Chapter 36:

A New Normal

Grace Dances Upon the Clouds

A week passed by. Haru continued having dreams, but none with Grace in them. Instead, his friends dropped by as cameos to share in his crazy adventures. Not the same as before, but he would get over it eventually.

School started up again, and it seemed like everything had gone back to normal… except the fact that Kasumi and Haru were now a couple. All of a sudden, a minor rift developed within the classroom – Haru and his guy friends on one side, Kasumi’s group on the other.

An eventful summer vacation hadn’t erased the image that the rest of the class held of Haru, his fault for being so nonchalant to begin with.

“C’mon, Kasumi. Don’t be led on by his wallet.”

“He’ll just use and discard you.”

Catty voices of ‘reason’ aimed at Haru tried to coerce Kasumi. There was nothing Haru could say to get them to change their tune. Daichi and Koichi standing there as support didn’t either.

“I’m telling you. Haru-kun’s sweet. He comes to visit me even though I’m busy with my part-time job.” A look of concern flashed in Kasumi’s eyes. She disliked being treated like some victim for no reason, but she struggled to come up with a way to see eye-to-eye.

“If he really cared for you, he would just buy you stuff, instead of having you work for it.”

Hypocritical statements were thrown out, conflicting with the ‘reason’ that they pitched before. Haru simply shook his head. People talked big when they knew nothing. It was part of the reason he found them exhausting.

And for the first time, he realized that Kasumi was just like him – comfortable among good company, fumbling otherwise. He would have shrugged it off normally and continued as is.

But this…

Haru stood up from his desk. He walked over to the group of girls, their vain attempt at looking good by defending their ‘friend’ from a silent creep. They could say what they wanted about him, but Kasumi was another matter. She didn’t work to buy fancy goods, the very same ones that the other girls were brandishing. Her reasons were more practical and honest.

Even as his arm was clawed by their fake fingernails, he reached in and pulled Kasumi close to him.

“I have no words for those that won’t listen.”

They could get mad, seethe, and plot all the revenge they wanted on him. Their opinions hardly mattered at all, only the friends close to him.

But then, he felt someone hug him from behind, head slamming into his back.

“Harucchi, get a load of this!”

Short hair with glasses. A face and voice so feminine that it was difficult to guess a guy was speaking. Megu held up his phone, a video from Yestube playing.

The melody of Endless Sky filtered into the classroom. The voice of Haru singing came after. Everyone stared at the same classmate rocking out on stage, so animated compared to attending class. Even more surprising, the video had racked up 500 thousand views in only a week.

“You know, I really hate people that judge by appearances only. I think the two of us mesh a lot better with this crowd,” Megu said as he pulled Kasumi and Haru towards Daichi and Koichi.

“See? Who here knew that Haru-kun had a side like that?” Kasumi capitalized on the moment.

Dead silence accompanied the song. Now, it was those standing by Haru that cracked a grin.

“Think what you will about me. I’ve just decided to stop running away. No more dreaming about what-ifs and letting the world pass me by. Haru Higashi is just going to ball. Don’t take it out on others if you don’t like what you see.”

Standing among his friends, his song in the background, Haru couldn’t help but bring his confidence to reality. That was the parting gift Grace had given him – goals to work towards, wings to fly wherever he wanted in life.

And soon, the school would come to realize that Haru existed among them. The Kokuritsu coming up in Winter, the next planned live concert, spending time with the people that accepted him for who he was – there were many, many things that he wanted to do now, outside of his dreams.

Maybe all that showed on his face, but the girls that squawked at him quieted down. They retreated, judgment turning to skepticism, but that was all anyone could ask for. One’s mind hardly changed from a single act of bravado. It would take time – effort that Haru was willing to put in.

Finally released from the glaring eyes, Haru tugged Kasumi along, out of the classroom and exiting the gates. Walking to and from school had been the trigger that sparked the gossip to begin with. But Haru just smiled. What Kasumi knew now was far stranger than any rumors that could circulate.

He had told Kasumi the whole story, Daichi and Koichi as well. They all simply laughed at the concept of a dream fairy offering therapy, and Haru laughed as well. But then, hands gripped Haru’s shoulders, one from each of them.

“I know who to thank then for changing your tune,” said Koichi first.

“I’ll take any excuse you give me as long as we can ball!” came Daichi next.

“That’s still not the weirdest thing I’ve heard from you.”

Kasumi’s statement made Haru somewhat concerned. He spent a moment recalling what else was worse but realized that it no longer mattered. He spent all week during their walks to and from home to raise that bar. He got plenty of smiles and kisses along the way.

Ending their walk home today, Haru waved as Kasumi walked up to her house. But before she went in, she turned around and shouted, “I wish I could have met her. She sounds like a blast!”

And with a smile stuck on his face, Haru continued his evening. It never left all through dreamland, where he was met with maids, guitars, and balls. It only grew wider as three pairs of legs danced along with him.

Haru didn’t have to let his dreams die. He would change them to something else instead. The scene faded again for the coming of morning, and no longer was Haru sad for it.

He eagerly popped out of bed, got ready for the day, and grabbed his phone to head out the door for another day of school.

Everything would be great.

… Or it would be, until the phone in his hand buzzed, and he checked the incoming message from Kasumi.

[This is going to sound strange… but I just dreamt of Grace.]
Dhamas Tri (dmz)
Taylor J
Mario Nakano 64
F.C Fondness