NARRATOR: "The days since then have passed so quickly that time seemed to slip through my fingers like water. Every time I've tried to talk with Shizune, she has been out running errands or with Misha. I feel as if she's avoiding me. I'm not surprised. Of course it bothers me, but I think the way she's acting seems pretty natural. Then again, it's not like I've been through this before. Whenever I can't find Shizune, I end up running into Misha, and when I do I ask her to help me with my signing. However, she always ends up squirming out of it. We're leaving after today, so I'm determined not to let her escape this time. Once we head back to school, we're probably going to have to start grinding through more student council affairs in preparation for school restarting. I want to brush up on my signing as much as possible by then, even if it's a day's worth."
HISAO: "Come on, it's pretty much just having a couple sign language conversations! You do that all the time. Actually, you're doing it right now."
MISHA: "Wahaha~, really, Hicchan? That's funny!"
NARRATOR: "Misha temporarily stops her unconscious signing in order to wave her hands in front of her face in denial, but then quickly resumes gesturing everything the both of us are saying to no one in particular."
MISHA: "Hicchan, you're so persistent. Suddenly being interested in sign language again... could it be that Hicchan wants to make a career out of it? That's not fair, that was my idea first~! You should be careful, Hicchan. Times change too quickly~... By the time I decided I wanted to be a sign language interpreter, they had cell phones that people could type out whole paragraphs on. Amazing~! Not very good for me, though!"
NARRATOR: "As if she knows that another deferral isn't going to cut it this time, Misha changes her tune pretty quickly to a more apologetic one."
MISHA: "I'm sorry, Hicchan, I'm just so~ tired~! Especially lately, even though being with Shicchan is fun, she has way more energy than me! Teaching on top of that would be too~ tiring; I don't have that much stamina! Sorry~!"
NARRATOR: "She doesn't seem very tired, shouting the statement with her usual cheer and vigor. I know it's wrong of me to keep pestering her like this, though."
MISHA: "Actually~, Shicchan and I were planning on going shopping today! It's our last chance to pick up some souvenirs."
HISAO: "Souvenirs, huh? I almost forgot that I was on vacation. I understand what you're saying. Teaching doesn't seem so easy. Hideaki asked me to teach him how to sign and I was unbelievably lost the whole time. Well, I wonder how it'll work out for you when you become a sign language teacher. You can't get tired too easily doing that."
MISHA: "Yeah, right, right~! I hope not! Hicchan, now I'm kind of worried. But~, souvenirs! So~!, some other time, Hicchan. Aha hahaha~. Do you want us to get you something, too?"
NARRATOR: "Just because I understand doesn't mean I don't want her to teach me. I suppose I can't press her any further now, though. Even I'm bothered by how selfish it would seem to do so. I give up."
HISAO: "No. Don't get me anything. I'm serious, don't surprise me with a funny shirt or something, okay?"
NARRATOR: "I don't like the sound of that. Slipping on her shoes, she yells goodbye to the otherwise empty house and opens the door to leave, letting a cool breath of fresh air into the hallway. A tuft of dark hair peeking from the door frame tells me Shizune is waiting for her outside."
HISAO: "Good morning."
NARRATOR: "Misha translates for me from beyond the doorway, and Shizune turns around to give me a small wave. Even though it's different from her usual offhand greetings in the smallest ways, there is an unmistakable hesitation there. It leaves me with a vaguely empty and distant feeling."
MISHA: "Hicchan, you're up early~! Am I interrupting a conversation?"
HISAO: "I was trying to get Misha to teach me how to talk to you, but I guess I was being impatient, and it can wait. You two were planning on going shopping today, anyway."
NARRATOR: "Having Misha there, I forget to sign my words as I say them. Unfortunately, since Shizune moved to fill the doorway, Misha is behind her. This brief misalignment in our positions means that what I'm saying is totally lost on her."
SHIZUNE: (signing) "I don't understand you at all."
NARRATOR: "There are things I want to say that I can't put in a way she would understand, and there are entire conversations that she could have that would go right over my head. I want to tell her now that it won't be that way for much longer. Instead, I just say “never mind” and tell them to have a good time, then wave them off. It seems like everyone is out for the day, so I sit down on the biggest and most comfortable-looking chair in the living room with a book. Not a sign language book, but one of the novels I checked out of the library my first week. That was so long ago. I should really start chipping at that pile of books I borrowed, or at least return them."
NARRATOR: "Sixteen pages in, Jigoro walks into the room, a stack of papers in one hand and his sword twirling idly like a baton in the other, casually shaking water from a recent shower from his hair. Upon being seen doing something so ungentlemanly, he freezes like a deer in the headlights, and slowly moves on to smoldering with powerful but baseless fury as he sits down on the couch a few feet away. This is only the third time I've met him and I'm already starting to feel nauseous on reaction. I guess in a way this could be considered a kind of charisma. I haven't even said anything and he already seems less than pleased. It's likely a bad idea to provoke him, and just talking to him may count as provoking him. However, I can't help thinking of the alternative situations that could play out. Let's say I don't open my mouth at all and walk away, maybe to go read in my room or outside. That would definitely go down as an unforgivable insult. He would probably tell me to hold it and destroy me. Either way, not too polite on my part."
HISAO: "What are you reading?"
JIGORO: "The draft for my autobiography. It is the story of a man who wakes up to find an uninvited guest in his living room, sitting in his chair and reading shallow literary dreck."
NARRATOR: "I've barely started reading the book, I don't even have an opinion on it yet. I can already see how this conversation is going to play out, so I might as well try to steer it in a different direction."
HISAO: "Where's Hideaki?"
JIGORO: "You even ask questions rudely. Disgraceful. That aside, why would you even ask me such a stupid question? How would I know? Am I my son's keeper?"
NARRATOR: "“Well, you are his dad, and it seems like he does live here, so...” But, I guess I can't say that, tempting as it is. I give up. I already tried to make small talk with him and failed. It's like trying to talk to a brick wall that also hates you. That is my cue to leave and sift through my wallet to see if I have enough money to go to a movie. As I'm about to stand, I have second thoughts. I'm too tired to go through trying to smooth over my problematic situations by trying to continuously walk away from them. t's hypocritical of me to get upset at Misha for trying to defer things when I even run from my own girlfriend. When Jigoro attempts to stop me, I'm almost glad, even though I no longer have any intention to leave."
NARRATOR: "He says it with plenty of authority but nothing else, as if it's just a particularly commanding afterthought. Only a very powerful or very arrogant person can tell someone to hold on in such a manner. I'm sort of impressed."
JIGORO: "You are in the Student Council with Shizune, aren't you? What is your job there?"
HISAO: "I don't think there are specific roles, other than president. Shizune is always trying to round people up to help out here and there. Usually we might get like, one person to pitch in, but otherwise the three of us do whatever needs to be done."
NARRATOR: "It's crossed my mind a couple times, around when I first met her, that Shizune's disquietingly analytical stare might be because of her deafness, but it turns out it's a trait shared by everyone else in her family."
JIGORO: "And that is okay with you?"
HISAO: "Why wouldn't it be?"
JIGORO: "You, Shizune, and that pink-haired girl? Is that really your entire Student Council? With a Student Council that small, they wouldn't even bother to hold elections. I am going to take a guess and say that you didn't join the Student Council, Shizune drafted you into it. You said you do not know exactly what your title is. That makes sense. I suppose if you weren't even elected, you couldn't be expected to know. After all, if you are not elected, you aren't really anything. No one is going to respect a Student Council like that. An unelected body of three people trying to scrounge up the equivalent of temp workers? It must be a sorry school if three kids having a tea party can handle every issue."
HISAO: "What's how small it is have to do with anything? If the Student Council gets things done, isn't that enough? It's not just a game, either. Maybe you should actually come to the school one day. If you get there on the right days, you might even be able to see what Shizune is able to accomplish."
JIGORO: "Do you think that I have so much free time, that I can afford to waltz over to your boondocks and watch my daughter's feats of self-aggrandizement? I have never been more disgusted in my life."
HISAO: "What you're saying is they might as well not have a Student Council, but the fact remains there is one. And Shizune got elected to it, and for her it isn't a meaningless position. In fact, she works very hard for it."
JIGORO: "You sound like someone who voted for her."
HISAO: "No, I wasn't there for that."
JIGORO: "Ha. You didn't even vote for her. Well, besides that - why don't you ask Hideaki about this? Shizune has wanted to be a high school Student Council president since middle school. She would have him read all her practice speeches, wasting his time. For what reason?"
NARRATOR: "This whole time, he hasn't even looked up from thumbing through his manuscript. It's getting increasingly frustrating."
HISAO: "Because it isn't a game; we don't run the school, but it's not like we're just playing at it and not taking it seriously."
NARRATOR: "I wonder if it is so wrong to not be a purist."
JIGORO: "I have been to your school. Really... The students there..."
NARRATOR: "I can already think of about a million things he might say, and I'm preparing for my heart to sink on hearing any of them. It's funny, they are probably things I've thought before."
JIGORO: "They don't even have cleaning duty."
NARRATOR: "That was not what I expected at all. He's also wrong."
HISAO: "They do. I should know, I get to skip out on it since I'm in the Student Council."
NARRATOR: "The concept of being wrong confuses Jigoro. I should take this opportunity to go on the attack. It's really odd that I am thinking this way about a simple conversation."
HISAO: "It sounds like the last time you were there was really some time ago. If you can leisurely write some memoirs, you can talk to Shizune now and then. Don't you think that she has stuff she is proud of? That's how young people are. We have things to be proud of. If you're writing an autobiography, you should get that."
NARRATOR: "Such an opportunity, and I blew it. I don't know how I was expecting him to react. Maybe introspectively, but Jigoro only grows angrier by the second. Yet as he does, he also seems calmer, in a way. More sure of himself and in control."
JIGORO: "Who do you think you are to assume that my life is so easy? You haven't even read my biography, yet you are able to tell me how I should handle all my affairs, including dealing with my own daughter. You could never understand. Even if I were to get up from this couch, walk over to you right now, and punch you in the forehead with brass knuckles with a condensed edition of my life story on them, leaving my biography imprinted in your face, you would not understand. For twelve years, Shizune did not even talk to me, even though I hired multiple tutors and interpreters of all sorts for her to try and get her to become normal. It isn't as simple as you think it is. If she does not want to bother with me, then fine. I assume that is normal. When was the last time you talked to your parents?"
NARRATOR: "It has been a while, and I feel ashamed. More so that he caught me than at how easily I could have dropped my parents a phone call or sent them an e-mail, or even a letter, and haven't. This knowledge only makes me feel more ashamed."
JIGORO: "I thought so."
HISAO: "If I wanted to see my parents, I couldn't. This is different. You aren't that far from her, it's one train ride away!"
JIGORO: "That is enough. No means no. You are very persistent. If only it was about something that mattered. I can't see what you may have learned from my daughter aside from that and how to backtalk people. Is that it?"
NARRATOR: "The answer is yes. I wasn't this persistent or argumentative before meeting Shizune and Misha. After all, prior to meeting them, I'd just experienced a small death. It's a mystery as to why I refused to join the Student Council in the first place."
NARRATOR: "It took monumental effort just to introduce myself on my first day there. I might have rolled over for anyone and any cause. It might have just been chance that Student Council appealed to me so little that I would fight it."
NARRATOR: "Possibly it was from trying to get away from their nagging so much that I was able to get my energy back. It's a cute idea. I think again about why I'm still here. Arguing with Jigoro is pointless, yet I think I almost looked forward to it. And he is right, I cannot understand him. Even if I did, he wouldn't care. I'm a louse that crawls on a whale: wholly insignificant. He has a confidence that I don't have. Shizune does, and it could be that the reason why I am here now, in an almost-shouting match with her father, is because some of that bravery has rubbed off onto me. However, I don't have anything to keep it going."
NARRATOR: "Still, I hate him. I don't know what I can do. A few months ago, I think I would have punched him and let the consequences play out as they may. But now, I can't risk it. If he were to hit me back, he'd likely kill me. So in the end, the only thing I can do is look at Jigoro in silence, knowing that I have no reply, and hate him, and feel completely at a loss. Oddly, he takes it as defiance."
JIGORO: "Hmph. Fine, then. Have fun with that."
NARRATOR: "Picking up his sword and using it to pull himself to his feet, he turns and casually saunters out of the room. I want to throw my book after him, but I'm happy to finally be alone, even if I'm not in the mood to read any longer."
Next Scene: The Anchor