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Shared Library
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My first impression was right; the library is surprisingly big.

Ambling down the narrow aisles, I study the spines of the books in random order, occasionally sliding one out to read the blurb, taking it with me if it looks good.

In a few moments I have a respectable stack of books in my arms.

I guess I'll never be stuck for choice in here.

The normality of the library sinks in. Sure, there are large-print and Braille books scattered throughout, but it is what it is: a library.

It's as if the calm mood from the room I had tea with Lilly in snuck with us in here, unless it was here to begin with.

Something about that puts me at ease, just like before.

I reach the end of the aisle and find a collection of desks, set up for study or personal reading. Going a little further, though, I discover a nice quiet corner at the back.

While the rest of the library has the odd student sitting at a desk either reading or stealthily sleeping, the back is pretty much deserted.

As I glance around, I see someone who I recognize sitting on one of several beanbags.

It's the dark-haired girl from my class. The one who snuck out of the classroom earlier.

She's reading a book, keeping it close to her face which makes her look like she's really into it.

From the way she was acting today, I had her pegged as more of a delinquent than a bookworm. In fact, her mysterious disappearance from the class raises all sorts of whys in my head.

Intrigue floats slowly but surely towards the surface, and before I know it I'm walking towards the mysterious long-haired girl.

I guess there's no harm in introducing myself as I would with anyone else. She's a classmate after all.

Walking over to another beanbag, I take a seat and lay my books besides it.

The girl starts, looking scaredly up at me from underneath her fringe.

This is the first time I've seen her this close. Underneath her long, dense bangs, I can see that part of her face, at least a third if not a half, is pretty badly scarred.

My eyes are immediately drawn to the scars, subconsciously peeking past her hair until they meet her own eyes.

For a second, I am shocked, and divert my eyes to the book in her hands, before I realize that looking away probably only makes it worse.

It takes too many seconds to collect myself and remember what I walked up to her for.

> I'm sorry, I didn't mean to startle you.Edit

Hisao "Sorry, I didn't mean to startle you."

Purple-haired girl "It... it's okay."

The girl certainly doesn't look like it's okay, but I let it slide.

Hisao "So, umm... do you mind if I sit here?"

She seems to be very uncertain whether it's okay or not for me to sit, but finally she nods, just a little.

Purple-haired girl "O... okay."

I take the seat next to her, and she hides herself behind her book.

"Life of Pi"... Never heard of it.

Hisao "So, errr... sorry again for startling you. I'm Hisao."

She looks up from her book, stalling a little before replying.

Purple-haired girl "I... know."

Purple-haired girl "We... are in the same... same class."

Her speech is stilted and so quiet that it is barely audible even in the still library.

Somehow I think that my "delinquent" impression of her was wrong.

Purple-haired girl "H-H-Hanako. I'm... Hanako."

...

I resist the urge to say "that's a nice name" just to have something to say, but really, it's the only thing that I can think of.

I feel like an idiot. Everyone here must be used to being different to each other, and here I am being all bothered and fussed about that kind of thing.

Hisao "Don't let me interrupt your reading. I'll... just check these books if you don't mind."

She nods a little, and sighs a little sigh of relief.

...

So I try to read the covers and the introductions of the books I picked up and she buries her face in her book.

Uncomfortable silence consumes us.

My eyes still wander to her direction, and I sneak peeks at her flowing hair and the scar it's hiding.

After a while I realize that she's doing the same, and only pretending to immerse in "Life of Pi."

Her gaze is not inquisitive at all though, it darts around like a scared rabbit.

When our gazes finally meet, the chain reaction is unstoppable.

She stands up forcefully from the beanbag and takes a deep breath.

Hanako "I..."

Hanako "I... I..."

Hisao "I...?"

Hanako "Ivegottogodosomething!"

Without warning, Hanako takes off and runs towards the counter.

Her hare-like takeoff catches me so off guard that I don't manage to go after her until she has a good head start.

By the time I reach the counter she is nowhere to be seen.

Lilly and Yuuko are happily chatting away.

Knowing that I won't be able to catch Hanako myself, I approach the girls.

Hisao "Hey, did you see... er... notice a girl run past here?"

Yuuko "Um, maybe... what did she look like?"

Hisao "Long, dark hair. Kinda shy. She had... well... some scars... on her... face."

Lilly "You wouldn't be talking about Hanako, would you?"

Hisao "Yeah, that's her. I saw her reading and tried to talk to her, but I think I scared her off or something."

Lilly "Oh dear. Yuuko, would you excuse me, I had better try and find her."

Yuuko "S-sure. I'll just hold onto these until you come back."

Hisao "Um, what's going on?"

Lilly "I'm sorry, but I'll have to explain it to you some other time."

Hisao "Right. I'll see you later then..."

Lilly hastily grabs her cane and hurries out of the library, leaving me alone with Yuuko.

Hisao "I don't think I'll ever get the hang of this place."

Hisao "Did I do something wrong?"

Yuuko "What did you do?"

Hisao "Nothing! I was just looking for some books and then she got this fit and ran off."

Hisao "The most offending thing I can think of was that I might've looked at her general direction a few times."

Yuuko "Well, she is a very timid girl."

Yuuko "You have to be very careful around her. She can be very jumpy, I think, and she's not accustomed to talking with other people."

Hisao "Isn't that a bit... strange?"

Yuuko "I wonder... It's just how she is, I think."

Yuuko doesn't sound all that convincing. Then again, maybe this is just the norm around here.

Everyone has their own problems, or else they wouldn't be here.

Hisao "But how should I deal with these people? Forcing myself to act overly casually only makes me feel phony."

Hisao "Like I was supposed to be ignoring the elephant in the room."

Yuuko fidgets, looking like she wants to say something to that, but resists it.

Yuuko "I think it's an elephant only if you feel that way."

I guess she doesn't have a good sense of self-restraint. It makes me smile, and she blushes heavily.

Yuuko "W... what? Did that sound stupid?"

Hisao "No no, it sounded really wise. I guess you're right. It's more about me than anyone else."

Neither of us has anything to add so Yuuko fills the silence by shuffling some papers around.

People who have papers on their desks really like doing that.

Yuuko "Did you find any books? I should be closing soon. I mean this library should be closing. But I have to do it. I hope that's not too inconvenient for you."

Hisao "Oh. Yeah, I want some books, but I left them over there because..."

Hisao "...I'll just go get them."

I fetch my stack of books from beside the beanbags where Hanako and I were sitting and return to the counter.

Yuuko "Wow. You read a lot, don't you?"

Hisao "I surprise myself with that too, honestly. At least, when I really think about it."

Hisao "I had a lot of free time earlier this year, so I just kind of... started reading books to fill that time. I couldn't do much else."

Yuuko "I see."

But she doesn't say anything else, and just checks out my books for me.

I guess this is what they call "tact."

> Hi! I'm new here. Hisao Nakai. We're in the same class.Edit

Hisao "Hi! I'm new here. Hisao Nakai. We're in the same class."

...

Hisao "Umm... I just transferred here the other day. Maybe you don't remember?"

...

Hisao "I did a self-introduction too."

...

The girl still doesn't say a word, but simple stares at me, wide-eyed.

Hisao "I'm still getting used to the place so I'm trying to meet as many people as I can."

Hisao "So, er... what's your name?"

Purple-haired girl "H... Hanako..."

Her speech is stuttering and so quiet that it is barely audible even in the still library.

Somehow I think that my "delinquent" impression of her was wrong.

Hisao "Hanako, eh? So what are you reading?"

She gently tips the book backwards so that I can read the title, at the same time hiding her face behind it.

She must have noticed me staring before.

Hisao "Life of Pi? I've never heard of it before. What's it about?"

Hanako "A boy... and a tiger..."

Hanako "...on a boat..."

I can see this taking sometime.

Hisao "Sounds interesting. Is it any good?"

She nods from behind the book, but stays silent.

She looks kinda tense. A bit like Yuuko earlier, but in a different way. More like... petrified with terror, I'd say.

So the mystery delinquent girl turned out to be anything but, and she is quivering in a way that makes it look like she is mortally afraid of me.

The only way out of this, as far as I can tell, is to try to get a normal conversation going.

Hisao "Is it a library book? I'm looking for new ones to read, but there's just so many..."

Hanako "N-no. It's mine."

Hisao "Oh. So... do you come here often?"

...

A huge, huge blush spreads on Hanako's face and her eyes widen far larger than I thought it was possible for eyes to do.

Uh-oh. Did she interpret my lame attempt at small talk as a feeble attempt to pick her up?

Hisao "I mean... ehh... I didn't mean it like that..."

Hanako "I..."

Hanako "I... I..."

Hisao "I...?"

Hanako "Ivegottogodosomething!"

Without warning, Hanako takes off and runs towards the counter.

Her hare-like takeoff catches me so off guard that I don't manage to go after her until she has a good head start.

By the time I reach the counter she is nowhere to be seen.

Lilly and Yuuko are happily chatting away.

Knowing that I won't be able to catch Hanako myself, I approach the girls.

Hisao "Hey, did you see... er... notice a girl run past here?"

Yuuko "Um, maybe... what did she look like?"

Hisao "Long, dark hair. Kinda shy. She had... well... some scars... on her... face."

Lilly "You wouldn't be talking about Hanako, would you?"

Hisao "Yeah, that's her. I saw her reading and tried to talk to her, but I think I scared her off or something."

Lilly "Oh dear. Yuuko, would you excuse me, I had better try and find her."

Yuuko "S-sure. I'll just hold onto these until you come back."

Hisao "Um, what's going on?"

Lilly "I'm sorry, but I'll have to explain it to you some other time."

Hisao "Right. I'll see you later then..."

Lilly hastily grabs her cane and hurries out of the library, leaving me alone with Yuuko.

Hisao "I don't think I'll ever get the hang of this place."

Hisao "Did I do something wrong?"

Yuuko "What did you do?"

Hisao "Nothing! I was just looking for some books and then she got this fit and ran off."

Hisao "The most offending thing I can think of was that I might've looked at her general direction a few times."

Yuuko "Well, she is a very timid girl."

Yuuko "You have to be very careful around her. She can be very jumpy, I think, and she's not accustomed to talking with other people."

Hisao "Isn't that a bit... strange?"

Yuuko "I wonder... It's just how she is, I think."

Yuuko doesn't sound all that convincing. Then again, maybe this is just the norm around here.

Everyone has their own problems, or else they wouldn't be here.

Hisao "But how should I deal with these people? Forcing myself to act overly casually only makes me feel phony."

Hisao "Like I was supposed to be ignoring the elephant in the room."

Yuuko fidgets, looking like she wants to say something to that, but resists it.

Yuuko "I think it's an elephant only if you feel that way."

I guess she doesn't have a good sense of self-restraint. It makes me smile, and she blushes heavily.

Yuuko "W... what? Did that sound stupid?"

Hisao "No no, it sounded really wise. I guess you're right. It's more about me than anyone else."

Neither of us has anything to add so Yuuko fills the silence by shuffling some papers around.

People who have papers on their desks really like doing that.

Yuuko "Did you find any books? I should be closing soon. I mean this library should be closing. But I have to do it. I hope that's not too inconvenient for you."

Hisao "Oh. Yeah, I want some books, but I left them over there because..."

Hisao "...I'll just go get them."

I fetch my stack of books from beside the beanbags where Hanako and I were sitting and return to the counter.

Yuuko "Wow. You read a lot, don't you?"

Hisao "I surprise myself with that too, honestly. At least, when I really think about it."

Hisao "I had a lot of free time earlier this year, so I just kind of... started reading books to fill that time. I couldn't do much else."

Yuuko "I see."

But she doesn't say anything else, and just checks out my books for me.

I guess this is what they call "tact."

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