NARRATOR: "I can immediately tell from the envelope that it's not about official matters of any sort. Someone actually wrote me an old-fashioned, hand-written paper letter. Who bothers doing something like that in this day and age, anyway? Yet, as unlikely as the prospect of receiving one sounds, there is definitely a letter lying on my desk. The classes for the day are over. Still feeling pretty full from the big lunch that I had unexpectedly eaten at the cafeteria, I returned to my dorm, planning on finishing my homework and probably skipping dinner, or at least just eating light. I feel like I need to eat less than I used to. Maybe I don't use that much energy, now that I don't do much beyond reading. However, the letter on my desk has naturally caught my interest. It's the first piece of mail I've received here at Yamaku, so it'd feel special even if it wasn't something as rare as a handwritten letter. What causes me even more trepidation is the name of the sender, written neatly on the back of the envelope."
NARRATOR: "I have no idea why she would write to me. I haven't been in contact with anyone from my old school since I transferred, and Iwanako is the last person I'd expect to want to write me a letter. The last time I saw Iwanako was terribly awkward; embarrassingly so. She came to my hospital room, peeled me an apple out of courtesy and then we practically sat in silence for half an hour. She said “goodbye” and didn't look me in the eye when she closed the door. It might've been a natural end to the series of visits that were probably pretty painful for both of us. Every time she visited me in the hospital I wanted to talk to her, but something stopped me every time. Every time that I didn't speak made the next time even harder. Iwanako always had this aura of fragility around her, as if she'd shatter into pieces at the slightest disturbance. Initially I think it might've been that delicacy that attracted me to her, but after what happened back then, it felt as if she really had shattered."
NARRATOR: "She looked so sad that I didn't want to say anything that might upset her, and I never could figure out the right words to say. I told her that it wasn't her fault, she nodded and I really think she understood that if it hadn't been that, then sooner or later something else would've made my heart give out. Yet she looked so hopelessly sad every time she opened that door and entered my room. So I never managed to say the things I wanted to say. In the end, that might've hurt her even more."
NARRATOR: "Carefully, I open the envelope and draw out the folded letter from within."
How are you? I hope you are well and happy at your new school. Everyone here misses you. Almost all of our second-year class got put together in class 3-1 for the final year, so we are pretty comfortable right from the beginning of the year. I'm sure you would've been assigned to this class as well.
The mood among the third-years seems to be very anxious about the final exams, even though they are so far away. The teachers are badgering us about it all the time - even old Mr. Tachibana who is, by the way, our homeroom teacher this year. Would you believe it? I was sure that he'd retire after our second year, but here he is, nagging everyone about studying for exams.
I think things like that are the main reason why the mood among the third-years is so nervous. I must admit that I'm somehow losing confidence in myself as well, even though I've always fared reasonably well in exams.
It's so weird to think we are already seniors, isn't it? Time has really flown past. I wonder where it went. The new first-years seem so young and somehow really innocent. I keep wondering if I was like them in my first year. I've been feeling nostalgic like this for the whole first trimester.
There are other things I want to say. I'm writing to you because I felt that there are things I should've said after the incident back in winter. I really regret that I wasn't able to say them in person, and I have no excuse for it.
The truth is, the times when I visited you at the hospital made me worried about you. I am not talking about your health. You seemed to become more distant and disheartened. It was natural after something like that happened, I'm sure, but somehow I got the feeling that you had given up on something back then. Happiness, maybe?
I wanted to somehow express my feelings, but the right words didn't come to me. I couldn't say anything to comfort you. I am really sorry for not being able to support you when it mattered the most, even though I like you so much. At least now, finally, I can be more honest.
If I could go back to those quiet days in February and March, I'd tell you to not give up on yourself. That's what I would say. Maybe you wouldn't have drifted so far away if I had just said something. I hope you've managed to get back on your feet on your own.
Now that the distance between us is also physical, it also feels more final, somehow. I wonder if we will meet again. Perhaps it's for the best if we don't? Still, if you would like to correspond with me, by all means write me back. I'd very much like to hear about your new school and how you are doing. I wish you all the best.
NARRATOR: "After finishing reading the letter I fold it like it was, and place it on my desk. I don't know what to think of this. I feel empty and confused. Why now, after all this time? Just yesterday I decided that I can't let myself stay like this, that I'd try to get on top of my own life. Reading this letter just reminds me of what could have been. Of course I wish that I didn't have to be here. I'd want to be in the same class with Iwanako again. Maybe we would talk every day now and go on dates. My life didn't go like that. I didn't really need to be reminded of this. Iwanako needed to write this letter for her own sake and I'm glad for her that she could, but it would've been better if I hadn't read it. Of course, she is right. I thought of the same thing yesterday. I had fallen into a pit of depression and now have to try to climb out."
NARRATOR: "I rip out a page from my notebook, and after a moment of thinking how to frame my words, write a short reply to Iwanako. I find it difficult to be really honest to her, but at least I try to appear somewhat convincing. I don't write her about Yamaku at all. I doubt she will write me again, but I don't feel at all sad about it. I fold my own letter to her and as I have no envelope, set it next to Iwanako's. I'll mail it to her later. Then I lie back on my bed, looking at the monotone gray ceiling. A bird sings outside of my window and a sudden gust of wind flutters my curtains. The summer afternoon feels still, as if time had stopped for a brief moment. I think about all the things I've lost and will never regain."
Next Scene: In Her Own Image