Chapter 30:

Endless Sky

Grace Dances Upon the Clouds


After seeing Kasumi to her house, Haru rushed home, the video clip that he uploaded whirling in his mind the whole time. A quick view of the comments had revealed a lot of buzz, far more promising than he had expected. Now that he kept notifications on, it seemed like the feed was being flooded with mentions too fast for him to keep track of on a tiny screen.

He booted up his computer upon entering his bedroom, his heart fluttering from the mixture of praise and hope. Maybe, someone had found a clue to the melody.

Haru skimmed through any comments of simple praise, stopping every so often when one contained more meat to it.

[This is really catchy. But where have I heard this from?]

[Isn’t it one of those renditions? Something classical given a modern vibe?]

[Think I’ve heard a similar melody at a piano recital.]

Those comments hovered before Haru’s vision, making him hit the down arrow to reveal a thread of follow-up responses. The internet had struck gold.

He had a vague feeling that Grace’s song had come from somewhere. He couldn’t just have come up with it from nothing. It was too clean, too pure, likely a memory buried under the subconscious. The mind was funny that way, suddenly bringing up things that one hadn’t seen in years.

His eyes honed onto a set of posted links, leading to video clips of guitar solos. A familiar melody here, a guitar solo there. It was bits and pieces, but Haru could tell that they were parts mashed up into what he knew as Grace’s song.

He found more links and clicked on them as well. Another song, another part ticked off from what Grace taught him. Haru’s eyes darted back to the titles of the videos, some etude and some number. It didn’t make much sense to him, other than they were well known. Classical piano music converted to modern guitar. Something called Butterfly. Another nicknamed Sunshine.

But then, Haru pictured Grace, with her butterfly-like fairy wings, the sun beaming down as she danced on the clouds. Suddenly, the change of melodies made sense. It conveyed her desire for freedom. A place to dance where he didn’t think there was one.

The feeling mulled in Haru’s head, and slowly, whispers slipped out of his mouth. Words that carried feelings and desires. He wanted just as much to see what Grace saw, to be by her side as she felt free.

The whispers didn’t stop. They trembled as they lined up with the tune inside of his head. And before he knew it, Haru scrambled to find some paper to write it all down. Finally, he had gotten the clue he needed to complete Grace’s song.

#####

“Well, what do you think?” Haru said, playing the tune on his guitar.

Koichi bobbed his head as he mouthed the lyrics on his copy. And then, he eyed Mephisto, who did the same. Gazes were passed to Ren, and then Kazuo, and finally, back to Haru.

“What do you think, guys?” Koichi asked. “The desire of an endless dream, flying high in the sky. That sounds pretty dope to me.”

Ren answered with an improvised beat, his head moving up and down like he was on Cloud 9. The rapid clash of symbols and drums added to the pep of the guitar solo. Kazuo joined in with the keyboard, a flurry of high notes invoking the feel of a chase. The pitch went up and down, almost like the notes took turns running after each other.

And finally, Koichi added some bass. The different tunes, each chaotic on their own, formed a sort of harmony when combined. Soon, the room shook as they bounced around, almost like clouds were under them. The warmth of their movements felt like the sun had come out, letting its presence be known despite the lack of windows.

And when Mephisto opened his mouth to sing, they all flew. In the endless sky, into the beyond. They didn’t know where the melody was heading, but no one cared. The path before them was paved only by a desire to keep their hands moving. To follow along with each other in their own playful ways.

When the melody finally ended and Haru’s fingers felt sore, they all turned to each other and nodded. They had their song right there. Haru fell back in his seat and let out a deep sigh, feeling a sense of accomplishment.

“Well, it looks like we’re all ready to play at our next live in a week!” Koichi celebrated. “Now, we just have to polish our parts!”

Haru grinned. He couldn’t wait for that day. He couldn’t wait for to see the crowd’s reaction to it. And then, he would play the song for Grace. A culmination of his feelings toward her.

Suddenly, a microphone dropped in his lap, making him look down and grab it with an upturned brow.

“You sing it,” Mephisto said.

“Eh? What do you mean ‘sing it’? That’s your role, isn’t it?” Haru replied, shocked. Displaying his karaoke skills here was the last thing he wanted to do.

“It’s your song, so you sing it. I’m not about to take another man’s thunder right out from him. These are the lyrics you came up with. They hold what you want to make of it. We’ll hang back and support. Besides, I heard that you weren’t so bad.”

Haru drew back in surprise. He wasn’t sure of where that confidence came from. After all, he had never sung in public, not even in front of Koichi, who would probably judge him the harshest if he tagged along to karaoke.

“Harucchi, I don’t think you can embarrass yourself any more than this.” Koichi pulled out his phone and tapped the screen.

“AH GAH BOOGA WAAAAAAHHHHHHH!!!~~~”

Haru’s body turned to ice in an instant.

“H-How…?”

“I asked very nicely in return for the tickets.” Koichi flashed him a devious grin. “And she gave me the entire recording. Nice boy band voice you have there.”

Haru went right up to the wall and banged his head, hoping to erase his own memory of the event. After that was unsuccessful, he took a large wastebasket, emptied it, and hid.

“Feel free to sing inside that. Let’s go, guys! From the top!”

As the music started, Haru shivered. It didn’t look like he would be let off the hook until he committed to it – the lengths he would go for Grace. He took a deep breath, determined to see it through.

The trash bin came off his head, and he rushed forward, ignoring everything else but what was before him.
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