NARRATOR: "Rain is falling on my summer vacation like an uncountable number of small bad omens. Luckily I'm not superstitious, but the bad weather makes me downcast too. It's been like this since morning and there is no end in sight. An impenetrable gray mass of clouds shadows the sky as much as it shadows my mood. In a bout of defiance, I finished cleaning up this morning, but after that was done I ended up staring out of the window in hope of the weather clearing. The incessant drumming of rainfall against the roof and the pavement is mesmerizing, a droning background noise to lose your mind into. ... ... ..."
NARRATOR: "This won't do, I have to get a move on. Should I pack now, or later? I decide on the latter and make my way outside, pausing briefly at Kenji's door to listen to the odd clunking sounds from the other side. I don't dare to knock, out of the fear of finding out what he is doing. Braving the rain from under my trusty umbrella, I cross the space to the girls' dorm. Knocking on Rin's door yields no answer, but the door behind me opens instead."
EMI: "Hisao? Hi! Terrible weather. I even missed my morning jog."
NARRATOR: "She frowns, but I would be glad if I was her. Emi's morning jogs are anything but leisurely."
HISAO: "Oh, hi, I was—"
EMI: "If you're looking for Rin, I don't think she is there."
HISAO: "Have you seen her recently?"
EMI: "Yeah, just this morning when I woke her up."
NARRATOR: "The mention of waking up makes Emi yawn like a cat, and makes me feel silly. Of course she has seen Rin. Emi wakes her up and helps her get dressed on most mornings, even makes her lunch boxes every now and then. They are like sisters, even though they seem to have nothing in common."
NARRATOR: "I wonder which one is the elder sister? Probably Emi, against all odds. She is really diligent, even though she gives the feeling of someone who would be a total airhead. Why does it feel odd that she is so dutiful under that cheery grin of hers?"
EMI: "She left for the gallery a few hours ago... hey, are you listening?"
NARRATOR: "Maybe I'm making a funny face or something, since Emi tilts her face quizzically, looking at me with her eyes round and inquisitive."
NARRATOR: "Her innocent face seems to request my attention."
HISAO: "Yeah, I'm listening..."
EMI: "Can I ask you a question?"
HISAO: "Yeah, of course."
NARRATOR: "She furrows her brow, licking her lips as if to prepare for something."
EMI: "Why do you care so much about Rin? I mean, you probably hang around her more than I do, and we even slept in the same bed sometimes until, er, lately."
HISAO: "After she banned you because you ravaged her hair?"
NARRATOR: "A shock of horror widens Emi's eyes at least twofold, making them seem even more saucer-like than usual, while a healthy blush rises on her cheeks and ears."
EMI: "She told?! Ohhh... I'm going to strangle that Rin or something other horrible..."
NARRATOR: "I hold back my laughter, lest she direct her disdain at me. Emi recuperates quickly from the embarrassment and seems to forgive Rin in the same instant, getting her focus back on me."
EMI: "Anyway, are you in love with her or something?"
NARRATOR: "Uh oh. This really feels like an elder sister questioning a suitor. Emi is kinda nosy, and not in a good happy way, if there even is one to begin with. She'd make a good partner for Misha, to be honest. The horror."
HISAO: "That's already your second question, so I don't think I have to answer."
NARRATOR: "I try to conjure up a front made of pure, crystallized cool and uninvolvement. I wonder whether I manage to fool even myself. At least Emi is waggling her eyebrows dangerously, with a nasty smirk on her lips."
EMI: "Is that a yes?"
HISAO: "No, it's not a yes."
NARRATOR: "Obviously unsatisfied at my refusal to answer her way-too-intimate question, she has enough sense to back off. Doesn't stop her from sticking out her tongue at me like a kid, and giggling again."
EMI: "If that's your answer, I don't think I have to talk with you any more."
NARRATOR: "It's easy to see that she's not really angry."
EMI: "Besides, I have to go pack now. Mom will be worried if I miss my bus. Seeya!"
HISAO: "Yeah, bye."
NARRATOR: "She retreats back into her room, leaving me alone in the hallway. What's between me and Rin is not her business, right? That's why I ended up not saying anything about our fight to Emi. Rin must have not said anything either. I guess... even though they are friends, there are things they don't talk about. ... So, if Rin is at the gallery, I'd have to go all the way there. Now that I managed to get out of my room, I suppose it's not that much of a bother to go downtown. I could go get a ticket, but the train back home will have to wait, at least until tomorrow. No way I'm going to carry baggage to the train station in this rain, even if there's not that much of it. Rain makes all outlines seem very unstable, as if they were fading away. The townscape turns into a shapeless collection of various fuzzy tones of gray, instead of distinct forms of buildings and cars. Those poor souls who are forced into the downpour try to make as much haste as they possibly can, pitying each other for their shared misery. I turn the final corner, the twenty-second corner so to say, and immediately feel stupid for being amused by my own pun. The door beckons me with promises of warmth."
NARRATOR: "The rainwater dripping from my umbrella makes interesting, almost artistic patterns on the floor. I am not wet, apart from my shoes that leave small puddles in my wake, completing the rainwater-artwork. Nomiya is here too, chatting with Sae at the back of the gallery. Rin's nowhere to be seen, though. Maybe she's upstairs. There are no customers though, which figures, considering the bucketloads of water dropping on the neck of anyone daring to brave the weather today."
HISAO: "Hello. Sorry to interrupt..."
NOMIYA: "Ah, good afternoon Nakai. Came all the way here for a visit?"
HISAO: "Ah... no, I think it was just an impulse. I was around the neighborhood, shopping, and decided to stop by."
NARRATOR: "My reflexive reaction is a white lie, which surprises myself. Maybe I just don't want to say that I came specifically to see Rin, even though that much must be obvious."
SAIONJI: "My, you chose a bad day for shopping. Would you like some tea to warm you up?"
HISAO: "Thank you but I'm fine, really. The weather could be better though. Rain on the first day of vacations is a bit depressing."
NOMIYA: "Hahaha! Well, I'm sure it'll get better."
NARRATOR: "Nomiya offers his hearty laughter, bordering on abrasive."
HISAO: "Rain doesn't get you down, teacher?"
NOMIYA: "Well, I do prefer clear weather as well. I was actually leaving just now to meet someone, and I'd prefer not getting my jacket soaked. It's very expensive. But of course I'm in a good mood! What did you think about the exhibition? It was wonderful, wasn't it?"
HISAO: "Yeah, it was very fancy."
NARRATOR: "My unenthusiastic answer only spurs him to carry on, walking around the gallery while blabbering about the opening. He talks more and louder when he is moving. It's something I noticed at the club meetings too."
NOMIYA: "We got to talk with many good people and make valuable contacts. One of Tezuka's paintings even got sold, to a collector from Osaka."
NARRATOR: "I follow his eyes to an empty space in the wall. I can't even remember which painting was hanging on that spot. Well, it's gone now."
NOMIYA: "It was lucky that she was all right despite that dizzy spell. She got a little quiet though, so I told her to rest well. Then again she's always been pretty shy."
NARRATOR: "Shy? Whatever, I just nod along with the teacher."
NOMIYA: "The reception was very positive in general. I might be able to get one of my friends to write a little article on a magazine to—"
SAIONJI: "Shinichi, your meeting. You're making Mr. Takahashi wait."
NARRATOR: "Sae's remark makes him stop in his tracks and check his wristwatch. Nomiya frowns in displeasure at the interruption to his tirade."
NOMIYA: "Oh, right. Yes, well, I'll be off then. We'll meet in September, Nakai."
NARRATOR: "Wow. Teacher really doesn't hold back when it comes to Rin's budding artist career. I guess it takes a lot to succeed, but I suppose his job would be easier if Rin was more cooperative. She's too indecisive even though she's doing just fine. Like that “dizzy spell” from the night before. She just got freaked out or something, and I didn't do anything to help her. I sigh. It feels like the gap between me and Rin is only widening. She's going to become something great while I'm still feeling like I'm bogged down, despite promising myself to try and make something of my life. On top of that, we had that fight and the longer we keep not talking, the harder the wounds become to heal. If that even is what we want. I never found out what Rin felt, and now I'm not sure what I feel myself. I wish I could understand her. But Rin is not very open for interpretation. Not that she's hiding anything, she just seems to defy my attempts at making sense of what she is talking about on any given day."
SAIONJI: "Something on your mind?"
NARRATOR: "I realize I've been spacing out in the middle of the gallery for who knows how long."
HISAO: "Ahh... nothing special..."
NARRATOR: "I pretend to study the closest paintings to distract her."
NARRATOR: "I've seen it before. The now all-too-familiar strokes of color, twisting and melting into each other seemingly randomly still manage to feel like there is something happening behind the scenes, so to speak. Rin's style is so much like her. Abstract, incomprehensible, colorful. Mysterious. I wonder if to understand an artist, one must understand art?"
HISAO: "Umm... I may have a question."
NARRATOR: "She looks up from the magazine she was idly leafing through, seeming delighted at my display of unspecified interest."
HISAO: "How do you interpret art?"
SAIONJI: "What do you mean?"
NARRATOR: "Her eyebrows rise high into questioning arcs, as if the question was too complicated to even begin to answer without clarification."
HISAO: "Sorry if I'm asking something stupid. I don't think I really understand art like the pros do."
SAIONJI: "Oh, there's no trick to it."
NARRATOR: "Sae waves my question away with a simple but efficient flick of her wrist."
SAIONJI: "Everyone interprets art as they will, and interpretation is as much in the eye of the beholder as in the intentions of the creator. “Pros” have their own way, because there is this thing called art theory. There are patterns in art, just like in everything, and we assume that it's possible to draw some conclusions from observing those patterns."
NARRATOR: "Her voice is like a teacher's, lecturing and adding emphasis on random words to keep the listeners on their toes."
SAIONJI: "In the end, I suppose it's pretty meaningless."
NARRATOR: "She moves to musing seemingly to herself, muttering loud enough for me to clearly hear."
SAIONJI: "A good piece of art will make you feel something and that's all there is to it. Feelings change and they affect the art we create and the art we see."
SAIONJI: "I'll tell you a story."
HISAO: "Do you have to? The last one was depressing..."
SAIONJI: "It's important. Listen... About a hundred years ago a little known painter got news that his friend, a man called Casagemas, had committed suicide. This happened while he was away and hadn't seen his friend for a while. So obviously he must have felt even more conflicted than you normally would after hearing of such a thing. For four years after that, our main character did nothing but monochromatic paintings because he was so deeply affected by the news. Whatever he did, he always kept returning to that same color until it let him out of its grasp."
NARRATOR: "She takes a little pause to check whether I'm still following. I am, to an extent, so I give her the prompt that storytellers seem to live for."
NARRATOR: "It's hard to continue from that, as I can't seem to come up with the question she wants me to come up with. Like a half-baked Socrates, she thought she laid out all the tools for revelation in front of me."
SAIONJI: "Don't you see the point yet?"
NARRATOR: "Only, her student proved to be too dense to get it. She looks discontent at my slowness."
SAIONJI: "Picasso's Blue Period is one of the most lauded in the history of art, but who knows what he felt when he worked on those masterpieces? Sadness? Longing? Regret? Nobody can tell. If you now see one of his Blue Period paintings, you'd probably interpret it differently from before you knew about Picasso's friend Casagemas. Experiencing art is always personal, only interactive by chance or circumstances. There are a million explanations for any given piece of art, but it might be that none of them are what the creator intended. No man is an island, you know?"
NARRATOR: "I nod without understanding what that last remark meant. What she said made sense otherwise, except for one thing. If art is communication like Rin said, but everyone is talking their own secret language like Sae said, what can anyone ever hope to communicate? It seems so futile, and pointless. Art really is not a thing for me. Sae returns to her art magazine, and I make a round in the gallery, trying to see what Rin can see in her own paintings. A soothing mood takes hold of the gallery surrounded by the rainstorm, the big windows making the transparent isolation feel more comfortable. A tinkle of the bell disrupts the tranquil mood. Rin pushes the door open with her shoulder and steps in. I had almost forgotten that she was the reason why I came to the gallery in the first place."
RIN: "I think I'm ready—"
NARRATOR: "She pauses mid-sentence, noticing my presence. The needle-dropping silence lasts for exactly one and a half seconds, not enough for either me or Sae to open our mouths, but enough for Rin to react."
RIN: "I'm going for a walk."
NARRATOR: "Heading back outside with a reckless pace uncharacteristic of herself, Rin seems to forget that it's still raining. Without giving it any real thought, I grab my umbrella and hurry after her. I catch Rin around the corner, open the umbrella and lift it above the two of us while still having to almost run to keep up with her. She doesn't protest me running after her nor me giving her shelter against the rain, eventually slowing her pace down so I can match it without an immediate danger of overexerting myself. I relax from the rush, assessing the situation. The last time I held my umbrella to guard both of us against the rain, I didn't think too much about it. But now, all the things that happened since then are gathering into a freezing cold ball around my stomach. Being close to her makes me uncomfortable, and I feel myself flustering slightly. It's hard to get words out of my mouth, as it feels suddenly very, very dry. Still, it's not like I can back off."
HISAO: "Why do you keep running away?"
RIN: "I don't want to talk to you."
HISAO: "I want to talk to you."
RIN: "It hurts every time I do."
HISAO: "Sometimes it can't be helped."
RIN: "I don't want to hurt."
HISAO: "Fine. We don't have to talk."
RIN: "What should we do?"
HISAO: "Let's just keep walking."
RIN: "Just walking?"
HISAO: "Just walking."
Next Scene: The World Only You Can See