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NARRATOR: "Even though it is a holiday, I wake up at the same time as usual, on a day when everyone else is likely sleeping in for another six hours. I take my morning regimen of pills for the first time in a few days. Admittedly, I'd let my medication slip my mind. Looking at the rows of bottles in front of me, I don't know how I managed to. Seventeen different medications. I feel full enough to skip breakfast after taking all of them. I'm already up, so I might as well take a walk."

NARRATOR: "The weather looks nice outside, giving off an idyllic atmosphere I'd often dreamed of. It's always been kind of a romantic notion to me to be able to meander around in the countryside, taking in the fresh air. Now that an opportunity to do just that is here, I can't resist, even though I know it must seem silly. I stop at the main building in order to buy a drink, and then decide to enter it and maybe hang around on the roof a little bit. The view might be pretty cool at this time, and I'm sure that nobody else will be up there either. And I've never been up there by myself."

NARRATOR: "The school is quiet today. Deserted. My footsteps echoing in the staircase to the roof are unnervingly loud. It shouldn't bother me due to how much time I've spent in sign language class in near-total silence, or working so much with Shizune lately, but it still does. It makes the smallest noises that I wouldn't have even noticed before seem boomingly loud. It feels like I'm sneaking around some place I shouldn't be. I wonder why I'm getting that vibe. Maybe the school is haunted or something."

NARRATOR: "When I open the door to the roof, I see I'm not alone. Misha leans against the fence, looking over the school grounds, not having noticed me at all. Instantly, I know what I have to do: I have to put my hands over her eyes and say “Guess who?” It's the only option. Halfway, I start thinking of how bad this would look if Shizune suddenly popped in, having left just for a second to get some sandwiches, and saw me sneaking up on Misha like this. I pray silently that such a coincidental misunderstanding doesn't happen."

HISAO: "Guess who?"

MISHA: "Hicchan!"

NARRATOR: "She says, without hesitating for a second, without deviating even slightly from her normal tone. My fun was over before it started."

MISHA: "Hi, Hicchan! Good morning~!"

NARRATOR: "She reflexively tries to move her hands to form a greeting and entangles them in the fencing."

HISAO: "Good morning. I didn't expect to find you here. What're you doing up so early?"

MISHA: "I could ask you the same thing, Hicchan! What are you doing up so early? I didn't expect to find you here~!"

HISAO: "I asked you first."

MISHA: "Hm~... you're right. Wahaha~! You sound just like Shicchan."

HISAO: "No, I don't."

NARRATOR: "...I say, in the least convincing manner possible. Luckily, Misha doesn't notice what a bad actor I am."

HISAO: "Are you looking forward to tonight?"

MISHA: "Of course, Hicchan~! I don't like celebrations, or maybe not as much as Shicchan does, but Tanabata stands always have interesting things to buy and all kinds of seasonal food. And~! I get to wear a yukata~!"

NARRATOR: "Her choice of words is a little strange. It sounds like she's saying that she doesn't like celebrations, but likes doing everything involved with them. I don't know if it's worth pursuing, though, and it could be that I just misunderstood."

MISHA: "What about you, Hicchan~?"

HISAO: "I am, or else I'd just stay home, wouldn't I? That's the logical step."

MISHA: "Ahaha~! Hicchan, you're not that logical~! So~! That's really surprising! Hm, okay, though. I was just making sure, because you didn't look like you were having a lot of fun last time. Me and Shicchan were a little worried, because of that."

HISAO: "Hey, I had fun. I guess I ended up appreciating it more than I expected to."

MISHA: "Really, Hicchan~? Wahahaha~! What part of it? Tell me~!"

HISAO: "Well, there were fireworks at the end. They were... really nice. I think you slept through them."

MISHA: "Aw~... I always fall asleep early. But~! I won't sleep through them this year! I'll definitely stay awake!"

HISAO: "I don't think they have fireworks during Tanabata. It's a different mood entirely. Maybe you can get Shizune to petition them to have them, though. And to move the fireworks to an earlier time."

MISHA: "Hahahahahaha~! Maybe I will~! That's a great idea, Hicchan!"

HISAO: "Ah, no, no it's not! Don't do that. I wasn't being serious. Although... maybe it would annoy Shicc— Shizune."

MISHA: "Wahaha~. You make it sound like you would like that, Hicchan. Hicchan~! Do you like Shicchan?"

NARRATOR: "I can't say yes or no, and, sitting down like I am, I can't even smoothly leave."

HISAO: "Don't be silly; the one I like is you."

MISHA: "Ahahaha~! Really, Hicchan? Hm~! No, you're kidding, right? You must like Shicchan more."

HISAO: "Misha, you jump to conclusions too much."

MISHA: "But you almost called her Shicchan! So~! I'm right, right~?"

HISAO: "It's because you call her Shicchan all the time. It got stuck in my head. Osmosing language is common, you know. Besides, it's one little slip-up. And by your logic, you should like her more than me. And... are you making fun of me or something?"

MISHA: "Wahaha~! Maybe~. I'm hungry. Did you eat breakfast, Hicchan?"

HISAO: "No. Just medicine."

MISHA: "Hm..."

NARRATOR: "Misha twirls her finger lazily in the air to keep her hands busy as she thinks."

MISHA: "We should eat something, then~! Do you think they will be serving breakfast today?"

NARRATOR: "That's really the kind of thing a member of the Student Council should know. I can't say that, though. I'm on the Student Council and don't know."

HISAO: "It didn't seem like anyone was working in the kitchen when I entered the building, but I don't know for sure."

MISHA: "Hey, Hicchan, have you ever heard about those vending machines that you can get food from, like burgers, soup, and even pizza? Wouldn't it be great if we had some of those at our school~?"

HISAO: "I don't know, I always thought those machines were kind of weird."

MISHA: "Imagine how cool it would be if we had machines like that at our school, Hicchan~! It would almost be like magic, wouldn't it? Hot food coming out of a vending machine, that's so amazing, I could never imagine that. Seeing one of those machines would be like a dream! Hm~... We don't have machines like that in this whole town, though~. It's too early to even go into town~! I won't be able to eat breakfast, Hicchan, that's the most important meal of the day. Everyone says so~! Ah, I want to eat!"

HISAO: "You're really silly. If it bothers you so much, I'll buy you a soda."

NARRATOR: "Misha puffs out her cheeks and puts on her serious face."

MISHA: "Hicchan, a soda is not a breakfast. It's like water~."

HISAO: "It's not like water, it's a liquid. Water isn't food. Liquid can be food."

NARRATOR: "“Now who sounds like Shizune, Misha?” I want to say it. Even her tone reminds me of Shizune's unblinking, matter-of-fact way of stating the ridiculous. If I did say that, though, I would be the one who sounds like Shizune again. It's terrible, her competitiveness is really rubbing off on me."

HISAO: "Let's look for something to eat, then."

MISHA: "... Okay. Ahahahaha~!"

NARRATOR: "Predictably, our search for food in an empty school building this early in the morning leads only to failure. Misha decides to go off on her own after we both decide to give up for now, vowing to eat breakfast even though by now it's closer to time for brunch. I go back to my dorm. The following hours tick by slowly, and I pass the time by catching up on my reading. Some of these books I haven't touched since I was in the hospital. Thinking back on it, it wasn't that long ago, even though it definitely feels like it was. A free day, and I can't think of anything to do."

NARRATOR: "I take a short nap, and as I change for the second time today, I realize that I never actually confirmed with Shizune or Misha when and where we would meet up. I guess that eventually they would come looking for me, but I would look pretty stupid if it came to that. It's already evening, so I should at least make an effort to find them first. Even though the grounds aren't exactly flooded with people and it should be impossible to miss Misha's pink hair even if they were, I have a lot of difficulty finding them. Finally, I run into them at the front gate, which was the first place I had looked."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "Hello!"

NARRATOR: "She attempts to punctuate her normal greeting with a grand little sweep at the end."

MISHA: "Hicchan~! How're you?"

NARRATOR: "It's strange seeing them in yukata, though I've been seeing yukata in general all night. Shizune's is simple and tasteful, which seems obvious for her in retrospect. For all her grand flourishes and over-the-top behavior, I think she would rather die than dress the part. What draws my eye is the hairpin she is wearing, a pearl flower that gleams softly in the moonlight. It looks pretty on her, but in a way it also feels out of place. As if it's too elaborate for a high school girl, or maybe just for someone as secretly childish as Shizune. Misha's yukata is about what I expected, so it actually fits a little too well. Paired with her bubblegum pink hair, she looks cute, but anachronistic."

HISAO: "You two look nice."

MISHA: "Thanks, Hicchan~!"

SHIZUNE: "..."

MISHA: "Hicchan, you're a little late. We were waiting here a while for you, did you forget the time or the place? Oh well~! Let's get going, Hicchan~!"

SHIZUNE: "..."

NARRATOR: "Misha dropping this line of discussion saves me what could potentially be a pretty embarrassing thing to own up to; specifically, that I had been looking for them for at least an hour. Seeing Shizune and Misha looking so cheerful, it's hard not to want to fall into the atmosphere and enjoy a nice night out. What bothers me is that I'm having some trouble reading Shizune's signing tonight. I haven't been to sign language class in almost a week, so I'm not surprised. I guess having lost focus for a while, I'm slipping. It certainly wouldn't be the first time."

HISAO: "Hold on, where are we going? Into town?"

SHIZUNE: (signing) "Yes."

HISAO: "That doesn't make any sense. We haven't even checked out what's on the grounds. Unless you two decided to have fun while I wasn't looking."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "We're going to come back; we'll be working our way up."

MISHA: "Hahaha~! Either way, Hicchan, we have to walk into town and then back up if we want to see everything. So~! This way, after we're done, we'll be right by our dorms when we're tired. It works out perfectly~!"

NARRATOR: "That is admittedly logical. Shizune doesn't give me much time to argue anyway, grabbing me by the arm and lightly trying to pull me along."

Shizutanabata

NARRATOR: "The streets illuminated only by the light of the moon and low lanterns tinted with tissue paper put me at ease. Now that we're in town, Shizune moves a bit more slowly in order to see the sights. So, I decide to walk more briskly in order to mess with her, but she quickly readjusts her own speed to match, letting out a soundless laugh before quickly signing to Misha with her off hand."

SHIZUNE: "..."

MISHA: "What do you want to do first, Hicchan~?"

HISAO: "How about some games, if there are any?"

MISHA: "I thought you didn't like games, Hicchan."

HISAO: "I don't mind."

NARRATOR: "For the second time today, I feel her slim fingers wrapping around mine. It feels like all this time, I've been pulled along by Shizune's will. Occasionally, it's quite tiring, but I think that for the most part, I wouldn't say I hate it. It's just the quality of some people to drag others into their lives, like a storm. That word fits Shizune sometimes, I think. Although I didn't want to tell Misha earlier today, I do like her."

MISHA: "Hicchan, you're going to win a doll for me too this time, right~?"

HISAO: "You're still thinking about that? Okay, I will."

NARRATOR: "The time passes by faster than I thought it could as we run around, trying to do as many frivolous things as possible."

MISHA: "Snow cones! Hicchan, do you want one~?"

NARRATOR: "Misha runs towards the stand, not even waiting to hear my answer."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "They look delicious, I want one too. We'll play rock-paper-scissors to see who can pay for them all."

HISAO: "Or... we could each pay for our own."

MISHA: "Hicchan~, what flavor do you want?"

HISAO: "The blue one."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "Blue is not a flavor."

HISAO: "I knew that..."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "Ordering something based on color is childish."

HISAO: "You're childish. What are you getting? Are you getting strawberry? Ha! That's such a childish flavor, only children eat strawberry."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "You should get plain, the most mature flavor of all!"

NARRATOR: "I want to know where her personality comes from. I wonder if I would think that way if she hadn't been the first student I ended up having a conversation with on my first day here. It's entirely possible that I'd have missed the parts of her that kept drawing me in. If I didn't know that she couldn't hear me, and that she was so competitive, and so focused with getting me to join the Student Council, and so alternatingly playful and sharp... Without these constant new facets to keep my interest in her, would I have grown to like her so much? It's likely that I'm overthinking it."

HISAO: "Aren't you going to make a wish?"

MISHA: "Shicchan never makes wishes, Hicchan!"

HISAO: "Oh really? Not even on New Year's? Why's that?"

SHIZUNE: "..."

NARRATOR: "Shizune tents her fingers and smiles, but won't answer."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "It's a secret."

MISHA: "I know~! Hicchan, do you want me to tell you?"

SHIZUNE: "...!"

HISAO: "Yes."

NARRATOR: "Shizune alternates between as many forceful iterations of “no” she can think of."

MISHA: "Wahaha~! I'll tell you later, okay? Actually, I feel tired. I think I'm going to go to bed early~."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "Really?"

HISAO: "It doesn't feel like it's been that long."

NARRATOR: "Time flies when you're having fun."

MISHA: "But~! it has, Hicchan. Maybe I can visit Yuuko first, then go back? Or~... I don't know~. Well, it doesn't matter. Have fun without me, okay~?"

HISAO: "We're going to go back to the school soon anyway, Misha."

NARRATOR: "Misha doesn't want to hear it, and leaves anyway. Shizune starts to wonder why just as soon as I do, but while I keep it in my head, she signs it, seeming to want to discuss the possible reasons. After we're both done seeing all there is to see, I check the time, and find that it is pretty late. My energy is starting to wear off, and it's a miracle that I managed to have even this much, too. Even Shizune is starting to look a bit tired. We make our way back to the grounds. Shizune seems disappointed when she sees the school building lit up and teeming with students."

HISAO: (signing) "Something wrong?"

SHIZUNE: (signing) "I wanted to go up to the roof, but now there are too many people. I'm tired, so it might be for the best."

HISAO: (signing) "There are probably couples on the roof, since it's that kind of holiday. Then again, I wouldn't know. Is that how it really is? I'd never really been to any festivals before coming here."

SHIZUNE: "..."

HISAO: (signing) "I'm disappointed, I thought you said you wanted to see what the school was doing last, like saving the best for last. Now you're telling me you don't want to? Not even a little? I thought you would have more energy. I don't feel tired."

NARRATOR: "This seems to spark her competitive spirit, and Shizune immediately perks up, although it's then that I realize I didn't have anywhere in mind to take her, and I don't feel like going to the main building myself. Fortunately, the area behind the school is both deserted and impressive-looking today. I'd never appreciated how sprawling and well kept it was until seeing it at night. It almost seems to go on forever in the moonlight."

Shizune in the field

SHIZUNE: (signing) "It's very pretty, even though it's just a field."

NARRATOR: "I'd thought earlier that she was too immature to pull off the old-fashioned clothes she is wearing tonight, but right now, she is quite beautiful in them. It makes me think back to that day, the other festival that I went to with her. She had looked the same way then. I want to tell her that I like her. Decisively, in one go. But even thinking about it is just so awkward. And the more I like her, the more awkward and afraid I am of telling her how I feel, even now, when I could do so if I wanted without having to go through another person. Not to mention, what if what happened last time happens again? If it does, I might not get off so easily with a months-long hospital stay. I don't want to even think about it I try to shove the thoughts out of my mind any way possible. I try to dismiss them as unlikely fears. Still..."

NARRATOR: "The first time I had seen all of my pills, I'd imagined them cascading before me, enough of them to choke me. I still think about it from time to time. I can't say that it's not a legitimate concern. Times like these are nice enough that I can forget, though."

Shizuconfess normal

SHIZUNE: (signing) "My favorite thing about this school is that it's on top of a mountain."

HISAO: (signing) "Is it because it's that much closer to the sky?"

SHIZUNE: (signing) "Yes."

HISAO: (signing) "I like it too, but more because of the fresh air. You're so competitive. Too competitive. If a whale bit you, you would bite it back."

Shizuconfess smile

SHIZUNE: "..."

NARRATOR: "That makes her laugh, and she winks."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "Would that be so bad?"

NARRATOR: "Her smile is contagious."

HISAO: (signing) "Yes."

SHIZUNE: "..."

Shizuconfess closed

SHIZUNE: (signing) "It's true. I'm terrible, a little. But if I can make people happy, I'm not entirely terrible, am I? Then, it's okay. I have many examples in my defense."

NARRATOR: "Maybe even this moment is a kind of game to her."

HISAO: (signing) "That's right."

NARRATOR: "This is a romantic moment. I don't know if such a chance might come again, and I feel compelled to say something awkward and stupid. If I think about it too much, I doubt my hands will listen to me."

HISAO: (signing) "Do you want to be my girlfriend?"

SHIZUNE: "..."

NARRATOR: "I hope that I signed it properly. I feel nervous; as if I want to break into a run, yet I'm rooted to this spot. I couldn't hear a thing just minutes ago, now I'm picking up every little ambient noise. I really am nervous, and I wonder if it shows. Before, hours passed like seconds. Now, the seconds pass like eons. Then I see Shizune's hands moving unsteadily before her, fumbling over each other, stopping halfway through each gesture. It's like she said, sign language gives you an opportunity to think your words through, and she is trying very hard to do that right now. A situation that she doesn't know how to respond to. It must be unthinkable. As stoic as Shizune tries to be, she can't hide her reddening cheeks, and she's very cute and feminine like this. And it puts me at ease to know she is as nervous as I am. The thought is yet another way in which I've found myself competing with her."

SHIZUNE: (signing) "Okay."

NARRATOR: "That's a simple reply. But as soon as I think that, Shizune takes a step forward and embraces me. An unsure and careful embrace, as if I were made of eggshell, and as if she doesn't know how to hug someone. Although to be honest, it's not a subject I'm familiar with either. Her yukata is cool and silky under my fingers, but I can also feel Shizune's warmth. In the end, she thought this the best possible gesture to show how she felt."

END OF ACT 2

Next Scene: Force Feedback

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