NARRATOR: "So she really has locked me out. After everything that happened between us, and the time that we spent together... she's shut me out completely."
HISAO: "Um... I don't know if you can hear me, but... I just want to talk to you a bit. If you can hear me, could you unlock the door?"
NARRATOR: "I wait in silence. Minutes pass, but eventually I hear footsteps coming to the door and the lock being worked. At least she's willing to hear me out. That's one good thing."
HISAO: "I... I don't really know what to say, but... I just wanted to see you. I wanted to make sure you're all right."
NARRATOR: "I take a breath before pushing the handle down and opening the door. If she unlocked it without raising any protest, it should be fine for me to go in. Hanako is sitting on the side of her bed, her face sullen as though deep in thought. Her room is as stark as ever, and right now, she seems to perfectly suit the mood it gives off. Eventually, her eyes slowly move to the door. As soon as she notices my presence, she darts off her bed and jumps to her feet, facing me straight-on. Her oversized gown makes this gesture look all the more sweeping as it freely moves about her light frame."
HANAKO: "Wh-what are you...?"
NARRATOR: "I quickly regret coming in as I look at her. She looks depressed, but there's a tinge of anger behind it. So, she can make this kind of expression as well."
HISAO: "I... I just wanted to check that you were all right. I thought it would be okay, since you unlocked the door."
NARRATOR: "Hanako opens her mouth to speak, but quickly closes it again before looking away. We stand in silence for a while, before she steps back and sits down on the side of her bed. I'm not sure whether she's frustrated with me and resigned to the fact that I'm here, or genuinely okay with me being in her room. Once again, I find myself completely unable to work out how she feels. It's annoying. I end up walking to her desk chair and taking a seat. I do it slowly, to allow her time to raise any issue she might have with me sticking around, but she doesn't say anything. All she does is stare at the ground, not moving a muscle. After sitting with my front to the chair's back, I take a better look at Hanako. She appears pale, but her cheeks look red. I'm not sure she's been eating well, either, given how thin her frame looks. Lilly might have said it would be better if I kept more of a distance from her, but it's hard to think of that as the correct way to deal with Hanako when she looks like this. She keeps looking at the ground without a word, as if waiting for me to say something. It's entirely reasonable, since I'm the one who came into her room."
HISAO: "Want to go out somewhere? Going down the hill to town might be a bit much, but we could at least go for a walk outside."
HANAKO: "Why... do you want to do that?"
HISAO: "I was just thinking that it might help you a bit. You spend so much time inside, your skin's going to get as pale as Lilly's before long."
NARRATOR: "I snort in amusement, expecting Hanako to do the same, but she gives no reaction; she just goes back to looking at the ground."
HANAKO: "If you don't want to go... I-I don't want to go either."
HISAO: "It's fine. I played soccer and hung out with friends after school a lot before coming to Yamaku, so I like being outdoors."
NARRATOR: "Hanako shows no visible reaction. It's hard to talk to her when the discussion is so one-sided."
HISAO: "We could go to the library... uh, if it wasn't closed by about now. The gardens would be fine, though."
NARRATOR: "She begins to play with her hair. It's distracting, and strikes me as a little unusual for her. Then again, since the incident in class happened, I've been tiptoeing around her for fear of hurting her like that again. Actively trying to get her outside might be a good thing. I lean forward a bit more in the chair and give her a slightly forced smile, to try and lighten the mood a little."
HISAO: "There wouldn't be anyone around by now, so you wouldn't have to worry about someone getting in our way. It could be a little date or something."
NARRATOR: "I give a small chuckle, but catch myself as Hanako stops playing with her hair and grips the bed tightly. Hanako's mouth moves, but try as I might, I can't pick out what she's mumbling."
HANAKO: "You... don't understand..."
NARRATOR: "Even now, I can only barely understand what she says. It feels like she's trying to make her presence as small as possible; that's incredibly natural for her to do in class or around others, but it hurts when she tries it around me."
HISAO: "I told you, it's fine. It's just a little walk, nobody'll notice us."
NARRATOR: "I get out of the chair and walk towards the door, turning back to invite Hanako along. Once again, she doesn't respond at all to what I say."
HANAKO: "I don't..."
HISAO: "Going outside for a bit is good for clearing your head."
HANAKO: "Why do you... want to do this..."
HISAO: "Because I want to help you."
HANAKO: "I don't... want... help. Did you just come here... to try and get me out...?"
HISAO: "I don't mind. I think everyone needs help sometimes. When I was trying to get through my first days at Yamaku, you and Lilly helped me a lot. Besides, I'm not exactly busy."
HANAKO: "I don't w-want to go. I'm... fine."
HISAO: "I don't really think it's healthy to stay indoors that long. The sun's still got a little life in it, so it's not too late to have at least a little walk. I could probably use a bit of exercise anyway, to help wake me up. I've got some homework to get done, and it wouldn't be good to fall asleep halfway through doing it."
HANAKO: "Then... go."
HISAO: "By myself?"
NARRATOR: "She nods."
HISAO: "Well, I'm not really against that, but... are you sure? I swung by to invite you to come with me."
HANAKO: "I'm fine. You can go."
HISAO: "Come on, just a small walk."
HANAKO: "Please, just go. I-I'm fine here."
NARRATOR: "I try to look at her face to gauge her feelings, but her expression is wooden. As if it was so carefully arranged, that a single movement might cause it to collapse."
HISAO: "Well, if you want to stay here... maybe we could play a game?"
HANAKO: "Just leave. Please. I don't... want to do anything right now."
HISAO: "Surely there's something you want to do. It must be boring, sitting here in your room alone."
HANAKO: "I want you to go."
HISAO: "Come on, you don't have to be like that. I just want to spend some time with you. Lilly and I are worried, so..."
HANAKO: "You... talked to her?"
HISAO: "Uh... yeah. We were... on the phone, just a little while ago. We're both really worried about you."
NARRATOR: "Hanako mumbles to herself again. It's increasingly disturbing."
HANAKO: "I'm telling you... please, go away. You don't understand anything..."
HISAO: "If we just had a talk, you could tell me what I don't understand. I just want to protect you, I don't really see..."
HANAKO: "Get... out, p-please..."
HISAO: "Just locking yourself in your room again isn't going to help anything, Hanako. Please..."
HISAO: "Hanako, I just want to help you—"
NARRATOR: "She suddenly storms off her bed, turning to me with an expression that takes me completely off guard."
HANAKO: "Get out of my room, get out of my room, get out of my room...!"
NARRATOR: "Hanako yells at me with such force that, for the first time in a long time, I feel genuinely frightened. I... I have no idea how to react to this, and from Hanako of all people."
HANAKO: "Leave! I'm telling you, go!"
HISAO: "B-but... I was just trying to... help you..."
HANAKO: "I know I need help! I know I'm broken! I don't need you to tell me that!"
HISAO: "I never said you were broken, or anything like that!"
HANAKO: "It's written on your face, it's written on Lilly's face, it's written on everybody's faces! I see a therapist every week, Lilly dotes on me as if I were her child, and now... even you! Nothing's changed, nothing at all! I hate Lilly, and I... I hate you more than anyone...!"
NARRATOR: "Her face moves in strange, almost grotesque ways. I've never seen someone completely lose it before, but it looks like the usually quiet and withdrawn girl in front of me is going into just such a destructive cycle before my eyes. I don't know what to do. I have no idea what I should say or do."
HANAKO: "Go! Leave me alone! Get out of here!"
NARRATOR: "I take a step back, then another, and then another. My retreat is only halted when I feel the door against my back. I can't fix this situation. Nothing I say would change anything, now. I feel like I'm in a strange and deeply unsettling foreign world. I don't want to be here any more. The door handle fights my clumsy attempts to open the door without turning my back to Hanako. Eventually, thankfully, the handle moves downwards. I open the door as fast as I can and almost leap backwards through it. As I go through, I keep my eyes on the girl in front of me. She's not broken. Hanako isn't broken. If she was broken, then I'm just as broken as she is after all that's happened to me. Lilly only ever did the best by her, and I only ever tried to protect her as best I could."
NARRATOR: "Hanako looks down, all her energy spent. Now that I've stepped out of her room, the worst of her fury is gone. But even now, I can't bring myself to argue with her. It's not just the deep shock at what she said... it feels like something else is stopping me. Something deep, that makes me feel physically sick. Without a word, I slowly shut the door. The creak of the old hinges sounds almost deafening."
NARRATOR: "With a final thud, the wooden door closes. The Hanako that I felt I knew disappears behind it, and only faint orange slivers of light peek around the very edges. I feel numb. Without anything else to do, I begin the walk back to my dormitory room, mechanically placing one foot in front of the other while barely registering a thing around me. My mind keeps ticking, questioning everything that I thought I knew about Hanako. But one thing is not questioned; that shutting that door brought a close to more than that single visit."