Part 137: FarewellUpdate 124: Farewell (Act 4, Scene 9)
Katawa Shoujo OST - Afternoon
HISAO: "There, finished."
I lean my head back and rub my eyes to try and work away their weariness. Staring at that small and rather poor screen's taken its toll.
LILLY: "Excellent timing; the only thing left is to file these away and I'll have my workload finished as well."
HISAO: "Good. I can pack up the Brailler and put it away while you do that."
LILLY: "Thank you, Hisao."
HISAO: "Misha, are you and Shizune far from being done?"
I look around for the two as I replace the cover over the Brailler, only to see them waiting at the door. I guess they must be waiting for us.
With a minimum of wasted time, we file and pack up everything that remains and join them.
HISAO: "Thanks for waiting, you two."
MISHA: "We couldn't just take off without you, Hicchan, you've been a great help!"
Shizune nods approvingly, pleased with my efforts.
HISAO: "I guess... that's the last class representative work done and over with, then."
LILLY: "That's right."
MISHA: "I'll miss you, Lilly. I think it was fun working with you."
LILLY: "Thank you, Misha. It's been good working with you... and Shizune."
Shizune thinks for a moment before formulating her response. It's not that she often communicates without thinking, quite the opposite, but this time it's even more considered than usual.
Misha looks a little surprised before passing on the message.
MISHA: "Shizune says... you'd better do your work over there better than you did it here."
Far from taking offense, Lilly giggles into her hand.
LILLY: "If that's the case, then please tell Shizune to give those still here a little more understanding in the future."
Competitive until the last. Maybe Shizune and Lilly aren't so different after all.
MISHA: "Shicchan says that she'll be checking to make sure you live up to your end of the promise."
LILLY: "Then that's how it will be. I'd better be off, then. Goodbye, Shizune. Goodbye, Misha. Hisao?"
Lilly takes a hold of my arm in hers, there being no need for a cane if I'm here to guide her. With a nod of farewell to the two, we set off out the door and make our way to the school grounds. As I turn to wave goodbye to them, I notice Shizune's gaze lingering on Lilly. They may annoy each other, but family bonds aren't easily broken.
HISAO: "Got all your papers sorted, then?"
LILLY: "Yes, they've all been filled out and handed in."
HISAO: "On top of things as always, aren't you?"
She gives an earnest smile at the compliment, but it feels as if her happiness is just a veneer over the fact that she's fully aware of how much she's leaving behind. It reminds me of how she was like when I first met her; always smiling, always that little bit aloof, always that little distance away from everybody. Even now, she still maintains that air around many others, especially those she's not close to. I had hoped that our time together would have changed that fact.
Our pace slows, the two of us coming to a halt in the all but empty school gardens.
LILLY: "Hisao? Is something the..."
Katawa Shoujo OST - Comfort
Lilly's words are cut short as I turn and wrap my arms around her, pulling her tight. I may not usually be given to such impulsive actions, but I just want to be close to her, even if it's the last time I'll be able to. All the other students have retreated to their dormitories and homes, only the ruffling of leaves in the breeze making any sound whatsoever.
As I draw back, I can see she has dropped her carefully maintained smile. Her hand hesitates, wanting neither to leave nor to stay on my features. She is putting up a brave show, but her slight trembling gives her away. Lilly may be able to control herself well, but even she can't hold her composure together now. This is the woman I've come to love, but also the one who in all too short a time will leave the country forever.
LILLY: "I'm sorry, Hisao."
HISAO: "It's okay. You've got your own life to lead, after all."
We walk up the hallway in the girls' dormitory hand in hand, our emotions by now largely quelled. Nevertheless, our hands grip each other's much more tightly than before. Faint, muffled voices can be heard from Lilly's room, the origins of which aren't difficult to guess.
The moment she opens the door, Hanako bursts through and wraps her arms around Lilly, taking her very obviously by surprise.
HANAKO: "Lilly! Lilly!"
HANAKO: "I'm going to miss you... Lilly..."
As expected, she's on the verge of tears. Lilly gently rubs Hanako's hair with her hand in response, then pulls back and gives a warm, reassuring smile.
Looking beyond Hanako, Akira can be seen getting up from the side of Lilly's bed and scratching her head. Her eyes turn from Lilly and Hanako to me, a stilted, weak smile hanging on her face. I try to return a more genuinely happy look, but the result is probably just the same.
AKIRA: "So, everything set? Managed to hold back from killing Shizune?"
The comment draws an amused giggle from her sister.
LILLY: "Yes, I have everything in order, and yes, I managed not to. Have you packed everything you need?"
AKIRA: "Got the two bags right here, but there's still some stuff left at the Hakamichis' home. I can pick that up while we wait there for tomorrow evening's flight, though."
Akira gives the two large black traveling bags on the floor a hearty pat. She probably came to help pack and make sure everything was in order on Lilly's end, before going together with her.
HANAKO: "Lilly... will you be okay... over there?"
LILLY: "I'll be all right, I assure you. I'll have Akira looking after me as well, and you know that she's reliable."
LILLY: "Don't worry, Hanako. I have your phone number after all, so we can stay in touch. With Akira's help, I could send you things over the Internet as well."
AKIRA: "Hey, don't use me just because you won't learn how to use a computer."
Hanako and Lilly both giggle briefly, the mood lightening ever so little.
LILLY: "That goes for you too though, Hisao. I promise I'll contact you once I'm in Scotland."
HISAO: "I know. I'll be looking forward to it."
Her offer may be kind, but we both know that this is tantamount to breaking up. Neither of us has any illusions as to how well we'd manage a long-distance relationship. With nary a word of prompting, the four of us begin the long, solemn walk to the school gate.
The numerous lamps scattered around the Yamaku grounds fail to do much more than provide pinpoints of light in an otherwise dense darkness. A car parked on the road just outside the school grounds comes into view, its shining black exterior reflecting the dimly lit lamps of Yamaku. I call out to Akira in an effort to alleviate a bit the heavy atmosphere.
HISAO: "That your car? What kind is it?"
AKIRA: "Don't know much about cars, do you? It's a Lancer Evo. Solid and speedy."
Well, it's not as if her comment on my knowledge is off the mark. I've never really taken an interest in them. She gives a small sigh.
AKIRA: "She's been good. Pity I have to part with it tomorrow, just like the summerhouse. You guys were the last to visit it before it changed hands."
Turning back from my rather faulty attempt at smalltalk, I glance at Hanako and Lilly, following behind us. By rights, Hanako should be leading Lilly, but it's rather definitely the other way around as she clings tightly to Lilly's arm. It's a depressing sight.
AKIRA: "So... I guess this is it."
Although the time for everyone to say their farewells is now, nobody really wants to take the first step. It's as if the longer nobody speaks, the better the chances of them simply not leaving.
HANAKO: "Lilly... do you really have to go?"
LILLY: "I'm sorry, Hanako. I won't be leaving you forever, though; I can still call you. Hisao will still be here as well."
I nod, but Hanako just clutches all the tighter to Lilly's arm. After spending so long without anyone to call family, it must be excruciating to have to say goodbye to the one person that was as close to a mother as anyone could have been in her life. Lilly lets out a long, sad breath. All Akira and I can really do is stand by quietly on the sidelines, since the only person that can solve this would be Lilly herself.
Eventually, Lilly pulls her arm from Hanako's grip and holds both of her shoulders gently, a much more decisive way of address than I've ever seen Lilly take with her.
LILLY: "Hanako, remember when we first met? When you entered my room for the first time after overhearing my consoling of a friend, you didn't say a single word for the entire night. Even as I poured you tea and talked, you sat silently and simply listened to what I said. It took many quiet meetings like that before you began to open up to me, but as you began to, I felt some of the happiest moments I've ever felt. I didn't become your friend because I pitied you, Hanako. I became your friend because I knew you were hiding not just from me, but from everyone. Your ambitions, personality, interests, tastes... I didn't know any of them, and neither did anybody else. As you showed yourself to me though, I began to realize the person that you were, and became sure that our meeting was a very special moment."
HANAKO: "But I..."
Lilly cuts her words short as she brings her hand to Hanako's head and brushes her fringe to the side, gently pressing her lips to Hanako's forehead. As she pulls her head back, leaving Hanako all but speechless and her eyes moist, Lilly beams a wide smile.
LILLY: "I believe you are a very beautiful person, Hanako, and I am certain that you will become a strong and confident woman. You are a very dear friend, and someone whom I love very much. Just like Hisao, I will never forget you for as long as I live. I may be leaving, but you have your own life here to lead. Just as I do, you have your own friends and hobbies, and your own hopes after graduation. I want you to devote yourself to them, even after I'm not around any more. That is why I think you will be okay. Because you are your own self, with your own life. You yourself proved that to me."
Hanako lowers her head in embarrassment, but nods as she does so.
HANAKO: "I... I understand... I know I have to say goodbye... I know you have to go your own way... But... thank you, Lilly. For everything."
LILLY: "Thank you, Hanako. Will you be okay?"
There are a few seconds of silence before the answer comes.
HANAKO: "I will."
Lilly smiles, undoubtedly at least partly in relief.
LILLY: "That makes me very happy, then. Goodbye."
HANAKO: "Goodbye... Lilly."
LILLY: "And farewell to you as well, Hisao."
HISAO: "Goodbye. I'll miss you."
She pauses for a moment before walking up to me. Her right hand, outstretched in front of her, takes a hold of my shoulder. Her left hand slowly and daintily reaches towards my face, taking my cheek in her palm. For a while she simply holds my face, her fingers just slightly moving to take in its contours. Usually her hand would be warm when doing such a thing, but the night air's given her skin a cool edge. I'm not sure how long we stay like this, her clouded eyes pointed just below my own as she wears a wistful, almost distant smile. Eventually, though, I take her cold hand in mine. It's difficult to do so, but with a slight sigh I gently remove her hand from my cheek.
HISAO: "I hope you have a long and happy life, Lilly, no matter where you might go."
LILLY: "Thank you. I'll make sure to."
She takes a long, trembling breath before turning slightly towards Akira's direction.
With a nod, she takes Lilly's hand and begins to guide her to the car parked outside the gates. They both walk slowly and deliberately, as if their movements had been rehearsed in advance. It's strange to feel like this now, watching somebody leave Yamaku. The feeling of unease I have now reminds me of the first time I walked through those black wrought iron gates, that always looked far too pompous for what they were. As they leave, all of us know full well that our lives are irreversibly changing. I'd always told myself that I just have to take life as it comes, but everything's changing so fast, so suddenly. In the end, Lilly's an irreplaceable part of the lives of both Hanako and I. The noise of Akira opening the passenger door for Lilly brings me out of my thoughts, her hand waving back as Lilly gets in.
AKIRA: "Seeya guys! Take care of yourselves!"
LILLY: "Goodbye Hanako, goodbye Hisao!"
Hanako's hand quickly shoots up, her face brightened by her enthusiastic farewell.
HANAKO: "Goodbye Lilly! Goodbye!"
HISAO: "See you, Akira, and goodbye Lilly!"
The door shuts as we all put on our best happy farewell faces, Akira getting in the car herself and starting it up in short measure. Lilly's hand can just be seen waving through the tinted windows, both of our hands waving high as well. Just as every other time I've done such things, I can't quite work out precisely why I, or Hanako, wave to her given that she'd never see us doing so. But it doesn't matter. Even after that black, shiny car goes down the hill and disappears into the dark night, we carry on waving and seeing Akira and Lilly off.
And then... they're gone. A strange stillness takes over as our hands return to our sides. I don't quite know what I should do or how I should feel. In the end, we just stand there silently staring down at where the car disappeared from sight.
HANAKO: "Goodbye... Lilly."
All I can do in response to her quiet, mournful goodbye is to place a hand on her shoulder. She looks at me for a few moments before looking back down the hill, secure in the knowledge that I'm still around for her. What we'll do from now doesn't seem all that uncertain. We all have our own ambitions now, just as Lilly said. But even so, it feels like there's a certain missing part in both of our lives now. Something that can never be replaced.