Part 15: ExerciseUpdate 13: Exercise
The halls are somewhat quiet, as expected. Everyone must be in club meetings or at festival preparations. Or both. Shizune's words about being a slacker echo in my head. I feel a bit guilty about not contributing, but I seem to lack the resolve to do something concrete about the matter. For the festival, it's too late already unless I count helping Shizune and Misha which I naturally don't. And clubs... I don't know. Maybe I'm not a club type of a person.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Air Guitar
Halfway through the way from the school building to the dorms I spot a figure in front of the dorms. It's Rin. It looks like she is working on her mural today too. I walk over to her, but she doesn't seem to notice me approaching.
She's sitting on an upturned box, looking intently at the wall she is painting with a brush held between her toes. The mural has progressed considerably since yesterday but it's still only half-done as far as I can tell. More colors have appeared and the twisted human-like figures have spread and increased in number. I have to say, the style is quite eye-catching and very unique. Not that I would be knowledgeable about art by any measurable scale, but it's very nice-looking, nevertheless. I clear my throat to get her attention, but not startle her so that her concentration won't break.
She doesn't even turn to check who it is. I'll wait.
Fifteen minutes later I decide that her concentration is indeed unbroken, and also that I have waited long enough to warrant poking her gently on the shoulder to remind her of my presence. Rin turns her head mechanically to my direction, ending up staring at my crotch level.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Parity (Rin's Theme)
RIN: "Oh, it's Hisao."
She can tell? I would feel a lot less uncomfortable if she would look at my face.
HISAO: "An astute observation. Hard at work, I see."
The conversation starts as if I hadn't been here for a quarter of an hour already, but it's not a concern. At least it starts.
HISAO: "Looking good."
It does, the layers of paint hiding other layers of paint, mixing and shaping the human figures really create an impressive look. But Rin looks miffed.
RIN: "You shouldn't comment on works in progress. Seven years of bad luck."
HISAO: "Sounds terrible. I guess I'll take it back then."
Still, it looks good. I wonder if I get fourteen years of bad luck for thinking that. Rin turns back to look at her painting and pokes it with a big toe.
RIN: "Could you mix some of this color? I am running out of it."
She looks down at a half-empty bowl with the remains of the same pinkish paint in it. I didn't really intend to stay and help her with this project though... I guess I didn't intend to do anything much. I look at Rin, she looks emptily back at me.
HISAO: "Just this once."
Rin picks up another brush and drenches it in another tone of pale red. There are dozens of similar bowls all around her working area. From the looks of this scene she could have been sitting there for hours. I wonder if she has. That would mean she'd have been skipping school though, which I of course wouldn't put beyond someone like Rin. I pour a little bit of white and red into the bowl, trying to match the color with the one already on the wall. I can't seem to get it right. It's really inconvenient of her to not mix enough in the first place. Getting it to be exactly the same tone will be impossible, but at least I can try to get as close as I can.
HISAO: "Speaking of hard work, isn't that a huge workload for you too? It's such a big painting and all."
RIN: "Oh, Im not old and bitter enough yet to think like that."
HISAO: "I guess you aren't."
RIN: "You guessed right.
RIN: "Legs hurt though. They feel like slugs. Slugs made of sea slugs."
HISAO: "Because of the position?"
RIN: "Yeah, I like doing it in a horizontal position more, if you know what I'm talking about. But it can't be helped. Can't ask the wall to lay down."
Saying that, she stretches herself a little, bending her legs and back far more than a human should flex. It's astonishing how effortlessly she manages her body around. There is a small flinch in her otherwise blank expression - a hint of pain maybe - as she stretches out her calves. Rin must have stamina and dexterity far above a normal person to be able to live like she does, but she's wearing out working on this.
HISAO: "Why push yourself so much? Take a break or something at least. Continue tomorrow if it's bad."
This gives her a pause. A long one too, feeling like a mental yawn.
RIN: "I don't think so, Hisao. I'm not pushing myself."
HISAO: "Sure looks like you are."
RIN: "No. It's not about pushing or pulling or anything related to that kind of thing. There is this boy."
HISAO: "A boy?"
RIN: "At the art club."
HISAO: "Err... and?"
RIN: "He is blind."
HISAO: "Oh. How can you paint if you are blind?"
RIN: "No idea."
HISAO: "So why is he there?"
RIN: "That's the point. He is there."
She really should speak more than one word at a time to make this feel more like a discussion and less like an interrogation.
RIN: "He can't really do anything that you'd call art, right? But he comes there anyway. And paints. Why?"
HISAO: "I don't know. Why?"
RIN: "I don't know. That's why I asked."
RIN: "He doesn't paint often but I think his paintings are very interesting."
HISAO: "I'm sure they are."
RIN: "I once tried that. Painting with eyes closed. Wasn't too interesting. And cleaning up the floor took ages. Didn't try again. But he is becoming better at sculpting."
HISAO: "I see."
Maybe she was trying to make a point with this. Maybe she forgot she had one.
HISAO: "Seems like the art club is full of interesting people."
RIN: "Not really."
Pretty blunt statement, and she totally missed the sarcasm.
RIN: "Just like I said. They are not very interesting. I usually don't have much interest in people who are not interesting. Maybe you have."
RIN: "But that boy is interesting. Maybe I am like that boy, or maybe you are. Maybe everyone is. Doing things you can't do, just because you can."
That's pretty deep I think, and tell that to her.
HISAO: "You're a deep one."
RIN: "Nah. I'm a really shallow and thoughtless person. People say that to me all the time. Did you know I can only think of four things at the same time?"
HISAO: "No, but now I do."
RIN: "Right now I'm thinking of the second floor's girls' toilet, ice-cream-flavored ice cream, the middle toe, and a haircut. I'm going to need a haircut."
Her sprite vibrates rapidly between its frontfacing and profile versions.
She shakes her head around vigorously, letting her short and messy hair ruffle wildly around. I can see that doing it is something she likes to do. We fall silent as Rin treads around absentmindedly, poking some brushes around. The thought about the art club sticks in my head for a while longer. I'm feeling like I'm treading on very unknown territory with art. The way these meetings with Rin go, it's as though I'm starting a smoking habit or something. I should probably stop talking with her. Its not like I dislike her, despite the confusion her being herself causes, and I don't dislike art either. Ive even drawn for fun sometimes. I just dont have a real creative drive, or any technical skill. So usually, if I were to draw something, I get white paper syndrome and just freeze completely. That, or I manage to draw something disfigured and promptly get frustrated at my inability to put the picture in my head down on the paper, then call it quits without really even trying to make an effort. Rin clearly doesn't have this problem... but she frustrates me in another way. Being with her is like looking into a mirror that doesn't reflect anything. It makes one question the sanity of the act.
Rin sits down on her box, swaying from side to side, apparently comfortable with the uncomfortable silence. She is staring at me again, or maybe over my shoulder. I cant quite figure out where her eyes are focused on. I'm thinking of leaving so she can carry on working undistracted and that I can do whatever I'm going to do alone. It's not like I have anything that must be done today...
HISAO: "Oh, shoot."
HISAO: "Nobody, I just forgot to tell Hanako that Lilly was looking for her. Do you know her? From my class?"
RIN: "Oh, her. The Mystery Toilet Girl. That person is funny. I saw her going to the toilet five times during one recess three weeks ago. I'm sure it's the world record. It was very mysterious."
HISAO: "That's why you call her Mystery Toilet Girl?"
RIN: "What other reason could there possibly be? Well, if there is, it's an eternal mystery. I didn't follow her in there."
RIN: "Maybe it was the week before that? Could have been."
RIN: "Looking at her makes me hungry."
HISAO: "Don't say that. At least, not around her."
Rin turns to look at me blankly, as if she's not sure why I reproved her. But she doesn't acknowledge understanding any more than before, so I give up at this point.
HISAO: "So do you want to go eat dinner then?"
RIN: "No. Not yet."
Rin has turned her hungry gaze back to the wall, looking slightly more energetic, or at least slightly less lethargic than she did before. It's as if the wall is an opponent she has to vanquish, something she must overcome before she can indulge in dinner. This is the feeling I get. A weird sense of empathy overcomes me and makes me smile a little to myself. For all her oddity, Rin is pretty cool after all.
HISAO: "I'll be going anyway. Have fun."
Rin has already grasped a brush and is dipping it into fresh paint, so of course she can't hear me any more or doesn't answer anything even if she does.
Adhering to the nurse's nagging voice in the back of my head, I set my alarm clock to wake me up early enough to go jogging again. I made a promise and I'm going to keep it. Besides, Emi is bound to rat on me if I don't show up. But it's not all that bad.
You only see this dialogue, and the following scene, if you committed to training earlier; otherwise it routes you down a separate path where you can access every route except Emis (if you meet the right conditions).
(Alarm Clock Beeping)
My morning alarm goes off, and I flail about uselessly for a while until I remember that I'd decided to give morning runs another shot. I don't know if this was my greatest idea, but I'm determined to keep going. This is about my health, after all. Sure, things haven't been great lately for me, but that hasn't made existence so intolerable that I'm not going to try everything I can to stay healthy. Besides, it's all about asserting some kind of control over this thing, right? If I can manage that, well, I can manage anything. At least that's what I keep telling myself.
(Emi Running Sound Effect)
Once again, it would appear that I'm not alone in my run. Emi has apparently been here for some time. It looks like she's already worked up a good sweat. Just when the hell does she come down here, anyway?
Katawa Shoujo OST - Standing Tall (Emi's Theme)
EMI: "Oh, it's you! I'm surprised to see you again!"
HISAO: "Why's that?"
EMI: "Well, not many people actually manage to come back for a second try."
She frowns, seemingly annoyed by a passing thought.
EMI: "Like the rest of the track team, for instance. Still, it was only supposed to be on a volunteer basis, so it's not that big of a shock. And I guess it's pretty early in the morning..."
A shrug, and suddenly it appears that she's forgotten what she was talking about. The frown disappears entirely, and she seems to snap back to her previous train of thought.
EMI: "So! Come on, then!"
EMI: "You're here to run again, right?"
HISAO: "Well, yes."
EMI: "So come on!"
(Running Sound Effect)
I find myself suddenly grabbed and yanked onto the track. Things seem to be set on mirroring yesterday's run. That is, I seem to be struggling, while Emi moves with an effortlessness that I find enviable. It's incredibly bothersome, to be so easily worn out. I know I should be patient, work toward things gradually, but... It's difficult to stay positive about this. We round the track and start on our second lap. Emi seems to have grown impatient keeping pace with me, and begins to pull away. This is where I gave out yesterday.
Will I be able to do more?
>Go for it.
>Take it easy.
This is your last chance to bail on Emis route. Taking it easy here leaves Emi frustrated with you and ends the scene early, kicking you over to the same place youd be if youd refused to commit in the first place. Many firsttime KS players commit to running with Emi because its the logical option and follow through when the game tells them to put their money where their mouth is, which means they pick the first option. Doing so locks them out of Lilly, Hanako, and Rins routes immediately, and unless they got both flags for Shizune earlier, they can only access Emis route. If Im reading the scene flowchart right, its so thoroughly hardlocked they cant even get the bad ending
=>Go for it.
We, however, do this on purpose.
What am I doing here? Am I really just going to fold and let Emi pull ahead? I speed up. The second lap's done quickly, and without even considering it I keep going. Emi looks back over her shoulder at me and grins.
EMI: "Still going?"
HISAO: "Wouldn't *pant* want you *pant* to think I'm outta shape *pant*"
Emi laughs - without breaking her stride, no less - and speeds up even more.
The running sound effect speeds up.
Emi laughs - without breaking her stride, no less - and speeds up even more. Well, if this is the way we're going to play things... I increase my own pace as well. I can feel my lungs burning, and my legs are starting to question just what the hell I think I'm doing. Lactic acid screams in my muscles, but I close my ears. I can't let myself fall behind, because that would be a loss. The rational voice in my head inquires mildly just when we started playing a game. I'd answer it, but I'm having a lot of trouble thinking at present. She's so fast. How the hell does she keep it
When the game transitions from a music track to silence, the switch is usually so subtle you dont notice it if youre not paying attention. This time the song cuts off mid-note.
It's like a string pulling at my chest, a choking feeling of narrowness and pain. Before I can think of anything else than Oh shit, the track disappears from under my feet.
I stumble, one hand shooting down to clutch at my chest, the other hitting the track to keep me from falling on my face.
The running sound effect cuts off abruptly.
Emi whirls around and her eyes widen.
It starts up again, even faster.
She yells at me, sprinting from the other side of the track.
EMI: "What's wrong?"
HISAO: "NnghNothing, just..."
Keep your breathing steady.
Calm down. Don't panic.
EMI: "Do you need me to get the nurse?"
I close my eyes, shutting out the outside world.
My heart struggles to regain its rhythm. Slowly, the pain in my chest begins to subside. Soon it's gone like nothing happened. It was... nothing?
Katawa Shoujo OST - Caged Heart
No, something happened there.
I open my eyes again and glance at a very worried Emi.
HISAO: "I think I'm fine."
My voice sounds weird even to myself, oddly even and matter-of-fact. It makes Emi frown.
EMI: "I don't think you are."
She seems to come to a decision, and nods to herself.
EMI: "Right. You're coming with me. You've got to see the nurse."
Emi grabs my arm and drags me up. I feel a bit wobbly, but I refuse the shoulder Emi offers for support. Honestly, I'm a little ashamed by my own weakness. I'd really rather not have Emi concerned about me, but it seems to be too late. Heck, I'd really rather not have anyone concerned about my condition, though at this point, it seems to be too late for that as well. I'd like to be able to deal with the whole thing on my own, without being a bother to anyone else. While I'm wishing for things, I'd rather not have this condition in the first place.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Ah Eh I Oh You
Emi crashes into his office without knocking, but it doesn't alarm the nurse in the least.
NURSE: "Good morning, sunshine. What's up?" Anyway, he calmly sips from his coffee mug but lays it down after following Emi's gaze to me looming in the doorway.
NURSE: "Hisao? What brings you here?"
EMI: "We were running and he stumbled over and started grabbing at his chest and I thought I'd come get you and make him wait there but he said he was okay but then I thought you should see him anyway and
NURSE: "Easy there, Emi. Calm down. Hisao, what happened?"
HISAO: "I don't know. We were running, and then my chest started hurting like that time before, but it went away after a few seconds. It was just a flutter or something."
The nurse frowns, as if to say that just a flutter is some kind of oxymoron.
NURSE: "I didn't mean quite this when I suggested to get some exercise. You've got to be more careful, Hisao."
HISAO: "I was being careful, I just..."
Come to think of it, I just got into a race with a member of the track team doesn't seem as well reasoned as I thought it would.
NURSE: "You just what?"
HISAO: "Er... that is... I was racing Emi."
NURSE: "Emi, is this true?"
Emi fidgets, looking adorably contrite.
EMI: "Um, well..."
Finally she can't seem to bring herself to say it aloud, and merely nods. The nurse sighs and rubs at his forehead with one hand tiredly.
NURSE: "Emi, you've got to be more sensitive to the limits of others! I don't know if he told you, but Hisao has a bad heart, and getting him to race you was incredibly irresponsible.
HISAO: "Er, actually I started it."
The nurse is stunned by my statement.
NURSE: "You WHAT?"
HISAO: "We were just running, and Emi started to pull away, and so I uh, sped up to catch her."
The nurse stares at the ceiling, mutters a prayer for patience to some god or another, and looks back down at the both of us.
NURSE: "So you're both stupid. That's a comfort, I guess. Now come on, Hisao. I've got to make sure your heart's not going to explode or something."
I dutifully obey and follow him to the adjacent room where we ascertain that I am, in fact, not going to keel over and die.
NURSE: "So how does it feel?"
HISAO: "I don't know. Nothing much. Tired, but it might be just from the exercise."
NURSE: You should stay here for a few hours and rest, and we'll see how you feel after that.
I am not going to object, so I lie down on the infirmary bed. A thoroughly miserable Emi comes in after getting an earful from the nurse in the other room. I couldn't hear what he said through the closed door, but I'm sure it wasn't pleasantries.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Raindrops and Puddles
EMI: "Look, I'm really, really sorry. I should've been more careful."
HISAO: "Hey, you didn't know. It's not your fault."
She looks awfully down and sorry, and my reassurances don't do anything much to cheer her up.
EMI: "I want to make it up to you."
Again with that decisive nod.
EMI: "So you have to come to lunch with me. I'll bring it for you, okay? Something really really good!"
I start with a You don't have to... but then shut up and just nod at her when I see her face.
EMI: "Good! We meet on the roof."
EMI: "Yep! The weather's nice now, so the roof's a great spot for lunch, you know."
HISAO: "I see."
EMI: "You'll come, right? You wouldn't deny me the chance to make it up to you?"
HISAO: "Of course not."
EMI: "Great! See you there!"
I stay afloat somewhere between asleep and awake, feeling completely drained. Not only my body, but all of me is limp and paralyzed, apart from my senses. I swallow with difficulty and then try to lie as still as I can, which in this state is not a very hard thing to do. The nurse is shuffling around on the other side of the curtains he drew to give me privacy. I can see his shadow shifting about in the sunlight. He has opened the window of his office. It's windy outside. The clean white curtains flutter in the breeze in a heavy, lazy motion, like waves. Light sifts through them slowly, half absorbing into the fabric.
The music transitions seamlessly to silence.
I close my eyes. The breeze on my face feels like the soft fabric of the curtains. I listen to the sound of my heartbeat for a moment, trying to shut out the sound of the nurse tapping away on his computer, and my own heavy breathing. It's steady. Damn it, not even a week and I end up like this again. I really screwed up this time. Should've known better than to play the half-baked sports star in front of a real one. And why did I try to act brave, like that heart flutter was no big deal, even when it was obvious that it was? It was just a reflex, to push it away, to keep it inside.
I didn't want it to happen.
I didn't want Emi to see it.
Aaah... Stupidstupidstupid. I have to be more careful, or I will end up in the hospital again, or worse. ... That's my final thought before I give in to the tiredness.
Katawa Shoujo OST Daylight
I fell asleep. For how long? What time is it? I'm feeling a little lightheaded and I keep blinking compulsively. Pushing the curtain aside, I squint my eyes against the unfiltered light pouring in from the window. The texture of the canvas feels nothing like the wind did before. The nurse looks up from his work, sitting exactly where he was before.
NURSE: "How are you feeling?"
I can't really tell, so I don't answer anything. I'm feeling kinda groggy from falling asleep at such a weird time, hopefully I don't look too weird.
HISAO: "What time is it?"
Me croaking the question to gain some orientation. The nurse looking at his wristwatch before answering. Things seem to happen in slow motion.
NURSE: "Quarter past ten."
I try to think for a moment what that means but I'm not really sure.
NURSE: "You didn't answer my question, Hisao."
HISAO: "Oh. Fine."
NURSE: "Climb down from that bed then, and lets see how you are doing. Dont..."
The screen shakes and blurs.
I try to do exactly that, only to sway dizzily when I move too fast. The nurse moves to support me by an arm and sighs.
NURSE: "...stand up too quickly, is what I was going to say. Just sit there, Ill check your pressure to make sure."
My good intentions sure lasted for a long time. I shut up, embarrassed with myself, while the nurse gets busy with an old-fashioned contraption and my arm. After a couple of minutes, he puts it away, looking neither pleased nor unhappy.
NURSE: "Youre all right. Head stopped spinning?"
NURSE: "Good. And how are the contents doing?
NURSE: You didnt show very good judgment out there, Hisao."
I swallow the retort I was going to make. Its what I was thinking myself, but hearing it stated by somebody else makes me want to protest. What hes saying is not pleasant to hear. Doesnt make him any less right.
HISAO: "No, sir."
He nods, still looking as neutral as he was before. It would be easy to be angry at him if he said Told you so or something, but he doesnt.
NURSE: "I can try and help you to keep your health, but ultimately the last call lies with you. Hopefully this little episode will be something thatll remind you of that.
NURSE: "Here, a note for your teacher. To avoid an interrogation."
I take the slip of paper he's offering and then make my leave as I can't think of anything else to say, nor even really want to.
NURSE: "Stay out of trouble, you hear me? I don't think it was anything but a scare, but next time could be different."
I hear you.