Träumerei by Schumann

                     

When she woke up, it was around eleven in the morning, but she didn’t open her eyes right away. She could hear the bird chirping, the wind caressing her face and the sun heating her cheeks. It was a marvellous feeling, and she wanted it to last a little longer before she would open her eyes and start seeking for food in the wild, thick forest. It took her a moment before she realized that she was laid down neither on grass nor on rock. She opened her eyes and saw the sky…through the wide open fanlight. With the also opened window, there was a draft in her room, which explained the feeling of wind on her face. “Right, I came back, yesterday…” she said to herself while sitting on the bed.

It might be almost noon to the rest of Japan; it still was morning to her. So, after a shower and a light breakfast, she went out for her daily jogging. She had decided to run all around the beautiful villa’s lake, to take advantage of this bright, fair day. She stopped by the middle of her course to do her usual fifty abdominals exercises, and to shout her favourite tongue-twisters at the shiny lake before running again the other half of the lake around. She needed another shower when she came back to the mansion, by one o’clock. The lunch was ready; she was the only one missing. Mrs Sakura and her husband were really impressed, and to let her wash and change herself before eating.

“Why do you have to do so much of exercises?” She asked while serving her some rice. Maya laughed and thanked her. “I need this strength to be able to act well.” Mr Sakura was very surprised to hear that. He didn’t know that actresses had to be that sportive to act well. Maya smiled and at with a lot of appetite. By the end of the lunch, Mr Sakura talked again: “So, what are you planning to do this afternoon?” Maya put her chopsticks down, and pondered that question a minute during. “I don’t know, actually. I don’t feel like practicing my character inside the house, but I’m a little scared to go back in the wood, so, I think I will just relax a little.” When the old woman asked Maya what she was afraid of, she eluded. The gaze of the wolf was still in her mind, she couldn’t get it off. Those intelligent, bright, protruding yellow eyes that were piercing her very soul mercilessly: yes, she could remember them very well. She definitely didn’t want to go back in those woods. After all, she got what she needed. Now she should just relax. Soon this night would be nothing but a dark, frightening, but blurred memory.

And she quickly found the object of her occupation for the afternoon. The upright piano was still there, and this time she had no objection against spending a little time trying to remember the tune she learned with Sakurakoji for the role of Beth. She laid her fingertips on the keyboard and began to play.  The lyrics came naturally as she played. “I see the grass blooming with pretty colours. So many varieties, what a fragrance! Ah, I don’t remember what’s coming next.

She stopped. So many good memories were coming back. She could remember the lessons with Sakurakoji very well. By this time she had a crush on him. She laughed freely. This time seemed so far away now. Now Sakurakoji had a girlfriend, the cute Mai, and was a well known actor. And she was a pretty recognized actress too, dating a man who started to take care of her since this very play. “Little Women” She smiled with nostalgia.

One would say that the Crimson Goddess would be her ultimate goal as an actress, but this play, Little Women, was definitely the one that decided of her future. It made her overcome herself. It made her get closer to Sakurakoji. It made her play in front of a real public for the first time. It made Tsukikage Sensei entrust her bigger parts. It made her earn her place in the Tsukikage Company and most of all; it made her meet Mr. Purple Rose. This play would always have a particular place in her heart.

“Wait a minute. Did I just think I was dating Mr. Kirino?” She said out loud to herself, interrupting her daydreaming suddenly. She grabbed her hair. That was the big question. “Am I dating him? Li-like a b-bo-boyfriend dating?” She never thought of it this way. Yes, no, maybe she did, once. But she wasn’t taking it seriously then. She tried to go over all that happened between them in her mind.

First, he was just a fan: her first, beloved fan. Then things changed. He hugged her when she was blindfolded, and carried her in his arm to lie her down on a couch. That wasn’t something you do just because you like someone’s work. To her, he had always been more than just a fan. Someone watching over her, rewarding her, taking care of her, giving her hope: she was more thinking about him as a god then.

Then, their relationship completely changed when he revealed himself to her. Then, who was she to him? How was he considering her? They got the habitude of seeing each other at the Lonlon, then at his own place. God, she even slept one night in his apartment! She couldn’t count how many times she had eaten dinner or lunch – or breakfast! – With him. She took showers in his bathroom after the rehearsals! He kissed her on the head, and hugged her just last week! Was she…was he…And anyway how was she feeling about him?

She pondered this question a moment during, and couldn’t end up with a satisfying answer. All she knew was that she was finding him handsome and sweet…and caring and…that he was probably the person that knew her the best in the world, and that he was the only one who never abandoned her. She was grateful to him, and she was feeling at ease around him.

But, he was also from a good and rich family, his wealth was ridiculous and…she felt that being with him wouldn’t be fair. It wouldn’t be equal, because no matter what she would do, she would always be the one being given gifts, and him the one giving them. There was nothing she could do for him in exchange. Now she might be agreeable to him, but it wouldn’t last. Sooner or later he would see what a parasite she is to him. No, it wouldn’t be right to date him. She felt her throat go dry and her heart sank. She could be his protégée, but not his girlfriend. She blinked to erase the tears that blurred her sight. She shouldn’t be sad. It was the best thing to do, if she wanted her relationship with Kirino Takumi to last long. Yes, she should see it that way. She took a deep breath and reported her attention back to the piano.

On the piano was a thing red book that grabbed her attention. She took it. On the cover, the name “Schumann” was written with golden letters. She absolutely didn’t know who that person was, so she opened the book and saw that it was only made of sheet music for piano. Schumann must be a musician, she thought. She noticed a bookmark in the middle of it. It leaded to a song named Träumerei. She was surprised to see that the bookmark looked a lot like the one she made herself, white with petals of purple rose on it. A bittersweet tenderness made her smile. The only thing she didn’t know was how he found out that she made a bookmark almost exactly the same. Maybe it was just coincidence.. Anyway, this song, Träumerei, had now all her attention. It might be his favourite, if he bookmarked it. She put it on the board and tried to play it. It took her almost one hour to be able to play the fist phrase without failing. It was slow and awkward, but after a little of practice it looked like…

Maya suddenly stopped to play. She knew this song. She heard it before, but when? She couldn’t tell. But she was sure; she had this feeling, this déjà-vu: she has heard this tune before. She tried to play it, again and again and each time the feeling was there. But she couldn’t see when and where she heard it. It troubled her. She tried to remember when Takumi played it to her, but she ended up even more lost. Because she couldn’t remember Takumi playing it : she went through all the days she spent near to him, and not once, she was positive on it, not once she heard him play that song. Yet, she knew she heard it before, somewhere. She spent the rest of the day on the piano, trying to remember. In vain. She decided to give up: she would ask Mr. Kirino to play it for her some day. Played by someone else, someone that perfectly knew the song, it would certainly be easier to remember. She went to bed early, to escape from her frustration.

*

She slept well and a lot, which was a good sign. She woke up at six at the morning, and after a shower and a light breakfast, she did all her exercises with a great energy inside of her. She did twice more of abdominals exercises and ran around the lake twice instead of once. She also repeated in her head all the scenes of the play, practicing her facial expressions and body poses. She also made a third tour of the lake, as Jane. She came home by eleven and needed a second shower. She was sure that her Jane was perfect. Nothing was wrong, she had the right way of howling, the right way of sleeping, of walking, of running, of jumping; the right expressions on her face, and the wildness. She was ready, completely ready to fight for the Award. Now she had to adjust her acting with the others, but this, she couldn’t practice it alone.

When she walked down the stairs for lunch, she was surprised to see that someone was waiting for her: someone other than Mr. and Mrs Sakura. A large grin lightened her face as she shouted “Takumi-san!” She hurtled down the flight of steps, her heart trying to fly out of her chest. “Welcome home!” She was so glad to see him at last! She hadn’t expected him to come this soon; it was a so agreeable surprise. She was only six feet far from him when she suddenly remembered what happened the last time they were that close – the last time they saw each other actually – and froze.

She didn’t immediately realize that a scared expression was also printed on her face, so Hijiri got more than enough of time to see it. This reaction provoked a cold shower to both of them. To Maya, it was more the reminding of all the bad feelings she had when he hugged her, and the long questioning about their relationship that was embarrassing her, but Hijiri simply didn’t understand why she suddenly stopped herself from getting closer to him. Was she scared of him, or what? This was ridiculous. Anyway, he had to bring some consistent subject of discussion to make this awkwardness disappear.

“I came here because I wanted to be sure you was now out of the woods.” He said with a smile. “And if you were still in there, it might have been difficult and long to me to find you, and I didn’t want you to be late, so…here I am.”  Hijiri was pretty proud of his lie. The fact was he just couldn’t tell her that he was so eager and desperate to see her that he couldn’t wait any longer. First of all, it would have sounded utterly pathetic, and secondly he himself wasn’t ready to fully admit it.

“Thank you, Takumi-san.” She answered, blushing with absolutely no reason.

“So, did you achieve what she came here for?” He asked, truly worried about her success. Maya’s eyes lightened and she smiled shyly, nodding. Hijiri smiled softly to her “I’m glad you did.” He said. Now you have a chance to win the Award. Well done, Maya. “Now that I see that you are ready, do you want to come home?”

“That is not a good idea.” Mrs. Sakura interrupted, her wood spoon on her hand. “You are not going to set off with an empty stomach, young lady. Neither do you, Mister Kirino.” Whereupon, headed she to the dinning room with energy. Maya glanced at Hijiri, who looked as confuse as she was, wondering if they should just obey like docile children, when they heard the old women shouting “Hurry up! It’s getting cold every minute.”

*

Maya and Hijiri were sat beside each other, eating silently. For a moment, the only thing one could hear in the dinning room was the jingling of the stainless steel chopsticks on the china bowls. “Do you like it?” Hijiri asked her to start talking about something, but Maya said yes with an awkward nod and things became silent again. Hijiri couldn’t stop glancing at Maya between every sips of miso soup. Something was wrong. She wasn’t relaxed, which she usually was when she was around him. And what’s with this weird greeting?

To end the heavy silence, one of the caretakers asked “When is it that you have to play your part?”

Relieved, Maya hurried to answer “Five days from now.” The caretaker nodded and asked her is she was ready. “I feel ready.” She said with delight, happy to be finally able of sharing her wonderful feeling with other. Her gaze relied on the Sakura, to avoid Takumi’s constant and intense look.  “Actually I’ve never felt this way before. I’m extremely confident in my Jane. She is perfect. I don’t see how this play could go wrong!”

Mr Sakura  stammered that he was glad to hear that, taken aback by the sudden intensity in the young woman’s stare. Hijiri chuckled softly. Yes, that could be pretty disturbing the first time, he knew it by experience. He clearly remembered the day he ‘revealed’ himself to Maya, the stare that she blessed him with was simply…mesmerizing. He looked at her and sighed, completely unaware of the little smile that slipped into his face.

After the meal, they went up to Maya’s room to pack her suitcase. Hijiri, while taking down the clothes from the dryer, noticed a pair of blue jeans with holes on the knees and torn near the ankle. A blouse was also in quite the same kind of state. Looking at them, Hijiri imagined the troubles she got herself into when she was wandering in the wood, and his heart ached with worry. Was she even aware that she endangered her life? Didn’t it matter to her that she might die practicing?

Seeking for details, he asked, trying to be casual: “Why didn’t you throw those away instead of washing them?” Maya grabbed the clothed to put them in her suitcase with the others, still avoiding Takumi’s gaze. She stammered, trying to be informal too “Are you crazy? This—those can be repaired.” Hijiri looked at her, doubtful, an eyebrow rose “Can you sue?” Maya laughed nervously “Of course I can…what do you think…or at least I can ask Rei for help.” Hijiri chuckled I see...

Oh, that’s just not right! Maya thought. She couldn’t control herself. Her body and her voice were shaking, she was utterly nervous. She shouldn’t have questioned herself about the nature of their relationship, now she was reading things where she shouldn’t. Why couldn’t she just be relaxed like she used to be? If only she could make her heart stop beating this hard and fast, because right now this stupid race wasn’t helping at all. She took a deep breath. Then Takumi chuckled, and she felt she was being mocked, and it was really not the right time, so she faced him and barked “What is it that’s so funny?!”

Taken aback by her sudden aggressiveness, Hijiri hurried to say is was nothing; you would do better to just trash those used clothes and buy new ones, that’s all. He became even more shocked to see that this sentence caused a rush of angry tears in her eyes. “Well, you might afford to do such things, but I don’t !” she cried.

Almost immediately after that a horrified expression took printed on her face as she put her hand on her mouth. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to scream.” Ashamed, she looked down.

Something was definitely wrong with her. Hijiri couldn’t wait any longer for her to explain her behaviour by herself, he had to ask. He took a long, supposedly relaxing deep breath and said: “Maya, we need to talk.”

No. Not already. Maya felt she was about to burst into tears. Did he realize that she would be nothing but a burden to him? Was he regretting having took care of her for so long? Was he going to put an end to this? Shaking, she heard herself asking cowardly: “Couldn’t it wait until we go in the car? The caretakers can come at any minute to check on us.” Takumi looked deeply in her eyes for a minute, and then nodded slowly.

They finished packing up Maya’s things, and then they went downstairs, Maya carrying the suitcase. Hijiri had offered to do it but she seemed to want no help. They thanked Mr. and Mrs Sakura with a fake joy on their face, both their mind worried about the soon coming discussion in the car. Maya took all her time to put the luggage in the trunk and it’s breathless that she sat on the seat, near to Hijiri. This last one, once inside, turned his look at her.

“So, here we are: in the car.” He simply said.

Maya started to twist her hands, looking more nervous every minute, and seeing that made Hijiri even more worried. Something was seriously wrong, but what could it be. Fear began to take hold of his stomach. Could it be that the caretakers told her the truth? He swallowed with some difficulty and waited for Maya to say something. Which she did, and what she said tortured him even more.

“Maybe you should...start driving.”

She wanted him not to look at her when she would talk. Definitely not a good sign. Hijiri started to prepare his future speech. While pondering about which part of his scandalous betrayal he should apologise first, he switched on the ignition and stepped on the accelerator. He let one full minute pass. Then he glanced at Maya – still focused on her hands and said: “Maya are you okay?”

“I’m not sure,” Was her only answer.

Hijiri felt that his heart was about to explode. “Why?”

“Because,” she said with a sad, husky voice that made his stomach’s node even tighter, “You are going to tell me you don’t to see me again.”

She actually said it as if it was a question, and the node went loose at last. Even if what she just said didn’t have the slightest sense, he was still relieved that she wasn’t angry against him. But then he finally had to deal with this absurdity. He was almost laughing when he said: “You think I’m going to break up with you?” She was so illogical sometimes.

Maya blushed. “I didn’t say ‘break up’, and it’s not funny.”

Yes it is. “Why, on earth would you think that?” He was really about to burst into laughing now, this was bad.

“You said ‘we need to talk’, and stop mocking me!” She said angrily.

“I’m not mocking you! But...but Maya!” he laughed. “I—I don’t want to stop seeing you! Actually I would rather like to see you oftener. I can’t even imagine spending just one week without seeing you at least twice! Why do you think I came back this early?”

He glanced at Maya, and saw to wide open brown eyes staring at his with shock. “Wha—“ He break off, turning pale while realising with horror that he didn’t just think those last sentences, but actually said them out loud. And obviously Maya didn’t lose a word of it. He focused his attention on the road as he cleared his throat.

“What I’m trying to say is...you were wrong to think that.” Maya just nodded, still stunned by the sudden and unexpected confession. “But you know” Hijiri went on, concentrating very hard not to park the car and run away screaming, “You were already...strange, toward me. I mean: before I said that we needed to talk. Like the way you greeted me.”

“Well,” she said after a hesitation “I was a little confuse...due to what happened five days ago. You...you hugged me, and I didn’t know what to think about it.” She waited for his response, which didn’t come, so she went on “I was...glad” she admitted, eluding the doubt part on purpose. “But...I think we shouldn’t...I mean it looked more than friendly.”

She stopped talking, and expected a long and awkward silence before getting an answer, but Takumi went frankly: “I agree. I hugged you, and it was more than friendly.” He admitted, still looking at the road straight in front of him, and Maya felt her heart beat wildly, but remained sad, in the mean time. Takumi went on “But what do you mean by ‘we shouldn’t’?”

Tears rushed in her eyes, but she had to say it. “I don’t want to become your girlfriend.”

Hijiri thought he just had been daggered in the heart. That was straight. Painfully, dreadfully straight. He clenched his teeth “Why?” he asked, while certain that the respond would torture him more.

“I...I have nothing to offer in exchange.”

“Excuse me?”

Maya fought her tears, but after everything he did for her, he deserved the truth. So, she forced herself saying it. She looked at her hands again “You are so, rich. And I have nothing. It wouldn’t be fair, and I don’t want to be a parasite.” She had say that really fast, to be unable to stop herself. Then she took a deep breath and went on “But...I’m grateful to you, after all you’ve done, all those years, ant I—I like you, very much, and I don’t want to lose you.”

“I’m...not sure I’m following you,” Hijiri answered, his mind blurred by the addition of the pain of the first refusal and the pleasure he got when the last sentence came out of her mouth, “You don’t want to be with me...because you are poor?”

“Yes.”

“This is ridiculous. Maya you can’t think that. There must be another reason.”

“There isn’t.”

“Really?” He asked with hope, glancing at her. She was staring at him. He reported his gaze on the road “Then I officially declare that I don’t care. You have talent, I have wealth: we are equal.”

“You have musical ear.” She disagreed.

“You have friends.” He pointed out.

“You have a real full-time job.” She said.

“You have curtain calls.” observed

“You have strength.” She replied, stubborn

“You have agility” He noticed.

“You have beauty” She admitted.

“You have it too.” He said to her astonishment. But Maya wasn’t going to give up like that.

“You have patience.” She exclaimed. Takumi turned his eyes toward her.

“I love you.”

She had nothing to say against that. This last sentence was reverberating in their head with echoes. Hijiri had to tear his look away from her widened eyes to look at the road. To Hijiri, it was the first time that he was actually formulating the sentence. Not once, even in thought, he admitted his feelings for Maya. Because of Masumi, and because of all those lies around this relationship, even if deep inside, he always knew. Finally, he smiled. “Give up.” He said. “You can’t beat this one.”