Part 98: A Wider Field of VisionUpdate 88: A Wider Field of Vision (Act 2, Scenes 1-2)
Cloudland Swing - Katawa Shoujo OST/Cinematic
A yellow dandelion sprouts in the clouds.
Someone picks it and holds it in their hand.
We jump to Rin dipping her brush in a palette and painting in a schoolroom in the afternoon sun. She leans back in her chair as she paints, her vision blurs, and her eyes close
And we watch as the scene transforms, her body and surroundings recast in the same disembodied body parts aesthetic as her mural but taken to a nightmarish beautiful extreme.
The dream startles her awake.
She puts her foot down and we see shes making a self-portrait. An extremely detailed self-portrait.
It cocks its head curiously at her.
Back in the clouds, the dandelion has matured in a mans hands.
Rin lies sleeping.
Hisao grimaces, holding the dandelion in front of him as Rin rests in a bed of a short distance away.
He shakes off the seeds, and they drift over her head.
She wakes up and turns to look.
Her eyes are clouded.
Theres no one there.
And with that we begin Act 2.
Katawa Shoujo OST - School Days
It's already half past eight, but this morning's class has not yet begun. We were supposed to have physics but the teacher is nowhere to be seen. Had I known this beforehand, I would have slept in too. Suddenly the classroom door slams open and Mutou grunts his morning greeting to us from the doorway.
MUTOU: "Good morning, everyone!"
Mutou looks like he has not slept at all. The stubble, his messier-than-normal hair, and the stained dress shirt create a less than favorable impression. I guess he had fun last night at the festival too.
MUTOU: "Excuse my being late, I ran into unexpected problems. I'm usually not one for festivals like this, but I hope you all had a good time. After all, these sorts of events are important for you all, since they give you a short reprieve from schoolwork."
The class replies with various degrees of enthusiasm, and Mutou proceeds to take roll and get started.
MUTOU: "Right, then. Today's subject is photon particle physics..."
Before long, I have descended into a comfortable coma-like state along with the rest of the class, letting Mutou's rambling speeches pass through one ear and exit the other without leaving a trace.
MUTOU: "Now, who could tell us the solution to this problem?"
He's written a rather easy equation on the blackboard. Desperately, he tries to get the class to participate.
MUTOU: "Nobody? Come on, guys. Nakai, how about you?"
Unfairly singled out and cornered, I give him an answer. It causes his shaggy features to twist into a genial smile that would scare little children senseless.
MUTOU: "Precisely! Good work, Nakai!"
I'm both disturbed and honored by the fact that he can remember my name only one week after I transferred here. From what I've seen, Mutou has serious trouble remembering the names of anybody else in the class, and most of them have been here since the first year. The room settles into a dreary mood, students and teacher alike trying to get back on track after the festival. I figure last week must've been frantic for everyone. Not a minute too soon, the lunch bells ring.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Hokabi
???: "MAKE WAY! IMPORTANT BUSINESS!"
I turn my head just in time to see other people scatter out of the way as someone charges from the far end of the corridor towards the stairwell. It's too late to realize that I'm standing in the middle of the corridor, directly in the way of the oncoming human projectile. I try to skip back towards the doorway. Unfortunately, the person running towards me dodges in the same direction. In the following fraction of a second several things come to mind in sequence, yet almost simultaneously.
First, I recognize that the girl who is on a collision course with me is Emi. Second, I realize that it feels somehow very natural to be tackled by Emi once again. I could feel almost comfortable if not for the reflexive panic and terror. Third, Emi seems to be carrying a foot-tall stack of papers while running in the hallway. She crashes into me, but at least the impact was a grazing one on my arm this time.
HISAO: "Gee, I wonder. Could it possibly have anything to do with you running through the corridor like you were on fire?"
She whimpers regretfully, looking like a hurt puppy. The sight makes me regret my snappish comment the very instant it emerges from my lips.
EMI: "But... I was in a hurry."
HISAO: "I can tell."
HISAO: "Don't worry about it."
Emi wails weakly one last time and rubs her forehead as if to expel the ache while her gaze sweeps over the hallway floor. As she notices her neat stack of papers spread all over the floor in one big mess, she lets out a horrified yelp.
EMI: "Aah! The printouts! Oh no oh no, what am I going to do? Teacher will give me hell if they get dirty."
HISAO: "They're probably fine. Let's gather them back up; it won't be a problem."
We quickly round up the papers, and Emi tries to sort the scattered pile in her hands back into the orderly stack it was.
EMI: "Where are you going?"
HISAO: "Nowhere in particular, I guess. Didn't want to be left alone with Mutou in the classroom. I think he has a hangover."
EMI: "Have you eaten lunch?"
HISAO: "Not yet, but I'm not feeling very hungry anyway."
She looks at me incredulously, as if doubting my sanity for letting such a thing out of my mouth.
EMI: "You should go to the roof! I promised Rin I would eat lunch with her. I bet she'd like company."
Uh-oh. My lunches with Rin have been remarkably unsuccessful. I know where this conversation is going and it's hard to not get drawn along, so I have little choice but to play ball.
HISAO: "OK, I'll go pick up some bread or something first."
Emi smiles brightly before I say anything further.
EMI: "No no, I'll go and deliver these super-quick, and then go buy lunch for us. And Rin, too, of course. What kind of bread do you like?"
HISAO: "It's fine, you really don't need to..."
EMI: "Don't worry, it's all right. Consider it an apology. I'll be back before you know it!"
HISAO: "That's what I'm worried about. Don't get into another accident."
Emi starts walking down the hall, but since she's still talking to me, she isn't watching where she's going.
EMI: "I won't!"
Famous last words. She's already jogging down the stairs as she shouts that not-so-reassuring promise back to me. Sighing quietly, I start plodding along in her wake. But instead of taking the stairs down, I climb upwards. The stairwell up to the roof is unlit and just as creepy as it was before.
The door squeaks weakly in protest as I push it open. Rin is there too, like Emi said, lying on her back at the other end of the pebble-covered rooftop for some reason. Predicting something unnecessarily strange again, I walk to her as slowly as possible.
She sounds very drowsy as she says that, stretching the end of the word with a slurred voice. Despite that, her eyes are wide open.
I look down at her, my shadow overlapping her face.
HISAO: "What are you doing?"
Rin raises an eyebrow.
RIN: "I thought you had a heart problem, not an eye problem."
She answers, challenging the rationale of my perfectly valid question without even tilting her head to look at me. Rin's smartass comments are infuriating. The worst thing is that I'm not sure if she's doing it on purpose or not.
HISAO: "All right, then. Let me rephrase: Why are you lying on your back on the rooftop?"
She gives a lazy shrug and sniffs dismissively.
RIN: "I'm trying to experience. People probably don't do this enough."
HISAO: "What exactly are you trying to experience here? I can't really tell, but there's probably a reason people don't do... whatever."
She's playing dodgeball with me again, answering my attempt at small talk with riddles I don't want to puzzle out. But I don't want to ignore her, either.
RIN: "Yeah, but the reason is that everyone is too busy with their lives to pay attention to the really important things."
HISAO: "Like watching the sky?"
She tears her gaze away from the sky and finally looks straight at me. The penetrating deepness of her eyes once she focuses them on something is startling.
RIN: "You know, if you were a girl I could see your panties."
HISAO: "If I was a girl, I wouldn't come this close to anyone who tried to sneak a peek at my panties. I have that much common sense."
RIN: "I wouldn't either, but sometimes it can't be avoided. Like now, for example. To tell you the truth, I don't even really want to peek at your panties though. Underpants are the soul of a girl. You shouldn't peek at someone else's soul. Even if you are not a girl."
HISAO: "As a guy, I guess I can understand that. To us, they're some sort of half-mythical object that we can't quite comprehend."
RIN: "Yeah, that's exactly how I think about them too. What a coincidence."
HISAO: "It really is. So did you have world history in the morning class?"
RIN: "I skipped class."
HISAO: "To do this?"
RIN: "Well, I'm not actually doing what it looks like I am doing, or at least I think that what I am doing doesn't look like what I look like, but from your perspective... probably
RIN: Yeah, I skipped class to do this."
HISAO: "I guess whatever your reason is, it's as good as any."
Giving in to the tired feeling in my legs, I sit down on the roof next to Rin. The pebbles are not the most comfortable bed in the world, but if she can stand it, then I should be able to as well.
RIN: "What are you waiting for?"
RIN: "Try it."
I bend my neck backwards to take a look where she is looking.
The silvery blue sky, dotted by herds of cloud-sheep, fills my field of vision entirely. While it's pretty, the view is nothing special even though the weather is fair. I give a shrug, trying my best to imitate the nonchalant manner which Rin seems to have evolved to perfection, and lie down on my back. The stones poke at my back through my thin shirt whenever I shift my weight even a little, forcing me to keep as still as possible. I try to ignore the discomfort and myself, instead concentrating on the vastness over us.
Far above, the summer clouds drift soundlessly across the dome of the sky. Neither of us has anything more to say, thus silence covers the rooftop. The subdued noises of students on their lunch break, cicadas in the trees and traffic buzzing past the school are humming pleasantly somewhere in the background.
HISAO: "Listen, I had a great time yesterday."
RIN: "Did you?"
HISAO: "Well, to be honest, no. But it was all right. It was probably the longest time I've ever sat in one place without doing anything, which is kinda impressive."
I try to make it sound as convincing as possible.
RIN: "Is that impressive?"
HISAO: "I think it is. I'm usually too restless to do anything like that."
RIN: "I think I had a good time too."
A cloud passes above us, casting its shadow on the school. A chill surges through me from the sudden change of sunlight to shade. I realize that summer is not in its full bloom quite yet. The only measure of time passing is the slow pace of the clouds moving towards the town. Stray beams of golden sunlight leak through the gaps, blinding me for a moment whenever they hit me directly in the eyes. The blue of the sky looks so unreachable.
This reminds me of the time I spent in the hospital, where I was bored out of my mind on a daily basis. Somehow, it didn't matter after a while. I learned to appreciate other things besides watching TV and gossiping with people I didn't even like.
A comprehensive sensation of calmness spreads from my sight to my other senses, finally hitting my brain. An airplane zooms by, leaving two thin contrails in its wake like a pair of chalk lines drawn from one end of the sky to the other. I wonder where it is heading to. The low din of its engines carries all the way down to my ears, although it's barely audible over the racket from the quad.
RIN: "It's nice."
HISAO: "It's nice, but I don't understand why this is more important than going to class."
RIN: "Isn't it good to do something you like? Every once in a while?"
HISAO: "Of course, but"
EMI: "What are you doing?"
Emi has snuck up on us without either noticing and is only a step away from me, holding several packages wrapped in plastic film in her arms.
She leans forwards and peeks over me, overshadowing my face almost exactly the same way I overshadowed Rin before. I wonder how weird this looks, the two of us lying on our backs on the rooftop.
HISAO: "That's what I asked, too."
RIN: "I would be more concerned about what you are doing. If I were you, I wouldn't come that close to people who could see your panties."
Katawa Shoujo OST - Katawa Shoujo OST - Generic Happy Music
Emi's voice is scandalized, but she quickly takes a step backward, pressing her hands against the front of her skirt so abruptly that the parcels of bread she was carrying fall. I quickly avert my eyes, and glance angrily at Rin. She pretends not to see me.
EMI: "Hisao isn't like that, right?"
Emi scowls at Rin and crouches down to pick up the packages. She wipes the dust off them, and skips lithely around me to Rin's other side where she sets herself down.
EMI: "Anyway, here's your bread. Sorry it took a while."
HISAO: "That's all right. Thanks for treating me."
I pull myself up into a sitting position and gratefully accept the bread Emi is offering. All three of us ravenously dig into the simple meal. The bread is surprisingly decent and readily fills my stomach.
I follow from the corner of my eye the skill with which Rin handles her bread between her feet.
EMI: "I haven't seen you on the track in a few days."
HISAO: "Oh. Right, I... figured it was too heavy a routine for me to start with."
EMI: "So you've been doing something else?"
HISAO: "I've been considering my options."
She frowns but doesn't pursue the issue further, for which I'm thankful. Emi seems pretty headstrong and I wouldn't really want to get pestered by her about this on a daily basis. I have enough burdens to bear with Shizune and Misha already. We barely finish the lunch before the bells ring, calling us back to our classrooms.
Misha waves at me as soon as I enter, and starts talking before I even make my way across the classroom.
MISHA: "How was your festival? Did you have fun?"
HISAO: "Umm... still somewhat undecided on that. I'd say probably. Why?"
MISHA: "Wahaha~, just asking, just asking!"
Her eyes glint in a way that tell me she's not just asking. I can't even start to guess her motives, though. As the well-timed entrance of the English teacher prevents us from talking further, Misha falls back to plan B.
Mishas note posted:
I was there all day with Shicchan! We had a lot of fun!
Hisaos note posted:
Weren't you supposed to be doing work?
Mishas note posted:
Don't worry! Everything went really well.
I don't reply to that, and she leaves me alone after Shizune demands her attention.
My own attention, on the other hand, is directed out the windows. Now that I look at it from here, through the window and the foliage just outside, the sky seems smaller. I catch only small glimpses of blue; everything else is a clutter of noise right in the middle of my field of vision. What experience did Rin want out of staring at the sky? Surely she's done it before. Everyone has. It's no use trying to guess her mind, but if I don't do that, then I have no excuse for not concentrating on the teacher's words. I look at the scribbles appearing on the blackboard, trying to figure out their meaning with little success. English really is not my favorite subject. We have a strong mutual dislike for each other.
Katawa Shoujo OST - School Days
Thick, hot afternoon light invades the corridor, making the air feel heavy and lazy. My body feels weighed down by it as I drag it two doors down the hallway to the art classroom. Maybe this is part of the reason why I didn't join any clubs before: afternoons just aren't suited for activity.
I knock on the door of the art room and open it. A girl who was possibly doing something important with the scroll of paper she's carrying turns to reckon me, and smiles in a sweet if a bit confused manner.
HISAO: "This is the art club, right?"
STUDENT: "Yep. You interested in joining?"
HISAO: "Yeah. In fact, I might already have done so, but we'll see."
I give her a weak smile, and her own widens a notch, making me feel less nervous.
STUDENT: "Great! Have a seat, then. We'll start when the teacher gets here."
Without even scouting the room for a good spot, I walk quickly to the back of the room and settle myself on a free seat, apart from everyone else. A few other members are lounging in their seats, waiting for the teacher. Rin sits alone in a window seat, looking outside. She's the only person here that I know, although a guy I've never really gotten along with from my own class is here, too. Nobody else comes to greet me - maybe introductions are left for later? - so I just settle for silent observation as well. One boy has sunglasses on; an odd sight indoors, were we not at Yamaku. I'll bet he's the blind student Rin was talking about."
The wait proves to be extremely short.
Katawa Shoujo OST - Fripperies
NOMIYA: "Good afternoon, everyone! First things first: Hisao there is a new member, so everyone get along with him."
He winks at me unsettlingly. All eight members of the club, including myself, answer his greeting with considerably less enthusiasm. Still, people finally straighten up in their seats and begin to pay attention.
NOMIYA: "I think some of you still have projects to work on, so please continue with those if you like. As for the rest, I was thinking that today, we could do some rough studies. "How does that sound?"
Nobody answers except with some unintelligible murmurs, which Nomiya apparently interprets as unanimous approval.
NOMIYA: "All right, then! Everyone not working on other projects, choose a partner and draw a sketch of one another. You should be able to complete this today, but if not, we can continue it next time, or even do it again if you find it interesting. Remember to pay attention to lighting and shadow, and give it your best!"
Pairing up? I feel pretty awkward about it, hardly knowing anyone here. I wish someone would ask me to be their partner. People stand up and move their chairs closer together, but nobody comes to me. Pretty soon, everyone else has paired off. Friends team up with each other, but I'm left alone. Well, there is Rin. She's sitting in the furthest corner of the classroom, still staring out the window and seemingly uninterested in taking part in the exercise. Since she's the only other one without a partner, I walk to her seat. I can't see her face because her hair is covering most of it and she's looking away from me.
I call out to her. No response.
HISAO: "Hey, want to partner up? You're the only one I know here."
She seems to finally acknowledge my presence, head turning like a robot as she looks to see who is addressing her.
Rin doesn't answer, and I don't want to repeat the question, either. I'm sure she heard it the first time.
Why doesn't she say anything? It can't be such an awful fate to be paired up with me, can it? She doesn't look at my face, and instead stares directly at my chest and stomach.
RIN: "Oh, okay. Why not?"
HISAO: "Okay. Good. Great. I'll get the stuff for us."
Looking at the equipment Nomiya has prepared for today's meeting confuses me. Instead of graphite or pencils, we are apparently supposed to do ink sketches. I've never done anything like that before. The teacher, however, seems confident in my abilities to adapt to this medium.
NOMIYA: "Simple! First you do the outlines in ink. You let them dry, and then you shade with the diluted ink. This is called India ink, it works like watercolors. If you're uncomfortable with it, use a pen instead of a brush for the outlines."
HISAO: "Got it."
I pick up paper, water cups, one pen for me, one brush for Rin and ink for both of us, then return to Rin. Grabbing a vacated chair from nearby, I seat myself directly opposite her.
RIN: "Do you want me to do it with my foot or my mouth?"
HISAO: "What did you say?"
Katawa Shoujo OST - Everyday Fantasy
She tilts her head, her brows forming questioning arches, as if she doesn't understand that I didn't understand the question.
RIN: "I don't mind drawing either way. You'll look better if I do it with my foot, though."
HISAO: "With your foot, then, if it's all the same to you."
Nodding in answer, Rin gets up from her seat and kicks off her sandals. In two fluid motions, she picks up the paper sheet and drops it on the floor, then snatches the brush between her toes before sitting on the floor in a weird half-crosslegged position. Although I've seen her do everything with her feet already, from eating to painting, this display of dexterity is so prodigious that I just stare at her, stunned. Rin contemplates her blank paper intently. The sharp tip of her brush hovers over the paper in anticipation. When she raises her head to see if I'm ready, I quickly turn my face away.
RIN: "I'll go first. Make a pose."
HISAO: "What kind of a pose?"
RIN: "It doesn't matter. That's the point. You have to make the sketch of the impression you get, not decide beforehand."
I end up just sitting in my chair, my hands hanging limply between my knees. I look at her, and she looks at me for a moment before beginning. Rin's stare is piercing, but impassive, as if she were trying to absorb a part of me into her own self. I feel like I'm physically shrinking under the pressure of her gaze. I get the feeling that for the first time since we met, Rin is actually looking at me, instead of in my general direction. She sketches with confident, bold sweeps of the delicate brush, not caring about the potentially destructive consequences of an accidentally misplaced stroke.
After she's happy with the outlines, she stands up to pose for me, stretching her back and legs. This time, she doesn't look at me. Instead, Rin lets her gaze wander around the room. I'm relieved; it's easier to stare at someone when they aren't staring back at you. Even so, I find it hard to get the sketch going. I'm not especially artistically talented, so I'm scared my portrait will turn into something disfigured, especially when compared to my partner's skill. I don't want to embarrass myself too badly on the first try. Rin is not helping the process, either. She doesn't stand still for even ten seconds; tilting her head from side to side to judge her drawing, biting at her lower lip, looking unsatisfied, and constantly shuffling around like she was on hot coals. I finally manage to make some headway on my sketch, and with my outlines done, we both start inking in the shadow and light. Nomiya passes by, and remarks on the beginnings of our sketches.
NOMIYA: "Very good! Standing figure is easier for a beginner to get a grasp of."
HISAO: "But I didn't choose the pose..."
I look at him and then at Rin in confusion, but he's already moving onto the next pair, and Rin seems unresponsive. Just like when she was painting the mural, Rin has become so engrossed with her work that it seems she has shut me, the classroom and the entire world itself out from her own little sphere of existence. Every now and then, she leans backwards, seemingly to get some perspective. Sometimes she bends forward, leaning down until her nose almost touches the paper. This rocking back and forth looks silly. Suddenly, Rin proves she hasn't completely drifted off into a world of her own, and speaks.
RIN: "Are you having fun already?"
She doesn't raise her eyes from the drawing, which is a good thing. The breaking of the silence sends a jolt of surprise through me, as if I'd been electrocuted.
HISAO: "I... don't know, yet. It's hard to say."
I can't hear how she replies to my answer because it seems she is suddenly having a private, whispered conversation with her sketch. I don't understand how she can draw so well when she has the attention span of a butterfly. As it seems she lost her interest, I go back to work on my drawing as well. I try to add texture to Rin's hair, to somehow grasp the way the golden afternoon sun lights her bright red tousle aflame and transfer it to my paper in shades of black and gray. Somehow, this pen and the bottle of ink seem like such lousy, inadequate tools for the task.
Minutes pass, but the sketch doesn't magically look any more like Rin than it did before. Her voice wakes me up from my despair.
RIN: "What about now?"
HISAO: "Excuse me?"
RIN: "Are you having fun already?"
HISAO: "Why do you keep asking that?"
RIN: "Because it's a club, right? Clubs are meant to be fun. You joined to have fun. Are you having fun?"
HISAO: "Is it important that I'm having fun?"
HISAO: "...Okay, I'm having fun."
I wonder if I said that just to please her, or if I really meant it. I can't really decide which it was. I don't hate this, though. I can honestly say that much. It's good enough for now.