NARRATOR: "A light breeze causes the naked branches overhead to rattle like wooden windchimes. This is a popular retreat for couples in the summer. The deciduous trees provide a beautiful green canopy, far out of sight of teachers and fellow students. But now, in late winter, it feels like I'm standing under a pile of kindling. I breathe into my cupped hands and rub them together furiously to prevent them from numbing in this cold."

HISAO: "Just how long am I expected to wait out here, anyway? I'm sure the note said 4:00 PM."

NARRATOR: "Ah yes... the note... slipped between the pages of my math book while I wasn't looking. As far as clichés go, I'm more a fan of the letter-in-the-locker, but at least this way shows a bit of initiative. As I ponder the meaning of the note, the snowfall gradually thickens. The snowflakes silently falling from the white-painted sky are the only sign of time passing in this stagnant world. Their slow descent upon the frozen forest makes it seem like time has slowed to a crawl. The rustling of dry snow underfoot startles me, interrupting the quiet mood. Someone is approaching me from behind."


IWANAKO: "Hi... Hisao? You came?"

NARRATOR: "A hesitating, barely audible question. However, I recognize the owner of that dainty voice instantly. I feel my heart skip a beat. It's a voice I've listened to hundreds of times, but never as more than an eavesdropper to a conversation. I turn to face this voice, the voice of my dreams, and my heart begins to race..."

Other iwanako

HISAO: "Iwanako? I got a note telling me to wait here... it was yours?"

NARRATOR: "Dammit. I spent all afternoon trying to come up with a good line and that was the result. Pathetic."

IWANAKO: "Ahmm... yes. I asked a friend to give you that note... I'm so glad you got it."

NARRATOR: "A shy, joyous smile that makes me so tense I couldn't move a single muscle even if I tried. My heart is pounding now, as if it were trying to burst out from my chest and claim this girl for itself.

HISAO: "So... ah... here we are. Out in the cold..."

NARRATOR: "Once again, the wind stirs up the branches. The cacophonous noise is music to my ears. Iwanako flinches ever so softly against the gust of wind. As it passes, she rights herself, as if supported by some new confidence. Her eyes lock with mine and she lazily twirls her long, dark hair around her finger. All the while, the anxious beating of my heart grows louder. My throat is tight; I doubt I could even force a word out if I tried.

IWANAKO: "You see... ...I wanted to know... ...if you'd go out with me..."

NARRATOR: "I stand there, motionless, save for my pounding heart. I want to say something in reply, but my vocal cords feel like they've been stretched beyond the breaking point."

IWANAKO: "... Hisao?"

NARRATOR: "I reach up to try to massage my throat, but this only sends spikes of blinding pain along my arms."

IWANAKO: "... Hisao?!"

NARRATOR: "My whole body freezes, save for my eyes, which shoot open in terror."


NARRATOR: "The beating in my chest suddenly stops, and I go weak at the knees. The world around me - the canopy of bare branches, the dull winter sky, Iwanako running towards me - all these fade to black. The last things I remember before slipping away are the sounds of Iwanako screaming for help and the incessant clatter of the branches above..."

Next Scene: Bundle of Hisao