NARRATOR: "Present. “Present” is a fleeting and vague concept at best. The moment between the past and the future? That doesn't really mean anything. Thinking too much about things that don't make sense is a waste of time. That's why living through the present is always the best option. Besides, for us who can't foresee the future and who forget the past too easily, present is really the only proof of our existence. Even though existence will go on even if you forget about it for a while, it's good to seize the day at least every once in a while. That way... you can confirm that you are, in fact... alive."
NARRATOR: "I am pretty sure that the girl who is standing there half-naked, staring out of the window of my room, has a much better grasp of “present” than I do. As for me... well, right now I'm somewhat confused by my present state, since I should try to locate my shirt and not stare at Rin's butt. But I just can't stop looking at her. She is so close to the glass that her nose is probably going to leave a mark. At least her breathing does, when it condenses on the rain-cooled window glass before quickly disappearing again. My shuffling around to get dressed doesn't rouse Rin from her contemplation, which is fine, really. I don't mind the silences as much as I used to. Only after I'm almost finished with buttoning up my shirt does Rin say something, still without turning to look at me."
RIN: "Let's go somewhere."
NARRATOR: "I can only assume she is inviting me and not the windowsill, but it's a fair guess."
RIN: "I know."
RIN: "Help me get dressed. I think today is the day. Come on, clothes."
NARRATOR: "Clothes, clothes... what an impatient tone. I crouch down to pick up her bra from the floor where it had fallen, discarded in the haste of undressing and forgotten there. Hanging it from between my fingers like a dead fish, the same hesitation that grasped me when I was undressing Rin is creeping inside my head again. Is intimacy really something this difficult for me to handle?"
RIN: "Come on, you got it off just fine. This is the same but the other way around. It's like talking backwards. Ysae s'ti tub, drah smees."
NARRATOR: "Perplexed by her sudden and prodigious display of mental processing capacity, I forget to attempt reversing her gibberish back. I'm pretty sure I couldn't switch to talking backwards that fluidly even with some practice."
HISAO: "Umm, could you repeat that?"
RIN: "Ysae s'ti tub, drah smees."
HISAO: "Got it. Fine, I'll give it a try."
NARRATOR: "Rin was right, the locking mechanism is simple enough, and I get the little plastic hooks right on the third attempt."
RIN: "Ti tsujda ot evah uoy won."
HISAO: "What? Please stop that, I don't speak backwardese."
NARRATOR: "She shakes her head as if needing to banish the backwards way of thinking with a physical gesture. I know a few people who could benefit from that kind of ability."
RIN: "I got stuck. Now you have to adjust it."
RIN: "That's what I said."
HISAO: "No, I asked what you meant."
RIN: "You know, so that they are... fine."
NARRATOR: "Oh. Fine, you say? ... As I have no idea when her breasts are supposed to be “fine,” I end up fumbling around her chest for a good while without really getting anywhere. Not that I would complain, but Rin does."
RIN: "Emi is better than you at this."
NARRATOR: "Her impatient tone ticks me off, even though I can't really disagree. Rin suddenly seems to be in an awful hurry."
HISAO: "Yeah well excuse me, could that be because she is a girl and can actually relate?"
RIN: "I don't think so, she has just about as much chest as you do."
NARRATOR: "... With her bra and breasts eventually “fine” as they should, the rest of her clothes are considerably easier to put on. Rin launches towards the door even though her shirt is not even buttoned up all the way yet. Left with little choice, I run after her. As soon as I realize that we are heading for the side entrance leading to the forest, I think I know where Rin wanted to go, although I couldn't say why she'd want to go there. Then again, I can't really assume my guesses to be anywhere near correct when Rin is concerned, not even for a quite generous definition of “correct.” The forest behind the walls smells of rain, the last raindrops are still dripping from the wet undergrowth into the earth despite the rain being gone for a while already."
NARRATOR: "We stroll along with an unhurried pace that Rin sets, giving me time to take in the calming atmosphere. I think I can hear Rin saying hello to at least three different trees while she walks past them, but I ignore it, just like the trees do. She leads me to the narrow side path leading up to the hilltops, as I guessed. I peek through the canopy trying to find a rainbow, but there doesn't seem to be one. It's perfect weather for rainbows. The sun is shining low, and rain has passed not too long ago. Well, whatever. I lower my eyes from the treetops to see the gaunt back of the girl who is climbing up the hill slowly, without losing her balance. A few steps ahead of me on the path, but still within my reach. I don't think I ever could reach a rainbow, but reaching Rin... it seems less impossible than it used to seem. The clear sky greeting us from above the meadow clearing seems vast and beautiful. A strong wind is herding the rainclouds away from the town, to the other side of the mountains in the distance. The sight is pretty, but..."
NARRATOR: "A speck of white flies past the edge my peripheral vision, but when I turn to look, it's already gone. Another follows, then a third. Before I realize it, dozens of almost invisible small tufts of white are flying all around us."
RIN: "Look, the flowers."
NARRATOR: "Ah. I see it now. The sea of dandelions that covered the hilltop on our last visit has changed over the days. Where there was bright yellow before, there is now fluffy white. Some of the flowers have already shed their seeds, but many are still waiting for a suitable gust of wind. Today those gusts are not in short demand, every now and then they shake the grass thoroughly, and suddenly the air is thick with dandelion seeds. One by one, the seeds separate from the flower heads and are lifted away. A commonplace event, but one that seems to fascinate Rin for some reason. She's turning her head from side to side, marveling at the change happening all around her as the seeds fly away. watch them too, following the white tufts floating with the wind towards the horizon, and imagine that I can see them even after they disappear from my sight. ..."
HISAO: "What is it?"
RIN: "Do you love me?"
NARRATOR: "I snap to attention, to meet her suddenly very serious face that is not looking only at the flowers any more. What a tough question, asked just like that, out of the blue. Still, her bluntness compels me to answer rapidly."
HISAO: "I don't know. Maybe I do."
NARRATOR: "Maybe too rapidly."
RIN: "What does that mean?"
HISAO: "...I don't know."
NARRATOR: "Rin sighs, perhaps unhappy with my wishy-washy answer. I would be too."
RIN: "Me neither. I don't think I know much about love."
HISAO: "... ...It's fine, isn't it?"
NARRATOR: "“How should I know?”, the shrug of her shoulders seems to say, hesitating to give a firmer answer. She stays silent for only a second too long, but even that second isn't long enough for me to think ahead..."
RIN: "I love you."
NARRATOR: "Those three words freeze me in place like a rabbit staring into headlights, but I'm not a rabbit and I'm just staring into Rin's eyes that seem far, far too impassive for what she just let out of her mouth. Rin looks pretty serious though, until she sticks out her tongue, frowns a little and confuses me even more than her words did. Why does she look mildly unhappy? Was it a confession of her deepest feelings, a test to see how I would react, a test to see how she would react?"
RIN: "It tastes weird."
RIN: "Yeah. So weird."
NARRATOR: "She laughs, maybe nervously or so I want to think, but stops midway when she notices how strange it sounds."
RIN: "Like... I don't know what, I... don't think there is a word for this."
NARRATOR: "Rin keeps on talking as though there was no meaning behind her words, steady and careless words dropping from the same tongue that formed the more important ones."
RIN: "A word for... ummm..."
RIN: "...it's like..."
NARRATOR: "She can't."
NARRATOR: "Find the words."
NARRATOR: "Rin just keeps staring at me, stumbling with her words as if her brain suddenly ground to a halt. She looks awfully confused, much like how I feel right now as I wait for her to explain. But she doesn't, she just blinks a few times, the flutter of her long lashes catching my fancy because she looks like she is petrified otherwise. Until I realize what they were fighting against. It's those weird tears again, not associated with sadness or happiness, not pitiable sobbing nor laughter of joy. Just tears, spontaneously and without a warning, like that one time in her classroom."
NARRATOR: "Just a few of them, not enough to make a fuss about, so Rin doesn't make a move to hide them even after noticing. Rin cries, looking like she has no idea why, and somehow a great uneasiness grows in my chest when I look into her watery eyes that stare right back at me. It petrifies me too, the shock of the incomprehensibility of this situation. I just don't know what is happening any more."
HISAO: "Rin? What's wrong?"
NARRATOR: "She shakes her head in confusion, stumbling to get the words out of her mouth."
RIN: "Sorry... I might be a little afraid of you."
NARRATOR: "The words are muttered slowly, with a small voice that is as disbelieving of what it's saying as I am."
HISAO: "What? Why?"
RIN: "I don't know. Saying that just made me feel like that. People cry when they are afraid, right? See? I can do it too."
NARRATOR: "She's averting her gaze now, deliberately not looking at me. It bewilders me, at least as much as what she is saying."
RIN: "I... I sometimes, with you, want to run away so badly but I can't move it's like my legs turn into lemon panna cotta pudding and my heart feels like it's going to explode and..."
NARRATOR: "She slumps her shoulders melancholically."
RIN: "Has a thing like this ever happened to you?"
NARRATOR: "...I remember the leaden sky above the frozen forest and the sound of the leafless branches clacking against each other. It's like a memory from another life."
HISAO: "Yeah. Once. My heart hurt a lot back then, too."
RIN: "But I thought your thing was not contagious."
NARRATOR: "I shake my head and a tiny, slightly forced smile rises on my lips. The other ailment of my heart could very well be contagious and I wouldn't care a bit."
HISAO: "What are you afraid of? I never thought I was scary."
NARRATOR: "Rin shakes her head desperately, as if knowing that the tangle inside her mind won't be undone with just that."
RIN: "You make me feel that I should be someone else than me. It's a scary thing. It happens when you are being nice to me. Like yesterday. I never know what to do at times like that. It's hard."
NARRATOR: "Her voice is barely audible, a whispered admission of something that is too embarrassing to even think, not to mention to say aloud. Rin has never been one to be embarrassed so she does utter it aloud, only timidly as if by instinct."
RIN: "But I want to do something. But I don't know if this me can."
NARRATOR: "For a moment, we just stare at each other as if waiting for the other to say something. ..."
HISAO: "You are so stupid."
NARRATOR: "Rin's lips taste salty and scared against mine. As I grasp her into an embrace, I feel my heart thumping in my chest painfully. Even though I am glad that she can say things like that, they make me sad after all. Rin's spirit, her passion, her strength. All those things that I hold dear are the ones I don't want to change. How should I treat them? Where are they headed to? Is that future irrevocably different from mine? That anxiety will never loose its grip on my heart, but I think I could learn to live with it. Slowly, the pain in my heart dies out, and it settles into the same rhythm as Rin's. We listen to that for some time. ... After our lips break apart, it takes a while for either of us to realize that we can say something now. ..."
RIN: "See? You are a really kind person, even when you are not. It's the most scariest thing ever. I think... that all I was ever afraid of is your kindness."
HISAO: "Is it bad? Even if you are afraid?"
NARRATOR: "She thinks about this for a while, furrowing her brow as though this was some kind of hard math problem."
RIN: "No. I'm all right with it. It's fine, if it's you."
NARRATOR: "Like a weight lifted from my chest, her words elate my heart, filling it with... I don't know, happiness? What else could it be? This time my smile is genuine. Rin steps back, still smiling gently at me like I do at her. While she wipes her face on her shoulder, I pick up a round, plump dandelion clock and bring it to my pursed lips. Pfff... They spread out into the wind that picks them up to carry them to a new home. To think, only a few short weeks ago they were so different. This is change. ..."
HISAO: "Hey, so the flowers became what they were meant to become, like you said the last time. What about you? Did you become a true artist? Or did you not, because you ran away?"
NARRATOR: "She pauses for a while to ponder my question... ...and shrugs her shoulders. It almost makes me laugh. The carefree easiness of her gesture is a lovely thing, a sign of how Rin can, truly and really, without any restraints whatsoever, shed the entire weight of the world from her shoulders, should she will so. She is, in every possible and probably a few impossible ways... free. And I think I might love her for that."
RIN: "I don't think it matters. Let's just watch the clouds for today."
NARRATOR: "She takes five steps to climb on a large rock so she can rise as high as it's possible here, and stands on tiptoes. When you reach for the clouds, every inch counts."
HISAO: "Sure, let's watch the clouds. It's good to do something you really want to do, every now and then."
RIN: "Yeah. You are probably right."
NARRATOR: "I glance upwards at the blue sky opening high above us. It's a deep, cerulean vastness that spreads to fill my entire field of vision and beyond. Yet Rin stays on her rock, peering at the distant horizon where the rainclouds are drifting further away from us."
RIN: "I have decided something."
NARRATOR: "That dreaming voice of hers, spoken to the wind that carries it to my ears, is lacking resolve in tone but is full of it in meaning."
RIN: "It's all right to be me after all."
NARRATOR: "It's all right? Her decisions always seem to be pretty... far out. Well, I suppose that is an important realization. Coming to terms with oneself, accepting yourself, being fine with what you are. A simple resolution of heart that for some people is overbearingly hard to do, if not impossible. I do realize well enough that I might also be one of those people. Rin too... Maybe we are not that different after all. Maybe to accept someone else, you must first accept yourself. Maybe that is a necessary step, which we didn't take until now. Looking at her standing on that rock, I believe that she can find whatever she is looking for. And so can I."
NARRATOR: "The wind catches her hair and clothes, and Rin spreads her short arms into an embrace that is so very very tiny, but as wide as she can ever do. For a moment it looks like she herself might take flight, and I have to hold myself back to not reach for her shoulder, to not drag her back to me. But this picture is something I can only watch, it is something for me to remember. Rin's sleeves are flapping freely in the wind, her hair wildly tousled by it, her skin touched by the setting sun. Her sleek form that I've come to adore is quivering in the cool wind that carries the small white specks past her, each a beginning of a new flower. All that is engraved inside my heart. Like those tiny seeds scattered into the wind, I'm sure that Rin too can take her place in this world without the need to create her own inside of it. Maybe she believes it too, and standing as close to heaven as possible, she is giving the world a big hug. To me it seems like the entire world really could fit there, between those small arms of hers, inside of her all-encompassing embrace."
NARRATOR: "She looks at me in the same way she calls my name, carelessly over her shoulder with a strange happiness in her voice and in her eyes. I gaze into those mysterious, dark eyes that are curiously twinkling from below her auburn hair. Although I'm too far from her to see it, I'm sure they are reflecting my image."
HISAO: "What is it?"
RIN: "What's the word for when it feels inside your heart that everything in the world is all right?"