NARRATOR: "Things have quieted down considerably since Hanako began attending school again. When she first returned to class, nothing was said nor done that wasn't part of the usual routine, and it's been the same way since. Neither of us desired to bring up her accident, so there simply wasn't any point in pursuing it. Thus a few days went by, the daily grind continuing just as it had before. It's only natural that my mind would wander to other places, and more importantly, other people. The Lilly-shaped hole in the daily life of Hanako and I has been pretty noticeable for a while now. I'd be pleased to say that this has allowed me time to refine just what my thoughts on her exactly are, but alas, I've had no such luck. It doesn't help that many attempts to do so have led to the troublesome topic of Iwanako. Every time my thoughts drift into that direction, I reflexively try to think about something else."
HISAO: "Why did this have to happen now..."
NARRATOR: "I turn and look up to the source of the tentative voice coming from behind me."
HISAO: "Ah, sorry. I didn't mean to disturb anyone."
YUUKO: "That's... not it."
NARRATOR: "I glance around the orange-tinted room, quickly realizing how silly my apology must have sounded. In the time I've spent thinking and lazing about in here, everyone's well and truly left."
HISAO: "Library closing?"
YUUKO: "If you don't want to go, I could keep it open a bit longer. It's no trouble at all."
HISAO: "Don't worry, I should get going anyway. Thanks."
NARRATOR: "As I get up and begin to move off, I feel Yuuko's eyes drilling into my back."
HISAO: "Is there something wrong?"
YUUKO: "You look depressed. Are you okay?"
NARRATOR: "Yuuko nervously twists her fingers as she says this, unsure whether she's overstepping her boundaries or not. I really can't tell if she's more worried about my mood or about bothering me. Normally I'd just shrug it off and assure her that I'm fine, but my reflective mood gets the better of me. Despite being staff, she really doesn't feel as much like an authority figure as the others."
HISAO: "It's just... I guess the best term for it would be relationship problems."
YUUKO: "Oh. I'm... not too good with that kind of thing. My only relationship ended a bit abruptly. But if you want to talk about it, I mean, I could listen. I think."
NARRATOR: "Now I feel kind of bad for bringing it up. She's not that old, though, so at least she has a good chance of finding another partner."
HISAO: "It isn't like we're in a bad situation right now. We have spent many days together as friends, sometimes going out to do stuff... that kind of thing. But I'm starting to want to do more for her, learn more about her, and be with her more. I'm not sure whether it's actually love or not, though, and our friendship as it stands is enjoyable."
YUUKO: "You shouldn't let that stop you! Ah... sorry. How to say this... um... I think that it's nice that you have a good friendship, but school is going to eventually end. Do you think you'll be fine with not knowing if it could have gone further after you've graduated?"
HISAO: "I guess that's the crux of the problem. I really have no idea what the answer to that question is."
YUUKO: "Well, I can't really help there. What your true feelings are is something you have to decide for yourself. But I think that if you do love her, you should definitely say something. After thinking about it really hard, I decided that even though my relationship didn't work out, it's still better that way than never knowing if it might have or not."
NARRATOR: "I never expected Yuuko to sound so wise. It only makes sense that, with more life experience than I, she'd have a better idea about this. While I suppose not very much was actually answered, talking to her has helped get it off my chest, and I have no doubt that I should confess if I really do like Lilly. I give a slightly frustrated sigh."
HISAO: "If only reading so much actually helped when it comes to situations like this."
NARRATOR: "She gives a girlish giggle, which only reinforces my view of her as being different from the usual staff here. In the end, it all comes down to what will happen after school finishes once again. Considering what happened before I came to Yamaku, it feels like being asked to keep up with a field of runners despite having started from a dozen yards behind them. It's just one more motive to move on from the past. The last thing I need right now is to get too caught up in that and getting homesick while I'm at it. Once again, I find myself calling Lilly. My phone bill is going to be horrific, considering this is international. But it's worth it. I don't only want to smooth over her feelings from the last time I called, I genuinely want to talk to her again. When the phone finally picks up, I easily recognize the voice on the other end."
HISAO: "<Hello, Mrs. Satou. May I... uh... speak...>"
NARRATOR: "Damn. I've forgotten how the rest is supposed to go. It's not encouraging to forget such a small amount of words, even if I didn't spend that long trying to memorize them."
HISAO: "May I speak with Lilly, please?"
MRS. SATOU: "Hello again, Hisao. Are you teaching yourself English?"
HISAO: "Just a little. I don't think I'm too good at languages in general."
MRS. SATOU: "Oh, don't say that. Your pronunciation was good! I'll get Lilly for you, just wait a moment."
NARRATOR: "I obediently wait as she goes off in search of Lilly, the other end going silent. Eventually a much more awake-sounding Lilly than last time answers, the time over there being past noon by now."
LILLY: "Hisao, are you there?"
HISAO: "Yeah, I'm here. Hi."
LILLY: "Good afternoon. Sorry for taking so long, I was outside in the garden."
LILLY: "Unfortunately I've found I'm no good at it, so I just smell the flowers. I think my fingers appreciate it more. I take it Hanako's recovered a bit?"
HISAO: "Yeah. I just made sure she was eating, and eventually she righted herself. Thanks for the help the other day."
LILLY: "I don't think I was really that much help. The main thing is that she's better, though."
HISAO: "True. How's life over there, then? It sounds like you've been living in nothing short of a mansion."
LILLY: "I wouldn't call it a mansion..."
NARRATOR: "“But it is rather large” is obviously what she wants to say, though modesty stops her. I'm a little envious, but it is her holiday."
LILLY: "It's a nice house to stay in, though. There's a beach near here too, which Akira's especially fond of."
HISAO: "She's a swimmer?"
LILLY: "She's constantly dragging me there to have swimming competitions. Which she wins. Every time."
NARRATOR: "Lilly doesn't strike me as very athletic at all, so not being adept at swimming seems logical enough. The fastest I've ever seen her move is her understandably relaxed pace during her walks to and from the suburbs down the hill from the school. It makes the image of her swimming hard to imagine."
HISAO: "The beaches there must look nice. They'd be less crowded than the ones around here at least."
LILLY: "Indeed, Akira says the area around here looks beautiful because it's so far outside the city."
NARRATOR: "I only realize what I've said after I say it, but it doesn't bother her at all. It's still easy to forget that she can't see when she's not around, despite the time we've been friends."
LILLY: "That said, the local accent sometimes makes communication a bit hard. It's a constant reminder that this isn't home."
NARRATOR: "While the fact that she doesn't consider her parents' residence to be her home makes good sense, it makes me realize that I can't really answer whether the same goes for me. Graduation from Yamaku is distant enough to be difficult to view objectively, and I've spent so much time in this small room. I've come to accept the dormitory as my new home surprisingly quickly."
HISAO: "I guess that would be hard to deal with. Is your knowledge of English holding up?"
LILLY: "Thankfully. I may be fluent, but being in a position where I have to use it often helps in curbing my Japanese accent, so it's been useful practice. I hear you're trying to teach yourself English?"
HISAO: "More like memorizing a few lines, and failing at even that much. I'm really not cut out for learning another language."
NARRATOR: "My admission of defeat draws an amused giggle."
LILLY: "I believe that there are things one chooses to do in life, and also things that are chosen for one to do in life. You can take comfort in the fact you're better than me in science and math, at least."
HISAO: "All that's helped in is making me Mutou's star student..."
LILLY: "I wouldn't worry about it. They're useful skills for many jobs, right?"
HISAO: "That's what he tells me. His face veritably lit up when I said I'd probably go into a career involving either."
NARRATOR: "We both share a warm laugh at the events that have befallen each other on opposite ends of the world. It's nice, and reminds me of our simple smalltalk that I've been missing since she left. As each of us waits for the other to begin speaking, I decide to push ahead with my feelings. I can feel my throat tightening slightly."
HISAO: "We... um, I... miss you."
NARRATOR: "The silence on the other end of the phone tells me she's given the words their due weight, but as it goes on I can't help feeling more and more apprehensive. Thankfully the silence ends, almost as quickly as it had begun."
LILLY: "I miss you too, Hisao. Goodbye."
HISAO: "Goodbye, Lilly."
NARRATOR: "Once again, the phone is hung up; simply and without any further ado. That light, tentative, almost shy voice. Her warm and soft tone... I'd simply be lying to myself if I were to say that I don't recognize this feeling for what it is. With thoughts of Lilly dancing on my mind, I start anticipating her return. Today has been a most excellent day."
Next Scene: Renewal