Cutscene: But a Dream
But a Dream
Characters: Susumu Kamiya
Date: September 26th, 2012
We're laughing. It's so easy to laugh. I don't understand why some people never do. Laughing at a joke, laughing over a mistake, laughing when you don't understand something, laughing when you're embarassed, laughing when you want to scream. It's easier. Maybe that's why. I guess I've always taken the easy way, huh? Ha ha ha!
Honestly, I don't even remember what we're laughing about. But when I started, the other three joined in, and everything was fine after that. They're friends of Kuromiya's -- the man who adopted me. You wouldn't know him. Or them, really. Business men. I don't think there's a single one here that hasn't taken bribe money from him, but they still don't bat an eye when I slide them more. It's funny how easy it is. How little they care.
Maybe that's why we're laughing.
They don't even bother trying to hide it. It's still a bit surprising to me how little people with a lot of money have to care about anything, even money. We're sitting at a club, talking and laughing, and just like that, they give me a little baggy with these coal-gray, rocky things inside. It's great, they say. You need to try it.
What's it like?, I ask with a smile. It's easy to smile too. No one ever cares to think about you too much if you're smiling.
"It makes you feel alive," one of them says.
"But isn't that such a strange thing to say?"
The warm summer breeze cascades refreshingly along Tanabata River, offsetting the raw heat of Sumaru's clear skies as Susumu Kamiya lays out comfortably across their dingy rowboat. It's small and old, but it weathers the lazy slosh of waves against its paint-chipped hull admirably. Susumu looks up, forgetting the feel of the boat's gentle rocking; wind buffets lightly across his face as he stares puzzled by the girl sitting across from him.
"Isn't it?" Her voice is so soft and sweet it instantly makes Susumu forget what he had been thinking originally. She turns to look at him, her messy tangle of black hair rustling in the breeze, guileless cheer in her brown eyes.
"'It makes you feel alive.' What does that mean? How would he feel if he wasn't taking that stuff, really?" A small smile crosses her lips, tinged with a lingering sadness. "It's too bad people feel like they have to say things like that to feel happy. Every day, whether I'm happy or sad, whether the day turned out great or terrible, I'm still grateful I'm alive. I'm still feeling alive. I wouldn't be able to experience any of that if I wasn't." The girl leans in, focusing owlish, wondering eyes unblinkingly at her target.
"Right? Don't you feel alive, Susumu??"
Susumu does not answer. He frowns pensively, tilting his head back in order to stare at the clear skies again. His right hand scratches at his black hair.
"You're weird, M ."
"Am I? That's okay. I like me like this. I couldn't get sad on a day like this, anyway!" The girl pushes some stray brown locks behind her right ear as she joins him in staring at the sky with bright red eyes.
"There's nothing a little sunshine can't cure~"
"That's the dumbest thing I've ever heard."
I lift up my arms in protest, but the decision is already made. I'm talking with my old friends from when I used to go to Sumaru University. Now I can't even remember why I wanted to go there in the first place, and it's been so long since I've talked to them, but they still pretend I matter whenever I'm in their field of vision. You'd probably like them. But there's not a lot of people you don't like.
Here's one important thing I've learned: the dumber and stranger the things you say, the less people tend to expect from you. Honestly, I don't remember what I said that makes the people that call me their friend look at me with exasperated stares, but now those stares are more like, 'That's just like you, Susumu.' They don't expect anything more than that.
It's easier to do things without people bothering you when they don't expect anything meaningful from you.
Eventually, their stares give into laughter. And I laugh too. We exchange old stories about professors I'm supposed to remember and I give a good appearance that I do. Sometimes I just tell them I slept through most of those classes, how should I remember what the guy was like? They laugh more. When they're getting up to go to their next class, one of them cleverly takes my empty backpack instead of theirs.
What's it like?, I ask with a dumb grin. No one ever assumes much about you if you don't look like you assume much about anything.
"Like you can do the impossible," one of them says.
"'That sounds like too much effort.' I bet that's what you were thinking, right?"
Susumu Kamiya's frown is of the defensively pouty variety as he pushes himself halfway up his laying position on the boat to level an unhappy glare at his companion. The girl just laughs, brown eyes full of vibrant life and smile radiant.
"I was right, right? You only frown like that when I'm right!" proclaims the girl; Susumu looks aside in defeat, scratching shaggy, salt-and-pepper hair in lieu of anything better to say or do. The girl just grins in triumph.
"But you know, that's okay."
The chilling winds of autumn gust through the river bank, sending waves crashing in sloshing, foaming bursts along the rowboat. Susumu pulls his clothes a bit tighter against himself to protect against the encroaching cold. His companion doesn't seem to mind, letting the wind muss her pristine brown hair with that same look of enthusiasm.
"Not wanting to do impossible things isn't bad! Really! Just doing the possible things in your life is good enough. And you don't even know what's possible and what's not until you try! Don't you want to see what kind of things you can possibly do, Susumu?? You do, don't you??"
"... Sorry, M . I'm really..."
The girl leans in with a smile, her black bangs falling haphazard over her energetic but perplexed red stare.
"Eh? What's wrong, Susumu?"
"Hey! I said what's wrong with you??"
You know, there are certain times even I forget how to smile? It's true, I'm not lying! I guess that just makes me sound more suspicious, huh? Ha ha ha ha. But it's true. You'd know better than anyone, I guess. But sometimes... sometimes even I can't bring myself to pretend I care.
So that's probably I'm not smiling when the guy shouting at me jars me back to the real world. We're standing out on a corner in Tatsumi-shi that was too familiar to me back in the days when it was the place I wanted to be the least familiar with. You remember, don't you? ... well... maybe not. But now it just doesn't matter. None of this...
The man doesn't recognize me. I'm grateful for that, really. Even when I give him my name, he doesn't remember me. He just keeps staring with that expectant and apathetic stare. There's only a spark of recognition there, for a second, when I clasp his hand, but it's not because he's recognizing my face.
The yen bills fall away into his overlarge coat pocket as he jerks his head irritably to the right. I walk. Faster than usual. The man doesn't even look at me a single more time. He just goes back to his corner, waiting for the next person he recognizes as a customer. I hear a whistle off in the distance, see a younger man handing something off to another kid. I turn my head away, because it just doesn't interest me. It never did.
Normally I could just pretend to care. But here, I don't... I just...
I'm leaning against a wall by the time a small hand presses against mine. I look down at the dingy bag of leaden chunks in my palm, and then at the kid who gave it to me. He's so young, and dirty, and his eyes just look... dead.
What's it like?, I ask distantly, hoping that he won't answer. Anyone but him.
"It makes you forget," he says, before disappearing into the alley like a ghost.
"Do you really want to forget...?"
A hand is cradling Susumu Kamiya's face, but it feels so frigid against his flesh that all that registers is an uncomfortable numbness. Black eyes wide, his lips part. The frosty congealed vapors of winter's breath exhale from his lungs into the dead air.
The boat has stopped rocking. All around them, the entire Tanabata River has frozen over in an unseasonable winter chill. Susumu can barely feel the tips of his fingers in the cold sea of frost.
"Being forgotten is worse than dying," murmurs his companion, her voice distant and weak. Brown-red eyes are focused far away and black hair done in a high ponytail or maybe brown hair mussed up in a state of eternal disarray falls stale along her face, but when were her lips that pink? maybe they always were, and her fingers were never this rough, except they were the first time he ever felt them--
Something stings at his temple, providing the only source of burning, painful warmth in this entire, horrible, dead world. Susumu lifts a hand, running it through his shaggy gray hair. Bright scarlet is staining his fingertips when he pulls away. Warm blood rapidly cools along his pale skin as it drools a path down the side of his face.
"Susumu..." whispers the girl, hands framing his face. His eyes are as wide as a doe's. Her words feel more like a jumble of recollections than a person speaking. "Every cloud has a silver lining, Susumu. Everything's worth remembering. Even if it hurts. Especially if it hurts. That's why I want to keep learning everything I can."
"M , please," utters Susumu, gripping onto the girls' wrists, his wide, fearful yellow eyes staring up at her. "Please, M , I don't want to...."
"Next time, let's meet a little differently, huh?"
"Just come back here, and we can share some more ice cream. That'd be nice, wouldn't it?"
"After all, it's fate!"
Her fingers are around his neck now, squeezing tight. He can't see her anymore -- he can't see, or remember her face, or why she's important--
"Please, don't"KILL HER
Cold sweat clings to Susumu Kamiya's skin like it was always meant to be there as he wakes up. His eyes, a cold, empty yellow, stare up at the ceiling. Air conditioning breathes against his skin like an unpleasant reminder. His dry lips part.
Unthinking, the young man rolls off his bed. He doesn't even feel the way the ground makes his shoulder crack with a sickening sound the second he hits his cold, hard flooring. Too cold. Why is everything so cold? Why is--
He crawls across the ground, pulling himself up out of his apathetic stupor and onto his feet with a swagger, as if he had forgotten how his legs work. He stumbles out of his room, into his kitchen. He yanks open a single drawer.
With vacant eyes, he stares down at three baggies full of rocky, lead-gray pills. He picks up the dingiest, the one people would care the least about. The drawer shuts with a slam; he doesn't even hear it, because there's too much NOISE
He is slumped into the ground again, sitting alone in his kitchen as he opens that baggie and stares at the contents. What's it like?
It makes you forget.
Alone in his kitchen, Susumu Kamiya apathetically crushes a pellet of Cintamani between his teeth until it is no more than powder sliding down his throat. A gulp, and Kamiya draws his knees inward and hides his face between them. The voice quiets like an eye within the storm.
The yellows of his dead eyes glow with a quietly growing intensity.