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MISHA: "What did she hear?"
NARRATOR: "I jump at the sudden appearance of Misha, who I had not heard approaching despite the completely empty hallway. Somehow she had gotten to jumping distance of me without making a sound. Creepy. It briefly reminds me of Kenji's nutty theory about a global feminist conspiracy, but I push that thought aside. Shizune, standing slightly behind Misha, looks aloof as she couldn't have heard the remark that drew Misha's attention, but Misha is visibly excited."
MISHA: "No wait, more importantly, who is in there? There's no club meetings today."
NARRATOR: "She tries to curiously peek past me, even though the door prevents her from seeing anyway."
HISAO: "What are you doing here?"
MISHA: "You took so long that we had to come check what's wrong. That's no good, Hicchan~"
NARRATOR: "She wags her finger at me scoldingly."
MISHA: "I found plywood, but everything else is still missing because you are tardy."
HISAO: "Oh, sorry. Err... I got the things here, was just going to bring them."
MISHA: "I think you were up to some mischief, Hicchan~! Who was in there with you, I wonder..."
NARRATOR: "Misha signs something quickly to Shizune, pointing at her own ear a couple of times. Shizune immediately pushes her way past me and opens the door into the classroom I just left. I can only imagine the shock she is experiencing. With Shizune's diligence and attitude, the insolence of daring to deface school property by sleeping on top of it must be too much to bear. And indeed, she stares at Rin, frozen in place apart from the slight but noticeable trembling of her shoulders, from suppressed rage I'm sure. Instead of blowing up, Shizune just takes a few deep breaths, adjusts her glasses and slams the door shut, turning to sign furiously at Misha. Maybe she did blow up but I can't understand it. She shoots a very loaded stare at me too, as if it was somehow my fault that Rin is sleeping on one of the tables. I hope she's not getting any funny ideas about the reason of my tardiness."
NARRATOR: "Rin's voice comes from the other side of the door and it takes a few eyeblinks to realize she might have trouble opening it. I open the door to find Rin directly behind it, looking at us with a half-interested, half-sleepy face."
MISHA: "Miss Tezuka, what do you think you were doing? You absolutely are not permitted to use school property for such... err, disgraceful? activity!"
RIN: "It sure is suddenly very crowded in here. I didn't know I was this popular."
NARRATOR: "It's hard to say whether she's happy or unhappy about this turn of events. At any rate she ignores Shizune/Misha's scolding so they have no choice but to drop the issue. Shizune taps Misha's shoulder, points at Rin and makes some quick signs."
MISHA: "Popularity aside, please don't do that any more."
MISHA: "Anyway, how is your project going? Will it be done for the festival?"
NARRATOR: "Rin looks at them blankly, apparently at ease under the pressure Shizune's cold stare is putting on her."
RIN: "I keep wondering about that myself too."
RIN: "Will think about it harder."
NARRATOR: "As Misha signs her reply to Shizune her face turns into an unsatisfied frown."
MISHA: "Miss Tezuka, please try to take this seriously. It'll be a disaster if the wall looks like someone threw up their lunch onto it."
NARRATOR: "Rin nods assertively."
RIN: "Will think more seriously."
NARRATOR: "Misha actually giggles at that, but Shizune doesn't, not even after translation. She just shakes her head, takes the materials from me and takes off with Misha in tow. Rin frowns thoughtfully as she looks after the retreating student council duo."
RIN: "How rude. It's true though, I must finish my project before the weekend. There will be dire consequences if I don't. The end of the world as we know it. Like weekends usually are, but more dire. Much more dire. Maybe I'll postpone my nap. To unforeseen future."
NARRATOR: "I am about to ask what project she has and what are these apocalyptic consequences, but she walks back into the art classroom."
RIN: "Since you have nothing to do, would you give me a hand? This paint can doesn't fit into my bag but I need it."
NARRATOR: "She kicks lightly at a huge can of paint that's lying on the floor next to the table she was sitting and sleeping on. It lets out a dull clang."
NARRATOR: "Being the gentleman I am, I naturally pick it up. Heavy."
HISAO: "Yeah, sure. Where do you need to take it?"
NARRATOR: "And with that, she takes off to the hallway, me and the paint can following since there's little choice for either of us. The hallway is quiet and empty now with Shizune and Misha gone, so we too leave towards the stairwell at the other end. Every ten or fifteen or twenty steps I have to change the can from one hand to another because the thin handle cuts into my palm. At least it keeps my arms from tiring too fast. Rin strolls on beside me with an uneven pace that I have trouble matching, or maybe I am walking weird because of the extra weight. It seems one of us is constantly walking too slow or too fast, and I can't figure out which. Two flights of stairs below, trouble appears in the form of the head nurse and his fox-like grin."
NURSE: "Ah, Mr. Nakai, what a happy coincidence! Tezuka too, of course."
NARRATOR: "He nods courteously to Rin who does not acknowledge him back, then turns to me because obviously it's me who he had some business with."
NURSE: "There is something I forgot to mention on Monday."
NARRATOR: "I nod and wait impassively because I can't even begin to guess what he forgot. The feeling of the handle delving deeper into my skin doesn't make me feel enthusiastic about this interruption, either."
NURSE: "It's about your medications. Since you haven't been that long on your current medications there might be some unexpected side effects, which might require adjusting dosages or even changing to another kind of medication. So we will do a few tests regularly, but what I'd want is for you to keep an eye on everything in your condition that feels off, if you get what I mean. Nausea, headache, anything. And come see me if something happens."
HISAO: "All right."
NURSE: "So how are you? Everything fine?"
NARRATOR: "I give up and drop the can to the floor before answering him. Apparently this takes longer than my biceps can handle. I'm about to say something generic as an answer, but then I realize how often I've done that lately. Other people have asked me that too. Teachers and students here. My parents, visitors, nurses, doctors at the hospital. Everyone seems to be concerned about that. It's natural for a hospital, not so much for a school. Except this school. This is a small school, and both the student base and the faculty seem to be very tightly knit. At least that's the feeling I'm getting. And this is not the kind of school that gets transfer students too often. The thought sends shivers up my spine, but I give a generic answer, anyway. ...
NURSE: "That's great. Also, one other thing. My sources tell me that you've been at neither the school track nor even the pool, so I'd like to know if you have taken up exercising as I asked. Of course I haven't, but his way of inquiring gives me the feeling that I should've been running my ass off on the track since the very first day."
HISAO: "You have people spying on me?"
NURSE: "Not as such. I just happen to know a few people. But that's not the issue here, so don't try to slip out of it."
HISAO: "Well, I was actually just doing some improvised weight lifting, as an exercise."
NARRATOR: "I pick up and lift the can up and down a few times like some sad imitation of a bodybuilder, even though it's weighing down on my arms painfully. The stupid grin disappears from his face for a second, then comes back like it was never gone."
NURSE: "Tezuka, would you give us a second?"
NARRATOR: "The nurse grabs me by the shoulder without waiting for Rin's permission which he didn't need in the first place and drags me aside."
NURSE: "When I told you to exercise I wasn't joking. I understand that you are still on your first week and all, but please don't ignore the importance of this. The reason I'm coming down this hard on you is that habits are not easy to form. The more you slip and postpone, the harder it'll be. It's the same with everything, like dieting. Can you promise me to be more serious about this from now on?"
HISAO: "Yeah, I promise. Definitely."
HISAO: "Maybe, no... I mean..."
NARRATOR: "He gives me a nasty sort of look when I say that, making me try to take back the word."
HISAO: "I mean, I don't know... I'm still trying to get used to the school. I'll promise to try though."
NURSE: "You're not being very convincing there, Hisao. Tip number one: medical professionals are not amused if you take their advice lightly."
NARRATOR: "What's up with him? As if a day or two would make that much of a difference. I didn't do anything at the hospital either."HISAO: "Yeah, okay. Sorry."
"He studies me for a moment and then shrugs, smiling again."
NURSE: "Okay. That's more like it. If you go to the school track tomorrow morning, you'll meet my 'spy,' who probably has no qualms offering consultation to you if you want to jog a bit."
NURSE: "See you around."
NARRATOR: "He leaves with a wave of his hand and no answer, and I walk to Rin who has been waiting, idly leaning against the hallway wall and staring at the pale lighting fixtures in the ceiling. Even when I approach, she doesn't move her eyes off them."
RIN: "Are you getting medications for your heart thingy?"
HISAO: "Were you listening?"
NARRATOR: "It comes out more accusatory than I intended, accidentally lashing out on her. But even so, I don't really want to start talking about it. I just met her, I don't know her. It's not her business. The nurse seems to be happily ignorant about confidentiality too, talking about that kind of thing in public. But it's not Rin's fault, is it? I look up at her, suddenly feeling a bit guilty, but Rin is just staring past my shoulder quizzically, her head tilted like a bird's. Sigh. I don't know why this is so hard for me. It feels like there is some inexplicable lock that prevents me from being more upfront about this."
HISAO: "...yeah. They're for my heart."
RIN: "Will they make you better?"
HISAO: "...no, not really. They just make me a little less worse."
NARRATOR: "Rin keeps looking at me for a while longer, and she neither says anything further, nor displays any kind of emotion I could discern. I'm thankful that she doesn't. I think I'm still not quite used to all this. At the hospital it was easy, but I still haven't sorted my feelings about having to live a 'normal' life with this disability."
Next Scene: The Other Green