NARRATOR: "“This is strange.”"

Hisao teacup

NARRATOR: "That single thought has graced my mind a countless number of times since my life here began. It feels like an easy way to discard a troubling question, as if simply labeling something with those three words will make it go away, or at least not worth thinking about any further. My life before my heart attack feels more blurry every time I try to remember it, and my mind struggles to keep up with all the events suddenly happening around me since. I heard somewhere that this is what it feels like to be left stranded in a country with only the most basic understanding of the local language. Indeed, when I think about it, that seems a marvelously apt analogy for what's happened to me."

NARRATOR: "But such situations are also supposed to make you very capable in that language very fast, as you're forced to learn it in order to survive. Put another way, the situation becomes “sink or swim.” I wonder if I've really managed to swim, after all this time. The exams are stressing me out a lot, even though they're finally coming to an end, but I have remained in Mutou's favor, and I have some sort of direction for my future now. But I keep using that stupid, meaningless phrase. “This is strange.”"

NARRATOR: "It really is amazing how fast one comes to accept being surrounded by people with sometimes incredibly jarring disabilities and conditions. So much so, that I really wonder why I feel so much like a foreigner. It certainly isn't for lack of socialization or friends. I've come to know most of my classmates on first-name terms, and know a few others around the school. Whether they're missing an arm or a leg, the students here are just like anyone else of their age. I can navigate the halls that I once lost myself in with an ease I'd not expected to ever have, thanks to the school's logical layout, and can engage my teachers in comfortable discussion. I swirl around gently the tea in my cup, the reflected image of my face becoming distorted by the moving liquid. This is strange... I used to hate drinking tea."

HISAO: "Maybe I'm thinking too much."

NARRATOR: "The familiar sound of china rattling from a teacup touching an accompanying saucer rings out."

LILLY: "Is something the matter?"

HISAO: "Don't worry, it's nothing."

NARRATOR: "I take a long sip of the tea in front of me as the girls do. Just whiling away the time in Lilly's room sipping tea with her and Hanako. It feels familiar, almost nostalgic."

HISAO: "So how's your work in the newspaper club going, Hanako?"

LILLY: "I want to know too, it sounds like it would be quite interesting."

NARRATOR: "Hanako's face turns down at the attention placed upon her, though her smile belies the fact that she genuinely likes being the center of interest for the two of us."

HANAKO: "It's... good. I think I'm getting better at it. Naomi and a couple of her friends handle most of the jobs... getting stories and stuff. I just do the computer things, like putting the stories together and getting it printed. I-it's nice, since I can sit and concentrate."

NARRATOR: "I see Lilly's low-tech nature isn't shared by Hanako. While sitting in a room compiling other people's newspaper articles into documents doesn't strike me as overly outgoing, it is heartening to see her widening her circle of friends. Baby steps, I guess. It's probably a bit much to be expecting her to become a socialite like Lilly."

LILLY: "How are you finding Naomi? I've heard she can be quite troublesome at times."

NARRATOR: "And Lilly's going into her mothering mode over Hanako. Letting go of her is something she's had to learn. Hanako scratches her cheek, thinking on her answer."

HANAKO: "Naomi's... nice. She's a bit loud sometimes, and a bit tiring... but she's really helpful. Her friends are nice, too."

LILLY: "That's wonderful to hear, Hanako. I'm glad you've found a source of such enjoyment."

NARRATOR: "Lilly's smile is warm and genuine, but I can sense a touch of wistfulness to it as well. Hanako seems to miss that entirely, but I don't think for a second that I'm imagining it. I suppose it's because I've slowly come to pay more and more attention to everything going on around me. With things seemingly happening faster and faster, it feels like I'll miss something if I'm not as observant as possible. With the exams, my newfound love life, trying to fit in some studying regarding my options for college and university, and my heart condition applying the brakes on everything at irritatingly random times, my brain's been in overdrive recently. It makes me appreciate the rare quiet times such as these. I guess this is why Lilly came to appreciate her weekly walks to the convenience store and her tea parties with Hanako, despite her like of being surrounded by others; they gave her a moment of peace in a chaotic and busy life."

HISAO: "Thank god the exams are over, eh?"

NARRATOR: "The comment draws an earnest chuckle from both of the girls. It seems like everybody's been a lot happier since the exams ended, last week."

HISAO: "So what're you doing for the summer holidays, Hanako? Only..."

NARRATOR: "I quickly count the days in my head. Today's Monday, and school finishes on Saturday..."

HISAO: "...five days to go, after all."

HANAKO: "I was thinking of... traveling. Just... around a bit. There's a lot of places I want to see, and... I think I have enough money to pay for the bus and train rides. Naomi and one of the other girls in the newspaper club said they might come along, too."

NARRATOR: "Her look indicates she's given the matter quite a lot of thought. I'm kind of surprised that she's contemplating something like this. It seems she's really become intent on striking out on her own."

LILLY: "Is there anywhere in particular you're thinking of going?"

HANAKO: "I was thinking that... Kyoto sounds nice. I-I think I'll try to go to a few places... though."

NARRATOR: "Lilly nods in approval, happy with Hanako's plans. While I cast my eyes to Lilly, I refrain from asking her the same question. She's been evasive with her plans for the future for a long time now, but I never seem to get a good time to broach the subject alone with her. Every time it comes up in conversation, it feels like she's either unsure of herself or simply dodging the question. It's troubling."

HISAO: "Be sure to call sometime while you're out and about. I gave you my number before, right?"

NARRATOR: "Hanako gives a quick nod, a happy smile on her face. It's strange to see how happy people seem to become when they have a goal to work towards. Yuuko seems to brighten whenever her university aspirations are brought up, and now Hanako is just the same. So why do I still feel this uncertainty? And why Lilly, too? Relationships really can be irritatingly troublesome, sometimes."

HANAKO: "Oh, um... wh-what time is it?"

HISAO: "Hmm? Oh..."

NARRATOR: "It takes me a second to remember that Lilly's clock doesn't have any visual feedback. I really should know, given how many times I've been in her room."

NARRATOR: "Nevertheless, I take my watch from my bag and quickly check it, the reason for her asking becoming clear."

HISAO: "It's about twenty past ten. Nearly curfew."

NARRATOR: "Hanako rises to her feet, dusting herself off and neatening her gown after doing so. I'd... better be going, then. Good night Lilly, Hisao."

LILLY: "Sleep well, Hanako."

HISAO: "Seeya tomorrow."

NARRATOR: "With that, she walks to the door and quietly makes her exit. ... Silence. This seems to be happening more and more between Lilly and I, recently. After a few seconds, I finally find something to talk about."

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."

NARRATOR: "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."

NARRATOR: "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?"

LILLY: "Yes?"

HISAO: "I know you want to be a teacher, but..."

NARRATOR: "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."

NARRATOR: "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."

NARRATOR: "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?"

NARRATOR: "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. 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."

NARRATOR: "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..."

NARRATOR: "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."

NARRATOR: "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."

NARRATOR: "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!"

NARRATOR: "She gives an impish giggle, one just long enough to work out that she's passing just beside me."

NARRATOR: "I quickly turn around to face the new directio— the table wasn't there before!"

HISAO: "Ow... ow... ow..."

NARRATOR: "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: "Hisao?"

NARRATOR: "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."

NARRATOR: "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."

NARRATOR: "Lilly suddenly looks blank."

LILLY: "Point?"

NARRATOR: "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."

NARRATOR: "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."

LILLY: "Hmm..."

HISAO: "What is it?"

NARRATOR: "With a little hesitation, Lilly pushes forward her chin and closes her eyes in an unmistakable gesture."

Lilly kissing

NARRATOR: "I accept gladly, our lips touching. 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?"

HISAO: "Yeah?"

LILLY: "I don't suppose... you could wear the blindfold again?"

NARRATOR: "Her tentative suggestion takes me by surprise. I suppose she wants to introduce me to sex through her eyes as well. Or just wants to find out what I'll be like during the act while hampered by the blindfold. With a measure of unease tempered by curiosity, I do as she says and lower the blindfold over my eyes. The world becomes dark once again. I reflexively tense as I feel Lilly's hand gently brush the side of my face, entirely unable to anticipate her touch. I really need to get more used to contact like this. Even after the weeks we've been going out, it isn't as natural for me as it is for her. ...Silence?"

HISAO: "Hey, Lilly..."

LILLY: "Shh."

NARRATOR: "I obediently follow her instruction and quietly listen, trying to make out something, anything, that's happening around me. Compared to before when I was chasing Lilly, the need to carefully navigate the room's obstacles now gone, I can take my time and concentrate much harder on listening. It takes a while, but I can eventually pick out the soft sound of her breathing in the otherwise dead silent room. In... out... in... out... Measuring it against my own breathing, I realize it's definitely deeper than normal, especially for her. Another sound makes its way to my ears, one that I can't identify immediately. I don't think I've heard it before, but... My heart skips a beat as I realize the source, my hand almost reflexively reaching out towards it. Her face feels softer than usual under my touch, her head just barely turning in acknowledgment towards the fingers on her cheek."

LILLY: "Hisao..."

NARRATOR: "I gulp and take a moment to try and calm down. I need all the concentration I can muster while I'm like this in order to fully take in my surroundings. After a few deep breaths, I think I've managed to collect myself. With a touch so light that it wouldn't disturb a feather, I start to move my hand down her body. ...and I can feel myself losing focus again, thanks to those thin silken pajamas of hers resting so perfectly over the curves of her body. If she's like this, then that means she has to be sitting against her bed and facing me. Now, to continue. ...All right, this must be her hip. If I just move slowly downwards..."

Adult Content Scene

NARRATOR: "Lilly's breath catches as my hand comes over hers, tentatively following her fingers between her legs and losing them as they go underneath her underwear. Just the slightest moisture touches my fingertips, but it's enough to easily work out what she's doing. My mind suddenly fills with visions of what she must be like in front of me right now. I'd never even imagined her doing this before, and being unable to see her doing the act only enhances the mood. I work the blindfold upwards, brushing out of my eyes a couple of hairs that were stuck to the ribbon before. For a period of time I can only guess at, my mind goes completely blank. All I can do is stare as my newly-freed eyes take in everything in front of them."

NARRATOR: "Just as I'd worked out, Lilly sits in front of me. With one hand on the ground to steady herself, and the other's fingers lightly brushing between her legs, hidden by her dark blue underwear, I think it's the most erotic sight I've ever seen. Once again I reach out and brush her hair from her face, her chin tilting outwards as she fills her pleasure-wrapped body with another breath of air."

HISAO: "Lilly..."

NARRATOR: "Lilly looks oddly cute as she smiles at my calling of her name. It always seems like it's at the moments when she's least attentive that she lets her most interesting emotions slip out. It's not long before she works her fingers over herself faster than before, her excitement evidently rising, the scent of her sweat in the air only echoing that fact. I sit in front of her. It's hardly as if my own arousal's holding still; it's taking every fiber of my being to let her continue by herself instead of pushing myself on top of her. It's strange... I'd initially found her clouded blue eyes to be distracting, almost disturbing in their lack of focus. That bothers me far less than it used to, now. My attention refocuses on her as she lets out a whimper, her breath coming much faster than before and her hips subtly rocking."

NARRATOR: "No sooner do I realize how close to the edge Lilly's become, that her breath catches. Her eyes clasp shut as every muscle in her body seems to contract, and she unmistakably reaches her climax. For only a scant few seconds she tightens, huddled in ecstasy before her body relaxes and a long, drained sigh comes from her lips. I... just have no idea what to say. Silence reigns while I simply watch her, hair hanging over her face as she sits exhausted."

LILLY: "Hisao..."

NARRATOR: "When she reaches out to brush my face, my urges take complete control of my body. Without so much as a second thought, I push myself over her frame. It's an unusual feeling, being like this. I feel oddly powerful, holding myself above her blank face. As though, for the first time since the accident so long ago, I feel physically strong."

HISAO: "Lilly... I want you."

NARRATOR: "To my surprise, she smiles weakly before reaching upwards to feel the side of my face. It's an almost cheeky expression, of the kind which she usually gives only after getting something out of me."

HISAO: "You... wanted me to do this?"

NARRATOR: "She holds her smile and gives a silent nod. I guess it was an effective way to make me take the initiative for once. And, again to my surprise, she gives the ribbon still around my head a sharp tug downwards. Once again, I'm lost in complete blackness."

LILLY: "I told you... to keep it on... didn't I?"

NARRATOR: "That teasing edge to Lilly's voice, punctuated by her breathing... she never seems to lose her ability to take control of a situation. But this time... this one time..."

LILLY: "Ah, Hisao!? What are you—?"

NARRATOR: "I slide my hands underneath her, soft silk and skin pressing into my hands as I gently raise her body, with a measure of difficulty. While I wouldn't describe her as heavy... her height makes her more than a handful to try and lift. It only takes a couple of carefully placed steps to feel the edge of her bed against my legs, my lowering of Lilly onto her sheets just as gentle as when I raised her."

HISAO: "Your bed will be more comfortable than the floor, right?"

LILLY: "Always the gentleman, aren't you?"

NARRATOR: "I quickly run my hands down Lilly's long, shapely legs, their allure far from diminished without the luxury of sight, and pull off her pajama shorts and underwear from her ankle. I have no idea where those just went... Well, I guess it doesn't matter. They'll be somewhere around. With a minimum of fuss, I shuffle down my own pajama trousers and underwear, positioning myself between her legs. Or at least, where I think is between her legs. With one hand on her bed to steady myself, my right moves tentatively downwards."

NARRATOR: "Uh, whoops. My first contact with her is my palm clumsily meeting the front of her nose. She giggles a little before turning her head sideways. Taking my cue, I gently cradle her cheek and use my thumb to feel the contours of her face as she so often does with me. This would be a lot easier if she wasn't moving her face into my hand, but the feeling of her nuzzling into it is nice. I swallow to try and steady myself, take my other hand from the bed and use it to guide myself into her. As soon as I feel her warmth around me, I quickly realize just how turned on I am. With my sight gone I'm free to concentrate far more on my other senses, including tactile feeling. The entire experience feels more vivid, more intense than it's been before."

NARRATOR: "I slowly start to move my hips back and forth, my heart beating wildly in excitement. I feel Lilly's eyes clenching shut, the movement of her cheek under my thumb reminding me of the gentle hold I have on the side of her face. It's hard to stop myself from being completely overwhelmed. It's hard to think that this is what sex is usually like for her, experienced through every sense but the one I hold dearest. From her cheek to her neck, I begin to slide my hand downwards to take in the feeling of her body. The contours of her collarbone... the light dew resting on her skin... My sense of smell is stimulated by the scent of her sweat and mine hanging in the air. Even the ambient smell, noticeably different from that of my own room, adds to the feeling."

NARRATOR: "When I move my hand to her supple breast, her soft mewling fills my ears, along with the sound of our act. The skin under my hand moves back and forth with each thrust, my grip on it tightening as my lust for the near-naked body of Lilly before me grows. I can even feel her small nipple against my palm. My hand slides further and my fingers pluck it through the thin silk of her pajama top. Her whimpering sounds turn to moans as she fills with the same pleasure as I. I can feel my heart beating loudly in my chest, and her own beating underneath my hand. I can feel her hands clasp my wrists, their grip surprisingly tight as her chest rises in overwhelming pleasure."

NARRATOR: "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..."

NARRATOR: "This feeling is just... normal..."

HISAO: "Aah... aaaaaaaah..."

NARRATOR: "This isn't... I can't... this pain is too much...!"


NARRATOR: "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. 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."

NARRATOR: "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."

NARRATOR: "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."

HISAO: "Sorry..."

NARRATOR: "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."

NARRATOR: "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?"

NARRATOR: "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."

NARRATOR: "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?"

Next Scene: Context