Chapter 27:

Play That Song

Grace Dances Upon the Clouds

Haru stared blankly at the bits and pieces of music that symbolized Grace’s song. All he had was a simple tune etched from his guitar. It needed the accompanying tracks for the other instruments. And lyrics as well.

Haru had no idea how to write a song. He could mimic and follow along quite well, but creation was another story. Asking his bandmates for help, they all came to a single conclusion.

“What’s the vibe?

That left Haru out in the cold with no answers. He had simply followed along with Grace’s tune without thinking too hard about it. And now, he was no closer to the answer than when he joined the band. An hour of pondering in his room hadn’t expanded the core melody logged into some free software. Before long, his eyes swam in doubt.

They hovered over to the clock, clearly indicating that it was well past time for productive thought.

“I’ll sleep on it, I guess.”

Or rather, he made plans for who to turn to.

Soft piano music struck Haru’s ears as he found himself walking into a coffee shop. The décor was chic with a cozy feel. The dimmed lights gave it an end-of-the-day ambiance. It was the perfect place to relax and work on some tunes. Haru’s subconscious had been primed for the occasion, guitar in hand already as Haru approached the fairy girl playing in the back.

Grace’s back weaved back and forth, lost in the music as much as Haru swam in the mood. Such a scene could dismiss his greatest worries, leaving them behind on the doorstep.

He listened for a while before joining in, finding her rhythm by ear. If only he could create music like this, then creating a song would be a cinch. But Grace didn’t exist in reality. Her whispers and guidance disappeared as soon as he awoke. He couldn’t cheat when it came to creativity. Maybe that was why he could only get so far.

“How do you come up with these songs?”

Grace continued playing, her eyes looking off in the distance. Despite that, her fingers continued to smoothly roll across the keys, like her mind and body distanced themselves. Several times, her lips moved to say something but fell silent. Several times her eyes had a spark, only for that hint to fade right away. Haru picked up a change in the air.

“I don’t know. My hands simply move on their own. I have no recollection of what the melodies are called or where they come from. They simply exist.”

It was such a strange feeling, being able to move so well without conscious thought. Haru watched as Grace’s fingers danced on the keys. But as he tried to read beyond appearances, it was like the notes were playing her hands, rather than the other way around.

It suddenly hit Haru as to what Koichi meant when he said that the tune was missing something. Grace’s hands moved in perfect rhythm, devoid of any mistakes, almost robotic. Every bar was the same speed, every stretch of the key the perfect hold. It was almost like a recording, forever remaining the same. Never making a single mistake.

Human hands strayed, no matter how perfect one became. That was because they were swayed by thoughts, by emotions. And as for Grace…

“I’m sorry. I remember nothing.”

Haru wrapped an arm around Grace from behind. For a moment, she had fallen into a blank state, which gave him the sudden urge to hug her. To check that her body was still warm. To check that her heart still beat like his. He had to do it, to drive away any insecurities.

There had always been something strangely eerie about Grace’s personality. The gaps in her knowledge, the sudden shift in her emotions – they were far too subliminal for trickery. Too outlandish for Haru’s normal logic. What was his mind trying to tell him in this ‘blink and you’ll miss it’ type of hint?

“It’s okay. Just be you like always,” Haru finally said, giving up on prying. Grace would tell him when she felt like it.

The sound of music began again. Haru closed his eyes and enjoyed it, gently swaying with Grace’s rhythm. Before he knew it, morning came, and he was back in his room.

“Ha, no dice.”

Haru sat up and scratched his head. Maybe, he had become too reliant on his dreams to answer everything. But at least, listening to Grace play cleared his head for the moment. Haru picked up his guitar and fired up his webcam. Pressing play, Haru sat back and played Grace’s tune to the best of his ability.

If he couldn’t figure it out himself, maybe someone else could. Unlike a dream, Haru lived in a reality full of people. But first, he needed to call attention to himself. After a few run throughs, Haru was finally satisfied with his version of the melody, trimming the recording to his liking.

He looked up at the clock and panicked.

“Oh shit, I was supposed to meet Kasumi at the shopping mall today!”

It was one of her days off. She had requested for it because the summer festival was coming up. An outing to update her wardrobe was on the agenda, and Haru was happy to play dress up for the occasion.

Haru quickly put away his stuff, neatly put on nice clothes, and moved for the door. But then, he turned back and rushed over to his computer.

“Well, here goes nothing. Upload!”

A final tap on the keyboard and his live recording streamed onto Yestube under his profile ‘MaximumTheHarucchi’. If no one around him recognized the tune, then he would have to use his last resort – picking the internet’s collective mind. It was certainly a gamble, but Haru hoped that within the trolling and ‘Ha ha, you suck’ and ‘git gud’ statements, someone would offer a lifeline.

Fat chance!

Haru chuckled at the silly idea as he bolted out the door, a smile on his face despite that.

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