Part 135: ContextUpdate 122: Context (Act 4, Scenes 7-8)
Katawa Shoujo OST - Everyday Fantasy
HISAO: "Oh yeah, I talked to Mutou on Friday, and finally checked out some guides on college and how to apply for it."
LILLY: "That's good news. If you're going to be applying for colleges, I assume you have some idea in mind of what you might do in the future?"
HISAO: "I think I've settled on becoming a science teacher. It's going to take a while to get through university and everything to be qualified, but I think it'll be worth it."
Lilly's face brightens considerably at the news. I suppose, with her wish to become a teacher, she's delighted I'd take the same kind of path.
LILLY: "So, you've decided on a career of teaching... I think that path suits you most excellently, Hisao."
I smile and nod. This time, even if I know she can't see me doing so, I know she feels it.
LILLY: "I imagine Mutou would have taken to the news well?"
HISAO: "That's one word for it. Hey Lilly?"
HISAO: "I know you want to be a teacher, but..."
For a second, I wonder whether I should really ask her the question on my mind, but that's quickly brushed aside by the fact that this is rather late to have second thoughts.
LILLY: "Surely you don't still think I'd be offended by something regarding my blindness."
Her accusing tone is betrayed by her grinning face, amused at my awkwardness in raising the topic. Some things never change.
HISAO: "Good point, I guess. I was just thinking whether or not being blind would be a hindrance, what with your ambitions to become a teacher and all."
She looks mildly surprised before giving the question some thought. I refuse to think she's never actually pondered this issue before.
LILLY: "I wonder... Hisao, could you close your eyes for a moment?"
HISAO: "O... kay?"
Raising an eyebrow, I do as she requests. I have no idea what she has in mind, and my questions only increase as I peek out from one eye. Taking the black ribbon she usually wears in her hair from the cabinet beside her bed, she advances towards me while running it through her fingers to remove any stray hairs remaining on the piece of cloth.
The screen goes black from top to bottom, like somethings gradually blocking our vision.
I suddenly click on to her intentions as I feel the black strip make contact with my face, wrapping around my head and over my eyes.
HISAO: "Um... what exactly is this for?"
LILLY: "It's a little test, Hisao. Since you seem to be wondering, I'll let you see things as I do for a time."
Huh, so that's what this is about. To be honest, this actually sounds kind of fun. Childish and rather silly to anyone who would be watching, but a bit of silly fun never hurt anyone. I stand up with a heave, my hands quickly moving out in front of me to warn me of any obstacles.
HISAO: "Okay, now what?"
LILLY: "Now, touch me."
HISAO: "If you say so. Now then..."
I slowly make my way forwards, towards the sound of Lilly's voice. My walking speed could barely even be called a shuffle, the entire experience feeling alien enough that I don't want to risk inadvertently tripping over anything, such as her table or her haphazard piles of books. Something soft, yet solid, brushes against my left leg. Further inspection reveals it to be Lilly's bed. I move onwards, finding myself thankful that Lilly's room is so neat and tidy. Even the piles of books she has are generally kept close to the wall, well out of harm's way. The hard wall pressing against my outstretched hands makes me furrow my brow in frustration.
HISAO: "Hey Lilly, where are you?"
LILLY: "What are you doing over there? I'm over here."
Lilly's voice comes from the other side of the room, far from where it was before, even to my untrained ears. If she's going out of her way to avoid me reaching her, then is this just a game to her? ...Of course it is. Compared to a life where even the concept of sight is an abstract one, a few minutes in a blindfold are nothing. I guess she's made her point; she's more than capable of navigating her room, and further, I've seen how independent she is even when compared to many of the others in Yamaku. Well, even if this is just a game, I may as well play it wholeheartedly. With a pace much quicker than before I move towards the source of her voice, deftly sidestepping the table in the center of her room thanks to remembering its position.
HISAO: "I've got you now!"
She gives an impish giggle, one just long enough to work out that she's passing just beside me.
I quickly turn around to face the new directio
(Loud Thump) the table wasn't there before!
HISAO: "Ow... ow... ow..."
I slowly sit up next to the table, raising my blindfold as I rub my aching head. I give an irritated kick to the table that's sitting just in front of where I fell. Utterly pointless, but the thing deserved it.
Lilly's still standing just to my side, obviously unsure of what's befallen me.
HISAO: "Sorry. I kinda fell over."
LILLY: "Are you hurt?"
HISAO: "My head hurts, but I think I'm okay. I think the table moved in order to trip me over."
She giggles as she walks over and takes a seat beside me, her hand resting on my own.
LILLY: "I suppose that's the end of that then?"
HISAO: "I think so. But I also think I get the point. Though I do wish it hadn't involved such a headache."
Lilly suddenly looks blank.
And I return an extraordinarily flat look.
HISAO: "That was just for fun?"
LILLY: "I just thought it might ease you up a little about the subject. You always seem to tiptoe around it, after all. In regard to teaching, sight isn't that important. There are plenty of classes taught by entirely blind teachers, and more than enough resources for me to learn the subject. It's as simple as that, really."
I slump my shoulders and give a snort of amusement.
HISAO: "Yeah, I understand. I guess we'll both just have to work hard to reach our goals, then."
HISAO: "What is it?"
With a little hesitation, Lilly pushes forward her chin and closes her eyes in an unmistakable gesture. I accept gladly, our lips touching.
Katawa Shoujo OST - To Become One
As they do, I suddenly feel her hand snaking up my chest from underneath my shirt. The feeling of her hand against my bare skin is enough to make my heart suddenly accelerate. So she's in that kind of mood again? Well, I'm hardly one to complain. She does genuinely like this, and even with all my medications, my libido is thankfully still intact. I lean into the kiss further, holding her hand tightly as I feel it tracing the contours of my chest. Eventually we break off from one another, the room silent but for our breathing.
LILLY: "Hey, Hisao?"
LILLY: "I don't suppose... you could wear the blindfold again?"
I guess a bit of kinkiness runs in the family. With the blindfold on, they maneuver into position and, as usual, Lilly takes the lead. She starts teasing him and eventually, Hisao realizes shes challenging him to take a more active role and after a quick moment to confirm, he does so. He finds it exciting, and between that and the blindfold the sensation gets almost overwhelming.
More... I want more... I can feel my chest tightening as I rock back and forth frantically, both of us entirely taken with ourselves.
Nothing... that unusual... I just need to take deeper breaths to steady... myself...
This feeling is just... normal...
HISAO: "Aah... aaaaaaaah..."
This isn't... I can't... this pain is too much...!
I stumble backwards from Lilly with unseemly haste, clumsily hitting the back of my foot against the table and falling to the ground with an unceremonious crash.
The screen goes white.
Breathing wildly, I frantically scrape at the ribbon over my eyes as I lay on my back. I have to get this off, I have to get this off...
For a moment, everything goes blank. As the rush of newfound light assaults my eyes, my breathing slows from the brink of hyperventilation.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Cold Iron
Seconds pass, and I carefully measure out the rhythm of my heartbeats with every ounce of concentration I can muster. My heart is... normal. It's back to normal.
My body feels utterly bizarre as I lay dazed on the floor looking at the ceiling. The adrenaline from before is still pouring through my veins, but my mind is completely exhausted. I prop myself up as I hear Lilly getting off the bed and coming towards me.
LILLY: "Hisao? Are you okay? Hisao!?"
HISAO: "I'm fine, Lilly. I'm... fine."
She gives a sigh of relief, her worried expression collapsing. Her face afterward is the very last I'd ever wanted to see from her. It's a face I'd detested when I first saw my parents in the hospital all those months ago. Pity.
Lilly... pities me.
I just close my eyes and turn away, powerless. I feel like throwing up.
I can hear the sound of Lilly moving away and quickly attending to herself, the ruffling of her clothing being pulled back on after a moment of searching just barely audible.
She slowly shakes her head as she finishes buttoning up her top. Her kind smile looks so fragile, so delicate, that it makes my heart sink. Approaching carefully, she feels out the edge of the low table before taking a seat next to me, putting her arms around my chest.
LILLY: "I'm sorry, Hisao. I shouldn't have pushed my desires onto you."
HISAO: "You don't need to apologize. I'd normally be fine, you've seen that much before. I guess I shouldn't have tried to push myself so far."
My eyelids feel heavy. Calmly sitting next to her like this is probably letting the adrenaline work itself out of my system, and letting my mind relax.
LILLY: "So that's... why you never took the lead...?"
HISAO: "Yeah. I guess it's a good thing you like to, huh?"
The joke seems to lighten her expression a little, a fact which helps let me feel less unease about my unreliable self. Lilly's head comes to rest on my shoulder as I struggle to keep my eyes open, with more difficulty after each blink. I feel completely drained.
LILLY: "It's okay, Hisao. It's all okay."
No sooner does she say this than a small, quiet tune escapes her lips. Entirely too tired to think, all I can do is listen to her soft humming. It's a soft, almost melancholic tune. It sounds familiar, but the more I try to remember its origin the less I seem able to concentrate. The feeling and scent of her head gently resting on my shoulder and her warm body against my side are soothing. The soft humming of her voice, too, relaxes my mind as much as her warmth relaxes my muscles. This singular, quiet moment... after all this fracas, it makes me realize just how exhausted I've become.
I can feel my eyelids slowly becoming heavier and heavier. Even with the chaos of before, I wish this moment would last forever. Lilly and I together, sharing a single, solitary occasion together, just as we used to.
But if that's the case... why does she feel... further away than she's ever felt before?
Katawa Shoujo OST ~ Passing of Time
Katawa Shoujo OST - Fripperies
The loud clatter of books falling into the return slot abruptly breaks the grip of silence over the school library. It's become a habit for me to come to the library at least once a week. Not only does the reading itself keep me busy, but discussing books with Hanako and Lilly also does.
Obviously startled, Yuuko suddenly twists towards the direction of the noise. I'd have thought her used to people dropping books by now, since she does work here.
YUUKO: "Oh, hello Hisao. Back again?"
It takes me a moment to respond, my mind still distracted by the familiar melody of Lilly's humming that's hardly left my ears in the several days it's been since I fell asleep to it.
HISAO: "Hmm? Oh, yeah. Just returning some books I borrowed."
She casts her eyes downwards, presumably to the bin the books dropped into.
YUUKO: "You're a very heavy reader, aren't you?"
HISAO: "It's become a bit of a routine now. Passes the time, at least."
YUUKO: "I wish I had free time to pass..."
From smalltalk to depression in less than five seconds. I think that's a new record for her. She seems a bit down in general today, even compared to normal. Considering she has to work two jobs just to support herself, I could see how that would take a toll on her lifestyle. Come to think of it, the pay for her job here can't be all that bad. The idea of staff in such a prestigious private school going hungry strikes me as counterintuitive.
HISAO: "Working two jobs must take a lot of time. I'd probably never manage it."
YUUKO: "You're lucky, being a student. Do you think you'll be able to go to university?"
If she's asking, then I guess that's the expected result of having this kind of education. Private schools like this don't exactly come cheap.
HISAO: "I... guess. I have the money, I think. I've got plans which will require going to one, and my marks are good enough. It's more a matter of how I'll pay to do so."
YUUKO: "University costs so much that I'm having to work two jobs to afford to enter it... paying for daily expenses too makes it a lot harder. If you're reading this much though, that means you're doing well in school, right?"
Interesting logical jump. Not an altogether wrong one, though.
HISAO: "I suppose so. I didn't find any of the exams very hard, aside from maybe one or two. Do you mind if I ask what studies you're pursuing in university?"
Yuuko appears to genuinely brighten at the question.
YUUKO: "Anthropology. To be specific, I'm specializing in the history of classical era Athenian civilization and democracy."
She really seems to know her stuff. Such enthusiasm is to be admired, and it's nice to see her genuinely excited about something. I guess even somebody like Yuuko can be happy if she has a visible road ahead of her.
HISAO: "That's good to hear. If you"
(Sudden Silence, Phone Ringing)
Both of us jump at the sudden interruption coming from my pocket. Apologizing profusely and quickly shuffling into the hallway as I fumble with the cover of my mobile phone, I glance at the screen. ...Weird. It's a mobile number I don't recognize. Considering I can count the number of people with my number on one hand, I briefly wonder whether it's some telemarketer that lucked out.
HISAO: "Hello, Hisao Nakai speaking."
???: "Geez, pick up faster next time. Anyway, guess who?"
It only takes me a second to recognize the distinctively deep, brusque voice.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Katawa Shoujo OST - Generic Happy Music
HISAO: "Hey, Misha. Didn't expect you to call me."
AKIRA: "Huh!? Ya actually think I sound like her?"
HISAO: "Not at all, Akira. I don't remember giving you my number though, so I thought I'd mess with you."
AKIRA: "Oh, that? I got Lilly to give it to me. Not hard."
She positively brims with pride at the statement. She's trying to get me caught up in her pace, I know it. I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that the two would share my number though, given how close they are.
HISAO: "So, what's up?"
AKIRA: "You free right now?"
HISAO: "I... guess? Why?"
AKIRA: "Could you meet me at the park in town? I just want to talk to you about some stuff."
HISAO: "Is that an invitation to a date?"
AKIRA: "What? Of course not..."
She sounds suddenly crestfallen, her previous teasing nature having instantaneously left. It seems strange for her.
HISAO: "Anyway, I don't see why not. When do you want to meet?"
AKIRA: "Kind of... now. Ish."
HISAO: "Wait, right now? But it's"
The dead silence suddenly coming from the phone announces the fact that she has unceremoniously hung up. For a long time I just stand there, staring at the CALL ENDED message on the screen while replaying the conversation in my head.
HISAO: "What the hell, Akira?
Throwing a glance up and down the street, I cross the road and step into the park. I've learned to pace myself on such walks, mostly because Lilly's slower speed during our forays into town means I have to consciously slow myself down. That aside, I hope Akira didn't expect me to be immediately prompt.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Nocturne
It takes only a couple of seconds to spot her, waiting on a bench with a can of beer in her hand. The look she gives me as I walk up lacks any hint of acknowledgment or greeting.
HISAO: "What's with that look? I needn't have come, you know."
AKIRA: "I knew you would. You're that kind of person, after all."
I lower my brow at her remark as she disposes of the can, emptied by the time I arrived, and a metallic clatter rings out. Akira takes a seat on the old wooden bench, and I follow her lead. She takes another can of beer from beside her and opens it before speaking, taking a large gulp. She seems to really like that stuff.
HISAO: "I suppose I don't need to ask what this is about, or rather, who it's about?"
AKIRA: "I heard from Lilly that you asked about our family."
They share more than phone numbers, that's for sure. I'd probably be very worried right now if it weren't for the total lack of malice in her voice. Rather, her tone sounds almost wistful.
HISAO: "Idle curiosity, mostly. ...I have to admit, I'd never have guessed you two were half Scottish."
She gives a wry chuckle of amusement.
AKIRA: "I've heard that before, trust me."
The small smile falls from her face, her eyes looking ahead distantly. Aside from the occasional elderly couple talking as they slowly walk the meandering paths, and the odd aging car, it's pleasantly quiet.
AKIRA: "She didn't tell you everything though, did she?"
HISAO: "It was pretty brief. Your parents live in Scotland, she hasn't met them since she was twelve, and she wants to meet them again."
AKIRA: "It's always surprised me how devoted she is to our parents, for all the good they did us."
The way she says it sounds almost derisive. She gives a small sigh, as if to quickly brush the feelings away.
AKIRA: "Why do you think they left, Hisao?"
HISAO: "Why do I think they left? From what Lilly told me, it was because of work. I guess a pretty decently-paying job was involved as well, given the way your parents seem to live. So Lilly went to a private school, and that's why she carries herself with the airs and graces of the upper class."
AKIRA: "Yeah. Since the business in Inverness boomed, our father decided to move directly to the same city as its headquarters. That's just the conclusion I'd thought you'd come to, though. You're too good-natured."
HISAO: "You don't think they left for their career?"
AKIRA: "I'm sitting here bitching to you about it. What do you think? Yamaku Academy. I've always felt that place was kinda creepy; like it was an isolated hideaway for those proper society doesn't want to see nor hear. They probably just rue the fact that Lilly wasn't old enough to be shoved there by the time they left."
A long silence follows her abrupt and very harsh criticism of her own parents, and Yamaku. Lilly's blindness is hardly something that could be simply ignored for a high-class family attempting to keep up appearances, much less so when a lucrative offer is on the table. Eventually Akira gives a derisive snort, her feelings coming to a head.
AKIRA: "Moving to secure our financial future with his new job posting. Even at the time I hardly believed it."
Not wanting to simply be an avenue for her venting, I gently try to steer the discussion.
HISAO: "So you stayed in Japan with Lilly, then?"
AKIRA: "Either I stayed with her, or she went to live with an ailing grandmother and grandfather."
HISAO: "What about Shizune's family? If you're cousins, then..."
AKIRA: "Our fathers hate each other. I'd have been more than happy to tell them to go screw themselves and live with them anyway, but Lilly wouldn't have wanted that. I'd also had an offer for a job by then, so we did our best to keep our parents' house in proper shape, and tried to continue our lives as if they'd never left."
HISAO: "So you just lived by yourselves?"
AKIRA: "Basically. Lilly had school and I had my job, so we weren't exactly languishing. With her schooling, her study, and having to do chores while I worked, though, I can't help feeling like I failed her. In the end, I tried to be there for her, and screwed it up. ...Expecting a nineteen-year-old to be a mother for a blind child. It's ridiculous."
So... Lilly and Akira lived alone after their parents moved, with Lilly largely taking care of herself. I guess that explains her apparent independence, compared to many in Yamaku. I may have lived alone much of the time since my parents both worked, but that's... just something else entirely.
AKIRA: "Sorry for making you listen to my moaning, Hisao."
HISAO: "I don't mind at all, but... do you mind if I ask why you're telling me all this?"
AKIRA: "Hmph. You always were curious. Context, I suppose. Life isn't a fairytale, Hisao. Some people have to learn that the hard way."
She takes a long drink from the can in her hand, her face becoming more depressed than distant.
AKIRA: "I broke up with my boyfriend a few days ago. After I leave, we're not going to be able to see each other again. But that's how life is. You can't just set your life up and expect it to stay that way forever; sometimes stuff happens that you have to roll with, even if it means hurting yourself or others."
She takes a long breath before looking up at the bright orange sky.
AKIRA: "Damn... if I smoked, I could take a nice, long drag right about now and look kinda cool."
I want to respond, to help her in whatever way I can, but I feel utterly useless. This kind of situation is one I've never been in, and I simply don't have the experience to say anything meaningful to comfort her. Akira looks over and evidently picks up on this, much to my embarrassment.
AKIRA: "I must look pretty pathetic right now, whining about this to someone I barely know."
HISAO: "Hardly, and I'm pretty much an expert on looking pathetic."
She gives a chuckle, the act feeling like a personal victory for me.
AKIRA: "You're a good kid, Hisao. When I said that I approved of you being with my sister, I wasn't joking or just being nice."
She picks herself up off the seat with a grunt, one that seems ill-fitting given her age, and throws the now empty can into the bin after one last swig.
AKIRA: "It's just unfortunate that doesn't really count for much in this world.
AKIRA: "When I said that I was leaving for Scotland, I was doing it because a good position opened up in our company's headquarters. When our folks told me that when we were at their place, though, they also gave Lilly a summons to rejoin them in Inverness.