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Author Topic: Teacup Event #2: Writing Workshop  (Read 8054 times)

Vatina

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Teacup Event #2: Writing Workshop
« on: June 11, 2010, 06:51:59 pm »
--------------
Chapters posted:

Chapter 1
Chapter 2
Chapter 3
Chapter 4
Chapter 5
-

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Welcome to the Writing Workshop! The idea with this is to create a little challenge that can us visual novel creators improve our writing skills.

People will volunteer on writing chapters in a predetermined story. The story will be limited to a certain number of chapters, maybe dependant on the number of participants that sign up.

Writers will be assigned to chapters, and each take turn on writing this story. When chapter 1 is finished and posted, other writers will get a chance to read and comment on this while writer 2 begins the continuation. This will take place in a separate Critics thread, where the purpose is to share ideas and impressions and thereby try to improve each other’s writing abilities. How did he/she handle characters, twists, execution?

Then chapter 2 will be posted for discussion, chapter 3 will begin production and so on until the final chapter that ends the story.

This exercise will not be a competition – writers will not have to try and create the most exciting and mind-bending chapter in order to take the grand prize. It is a cooperation where people try to help each other improve, share ideas and hopefully create something interesting along the way.

So far there are no rules on chapter length, but while having time to discuss finished chapters is necessary and fine, it will also be important that writers do not stall the project for eternity because they write too much/get nothing done. Please only sign up for this if you are committed to writing your chapter and taking part in the critical discussion.

People who are not signed up as writers in this workshop are of course also more than welcome to take part in the critics thread and give their thoughts and opinions on the chapters.

And remember to have fun as well!


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List of Participants:

Chapter 1: Lordcloudx
Chapter 2: Vatina
Chapter 3: MoonlightBomber
Chapter 4: number473
Chapter 5: Hime
Chapter 6: Kikered
*closed*


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« Last Edit: November 09, 2010, 12:04:18 pm by Ruler »

Vatina

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Re: Writing Workshop
« Reply #1 on: June 11, 2010, 06:52:15 pm »
Story Details:

Plot:
Shinji has a problem with the opposite sex. Getting close to girls makes him feel very uncomfortable and physically unwell, and thus the only females he is really able to stay around are his closest family members.

-----------------

Important Characters:

-Shinji Morioka:
Main Character. Has gynophobia which makes it very hard for him to be around girls.

-Natsuko Morioka:
Shinji's little sister. She is an outgoing girl, very diligent student and a good cook.

-Akiko:
Shinji's old childhood friend who left the country when they were children.
« Last Edit: June 11, 2010, 07:17:11 pm by Vatina »

number473

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Re: Writing Workshop
« Reply #2 on: June 11, 2010, 08:24:00 pm »
(I hope that I'm supposed to reply here to sign up)

Sounds like an interesting exercise. I would not mind participating.

Would there be discussion between the writers on the chapter, or do you only have the previous chapters and the information above to draw on?

lordcloudx

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Re: Writing Workshop
« Reply #3 on: June 12, 2010, 06:58:21 am »
@number473: Nice! Is it ok to add you to the list of writers now?

Quote from: number473
Would there be discussion between the writers on the chapter, or do you only have the previous chapters and the information above to draw on?

Yeah, we planned to have discussions for all submitted chapters and for new chapters in the channel. Of course, we'd like to give the writers as much leeway as possible in writing their own chapters so specifics such as the characters' ages and physical attributes aren't clearly specified in the first chapter that I've written.

Vatina

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Re: Writing Workshop
« Reply #4 on: June 12, 2010, 07:06:21 am »
Yes, the idea is that there is a basic premise and then the writers will have free hands to do their thing when their turn is up, based on the chapters that came before them :) Discussion in the channel is of course allowed though if you're stuck on what to do.

Also, I'll put your name on the list ^^
« Last Edit: June 12, 2010, 07:08:54 am by Vatina »

number473

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Re: Writing Workshop
« Reply #5 on: June 13, 2010, 04:58:32 pm »
Also, I'll put your name on the list ^^
Great ^^

Hime

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Re: Writing Workshop
« Reply #6 on: June 13, 2010, 09:21:09 pm »
Improving my writing and helping others to do the same? Count me in, please!

The idea sounds pretty interesting, too. Will we improvise the rest of the story, or will it go in a predetermined course?
A piece of eternal wisdom: "Viking-chan isn't a viking-chan without her beard!"
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Vatina

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Re: Writing Workshop
« Reply #7 on: June 14, 2010, 04:18:08 am »
It will be through improvisation :) So no one really knows how it will end at this point.
Added you to the list!

Guess we are about to have enough people to try this out?

lordcloudx

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Re: Writing Workshop
« Reply #8 on: June 14, 2010, 04:21:20 am »
@Vatina: everyone dies!

I kid, I kid. Anyway, I concur. Let's get this workshop started. More people can always join in later once it's officially started.

Vatina

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Re: Writing Workshop
« Reply #9 on: June 14, 2010, 10:34:05 am »
Goodie, then we'll do that.

Then so far Hime is sitting with the last chapter unless someone else steps in in the near future. I want to note that if Hime isn't keen on writing the last chapter and someone else is dying to, then I'll let the possibility of switching places be open here early on in the project.

So... We'll start with Cloud, who can post the first chapter here! I'll create the discussion topic where future workshop discussions and chapter critiques will take place.

lordcloudx

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Re: Writing Workshop
« Reply #10 on: June 14, 2010, 01:45:12 pm »
Ok then... chapter 1 up.

(names fixed. Thanks, n473)
Pastebin link: http://pastebin.com/hNvwVyHF

Quote
I'm a weird person. The thing is: I'm allergic to girls. No, it's not like I break out with rashes all over my body whenever I'm near the opposite sex. It's just that as far back as I can remember, I've always felt uncomfortable around the opposite sex.

It's not a very pleasant feeling, mind you. Unlike other boys who might feel a bit embarrassed whenever they're around pretty girls, I just get extremely nervous and tense whenever I'm around women in general. I break out in a cold sweat and sometimes it even leads to dizzy spells that last until I'm left alone again – leaving me feeling quite inept. I think they have a technical term for my condition; Gynophobia, was it? Appearances don't really matter to me. They could be young, old, fat, thin … umm... voluptuous? They all have the same effect on me.

I remember back in 1st grade, there was this really pretty girl. Yes, stop looking at me like that. I can find girls to be pretty. It's not like I have this active mental revulsion for them by choice. They just make me feel extremely uncomfortable on a subconscious level. I was a transfer student since we had to move due to my father's company relocating him. It was my first day of class and the teacher made me sit next to her. Don't ask me why, I'm not exactly stud-muffin material, but this girl somehow took an instant liking to me. Oh, don't get me wrong, I'm not exactly ugly, either. Just that I don't think I've ever been particularly attractive. This girl, Akiko, would giggle incessantly whenever I was around. I tried my best not to mind it much at first thinking that she'd leave me alone if ignored her. It didn't work. Soon, she began talking to me regularly about all her little girly activities. It seems that she was from a well-to-do family – the kind that I thought existed only in cartoons. Indoor pools, yachting, horseback-riding, voice lessons – yup, Akiko was rich.

Now I know that you might be berating me for being rude to such a hot catch, so let me reassure you, I did try my best to be responsive to her. Of course, being responsive to girls in my vocabulary means a few nods and some, “Oh, that sounds great,” every now and then. Still, I did try my best; in fact, I'd even go as far as to say that we became good friends. Our classmates even began to notice and started teasing us and calling us a “couple,” she didn't really mind, so who was I to complain? Unfortunately, she had to leave to study abroad just before we entered third grade. There were no tearful goodbyes. After all, it's not like she didn't make me feel uncomfortable, I was just trying to be polite since she wasn't really a person that I could hate despite my condition.

Hey, congratulate me. I even got a framed picture from her before she left.
“To my first boyfriend, Akiko,” is the handwritten text on the picture.
Okay, so maybe my condition isn't as bad as I made it seem. I even had an “ex-girlfriend.” Well, that doesn't change the fact that I constantly had to put up with this feeling of discomfort whenever she was around. It might seem cruel of me, but I'm kinda glad that she left.

Of course, there are a few notable exceptions. My mother is one of them – it would be too abnormal if even she had that effect on me. The other exception is my sister, Natsuko. As far as I know, these two have never triggered my condition and I'm glad for it.

Natsuko is three years younger than me. This year, she'll be entering the same school as me as a junior high student. It might seem strange, but at times, it feels like she'll always be my junior in age, but my senior in life. She's got it all together. Responsible, energetic, cute, and well-liked by almost everybody she meets. Did I say cute? I meant cute in a totally wholesome way, of course. What? Stop looking at me like that!

Anyway, to continue, my sis, Natsuko is more responsible than I'll ever be. She cooks lunch for both of us and her grades are excellent for her year level. Her teachers even recommended her to some top-ranking schools, but she chose to go to the same class as me. It doesn't make me feel insecure, though. I feel a sort of brotherly pride in having such a competent little sister.

I suppose the trouble began that weekend before the new school term officially started. Our parents went out for one reason or another and I found myself on the sofa watching TV while she read her school books in advance. Yes, as I said, she's more responsible than this high-schooler.

The morning went by rather uneventfully. Natsuko made lunch for both of us. (The croquettes were delicious!) I complimented her on her cooking and she took it quite cheerfully.

“Thank you. I'm glad you like it, Shinji nii-chan.”

After lunch, I helped Natsuko wash the dishes and then we each went back to doing our own thing. She chose the dining room table for her reading, so I went back to the sofa to watch TV. A few reruns later, I decided to do some reading myself. I peered into the dining room and saw that she was still diligently making self-study notes for herself, so I decided not to disturb her.

Hmm... that hairstyle really suits her... what am I saying?

I took a book from the shelf next to the TV and returned to the sofa to read. No, it wasn't a school-related text, to be sure. Actually, I just randomly took one out without looking at the title.

I opened the book and found out that it was a reference text for advanced psychology students.... oh well, works for me.

As expected, I didn't really understand most of the text, since it was obviously written for experts and not some random high-school student. One particular write-up did catch my eye though. It was about sibling relationships and how attraction can develop. Basically, sexual attraction between blood-related persons is most likely to develop if the relatives were acquainted with each other at a very young age and then were separated and meet in later life. There were even documented examples and statistical data.

Well, that stuff had nothing to do with me, but it was interesting.

“Ring! Ring!”

“I'll get it, Natsuko. I didn't want to disturb her studies. Besides, it was probably just mom checking up on us.

“Okay. Thanks, onii-chan,” she hollered back.

“Hello, good afternoon! Morioka residence.”

“Hello, dear. Listen, Dad and I will be home late tonight. So you and Natsuko-chan have dinner on your own okay?”

Then she hung up as fast as she'd said that. Well, that's mom for you. Hmm... since we'd be alone all night, an idea suddenly hit me. No, not that kind of idea.

“Hey, sis. Seems like we're having dinner on our own tonight.”

“Oh, okay. Don't worry, I'll handle it.”

I walked into the dining room. She was still busy with her studies. Well, I suppose this would be a good break for her too.

“Natsuko, I was thinking...”

“Hm..?” She looked at me inquisitively.

“Let's go out for dinner tonight.”

Her cheeks instantly flushed red.

“W-what? A...I-um...Shinji nii-chan, what are you saying?”

I blushed as well, when the thought of how I made that sound hit me. Oh man, I can be so insensitive sometimes.

“N-no, it's not like I 'm asking you out or anything like that. I just thought you could use a break since you've been studying all day. I've got some money with me, so I thought we could go out and eat at a nice family restaurant.”

“Ooooh,” she said exaggeratedly, “Hahaha! You scared me for a moment, nii-chan. Sure, let's do that. Just let me finish these notes first, okay?”

“Y-yeah, I 'll go and get ready then so you can use the bath after me.”

“Yup.”

I was glad to let my cares melt away in the bathtub. For the first time, I felt uncomfortable being around my sister and it wasn't like the way I felt around every other member of the female species. That incident just made me realize that she'd been slowly turning into a woman even as I naively stumbled my way into adulthood. I'd always thought of her as my cute little kid sister and I foolishly clung to the naive belief that our relationship would never change that way. But now, I knew that she was slowly but surely turning into a woman.

I love my sister as a brother, and even as our bodies continue to change, I fervently wish that these pure feelings would remain with me forever.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2010, 03:37:55 pm by lordcloudx »

Vatina

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Re: Writing Workshop
« Reply #11 on: June 16, 2010, 10:09:58 am »
Chapter 2:

Quote
Nothing more of notice happened that night. We went to a cosy family restaurant nearby and had dinner, talking and having a good time as always. Being with Natsuko was nice and uncomplicated, like being with a best friend. It was so different from everyone else, especially of the female kind. But that is a matter of course - after all that’s what it’s like to be siblings… right?

After we got home we went to our separate rooms for the night with no more thoughts about the awkward episode earlier that evening. Well, almost none.

I close the door behind me and remember that tomorrow is our new semester. Of course I’m not quite as well-prepared as Natsuko who spent the whole afternoon taking notes, now that I think about it I can’t even remember if we got our new schedule yet.

Annoyed I look around and find my calendar on the shelf. But as I reach up to get it, my hand brushes against a small package that slides off the shelf and falls to the floor.

I pick up the paper bag and take out the contents to see if anything was broken.

“To my first boyfriend, Akiko.”

Those words are scribbled in childish but feminine letters on the bottom of the picture frame in my hands. Oh, so that’s where it was. I stare at the pretty face of the little girl on the picture and am suddenly reminded of the “episode” with Natsuko earlier.

I wonder if Akiko has grown into a woman as well…

A creeping uneasiness comes over me by the mere thought of being near this girl again. No way, that would never turn out well! I pack the picture away again and grab my calendar to continue my business, only to be reminded of all the dreadful things we have to get through this semester.

The next day is school. It’s Natsuko’s first day as a junior, and she was both nervous and energetic all morning. I could spend the entire day as a brother being worried about how my little sister is doing, but I know that I don’t have to. After all she’s way better at these things than I am.

“Hey Shinji, your sister started here today, right?”

One of the other boys in class addresses me.

“Yeah.”

“Awesome, she’s really cute. Having her at the same school is great! You should introduce us.”

“Mind your own business!”

“I already am, hehe.”

Well, this part I could do without.

At lunchtime something else happens. I’m sprawled out on my desk with closed eyes as a prime example of the lazy student, when someone calls out for me again.

“Shinji, your sis is here.”

I look up and notice Natsuko standing in the doorway, waving at me. Huh? Out in the hallway she hands me a box while smiling apologetically.

“What’s this?”

“Your lunchbox.”

“Lunch…?”

“Yeah, well… I took it with me in my bag by accident.”

Natsuko sometimes makes lunch like this. She never forgets to give it to me though, but maybe she was worried about her first day at a new school. I notice a couple of schoolgirls in the hallway looking at us and whispering, and I nervously avert my eyes from them.

“Thanks.”

I take the box, but Natsuko stays standing there.

“Um…”

“Yes?”

“Well, I don’t have a lot of friends here yet, so I thought we could eat lunch together? You know, to celebrate. We’re at the same place now anyway.”

I accidentally glance at the girls again and see one of them raising her eyebrows while smiling knowingly. Come on, what’s up with that? Move on already.

“Sure… there’s not a lot of time left though.”

“Oh… yeah. I had a hard time finding your classroom.”

Natsuko is fidgeting. This is surprising as I usually don’t see her acting like that. It’s kind of cute though.

“Alright, let’s go then.”

“Okay!”

As we leave the hallway behind I’m sure I heard giggling somewhere behind me. For some reason that made me feel strangely uncomfortable about the whole thing, and I suggested to Natsuko that we go somewhere else than the cafeteria. She obediently agreed as if she never wanted anything else, and we went out to a corner of the courtyard. The rest of our lunchbreak passed without incident, and we parted ways at the entrance. Natsuko smiled her usual, wide smile and waved as she headed back to her own class.

“……”

“What are you looking at?”

My goofy, laidback classmate comes out and talks to me again.

“Nothing.”

“Come on, with that blank look on your face you must have been thinking of something good.”

Geez. Still a half day of school life left to trudge through.

MoonlightBomber

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Re: Writing Workshop
« Reply #12 on: June 21, 2010, 07:56:42 am »
And here's chapter 3.

Quote
Little did I know that the first half of the day was just the beginning of something more wonderful, more bizarre.

The rest of the school day was dedicated to the usual lectures that don't register in my head for some reason. I tried my best not to snooze off unlike this morning, or the teacher will fire a chalk to my forehead like that famous (infamous?) 'invincible' sharpshooter. That's because the afternoon teachers are stricter than the morning ones.

At last, one of my most favorite moments of school has arrived. Dismissal. At least because I want to get the feeling of walking home from school with Natsuko.

That goofy dude from my class tapped my shoulder while I was waiting for her at the front gate.

"Gwah!" I turned around and faced him.

"How's it going with your sis?" He then whispered, "Did you make a move on her? Or... WILL YOU?"

"W-What the heck?" I reacted loudly, a prominent blush complementing it. "W-Why would I have a freaking sister complex?!"

"Admit it already, dude. Even in her first day here, you two are closer than lovebirds in a cage! Eeeee!"

"Cut your annoying fangirl squee," I switched to serious mode. "If sis and I are really that close in your eyes, that's because we grew up in a healthy family."

"Heh. But you may never know... that closeness..."

"Shinji nii-chan! SHINJI NII-CHAN!"

No doubt, that cute voice belonged to Natsuko, commanding me to walk home with her.

"Hmph. Gotta dash with her. Later."

And so, Natsuko and I trudged the route home, which is basically the same as the route going to school. The route isn't that long; the reason the walk normally takes 30 minutes for me is that I had to pass through two train tracks. Oh, and one road in the route is a typically busy thoroughfare. This time, I had to teach Natsuko stuff like this.

And when we passed through the busy thoroughfare, I glanced upon a girl dressed in a maid costume. She was advertising the cafe she was working for. But there was an oddity: she spoke a language I'm faintly familiar with.

"Magandang hapon po! Ano po ang bibilhin ninyo, ginoo?" (Good afternoon! What will you buy, sir?)

Yup. It's Filipino, alright. Spoken flawlessly like a native speaker. But why would she speak a language not native to Japan? My mind, scattered as it was, scrambled for an answer.

The girl in the maid costume was an oddity not just because she greeted every potential customer in Filipino. It's because... she looked so familiar. Even with her long, graceful hair straight out of a shampoo commercial, her face... was an invitation for me to the realm of the past.

At least until a hearty hand push from Natsuko stopped my temptation to go to that realm.

"Shinji nii-chan, what are you staring at?"

"Oh... oh, nothing. It's that... she looked so familiar to me... but I can't quite get who she is..."

"Ah! Magandang hapon po, ginoo, binibini! Meron ba kayong bibilhin sa cafe na ito?" (Ah! Good afternoon, sir, miss! Have something to buy in this cafe?)

The maid greeted us with an energy that was natural, not forced, unlike the usual salespersons in big-name stores.

Natsuko noticed a huge cup, striped brown and white and topped with nuts.

"Oh, nii-chan, it's a vanilla and choco fudge parfait topped with cashew nuts! Let's try it!"

"Alright. Let's just pool our remaining money to buy this. Like in that family restaurant, we'll eat together, and... uh..."

The blush was back again in my face.

"Yeah, nii-chan... we still vividly remember that one incident there... you... you held my hand..."

Interestingly, she blushed too.

"Heeey... what are you two doing?"

The maid no longer spoke Filipino, and she released an air of suspicion around us. We were startled.

"O-Oh... uhmm... we'll order that vanilla and choco fudge parfait... please."

"OK. One parfait, coming up!" She pranced through the kitchen, which was unheard of in cafes like this.

We then ate the parfait together. Despite its seemingly low price, it was presumably made with quality ingredients. Delicious, alright.

"Nii-chan... about that incident where you held my hand..."

"Oh, yeah. I think I did it out of impulse. You talked sweetly at that time, and I couldn't help but do that."

"I was surprised when you did that. But... it should be normal for us siblings to hold hands, right?"

In the background, the maid couldn't help but notice us while peeking from a corner. She seemed too concerned.

"Shinji..." was her only whisper.

number473

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Re: Writing Workshop
« Reply #13 on: June 22, 2010, 07:52:06 pm »
Chapter 4:
Quote
“Shinji nii-san, say 'Aaah.'”

I was just about to take the first bite of the sundae when I felt a looming over my left shoulder. “Shinji, you bastard, what are you doing with another girl?”

I snapped my head to look at the girl standing beside me. She was instantly familiar to me. She had grown up well. Tall, very cute, and most of all she had huge... my head spun. A cold sweat burst out on my forehead.

“Shinji nii-san, are you okay?”

“Shinji!”

I collapsed.



Seeing Akiko after all that time, it was just too much. My gynophobia had kicked in severely at being so close to her. I hadn't even been able to enjoy the view.

“Nii-san, here, drink this.” Natsuko handed me some water. “Are you okay, Shinji nii-san?”

“I'm all right,” I took the water. “Where am I?”

“We're in the back of the shop. Mizuko said it was okay to bring you back here.”

“Mizuko?”

She stepped back to reveal Akiko and the maid that had helped us before.

“Are you okay now, Shinji? I'm sorry about before, Natsuko explained everything.” Akiko seemed quite worried, but she was keeping her distance. I guessed that Natsuko had told them about my condition. “This is the Mizuko that I wrote about in my letter, by the way. Do you remember?”

That's where I had seen her before: In a photograph that Akiko had sent me. If I recalled correctly she was the cousin that she had been staying with in the Philippines. She had been learning the language just before she left and I had picked some of it up.

“I've very sorry for assuming,” said Mizuko, “but you looked so lovey-dovey, I was sure you were a couple. I had to let Akiko know.”

“And why did you stop writing me back?”

“We moved as well, though not too far, and I guess the mail got messed up so that I didn't get your letters.”

“But I still would've gotten yours with your new address.”

“Ah, I guess when I wasn't getting your letters I thought you had lost interest and moved on with your life.”

“Oh, that's awful. I thought that you had lost interest,” she looked horrified at the idea. “And  I thought that now you have another girlfriend. And all the time we've been apart I've only been thinking of you!” She burst into tears.

The truth of the matter is that I had been getting her letters even up until a few months ago. Seeing her crying like that made me feel quite bad about not writing back to her, and about lying about moving. Thankfully Natsuko didn't give me away.

As Mizuko comforted Akiko, Natsuko whispered to me, “Shinji nii-san, who are these girls?”

“Akiko is a girl that I sat next to in first grade. But she moved away to the Philippines to stay with Mizuko, who is her cousin.”

“Ah, the girlfriend from the photo... eep!”

“How did you know about that?” I kept the photo carefully hidden in my room and had never shown it to anyone.

“I... shouldn't you say something to comfort her, though? She looks like she's taking it quite bad.”

I did want to. I'm not a heartless bastard after all. But with my condition I really couldn't get close to her. No matter how much I wanted to comfort her.

“Akiko, I'm really sorry for all this.”

She wiped away a tear, “No, I didn't know. All the time I really liked you and you were suffering. I'm so sorry for not knowing. My presence has only been troublesome to you.”

“It's not like that at all...”

“Is it like in that manga, then?” Mizuko cut in. “Do you break out in hives and all that?”

I certainly hoped that it wasn't. That fellow class member of mine would have to level up quite a bit for us to get to that situation. “It's not like that at all. I just freeze up, and sometimes I faint like today. Because Akiko gave me too much of a shock.”

“Don't tease Shinji nii-san about it, it's a serious condition.”

“This was not at all what I was expecting for our reunion.” Akiko burst into tears again and Mizuko patted her gently on the head.

“Never mind that, your 'serious condition' is hurting Akiko. She turned down over twenty guys for you.”

“Shinji nii-san never asked her to. She was just acting out of her own ideas and never even asked Shinji nii-san whether he felt the same way or not.” I couldn't help wondering how Natsuko knew so much about what had happened. I must have underestimated how sharp she really was.

“He never said anything to me. I thought he felt the same way. We were supposed to be together forever!”

“You were wrong, you just sat next to each other in class. He felt nothing more for you than for any other classmate, right Shinji nii-san?”

“I...”

“Right. I think we should get going now.” She took my hand quite firmly and helped me up, quickly leading me out of the shop.

As we went, I turned back to look at Akiko. She had her head on Mizuko's shoulder, but Mizuko was looking straight at me. The look in her eyes, it wasn't friendly.
« Last Edit: June 23, 2010, 08:26:49 pm by number473 »

Hime

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Re: Writing Workshop
« Reply #14 on: June 29, 2010, 09:25:45 pm »
Chapter 5:
Quote
The setting sun lingered above the sea, colouring the street to home orange. But even as we walked surrounded by this romantic scenery, the anger in Mizuko's eyes from 10 minutes ago was all I could really see.

Gago ka pala eh.” (You're a jerk, aren't you?)

I could recall her mumble such words as we walked out from the maid cafe. Even if I had no idea of the actual meaning of the words, her tone of voice told me more than enough.

Natsuko had been walking a few steps ahead of me all the time. I could tell she was trying to be considerate, but to be honest, it just made me feel all the more pitiful... why did she have to defend me there? I should be an adult, so I can't feel proud about my little sister defending me in a lover's quarrel, or something remotely reminiscent of one.

”Say, Natsuko...”

”Yes, nii-chan?”

She turned to look at me.

”Isn't it a bit helpless to have your little sister defend you in a situation like that?”

”Ahaha, no... I knew Shinji nii-chan needed it, so it's okay”, she answered without the slightest hint of her usual cheefulness.

I could tell she was nervous.

”But I had no reason to involve you. The whole thing was my fault, right?”

”It's not like you decided to have this condition, nii-chan, you're being too hard on yourself...”

Whatever lame excuses I might have, I can't help but recall the negative emotions I have caused. I should have either spoken up for myself or taken responsibility of Akiko's heartbreak. Even though I was young back when we dated, I had full awareness of my actions. I acknowledged I played with her feelings, and today's hassle is what I should have expected as the consenquences.

Yet, Natsuko... she really tried her best to make me seem innocent. Even as my sister, nothing obliged her to take part in the drama. Looking back, it would have been more just of her not to let me get away with this. Yet, she not only defended me, but did thus with vigour.

”...I feel so guilty about it. I always hurt others because of my 'condition'. Don't you think those people should have the right to be harsh to me?”

She shook her head and turned to the sea.

”It's not like that, Shinji nii-chan...”

I couldn't see her face, but her voice was gentle.

”Can't you allow me to be a bit selfish like this, every once in a while?”

”What?”

”The girl... Akiko... really grieved, didn't she. With grades like mine, I'm not so dumb I wouldn't see that, of course. It might be that if you asked the average person, they would say she should demand justice.”

Her words were enveloped in a grave tone I had never heard her use before.

”But I'm not the average person, Shinji nii-chan. I'm your sister. Am I not allowed to act just as I wish, even if it isn't the right thing to do, just once or twice?”

Right then, I caught a glimpse of something far more complicated than I'd expected in my little sister's heart.

”But why would you want to do something like that?”

”It's a secret. There are things I can't tell, even if it's you, nii-chan”, she said, forcing a smile as she glanced at me.

”Huh?”

”In this world, there is a kind of magic that might fade away if someone sees it. I don't want that magic to disappear, so I have to keep a couple of secrets.”

Dumbstruck at the melancholic look Natsuko gave me, I could no longer go on wallowing in self-pity.

Maybe she was right. That day, I had been shown a scary side of my sweet little sister – a side that would defend her nii-chan fervently and keep things from him – but I would need to suppress curiosity if I wished for our peaceful everyday existence to continue without interruptions.

”So, let's go, nii-chan! We want to get home in time for dinner, right?”

After saying that, she was back to her usual self without giving me any real answers. But if the magic truly existed... I wasn't sure whether I wanted to know her reasons anymore.

(Thanks to cloudy giving me the Tagalog phrase and it's translation.)
A piece of eternal wisdom: "Viking-chan isn't a viking-chan without her beard!"
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