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HISAO: "Why... what are you saying?"

RIN: "You're angry with me too, right? I thought you were my friend. I thought he was, too."

NARRATOR: "Her voice is unlike I've ever heard it, it's bitter, sharp like needles, and she keeps staring pointedly at her toes."

HISAO: "I don't think it's about that. He wanted you to be something you are not. And..."

NARRATOR: "I take a deep breath and finally catch her eyes in my own, locking our gazes."

HISAO: "...I'm sorry. I wanted us to be something else too... more than friends. Maybe that's why I couldn't contain myself and became so frustrated, just like the teacher did."

RIN: "What more? There is nothing more to me than me, that's all I am. I don't understand that."

NARRATOR: "Well... the answer should be obvious, right? I remember myself, thinking of the purpose of friendship. To put up with everything and anything, to be there for your friend. Did I fail as a friend, thinking it could be a stepping stone for something else? Maybe because of those thoughts, I didn't manage to put up with things, to keep it together. As outrageous as Rin is and was, I shouldn't have let myself get caught into that, especially when I started feeling the way I did towards her. So, did I fail? That's what her eyes seem to ask. ..."

HISAO: "I'm sorry, Rin. I might not be able to be your friend. I don't think I could ever be a good friend to you."

NARRATOR: "I say these things because they are true, not because one of us would like to hear them. But they are something that must be said. The finality of my words creates a shaking silence, for what could either of us add to that? ..."

RIN: "Why? Why does all this happen? People are doing things I don't ask for and don't want and everyone keeps getting angry at me, I have no idea what is going on any more and can't stop feeling like I want to run away from everything..."

NARRATOR: "She shuts her eyes tight and breathes out deeply, calmly. When the eyelids open, all I can see is dark green desperation."

RIN: "I have no idea what's wrong with me!"

NARRATOR: "Her frenetic outburst stupefies me for a moment, and for a heartbeat we just gaze into each other's face. Seeing her confused eyes desperately looking for answers from mine only makes me sad, because I know I have none."

HISAO: "I don't know either. But you know, you yourself said that things are not right nor wrong. They just are. You either accept them, work to change them or give up. It's not that I hate you, or that teacher Nomiya does. I just... think that I am the kind of person who gives up when he feels he can't go on. And even if you hate it, this... this is... how things are."

NARRATOR: "I'm saying pretty cruel things but I can't stop myself, the words keep rolling off my tongue with slow, hard certainty. I can see them hitting Rin almost like physical blows. As the wetness gathers into the corners of her eyes, they are still wide with the shock of rejection. As the tears start rolling down her pale cheeks, she does nothing to stop them. As they fall down on the floor one by one, she stands still, staring at me with a gaze full of hollow disbelief."

RIN: "..."

NARRATOR: "But reality catches up. Rin slumps forward as if she was deflating, and buries her face as deep in my shirt as she can. Rin is heavy and featherlight when I support her weight. She doesn't really sob or bawl, just leans against me, letting her tears burn through my shirt into the skin underneath. And I let her, bringing my hand around her shoulders in a clumsy hug that does no good to comfort her. I can feel Rin's vertebrae against my fingertips, like hard and jagged reminders of how messed up things are. Her slim shoulder quivering against my palm is a pitiable sight, and the hopelessness of being part of the cause for Rin's sadness keeps shredding my heart."

NARRATOR: "To make a girl cry is the most despicable thing to do. Even Rin. Especially Rin. Behind that veil of aloofness, Rin is just a human being too. Just as confused, scared and lost as any of us is. Most of the time it seems that there is no rhyme or reason for what Rin does and says, but for once, I think I really understand how she feels. But no words can express it, and no words can make it better. So wordless we stay, quietly waiting for her tears to run out. Time passes agonizingly slowly, even the lazy specks of dust floating in the air seem to pause into a standstill. The obligatory wall clock is ticking distractingly from above the door. I decide against counting the seconds, because it would make them feel longer. ... Eventually Rin stirs a little and still smothering herself against my chest, mutters into my shirt."

RIN: "Let me be here for a while. Please, Hisao. Just give me a little while."

NARRATOR: "A soothing deluge spreads into my consciousness, the knowledge that while being here for Rin is all I can do for her, that's all she wants right now, even after all we've gone through."

HISAO: "Sure."

NARRATOR: "So she stays there. But I still can't bring myself to draw her closer so I could embrace her properly. It's because doing it would just make me so sad that I don't know if I could bear it. The realization that we might never really be able to become what we want to be for the other crystallizes into my mind as a diamond-hard enlightenment. A pang surges through my heart like an electric shock. It's painful. This clarity... hurts. What can we be for each other? What meaning is there for us to desperately cling to each other even though it seems so futile? What should I say to Rin? How to make her feel better? I do not know any of those things, and I fear knowing them would only hurt more. Forcefully, I push all of that out of my mind because I don't want to be thinking of hurtful truths. My thoughts calm down soon enough, the sadness disperses until all that is left is me and Rin and the tender feeling of her warmth and softness against my chest."

NARRATOR: "When did I fall in love with her? I can't remember, but I'm certain it was way before the warm touch of her lips on my own, on that orange-colored afternoon when she was sick with cold and I went to see her because of unclear reasons. Her carefree attitude, the air of otherness around her, all the things that make Rin herself... those things captured me with irresistible force. The way she could take in anything and everything giving it only the value she herself placed, weighing all things fairly and without prejudice, seeing the world as she wanted. This is something I could never do, and Rin was probably more of a muse to me than anything ever was to her. She seemed so free to me, truly a free spirit. While I, constantly worrying about everything, seemed so inhibited that it was almost embarrassing. Maybe that's why I latched so tightly on to Rin, trying to get inside her world that was so different from my own bleak life."

NARRATOR: "Before I noticed it, that irresistible force had pulled me dangerously close to her, but it turned out to be way too alien for me. And I had forgotten Newton, of all things. The gravitational force is inversely proportional to the square of the distance between the objects... So if two people feel something for each other... Heh. Even though feelings are not governed by the constants of the universe, I can't help thinking that for some time now I've been a satellite to Rin's brightly shining planet. Planet Rin. The thought makes me almost laugh, she really does seem to be from another planet at times, minus green skin and possibly some tentacles. Perhaps because of my stifled laughter, Rin pulls away and I let her go, feeling the cold when her warmth goes away, and slight embarrassment for letting my thoughts run wild like that. I credit that as Rin being a bad influence on me, while being glad at the same time that she can't read thoughts for real. Rin's bitter tears have dried up, and she looks a little more like herself again. The lost look in her eyes is still there though. Her gaze wanders around restlessly before stopping at me."

RIN: "What happened just now? Can you tell me?"

HISAO: "What? What do you mean?"

RIN: "I cried."

NARRATOR: "She says that hesitantly, as if not believing it herself."

HISAO: "Yes..."

NARRATOR: "... She keeps staring at me, as if pleading guidance so that she wouldn't have to feel so lost. ..."

RIN: "Why?"

HISAO: "You were sad. Is that what you want me to say? But isn't that obvious?"

RIN: "I don't know. It feels weird to cry."

HISAO: "What? I don't believe it. I mean, everyone does that. It's nor—"

NARRATOR: "I bite my tongue before I finish my argument about normality. Norms do not apply to the person I'm talking to."

RIN: "It always felt so wrong, different from what is in me. Like I couldn't really tell what I felt. So I started thinking that maybe I don't know what I'm feeling. Maybe it's me who is wrong— I thought those kinds of things. I thought... that painting was enough because it felt that I did at least that right. That all that is inside me could become a picture if I tried really hard. And it could. But it doesn't feel like it's enough any more. Because if nobody else can see that, I will still be alone. Was it wrong to try? Everyone got really angry at me for that."

NARRATOR: "I've rarely heard Rin say this much at once before. Once she finishes, she simply shuts up, looking so neutral that it's hard to believe she just said what she did. I don't know what to think. ... Rin was desperate for someone to look at her paintings, and somehow see right through them into her soul, to understand her feelings... Because... she felt she could not express them in any other way? How can one say whether that is right or wrong? Could it be that all this time she's been trying to reach out to me like I've tried to reach out to her? ... I sit down on a desk to think, and to rest my legs that kept us both standing for a long while."

HISAO: "You know, when I read a good book or look at a starry sky or whatever, sometimes I too feel something... profound, like a... shoot, I don't know how to describe it. But the instant I try to put it into words I feel that I lose something, it doesn't feel as real, as true as it did inside my head. It feels a bit phony. Damn, even what I just said felt phony."

NARRATOR: "I offer a smile that is meant to be between funny and self-deprecating, but Rin doesn't react."

HISAO: "Anyway... It might be that nobody can ever express their true feelings so that others understand. Reality has no chance of living up to what someone has inside their head. Nothing can match that. Not even your paintings, except maybe for you. But I suppose you can't keep everything inside, you'd explode for real then. What I'm trying to say is... I don't think it's wrong to express your feelings, even if you use painting as your conduit. You just can't expect people to understand you any better than they would if you did it any other way. In fact, you can't expect people to understand you at all. It's because everything is so subjective. You see the world the way you do, but it's different from everyone else."

RIN: "But isn't that terrible?"

HISAO: "I guess it is, in a way."

NARRATOR: "... She frowns, looking probably as stricken as she can. Which is not much, but it's enough for me to understand that Rin is not particularly happy."

RIN: "I think it might make me sad after all."

HISAO: "Yeah. I know. I wish I could do something to help it."

NARRATOR: "I don't think I sound bitter, even though I am, a little. This is my problem. I cannot be what Rin wants for her. And for the same reason, she can't do the same for me either. ... She makes a difficult face, carefully trying to pick the words she wants to say. So Rin has times when it's hard to say anything, too."

RIN: "It can't be helped, I think. ...but... if you say that... It makes me feel a little better."

NARRATOR: "... It's funny how some seemingly irrelevant things are the most significant ones at times like this. Like how Rin's voice is very very small, barely audible when she says that. And how even her short bangs can cover her eyes when she looks downwards. And how they can't cover the deep red color rising on her cheeks and all the way to the tips of her ears. They turn into a very interesting shade of red. A deafening silence follows. It's very awkward, as if I saw something that wasn't meant to be seen, even if it wasn't on purpose. I don't know what to say to that, but I keep feeling like I should know. She doesn't either. Still, it feels like there is no momentum to lose even if we keep silent. Like we have some weird, wordless connection that would hold even so. Rin keeps shifting her weight from one foot to the other restlessly, looking everywhere around the room except at me. She is the one who finally breaks the spell."

RIN: "Can we go? I don't want to stay here."

HISAO: "Oh, yeah, of course. Where?"

NARRATOR: "My reply is covering my nervousness as badly as her question is covering hers."

RIN: "You can go wherever you like. I want to sleep. I haven't really slept for a few weeks. It feels like there is a flock of light blue butterflies inside my head. It makes it hard to think properly. The kind that you think is too blue to really exist, like Emi's panties this morning."

NARRATOR: "She shakes her head, and I almost expect a couple of ultramarine-colored Morphos to pop out of her ears. A small smile tugs upwards the corners of her mouth."

RIN: "That reminds me. The blue, not the panties. The word for a flock of butterflies is a swarm. I looked it up."

NARRATOR: "That makes my eyebrow rise into a questioning arch."

HISAO: "Why don't you use it then?"

RIN: "I like the other word better."

NARRATOR: "Why look it up in the first place, then?"

HISAO: "Then you should use it, right?"

NARRATOR: "She nods and falls silent, her gaze escaping mine to the side, attracted by the dark orange sunlight refracting from the windows. We stay like that for a little while: me silently looking at her silently looking out of the window."

HISAO: "Hey... you all right now?"

NARRATOR: "She glances at me from the corner of her eye, looking wistful again. The sunlight's reflection doesn't betray any more of her inner feelings."

RIN: "I'll need to think about that."

NARRATOR: "I want to continue this conversation, grasping at those straws that she finally revealed to even exist. But Rin is looking out of the window so absentmindedly that I know she won't be responsive in any way that would make sense. It's like some kind of defense mechanism of hers, to avoid being sensible. Her mind is like a butterfly in itself, always fluttering somewhere away whenever it's stirred. Just when I thought I could see behind her veil, she jumps out of my reach again. Maybe that's just how Rin is. Maybe that's something I should just accept to get some peace of mind."

HISAO: "Okay. I'll walk you back to the dorms then."

RIN: "Thanks. Really."

NARRATOR: "The empty hallways of the school devoid of its students feel very lonely. Less than one hour after the summer vacation began, the building seems to be deserted, and all that intrudes on the stillness of the hallways are our footsteps. The change is sudden, but it shows how the building is just an empty shell, dead without its students and teachers. It's as though the school has become a private world for only the two of us, a desolate place filled with silence and chalk dust."

RIN: "I think I have to change."

NARRATOR: "She says it out of the blue while we walk down the staircase from the third floor, still managing to feel like she is mirroring what I was thinking just before."

HISAO: "That's what people must do, sometimes."

NARRATOR: "That's the last thing we say to each other that day, even though there would be so much to talk about. And even those words drown in the all-encompassing silence, disappearing into the stagnant air as if they were never said."

Next Scene: Without Breathing, Without a Sound

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