Music-Box Angel 5... C&C is welcomed with open arms! If you read, please send me a comment or two. E-mail me at email@example.com.
For the sake of convenience in this text format, the two Maries are known under different spellings. Hiroshi's creation is known as Marie, while the human version is known as Mari.
Thoughts of the various characters are encased in italics.
Computer conversations are encased /like so/.
Words that are supposed to be crossed out (but would still be readable) are noted -thusly-.
NOTE: This text was produced without the consent of the original copyright holders, and, while it is intended as tribute, in some areas it is considered an illegal work.
OUR STORY SO FAR: So, you're the type who walks in just before the ending credits and asks the guy next to you to fill you in, eh? Well you can fergetit, bub, 'cause this story's almost over. For now, that is. Go and read Episodes 1-4. You'll love it, trust me! (grin)
The anime (c) 1996 Sakura Takeuchi/Goro Sanyo/Shueisha/
Victor Entertainment/Studio Pierrot.
Licensed by Victor Entertainment, Inc., Japan.
Released in North America by A.D.V. Films
under the title "My Dear Marie."
For more information, contact A.D.V. Films at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Boku No Marie: Music-Box Angel (c) 1998 Matthew Johnston.
All Rights Reserved.
Sunday, 10:07 AM.
Hiroshi awoke suddenly, his head throbbing with sleep-
depravation and dehydration. He squinted and groped for his
glasses, which, upon finding, he placed carefully on his head.
Every action to him seemed overpowered, as if he was a titan
moving in a Lilliputian environment.
After a moment of blinking the sleep from his brain, he managed to sit up and cough weakly. He wondered if maybe he was getting sick, and then thought that he should be surprised if he was, given the energy he exerted last night.
As the events of last night separated themselves from that area of memory that could have been dream, remaining when the last threads of dream had faded, Hiroshi reached into his desk, found his worn notebook and a familiar pen, and wrote:
Early this morning, Mari and I talked for quite a long while. The details of the conversations are still blurry, as I am just now awakening from a short sleep. As this is more a record of Marie's performance than any sort of personal diary, I will skip those details for now. Sufficed to say, Marie's secret is known now to another person: Mari.
Mari promised me she wouldn't tell anybody what Marie was, and that she had a plan to keep Tanaka from remembering that he too had seen Marie in her vulnerable state as an android, and not as the human sister which is, quite obviously, the state I'd prefer everybody to see her in.
Late Saturday night, I placed Marie in a perpetual sleep mode, thinking that perhaps her self-knowledge and access privileges would allow her both the realization of her situation and the opportunity to correct it. Thinking there was little if nothing else I could do, I proceeded upstairs, where I engaged in a lengthy conversation with Mari.
After the conversation, we returned to the lab, where I found Marie to be in a highly agitated state of nocturnal motion. After a short struggle, Mari and I managed to subdue Marie, and return her to the workbench.
I decided that I would have to recode her myself. Using a number of routines I had devised for just such an emergency, and employing for the first time a technique of programming integration recently described in a recent issue of Doctor Dobbes' Journal, I was able to extract the Hitomi routines from Marie's drives, and to restore her libraries to a state of normalcy.
Mari proved invaluable in the recoding of Marie's libraries. As she and Marie had spent much time together, and had shared a number of experiences, I was able to successfully recode the three -infected- augmented libraries 002, 007, and 102.
The Hitomi routines, reintegrated with a minimal MarieOS system, is "sleeping" soundly on my workstation's hard drive. For all intents and purposes, Hitomi is still alive. I remember the time I put into those libraries, even after so many years, and I can't stand to simply destroy them. In many ways, Hitomi -was- is as alive as Marie. I don't have the ability to "kill" her. Mari thought Hitomi should not die, and I am glad I defaulted to her wisdom.
It is unknown at this time what I will actually do with Hitomi now that she's "sleeping" on my workstation's hard drive. Certainly, the notion of creating a body for her is tempting, though not without its complications. While it is true that, at one time, Hitomi represented my ideal, and, it seems, may still, I am unsure as to whether I would be serving any meaningful purpose in reactivating Hitomi in her own body. Given Marie's purpose (and the change it has gone through), it would seem logical that perhaps a male android would serve a greater purpose.
As a matter of fact, I am unsure whether Marie would accept a male android, or any other android, for that matter. She has grown quite independent, and may feel that she is strong enough emotionally to find her own companion, rather than have one created for her.
I suppose that the best way to find this out is to announce the project, and gauge her reaction. Beyond receiving a direct response, I am at a loss; I cannot know what is in Marie's mind any longer. This previous episode has shown that sufficiently.
Sunday, 10:07 AM.
Mari hadn't slept like she had hoped. It seemed more like
her tossing and turning had been interrupted by a few moments of
slumber rather than the contrary to which she was accustomed. And
as wonderful as the sleep had felt, she couldn't keep her mind
calm enough to stay asleep for more than a moment. Each time she
awoke to roll over, she could feel her opportunities for getting
any sleep whatsoever rapidly diminish.
The sun peeked cautiously through her wall-length window and the semi-sheer bedroom curtains that covered them wistfully. She heard a bird chirping outside, and knew that the neighborhood children were playing somewhere nearby. She wanted so much to join them and just play like she was a child again.
"Yesterday, I was just fine," she noted soberly. She repeated the words, more angrily this time. "Yesterday, I was just fine!" A series of curses flashed in her mind, but a full minute of continuous yawns kept her from saying them aloud.
In a fit of misplaced movements and overripe actions, Mari grasped for her diary and a pen. She wrote:
Sunday, April 17th.
Yesterday, I was just fine! I can't believe what's happened. You'd never believe it either, but I suppose I have to explain before I get ahead of myself. Be forewarned, though. This is not easy to understand. Or maybe it's too easy to understand, and that's what the problem is. Anyway, here's the story:
Yesterday evening went well. I guess that's relative to what happened afterwards, because thinking of it now, it seems completely terrible. Hiroshi got nervous and accidentally ordered a White Russian. That's an alcoholic drink, and Hiroshi has no stomach for liquor. I would have stopped him, but I thought maybe he knew what he was doing. Okay, so I made a mistake! On top of that, he ordered five more, but I think that the waitress had them mixed weak or made them non-alcoholic, because she didn't seem worried, and he didn't seem to get any drunker. That must have been what she did. I should thank her for that. I don't know what he would have done if he had been really drunk!
Anyway, he took forever to finish eating because he was telling all these stories about his childhood. I have to admit that he would have been a great friend to play with when I was in grade school. I wish I could have known him then. Anyway, after we got out of dinner (which Tanaka paid for -- remind me to thank him for that), Tanaka decided to ditch Hiroshi and I and "take Marie home" (that pervert! Never mind about thanking him). I guess he might have guessed the same thing I did about the box Hiroshi was carrying, but I doubt he even noticed it.
Tanaka dropped us off at the fountain park a block from Hiroshi's house. Hiroshi seemed strange, not really nervous, but whatever he must be underneath all that. He was quiet, I guess. Not really at peace or anything, but definitely softer than before. I think it was the water, or the leaves or something, but it sounded like everything was being drowned out, but when he spoke, it seemed to clear, but not too loud, you know? He didn't yell like when he's nervous, or clam up like when... he's nervous.
Geez, I never noticed how nervous he always was until I saw him acting normal. Weird. I hope we can talk normally more often.
Okay, Now here's the best part. Hiroshi, the cutie, he
gives me a music-box. He had it engraved, too, but I can't
remember what it says, and I left it at his house by mistake when
Tanaka and I left (but that's getting ahead of myself again). It
was something sweet, like "To You, My Love" or something like
that. Oh yeah, it was "To You, My Ideal." I should have figured
it out then, but you know how dumb I can be. And the song the box
played was so beautiful. I can still hear it now. It's one of
those songs you can listen to forever, the kind that just gets
prettier and sadder when it slows down. When my brother tried to
teach me piano, he played a song for me like that. The softer he
played it, the better it was. He called that kind of music
"distilled melody." I guess that's what this was. Completely the
opposite of that CD of Hiroshi's I mentioned on Friday. You know,
I wouldn't be surprised if Hiroshi had made that music-box
Okay, so maybe I am. Just a little.
By the time I got to Hiroshi's house, he and Tanaka were
downstairs. He, that is, Hiroshi was hooking up Marie to a
computer. That's right. She's a robot. I mean, an android.
Hiroshi's really picky about that. Something about how Marie can
think for herself. I guess it wasn't as much of a shock as it
should have been, because I didn't go nuts or break down or run
away or anything. I guess I knew Marie was in trouble, so that
kinda took precedence. I dragged Tanaka, who was acting weird --
he must not have been taking it well -- to the living room, and I
tried to talk to him. He told me what happened to Marie (a piece
of her insides fell out of her and she shut down), and then fell
asleep! The jerk fell asleep! It was for the best, though. I
was able to convince him that he had hallucinated the whole thing
later on. Bwahahaha! I'm so smooth!
No, forget that.
But, after we talked, Hiroshi and I went downstairs to check on Marie. She was up and about, but something was definitely wrong. She was shaking and trying to tear the wires Hiroshi had hooked up to her out. She was mouthing words like she was trying to say something, but no sound was coming out. Her eyes were wide open, but I don't think she saw us at all, or if she did, we were just something in her dreams. Hiroshi and I had to push her back down so she was laying on the table, and then strap her down. I felt like I was working in a hospital. It was really scary to see Marie like that. She seemed so afraid of everything. When we strapped her down and Hiroshi sat down at the computer, he went nuts. I guess something went really wrong, because he was going completely crazy. He worked on the computer for something like two hours straight, not even stopping to blink. When I asked him what he was doing, he said he was feeding Marie new programs. He said it would be too hard to explain, so I just watched over his shoulder. He was working so hard and so fast, like it was life or death. And then it hit me. When I -figured- found out Marie was an android, I couldn't deal with it because she had seemed so real to me. I was trying to make her just a bunch of wires and computers in my mind, but she was real. She is real. She is Hiroshi's sister, and his daughter. To him, she's everything. And since she's her own person now, I wonder if she and Hiroshi will eventually
Because Marie lost a few of memories in the repair process,
Hiroshi and I had to kind of reconstruct as many as we could.
There weren't that many lost, though, and most of them were either
with me or her. Mostly it was like unscrambling a sentence. The
memory would be like one long sentence saying how warm it was,
what everything looked like, and what happened. But anyway, we
got into an argument about how hot it was last Tuesday, and it
ended up being that he went on-line to check and I was right on
(he was about ten too hot). Seeing him grumble an apology was
cute, but I felt a little sorry for him somehow. Oh well.
You know, he's a hero, I guess.
Sunday, 4:32 PM.
"Oh God, my head." Tanaka rolled off his bed, catching
himself on his knees and hands. His room seemed so bright when he
opened his eyes that he groped around blindly for awhile before
finally finding the light switch. He moaned in pain when he
realized that the light was off. It was only the ambient sunlight
filtering into his room that was blinding him. With great effort,
he opened an eye.
His room was in disarray. This was normal for him, though. His bed was unmade, but it never was. His floor was cluttered, but it always was. He noticed he was still in his clothes. Memory began to touch him with pricks of images. Soon, he was able to piece together much of what he imagined his night to have been like.
He scrambled to find his diary. After a few minutes of fruitless searching, he decided his memories were too fragile to let slip away with another moment of searching and took out a piece of notebook paper from on top of his desk. After crossing out the half-made shopping list, he wrote the following:
Marie is a robot.
Maybe it was a dream. I mean, it was like I was in a movie. But it was so vivid. Dammit! Why can't I be sure?
I don't want to out and announce that I think Marie is an android. If I was wrong, they'd think I was crazy or something. I better just play it cool. If she isn't, then I have nothing to worry about. If she is...
And what if she is? Can't I love her all the same? I mean, it's not like it's a complete disaster to be in love with a machine. Love is better than all that. Besides, she's just as cute as Mari, and a little easier to deal with. Mari's got that whole history thing. I've tried too many times with her, but I can try again with Marie. I've learned from my mistakes. I bet I can get her in bed in another month. Or two. A month or two.
Definitely by June.
Sunday, 4:41 PM.
Marie took the time to write in her diary for the weekend.
She hadn't had the opportunity since Friday night. She felt an
extreme urgency when she wrote, and it prompted her to write every
detail she could remember, from Saturday morning when she lost her
memory, to when she woke up to Mari's smiling face. The entry
totaled 58 pages, and left her with only three pages in her diary.
She wasn't overly surprised; she usually kept a detailed diary,
and had learned that year-long diaries usually lasted only a month
or so. And she realized that her weekend was less than normal.
After the diary entry, she wrote a short paragraph, as a sort of final entry. She wrote such a paragraph in each diary she finished, as sort of a summary. She also enjoyed the slight sense of drama she instilled in them, as if maybe they would be turned into a television show or radio drama.
|      I love Hiroshi, but I cannot have him. He belongs to another, and beyond that, I'm his sister to the world. I must vow to be his sister, and love him as one. This leaves me with a dilemma: either try for Tanaka, or try to find new friends. Tanaka is not really an option, and staying alone seems impossible. I want to love somebody. Maybe I should try going to school. I could get into any college -- passing the exams wouldn't be a problem. The question is, do I go to the same college as Hiroshi, or a different one. And what do I want to study?|
An answer formed itself almost immediately, but she hesitated before writing, not wanting to change her format so quickly. After rationalizing that it would add a proper sense of drama to the ending, and smiling as she did so, she added:
|      I think I'll study music. Hitomi would be proud.|
Marie closed her diary, and placed it with the others in a cardboard box under her bed. She added a diary to her mental list of things to buy on Monday while Hiroshi went to school.
Sunday, 6:57 PM.
"I'll get it!" Marie was quick to respond to the doorbell,
much in contrast to her brother, who seemed to have been hiding in
the laboratory all afternoon. When she opened the door, the whole
of reality seemed to rush past her ears.
"Hello, Marie. Feeling better?" Mari smiled so pleasantly, Marie felt her heart pause. Even a few hours without being able to talk, to voice her feelings about the last few days... Marie felt herself preparing to cry, and nodded deeply.
"Much, thank you. Did you get any sleep last night?" Marie looked down and saw two large grocery sacks in Mari's hands.
"Not really. Is Hiroshi awake yet?"
"Yes, but he's busy in the lab at the moment. Why don't you come in? I'll get him for you."
"Thank you." Mari stepped in and set her sacks down. "I must confess, I'm here for kind of a selfish reason." She took off her left shoe, then the right. "I wanted to thank Hiroshi for the music-box, and to get it back, so I was going to fix dinner." Mari smiled again, so beautiful that Marie's lips tingled. She licked them discreetly. "Is that okay?"
"Yes..." Marie murmured. Realizing her dreamy state, she shook her head clear. "Yes! That's a wonderful idea! Let me help you. I need to thank Hiroshi myself." Marie picked up a grocery sack. "Let me help you with these."
Once in the kitchen, the pair fairly flew through the preparations of Mari's best dish. As they chopped and sauteed and prepared, the talked. The conversation didn't wander into any heavy territory, but each could tell the other was simply waiting for the right moment to let loose on the subject. There was a pressing against their words. There was something right about the want, but something wrong about the environment. So they waited.
Eventually, they did talk, and the pressure exhaled from their lungs. They apologized and talked about concerns. They hugged and promised to never do that again. They laughed and agreed about Hiroshi. They revealed about themselves things they had kept hidden, and kept hidden still a few more secrets. The pressure slowly replaced itself with comfort. Marie smiled, and Mari smiled with her.
"So, we're sisters in a way," Marie mused.
"I suppose we are," Mari replied sweetly.
"So this is between sisters?" Marie stepped closer.
Marie kissed Mari on the cheek. It was short, but loving. When she opened her eyes, she saw that Mari was blushing. She was holding her cheek, and stepping away slowly. Marie felt something welling in her, something a little darker than the comfort she was feeling. She hoped her boldness had not destroyed what such a long and honest conversation had created. She hoped she hadn't shown too much of herself, or worse, something that wasn't there. But then Mari smiled, and nodded. "Yes, that was. Between sisters, I mean." She turned back to the kitchen to get their glasses. "Thank you," she finally added.
"Dinner's ready!" Marie called, fairly indignantly, from the
top of the stairwell. From the darkness and the gentle hum of the
lab, she heard a struggling, "Coming!" and smiled. She saw,
moments later, a staggering Hiroshi rubbing the sleep from his
"Were you sleeping in there?" Marie teased. Hiroshi frowned and tried to speak, but a yawn prevented him. Marie clapped him on the shoulder and made a point of dramatically "helping" her brother to the dinner table. Hiroshi seemed amused until her saw Mari. Marie felt his shoulder tense up, and his posture straighten almost immediately. Marie, had she not been as strong as she was, would have probably been tossed to one side by this action. As it was, she took three steps back and to the side, and silently apologized. She noted that she'd have to properly apologize after dinner.
"Mari... Did you...?" Hiroshi gazed at the extravagant meal on the table, then looked back at Mari.
"It's the least we can do to thank you. Marie did a lot of the work. I mostly supervised."
Marie interjected immediately. "That's not true! It was Mari's recipe, and all I did was chop the vegetables. This is Mari's to be thankful for."
Hiroshi stiffly sat and took a sip from his glass. The water seemed a little strange, but he figured that it was mostly from his draining experience last night than anything else. As he put the glass down, he felt a little more comfortable. Maybe I'm finally gaining some self-confidence, he pondered.
Dinner went well for the most part. Hiroshi complimented the meal repeatedly, and both girls rushed to place the credit on the other. Invariably, Mari blushed, and Marie giggled. It was a comfortable, almost cozy atmosphere, something they had not shared before. Hiroshi remembered his plans, and spoke.
"I was able to recover Hitomi's routines."
Marie started at the announcement.
"I'm thinking about constructing a body for her."
Marie blinked, and after a moment, realized she had dropped her chopsticks. She turned to Mari, who chewed thoughtfully, slower than normal. After a long silence, she spoke.
"I think that's a good idea."
Hiroshi smiled a little, and continued to eat. "What do you think?" he asked Marie between bites.
Marie couldn't answer except to say a small, "I'm not sure." The atmosphere changed for the rest of the meal, but slowly it crept back to the warmth that existed before he so abruptly changed the subject. But the warmth seemed strongest between Hiroshi and Mari. Marie smiled inwardly at the progress, and hoped it would continue even after his ever-so-slightly spiked water wore off.
Sunday, 9:43 PM.
"Thanks for letting me stay for dinner." Mari's voice nearly
lost itself in the light breeze that floated past the front steps.
Hiroshi, sitting next to her on the steps, smiled and leaned back.
"No, thank you. It was nice having a guest for dinner for once." He looked at her, but she didn't return the gaze. She was looking up at the sky. "It's a really clear night tonight."
"It's beautiful." She blinked, and Hiroshi saw the reflection of the porch light swim in her eyes. He wanted to get closer, but...
"You should write her another letter."
"Hitomi. Write her another letter." Mari was still looking up, her eyes still swimming with the light. Hiroshi looked at his hands and saw they were trembling, but only a little.
"All right," he announced finally. "I will." Hiroshi wanted to say, 'for you' as well, but he didn't know what she would say to that, so he bit his tongue.
It was a long moment before either one spoke again.
Marie smiled as she finished drying the final remnant of the
meal's dishes. It was nice to get them out of the way. On the
whole, the evening had been quite a success, though she still
didn't know whether to back him on that project or not. She did
miss Hitomi, now that she was fully alone in her mind again. She
wondered what it would be like having a little sister as well.
Looking out the window, she could see the lowest of the horizon-bound stars. She knew that, for each star she saw, there were billions she didn't. She sighed and wondered if there was somebody on a planet out there looking at her star and wondering if he was alone.
"Are you any good at astronomy?" Mari seemed fixated on the
stars, but Hiroshi could hardly blame her; they shone vividly in
the cloudless night sky. Even though they were in the city, it
seemed they could see all the stars tonight.
"I'm okay. I studied it quite a bit when I was younger."
"Which star is that?" Mari pointed up at the sky, her arm fully extended, like a child might do. Hiroshi looked up and tried to follow her gaze upwards.
"Which one? The big one there?"
"No, silly, not that one. The little one under it."
"I can't see it."
"Here, follow my arm." Hiroshi leaned and looked up her arm.
From just inside the doorway, Marie looked outside at her brother, and his new companion. She smiled, satisfied in a number of ways, melancholy in as many others. Hiroshi wasn't struggling against Mari's cautious kiss, just as he didn't struggle against Hitomi's. Marie sighed lightly at the familiarity of it all. She wondered if all history was that circular.
This episode serves more as an epilogue than a full-blown episode, and it's yet another little experiment/exercise of mine. The lateness is a result of obvious -- a lack of free time -- and perhaps a little lack of inspiration. I must admit, this story drained me, but I feel very satisfied with the work as a whole, and the experience as a whole. I'm also proud to have written this story, and to have finished it; this is, truth be told, the first story I finished in any capacity.
Again, I'd like to thank Jim Nutley for pre-reading the first (and rather different) draft of this episode. He drove me to re-write some scenes, and add others. Because of him, I was able to finish this episode (and thus the story) properly. Mad props to you, mi amigo.
I'll be taking a some time off from the Boku No Marie universe to work on something different (see below for details). But I will be back, whether you like it or not, with a little ditty I like to call "Academia Robotica". Now, to the big issue for Episode 5:
April 17th?!?: In Episode 2, I placed the date as Saturday, April 17th. This was a date picked out of the air, never meant to have a year. However, as I continue to build my continuity, I gave it a year in this episode -- 1998. However, April 17th in 1998 was a Sunday, so I regret that I am retroactively making the date given in Episode 2 Saturday, April 16th. I have thus changed my versions of the episodes, both on-line and in my personal archives. The change is very minor, but I apologize for it and any difficulties it produced in suspending reality. I know how fragile that suspension can be at times. ^_^
My New Project?: I'm currently working on an original series called "Okaeri, Kaori-chan!" ("Welcome Home, Kaori!"), a romantic comedy/drama about love, music and dark, terrible secrets. Episode 1 (of a projected 26) is due to appear December 1st (with trailers and previews to inundate the FFML around November 15th).