NARRATOR: "She's standing in the middle of the sunlit room, peering through the gaps of the curtains out into the yard. Like so often before, she doesn't start or jump, just calmly waits for me to make the first move. It's as if she is trying to become a permanent part of the furniture."
HISAO: "The teacher is looking for you."
NARRATOR: "A blank look over her shoulder is all I get, accompanied by a cryptic nonexpression on her face."
RIN: "Are you looking for me too?"
HISAO: "Nah, I already found you, didn't I?"
RIN: "Did you?"
NARRATOR: "She furrows her brow, looking so puzzled that it makes me wonder if the question was asked in all seriousness. Maybe it was."
HISAO: "Are you talking metaphorically now?"
RIN: "Do you mean like eels, caves and dark, stormy nights? I am bad at talking like that."
NARRATOR: "... The abruptly-ended greetings give me the chance to close the door behind me and sit down on a dust-covered desktop. Rin stays standing, but at least she turns around. I soon wish she didn't though, so oppressive is her expectant stare. This is her place and I'm an intruder, although a tolerated one. Despite that, she still waits for me to say something. If I only knew what."
NARRATOR: "The sunlit silence presses me towards decisions. I came here without really thinking what I would do, apart from delivering Nomiya's short message in case Rin was here. She was, and now I don't know what else I want to say... what else I should say? I hover between my two options for a moment. Rin being troubled troubles me too. It's a surprising revelation, almost as big as realizing that she really is troubled was. Nothing I can do would probably help, and I might be partially to blame too. Does it mean I should just wash my hands of her? Didn't think so."
HISAO: "So... what's wrong?"
NARRATOR: "She starts to turn away again, as if trying to physically exit a conversation she doesn't want to have."
HISAO: "Rin, stop trying to dodge me or I'll leave."
HISAO: "Do you want me to leave?"
RIN: "Are you still angry?"
NARRATOR: "It took us - or was it only me? - ten seconds to swamp the conversation into this. I wish we could erase the past, or failing that, forget all about it. I've wished for that more than once in the last few months."
HISAO: "Let's put that aside for the time being, all right?"
RIN: "If you say so."
HISAO: "I do. So... what's wrong? Sae and Nomiya were not too happy that you just ran off yesterday. You left them in quite a pinch, and I suppose the teacher wants some kind of an explanation. It seemed like you just threw out everything you had worked for. And I don't get why."
RIN: "Did I make a mistake?"
NARRATOR: "My reprimanding and her flat answer go so much against the usual expectations and presumed interactions that it might just as well be somebody else talking. Neither of us is like we used to be, this stiff, constricting feeling I get every time I look at Rin nowadays seems to be mirrored in her own behavior. I hate things that go irreparably wrong. Ever since February, I have hated them. What can I say? Her question is trailed by a compelling, quizzical stare that makes me sigh and frown. Conversations nobody wants to have are the worst."
HISAO: "I don't know. I mean, it's not the end of the world but it probably was pretty stupid."
NARRATOR: "She responds with a sigh of her own, although hers is not nearly as heavy as mine was."
RIN: "I just couldn't do it."
HISAO: "But... why? What's wrong?"
NARRATOR: "A pause, a furrowed brow, a quiet voice."
RIN: "Let it be, Hisao. I don't think I can really explain it in a way that would make sense."
NARRATOR: "Yeah, Rin doesn't want to have this conversation either. That may be for the better. But how rare of her, to admit that even she has some kind of limits. I always thought Rin was all but ignorant of her tendency to get distracted, so much that she inadvertently obfuscates everything she says. ..."
HISAO: "You never explain anything in a way that would make sense."
RIN: "Nobody else has ever asked me to."
NARRATOR: "I guess that's how it is. But I always wanted to make sense of you, to find out who you are. I still want to, can't you see? ... I know you can't. But I do. Is that why I keep this up? It pains you as much as it pains me. It's unlikely to be of any use to either. We did things and said things that can't be undone. It's as if... you and me being close to each other just hurts us both, but we still deliberately keep doing it. Isn't that silly? Even now, I can see how you force yourself to respond even though you owe me nothing. Even if it's hard to talk about things like this. Why?"
HISAO: "Why is it that you paint?"
RIN: "I... because I don't know what else I could do. It's like this feeling that there is no choice, that it's the only possibility. Like when there are only watermelon-flavored popsicles left in the store but you need to eat a popsicle."
NARRATOR: "Her poor metaphor aside, she didn't really answer anything. If possible, this makes even less sense than not knowing."
HISAO: "But... if you don't want to paint..."
RIN: "Not like that. You had to come to this school even though you probably didn't want to have a heart attack."
NARRATOR: "She pauses, frowning as if something in what she said didn't please her."
RIN: "At least I think you wouldn't."
NARRATOR: "Her careful follow-up is followed in turn by another, shorter pause with another, smaller frown."
RIN: "Would you like to have a heart attack?"
HISAO: "No, I wouldn't and I didn't want to."
RIN: "But you're doing fine, aren't you? Or are you still sad about it?"
NARRATOR: "Rin's question makes me realize that I haven't really thought about my illness for weeks. Aside from chugging down my medication every day there has been no need to concern myself with my broken heart, which I'm only thankful for, really. Getting to know new people, a new school, a new town... a new life, it all has caught me and made the past fade away."
HISAO: "No... heh, I guess even I can't dwell on the past indefinitely."
RIN: "See? Even watermelon doesn't really taste bad if you have to eat it."
NARRATOR: "Her half-nonsensical closure seems to put an end to the subject in Rin's mind, so I just nod in uncertain confirmation. ... ... There are two kinds of silences: awkward ones that you want to break, and comfortable ones that you don't mind. The first kind is bad, because it makes your thoughts go awry. Like mine do, now. Looking at Rin makes me feel bad. I don't want to feel like this. Looking at Rin makes me feel... exhausted. I really tried my best, she tried to... I have no idea. But we ended up like this, and she ended up screwing up her exhibition opening. It feels like we are at a dead end. There is no direction to continue to. I reached out for her yesterday, thinking it would be the last time. She walked away. “I want to be me.” What the heck does that even mean? Rin, if anyone, is most definitely herself. I feel kinda relieved that I am not the one to blame, but this still grates on my mind. Why did she run away? It didn't make sense yesterday. It doesn't make sense today. The things she said feel like they should make sense but they just don't, to me."
HISAO: "You know, about that thing you just said..."
RIN: "Which one of them?"
HISAO: "Umm... painting... Sae said something like that to me before... that a true artist does not paint because she wants to, but because she must. And I've been wondering about what she said. Why do artists have to paint?"
NARRATOR: "My question is probably pretty stupid. At least Rin looks at me in the blank way that seems to say so."
RIN: "I don't know. Am I an artist?"
HISAO: "Well, you paint stuff and you have an exhibition too. I'd say you qualify."
RIN: "I think I still don't know, but okay."
NARRATOR: "The thinking pause that follows seems to last for half an eternity. Unlike most people, Rin doesn't flavor her thinking pauses by body language or saying “like” or “umm” or anything. I've noticed that I might prefer her way. The usual way even annoys me, as if people were so infatuated by the sound of their own voice they just have to keep making some noise even when they are just thinking what they could say next. Rin just... comes to a full stop while she is thinking. It's disconcerting, because reacting to people spacing out is always hard, but she comes off as less obnoxious."
RIN: "I think I want someone to see what's inside me. Not the way doctors and serial killers do. The way that doesn't make me feel lonely. This is what you call metaphorical, you see."
HISAO: "Please don't lecture me about self-evident things."
RIN: "It's not self-evident that this is self-evident."
HISAO: "So, you present a painting to someone and expect him to magically see a glimpse of your soul?"
RIN: "It's not like that. It's just a little like that but not really. Don't you understand?"
HISAO: "I do... and I don't. You know, I feel a little bit of despair every time you ask that question."
RIN: "What question?"
HISAO: "About whether I understand you or not."
NARRATOR: "She seems almost surprised at my clarification."
RIN: "Oh, it's not really a question. It's one of those kind that you don't have to answer."
RIN: "Yeah, that's the word, a question that is not a question is a rhetorical question. How nice. That reminds me, it doesn't really make sense. What kind of a question is one that isn't a question?"
HISAO: "A rhetorical one."
RIN: "What kind of an answer is an answer that doesn't answer anything?"
HISAO: "Is that a rhetorical question?"
RIN: "You are not funny. But if you don't like it, would you like me to say something else instead? I don't have any good ones though. How about... “Your pants are on fire?” This can be our secret language."
NARRATOR: "Rin's honest-to-goodness silliness, made twice more ridiculous by the fact that I know she is dead serious, derails me like it always does. It's like some kind of a safety lock to prevent me from becoming too much of a worrywart, dragging even my own thoughts off the ground where they should be. It makes me smile confusedly, but only on the inside. Even though the corners of my mouth are not drawing into a grin, I'm still impressed by her ease of wrecking any attempt at being too serious. Could she (should she will so) forget and ignore things that bug her, things that bother her? Could she (should she will so) be free of whatever burden being her means? Or am I the only one who feels burdened by being myself?"
HISAO: "No thanks. But still, the times when I feel that I am on the same page as you are pretty rare. It feels like... there is this huge gap and sometimes you just go to the other side, and I don't... have any way to reach to you from where I am. It's like you are in some completely different place at times. Even though you are right here."
NARRATOR: "That's right. There is an insurmountable discontinuity, an imaginary glass wall that blocks comprehension from happening. There might be such a gap between any two people, but with Rin, it feels more tangible. Rin does not react to my thoughts, not to the ones I uttered aloud nor the ones I did not."
HISAO: "It's even worse with art. I'm not very good at art, I admit it. I joined the art club 'cause I thought it could be interesting. And I guess it is. I like art, I like your art too, but just like with you, I can't comprehend it. And I'm pretty sure nobody really can."
NARRATOR: "This seems to worry her slightly."
RIN: "Do you think so?"
HISAO: "Yeah. I guess that art is meant to be interpreted, not understood. That's how I'd put it."
RIN: "That's a sad thought."
HISAO: "I guess it might feel like one. Does it make you feel sad for yourself?"
NARRATOR: "Rin thinks about this for a while, and then shakes her head surprisingly vehemently. The first thing she focuses her eyes on afterward is me. Both of these things make me glad, and relieved."
HISAO: "That's good, isn't it? Anyway, you should go see the teacher and apologize properly. I think he is worried about you. Can you do that?"
NARRATOR: "This time, she nods her head. Only, it's not as vehement."
Next Scene: Measuring Shadows