NARRATOR: "As class ends, I simply rest my head on my hand and stare out of the window to pass the time. It's been a few days since Lilly told me her plans. I haven't been to our ordinary lunchtime haunt since then, not that there would be much point. Hanako's been busy with the newspaper club she's newly joined, and has even begun talking in class with Naomi every now and then. Even Lilly, aside from the fact that a meeting between us would've been awkward in any case, has been run off her feet with class representative duties as the summer holidays approach. And now, they're just about here. With the end of today's bell, the summer holidays will have begun. I suppose that all I'll end up doing will be visiting my parents for the duration and lazing about my old home, now that my previous plans are entirely askew."
NARRATOR: "Meanwhile, Akira and Lilly will be en route to Scotland, to live out the rest of their lives there. No matter how hard I try to rationalize the idea that once the summer holidays begin, my life will return to the way it was, it simply refuses to happen. Everyone's moving on with their lives. Lilly's rejoining her family, Akira's moving up in her father's business, Hanako's gaining new friends and hobbies, and even Yuuko's moving ahead with her university aspirations. Even I'm moving forward, in the end. With the marks I've gotten so far in Yamaku, much less after such a rocky beginning, the path to get into teaching science as a career seems straightforward. I suppose I should at least be happy about that much, but it doesn't really seem to help."
NARRATOR: "I quickly stop my ruminating and turn to face the bubbly voice beside me, putting on the most upbeat expression I can muster. As expected, Shizune stands flanking her. I have a sneaking suspicion they want something from me."
HISAO: "Hey Misha, Shizune. What's up?"
MISHA: "Shicchan and I were thinking~... Since we're just two poor little girls that need help with all the work we've been given just before the holidays begin~..."
HISAO: "Sure, I can help."
MISHA: "But Hicchan, we're really nee— What?"
NARRATOR: "I think I broke Misha. Even Shizune raises an eyebrow at her accomplice's shuddering stop in her tracks."
MISHA: "So you'll help us, Hicchan?"
HISAO: "I just said I would, didn't I?"
NARRATOR: "It's hardly like I have anything better to do. Maybe helping them with their work will help take my mind off the situation. Misha seems genuinely ecstatic with my response, but Shizune's expression is clouded and difficult to read. I find myself quickly averting my eyes from her own, as it almost looks like a face of pity. No doubt, it must just be my imagination. This is hardly the first time I've been in the student council room. Indeed, I've found myself down here often, either to help Lilly with class rep work, or to sort out one thing or another with the Student Council itself. Now, though, it's quite a different place. Papers and folders are strewn across every table in the room, only a solitary little black laptop atop a single desk sticking out from the mess. It looks positively ancient, and I'd guess it has been valiantly serving its task in archiving information for years and years."
HISAO: "So, what needs doing? This looks like a lot to do."
NARRATOR: "Shizune's expression becomes determined as she signs. It's a worrying look."
MISHA: "Everything, Hicchan!"
NARRATOR: "My worry was well placed."
HISAO: "Everything... you say?"
MISHA: "What's left on the desks is what needs to be done. It all needs to be digitally recorded, which is what the laptop is for."
HISAO: "And I'm guessing that I'll be the one doing this?"
MISHA: "Shicchan says she saw you with the computers in the library a few days ago, and that you seemed really good with them~."
NARRATOR: "Good with computers? I can touch-type, I guess, but it still seems like an overestimation of my skills."
HISAO: "I was just typing up homework... Wait, Shizune was watching me do that?"
MISHA: "One must know their allies before they can know their enemies, of course~. Wow, that's pretty wise..."
NARRATOR: "For once, it's not very hard to work out who said what. Nonetheless, it doesn't seem worth fighting over. Sitting at a computer doing some typing hardly seems onerous, as far as tasks to help Shizune and Misha go."
MISHA: "Besides, it will help to take your mind off things~."
HISAO: "Take my mind off things? Take my mind off what things?"
NARRATOR: "Misha's face goes blank as she translates this for Shizune, though the latter's response is only to glance away towards the window after briefly signing."
NARRATOR: "Misha's face quickly returns to a smile as she translates back. She was confused, I guess, but Shizune is harder to pin down."
MISHA: "I was just thinking you may like to get your mind off the exams, of course~."
HISAO: "Either way, we may as well get into it sooner rather than later. I'll go along with you."
MISHA: "That's the spirit, Hicchan~!"
NARRATOR: "And that's the fifth spreadsheet compiled and saved. Time for the next month's... After a little bit of fussing around, we all managed to get a bit more organized. Shizune's been gathering up the loose sheets and, thankfully, sorting them into a neat pile next to me. Meanwhile, Misha's been handling the manual writing work, her girly pink pen leaving its unmistakable mark on paper after paper. Once I got myself into a rhythm, this really wasn't so bad. Shizune and Misha also seem to be in the swing of things, wordlessly communicating as they go about their business with fervor. I periodically glance at the sheet beside the laptop, apparently a list of student names and matching addresses, as I dutifully enter the data written on it. I don't pay a lot of attention to what I'm typing in until I reach about midway down the page. Hakamichi... class 3-3... Huh. Her family home is in Saitama. My idle curiosity is ended abruptly as three light taps can be heard rapping on the door. Misha quickly skips over to check who it is, tapping Shizune's shoulder on the way past to let her companion know what's happening."
MISHA: "Ah, you're here~."
HISAO: "Hmm? Who is it?"
NARRATOR: "With a slight pause to enter Shizune's data into the file along with all the others, I look up to check who's at the door. ...Lilly? After giving a cursory nod to Misha in greeting, she perks her head up in her trademark manner."
LILLY: "Is that Hisao?"
NARRATOR: "She's pretty darned good at working out my voice from the smallest of phrases nowadays."
HISAO: "Yeah, it's me. Um... hey."
NARRATOR: "The atmosphere feels slightly awkward as she bows. Neither of us knows quite how intimate we should be around each other, given she's leaving in just a matter of hours. This is a fact that, thankfully, neither the oblivious Misha nor the hardworking Shizune pick up on."
HISAO: "So... you've got work to do as well?"
LILLY: "Unfortunately. I arrived as soon as I could, but my class held me up with a surprise farewell party, and I had to get changed."
NARRATOR: "I glance down at the laptop's clock. It's pretty much the end of lunchtime, so I'm guessing Lilly managed to wrangle the last period off as well."
LILLY: "I take it Shizune is here as well?"
MISHA: "Of course!"
MISHA: "And I've been here during all of lunchtime as well!"
NARRATOR: "That last comment was really not needed. Shizune's baiting Lilly into another argument, I can feel it."
LILLY: "I'm sorry I can't be as hardworking as you, Shizune. I'll endeavor to hire more lackeys to do my work in future, I assure you."
NARRATOR: "And Lilly just took the bait, escalating things further."
MISHA: "But aren't you the one always outsourcing work to your classmates~?"
LILLY: "The difference is that they choose to help, unlike your tyrannical grip on your own class."
MISHA: "Tyranny works~! Even if we did things differently, we still got the same results, right~?"
LILLY: "This is school, not a police state. You will have to remind me when you were appointed class monarch, I'm afraid."
MISHA: "You have to seize power, it's not as good if it's just handed to you~! But I guess you wouldn't really understand that, right~?"
MISHA: "You'll also have to remind me when monarchs were elected into their positions~."
NARRATOR: "Lilly positively bristles at this. Shizune's two-hit combo forces her onto defense."
LILLY: "Yet for all your vaunted power, you cannot get one person to help you without forcing him."
MISHA: "But Hisao volunteered~! He's such a hard worker, he's doing this instead of meaningless socialization, right~?"
LILLY: "Is that so. Hisao?"
NARRATOR: "Ah, this is bad. I've really ended up between a rock and a hard place. As much as it may pain me to do this, the truth has at least a chance of stopping this argument here and now."
HISAO: "It's okay, Lilly, they didn't harass me to come or anything."
NARRATOR: "Lilly gives me a disapproving grimace, silently radiating her strong feelings of displeasure in my general direction. She can be quite scary when she wants to be, though thankfully that isn't often."
MISHA: "Hicchan, you make that sound like it's a regular occurrence~..."
HISAO: "It isn't? In the end, it doesn't matter so long as everything's getting done at a good pace. Let's just get this work over with so we can go home."
NARRATOR: "Shizune snorts derisively and gets back to marking off the sheet in front of her, while Lilly sighs and finds her way along the room with her hand following the filing cabinets lined along the wall. This would mark the only time I've managed to successfully defuse one of these situations, but the grudging ceasefire built around mutual fear and respect makes this feel more like the Cold War than any real peace. I can't take all the credit though; Lilly's leaving has surely affected Shizune to some extent, to make her give up so easily. Moments before getting back to my work, I notice Lilly reaching up to grab something from above a filing cabinet. I almost offer to help, but her height gives her ample ability to take it down safely. Once she sets the strangely shaped device on the desk beside me, I realize just what it is... sort of... as she takes the old green covering off and sits down. At first glance it seems to be an old metallic blue typewriter, but it doesn't take me long to realize it's far from ordinary. It has far fewer keys than expected, and those it has show no lettering printed on them. Only the shadows cast by the tiny Braille dots on them give a hint to the thing's purpose."
HISAO: "Blind typewriter?"
LILLY: "Oh, this? Well, you're not far off. It's normally called a Perkins Brailler, but it's basically a typewriter for the blind, yes. It presses Braille into the page rather than text, which is why it has fewer keys."
HISAO: "Huh... that's really neat."
NARRATOR: "She gives a lighthearted grin at my curiosity over it. I have to admit that it appeals to my sense of novelty. Without further ado, we each get back to our allotted tasks. The loud clunking of the mechanics in Lilly's Brailler and the tapping of the laptop's old and weary keyboard quickly fill the room. It's a nice atmosphere, really. Everyone knows what they have to do, and Lilly and I get to sit beside each other and exchange the odd word as we work away. Nostalgic. That's what it feels like. It's pleasant, but just slightly stained with the knowledge that our time together is nearing its end."
LILLY: "Excuse me, Misha?"
NARRATOR: "To properly address her, Misha bounces over from the filing cabinet she's peering into, in spite of Lilly's lack of sight. For a moment I think it strange, but then realize it's exactly what I do."
MISHA: "What's up?"
LILLY: "Could you ask Shizune where the attendance records for class 3-2 are? I think they've been moved."
MISHA: "Okie dokie!"
NARRATOR: "And with that, she flitters off to Shizune, who's working at a table behind us. Lilly's familiarity with the council room, and the efficiency with which she works, remind me that she, Misha and Shizune used to all work together in the Student Council. Maybe this is a fitting end for her stay in Yamaku; working away just like she used to, surrounded by those she loves and, at least, liked. I look up, getting taken off-guard by Shizune sorting through a drawer, rather than Misha. Sure enough, she plucks out a manila folder, entirely blank save for the just barely visible bumps on its front, and holds it in front of Lilly. Lilly's hand flits over it to check what it is, her fingers feeling out the dots of braille and confirming it's what she asked for."
LILLY: "Thank you, Misha."
NARRATOR: "No reply. No reply, that is, save for an odd grin... no... smile... on Shizune's face."
NARRATOR: "A couple of seconds pass before Lilly clicks that it isn't Misha behind her, but Shizune. Her momentary look of surprise is replaced by a slightly bashful smile. For a few moments, the room is all but still and silent. Eventually, though, Shizune strides back to her workstation and Lilly begins typing once again. It only lasted a handful of seconds in all, but it feels like years of communication were made up for in that one silent exchange."
HISAO: "There, finished."
NARRATOR: "I lean my head back and rub my eyes to try and work away their weariness. Staring at that small and rather poor screen's taken its toll."
LILLY: "Excellent timing; the only thing left is to file these away and I'll have my workload finished as well."
HISAO: "Good. I can pack up the Brailler and put it away while you do that."
LILLY: "Thank you, Hisao."
HISAO: "Misha, are you and Shizune far from being done?"
NARRATOR: "I look around for the two as I replace the cover over the Brailler, only to see them waiting at the door. I guess they must be waiting for us. With a minimum of wasted time, we file and pack up everything that remains and join them."
HISAO: "Thanks for waiting, you two."
MISHA: "We couldn't just take off without you, Hicchan, you've been a great help!"
NARRATOR: "Shizune nods approvingly, pleased with my efforts."
HISAO: "I guess... that's the last class representative work done and over with, then."
LILLY: "That's right."
MISHA: "I'll miss you, Lilly. I think it was fun working with you."
LILLY: "Thank you, Misha. It's been good working with you... and Shizune."
NARRATOR: "Shizune thinks for a moment before formulating her response. It's not that she often communicates without thinking, quite the opposite, but this time it's even more considered than usual."
NARRATOR: "Misha looks a little surprised before passing on the message."
MISHA: "Shizune says... you'd better do your work over there better than you did it here."
NARRATOR: "Far from taking offense, Lilly giggles into her hand."
LILLY: "If that's the case, then please tell Shizune to give those still here a little more understanding in the future."
NARRATOR: "Competitive until the last. Maybe Shizune and Lilly aren't so different after all."
MISHA: "Shicchan says that she'll be checking to make sure you live up to your end of the promise."
LILLY: "Then that's how it will be. I'd better be off, then. Goodbye, Shizune. Goodbye, Misha. Hisao?"
NARRATOR: "Lilly takes a hold of my arm in hers, there being no need for a cane if I'm here to guide her. With a nod of farewell to the two, we set off out the door and make our way to the school grounds. As I turn to wave goodbye to them, I notice Shizune's gaze lingering on Lilly. They may annoy each other, but family bonds aren't easily broken."
HISAO: "Got all your papers sorted, then?"
LILLY: "Yes, they've all been filled out and handed in."
HISAO: "On top of things as always, aren't you?"
NARRATOR: "She gives an earnest smile at the compliment, but it feels as if her happiness is just a veneer over the fact that she's fully aware of how much she's leaving behind. It reminds me of how she was like when I first met her; always smiling, always that little bit aloof, always that little distance away from everybody. Even now, she still maintains that air around many others, especially those she's not close to. I had hoped that our time together would have changed that fact. Our pace slows, the two of us coming to a halt in the all but empty school gardens."
LILLY: "Hisao? Is something the..."
NARRATOR: "Lilly's words are cut short as I turn and wrap my arms around her, pulling her tight. I may not usually be given to such impulsive actions, but I just want to be close to her, even if it's the last time I'll be able to. All the other students have retreated to their dormitories and homes, only the ruffling of leaves in the breeze making any sound whatsoever."
NARRATOR: "As I draw back, I can see she has dropped her carefully maintained smile. Her hand hesitates, wanting neither to leave nor to stay on my features. She is putting up a brave show, but her slight trembling gives her away. Lilly may be able to control herself well, but even she can't hold her composure together now. This is the woman I've come to love, but also the one who in all too short a time will leave the country forever."
LILLY: "I'm sorry, Hisao."
HISAO: "It's okay. You've got your own life to lead, after all."
NARRATOR: "We walk up the hallway in the girls' dormitory hand in hand, our emotions by now largely quelled. Nevertheless, our hands grip each other's much more tightly than before. Faint, muffled voices can be heard from Lilly's room, the origins of which aren't difficult to guess. The moment she opens the door, Hanako bursts through and wraps her arms around Lilly, taking her very obviously by surprise."
HANAKO: "Lilly! Lilly!"
HANAKO: "I'm going to miss you... Lilly..."
NARRATOR: "As expected, she's on the verge of tears. Lilly gently rubs Hanako's hair with her hand in response, then pulls back and gives a warm, reassuring smile."
NARRATOR: "Looking beyond Hanako, Akira can be seen getting up from the side of Lilly's bed and scratching her head. Her eyes turn from Lilly and Hanako to me, a stilted, weak smile hanging on her face. I try to return a more genuinely happy look, but the result is probably just the same."
AKIRA: "So, everything set? Managed to hold back from killing Shizune?"
NARRATOR: "The comment draws an amused giggle from her sister."
LILLY: "Yes, I have everything in order, and yes, I managed not to. Have you packed everything you need?"
AKIRA: "Got the two bags right here, but there's still some stuff left at the Hakamichis' home. I can pick that up while we wait there for tomorrow evening's flight, though."
NARRATOR: "Akira gives the two large black traveling bags on the floor a hearty pat. She probably came to help pack and make sure everything was in order on Lilly's end, before going together with her."
HANAKO: "Lilly... will you be okay... over there?"
LILLY: "I'll be all right, I assure you. I'll have Akira looking after me as well, and you know that she's reliable."
LILLY: "Don't worry, Hanako. I have your phone number after all, so we can stay in touch. With Akira's help, I could send you things over the Internet as well."
AKIRA: "Hey, don't use me just because you won't learn how to use a computer."
NARRATOR: "Hanako and Lilly both giggle briefly, the mood lightening ever so little."
LILLY: "That goes for you too though, Hisao. I promise I'll contact you once I'm in Scotland."
HISAO: "I know. I'll be looking forward to it."
NARRATOR: "Her offer may be kind, but we both know that this is tantamount to breaking up. Neither of us has any illusions as to how well we'd manage a long-distance relationship. With nary a word of prompting, the four of us begin the long, solemn walk to the school gate. The numerous lamps scattered around the Yamaku grounds fail to do much more than provide pinpoints of light in an otherwise dense darkness. A car parked on the road just outside the school grounds comes into view, its shining black exterior reflecting the dimly lit lamps of Yamaku. I call out to Akira in an effort to alleviate a bit the heavy atmosphere."
HISAO: "That your car? What kind is it?"
AKIRA: "Don't know much about cars, do you? It's a Lancer Evo. Solid and speedy."
NARRATOR: "Well, it's not as if her comment on my knowledge is off the mark. I've never really taken an interest in them. She gives a small sigh."
AKIRA: "She's been good. Pity I have to part with it tomorrow, just like the summerhouse. You guys were the last to visit it before it changed hands."
NARRATOR: "Turning back from my rather faulty attempt at smalltalk, I glance at Hanako and Lilly, following behind us. By rights, Hanako should be leading Lilly, but it's rather definitely the other way around as she clings tightly to Lilly's arm. It's a depressing sight."
AKIRA: "So... I guess this is it."
NARRATOR: "Although the time for everyone to say their farewells is now, nobody really wants to take the first step. It's as if the longer nobody speaks, the better the chances of them simply not leaving."
HANAKO: "Lilly... do you really have to go?"
LILLY: "I'm sorry, Hanako. I won't be leaving you forever, though; I can still call you. Hisao will still be here as well."
NARRATOR: "I nod, but Hanako just clutches all the tighter to Lilly's arm. After spending so long without anyone to call family, it must be excruciating to have to say goodbye to the one person that was as close to a mother as anyone could have been in her life. Lilly lets out a long, sad breath. All Akira and I can really do is stand by quietly on the sidelines, since the only person that can solve this would be Lilly herself. Eventually, Lilly pulls her arm from Hanako's grip and holds both of her shoulders gently, a much more decisive way of address than I've ever seen Lilly take with her."
LILLY: "Hanako, remember when we first met? When you entered my room for the first time after overhearing my consoling of a friend, you didn't say a single word for the entire night. Even as I poured you tea and talked, you sat silently and simply listened to what I said. It took many quiet meetings like that before you began to open up to me, but as you began to, I felt some of the happiest moments I've ever felt. I didn't become your friend because I pitied you, Hanako. I became your friend because I knew you were hiding not just from me, but from everyone. Your ambitions, personality, interests, tastes... I didn't know any of them, and neither did anybody else. As you showed yourself to me though, I began to realize the person that you were, and became sure that our meeting was a very special moment."
HANAKO: "But I..."
NARRATOR: "Lilly cuts her words short as she brings her hand to Hanako's head and brushes her fringe to the side, gently pressing her lips to Hanako's forehead. As she pulls her head back, leaving Hanako all but speechless and her eyes moist, Lilly beams a wide smile."
LILLY: "I believe you are a very beautiful person, Hanako, and I am certain that you will become a strong and confident woman. You are a very dear friend, and someone whom I love very much. Just like Hisao, I will never forget you for as long as I live. I may be leaving, but you have your own life here to lead. Just as I do, you have your own friends and hobbies, and your own hopes after graduation. I want you to devote yourself to them, even after I'm not around any more. That is why I think you will be okay. Because you are your own self, with your own life. You yourself proved that to me."
NARRATOR: "Hanako lowers her head in embarrassment, but nods as she does so."
HANAKO: "I... I understand... I know I have to say goodbye... I know you have to go your own way... But... thank you, Lilly. For everything."
LILLY: "Thank you, Hanako. Will you be okay?"
NARRATOR: "There are a few seconds of silence before the answer comes."
HANAKO: "I will."
NARRATOR: "Lilly smiles, undoubtedly at least partly in relief."
LILLY: "That makes me very happy, then. Goodbye."
HANAKO: "Goodbye... Lilly."
LILLY: "And farewell to you as well, Hisao."
HISAO: "Goodbye. I'll miss you."
NARRATOR: "She pauses for a moment before walking up to me. Her right hand, outstretched in front of her, takes a hold of my shoulder. Her left hand slowly and daintily reaches towards my face, taking my cheek in her palm. For a while she simply holds my face, her fingers just slightly moving to take in its contours. Usually her hand would be warm when doing such a thing, but the night air's given her skin a cool edge. I'm not sure how long we stay like this, her clouded eyes pointed just below my own as she wears a wistful, almost distant smile. Eventually, though, I take her cold hand in mine. It's difficult to do so, but with a slight sigh I gently remove her hand from my cheek."
HISAO: "I hope you have a long and happy life, Lilly, no matter where you might go."
LILLY: "Thank you. I'll make sure to."
NARRATOR: "She takes a long, trembling breath before turning slightly towards Akira's direction."
NARRATOR: "With a nod, she takes Lilly's hand and begins to guide her to the car parked outside the gates. They both walk slowly and deliberately, as if their movements had been rehearsed in advance. It's strange to feel like this now, watching somebody leave Yamaku. The feeling of unease I have now reminds me of the first time I walked through those black wrought iron gates, that always looked far too pompous for what they were. As they leave, all of us know full well that our lives are irreversibly changing. I'd always told myself that I just have to take life as it comes, but everything's changing so fast, so suddenly. In the end, Lilly's an irreplaceable part of the lives of both Hanako and I. The noise of Akira opening the passenger door for Lilly brings me out of my thoughts, her hand waving back as Lilly gets in."
AKIRA: "Seeya guys! Take care of yourselves!"
LILLY: "Goodbye Hanako, goodbye Hisao!"
NARRATOR: "Hanako's hand quickly shoots up, her face brightened by her enthusiastic farewell."
HANAKO: "Goodbye Lilly! Goodbye!"
HISAO: "See you, Akira, and goodbye Lilly!"
NARRATOR: "The door shuts as we all put on our best happy farewell faces, Akira getting in the car herself and starting it up in short measure. Lilly's hand can just be seen waving through the tinted windows, both of our hands waving high as well. Just as every other time I've done such things, I can't quite work out precisely why I, or Hanako, wave to her given that she'd never see us doing so. But it doesn't matter. Even after that black, shiny car goes down the hill and disappears into the dark night, we carry on waving and seeing Akira and Lilly off."
NARRATOR: "And then... they're gone. A strange stillness takes over as our hands return to our sides. I don't quite know what I should do or how I should feel. In the end, we just stand there silently staring down at where the car disappeared from sight."
HANAKO: "Goodbye... Lilly."
NARRATOR: "All I can do in response to her quiet, mournful goodbye is to place a hand on her shoulder. She looks at me for a few moments before looking back down the hill, secure in the knowledge that I'm still around for her. What we'll do from now doesn't seem all that uncertain. We all have our own ambitions now, just as Lilly said. But even so, it feels like there's a certain missing part in both of our lives now. Something that can never be replaced."
- ↑ Gameplay only proceeds if the player selected "Tell the truth" in A Brief History of Thyme, "Address it" in Prelude, and "Mention the letter" in Out and About
- ↑ The game ends if the player selected "Avoid the subject" in A Brief History of Thyme or "Wave her off" in Prelude or "Drop the subject" in [[Out and About/Transcript|Out and About]. This is considered Lilly's "neutral ending".