June 6, 2010 § Leave a comment
In the usual music room, Kino sat at the piano, blazing through musical passages after passages. Her piano teacher watching from the side, her expression stern and serious. Was she not pleased with the music? Somehow it felt rushed. Somehow it felt emotionless. Somehow it felt like nothing but noise.
Kino’s hands slide off the keys as she looked at her teacher. Her eyes and smile were noticeably less brilliant than before. Everyday she’d grow more weary, and tired as the shadows beneath her grew.
“Who are you playing for?”
“No, that’s not what I meant. At this rate, you’re not going to make it onto the competition circuit.” The teacher would look at Kino who was trying to find an excuse.
“That’s enough for today. It seems you’re not in the mood to play. If you manage to get on the circuit, we’ll have lessons accordingly,” her teacher spoke, as if this would be the last time she would be seeing Kino.
Why her teacher wasn’t satisfied, Kino didn’t know. She was already at her limit. She couldn’t keep up with Yuki, and her dream at the same time. Always tripping, falling, making mistakes. All she wanted to do was close her eyes and drift into a dream, never waking up. But she was too prideful to quietly disappear. Kino knew everything around her was falling apart. Why she bothered to fool herself into thinking there was no problem? No idea.
Kino would gather the fabric of her kilt into her clenched fist in frustration. She heard the click of the door opening, and its slow squeak. But she dared not turn around to see who it was.
She lowered her face and let her fringes cover it as if not willing to show Eric her pathetic face. Eric blinked, watching her, walking towards her and sitting with her on the edge of the bench.
“I made a mistake again.”
He sighed, looking at the piano and the book opened in front of her.
“Did you need something, your highness? I thought you would be socializing with the ladies.”
“You’re making me out to be some sort of playboy! Ahem! Anyway, I was told to come here, so no. I’m just checking up on my favourite pianist.”
“Well there’s no problem here…”
Kino looked at her hands and sighed. She would remember the time just having Eric in the same room as her would make her smile, but not even that could salvage the bittersweet look on her face.
“Hey, I won’t say I’m a genie in a bottle, but if you ever need me, I can grant you a wish or two. Also get some sleep tonight.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
Kino would walk down the hallway, hearing things about the competition announcement tomorrow, and luck. But the all the words would swirl around in her head. Will she be fine? Sure she will. That’s what she kept telling herself. But deep down, she knew that she’d fail even more, and keep falling behind. There was nowhere to go for her. She could barely carry herself down the hallway as darkness kept trying to win her over. Hearing the cheers of girls in the background squeal, “Yuki’s here!” snapped her out of her trance.
Kino gripped the gold pendant in her hand tightly. Trying not to show Yuki her knees shake as she stood before him. How lowly she was to cling to that small bit of hope. Yet she couldn’t help it. Why did she feel so relieve to see him? She was so scared that he would never come back to see her again that her insides would squeeze and leave her gasping for air. But she so desperately hoped that she could keep seeing his smile and hear him call her name. She knew that he was busy with Lily, and work. Yet she wanted to believe that there was a place for her in his heart.
“Are you going back early again today?”
“Yeah. Sorry Kino. Did you need me for anything?”
Kino’s fake smile twitched as she tried to hold the disappointment back.
“Ah, no it’s…”
Her voice died out as she looked to the side, her bangs covering her eyes. Her smile was frozen like plastic. Her hand curled up into balls of fists as she tried to control the emotions that raged inside her. Yet Yuki noticed all of it, the tired look on her face, the subtle shaking of her legs, and the dullness of her complexion.
“Kino, is something wrong?”
“No its nothing,”
“You know what; I’m going to take you out for dinner tomorrow.”
Kino quickly looked up, her smile grew awkward, “don’t you have to catch up on school work?”
“I’ll have you to teach me. So don’t worry about it ok? I’ll meet you at the lockers tomorrow ok?”
“But I won’t have anything to wear and—“
Yuki’s hand reached for her and gently patted her head. Her eyes peered through her long hair to see his carefree grin. She blushed, and suddenly her sinking heart started to race.
“I told you. Don’t fret ‘kay?” He would tell her after ruffling her hair. She was left frozen once again when his hand returned to his side, as if the sudden electric shock of being unplugged while still being on left her paralyzed. She watched his back walk further and further away from her.
Kino mindlessly practiced to the depths of the night, until the dawning of morning. Every time she thought of Yuki, she would quickly dismiss it knowing that if she chased after him, he’d disappear from her grasp. She felt pathetic, and incredibly stupid for trying so hard to deny something she wished never existed or never knew it existed. As she continue to fight against the shadows that threatened to consume her, Kino decided to linger in the halls before anyone else got there. Circulating the perimeter and passing by the board so many times. When she looked up at it, she showed a weak smile before lowering her head and continued wandering towards an unknown destination.
Mayu took her seat in the classroom, and almost instantly Keith would poke his head through the windows to the hallway. After half a year she felt so accustomed to it already that she wasn’t surprised one bit.
“Morning,” she said with a smile before noticing the shocked look on his face, “what’s wrong?”
“It’s Kino. Is she here yet?”
“No, what happened? Is it Yuki?”
“The results are posted.”
“I’m sure she—“
“And her name wasn’t on the board.”
There was a pause. Unbelievable.
“But if she doesn’t make the cut, then what is she going to do? They’ll kick her out if she doesn’t—“
Kino greeted loudly, as she skipped into the classroom energetically.
“Today I finally got to homeroom on time!”
“Ahaha. Yeah, good job.”
“Yuki won’t be here until later today huh?”
Kino would feign curiosity as she looked at his desk and shrugged as if she didn’t care. Mayu noticed the forced smile and couldn’t bear to watch as she shifted her gaze to Keith. Keith gave a bittersweet smile. Neither Keith nor Mayu dare speak though. Neither of them was willing to be the one who breaks her. Little did the two know Kino was holding back her tears with sheer pride. She wanted to run away, run away so badly. But she didn’t, she couldn’t. She was far too stubborn and prideful to. She’d rather stop breathing than run away. She wanted to wait for Yuki, wait for him to save her. She kept telling herself he wasn’t going to come like he used to, and yet she continued to fantasize about him flying to her rescue or white horse.
“Nadako, what do we do? I don’t know what to do. I want to help her but at the same time…”
“We can’t do anything…Eric’s been telling me she hasn’t slept for days or eaten anything but cookies for a many days now. I tried offering her lunch but she wouldn’t eat it.”
“It’s all Yuki’s fault. I don’t care anymore. Keith you go beat him to a pulp.”
“Yes ma’am. But may I ask why can’t you do that?”
“I don’t want to have anything to do with him anymore.”
“That jerk Yuki can die in a hole for all I care. Treating Kino this way…she doesn’t deserve it!”
Nadako tried to quiet Mayu but it was too late. Kino who heard their conversation simply laughed. Her head hung low for she couldn’t raise her head to look at them directly. It was true. Yuki was a jerk. She didn’t deserve this. She worked really hard to stay here. She tried her best. Yuki was the one who pushed her after all. It was all Yuki’s fault! That was the one thing Kino couldn’t say. Cause she knew as soon as she started doubting him, she would truly have nowhere in this place to go. She felt so silly acting all depressed over a boy and some bad results.
“Yuki…He’s just busy…that’s all. It’s ok. It’s not like I’m a nobody. I’m his friend…If he doesn’t want to see me that’s fine.” She laughed again, as she saw him disappear between her fingers.
“You guys don’t have to worry about me. I’ll figure it out.”
As Yuki slipped out of her grasp, she could see Lily up ahead of him. She tried calling for him. Crying in vain, she would fall to the ground and ask him to come back.
“Kino?” Lily would call out to Kino.
Suddenly reality and dreams were separating like two different solutions of varying densities.
Kino raised her head to Lily. Her dark eyes and pale complexion was almost sickening to Lily that she had to close her eyes. Lily walked up to Kino and sat on the desk in front of her before smiling. Kino shivered slightly.
“Can I talk to you for a bit?”
“You know Yuki and I are going out correct?”
“No I didn’t.”
“Well, I’m not trying to say you guys can’t be friends, but just…don’t hang around him,” Lily said as if some ungrounded authority gave her the right to look down on Kino. Kino’s eyes narrowed as she spoke back, “you can’t dictate whether I’m friends with Yuki or not.”
“I guess you’re right, but you know he still pities you right? I wouldn’t be surprised if his grandmother dislikes him because he keeps neglecting his work! If he had only listened to me, Yuki and his family company wouldn’t have had to suffer as much as it is now. He should really focus on what’s important to him you know?”
“It isn’t his fault! Why does everyone not realize that he does a lot of great things? Compared to me, Yuki is a hard worker. He’s kind, even to someone like me! If it is anyone’s fault it should be…me.”
“Kino, is it really your fault? I mean, you weren’t planning to distract Yuki from his obligations, right? No no, you did nothing wrong,” Lily tried to comfort Kino but couldn’t hide how content she was with the flow of the conversation.
On the other hand Kino was panicking. They were already dating? Then it’s already too late for her. She thought how selfish she was; how greedy of her to want Yuki all to herself. She worried about him because she didn’t want him to get hurt, telling him to make his own decisions because she thought everyone else around him was wrong. Her chest cringed at the thought that she was the cause of his suffering, that the only reason she didn’t want him hurt, was because it hurt her. What if the only reason Yuki was hanging around her because she wanted him to? Cold sweat rolled down the back of her neck as the dark shadows from the past started towering over her. Suddenly an image flashed into her head, a dream. She was running towards something, but it turned out to be nothing.
“I hope you think about your position.” Cause he’s mine, was what Lily thought in her head as she stood up to leave Kino in the empty classroom. Lily satisfied with tormenting Kino, decided it was time to go home. Eric then appeared before her with that enigmatic grin.
“What does the King want with me?”
“Little princess, I have come to ask why you are stirring some trouble among my subjects?” Eric spoke playing Lily’s game.
“Oh, and what do you mean?”
“I can’t have you ruining my perfectly planned chess game,” he was referring to Kino and Yuki, but Lily didn’t understand, “in a game of chess, there’s no room for a fantasy princess. I also can’t have my knight running off when he has much to do.”
“You lost me…”
“I was merely playing the game of pretend you started.”
Lily felt ridiculed and mocked as Eric continued with his jest.
“What did you say?” he looked over to her with a serious look. However he had to specify, “to Kino.”
“It’s none of your business.”
“Oh, disobeying the King’s orders. That’s treason you know?”
“So you like her? Great, then why don’t you make her get her filthy paws off Yuki already?”
As Lily was about to storm past him, he quickly grabbed her arm and threw her against the wall. The glass of the windows shook as she crashed against it. Eric violently pinned her there as he bore his fangs.
“If you’re going to play my game, then you better start by watching your mouth bitch. Now answer me. What did you say to her?”
“I just simply pointed out that whatever she was doing is hurting Yuki the most. That’s all. I don’t get it at all. Why is everyone so concerned about her? It’s always Kino, Kino, Kino. She’s just a naïve little girl.”
“More the reason why people watch out for her,” he said patting her on the head lightly, like dotting a little kid before he rushed off to the music room where he would find Kino.
Kino’s hand shook widely; her breath was heavy as she opened the piano top, almost dropping it. She breathed quickly gathered her music sheets and spread them widely across the piano, disorganized and scatted. Despite that she played, desperately. She could imagine tears fall down her face. When she listened to herself, she felt the music slipping from her fingertips, and disappearing from her, and yet the thoughts of Yuki kept spinning and recycling to the point where it was all she would think about. Eric listening from outside the other side of the door, he sighed before walking his hands in his pockets, as if he had to hide them from his mistakes.
The practice room became a hell hole, sheet music scattered everywhere, and water bottles thrown into the corner of the room. The music began to deteriorate into noise, and the once beautiful melodies began to decay. The mess grew larger and larger until Kino herself was about to shatter into pieces. It was stupid, yet no matter how many times she told herself that she couldn’t jump out of the hole.
The door quickly slammed shut, waking Kino up from her trance. She turned her head slowly and saw Eric sitting against the door, underneath the window. He motioned his hand desperately, telepathically telling Kino to play something. The chord was struck, and a scale passage was run through upon request. She could feel a tremor beneath her feet as a bunch of females ran down the hallway disrespectfully. As the slowest one passed by, Eric breathed a sigh of relief and collapsed onto the floor.
“Man, it’s not funny when they start chasing after me.”
“Shouldn’t you be used to it by now?”
Eric ignored the question as he sat back up.
“So missy, how’s life?”
“I don’t know.”
“This room has become interesting.”
“Want to accompany me to the music office?”
“Go by yourself.”
“How about I buy you lunch at the cafeteria?”
“I’m not hungry.”
“Kino, what can I do to get you out of this room?”
“I don’t know.”
“If you don’t give me a proper answer, I’ll just get Yuki to come drag you out.”
“He won’t come!” She barked back, her hands clenched in fists.
“Why can’t you just drag me out yourself?”’
“Because I’m the King. I let my knights do all the dirty work.”
Kino sighed, “I liked it when the two of you were princes.”
“Whatever, as King, I demand you come outside for a change of atmosphere.”
“I can’t leave this place.”
“What, you’re glued to your chair?”
“This is the only place left where I belong…if I leave, I might never be able to come back.”
She looked at her hands and watched as whatever hope she had left began slipping to the floor. The shine in her eyes completely gone. Eric wanted to hug her, but he knew that that wasn’t his job. He would continue to wait patiently for a chance to help her. He didn’t dare bring up the competition results, or Yuki. He knew she’d answer with “I’ll just have to work harder then.” A response he knew was impossible, because she was already beyond her limit. It was times like these he regretted letting her go, but she was the last person he wanted to lie to. He just simply sat there and listened to the music she played until the sun began to set.
Kino kept going. She wasn’t going to give up. She kept aimlessly moving in a direction. She felt like she rolled right back down a slippery slope. The noise wouldn’t let up. The more she tried to tell herself ‘try, try again’ the more Lily’s words would haunt her. She didn’t want to think that just by wanting to stay next to him was what was causing him to be unhappy. She didn’t want to think that she just wanted to see Yuki’s smile so that she too would smile. She didn’t want to think that she was helplessly clinging on to him. She’d rather stop breathing and fall instead of doubting him.
Yuki watched the sun begin to say good night, as he waited for Kino. He heard footsteps and turned his head hoping it was Kino but was disappointed.
“Ah Yuki!” Lily said surprised to find him at the door, even though she stalked him to the door, “do you need a ride?”
“No, I’m waiting for Kino.”
“Kino? Oh, I saw her leave already…”
“Yeah, she said she wasn’t feeling too well so she left.”
“When was this?”
“About a couple of minutes ago.”
Yuki started to walk out the door, going after Kino, worried as to whether or not she really was ok. But then Lily stopped him and grabbed onto his arm.
“Sorry, I have to run.”
“You haven’t heard about her yet have you? You shouldn’t follow her. It’s best you leave her alone for a while.”
“Lily, what happened to Kino?”
“So you didn’t hear huh? Kino’s going to be dismissed because she didn’t make it into the competition circuit this year. So it’s best you don’t see her. You’ll only make it harder on her.”
“That’s precisely why I have to go see her!”
“Do you like Kino?”
An awkward pause travelled through the air.
“Listen Lily, I—”
Kino shuffled her way to the exit and raised her head slowly wondering he Yuki was still waiting for her. But suddenly the world crashed in front of her eyes, as she watched Lily seal Yuki’s lips by stealing a kiss.