NARRATOR: "We leave the main building, and Rin leads us onwards towards the dorm. We stop at the small patch of greenery in front of the dorm building. The dorm is built on a slightly elevated ground, with a wall and a few trees that everyone has to circle around every time they come or go. It's probably the only inconvenient design in the school."

NARRATOR: "The entire wall, made of the same kind of bricks as the building itself, has been covered with some sort of a painting. Most of it is still mere sketches, quick lines drawn with black and white against the gray plastering that covers almost the entire length of the wall, but some places look a bit more finished. There are human faces and legs and hands, I can't quite say what the painting as a whole might portray. Stacks of what seem to be paint cans are arranged in piles on the ground, beside the wall."

RIN: "See, the left side is hardly off the ground yet. It's because I couldn't get in the mood yesterday so I gave up and went to meditate instead. Then it was suddenly morning. I have to work on it, but the guys from art class are helping with the negative spaces and base surfaces whenever, which is a problem. It's easier to paint big areas if there are a lot of people, with hands. The reach is better, and it's faster too."

NARRATOR: "She goes on a tangent of a tangent, waving a little with her arm, or whatever of it there actually is, to demonstrate even though I got the point already. The white cotton of her sleeve flaps around, and it makes me think it could look sadder than it does. But it makes me feel out of place, like almost every tangible reminder of the student base's... special properties has in the past few days. This girl doesn't notice my dreary feelings of course, or the fact that she lost me a while ago already... and just keeps on blabbering."

RIN: " that's why I'm trying to figure out if there is something I need to figure out and then figure that out before it's too late and all hope is lost."

HISAO: "Why would the hope be lost?"

RIN: "Because paint has to be painted and then it has to dry and then it has to be painted over with another kind of paint. It takes time."

NARRATOR: "She finally stops, apparently thinking she made some kind of a statement that makes sense. I think it's best to start from the top."

HISAO: "So, this is your project? You did... this?"

RIN: "Yes. Yes."

HISAO: "All of it?"

RIN: "Yes."

HISAO: "Nice. But..."

NARRATOR: "I stumble with my words, suddenly feeling like I've walked straight into the mine field of political incorrectness."

RIN: "It's ok, you can say it. I probably won't get mad."

NARRATOR: "I blush really hard. I don't really know what would be the right thing to say, if any. It feels that I'm way more sensitive than Rin is, though. This is really awkward."

RIN: "Don't you want to ask?"

HISAO: "...How do you paint without hands?"

RIN: "See, I'm an easy person to talk to, right? With my feet."

HISAO: "I almost guessed that already, but isn't that hard to do?"

RIN: "You're good at guessing. Anyway, I don't think it is. But maybe I'm used to it by now."

NARRATOR: "I can't get my mind around the fact that she could be an artist, but seeing how adept she was using her feet to eat I figure painting might not be a problem either. Neither of us has anything more to add to the subject."

RIN: "The afternoon light works pretty well. I was afraid it would look too flat but it's not like that after all. I think it's actually pretty interesting. I wanted to see what it looks like in dim light. Do you think it's flat?"

HISAO: "Eeeh well, paintings tend to be flat."

RIN: "Not like that flat. You know, flat. Like some people are, no substance, no meat where there should be some. I know a few girls who—"

HISAO: "Okay I get it. But I couldn't really tell, I'm not that good with art. I can't name many artists or artistic terms. So I don't really have anything to say."

NARRATOR: "Rin shrugs her shoulders at that, saying “suit yourself” without saying it and looks up at the sky as if trying to look for something up there."

RIN: "I didn't think I'd get any actual work done but if you give me a hand with the paints I could do a little before it's too dark. I wanted to get a halogen lamp like the ones they have at the sports track but there aren't any."

NARRATOR: "Rin sure is quick to recruit my help, as was Shizune. It really makes me feel that the festival is such a big project that every pair of hands is needed."

HISAO: "Why not? I'm not really sure if I can be of any help, though."

RIN: "It's just mixing some paints, you can do that. Probably. Do you have motor control problems, like you know, those people who have some? Cerebral palsy, maybe?"

HISAO: "Not that I know of."

RIN: "I get it. Heart thingy has nothing to do with that."

NARRATOR: "She gives me a sly look for no reason."

HISAO: "No, it doesn't."

RIN: "Let's do it then."

NARRATOR: "So she sits on an empty wooden box and very naturally picks up a wide brush between the toes of her bare right foot. I open a few of the cans and pour some of the contents into shallow bowls for mixing. The thick paints flow lazily from the can to the bowl, like syrup. I mix them, creating funny, hypnotic looking swirl patterns that melt quickly into each other to form a new monotone hue. Rin sets to work, every now and then asking me for a hand with something or the other. ... Finding different brushes is easy enough, but mixing the paints to be the exact tone this girl is apparently seeing in her head is a frustrating ordeal. She wants precision down to the last milliliter before she is satisfied, but her instructions are obscure at best."

Mural start

RIN: "Add half a splash of green."

NARRATOR: "I crouch down to pick up the can of bright green."

RIN: "The other green. This green."

NARRATOR: "I carefully pour some of the other green paint into the mixing bowl."

RIN: "No, that's almost a whole splash. More white. Is green a good color to add?"

HISAO: "No idea. You're the artist here."

NARRATOR: "A hint of smile appears in the corners of her mouth."

RIN: "Do you lack an opinion?"

HISAO: "No, it's just that I have no idea."

RIN: "It's OK, because I just got an idea. Add more white."

NARRATOR: "With this exclamation I pour a minuscule amount of white into the bowl and mix it. It looks slightly... whiter."

RIN: "That's not good. It has to be like... like the color when you wake up and you know that you saw the meaning of life in your dream but can't remember it. Maybe it's yellow..."

NARRATOR: "... Despite the impossibility of mixing a color like the change of seasons or any other nonsense that's being imposed on me, I find myself enjoying it more than I thought I would. Seeing a painting being born on the plastered wall feels like magic. I spend the moments I have between mixing paints crouching down on the paving and just looking at her work. It feels slightly intrusive at first, like breaking some imaginary intimacy, but Rin doesn't seem to mind the least bit. Maybe it's just in my head. Her entire presence emits a completely different air as she patiently works the details, adding layers of paint on top of other layers of paint, steadily moving her foot across the wall to add new shapes. When I manage to produce a passable mixture of paint, the rare smile on her face is oddly rewarding."

NARRATOR: "Apart from the few words when discussing paint mixes, neither of us says a word for the longest time. And even those short discussions soon evolve into a shorthand, both of us developing and using weird impromptu code words for various paints and hues. As if there was some need to conserve words and breath and sound. We stay there late into the evening until it becomes too dark to paint properly."


Next Scene: The Running Girl