My whole life has been art, no matter which way I turned, I saw art. My world had been an art and I found myself contributing to it eventually. My mother is a cosmetologist, and I would often find my nails painted vibrantly with great detail on vacations. On school days my mother would still paint them discretely—like a small flower on a clear nail. My hair would always be done a cute style, and I'd always receive compliments from my female peers. They'd call me a perfect doll.
My father is a chef and every day I'd come home to a beautifully constructed meal, something you'd find in a magazine. Every morning he woke up early to cook my lunches and everyone in my class would sneak a peek to see how nice it looked. They'd mention how it felt so surreal to actually have a lunch like mine, as they laughed at their family's cooking incompetency compared to mine.
Around fifth grade, my mother and father started to argue a lot. Prior to that, they'd have a few small ones during the night. Sometimes I'd hear it while I went to the bathroom. I had always thought my life was a perfect masterpiece. But as it turned out, it was just a fraud. I couldn't think of a way to cope with my parents' constant fighting since its blatancy started so suddenly.
My sister, a few years my senior, coped by spending most of her days on the internet. She'd lock herself in her room and come out strictly for meals and the bathroom. Every now and then, she'd let me sit with her, and I found out she spent her time reading manga and writing novels to post online. She told me writing is a form of art, and it's one of the most beautiful things to exist, as you could form your own utopia. She told me writing is amazing, because you can create a whole universe and manipulate it however you like—you could create a perfect family, destroy another, and form love.
Afterwards, I sat on my carpet and picked up my painting tools. I wanted to continue living in a beautiful world, so I painted all the ugly things over so I'd never have to see them again.
I was surrounded by people through my school career; everyone was attracted to the pretty girls—and I was considered pretty with my accessories and fashion. I can't say I necessarily enjoyed all the attention, especially since I knew they'd abandon me in the end. Though we looked close on the outside, we weren't even close to that status.
Often, I'd find myself rushing out of my classroom to escape conversing with anyone. I normally roamed the hallways because I adapted to eating twice a day. I spent so much time cooped up in my room doing art-related things that I skipped lunch often. I tended to walk in the lower division areas because there was a smaller chance of being approached. I'd see the oddest things, though, like a boy too tall for his age, a girl who'd cry near the restrooms, and a boy with a never-changing deadpan expression. The lower levels intrigued me, because all I ever saw were boys with nicer hair than mine, girls who cooed over fashion, and slackers who slept through the whole day.
Sometimes, I'd walk around searching for the trio who interested me the most. I found they became friends and read books together; I found the sight cute, since not many children actually read during their free time. I considered calling out to them, so we could become friends. I decided against it, though; I didn't really have a reason to suddenly barge in on them. What would I have said, anyways? "Yes, hello. Sometimes I stare at you guys from a distance, and you're all incredibly cute—so, let's be friends."
For the most part, the year passed by without anything incredibly exciting happening—minus Akutagawa actually speaking coherent words during class. Before I knew it, I promoted to the middle school division.
My first year went by without a hitch. I made a few acquaintances and joined the art club, and I forgot about the adorable elementary trio I spent so much time observing. There weren't many people who were committed to the club, so I easily got the job of president once second year started. I enjoyed my new responsibilities, but I felt suspicious—life was being too convenient for me. It hadn't been so convenient and smooth-riding since fourth grade. My suspicions arose when I heard arguably the best melody from the music room. They say spring is the season for new beginnings, but I swore I flew back in time.
The violin rang in my ears, and I felt a wave of nostalgia despite having no previous connections with violins. I wondered if this is what everyone meant by music being touching, it made you feel things.
I slowly passed by the music room to see silver hair through a crack in the door. I walked home slowly that day. I didn't see his face, but I knew. I knew he was one of the elementary students reading a book two years ago. I couldn't justify myself, but I knew.
I didn't know one thing, though: the reason I felt hopeful with butterflies in my chest—or more like I didn't want to acknowledge the reason. I didn't want to, but I knew I'd do my best to make him run into me at all costs.
That night, I ignored my responsibilities and lied in bed mindlessly. I wondered if I could sleep my responsibilities away like Akutagawa and live in my dreams instead. I wasn't sure what Akutagawa dreamt of, but it seemed to work remarkably for him. I'd never seen someone look so content while sleeping; I ignored the fact I hadn't seen many people sleep in the first place.
Putting aside Akutagawa, I had heard of people who used sleep as a form of escapism. There were people who slept just to ignore responsibilities, but there were also people who lived in their dreams through lucid dreaming. I considered practicing lucid dreaming to live my romantic wishes through there and live my passive reality without disruption.
In that world, I would talk to that silver-haired boy and we'd make our own paradise. I fell asleep with that plan in mind.
- x -
Throughout the day, I dazed off. I would look out the window during class and replay the silver-haired boy's melody—quite blatantly, might I add, considering I sat at the wall closest to the door. I'm sure I upset my teachers, but I decided I wouldn't care for the day.
The only time anyone pulled me away from the window was when I had to read or pass papers to the person behind me. As one of the cute girls in the class, I could tell the males I sat nearby were giving me leeway from any potential work. Except Shishido-san. I don't think he cared.
I felt bad for the other girls in my class who were considered closer to the average scale, but at the same time I was grateful. To some degree, I felt obligated to pay attention not only for the sake of my peers, but for myself.
But then again, the urge to brood and look out the window like a protagonist was strong. (I may or may not have been visiting the manga club for references frequently as of recent.)
I shrugged off thoughts of class and chose to doodle in my notebook instead. I doodled out my memory from yesterday, wondering if anyone around me would recognize his silhouette, or his scruffy hair tilted to the side slightly to accommodate his violin.
I thought not. Nobody in my class was involved with the arts to an extensive degree, all leaning closer to culinary or sports.
I peeked over to look at Akutagawa, who sat in the row ahead of me closest to the wall. I'm not sure if I expected him to look back at me, but I clicked my tongue in frustration nonetheless. I hadn't wanted him to look at me so desperately before—how else was I to discretely inform him I needed to borrow his ear during lunch?
I glanced at the clock; there was only ten minutes until lunch. I may as well kill time by sketching until lunch.
I drew out a proper sketch of the silver-haired boy. Sort of. He could now say he had a wanted poster to his name if that would help boost his ego.
"Who are you drawing?" I heard my classmate behind me whisper.
"My future boyfriend," I murmured back.
There was a long pause before I heard him whisper back "okay" and shift back into his seat. I guess that would be a difficult thing to respond to, actually. I almost wished I could take back my response and switch it out with "A UNIQLO model I saw in an old issue."
But oh well, I'm not sure what exactly he was expecting when I spent a good one-fifth of class drawing out a face. My head snapped up in surprise when I heard a textbook slam shut. "Alright, bring those typed responses tomorrow, and I'll see you tomorrow."
I quickly looked behind me for an answer, to which I received a shrug. I don't know what made me think the guy behind me, who was probably watching all ten minutes of my sketching, would know what the hell was going on. I turned to my left, praying maybe Shishido-san would know for once. By the disgruntled look on his face, I assumed it meant he actually did know—my god, did he actually listen to the lecture today?
"Shishido-san, what are we typing for tomorrow?"
He looked at me with slightly annoyance in his eyes. "Weren't you paying attention?"
I gave him a dumb look, because honestly, I was pretty sure only one-fourth of the class listened on a daily basis.
He sighed and ran his fingers through his ponytail. "We're supposed to write a response on what we think Be not Defeated by the Rain is about." (1)
I muttered back a "gotcha," and scribbled it as a note on the side of my notebook. Shishido-san peered at my sketch, and asked what I drew.
I mulled over a proper response this time. "He's—"
I recalled who he was, and muttered curses under my breath. "Wait, sorry. I just remembered something."
I quickly walked over to Akutagawa and pulled on his arm. He looked up, dazed and confused. "Wh-wha?"
"No time to ask questions, Akutagawa. I need you, pronto."
I pulled him up rather forcefully and navigated him through the door. He was forced to grab his senses, since I couldn't carry him and in a matter of seconds my arm would give out and drag his whole body on the dirty floor.
We pause for a moment to allow Akutagawa to gather himself. He stretched his body and yawned, rubbing his eyes in the process. "What's wrong, -chan?"
I shuffled my feet and looked out the window. It was covered with grime, and I allowed myself to wonder why a prestigious school like ours had something so... low class.
My eyes flashed back to Akutagawa. "Let's go somewhere to lie down first."
He blinked lazily and shrugged. I led him down the stairs, lightly holding onto his sleeve in fear he would topple over in drowsiness and fall to his death. My eyes flew to restroom doors now that we were on underclassmen turf. It hadn't happened often, but every memory I obtained flew from the back of my brain right to the front. I was hyperaware of these particular memories after yesterday, and my eyes kept scanning every student I passed, even though I didn't necessarily want to search so... desperately? Is that what I was doing?
I hastily pulled Akutagawa along the corridors, so we would end at the staircase closer to my favorite tree near the courtyard.
Along the way, I thought I heard someone ask, "Is that Akutagawa-senpai? With a girl?"
I lightly coughed and wondered what it would be like if I liked Akutagawa instead, just like all those girls who left Pocky in his bag.
Probably a little more convenient.
- x -
I lightly pulled on the orange strands of hair piled on my thighs. We reached my favorite bench, and he quickly settled himself on my lap upon arrival. It was hard to tell if Akutagawa mildly enjoyed my company, or if he just enjoyed the feeling of my thighs as his school pillow.
I wouldn't quite call Akutagawa and I close friends, but we got along well. I wouldn't disagree if someone accused me it's because he was asleep half the time. It was nice to blab about anything and know the other wouldn't remember or know anything. I don't think he'd be able to disagree if someone accused him it's because I let him use me as a pillow, although I would like it if he could deny it.
We had an arrangement where I let him sleep on my lap, while I vented to him about anything that was on my mind. We never actually spoke and agreed to said arrangement, but one way or another, it happened.
"Something interested happened yesterday, Akutagawa."
I received a yawn in reply. I continued to pull and twirl on a particular strand of hair while I felt his head shift sideways.
"I was leaving for home after everyone left, and I heard a violin."
He hummed in reply. I knew he'd fall asleep in a short matter of seconds.
"I looked through a crack in the door, and I saw a boy with silver hair." I heard a light snore, but that didn't deter me. If anything, it encouraged me to keep speaking. "I think I remember him from the elementary division, Akutagawa. Do you know him? I doubt you do, but maybe you spoke to anyone and everyone while you were awake."
I looked down at Akutagawa's sleeping face and sighed. For once, I wanted a reply out of him.
"You always look so peaceful when you sleep, and I tried to mimic you last night. I think you try to escape reality with sleep, but I'm not really sure. Maybe you don't really like school, or maybe something's not going smoothly in your life right now—so you sleep and go to a different world. I just went with that idea, and you won't tell me, so I'll just assume this is the reason. ...It works for me anyways."
I nervously rubbed one of Akutagawa's curls. I never touched a subject this deep before with Akutagawa, and I was starting to feel the weight of my words. I kept in mind Akutagawa wouldn't hear, so it wouldn't matter if I said it or not. In the back of my mind, I considered the possibility Akutagawa could hear me—and I didn't know if I actually wanted him to hear me or not anymore.
"Well, I had the silver-haired guy in my mind last night. He appeared in my dream, but he was playing the piano instead. The thing is, I didn't hear the piano. There was no sound, but there were a lot of people in the audience with me. They all stood up, and I heard the claps really clearly."
I scrunched my eyebrows together and muttered, "It was really weird..."
I reached for my phone in my bag. I googled 'piano symbolism in dreams.' "It says that a piano indicates a quest for harmony in life, and no sound means there's a lack of confidence in me." (2)
"Do you think that's me?" I looked down at Akutagawa's sleeping voice and watched his torso move slowly with his steady breathing. I sighed and looked at the sky. "You're just like the clouds, Akutagawa."
I wasn't even quite sure what I meant by that, but it felt appropriate. Maybe because clouds just drifted in the sky, and Akutagawa seemed like his head was always in the clouds and drifting slowly and smoothly in life.
...Maybe I just wanted to sound cool. Maybe I just want my perfect monologue for the beginning of the start of my shoujo experience with the silver-haired boy and his violin.
I pinched my wrist and tried not to think too deeply over the dream, or the boy in general. We'd never spoken a word to each other while we went to the same elementary, and I have no musical knowledge to try to bring up and bond over by the chance I do approach him. I wondered where the other two were and what they were doing. Once I thought about it, it felt disconcerting to see them apart. I was aware there's a difference between hanging out in elementary, and hanging out in middle school, but it still felt odd. Having so little to do, I resolved to wander the hallways of Hyoutei once more and investigate.
That is, if Akutagawa ever woke up.
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Princo & Ribbon
February 22, 2015.
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(1) I just picked a random poem off my google search. You can read it here: [x]
(2) I just got this off Dream Moods lol.
Princo: Brownie points if anyone catches references from another dream novel. Just kidding, it's so blatant brownie points shouldn't even be given, especially with how often we update. LOL.