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The Running Girl/Transcript

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The Running Girl
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The sound of an alarm pulls me out of a fitful slumber and into the unpleasant state of wakefulness.

I linger under the blanket for a few minutes, gathering energy to rise up while making excuses as for why I already haven't.

Honestly, I wouldn't mind staying here for all day. School is surprisingly exhausting after a long pause, and the culture shock still has not faded, I think.

Still, despite getting an impression that skipping class is easy here, I don't think they are going to let me get away that easily.

And the nurse is bound to keep breathing down my neck with the talk of exercising as well.

So eventually I do rise up, swallow the morning medications and put on my old soccer clothing.

Thanks to my condition, I was exempted from taking part in gym classes at Yamaku, so I didn't get issued with a gym outfit.

I'd order some to cover such a contingency, but wearing my old soccer clothes is kind of nostalgic.

I can't use them for that any more, so maybe they can get a new life this way. A bit like me.

After all, if I'm going to start taking care of myself, I can't afford to slack around. I'll start from the basics.

Basics which include keeping the rest of my body in shape along with what little I can do to strengthen my heart.

Maybe then I can go back to something approaching a normal life; or at least something where I'm less likely to fall over dead at any minute.

I'm surprised to discover that I'm not the only one present at the track.

Not just that, but it's a face I've seen before.

The prosthetic-legged girl who bowled me over in the hallway yesterday is running on the track lithely, like a half-mechanical gazelle.

What was her name again? It was a short one, but I can't remember.

She seems to be running laps at a somewhat easy lope, her prosthetic legs clacking rhythmically on the hard track surface.

I wonder what reason she has for running this early in the morning. Maybe it's something akin to mine, and the nurse is oppressing the poor girl to jog just like he is oppressing me.

I certainly wouldn't be here if it weren't for my health, and his prompting me to do so.

And even with things being like they are, it's only because I wanted to get it out of the way early.

The fact that I wold be less likely to encounter someone who would witness my pitiful attempts to get in shape was merely a happy accident.

I'd leave, but it seems that my former assailant noticed me on her last lap.

She waves at me cheerfully and jogs over.

Twintails girl "Good morning! Your name is Hisao, right?"

She grins, seemingly pleased that she'd remembered my name.

Twintails girl "You may not remember me."

Twintails girl "Emi? I knocked you over in the hall yesterday."

Hisao "How could I forget such a er, blunt introduction?"

Emi has the decency to look vaguely apologetic for a moment before giggling.

Emi "Yeah, sorry about that. Again."

Hisao "Hmm, well, so long as you don't make a habit of it, I suppose I'll be fine."

Emi "Great!"

I'm not sure she realized I was joking.

Hisao "So the 'spy-consultant' the nurse was talking about... is that actually you?"

Emi "That's right!"

Hisao "Oh."

Hisao "I was expecting someone from the nursing staff, to be honest."

Emi "What, are you saying I don't look like I could be a spy?"

Hisao "No, this is more like a relief. I was afraid he would have someone to watch my every move."

Hisao "Unless you are here to do exactly that."

Emi "No, I'm here for my own reasons, the nurse just asked me if I had seen 'a messy-haired transfer student who looks like he's kinda lost' around the track."

Hisao "So why are you down here?"

Emi strikes a dramatic pose.

Emi "Training!"

Hisao "For what?"

Emi "Track!"

Hisao "Ah, I see. You're on the track team, then?"

Emi nods enthusiastically.

Emi "Yep! I'm one of the better runners, too!"

And modest about it, too.

Emi "Hey, you should join up!"

Emi "It's good exercise, you know."

I think that much activity is probably out of the question for me.

Hisao "Nah, I'm not even sure that I really like running all that much."

Hisao "Plus I'm just not into organized sports, you know?"

It's true. I never even really got that much into soccer.

I mean I'd run around with my friends and all, but that was really the only reason I ever played.

It wasn't for the glory to be found on the field, that's for sure.

Emi seems to understand my meaning.

Emi "I see, I see. Not into that whole organization thing."

Emi "But now that you're here, I guess we're going to run together, huh?"

Hisao "What? Er, sure, I guess."

Emi seems pleased.

Emi "Are you going to warm up?"

Hisao "Real men don't warm up."

Emi "Oh no, you always should warm up! Bad Hisao!"

She scolds me enthusiastically, but then smiles and leans closer.

Emi "I hate warming up too."

She laughs suddenly.

Emi "Heck, and I don't even have to stretch my legs!"

As if to confirm her statement she bounces up and down a couple of times, giving a passing impression of standing on a pair of springs. Her legblades seem to be quite elastic.

Emi "Let's go!"

So we both take off around the track, and I can immediately see that she wasn't lying about being good at running.

Emi moves fluidly, throwing herself into the run with a sort of wild abandon.

I find myself concentrating more on running properly.

Hands spread, right?

And something about hitting on the balls of your feet, rather than the heels...

I try to match my stride to Emi's, but it's pretty difficult.

Apparently I'm not very good at it.

Maybe Emi could help me with that sometime.

I'm really not feeling up to more than a couple of laps today, and slow to a walk pretty quickly.

Emi keeps running, and doesn't seem to notice I've stopped until she passes me a second time.

She quickly skids to a halt, breathing steadily in contrast to my own somewhat gasping demeanor.

Emi "Finished already?"

I hang my head ruefully.

Hisao "Heh, yeah."

Hisao "I'm not in very good shape right now."

Emi nods, and then grins at me again.

She seems to do a lot of smiling.

Emi "Well, the important thing is you started, right?"

Emi "Next time, you just have to try to hold out longer, and then longer, and longer, and eventually you'll be great!"

Hisao "I'll keep that in mind."

Hisao "But I think right now I'm going to go get ready for class."

Hisao "Shouldn't you?"

Emi shrugs unconcernedly.

Emi "Nah, I've got plenty of time."

I notice that she's not wearing a watch.

Hisao "Are you sure?"

Another careless shrug.

Emi "Not really... but I've got to finish my routine!"

Emi "See you later, Hisao!"

Hisao "Er, yeah. See ya."

I'm not sure whether this morning's experiment was a success or a failure, but I'll admit that I do feel slightly good about getting out there this morning.

And like Emi said, I just need to keep at it in order to get better, right?

Practice makes perfect, or something like that.

It's nice at least to feel like I've taken some semblance of control over my own health.

I'll have to try to keep this up.

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