Qualia the Purple
Arc 1: Various Notes on Marii
Chapter 2: Marii is Cute
Marii Yukari was really cute.
All in all she was pretty petite (if she stretched her back, her forehead wouldn't reach farther than my jaw, and I was of average height), and she gave off the impression of a small animal, perhaps because of her natural weave. Her curvy hair gently expanded to fill the space around her head and, in the right light, sparkled like waves on the ocean.
Her hair wasn't the only charming thing about her.
Yukari also had fair facial features.
She might have said that other people looked like robots to her, but to me she looked like a doll. Not one of those dolls you could pick up in a shop, but more like a custom-made bisque doll. And when I say doll, I mean only that her features were fair; I don't mean that she lacked emotion. If anything, she was more expressive than anybody else I knew, and I never tired of watching her face going from one emotion to the next completely different one in just a short stretch of time. Her appeal was admittedly more of a childish appeal than a feminine one, but that shouldn't be surprising considering we were still in junior high. And honestly, for someone like me who didn't smile very much and was often was told that "grumpy" seemed to be my default look, her expressiveness sometimes made me jealous.
However, to someone with special eyes like hers, the grass seemed to be greener on the other side of the hill.
"Gaku-chan, you keep saying that, but I kinda would rather be more like you, I think. Your face never really moves very much and you look like you'd be fine if there was something radioactive nearby..."
"If someone else had said that, I might’ve actually been offended..."
"Wah. Umm, no, that's not what... umm, you're not getting me right. That's... umm... I mean..."
I felt my chest tighten and stifled a sigh as I watched her go "wah wah wah" while looking around for someone to save her.
She had such rare, exquisite features that you could go ask ten people to each call ten friends and then all hundred people would probably rant and rave about how cute she was. But for some reason the person herself was surprisingly ignorant of her own cuteness.
She wasn't being humble or hard on herself; she just literally did not understand that she was cute.
After all, looking through her eyes, there was nobody to compare her own cuteness with.
Since she saw everyone else as robots, Yukari's idea of what a "proper human" looked like only came from looking at herself in the mirror and from drawings of humans (it seemed that no matter how detailed the drawing, artwork of humans still looked human to her. On the other hand, if you took a photo of a human, it would look like a robot to her no matter how blurry the photo). One's sense of beauty is born from one's environment together with one's experiences, and then is developed through learning. And so, just like how the standards of beauty now are completely different from those in the Heian Period (1), Yukari's standard of beauty was completely different from our own. Even though we all thought she was cute, to her this just made her feel more isolated. She had been raised surrounded on all sides by robots, and so this just drove home the fact that she was the only person with wavy hair and fair skin.
She really didn't think of herself as cute, but instead wished she could become a robot like everyone else.
But that was precisely why...
That was precisely why whenever I found a chance (for example, when we were alone), I would give her a tight hug. Remember, I was the always-grumpy girl, so this was pretty out of character and embarrassing for me. But as long as I couldn't tell her these things out loud, as long as I couldn't express these feelings to her, I would never be able to convey what my eyes were seeing to her. But even if I couldn't get that across, I still wanted her to understand.
That's why as long as we were not in a public place, even if it was embarrassing, I would tell her whenever I found a chance to.
"I think you’re really cute. No matter what you might think, at the very least I can say that you look really cute to me."
"Wah. That's kinda embarrassing."
Yukari looked down and I saw a tinge of red in her cheeks. I'd like to think that there was a bit of happiness mixed in with her embarrassment, but I was sure that what I wanted to say didn't get across. She couldn't understand.
So I wouldn't just tell her. I would hug her too, and pray.
Please, please understand my feelings right now.
Please, please have a bit more confidence in yourself.
Yukari, you could definitely give the cutest person in the world a run for her money. What can I say to make you believe that?
By the way, she seemed to have given up on her personal appearance and never really paid attention to what she wore. Well, to be precise, when she did pay attention to it she ended up wearing some absurd things that looked like robot cosplay. But, for all she didn't care about clothes, she did pay a lot of attention to cleanliness.
That makes it especially ironic that she was bad when it came to taking baths. She would never get into the bathtub alone, and so when there wasn't anybody around in her house to help her out she would just end up taking a shower.
It seemed that she just couldn't believe the human body could float, and didn't have any confidence in her own body being waterproof. She would end up thinking about water leaking into her everywhere and get too frightened to take a bath alone.
"Why's everyone else not scared of water? I mean, you look pretty heavy too, and... umm, wah, that's not what I meant. Umm, are you angry? It's... umm..."
It's not like I was really angry (I mean, it's been how long since I've known Yukari?), but seeing her head dart back and forth in slight panic like that reminded me so much of a cute, small animal that I couldn't help but stare. The curt look in my eyes probably came off looking like a glare to her too... it's not like I meant to, but before I knew it my eyes were just glued to her.
"Umm, that's really not what I meant. I'm not saying you’re heavy or anything, but it's just that it looks that way to me, and... wah, no, you don't look heavy either. Umm... wah, what do I do..."
She was so cute when she got like this that I was almost tempted to try to feed her breadcrumbs from my palm. I just couldn't keep my eyes off her.
And then I thought... Yukari was so cute like this that maybe it was fine if I didn't try to force her to understand.
(1) 794 to 1185 A.D.