III. New Year’s Bells, Three Years Later

(piano performance ends. Audience cheers and applauds.)
(New Year’s bell chimes.)
Youko:              Now, let’s drink to this concert’s unprecedented, never-to-be-seen-again success.
Kazusa:            …
Youko:              Oh, of course. It was unprecedented, but not never-to-be-seen-again, right? (in the style of a next-episode preview announcement:) “Our battle is only just beginning.” (bell chimes.) “Please look forward to Youko Touma-sensei’s next public performance!”
Kazusa:            (scoffs)
Youko:              Well, everyone, do you all have your sake cups ready?

(7:00)

(Kazusa picks up bottle, pours sake.)
Kazusa:            …Selling your own daughter…
Youko:              (childish voice) Oh? What was that? I can’t hear you.
(glasses clink.)
Kazusa:            (sighs)
(bell chimes.)
Youko:              Well, supposing you could outplay me, the way I played today…
Kazusa:            I know. (sets bottle down.) Cheers.
Youko:              What, did you think there was a double meaning there? I was just trying to be sensitive. Cheers!
Kazusa:            Cripes…
(their classes clink. Youko gulps her sake.)
Youko:              Mm, mm… phew! (she sets her cup down.) A drink right after a concert is always the best! (bell chimes.) And with my daughter pouring it, too. I am just lousy with maternal good fortune.
Kazusa:            I’ll still pour it without you forcing every step of the way. (she picks up the bottle.) Here.
(Youko giggles; Kazusa pours more sake.)
Youko:              So, let me say again… (Kazusa sets the bottle down.) Happy New Year. Thank you for all you’ve done for me in the past year. Let us hope this year is a good one, too.
Kazusa:            Yeah, all right.
(glasses clink. Bell chimes.)

(8:00)

Youko:              Come on, Kazusa, bottoms up. Chug it down.
Kazusa:            You’re so annoying. I’m gonna drink at my own pace, so let me be.
Youko:              What is with you? You’re turning down this one small request from your mother, after all this time? The one who suffered through the pain of giving birth to you?
Kazusa:            I never asked for that.
Youko:              I don’t know if you were aware… But after the contractions started, you didn’t come out for a whole day! I thought about giving up any number of times, there on that hospital bed…!
(bell chimes.)
Kazusa:            Why would I know that?
Youko:              And now, this second-rank trustee has become someone who battles the whole world…
Kazusa:            (sets glass down.) I’m nowhere near that point yet.
Youko:              That’s true. You have far to go. I was the winner, after all.
Kazusa:            Ugh…
Youko:              Here.
(Youko picks up the bottle and pours sake for Kazusa.)
Youko:              Come on. Drink up, drink up.
(bell chimes.)
Kazusa:            Just you wait. In five years—no, three years—I will surpass you.

(9:00)

(she drinks.)
Youko:              Ooh, now that’s the way to drink. Here, more, more!
(she pours more.)
Kazusa:            Yours is empty, too. Here.
(Kazusa pours for her.)
Youko:              Well, as long as Youko Touma-sama, genius pianist, continues to reign, there will be no plugging the twenty-year gap in our careers. (bell chimes.) Come back in twenty years.
Kazusa:            Shut it, aged one. If you want me to take care of you when you’re old, you’d better leave off there.
Youko:              What are you talking about? I’ll be going strong all the way to a hundred. When you die of old age, I’ll be there attending you, so be at peace.
Kazusa:            (mutters) You really always have to have some kind of comeback.
(bell chimes.)

Kazusa:            …
Youko:              …
Kazusa:            What time is it?
Youko:              Ummm… two in the morning.

(10:00)

Kazusa:            Shouldn’t we go to bed? You must be tired, right? After an intense performance like that.
Youko:              Now, who was it that said we should drink until morning? Honestly, for someone so young, you’ve got no endurance. At this rate, you’ll never hold a candle to me.
Kazusa:            I’m just being considerate because you seem sleepy. Well, fine. I’ll stick with you until you collapse.
Youko:              So, the tables have turned.
(she pours.)
Kazusa:            You’re prattling.
(glasses clink. she gulps it down.)
Kazusa:            Here, I’m still going.
Youko:              Mm-hm. (she sets her glass down.) Say, Kazusa.
Kazusa:            What? Surrendering after all?
Youko:              Haven’t you ever… thought that you might want to return to Japan?
(pause. Kazusa sets her glass down.)
Kazusa:            …Never. Not in the slightest.

(11:00)

Youko:              Hm. Putting the time lag aside, why?
Kazusa:            The water over there suits me better. And Europe is unquestionably the place for me to polish up my true ability.
Youko:              You haven’t forgotten anything here? You really have everything put in order?
Kazusa:            I told you before. This country is…
Youko:              …not the place where you belong. Yes, you told me that, but I don’t hear you saying you don’t have any lingering attachments or regrets.
Kazusa:            …
Youko:              All you’ve done for the past three years is play piano. That is genuinely all you’ve done.
Kazusa:            It’s the path I chose.
Youko:              In the past three years, you haven’t come into contact with anyone besides me. You may not be as hostile to the world as you were a long time ago, but you’ve still continued to reject others.
Kazusa:            Associating with people is tiresome. That’s all.

(12:00)

Youko:              Thinking constantly of just one man, apologizing constantly to just one woman…
Kazusa:            No, I’m not!
Youko:              That’s the same denial you gave three years ago. You’ve as good as let the cat out of the bag.
Kazusa:            …
Youko:              Why don’t you call him? At this time, you might be able to see him within the hour.
Kazusa:            I got rid of his number ages ago.
Youko:              If you want, I’m perfectly willing to look him up for you. He must at least have an address.
Kazusa:            No, thanks. That’s all in the past.
(pause.)
Youko:              Did you love him? Guitar-kun?
Kazusa:            Why are you asking me that now?
Youko:              You have memories with him?
Kazusa:            …Yes. Because of that, I hurt both of them.
Youko:              Are you really satisfied with that? Can you really say that there’s nothing more you need?
Kazusa:            What’s that supposed to mean?
Youko:              The truth is, you wish you had more of a keepsake, don’t you?

(13:00)

Kazusa:            A keepsake…?
Youko:              A keepsake, or… a memento, perhaps?
Kazusa:            (flustered) I-I’m not like you, Mom!
Youko:              That’s simply a matter of hindsight, isn’t it? Have you never really thought that you wanted to have one of his children?
Kazusa:            …
Youko:              I’m taking your silence as a “yes.”
Kazusa:            Argh! Shut up!
Youko:              If you don’t deny it, I’m taking it as an affirmation.
Kazusa:            That’s not what you said before. Stop changing the rules like that. It’s unfair.
Youko:              If you don’t deny it… I will take it as an affirmation.
Kazusa:            (whispers, losing steam.) Stop…
Youko:              This is your last chance. (speaking slowly and deliberately:) If you… don’t deny it… I will take it… as an affirmation.
Kazusa:            …

(14:00)

Youko:              Listen to that. You really are my daughter. So immature that you can’t stand on your own, and yet, you have perfectly inherited that trait. An eternal maiden.
Kazusa:            Sh-shut up!
Youko:              You hoard everything away like that, and yet you’re so stubborn, so presentation alone is what you have in abundance. Thanks to that, you keep extending yourself more and more.
Kazusa:            (starting to get emotional) Stop teasing me. I’m… I’m hopeless. I’ve gone wrong as a person.
Youko:              But you haven’t gone wrong as an artist. At least use the piano to clear up that pent-up frustration.
Kazusa:            Just like that… constantly, constantly picking on your child… This is abuse.
Youko:              Well, you may be my daughter, but you’re still adorable.
Kazusa:            (voice shaking) Stupid.
Youko:              (beckoning her over) Come here, Kazusa. You can cry it all out in your mother’s arms.

(15:00)

Kazusa:            (starting to cry) Wh-why would I do something so childish?
Youko:              What are you talking about? (she pulls Kazusa into her arms.) However much time may pass, you’ll still be a child. To me, at least.
(Kazusa begins sobbing.)

(bell chimes. The sounds of a crowd.)
Setsuna:          Kazusa! Over here, over here!
(Kazusa walks along, muttering to herself.)
Kazusa:            Ugh. My feet hurt because they keep getting stepped on. This crowd is exhausting. I’m worn out on not being able to get anywhere. This is exactly why I said I didn’t want to do this overnight shrine visit.

(16:00)

Setsuna:          Your road of trials has finally ended! You’ve earned your rest!
Kazusa:            Forget about my rest. Setsuna… where’s your boyfriend?
Setsuna:          Ah… ahaha. Looks like I’ve lost him…
Kazusa:            (mutters)…What an absolute pain.
Setsuna:          It’s fine! If I can get through to his phone, we’ll be able to meet back up right away. For now, let’s wait around here.
Kazusa:            (shivering) It’s cold out. Can’t we go into a diner somewhere?
Setsuna:          We can do that once we meet up. It’s winter, after all! Of course it’s cold.
Kazusa:            I’m not a snow child like you, Setsuna.
Setsuna:          Just look! There are so many people here visiting the shrine. Watching a happy, lively scene like this will make you forget all about the cold.
Kazusa:            (sighs) Good grief. You never back down once you’ve set your mind like this, do you, Setsuna?
Setsuna:          I guess you’re right. (giggles)
(Kazusa sighs again.)
Setsuna:          …
Kazusa:            …

(17:00)

Setsuna:          Say, Kazusa…
Kazusa:            Hm?
Setsuna:          What kind of wish did you make?
Kazusa:            Isn’t it common courtesy for the person asking that question to say theirs first?
Setsuna:          Oh, right… Sorry. Well, I—
Kazusa:            I’m kidding. It’s fine. I know what you wished for without even asking.
Setsuna:          Huh?
Kazusa:            The same as always, right? For the three of us to keep on forever.
Setsuna:          Kazusa…
Kazusa:            I know, I know. Don’t worry, I’ll make sure your wish is granted. Kitahara and I both. So you don’t have to wish that frantically. (whispering to herself:) If I can just… do that, then it will come true.

(18:00)

Setsuna:          Um, Kazusa… Of course, that’s a very important wish as well, but… Today, I just wished for what I’m thinking of the most right now.
Kazusa:            What is that, exactly?
Setsuna:          For you… to succeed in your competition.
Kazusa:            …
Setsuna:          To win… Well, maybe that’s a lot to ask, so… second place? Or to win some kind of prize, at least… H-huh? How many prizes are there, anyway?
Kazusa:            Setsuna…
Setsuna:          Oh, no, I forgot to specify a range of places for you to reach! At this rate, I should just have wished for first place, and nothing else…
Kazusa:            Come on, don’t waste your first wish of the year on something like that! Don’t you have more important things in your own life for this year, anyway?
Setsuna:          Don’t say that. It’s not a waste at all.
Kazusa:            I already told you, this competition is just a test of my own ability.
Setsuna:          But, still…!
Kazusa:            Huh?
Setsuna:          Still, I… I will always pray for the success of the girl named Kazusa Touma.

(19:00)

Kazusa:            …!
Setsuna:          For you, who considered me your best friend, and forgave me.
Kazusa:            Setsuna, why are you…
Setsuna:          Hm?
Kazusa:            Why are you such a good person…?
(their voices begin to echo, as in a dream.)
Setsuna:          …I’m not.
Kazusa:            You’re a good woman, and a good friend. What are you doing in such an awful position?
Setsuna:          You’re wrong, Kazusa. I’m just… deceiving myself.
Kazusa:            I can’t move forward or backward like this!
(The ends of their lines begin overlapping with each other.)
Setsuna:          I’ve been running away, convincing myself that it was out of concern for you.
Kazusa:            I can’t take a single step.
Setsuna:          I wanted the wounds I inflicted to be healed, even the smallest bit.
Kazusa:            I can’t hate you…!

(20:00)

Setsuna:          So that, some day, you could take back the happiness that I stole from you.
Kazusa:            Liking someone forever just makes you suffer!
Setsuna:          I’m sorry. I’m sorry, Kazusa.
Kazusa:            Help me… Help me, Setsuna…!

(Kazusa wakes up, sits bolt upright.)
Kazusa:            Huh?
Youko:              Good morning.
Kazusa:            Ah… Did I fall asleep?
Youko:              Yep. For about ten minutes.
Kazusa:            U-um, did I say anything?
Youko:              You were whimpering, like an abandoned dog.
Kazusa:            …
Youko:              Did you have a scary dream?
Kazusa:            Not particularly.

(21:00)

Youko:              We could sleep here, together, if you’d like. Then, in the morning, we could make our first shrine visit of the New Year.
(pause.)
Kazusa:            No… I’m going back tomorrow. To Vienna.
Youko:              What, on New Year’s Day? You think you’ll be able to get a ticket now?
Kazusa:            I’ll go to the airport in the morning and wait for someone to cancel. If I can’t get one that way, then I’ll think about it.
Youko:              You don’t have to be in such a hurry to leave. You don’t have any pressing business for the time being, and you’re back in your homeland, after all this time…
Kazusa:            No, I’m going back. It’s become all the more clear to me that I can’t be in this country.
Youko:              Sounds like you had a pretty terrible first dream of the year. Well, whatever. Do what you want.
Kazusa:            U-um, Mom…
Youko:              Hmmm?

(22:00)

Kazusa:            I think it’s great for you to stretch your wings here a bit, but, um… I want you to come back as soon as possible.
Youko:              Oh, listen to you, you little spoiled child! (tackles Kazusa and hugs her.) That’s so cute! You’re so cute! Oh…!
Kazusa:            (as Youko is nuzzling and doting on her:) Don’t touch me! Let go! Hey, stop!


1   2   3   4