Prelude 1: Hibiki
Hibiki had considered most talk useless for as long as he could remember. People always spoke so much but said so little. He never understood why one must keep a conversation going or why silences were considered “awkward”. To him, if there is nothing to be said, one should just remain silent.
So one day as he was warming up for piano practice Hibiki decided to stop speaking altogether.
It wasn’t that he wanted silence. No, Hibiki found interest in all sorts of sounds: the heavy breathing of a jogger, the distant humming of scooters, and especially the sound of music. Since early childhood he had sensitive ears that could pick up even the faintest of sounds, an ability which he could excellently stimulate through the study of classical music.
But the sound of people speaking about meaningless things? “Hello, how are you? The weather is a bit cold today. How are your classes going?”… Endless streams of predetermined questions and responses that people used to fill the vast spaces and silences between them. This is what Hibiki hated.
Hibiki left the practice room two hours later and found himself on the busy campus. It had been silent when he came to practice at 6 in the morning, but now it was 8 and the alleys were filled with students rushing to catch their morning classes. Hibiki disappeared into the crowd.
Prelude 2: Natsumaru
“What are you up to this afternoon?” Asuka asked.
“I don’t know yet. I have classes until 12 and then I’m grabbing some lunch with Ayano. Afterwards he has to go to class so I’m kinda left alone. I gotta study but I don’t feel like it today, you know?”
“When do you ever feel like studying, Natsumaru?”
They were just finishing up breakfast at the student cafeteria. Natsumaru smiled back and drank the rest of his orange juice.
“You know, I haven’t seen Hibiki lately. Do you know what he’s been up to?”
“I haven’t heard anything from him, but I assume he is doing okay.”
“Do you think he is avoiding me, huh?”
“Natsumaru, Natsumaru… You worry too much. I know my brother – he isn’t avoiding anyone, he is just very shy. I think deep down he likes people and wants to make friends, but it is just too hard for him.”
Natrumaru gave Asuka a slightly worried look. He didn’t really understand shy people. How could someone willingly isolate themselves? Why did somebody want to feel lonely and away from the comforts of friendship, conversation, jokes, spontaneous road trips, love… ? Asuka interrupted his thoughts.
“As I said, you’re overthinking it. Let’s get going or we’ll both be late for class.”