Chapter 38:


Grace Dances Upon the Clouds

Haru’s parents looked at him with genuine confusion. For a moment, he thought that they had planted the concept of ‘Grace’ in his head. But a brief tutorial of the mysterious machine only yielded a wavefunction of brain signals. Apparently, the technology hadn’t advanced far enough to actually record one’s dreams, much less influence them. That was the goal, a venture announced but far off still.

“Since you sleep so much, a valuable test subject was right in front of us. Any scientist knows the value of easy data.”

The explanation from Haru’s mother felt so straightforward, so practical that Haru had no room to argue. Since the data was literally a set of frequencies and amplitudes, there was no way to correlate that with the vivid dreams he had. A relief akin to successfully hiding a wild frat party overcame him.

“A subject with steady sleep patterns, long stretches of dream periods, and intense brain activity serve as a good baseline for correlating the brain signals firing between the different sensory nodes. You just happened to be the perfect case study.”

Haru sat on the ground, trying to digest what his father said. While he understood the intention of the dream study, that didn’t explain how he continuously dreamed about Grace. Now committed to figuring that out, he told his parents all about his dreams the past few months. They listened intently, taking notes as he recounted those experiences.

“That’s peculiar…,” Haru’s mother pondered, “such a unique factor deserves looking into. That may explain the continuous sharp peaks in the pleasure cortex, almost as if you were reaching a periodic climax-”

“MOM! Too many details!”

Haru facepalmed. He had enjoyed his moments with Grace, but not to that extent!

Wanting to change the subject, Haru quickly told them how ‘Grace’ was now spreading to the minds of his friends as well. A look of bewilderment overcame them, as none of them were designated as test subjects.

“An outside factor intruding upon your subconscious, that shouldn’t be possible normally… unless…”

Haru perked up as his father’s statement noticeably trailed off. He stared intently as if begging to know the rest. It took several moments for his father to reply.

“Let me make a few calls. It is late, so we shall continue this discussion another time.”

Business as usual, the head of a research department couldn’t divulge any secrets, not unless he was sure of their impact. Haru had no choice but to wait for a response. He got up, walked to the door, and turned back.

“Thanks for hearing me out. I know that I don’t come to you for much, but I’m glad that you’re there when it counts.”

“Keep doing your best out there. We know that we don’t need to check on you. We see the results after all.”

His mother waved her phone at him, the Yestube video of BUST playing silently on it. She slid her finger across the screen, changing to a clear shot of Haru catching an attempted goal during his last match.

“Mothers gossip, of course, even halfway across the world.”

Haru stared blankly at them, and then, headed out the room. It wasn’t until he reached his own that the thudding of his heart registered.

An awkward discussion between parents and son, over and done, ending with a recognition. Haru breathed a sigh of relief. Maybe, it was all in his head to begin with. The expectations, the promises, the path that was laid before him that he stubbornly rejected – in his mind, it seemed like picking the same career would make them the most satisfied.

But for parents that were always so busy, how else could they form a connection?

Daichi and soccer. Koichi and music. Kasumi and her positivity.

It was natural to see their traits by how great they were. But it was Haru who shied away, placing labels on everything to give false excuses.

That is not for me.

I can’t reach that level.

Don’t place such high expectations.

It took a little push for Haru to get over that, and now, he was even asking for help in the very thing that he ran away from. Haru couldn’t be his parents, but he didn’t have to be. They would help him regardless. All he had to do was reach out and see.

Lying in bed, Haru fell asleep quickly. It was short and sweet, but he had a dream of working alongside his parents, indulging in their tech research. But that was the only allowance he would give on that front. He had his own goals to pursue instead.


The rest of the week passed, Haru’s friends having more dreams of ‘Grace’. Even Megu had a turn once. But a visit from the dream fairy never came to two different people in the same night. And she never visited Haru again.

On Saturday morning, Haru was woken up by the voice of his father on the other side of the bedroom door.

“Get up, we’re going for a little trip! Make it snappy, cause it’s an important appointment. You asked, and I responded!”

Haru shot straight up. His father calling for him only meant one thing: he had found a lead. Opening the door, he saw his father in a nice business suit, which made him groan.

“There are procedures for this, I’m afraid. If you want to know, then follow through.”

Haru spend the next half hour breaking out the formal wear, looking much like a junior businessman himself. He took one look in the mirror and scoffed, before remembering who it was for.

A car ride downtown took them to a tall building, the headquarters of some fancy business. The front read, Bocculus Medical Group, in bold white letters. Haru took one look at his father, wearing the face of the IBN Department Chair of Research. Instantly, he understood how important of a man and meeting this was.

A white coat came up to greet them, bowing heavily to welcome the sudden visit.

“Head Researcher Iwai,” he introduced himself.

Sweat dotted his brow, and his eyes nervously darted between Haru and his father. The scent of suspicion wafted around him, like he was flimsily trying to keep secrets buried still.

“May we see her?” was all his father said. In response, Iwai bowed again before quickly leading the way.

Haru’s vision swam as his eyes remained on their backs, guesses flying out of his head left and right. The silence of the elevator was stifling. The short trip down a medical wing like a foreboding final walk.

Even before they stopped in front of a door, Haru had already played out many scenarios, none of them promising in the least. Iwai pointed up at the name by the door, but Haru turned his head away.

Grace, her name would stay. His mind wouldn’t have it any other way.

The door slid open, and the sound of medical equipment beeped softly in the distance.

It was here that Grace laid, as she had always been. Tubes across her body. Sensors strapped everywhere. A dome covering the entire bed. A large machine adjacent with technicians mulling about.

Intensive care for arms and legs shattered. Eyes closed for years. Her life had been hanging by a thread. That was what his father said during the car ride here.

The Grace that Haru knew was traced to this very spot – her body always in this room but her mind left to wander.

And all Haru could do was fall back at this sight and let the tears flow.
Dhamas Tri (dmz)
Taylor J
Mario Nakano 64
F.C Fondness