Kyoukai no Kanata - Chapter 1, part 4 [English]

nakulas Jul 14th, 2013 4,396 Never
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  3. After school; outside the literature club room.
  5. Thus far, we've been jumping back and forth between lunch recess and after classes are out. Insofar as students are constrained by classes, which are, after all, the main purpose of school, there remain only a small set of times during which our life stories can move forward. That ought to explain why school-life novels that feature a high-school student as a protagonist typically occur during the summer, or during other long breaks, or on days off, or after school is out for the day.
  7. While I was busy pondering these matters of narrative structure, I heard someone behind me.
  9. "Kanbara."
  11. "......"
  13. I'd just had an encounter with her during lunch! As I looked at her, I wiped my brow. Mitsuki must have expected that this would happen, hence her warning. She stood there with her head cocked, as if she didn't know what I was doing. Naturally, she looked good in her glasses all the while. From my point of view, as someone not familiar with the ways of xenors, it seemed unthinkable for Kuriyama to come and make a mess of the Nase family's front yard, so to speak. Then again, even if Kuriyama _was_ here to do something evil, she kept screwing up. She was harmless, kind of like a fuzzy mascot character.
  15. "Kanbara?"
  17. "Kuriyama, do you have a minute?" I asked as I pointed at the doorway to the club room.
  19. A question mark appeared over her head. If she was curious about something, I figured I ought to help her out. I strolled into the club room, set my bag down on the table, and plopped down in my usual seat. Kuriyama seemed overwhelmed by the tall bookcases lined up along the wall---which were, incidentally, the only assets owned by the literature club. Perhaps she wasn't accustomed to bookcases of that size. The shelves were filled with all sorts of books collected by members of the literature club over the years, ranging from classic works of literature to works of young-adult fiction and even some graphic novels. They were packed tight, seemingly at random, with books of varying academic merit. Of course, we had some collections of essays; how-to manuals; and even technical documents---truly a wide variety.
  21. The type-A's of the world would probably go mad upon seeing our book collection. Kuriyama, on the other hand, just stared at it, silently. You know, with her small build and the way she looks smashing in glasses, she certainly seemed like she could be a bookworm. At the very least, she didn't seem like a xenor who would fight dreamghasts with a blade made of her own blood. Not that I'd be fond of a high-school girl who _did_ look like a xenor.
  23. This was the first time I'd been alone with a girl in the club room, Mitsuki excluded. She kept on staring at the bookcases, but I figured I ought to get down to business.
  25. "Kuriyama."
  27. "What is it?"
  29. As she replied, Kuriyama took a small paperback book off one of the shelves. It was a mystery novel, one that helped its author break into the world of literature. It would be best not to let that book take over the conversation, though. Alas, in real life, one cannot redirect conversations with the magical phrase "Getting back on topic...".
  31. "Did somebody ask you to come here?"
  33. "...What's that supposed to mean?" she shot back, suspiciously.
  35. "Someone implied that I should avoid dealing with you, you see."
  37. Maybe that derailed her train of thought. She dropped the book she was holding.
  39. "Kuriyama?"
  41. "I know you're hating on me. Well, people have been flooding my blog and my Twitter with comments of praise, so there."
  43. "Keep it together, Kuriyama! I've got your back," I said, trying my best to pacify her.
  45. She was running her right index finger along the rows of books. You wouldn't think that she even knew what a double-click was, but just look at her! What a child of the modern age! I had to wonder _why_ people would be comment-flooding her blog and her Twitter account, but... well, given the way Kuriyama acts, I suppose I shouldn't be surprised by that. She's a nice girl, and she isn't rude or anything, but she's painfully lacking in that most-important quality: common sense.
  47. "Anyway, can we get back on topic?"
  49. "E-even if you _are_ an upperclassman, I'm not just going to give you my URL."
  51. "I don't give a hoot about your blog's URL, flames or no flames! What I want to know is, who was it that asked you to come here!"
  53. Biting her lip, she wobbled like a large jelly.
  55. "Nuh-uh nuh-uh nuh-uh! You're going to look my blog up later!" she said. And then, in a monotone, "Well, this is going to be so much fun."
  57. Anyway, getting back on topic....
  59. "Then again, maybe you came here of your own volition?"
  61. "Even if I was here at someone's request... do you think I'd just tell you who they were?"
  63. There was something dangerous about Kuriyama all of a sudden. It was as if an ordinary girl had changed into a xenor in that instant. Small talk was one thing, but it would be no mean feat to get any information out of her about dreamghasts.
  65. "If you put me in your debt, I can offer you new glasses whenever the ones you're wearing break."
  67. "I have spare glasses at home."
  69. By the stars! She has glasses I've never seen!? I suppressed the sudden urge that welled up within me.
  71. "Kuriyama, could you tell me a little bit about those glasses?"
  73. "Pardon?"
  75. "All I'm asking for is a 400-word explication on the beauty of the glasses you keep at home. No, you're right... even if they are just spares, you'll need more words than that to really get the point across. A full-length novel should do the trick. Just try to keep it to less than 10,000 words."
  77. "...They're just ordinary, mass-produced glasses."
  79. "Even mass-produced glasses take on their own individual character as you use them, right? In other words, what I _really_ want to know about is your life, as seen through your glasses."
  81. "This is unpleasant."
  83. She really did have an uncanny expression on her face. It wasn't so much that my antics were annoying her. Rather, it seemed that there was something in her past that she didn't want me knowing about. I didn't feel up to heckling her any more. Since I was the one at fault here, I figured I ought to broach a new topic of conversation.
  85. "In any case, you're not here to put me down, are you?"
  87. "Correct. I have not been asked to do any such thing. I wasn't expecting someone like you to be here, after all."
  89. "Could you maybe not try to up and kill someone you weren't expecting?"
  91. Come on... put yourself in my nearly-dead shoes, why don't you?
  93. But anyway, if I was interpreting Kuriyama's answer correctly, didn't that mean that she had been asked to do _something_? She magnificiently ignored my reply and went back to looking through the bookshelves. Was she looking for something in particular? Anyhow, I kept the conversation going.
  95. "Can I ask another question?"
  97. "Go ahead."
  99. "Are you planning to help out the other xenors?"
  101. "Have any other xenors come here?"
  103. Kuriyama looked surprised. Given the confusion on her face, it seemed like she wasn't lying. Jeebus, how can you be so bad at fielding leading questions? I shrugged and mumbled something vauge in response. She looked like she was thinking about something for a while, before she eventually replied.
  105. "Couldn't it just be a coincidence?"
  107. "According to someone in the know, xenors have been coming to this area for a few weeks now. And apparently, they're all here because too many of them responded to someone's solicitation."
  109. She looked at me blankly. I had to double-check with her, though I felt bad about doing so.
  111. "You really don't know anything about that?"
  113. "I wouldn't lie about something like that," she replied, immediately.
  115.  I asked her one last question, using a gentler tone of voice.
  117. "In that case, I have just one last question. Why do you keep following me?"
  119. "There's something interesting about you, Kanbara."
  121. "Interesting? About me?"
  123. My voice cracked. That was the first time a younger girl who looked dashing in glasses had said something like that to me. Well, that phrasing suggests that this was the first time that someone who was a girl; my junior; and _also_ good-looking in glasses had said something like that. That's a bit of a misleading turn of phrase. Allow me to correct myself. That was the first time I had heard something like that from a girl who looked good in glasses, or from a girl who was my junior, or from a girl who was a xenor. Heck, no girl has ever taken an interest in me, as far as I can remember.
  125. Oh bugger, now I'm feeling kind of sad.
  127. "What's wrong, Kanbara?"
  129. "Don't worry, it's nothing. Anyway, what's interesting about me?"
  131. "I thought I already told you... I've never seen an immortal person before."
  133. Ah... she did mention that. I sulked a bit.
  135. "Have you been assaulting me to test if I'm _really_ immortal?"
  137. "Assaulting?"
  139. There was a curious look on her face again. I had to tell her off, even if she did look stunning in glasses. Because, really, I was running out of ways to deal with her.
  141. "Were you assaulting me unconsciously or something?"
  143. "No, I was just testing the familiarity principle," she announced.
  145. She was quite clear about it. I racked my brains in search of that concept.
  147. The familiarity principle.
  149. A psychological phenomenon in which repeated exposure to a thing causes one to develop a more favorable opinion of the thing in question. It applies even if one's first exposure to the thing was disfavorable.
  151. "Why don't you just be _familiar_ with me, then! You sure don't need to assault me for that!"
  153. She cocked her head and looked at me questioningly. Hm. A batchmate who mentally torments me and means to do so, and an underclassman who physically injures me without particularly meaning to do so... what a team. No good can come of that.
  155. I suppose some bad can come of that, though - they've done a hell of a job victimizing me!
  157. Anyway. I came to understand why Kuriyama had been attacking me. It never felt like she was really trying to exterminate me. If she had been using all her formidable strength right from the outset, my head would've been rolling around somewhere or the other. Not that that would kill me either.
  159. "So... you know, maybe it would be better if we just had a mock fight."
  161. Kuriyama looked at me dubiously, as if to say "Pick one already."
  163. "Look, I've got my reasons. If you want to know more about my immortality, you're going to have to work with me here."
  165. "Ah. Okay."
  167. There was one more thing I had to warn her about. Even if I was one-of-a-kind, I wasn't exactly a trust fund kid.
  169. "If you end up damaging my uniform, my ROI on this whole thing isn't going to be all that great. Have you got any sweats on you that you don't want?"
  171. "No, I don't. Can't you just take your uniform off before we start?"
  173. "A guy running around school naked. I like the idea!"
  175. "Why would you have to be naked?"
  177. Okay, granted, I wouldn't have to be.
  179. She looked at me weirdly and tilted her head. I wiped the sweat off my forehead as I tried to figure out how to evade the painful position that evaded me. Though, really, the moment I mentioned nudity, I got the feeling that my fate was sealed.
  181. I know - I'll change the subject.
  183. "Say, Kuriyama, we've been looking for new members for the literature club. Do you want to join?"
  185. "So as to allow us to meet more often?"
  187. "Well, I guess, but the club is basically a watering hole for xenors," I replied, pointing to the club room.
  189.  Everybody in the club had some sort of unique situation. I had been very firm about refusing ordinary people entry into the club, and not just because I didn't want other guys getting close to Mitsuki. Only _mostly_ because. Say, 90% or so.
  191. "Look at it this way - you get more chances to become familiar with me this way. Works out for you, doesn't it?"
  193. "True. But, I don't plan on making any friends."
  195. "But you're okay with me?"
  197. "You treated me normally even after you saw my xenomachics, so yes."
  199. I could've said essentially the same thing to her. Many, many people cease to treat me normally once they learn of my peculiarity. That Kuriyama didn't fear me when she learned that I was immortal must have been because she had been on the receiving end of that sort of treatment before.
  201. Kuriyama knew how frightening it was to be utterly rejected.
  203. As she stood there with her face turned away, her delicate form looked ever so pitiable. Not because she had finally met someone who would understand her. No, it was like she was saying that this was the end for her. What a tragedy.
  205. "Why don't you go ahead and join?" I asked, as buffoonishly as I could. "You can just say I tricked you into it."
  207. "No thank you," she replied immediately. "Like I said, I don't plan on making any friends."
  209. There was an edge to her voice. It was a gloomy, unfriendly edge, one that signified her rejection of all manner of relationships with all other people. I could do nothing but shrug my shoulders and acknowledge her.
  211. "Well, if the mood ever strikes you, feel free to stop by."
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