Masquerade Ends

A month before graduation, Tamaki asks her what she thinks of a masquerade. For old times' sake, for the memories and trifles bound to fade when they leave. And for him and for all of them (and a slight—the tiniest shred—bit for herself) she agrees.

The drinks drain and the food decays.

The masquerade trembles from being touched. On a high, clear note, Haruhi prepares to clasp shut the casket (it's curtain call).

-

On days like these, with the sun shining so bitter and darkly and making lurid circles darken under her eyes, she likes to walk.

And hum and think by—for—herself as her feet make impact on the imported pebbles (these people never did anything by the halves). Haruhi pauses and imagines a clever response. And when she turns around, the Twins look forward eagerly.

"I'm sorry."

They nod, knowing it is so. So—

So-so and so what. So what that things are changing that they are leaving.

-

In the game of politics…Kyouya once remarked.

She has his words memorized verbatim. She hangs onto them, gestures of hope and reliance and maybe there is some stability still left. And knows she is fishing in air.

They will be different. They are moving on, without her.

Too young, twice shy and all of that. That which makes them distinct and separate (Haruhi stands for the closing ceremony).

-

For the masquerade, they dress her beautifully (to say goodbye, she understands). Stuffed with sweetness and girliness and correctness, she can hardly protest.

Tamaki asks her to dance. Haruhi agrees and pretends she is a princess and the floor will break if she steps brutally.

She is not graceful but does not fall either. Tamaki is an excellent partner, she notes.

-

"Your debt has been paid," Kyouya says.

She widens her eyes. Oh? "Thanks."

"You're free to go."

And Haruhi quickly leaves (but turns around one last time, catches him shuffling papers repetitively—delaying). Haruhi smiles.

He does not.

-

The seniors graduate, Mori and Hunni, and there is a sharp void trying to claw its way out of her shirt (stop that). It relents for a moment to see Hunni make the valedictorian speech and sendfurtive glances towards Kyouya.

Hunni puts it down flat and blunt: what will happen now?

Kyouya shrugs (Tamaki is exclaiming and tearing and taken-in-the-moment by his childlike heart). They all let out tragic sighs, even Kyouya is lost for words.

Indecision, he would have said, is stupid.

-

Freedom is absurd, she concludes.

(The world is absurd.)

-

Reverberating from behind glass panes, Tamaki plays a sonata. Ode to a Finale, Ode to Beginning is Ending is Reliving.

He calls it the suicide room, the corner to approach when the arts age and die.

Haruhi doesn't understand: she's too pragmatic.

-

Freedom is not about choice—that she gets.

(The world is choiceless.)

-

They depart in long-stretched, sinewy limousines, black and ominous like an eclipse. Haruhi waves them goodbye and grins when Mori and Hunni poke small faces out of shimmery windows.

No more fantasies and facades.