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NARRATOR: "After classes the next day, I instantly head towards the student council room to talk to Shizune. Even though she's in class, trying to cut her off and have a conversation with her near the doorway or out in the hall could be a little obstructive. Better to try and meet up with her at the student council room. I take my time heading there, getting a juice from the vending machine on the way. I also go over what I want to say to her in my head. It's nothing too important, only a few questions about upcoming events."

NARRATOR: "The door is unlocked when I get there. I'd think the room was empty too, if I couldn't see Shizune's bag perched on her desk, with the top of her head peeking from behind it. It looks as though she's built herself a little fort. Shizune gives a wave from behind her bag, before picking it up with a finger and moving it out of the way. But after that, she immediately goes back to tapping her pen against the desk and staring into a checklist as if it held the meaning of life itself in it."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "What do you need?"

HISAO: (signing) "I wanted to see if there was anything I could help with. Like all that over there, what are those?"

NARRATOR: "I point to the medium-sized stack of folders beside her, but she waves her hand dismissively."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "I can handle it myself."

HISAO: (signing) "Then what about the elections? Also, where's Misha?"

SHIZUNE: "..."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "It's going okay. And I told Misha that I was going to handle everything myself."

HISAO: (signing) "Why?"

NARRATOR: "Shizune spins a pen in her hand slowly, working it between each of her fingers, like a needle through a patch of cloth."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "No reason."

HISAO: (signing) "Really?"

SHIZUNE: (signing) "No reason."

NARRATOR: "She signs it again for emphasis, to shut down the notion that there's anything more behind it. But there is, since she's definitely not acting normally. “What's with the silent treatment?” is the phrase that immediately springs to mind, even though it is hardly the time for humor. It does describe how I feel. We can't communicate normally, so I appreciate the few ways we can. To be shut out like this hurts. It's obvious that whatever her reasons, it's going to be pretty much impossible to talk to Shizune today. Beyond just being stubborn, she seems depressed, but with the way our conversation is going already, I don't see myself being able to find out what she's depressed about. Somehow, that only makes me want to find out more. And that means I have to ask Misha. The problem is, I don't really know where Misha goes in her spare time."

NARRATOR: "After asking way more people than I should if they've noticed a girl with bright pink hair around, and getting way more negative answers than expected, I finally find a couple who have seen her. By the time I reach the cafeteria, where Misha has apparently been this entire time, I've been around the whole school twice, and am very tired. I realize I've passed by her before, and just didn't see her behind a pillar."

HISAO: "Why are you better at finding me than I am at finding you?"

MISHA: "You were looking for me, Hicchan? Hm~... Who knows~? I think it's just coincidence."

HISAO: "You know, the whole point of coincidences is that they aren't consistent."

MISHA: "Hahaha~."

HISAO: "Are you having a really late lunch?"

MISHA: "I didn't get to eat at lunchtime, so yeah~! But~, not too much, so I can still have dinner. Did you want to talk to me about something, Hicchan?"

NARRATOR: "I don't waste any time."

HISAO: "Yeah. The reason I'm here... Did you notice Shizune has been kind of moody today?"

MISHA: "I wanted to ask you the same thing, Hicchan~. Well~, except, she's been this way for a couple of days now."

HISAO: "I see."

MISHA: "Hicchan, do you think it's because of something I did? Do you think I got upset at Shicchan, like last time?"

HISAO: "No. She seems angrier at me, anyway."

NARRATOR: "I'm not lying, I really don't. Unfortunately, my attempts to assure her of that don't seem to be going so well. In her own way, Misha is pretty stubborn, too. Eventually, I just head back to my dorm. The last few days have been nothing but a continuously frustrating experience, and they left me drained. I feel tired enough that I decide to take a nap, hoping that maybe I'll figure things out in my sleep. When I wake up, I feel more refreshed, but still without clarity. The only thing that has changed is that it's dark outside. From opening the window a little, I can tell the weather is still kind of nice. After dry-swallowing my nighttime pills, I take a little walk to the vending machines. They're out of everything I'd normally get, so I mash my hand against the buttons until something pops out. The lights are off in the main building, including the student council room. Just an offhand observation. As I'm thinking to myself, I hear a rustling behind me. I've seen this movie before, and that is a very ominous sound to hear, alone at night. Luckily, it's just Kenji, and he wanders out of the bushes in an unusually cheery mood."

KENJI: "Hey."

HISAO: "What the hell? Do you just creep up on people at night and casually go “hey” a lot?"

KENJI: "No, that'd be weird. I knew it was you. I have extremely good night vision. Maybe it's because I'm superhuman."

HISAO: "What are you doing here, then?"

KENJI: "I could ask you the same thing. What are YOU doing here?"

NARRATOR: "I consider just telling him the truth, but quickly decide against it. It would take too long to explain."

HISAO: "Howling at the moon."

KENJI: "I do that too, sometimes. The moon isn't out tonight, though."

NARRATOR: "I barely even hear him, feeling a bit resentful at the interruption. I lied to Shizune through my teeth that nothing was wrong. Or, to be more exact, I lied through my hands. And at the exact same time, I was carrying on an entirely different conversation with Misha. That conversation, understandably, could upset Shizune. But there was no way that she could have heard it. Even Misha's hands, usually signing all her thoughts, were completely still. Even if they weren't, I was standing in front of her, blocking them from Shizune's view. The only way that Shizune could listen in on that conversation would be if she could read lips. Pretty much the first thing I'd asked about when taking sign language was about lip reading, just out of curiosity. It's not easy, nor is it perfect... so I'd never considered it until now. It would make sense, and the room for misunderstandings while reading lips wouldn't help."

KENJI: "...So I realized that I could use the cover of darkness to buy milk. Usually, I only go out when it's raining or I can shroud myself in a sea of bikers, or tourists. This is much more consistent... I'm spending too much money on milk now, though. You seem kind of mopey or out of it or something. Don't think too hard, a man has to be all about action! You can think about stuff all day, but changing the situation around by doing something is the best way. I do things all the time without thinking about it. That's why in middle school they called me “causes many problems.” I thought it was cool; sounds like an Indian name."

HISAO: "I'm not really in the mood."

KENJI: "Having a bad day?"

HISAO: "Yeah, I don't know. I'm kind of distracted right now."

NARRATOR: "So distracted that it doesn't hit me until he leaves that his was actually kind of sound advice. I think Shizune would have given me the same suggestion. By then, it's too late to thank him politely. I already responded in the rudest tone possible. I just feel like an ass. In retrospect, these past few days I've regretted every action I've taken. The worst part is that I haven't taken the time to stew over them, and in doing so, learn from them. This only leads to - has led to - more regrets."

Next Scene: Terminal

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