Puellus Plebius Kyosuke○Iusto
I am Kyosuke Kamijo, and for the past month I have been stuck in a hospital bed with nothing to do. Earlier this year, I was hit by a drunk driver after a concert, and almost killed. The doctors say I shouldn’t have survived, the way my body was twisted when the vehicle made impact. But I did. I won’t be able to walk for the rest of the year, and my friends have barely been able to visit me since this all happened right before the end of the semester.
Worst of all, however, is my hands. These wretched useless hands. Once upon a time they were my greatest asset. My nimble fingers and graceful wrists let me show to the world what I was made of, what I was the greatest at… But now that’s all gone.
“Mr. Kamijo,” the doctor said. “We need to discuss… your son for a moment. Could you please step outside?”
They didn’t realize I could hear them through the door.
“There’s no chance of his hands being able to recover to what they once were.”
“But surely they will still heal, right?”
“I’m afraid not. You need to break it gently to him. He will likely never be able to play the violin again.”
“I… I understand. Thank you, doctor.”
That was two weeks ago. And nothing has changed since then. My father still hasn’t officially told me there is no hope left. Apparently he’s either too weak to tell the truth to his own son, or he still holds some naive hope that the doctor was wrong. But who would hold out hope for someone like me?
Well, I wouldn’t anyway.
People like me, we cripples. Our purposes are null once our bodies are broken, and there is nothing we can do but bide our time until our inevitable demise. It’s the same as any other person on this grayscale Earth, but for us we don’t even have our own lives to look forward to. Ah, who am I kidding? I’m sure most people in situations like these can eventually resume their lives, too. It had to be me who was hit. It had to be one of the few people whose lives actually depended on our physical skill.
What always makes me laugh the most about my circumstance is that I was carrying my violin case when the accident happened. However, as the car collided with me, the violin case flew out of my hands. And a bystander caught it before it could hit the ground and break into a hundred pieces. Even right now, my violin is sitting at home, perfectly fine, while I lay in bed here, perfectly not.
This whole deal is ruinous, and I won’t stand for it. Not like I could stand for it, anyway, considering my legs are immobile. I sigh at my own terrible joke and lean my head back against the bedpost. The room is warm, aided by the golden-orange glow from the setting sun out the window. But I don’t care. My parents gave me the best room in the hospital, but I have already grown tired of living on this bed like I have been for so long now. The artificially-pleasant atmosphere surrounding me has grown quite stale.
I think back to that fateful concert and remember my performance. It was terrible. I was playing an arrangement of Four Seasons by Vivaldi, and I massacred part of “Winter”. Nobody seemed to notice as I was able to improvise and cover my mistakes, but for someone of my renown, it was a pathetic mistake. And I will never be able to rectify myself.
“You did amazing, Kyosuke!” she exclaimed.
I looked at her and smiled, but it was only to hide my shame. I wasn’t supposed to make mistakes, and I did. I said nothing in response.
“We need to go celebrate. Do you want to go with my family to get some ice cream? Our treat!”
“Ah… No thanks. My father has already booked reservations at the Sushi Mizutani and we are already running late.”
“Oh, that’s okay. Maybe some other time.”
Of course, ten minutes later and I was all but roadkill. If only I had gone with her after all… None of this would have happened.
I can’t bear to see that girl anymore. She shows up at least four times a week, always with a smile on her face, and usually a music CD for me to hear. Even as the end-of-semester exams grow closer, she won’t quit coming. It’s a nice gesture but she couldn’t possibly understand what I am going through. I want more than anything for her to simply leave me alone, so I can suffer in the peace and quiet of my hospital room.
“Mr. Kamijo,” the nurse says over the intercom. “Your friend is here to see you.”
I sigh. “Let her in.”
Seconds later, she enters. “Hi, Kyosuke. I brought you another CD. I think you’ll like it! Do you want to listen to it?”
Sayaka Miki, the blue-haired demon of my nightmares.
Sayaka always asks me how I’m doing. Trying to cheer me up. She can see the pain on my face as I hear the beautiful instruments playing through my headphones, can’t she? There’s nothing left for me but she wants to make me feel like there is. I can’t let her do it. Except that I am doing just that. My willpower is too weak to tell her to stop. To stop acting like everything’s okay. To stop being so damn happy. To stop existing around me.
Rachmaninoff’s “Vocalise” begins, and I’m suddenly swept away into the violin’s gorgeous movements. I can remember the time I played this very piece in front of an audience for the first time. I was nine, and it was only my third-ever recital, but dozens showed up to listen.
Sayaka was there, on the front row, watching me.
I snap back into reality and realize my hands are fingering along to the song. Almost immediately, tears roll down my face. I will never be able to play that song again. My artistry is dead, and this song serves only as a reminder of the grief I feel. I try to hide my crying as best as I can, but my efforts are for naught, as my watery pain drips from my chin to my shirt in a series of resonant pops.
Eventually, Sayaka finishes her moment with me and decides to head home. I don’t even think she noticed the fact I was crying. Surely she is doing this on purpose; maybe I upset her some time ago and didn’t realize it, and now she is coming here to enact revenge when I am most vulnerable? That can be the only explanation for this horror.
I quickly drift off to sleep, and dream that I am up onstage again. It’s all I want. And it’s the only thing I can’t have.
My father came to see me today. He stopped doing that very often after the first week or two. He says his job is keeping him from taking any more time off and he has tried to fight his bosses but failed. Of course he failed.
“I’m thinking about enrolling you at Yamaku High School next semester, Kyosuke, while you heal. It’s a special school for physically disabled students, and it has a hospital right next door.”
“Yeah.” I don’t say it, but I think that it’s a horrible idea. Just because I’ll be like this for a little while longer doesn’t mean I need to go to a school to accommodate me. I don’t want to be around other people like me. I’m a cripple forever, but that doesn’t mean I want to associate myself with others. They couldn’t understand my situation; they’d just try to get me to adapt, not realizing that the violin was what I was born for. My destiny.
My father continues. “It will only have to be for one semester, if your recovery progresses at the same rate that it is now. So you won’t have to worry about leaving your friends for too long.”
“Yeah.” My friends, the ones who care more about schoolwork than visiting me.
“But since this is your life we’re dealing with, I’ll leave the final decision up to you. What do you think?”
“I…” I pause for a moment. I don’t want to tell him off, because he’s my father, but I am not even considering this proposal. “Can I think about it for a while longer?”
“Sure. It’s a tough call to make, I know. You can–”
Beep. The intercom comes on.
“Mr. Kamijo. Your friend is here to see you.”
I hesitate. I don’t want to let her in, not again. My father seems to notice this.
He answers. “Ah, tell her that he’s not in good shape right now. Is that alright?”
“Yes sir,” the nurse answers. The intercom shuts off.
“Well,” my father says. “I’ll let you go. Do you want to bring me anything back?”
I look up and stare him in the face. My eyes tear up again. “Please… please… burn my violin.” This does not provoke the reaction I expected. He too begins to cry and walks out the door without replying. I can only imagine he is distraught simply because it had originally cost so much.
Sayaka returns. Her devilish smile gives away the fact that she has bought a new CD. She takes out her CD Player and puts it in for me to listen. It’s just a compilation of various orchestral songs, with no real thought to theme or its arrangement. She probably thinks she’s found a really rare album, too.
I listen to one of the songs in silence. She sits there, trying to figure out what it is, but the volume is too low for the sound to escape my headphones.
“What you listening to?” she asks.
“‘The Girl With The Flaxen Hair.’” I was never able to play that one all the way through. I only ever tried it when I was a child, and ruined the performance as I was only sightreading. Now I will never have the chance to play it again.
Suddenly she begins shifting around in her chair. “Oh, that’s Debussy. It’s a beautiful song!” I don’t respond. “Uh, you know what? It’s kinda funny, but I don’t think people really see me as the type who’d listen to stuff like classical music. And whenever I can name a piece correctly, you should see their faces.” I look at her and with my eyes I beg her to shut up. She doesn’t notice. “It’s like they’re impressed I know about that stuff. Everything I know about it is ’cause of you. I would never even listen to classical music ever if it wasn’t for you, you know.”
The violin playing in my ears, coupled with her sword-striking words, is too much for me. I can’t take it. “Hey, Sayaka…”
“Will you ever stop torturing me?”
“You just keep coming here, forcing me to listen to all this music. It’s like you’re trying to hurt me on purpose.”
“But, Kyosuke, I… I thought you loved music.”
“What’s the point if I can’t play any of it?! It’s all worthless!” I raise my arm and smash the CD player. It and the disc playing smash into a thousand pieces. Blood spatters all around the bed. I try to move my hand off but it won’t move. “I can’t move it… I can’t even feel the pain anymore…”
Sayaka jumps on me to grab my hand away from the shards of metal and glass. “It’s gonna be okay,” she tells me. “Don’t give up hope! Someday, somehow…”
“They already told me to give up,” I say. “Even with modern medicine I’ll never be able to play again. Not unless magic and miracles suddenly become real.”
Sayaka jumps at those words. “But they are!” she says. “Miracles and magic are real!”
I scoff. “Don’t joke about this.”
“I’m not joking! You’ll see, Kyosuke. They’re really real.”
I wake up in the middle of the night.
Something feels off.
I look down and see it.
My hand. I’m moving my hands. I can feel my hands.
How could this have happened?
Sayaka comes back over the next day to check up on me. When I tell her about my hands she acts completely surprised. She’s happier than I’ve ever seen her in my life.
“The doctors want me to stay for a few more days so they can run some tests,” I say. “But it’s a miracle. From what they’ve found so far I’m completely fine. They can’t even explain it.” Sayaka’s smile is so wide it covers the entire room. I place my hand on her cheek just to confirm that it’s real, and this isn’t some elaborate illusion she set up. Both the warmth in my hand and the warmth from her face confirm that this is reality.
She wipes my hand off her face, now scarlet in her cheeks. “Come on. We need you to get some fresh air.” Sayaka grabs my wheelchair and lets me hop onto it. I know that I’m well enough that I don’t need it anymore, but it’s just a safety precaution. I let her wheel me out of the room and into the elevator. We are headed up.
“Where are we going?” I ask. My room is on the third-highest floor of the hospital. There isn’t much above me that really matters.
“Just wait a sec!” She seemed to barely be able to contain her excitement.
Finally, we reach the the top, where she rolls my wheelchair out onto the roof. I had forgotten the roof was so beautifully designed; a flower garden and several benches lined the area, and it was just as usable as any other part of the building.
I see my entire family, my doctors, and two nurses standing at the edge of the roof. Sayaka stops just in front of them. They clap and cheer at my sudden healing. I doubt they’re as happy as I am, but I am thankful nonetheless.
My father walks up to me and gives me… my violin case. “I couldn’t bear to throw it away. I’m so sorry.”
I get out my violin. It’s exactly how I left it. The tuning isn’t off by a bit.
“Well? Will you play us something?” someone asks. I am too busy examining it for any flaws to answer, but as soon as I finish, I grab my instrument and my bow, and begin to make music. I don’t know exactly what I’m playing; I just pick whatever is at the top of my head and project it to my audience. And it’s a gorgeous sound.
I don’t look at them but I can feel that I’m doing it right. In this moment I know my life has returned to me. I am no longer a worthless cripple. I’m Kyosuke Kamijo, the violin prodigy. The best there is.
My tests run so well they discharge me three days early. I’m completely fine with this, since there is nothing left for them to test. I’m back to normal, and nothing’s going to change that. I look back at my dreadful hospital room. It now glows a vibrant blue and white as it reflects the midday sky. Shaking my head I decide I will never return to a hospital again as long as I am able.
I’m back at home now, and my chefs have prepared a feast for the ages, as some sort of “welcome back” gesture from my parents. However, I’m not all that hungry. I go into my room and bring out my violin into the living room.
“Forgive me,” I tell them. “I need to practice. My skills are not up to par now that I’ve been out of practice for so long.” They understand.
I play for two hours uninterrupted, going through my full warm-up routine six times, just to make sure I am ready. Before I can actually get to any pieces, though, I notice someone at my window. It’s Sayaka. She goes up to my door and… then after a few seconds she turns around and walks away. I ignore this and keep playing.
My mother walks by, crying her eyes out. “I can’t believe you’re all better!” she exclaims.
I stop playing. “I can. It was only a matter of time before I could return to my duties. I hope you didn’t cancel my next recital. It is next weekend, correct?”
“Ah, well, we–”
“I don’t want to miss it. I’ll practice as much as I can until I am back to my original level.”
I’m finally back at school. Of course, the doctors are still a tiny bit scared that something will go wrong, so they’re making me use crutches for the first week. I don’t need them at all, but regardless I will heed their directions. If I were to trip and fall and break my arm as a result of some yet-undiscovered incorrect healing, then that would be devastating, so these precautions are definitely wise.
I sit down at my desk for the first time in so long… it’s crazy. I kept up with my schoolwork while in the hospital, so that should be fine, but knowing my first-period English teacher Ms. Saotome, the lessons won’t be anything like the work I was given.
Nakazawa notices me and stops by my desk. “Kamijo! You’re back already?”
“Yeah,” I answer. “I hope you are doing well.”
“Better than you must be,” he says, gesturing to my crutches.
“Actually, I don’t really need those, but my doctors want me to use them for the next few days. I’m actually completely fine though.”
“Ah, that’s cool.” Nakazawa and I look at each other for a few moments. We aren’t actually friends or anything, so we have already run out of things to talk about. “I.. ah… It looks like class is about to start. See you.” He hastens over to his desk and sits down just as Ms. Saotome enters.
“Class,” she begins. “I would like to address a very important issue here on our campus.”
“The amount of PDA, or public displays of affection, is ludicrously high here at this school, and I will not tolerate such complete disregard for decency that you children have! If a–” She coughs a few times. “–year old woman is not allowed to bring her boyfriend into the school without causing a scene with the principal, then no students should ever be allowed to do so, either!”
She calms down. “Now that that’s out of the way, we should welcome Mr. Kamijo back to school after recovering from his accident.” The students clap, and I bow my head in thanks. Though I know that relatively few of my fellow students really care that much about my return. I don’t think I have ever actually spoken to Madoka Kaname over there before, and I have no idea who the girl with the black hair is. She must be a transfer student that came over while I was out.
My worries were right. Ms. Saotome’s lecture has nothing to do with what I was learning in the hospital. Luckily, I was privately tutored in English from ages three to twelve, so I already know the language well enough that this class isn’t at all difficult.
I feel someone’s eyes on me. I turn my head slightly and see Sayaka staring at me. When she notices me looking back, she quickly returns her gaze to her notes. I honestly have no idea what that’s about. She must be PMSing or something. Women.
I finish with my lunch and talk to some of my friends and acquaintances who are glad to see me back. I understand that the first few days back after a long period gone will always be like this, though it is dreadful so far, constantly being the center of attention. If it weren’t for Japanese students almost never talking during class, I would be assaulted the entire school day.
I now notice Sayaka staring at me, along with her friends. One of whom is Hitomi Shizuki.
I’m almost instantly swept up into my feelings for her. That green-haired beauty has been the object of my affections for almost three years now, and probably would be mine if I ever got up the courage to ask her. She’s quite the popular girl among the other guys in the school, but she has never once accepted any of their interests. I always used to ask myself, what if she’s just waiting on me? That never worked enough for me to actually do it, though; I may be a master at playing in front of crowds of hundreds, but that is a completely different arena than talking to a girl. Even now, I’m shivering a little just thinking of talking to her.
They’re definitely talking about me. I can tell by the way they are mostly looking at each other, but make more than occasional glances at me. What could they be saying? Maybe Hitomi is asking Sayaka for advice on how to win me over. But that’s just a pipe dream.
Speaking of Sayaka, I do wonder how she’s been the past few days. I haven’t seen her since the day my body healed itself. I wonder if it’s something I did, but it probably isn’t. She seemed happy enough the last time I saw her. If she was upset with me, she’s the kind of girl that would actually come up and talk to me about it, so I don’t worry about that.
The next two days at school are about as annoying as the last one, in terms of people constantly trying to talk to me. I had no idea I was this popular among other students. Surely they can’t all be fans of my violin playing, can they?
I manage to drudge through my classes and act as politely as I can to anyone that wants to talk to me. It’s exhausting, but I am able to do it. With a smile on my face, I put my crutches under my armpits and get the hell out of this place before anyone can try to talk to me.
“Kamijo!” Someone shouts. I stop in my tracks. That isn’t just someone. I turn around and see none other than Hitomi herself running me down. She catches up, panting for a couple seconds before she can say anything. “May I walk home with you, Kamijo?” The way she is so formal in addressing me is so attractive….
I nod, and try not to be utterly giddy about it.
“Good,” she says.
We walk for about ten minutes, down a few busy sidewalks, until I cut across the park to get to my neighborhood. We don’t talk all that much; I’m just so nervous that I don’t want to say anything to mess up.
Suddenly, I realize something. “Wait, Shizuki?” I ask.
“Isn’t your house the other way from here?”
Hitomi blushes. “You’re right. In fact, I live in the complete opposite direction as you. I actually wanted to walk home with you so I could talk to you. Do you care to sit down, Kamijo?” She gestures to a nearby bench and sits down. I take my crutches off and follow suit.
“What… What do you want to talk about?” I try to stay calm, but my heart is pounding almost out of its chest. I’ve never felt so unconfident in my life.
“Well, it’s about love.”
“Yes. First off, I want to admit something to you.”
“The truth is that I have been in love with you for a very long time.”
“The truth is that I have been in love with you for a very long time.”
There it is. The confession. I am about to faint from the shock. Of course, it’s one of the greatest shocks I’ve ever had, but if I faint, it will be sure to ruin the mood.
I try to respond. “I… I uh, well, that’s good?”
“And I want to ask if you would like to go on a date with me tonight.”
Everything stops. “Um, actually… I don’t know about that. I have a recital next weekend, and I really need to practice for it some more. Could we do it another time?”
She sighs loudly. “Just as I thought. That is why, even if I love you, I have to turn you down.”
“W-What?” I no longer have any idea what she is saying.
“You. You have been neglecting Ms. Miki your entire life, and even when she has done so many amazing things for you, gone to such lengths to make you happy, you still cannot even bring yourself to realize that you deserve a girl no less as dedicated as her!”
“Wait, Sayaka? She… Is she in love with me?”
“Of course she is, Kamijo! She would sacrifice her very soul to bring you happiness! How could you be so oblivious?”
“I… Are you sure? I never noticed this at all.”
“That is because you are the most oblivious boy in all of Japan. And now I need to take my leave. Also, Sayaka, I know you are watching us. You can come out now.”
Like clockwork, Hitomi gets up and leaves, and Sayaka comes out behind a corner and stands in front of me. Tears in her eyes.
“You’re kind of a dick, you know that?” she says.
“No you’re not.”
She’s right. How can I be sorry about having not one, but two girls be in love with me?