NARRATOR: "I focus on the view from the roof, banishing such thoughts from my head. There's a light breeze blowing, and the sun is shining high in the sky. The sky itself is a deep blue, with hardly a cloud in it. It's gotten pleasantly warm, and as I sit down to wait for my friends, I close my eyes and enjoy the feeling of the sun seeping into my skin. Voices intrude upon the edge of hearing."
EMI: "—seems to have fallen asleep on us, Rin."
RIN: "Maybe he's faking, to lull us into a false sense of security."
EMI: "Why would he do that?"
RIN: "No idea."
EMI: "Still, you make a good point. We should kick him or something to make sure he's really asleep."
HISAO: "Huh? What?"
NARRATOR: "Emi looms over me like only a short girl can, peering at me intently."
EMI: "Oh, you're awake. I guess we don't have to kick you then."
RIN: "Was it part of your master plan?"
HISAO: "What are you talking about?"
NARRATOR: "Emi shrugs, her twin tails bouncing with the motion."
EMI: "I'm not sure either. You must be pretty tired to fall asleep out here. Although it's pretty comfortable, I suppose."
NARRATOR: "She plops down next to me and begins to eat. Rin sits opposite from the two of us, a move which only makes me more aware of the girl sitting next to me. If I didn't know any better, I'd swear Rin did it on purpose. I concentrate on my food, trying to tune out the majority of the conversation that Rin and Emi are having. Despite my best efforts, however, I still find myself glancing over at Emi whenever she speaks. I notice how she purses her lips when she's thinking about something, squinting slightly as if that would improve her thinking ability."
NARRATOR: "Rin says something that makes Emi laugh, and I notice, perhaps for the first time, how she laughs with her whole body, rocking back and forth, head thrown back, almost like she's about to fall over. I probably look like a creep. It's about this time that I realize Emi's looking at me. Her voice raised slightly, so she's probably just asked me a question."
HISAO: "Huh? Sorry, I kinda zoned out for a moment there."
NARRATOR: "Emi rolls her eyes, while a slight quirk of the eyebrow is the only sign that Rin's even paying attention."
EMI: "I said, did you get a career survey in your class too? You know, one of those “What do you want to do after high school?” things?"
HISAO: "I don't... think so. Maybe we'll get one tomorrow."
EMI: "What are you going to put down?"
NARRATOR: "That's a really good question. I guess I always figured I'd go to college after high school, but I've no idea what I'd do once I got there. And with the heart attack and all, I'd really been concentrating on each day as it came rather than making long-term plans. I suppose I can safely start planning ahead, again. I've always liked having at least a vague plan for my future, so it'll be nice to come up with one again. Of course, that doesn't change the fact that right now I've got absolutely..."
HISAO: "...No clue. I always kind of assumed I'd figure it out in college. That or just become a salaryman. That's pretty popular."
NARRATOR: "But do I really want to? That's a tough question. I guess I don't really want to do anything."
EMI: "You don't sound very excited about that one, do you?"
NARRATOR: "She laughs as she says this, and I'm caught up in her laugh again. It's so... girlish. High and giggly, like a... well, pardon the cliché - like a babbling brook. It bubbles out of her, starting in her belly and working its way up her throat. I can't help but laugh myself - it's infectious."
HISAO: "Yeah, I guess I'm pretty unhappy with the salaryman idea. But to be honest, I haven't given much thought to the future recently. I suppose that, these days, I've been more concerned with living one day at a time."
NARRATOR: "Emi considers this for a moment and grins."
EMI: "That's a pretty good idea, Hisao! I just wrote down, “Pirate.”"
NARRATOR: "I'm momentarily stunned, then I start laughing. I stop myself and manage to gasp out a question."
HISAO: "You're... you're not actually serious, are you?"
NARRATOR: "Emi looks mock offended."
EMI: "Well I've got the legs for it already, so I just kind of figured..."
NARRATOR: "Even Rin seems amused by this."
EMI: "Just you wait, I'll be the terror of the high seas! I'll show you all! I've even been working on my pirate voice!"
NARRATOR: "She suddenly springs up and begins swaggering up and down the rooftop shouting orders."
EMI: "Yarr, me hearties, give 'em a broadside with the long guns! We'll wear their guts for garters!"
RIN: "Do you even know what that means?"
NARRATOR: "Rin's unexpected interruption stops Emi in her tracks."
EMI: "Not really. But it's all in the delivery!"
NARRATOR: "The ringing of the bell prevents her from demonstrating her point further. Emi dashes off immediately, leaving Rin and myself alone on the roof. Rin stares at me intently for a few moments."
HISAO: "Is there... something wrong?"
NARRATOR: "Rin considers this question closely for a moment. After a lengthy pause, she shakes her head."
HISAO: "Oh, um... why the staring, then?"
NARRATOR: "Rin shakes her head again."
RIN: "Nope, I don't get it."
HISAO: "Get what?"
RIN: "The staring thing. You two seem to, but I don't."
NARRATOR: "Great. She saw me staring. Now she probably thinks I'm a pervert or something. Actually, probably not. This is Rin we're talking about, after all. Still, I feel the need to defend myself."
HISAO: "I wasn't staring, I was just tired."
NARRATOR: "Rin actually snorts at this, but she doesn't say anything."
HISAO: "No, really! I was just... distracted, is all."
NARRATOR: "Eager to end this conversation, I head back down to class. I'm greeted by the twin specters of Shizune and Misha, looking like they mean business. Well, Shizune looks like she means business, anyway. Misha just looks like she's about to start laughing at any minute." MISHA: "Up on the roof again, Hicchan? You know that's dangerous, don't you~?"
MISHA: "That's right~! The school cannot be held responsible for any injury that comes from being up there, you know! Furthermore, we could report you for breaking the rules~!"
NARRATOR: "Misha leans in and whispers conspiratorially." MISHA: "But we won't, Hicchan! You three are too cute together~!"
NARRATOR: "She straightens up again, laughing at my sudden blush."
MISHA: "Wahahaha~! You're too easy to tease, Hicchan~!"
HISAO: "Hey, come on. I'm still new here, sort of. Isn't it mean to pick on the newcomer like this?"
MISHA: "Nope~! It's to help you get acclimated to your new surroundings!"
HISAO: "Ah, I see. Well...do you have to be so overzealous about it?"
MISHA: "Yep! Ah! That aside, Hicchan, we were looking for you this morning, but you weren't in your room!"
HISAO: "Of course I wasn't. I was out for my morning exercise, or here in class, bright and early. Unlike you."
NARRATOR: "Shizune looks peeved, and a beat later, so does Misha. Or she tries to, at any rate."
MISHA: "That was because of student council business! You should be grateful that we work so hard for you~!"
HISAO: "Oh, I am, I am. So what did you need me for?"
NARRATOR: "Not another attempt to rope me in to do their dirty work, I hope."
MISHA: "We had to give you something~ but since you weren't around, we dropped it off in your room!"
HISAO: "Something? Like what?"
MISHA: "Oh, you'll find out when you get back, Hicchan~! Wahahaha~!"
NARRATOR: "Mutou entering the room ends our conversation, and we all head to our seats. It's only after I've settled down at my desk and the teacher's started talking about something or other that something odd strikes me. What did Rin mean, “You two seem to?” Was Emi staring at something too? For a brief moment, I consider the possibility that Emi was staring at me the way I was staring at her. Of course, that's ridiculous. Still, I can't deny that I wouldn't mind if it were true... But it's best not to think of that. No need to get my hopes up. Come to think of it, when did I start having hopes like that anyway? I shake my head in an attempt to clear it, and focus on the lesson."
NARRATOR: "After class, I make my way to my room. Mutou really piled on the homework today. Before I can open my door, however, I am suddenly intercepted by Kenji, who has just exploded out of his own room in a flurry of papers."
KENJI: "Hey, we need to talk. These rooftop shenanigans of yours, man. They've gotta stop."
KENJI: "Your running around on the rooftop with the limbless wonders! They're women, man! You'll get yourself killed running around like that!"
HISAO: "I don't follow."
NARRATOR: "Kenji sighs and adjusts his glasses, before what could be understood as an attempt at explaining himself patiently."
KENJI: "Look, we're friends so I'm telling you this for your own good. But if I were going to kill someone, I'd do it by throwing them off the roof and making it look like an accident. And if I've thought of it, you can be sure they've thought of it too. They're crafty - almost as crafty as I am."
HISAO: "I see."
KENJI: "Good! I'm glad we had this chat. Loan me 500 yen."
HISAO: "...I'm sorry?"
KENJI: "I need to get a drink, man! I've been inside all day and the tap water's been compromised, as I'm sure you know. So I need to stock up on something canned, got it? But to do that, I need 500 yen. And since I've just saved your life with my timely advice, you can at least spare me 500 yen."
NARRATOR: "You know, if it'll make him go away, 500 yen is a bargain. I hand the money over to Kenji, who nods in thanks and dashes off down the hallway, but not before he locks his door. What an exhausting person. I'd better go, in case he changes his mind."
NARRATOR: "Hm? As I close the door, my heel taps against something lying on the floor. It's a brightly-colored rectangle of paper. Ah, this must be the “something” Misha mentioned before. Probably a student council leaflet she slid under the door. However, when I pick it up, I find that I couldn't have been more wrong. Someone actually wrote me an old-fashioned, hand-written paper letter. Who bothers doing something like that in this day and age, anyway? Yet, as unlikely as the prospect of receiving one sounds, this is definitely a letter I have in my hands. I was planning on finishing my homework, getting some dinner, and going to bed in order to be ready for tomorrow morning's run. However, the letter has naturally caught my interest. I sit at my desk to examine it properly."
NARRATOR: "It's the first piece of mail I've received here at Yamaku, so it'd feel special even if it wasn't something as rare as a handwritten letter. What causes me even more trepidation is the name of the sender, written neatly on the back of the envelope. “Iwanako.” I have no idea why she would write to me. I haven't been in contact with anyone from my old school since I transferred, and Iwanako is the last person I'd expect to want to write me a letter."
NARRATOR: "The last time I saw Iwanako was terribly awkward; embarrassingly so. She came to my hospital room, peeled me an apple out of courtesy and then we practically sat in silence for half an hour. She said “goodbye” and didn't look me in the eye when she closed the door. It might've been a natural end to the series of visits that were probably pretty painful for both of us. Every time she visited me in the hospital I wanted to talk to her, but something stopped me every time. Every time that I didn't speak made the next time even harder."
NARRATOR: "She looked so guilty that I didn't want to say anything that might upset her, and I never could figure out the right words to say. I think Iwanako blamed herself for my heart attack. That's ridiculous, of course, but knowing it and believing it are two very different things. I told her that it wasn't her fault, she nodded and I really think she understood that if it hadn't been that, then sooner or later something else would've made my heart give out. Yet she looked so hopelessly sad every time she opened that door and entered my room. So I never managed to say the things I wanted to say. In the end, that might've hurt her even more."
NARRATOR: "Carefully, I open the envelope and draw out the folded letter from within."
How are you? I hope you are well and happy at your new school. Everyone here misses you. Almost all of our second-year class got put together in class 3-1 for the final year, so we are pretty comfortable right from the beginning of the year. I'm sure you would've been assigned to this class as well.
The mood among the third-years seems to be very anxious about the final exams, even though they are so far away. The teachers are badgering us about it all the time - even old Mr. Tachibana who is, by the way, our homeroom teacher this year. Would you believe it? I was sure that he'd retire after our second year, but here he is, nagging everyone about studying for exams.
I think things like that are the main reason why the mood among the third-years is so nervous. I must admit that I'm somehow losing confidence in myself as well, even though I've always fared reasonably well in exams.
It's so weird to think we are already seniors, isn't it? Time has really flown past. I wonder where it went. The new first-years seem so young and somehow really innocent. I keep wondering if I was like them in my first year. I've been feeling nostalgic like this for the whole first trimester.
There are other things I want to say. I'm writing to you because I felt that there are things I should've said after the incident back in winter. I really regret that I wasn't able to say them in person, and I have no excuse for it...
NARRATOR: "Yeah, I think I have had quite enough of this. I crumple up the sheet of paper and toss it across the room. My aim is off, so the letter rolls under my nightstand instead of going into my wastebasket. That was an apology for abandoning me. Except I don't know that I really need it any more, at this point. The hospital seems like a lifetime ago, and here, now, I've got other things on my mind. Emi, for starters."
NARRATOR: "It wasn't great to be abandoned during my stay, but it's not something I'm worried about any more. In fact, I hadn't even thought about the hospital in what feels like forever until this letter came in. It's almost annoying to have received it. I've got exams to study for, myself. I have no time for the past. Now, about that homework..."
Next Scene: Famous Last Words