Paradise Noise - Chapter 1
So lying under those stormy skies, she said
“Oh, I know the sun must set to rise”
This could be paradise
“Paradise” – Coldplay
The white keys of a piano are not pure white, but have a faint yellowish tinge. It is said that the color comes from bones. I‘ve read that a famous pianist once wrote that.
Since you are hitting the bone directly with your fingers, it hurts both you and the piano when you play.
The pianist then went on to say that there is no value in a piano that doesn’t hurt, which he didn’t mean in a bad way, but the word “hurt” was the only word that stuck in my memory.
So, when I first heard Rinko play the piano, the first thing that came to mind was that saying.
First of all, I want to make it clear that I dress up as a woman purely to get more views on my music videos online, not because I have a particular hobby. Absolutely not.
I’m a student in junior high school. My guitar and keyboard skills are amateurish, and there are a gazillion people on the net who are better than me.
In addition, I was only posting videos of original compositions online, and since there wasn’t any singing, there was no way I would become popular on video sites. It would be considered a great accomplishment even if the number of views reached four digits.
Though I consoled myself by saying, “It’s just a hobby, and it’s not exactly a performance deserving of many views.” …I still felt quite frustrated inside.
One day, as if she completely saw through me, my older sister suddenly suggested something to me.
“Wouldn’t you get a lot of attention if you dress up as a girl and perform? You’re thin and you don’t have much hair on your body, so if you trim your hair and only show yourself from the neck down, you’ll be fine. For the clothes, I’ll just lend you my old uniform.”
“No, no, that embarrassing idea won’t increase the numbers much. In the first place, I play electronica, acid house, and other maniacal stuff.”
“They won’t know. People don’t care about the music anyways; they’ll rejoice at the sight of a high school girl’s thighs.”
Who do you think the audience even is?
However, as I did owe my sister a bunch of tangible and intangible things, she eventually managed to push me to record a crossdressing music video just once.
When I saw my final appearance, I was completely dumbfounded.
“Ooh, nice work. You look just like a girl. As expected of my skills.”
My sister, who was next to me appreciating her work, looked very pleased.
It certainly does look like that I am a girl. My face will be off-screen, my voice won’t be included as the video is an instrumental, and the only other parts of my body that were masculine, namely my shoulders and waist, are respectively blocked by the collar of my sailor uniform and the body of my guitar.
With mixed feelings, I uploaded my crossdressing music video online. The number of views surpassed the five-digit mark on the same day, and easily reached six digits by the next day.
The total number of views of all my videos before this amounted to only around ten thousand, so what was the point of all my efforts so far?
Furthermore, the viewer comments on the video were all about the thighs and collarbones, with little reference to the song’s performance. I am seriously worried about the future of music in this country.
Seeing me like that, my sister said,
“Why is Mako so against it? If you ask me how I feel, it really makes me happy. You’re getting rave reviews. Your genes are basically identical to mine, and the uniform also belongs to me, so it’s practically like I’m the one getting all the praise.”
“So why don’t you go and make videos, aneki? If you show your face, I’m sure you’ll get even more praise…”
Tiredly, I made a careless suggestion, but it was shot down, as she retorted, “Are you nuts?” and kicked me out of the room.
Well, this wasn’t the end of the story.
A successful experience is like a narcotic drug.
My sister had left her uniform in my room, and the number of views on the music video continued to grow every day.
My channel’s subscriber count had swelled to over a hundredfold of my original amount.
People have expectations for me. There are many people who are waiting for my next video.
I hesitated for a long time, but in the end, I put my arms through the sleeves of the sailor uniform again.
Uuuuuuomomomoo. When I looked at my second crossdressing video with a sense of refreshment in my chest, I felt compelled to continue crossdressing.
100,000 viewers. Even if the majority of them are looking for my appearance and body, the number of commendable people who want to listen to my music is probably somewhat higher than it was before I dressed up as a girl.
After uploading three more videos, I started getting a lot of explicit, sexual messages on my account, which made me feel unsafe. So, I decided to write, “I’m a guy,” in my profile description and changed my username to “Musa Boy.”
I thought it was a brilliant name, as it would appeal to men in an overly masculine way and also had a reference to Musa, the goddess of music in Greek mythology, but it didn’t have any particular effect. I thought it was the end of the world when messages and comments such as “It’s better because you’re a man” were flying wildly.
As the number of my viewers increase rapidly, I feel more and more embarrassed about the songs I uploaded in the past, as they were made when I was still inexperienced, so they are clumsy in many aspects.
I couldn’t stand the thought of 100,000 people listening to such an amateur performance, so I deleted the dozen or so songs I had written before I started crossdressing as a girl.
And then—obviously—all you can see in the channel’s video list are the thumbnails of my sailor uniform and thighs.
This is so embarrassing.
If I hated it, I could stop crossdressing in my videos, but I really couldn’t because I feared the reality of the situation if I did stop.
The number of people who genuinely want my music without my thighs is less than a thousand, I would say.
Well, it’s not like I’m using my real name or plan to do any music-related events outside of video sites. Plus, no one but my sister should know that I’m Musa Boy, so I guess I don’t have to worry about it… At least, that’s what I tell myself, and so, I continued making my videos. The world is a big and small place isn’t it..
It was right after I entered high school. Naturally, I chose music as my elective in the arts category, and it was there that I had the opportunity to touch a grand piano for the first time in my life.
Both my elementary and junior high schools only had upright pianos in their music rooms because the rooms were too small.
I couldn’t resist the urge to play it, so I waited until class and lunchtime was over, and when all my classmates had left the music room, I sat down on the piano chair.
When it was right in front of me, it seemed like a huge instrument.
I have two keyboards, a KORG KRONOS LS and a YAMAHA EOS B500, both of which are small enough to carry on my shoulders, and while I’m playing, I can see that in front of the keys, lies the wall of the room.
But the grand piano, with its huge body of black light, blocked my view. First of all, its oppressive feeling makes my heart throb. If I’m too careless, I might get taken in by this pressure.
Moreover, the keyboard is heavy. It’s amazing how a pianist can play something like this without losing their composure.
Without a second thought, I started playing it. Just one verse from one of my original songs…
“…Huh? Murase-kun, is that…?”
I jumped to my feet and nearly caught my fingers in the lid of the piano when someone suddenly called out to me from behind.
I turned around and saw my music teacher, Hanazono-sensei, standing there.
“Ah, so-sorry, I didn’t mean to touch it without permission.”
“No, I don’t really mind that, but that song is…”
I twitched and tried to back away from the music room.
Hanazono-sensei grabs the sleeve of my blazer and prevents me from escaping.
It’s the middle part of Musao’s “Rococo Slash” right?
I wanted to crawl under the piano and shove my head into my hands.
I was found out…
Wait, calm down. It’s not like my cover was completely blown. I could say that I knew about Musa Boy, and that’s that. That’s just how famous Musa Boy has become as an internet musician. So it’s not surprising that there would be viewers here at school, and I just have to pretend to be one.
“Oh, yeah, sensei, you know it too? I saw it in a video, it’s a pretty good song, isn’t it?”
I said as casually as I could. The teacher, however, replied plainly.
“You’re Musao, right?”
My life is over.
“…Huh? No, um, well, I just saw it online.”
Stubbornly, I give one last excuse.
“I tried to copy that piano arrangement, but I couldn’t get it right. But the one you just played was perfect. If I look closely, I can see that your body is just like Musao’s, and more importantly, the line of your collarbone is identical.”
“Please don’t use that to identify me!”
She suddenly inserted her finger into the collar of my blazer, causing me to fall back, and hit the back of my head on the blackboard.
“You really are a boy, aren’t you, Musao? I had no idea you were my student.”
Hanazono-sensei gazed at my whole body.
I finally ran out of the guts to continue to stay calm under such circumstances.
Oh, uh, sensei, you’ll keep quiet about this… won’t you?
“If that video gets around the school, it’s going to be very popular, isn’t it, Musao? There’s probably also going to be a cross-dressing contest at the school cultural festival, and you’re going to be a highly-anticipated star.”
“P-P-Please don’t, I’m begging you!”
“I’m not a demon though, so I can keep it a secret.”
“Thank you very much!”
“But on one condition.”
Unfortunately, Hanazono-sensei was a demon in every aspect.
To keep her quiet, I was assigned to play the piano accompaniment for all the classes.
In the first grade music class, I had learned the school song, but the score for the accompaniment had so many notes that the staff was almost completely clueless.
“What’s with this sheet music that looks like it was made by a junior high school student who just learned how to use a music sequencer?” This is akin to my work three years ago.
“A few years ago, we were talking about arranging the school song for a mixed four-part chorus, and when we ordered it from one of our graduates who went to music college for a low fee, they came back with a detestable piano score.”
“That’s a terrible story… Who is that guy? I want to go complain to him.”
“It’s a woman, and she’s named Hanazono Misao.”
“It’s you! U-uh, well…”
“You said you had a complaint for me, I’m listening.”
“I’m sorry for everything, and no, I’m not complaining.”
“Well, I wouldn’t want to play such a bothersome accompaniment either. I didn’t think I’d be able to find a job anywhere but at my alma mater. So, keep practicing.”
She really is a horrible person for a teacher. After that, she would choose choral pieces like “The Mouth of the River” and “Believe,” which were so difficult to accompany that I felt like crying.
Besides, I had to get used to the weight of the keys on the grand piano, so practicing at home was not enough, and I had to visit the music room every day after school.
“You’ve become rather good at playing in just one week, Musao, as expected.”
It doesn’t feel pleasant to be praised for work that was forced upon you by blackmail.
“Uh, sensei, can you please stop calling me Musao? I’m afraid you might refer to me with that name in front of other people and expose my identity…”
“Isn’t Musao short for Makoto Murase?”
“‘Mu is the only part that fits!”
“What village do you live in, chief? A village that doesn’t listen to their people?”
“I’m thinking of doing Haydn’s Four Seasons as an a cappella in class next week.” The teacher didn’t listen to me, but instead took out some sheet music and said.
“Arrange it into a four-part chorus.”
Will your demands just keep escalating and escalating? By the time I graduate from high school, I’ll probably be asked to write an opera. I paled at my current situation.
“Murase, you’re always in the music room after school.”
“Hana-chan-sensei teaches you piano all the time, right? That’s nice.”
“Are you guys playing side by side, close together, just the two of you?”
My male classmates were insanely envious of me.
Hanazono-sensei is a relatively new, young teacher in her fourth year teaching, and she is very popular in the entire school because of her name, appearance, and personality. That’s how she immediately grabbed the hearts of the new students right after they entered this school. However, I was grabbed not by the heart, but by the neck instead. I couldn’t help but want to say, “Well, you guys take my place then.”
“It’s not like I’m being taught anything,” I said, being generally honest.
“I’m just practicing on my own while sensei is doing some other work in the preparation room next door.”
In reality, most of the time, I’m reading manga, not working, but I lied about that part.
Suddenly, one of my classmates asked,
“Do you practice with the even-numbered accompanists?”
“Oh, one of the girls there is really cute, right? I only heard about it recently.”
“Which class is that girl in?”
“Class four, right?”
“You’re so lucky to have your elective in music, aren’t you? I shouldn’t have chosen art as mine.”
I don’t know who brought up the subject, though I have to admit I was getting more excited.
“Umm, you mean the even-numbered classes also have pitiful guys like me who are forced to play the accompaniment?”
“What do you mean, you’re being forced? You should be more pleased.”
“Don’t tell me Hana-chan-sensei is forcing something else on you.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me.”
The conversation almost went off on an incomprehensible tangent, but this is what I learned from all the information.
Our high school has eight classes per grade. Since the art elective class had three choices: music, art, and calligraphy, the number of students in each class was too small for the classes to function properly, so the school combined four classes into one. In other words, if you only look at the arts, it’s as if a grade is divided into two total classes. Since these divisions are divided from class 1, 3, 5, and 7 and class 2, 4, 6, and 8, they are called the odd and even class, respectively.
I was told that there was a girl in the even-numbered class who was assigned to play the piano, just as I was assigned to play the piano for the odd-numbered class.
“I’ve never seen her,” I said. “I don’t have a piano at home, so I practice at school, and she practices at home.”
“What? That’s boring.”
“I wish I was in an even numbered class. I would have been more motivated to sing in the chorus with her.”
“Don’t you think, Murase?”
It’s not like I’m doing it because I like it, you know?
I ran into the aforementioned girl surprisingly quickly.
In the last week of April, I had just finished the piano arrangement for the orchestra of “Carmina Burana” that Hanazono-sensei had asked me to do, and after school I went to the music room with the score.
There was a little trick in my arrangement to get a little revenge on Hanazono-sensei, though. I wrote it not as a solo, but as a duet. Because it’s “Carmina Burana“, you know? There was no way I could reproduce the sound of that heavy, thick orchestral score with only two hands. Four hands are barely enough to get the job done. So, please, won’t you help me too, sensei? I was going to give her the bass part, which I intentionally made difficult to play, as I really wanted to make that woman panic at least once.
But the music room was empty.
I spread out the sheet music I had brought on the piano’s music stand and waited for a while.
I could hear the shouts of the baseball and handball teams from outside the window. The idyllic chime of bread baking came from the factory across the street from the school. It was a peaceful afternoon without a cloud in the sky.
There was no sign of Hanazono-sensei, so I knocked on the door of the music preparation room at the back left of the music room. There was no response. When I opened the door, I found no one inside.
What’s with that woman? She told me to bring it right after school and yet she’s not even here?
Oh well, I guess I’ll just have to wait.
I slipped into the preparation room.
It was half the size of a regular classroom, with an unrefined business desk and a small electronic piano was placed in the center of the room, surrounded by steel racks.
For some reason, there was running water, a refrigerator, a kettle, and all the volumes of Yokoyama Mitsuteru’s Romance of the Three Kingdoms and The Water Margin, making it the perfect place to kill time.
I sat down in a chair and opened volume 26 of the Romance of the Three Kingdoms.
I was so engrossed in the breathtaking unfolding of the Battle of Red Cliffs that I didn’t notice that someone had entered the music room next door.
I almost dropped my manga when I heard a massive chord that spanned several octaves up and down, its noise penetrated the door.
It’s my arrangement of “Carmina Burana.” There’s no mistaking it.
I wonder who’s here. Is it Hanazono-sensei?
I didn’t know it’s possible to play it so perfectly on the first try. Damn, I should have made it much, much harder.
No, wait a minute. That’s meant to be a duet, right? Is there someone else beside sensei?
I quickly got up and pushed open the door to see what was going on in the music room.
There was only one figure in front of the piano, the back of a girl in the school uniform.
Her two thin arms danced over the keys.
My breath was taken away. She was playing the score by herself.
Once I calmed down and listened carefully, I realized that she had omitted some notes from my arrangement.
However, it was a heavy, intense, and boiling performance that was completely on a different level from the full performance I had tried to play at home by typing the arrangement into a sequencer.
Feeling incredulous, I listened to her play for a while. The hymns of thousands of people in awe of the Goddess of Destiny echoed in my head.
In fact, I almost started singing along with her.
However, her performance was abruptly cut short.
She stopped and turned around to look at me, and our eyes met.
The eyes that met mine were so striking that all the sounds around me suddenly became inaudible. Her eyes were filled with an unfathomable clarity, like the winter sea peeking out from under broken ice floes.
“…Have you just been quietly sitting there listening to me all this time?”
She asked with a raised eyebrow.
“Ehh… No, yeah… Well… I was surprised because it was written for a duet but it didn’t sound like that at all when you were playing it.”
“This horrible score, did you write it?”
Her eyes suddenly widened. Then she lowered his voice a little and continued.
“Are you the Musasabi-kun from Class 7 that Hanazono-sensei was talking about?”
“Musa…” That woman, what the hell does she think my name is? “I’m Murase. I’m a member of the odd-numbered class, and I’ve been asked to play accompaniment and arrange music… Are you in the even-numbered class?”
I asked, and she nodded as if she was bored.
“Is this the next thing they’re going to make me do?” She pointed to the music stand. “This is the first time I’ve seen a score written with so much malice. If Erik Satie lived to be 120 years old, I think he would still write a more docile score than this.”
I’ve never heard such a spiteful review for a song before, you know?
“The jumping progressions and tremolos in the lowest clef are especially difficult, as if they were made solely for the sake of harassment. The arranger’s nasty intentions just ooze out from between the notes.”
This is outrageous. Isn’t there a better way to explain this? It’s all true, though.
“Is it true? That’s really evil…”
“Uh, no, I mean…”
Just then, the door to the music room opened. I thought I was saved from the awkwardness, but as it was Hanazono-sensei who came in, things started to look bad for me.
“Yahoo. Both of you are here, are you getting along?”
Does this mood look like we’re getting along? Is your head stuffed with UNICEF fundraising money?
“Oh, is Carmina Burana done? Did you try playing it, Rinko-chan? How was it?”
“I won’t say too much, as the arranger himself is right in front of us.” She said as she pointed at me. “I think if you made a cow listen to this, it would produce gasoline instead of milk.
“I’d prefer if you’d speak up!” I don’t know the meaning of her statement, but I know it’s an insult. I mean, just now, you just clearly said it’s the most horrible thing right in front of me, didn’t you?
“It’s quite a feat to get Rinko-chan to say that much.”
“Why are you trying to make it sound like a compliment? You don’t have to back me up. I know it’s a terrible arrangement.”
“I didn’t go that far. You know that if I get serious, I can force you to confess to every single crime of molestation and voyeurism you’ve ever committed.”
“I haven’t done anything of the sort! Where did you come up with this ‘criminal’ crap?”
“I figured since he writes such indecent music, he must have committed something along those lines.”
“The meaning of ‘indecent’ has been changed?”
“I’m going home. I don’t want to be in the same room with an indecent person, and I’m done with my business here.”
She said, and walked to the door of the music room.
“Wait a minute, Rinko-chan, take the sheet music with you.” Hanazono-sensei said while pointing to my arrangement of “Carmina Burana” on the piano stand. “I’ll make a copy right now.”
“That’s not necessary.” She said curtly. “I’ve already memorized it.”
Even though the song is less than five minutes long, you just saw it for the first time and played it for a bit, right?
Noticing my suspicious look, she came back with a very unhappy expression, threw the sheet music on the stand down on the floor, and placed her hands roughly on the keys.
She wasn’t bluffing. It was true that she had memorized it perfectly. Moreover, she played the piece three times as fast (probably because she wanted to save time) to the end.
When her performance was over, she stood up and walked out of the music room, leaving me appalled and shaking in my chair.
As her back disappeared behind the door, I was finally able to catch my breath.
“It’s really helpful to have such a good memory. As expected of Rinko-chan!”
Hanazono-sensei said carefreely while picking up the music sheets scattered on the floor.
“…Huh? Who even is she…?”
I asked in a voice that sounded surprisingly exhausted even to myself.
“Rinko Saejima was a bit of a celebrity in the classical music field. Musao wouldn’t know about it because he’s not in that field.”
“Um… is she a professional pianist? She was really good at it.”
“No, not really. I was told that she would eventually become a professional, though. You know, she’s a former child prodigy. She’s been winning all sorts of competitions since she was in grade school.”
I look at the tightly closed door. A child prodigy, huh? I can understand why she’s so skilled now.
“But why would someone like that come to a normal high school like ours? Why doesn’t she go to a music school?”
“Well, she has a lot going on. A lot of different things.” Sensei smiled meaningfully. “I’m taking advantage of that to get her to play the accompaniment for me.”
You really, really are the worst!
“But well, it’s a waste. It’s not like my skills have gone downhill. I’ve just never seen a score so full of scare tactics…” Sensei looked at the sheet music and immediately noticed. “Well, this is for a duet.”
“Oh, uh, well…”
I was completely drained by the exchange with Rinko, and my original goal of annoying Hanazono-sensei had become quite insignificant in comparison.
“I thought a solo performance would not be enough to recreate the intense and primitive orchestration of Carl Orff…”
(TLN: He’s the guy that composed Carmina Burana)
I made an excuse with similar words like that.
“I see. Were you trying to get me to play the harder part?”
“Uh, yeah, well… sensei is better at it than me…”
Oh crap, she saw through my intentions.
“Well, let’s try playing it then.”
After she said that, she sat me down on the piano chair. Sensei herself stands behind me for some reason.
“Um, where’s sensei’s chair?”
“I’m going to play standing up. Because,” Hanazono-sensei points at the sheet music, “The harder one is my part, right?”
“Yes, so the bass part.”
“The most difficult part is the left hand in the bass clef, and then the right hand in the treble clef, right? If I’m going to play it, I’ll have to do it this way.”
Eh? No, um?
Sensei leaned on my back and held out her hands toward the left end of the keyboard (bass clef) and the right end (treble clef).
“So I’m supposed to be the middle register — right hand for the bass part and left hand for the treble part?”
Well, if it’s such a strange division of parts, then we’ll have to do it this way. But if we just sit normally and divide up the parts normally…
“Okay. One, two, three.”
The teacher counted and began to play. I rushed to match her.
But I couldn’t play properly. Her chin was resting on my shoulder.
Her breath on the back of my ears, the way her arms wrapped around my neck when the range narrowed, and some soft things pressed against my shoulder blades. All these factors made it so that I couldn’t play the notes properly any longer.
The door suddenly swung open.
I was so startled that I stopped playing, but sensei continued to perform, which left me looking like a blockhead. Rinko, who had just entered the room, frowned faintly when she saw us, but silently walked up to the piano, retrieved her phone, which she had apparently left behind, and turned on her heel to head for the door.
She leaves the room and looks over her shoulder at me with cold disdain.
“Is that why you decided to arrange the score into a duet in the first place? You really are the worst.”
“…No, no, this isn’t…”
The door slammed shut, leaving me no time to make an excuse.
“Hey, Musao, don’t try to stand up. It’s hard to play.”
“Why are you still playing in this situation!”
“No matter how hard or sad things get, you should never stop playing music. No music, no life.”
“I’m already a lifeless person socially! This is no time for poetry, we’ve been greatly misunderstood!”
“It’s not a misunderstanding though? I already found out that Musao is an indecent pervert.”
“Oh, no, no, that’s…”
I can’t deny it because it’s true, but…
“It’s true that I do crossdress, but not because I have a particular hobby, b-but because I want the viewers of my videos to see it.”
“That’s why you’re dressing up as a girl, to get people to watch your cross-dressing videos.”
“T-T-That’s right…it’s not for another particular reason, it’s a pure motive.”
“You’re dressing up as a woman for pure self-aggrandizement, aren’t you?”
“The way you phrased that…”
I gave up, as I knew I would only be tortured if I continued in this direction.
“Please don’t talk about it at school. I’m helping with your classes because you promised that you wouldn’t reveal anything. Also, please stop calling me Musao.”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah.”
Hanazono-sensei’s mouth twitched in frustration.
“It’s easier to call you Musao. So do you want to use another conjugation instead?”
“What’s the conjugation?”
( TL: Means worm/insect)
“That’s not even a Godan conjugation anymore!? Plus, it’s nothing more than just an insult.”
“Wow, you’re cranky.”
“Of course I am! Whose fault do you think it is?”
(TL: means unprincipled or unchastity)
“Wait, what? I’ve lived modestly for fifteen years!”
(TL: The person who composed Night on Bald Mountain)
“Who do you think made the Night on Bald Mountain? Everyone in my family is full of hair!”
“Oh, no, Mussorgsky isn’t meant to be an insult, but is it a little too much for you, Murase?”
“Oh…that’s right, isn’t it? That was a rude remark. I apologize to Mussorgsky.”
“When I said that I meant ‘Alcoholism on top of getting no girls for life’ though.”
“That’s a straight-up insult now! You should be apologizing to Mussorgsky!”
“What do you think? Compared to the way I talk, Rinko-chan’s foul mouth should be nothing to you. So please be nice to her.”
“What kind of an appeal is that?”
Compared to Hanazono-sensei, most people would seem reasonable to deal with.
“We don’t really have any contact with each other, even if we were friends. We don’t have the same regular classes, and we are not even in the same music elective class.”
“You have me as a connection.” Sensei points to her chest. “I’m sure we can all relate to someone who is being exploited by their secret.”
“How can you say such a thing without hesitation if you are the one who is forcing them to work for you…?”
Your “I’m saying this for your sake” face seriously irritates me, so could you please pull yourself together?
Nevertheless, I want to interact with Rinko just one more time.
I look at the sheet music sloppily spread out on the music stand.
I didn’t want to force such an overly complicated score on such a great pianist and be done with it. I didn’t want to leave her thinking that Murase Makoto was only capable of this kind of horrendous arrangement.
After staying up all night to rewrite the accompaniment score for a solo performance, I waited until after school had ended the next day and immediately went to the music room. I had asked Hanazono-sensei to tell Rinko to come back after school.
But it seems that the person that informed her did not tell her that I would be there, so when Rinko came into the music room and saw me waiting for her, she looked at me and then faintly sighed.
“Was it you that called me? What do you want today? If you’re saying that you’re not satisfied with just sensei, and you want to play the duet while glued to me, I’d rather not. You’ve lived a miserable life without a single woman. I don’t want to have any sexual crimes committed against me, but I can lend you a stuffed Nemo if you want.”
I’m not sure where to start.
“That’s what you ask about? Are you admitting to everything else?”
“You’re wrong! I’m just asking what came to my mind first!”
“Nemo is a clownfish, right? I heard that male clownfish can change their gender, so I thought it would be perfect for you, comforting yourself by dressing up as a woman.”
“That’s stupid! Eh, w-w-wait a minute, how do you even know that?”
I broke into a cold sweat. Don’t tell me, Hanazono-sensei told her? That woman promised to keep quiet, and now she’s blabbing? But Rinko shrugged her shoulders and said.
“Musa Boy has been quite famous in the competitive piano community for a while. He was apparently a junior or senior high school student, but he was presenting an abnormal original piece that sampled Boulez, Ligeti, and other maniacal composers, so people were saying that he must be one of the competition regulars. His piano skills were very lacking, but I was sure he was playing it badly on purpose to hide his true identity.”
“‘…Thank you for the well-deserved recognition…”
I really am just bad at piano.
“In the end, the identity of Musa Boy remained a mystery even to those around me, but I was convinced when I saw the score yesterday. The arrangement you made is just like those of Musa Boy. And when I reviewed their videos, I was pretty sure it was your body.”
I’ve had enough. The world of the music industry sure is small…
“Isn’t it hard to live with a perverted fetish and a perverted taste in music? Do you think that it’s true if you multiply negative by negative, you get positive?”
“Don’t call it negative! I like what I do! Oh, and I’m not talking about the cross-dressing; I’m talking about the music, so please stop giving me that look.”
“So, did you call me here today to force me to do something perverted?”
“Don’t tell me you want me to dress up like a woman, too.”
“You’re already a woman! Good grief! I’m not getting anywhere!
When I held out the sheet music, Rinko took it suspiciously.
“Yesterday’s Carmina Burana? Did you go through the trouble of rewriting it for a solo performance? I don’t need you to do that for me, I can just arrange and play by myself.”
“I didn’t want you to play it randomly, so I rewrote it.”
I said, interrupting her. Rinko blinked her eyes and looked down at the music sheet again. I found her gaze scanning the notes.
Eventually, she sat down in the piano chair and spread out my sheet music on the music stand. Her chilly white, thin fingertips hovered over the piano’s bone-colored keys.
I wondered why it was so different from when I played the piano. I could tell even before it was played. There was a special atmosphere in the room. If rests are as important to music as notes are, then the charged silence before a song begins is also a part of the music.
Rinko’s fingers touch the keys.
What a quiet fortissimo.
This is the energy, full of contradictions, needed for the first note of Carmina Burana. Followed by a dissonant struggle between orchestra and chorus, enthusiasm bubbled up between the clash of sounds, bursting out and scorching the air. Until then, I had no idea that the piano was an instrument packed with so much expressive power. A torrent of images, too much even for the shiny black body of the piano, seems to be leaking out in an exuberant manner. The bones of hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands of people must have been gathered to assemble this instrument. The tragic voices of the sacrificed howl in the air.
By the end of the second part, I was breathlessly wrapped up in Rinko’s playing and just continued to listen. A heavy creak sounded as it crushed the echo of the last chord. It sounded like the gallows were being prepared, but upon returning to reality and taking a closer look, it was actually the sound of Rinko closing the lid of the piano.
She stacked the sheet music, aligned the edges, looked at me and said.
“…So, can I have this?”
I closed my eyelids tightly and opened them again and again, trying to adjust my consciousness to the uncomfortable reality. The echoes of the piano were still drifting around like metal shavings, making my skin prickle.
“…O-Oh, yeah. You can have it.”
I thought I should add something, since my dumb reply would leave me in an awkward situation, so I just said what came to my mind.
“I intended to make this a simpler score than yesterday’s one, but… did you not memorize it?”
“What are you talking about?” Rinko said, raising an eyebrow reproachfully. “If it’s a proper song, you can’t just memorize it and be done with it, right?”
It was only after she left and the door closed that I understood the meaning of her words. I couldn’t say anything back. This time, she recognized my arrangement as a proper piece. She thought it was worth taking back and looking over it again.
Relieved, I sat back down in the piano chair.
I felt Rinko’s body heat still lingering on the chair and also the echoes of the piano.
I opened the lid and gently placed my fingers on the keys. But I couldn’t bring myself to play anything after listening to her play like that.
Such a great pianist had just appreciated my arrangement. For now, let’s just be honestly happy about that. I’m sure I’ll be asked to play this accompaniment in class sooner or later anyway, and Hanazono-sensei will probably compare my performance to Rinko’s, criticizing me mercilessly. I’ll try not to think about that right now.
Then it occurred to me.
Rinko Saejima is undoubtedly top-notch. Even a person of my level can see that. There is something special about her performance that goes beyond her technical prowess.
This is not the kind of performance that should be wasted in the music room of a run-of-the-mill high school in a corner of Tokyo.
I wonder what happened to her.
Why is she trapped in a place like this?
TL: Picking up a new series, hope you enjoy it! Rejected 10k times will come after this.
ED: Thanks for reading, mc is just Davie504