself and became so frustrated, just like the teacher did."
RIN: "What more? There is nothing more to me than me, that's all I am. I don't understand that."
Well... the answer should be obvious, right? I remember myself, thinking of the purpose of friendship. To put up with everything and anything, to be there for your friend. Did I fail as a friend, thinking it could be a stepping stone for something else? Maybe because of those thoughts, I didn't manage to put up with things, to keep it together. As outrageous as Rin is and was, I shouldn't have let myself get caught into that, especially when I started feeling the way I did towards her.
So, did I fail? That's what her eyes seem to ask.
HISAO: "I'm sorry, Rin. I might not be able to be your friend. I don't think I could ever be a good friend to you."
I say these things because they are true, not because one of us would like to hear them. But they are something that must be said. The finality of my words creates a shaking silence, for what could either of us add to that?
RIN: "Why? Why does all this happen? People are doing things I don't ask for and don't want and everyone keeps getting angry at me, I have no idea what is going on any more and can't stop feeling like I want to run away from everything..."
She shuts her eyes tight and breathes out deeply, calmly. When the eyelids open, all I can see is dark green desperation.
RIN: "I have no idea what's wrong with me!"
Her frenetic outburst stupefies me for a moment, and for a heartbeat we just gaze into each other's face. Seeing her confused eyes desperately looking for answers from mine only makes me sad, because I know I have none.
HISAO: "I don't know either. But you know, you yourself said that things are not right nor wrong. They just are. You either accept them, work to change them or give up. It's not that I hate you, or that teacher Nomiya does. I just... think that I am the kind of person who gives up when he feels he can't go on. And even if you hate it, this... this is... how things are."
I'm saying pretty cruel things but I can't stop myself, the words keep rolling off my tongue with slow, hard certainty. I can see them hitting Rin almost like physical blows. As the wetness gathers into the corners of her eyes, they are still wide with the shock of rejection.
As the tears start rolling down her pale cheeks, she does nothing to stop them. As they fall down on the floor one by one, she stands still, staring at me with a gaze full of hollow disbelief.
But reality catches up.
Rin slumps forward as if she was deflating, and buries her face as deep in my shirt as she can. Rin is heavy and featherlight when I support her weight. She doesn't really sob or bawl, just leans against me, letting her tears burn through my shirt into the skin underneath. And I let her, bringing my hand around her shoulders in a clumsy hug that does no good to comfort her. I can feel Rin's vertebrae against my fingertips, like hard and jagged reminders of how messed up things are. Her slim shoulder quivering against my palm is a pitiable sight, and the hopelessness of being part of the cause for Rin's sadness keeps shredding my heart.
To make a girl cry is the most despicable thing to do. Even Rin. Especially Rin. Behind that veil of aloofness, Rin is just a human being too. Just as confused, scared and lost as any of us is. Most of the time it seems that there is no rhyme or reason for what Rin does and says, but for once, I think I really understand how she feels. But no words can express it, and no words can make it better.
So wordless we stay, quietly waiting for her tears to run out. Time passes agonizingly slowly, even the lazy specks of dust floating in the air seem to pause into a standstill. The obligatory wall clock is ticking distractingly from above the door. I decide against counting the seconds, because it would make them feel longer.
Eventually Rin stirs a little and still smothering herself against my chest, mutters into my shirt.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Lullaby of Open Eyes
RIN: "Let me be here for a while. Please, Hisao. Just give me a little while."
A soothing deluge spreads into my consciousness, the knowledge that while being here for Rin is all I can do for her, that's all she wants right now, even after all we've gone through.
So she stays there. But I still can't bring myself to draw her closer so I could embrace her properly. It's because doing it would just make me so sad that I don't know if I could bear it. The realization that we might never really be able to become what we want to be for the other crystallizes into my mind as a diamond-hard enlightenment. A pang surges through my heart like an electric shock. It's painful. This clarity... hurts. What can we be for each other? What meaning is there for us to desperately cling to each other even though it seems so futile? What should I say to Rin? How to make her feel better? I do not know any of those things, and I fear knowing them would only hurt more. Forcefully, I push all of that out of my mind because I don't want to be thinking of hurtful truths. My thoughts calm down soon enough, the sadness disperses until all that is left is me and Rin and the tender feeling of her warmth and softness against my chest.
When did I fall in love with her? I can't remember, but I'm certain it was way before the warm touch of her lips on my own, on that orange-colored afternoon when she was sick with cold and I went to see her because of unclear reasons. Her carefree attitude, the air of otherness around her, all the things that make Rin herself... those things captured me with irresistible force. The way she could take in anything and everything giving it only the value she herself placed, weighing all things fairly and without prejudice, seeing the world as she wanted. This is something I could never do, and Rin was probably more of a muse to me than anything ever was to her. She seemed so free to me, truly a free spirit. While I, constantly worrying about everything, seemed so inhibited that it was almost embarrassing. Maybe that's why I latched so tightly on to Rin, trying to get inside her world that was so different from my own bleak life
Before I noticed it, that irresistible force had pulled me dangerously close to her, but it turned out to be way too alien for me. And I had forgotten Newton, of all things. The gravitational force is inversely proportional to the square of the distance between the objects...
So if two people feel something for each other...
Heh. Even though feelings are not governed by the constants of the universe, I can't help thinking that for some time now I've been a satellite to Rin's brightly shining planet. Planet Rin. The thought makes me almost laugh, she really does seem to be from another planet at times, minus green skin and possibly some tentacles.
Perhaps because of my stifled laughter, Rin pulls away and I let her go, feeling the cold when her warmth goes away, and slight embarrassment for letting my thoughts run wild like that. I credit that as Rin being a bad influence on me, while being glad at the same time that she can't read thoughts for real. Rin's bitter tears have dried up, and she looks a little more like herself again. The lost look in her eyes is still there though. Her gaze wanders around restlessly before stopping at me.
RIN: "What happened just now? Can you tell me?"
HISAO: "What? What do you mean?"
RIN: "I cried."
She says that hesitantly, as if not believing it herself.
She keeps staring at me, as if pleading guidance so that she wouldn't have to feel so lost.
HISAO: "You were sad. Is that what you want me to say? But isn't that obvious?"
RIN: "I don't know. It feels weird to cry."
HISAO: "What? I don't believe it. I mean, everyone does that. It's nor"
I bite my tongue before I finish my argument about normality. Norms do not apply to the person I'm talking to.
RIN: "It always felt so wrong, different from what is in me. Like I couldn't really tell what I felt. So I started thinking that maybe I don't know what I'm feeling. Maybe it's me who is wrong I thought those kinds of things. I thought... that painting was enough because it felt that I did at least that right. That all that is inside me could become a picture if I tried really hard. And it could. But it doesn't feel like it's enough any more. Because if nobody else can see that, I will still be alone. Was it wrong to try? Everyone got really angry at me for that."
I've rarely heard Rin say this much at once before. Once she finishes, she simply shuts up, looking so neutral that it's hard to believe she just said what she did. I don't know what to think.
Rin was desperate for someone to look at her paintings, and somehow see right through them into her soul, to understand her feelings... Because... she felt she could not express them in any other way? How can one say whether that is right or wrong?
Could it be that all this time she's been trying to reach out to me like I've tried to reach out to her?
I sit down on a desk to think, and to rest my legs that kept us both standing for a long while.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Innocence
HISAO: "You know, when I read a good book or look at a starry sky or whatever, sometimes I too feel something... profound, like a... shoot, I don't know how to describe it. But the instant I try to put it into words I feel that I lose something, it doesn't feel as real, as true as it did inside my head. It feels a bit phony. Damn, even what I just said felt phony.
I offer a smile that is meant to be between funny and self-deprecating, but Rin doesn't react.
HISAO: "Anyway... It might be that nobody can ever express their true feelings so that others understand. Reality has no chance of living up to what someone has inside their head. Nothing can match that. Not even your paintings, except maybe for you. But I suppose you can't keep everything inside, you'd explode for real then. What I'm trying to say is... I don't think it's wrong to express your feelings, even if you use painting as your conduit. You just can't expect people to understand you any better than they would if you did it any other way. In fact, you can't expect people to understand you at all. It's because everything is so subjective. You see the world the way you do, but it's different from everyone else."
RIN: "But isn't that terrible?"
HISAO: "I guess it is, in a way."
She frowns, looking probably as stricken as she can. Which is not much, but it's enough for me to understand that Rin is not particularly happy.
RIN: "I think it might make me sad after all."
HISAO: "Yeah. I know. I wish I could do something to help it."
I don't think I sound bitter, even though I am, a little. This is my problem. I cannot be what Rin wants for her. And for the same reason, she can't do the same for me either.
She makes a difficult face, carefully trying to pick the words she wants to say. So Rin has times when it's hard to say anything, too.
RIN: "It can't be helped, I think. ...but... if you say that... It makes me feel a little better."
It's funny how some seemingly irrelevant things are the most significant ones at times like this. Like how Rin's voice is very very small, barely audible when she says that. And how even her short bangs can cover her eyes when she looks downwards.
And how they can't cover the deep red color rising on her cheeks and all the way to the tips of her ears. They turn into a very interesting shade of red.
A deafening silence follows. It's very awkward, as if I saw something that wasn't meant to be seen, even if it wasn't on purpose. I don't know what to say to that, but I keep feeling like I should know. She doesn't either. Still, it feels like there is no momentum to lose even if we keep silent. Like we have some weird, wordless connection that would hold even so.
Rin keeps shifting her weight from one foot to the other restlessly, looking everywhere around the room except at me. She is the one who finally breaks the spell.
RIN: "Can we go? I don't want to stay here."
HISAO: "Oh, yeah, of course. Where?"
My reply is covering my nervousness as badly as her question is covering hers.
RIN: "You can go wherever you like. I want to sleep. I haven't really slept for a few weeks. It feels like there is a flock of light blue butterflies inside my head. It makes it hard to think properly. The kind that you think is too blue to really exist, like Emi's panties this morning."
She shakes her head, and I almost expect a couple of ultramarine-colored Morphos to pop out of her ears. A small smile tugs upwards the corners of her mouth.
RIN: "That reminds me. The blue, not the panties. The word for a flock of butterflies is a swarm. I looked it up."
That makes my eyebrow rise into a questioning arch.
HISAO: "Why don't you use it then?"
RIN: "I like the other word better."
Why look it up in the first place, then?
HISAO: "Then you should use it, right?"
She nods and falls silent, her gaze escaping mine to the side, attracted by the dark orange sunlight refracting from the windows. We stay like that for a little while: me silently looking at her silently looking out of the window.
HISAO: "Hey... you all right now?"
She glances at me from the corner of her eye, looking wistful again. The sunlight's reflection doesn't betray any more of her inner feelings.
RIN: "I'll need to think about that."
I want to continue this conversation, grasping at those straws that she finally revealed to even exist. But Rin is looking out of the window so absentmindedly that I know she won't be responsive in any way that would make sense. It's like some kind of defense mechanism of hers, to avoid being sensible. Her mind is like a butterfly in itself, always fluttering somewhere away whenever it's stirred. Just when I thought I could see behind her veil, she jumps out of my reach again.
Maybe that's just how Rin is. Maybe that's something I should just accept to get some peace of mind.
HISAO: "Okay. I'll walk you back to the dorms then."
RIN: "Thanks. Really."
The empty hallways of the school devoid of its students feel very lonely. Less than one hour after the summer vacation began, the building seems to be deserted, and all that intrudes on the stillness of the hallways are our footsteps. The change is sudden, but it shows how the building is just an empty shell, dead without its students and teachers. It's as though the school has become a private world for only the two of us, a desolate place filled with silence and chalk dust.
RIN: "I think I have to change."
She says it out of the blue while we walk down the staircase from the third floor, still managing to feel like she is mirroring what I was thinking just before.
HISAO: "That's what people must do, sometimes."
That's the last thing we say to each other that day, even though there would be so much to talk about. And even those words drown in the all-encompassing silence, disappearing into the stagnant air as if they were never said.