“The Distance Between Language and Thought” (ReiMari story)

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Original title: 言語と思考の距離 (Gengo to Shikou no Kyori)
Artwork from the book by Ane (sorry for the potato pic, but this is the best I can do since I don’t have a scanner…)

Happy birthday to me!

This is a Reimu and Marisa story written by Ranko. It was published in November 2014, as an extra for the book “Hakurei Reimu wa Soko ni Iru” (博麗霊夢はそこにいる) by Waki Miko Ai. It’s out of print and unavailable outside of second hand markets.

I found this one pretty hard to translate in some parts. Ranko’s writing style is usually very simple, but this one made me wonder how the hell I did manage to translate an entire book of her stories two years ago. Also, you can tell it was written in 2014 due to the absence of a certain character that would have fit the story.

I want more Ranko stories (still hunting for Tegami no Katachi wo Shita Yume/手紙の形をした夢…). I want Yume no Hanashi 2. I want to translate more Touhou fanfictions.

Marisa was on the porch. Reimu was used to her behaving as if the shrine were her own home, but the shrine maiden was in a hurry because she had just woken up and was caught off guard. She let out a foolish “woah.” It was rather loud, and the distance between Marisa and Reimu was not that great, but the witch did not turn around. Maybe she didn’t notice. Again, she said “woah.” Her long golden hair swayed in the wind, but she did not turn over. Irritated, she called out louder, “Marisa.”
“What the hell, I can hear you”
“Good morning Reimu,” Marisa said without looking back. One could tell from the tone of her voice that she was not angry, and there was probably a reason why she was not looking at her, but Reimu still didn’t like her attitude.
“You should say hello, you know”
Reimu grabbed Marisa by the shoulder and forced her to face her, and in her hand, there was something – a squared object that she had never seen before. It was rectangular and palm-sized, and while she didn’t know what it was supposed to do, it was definitely not from Gensoukyou.
“What’s that?”
“It looks interesting”
Marisa bared her teeth and giggled in Reimu’s favorite way. She pressed a button and slid her finger across the screen, and the words in it danced. Reimu was ready to grumble that she didn’t care about it, but then she showed some interest.
“It’s called… smartphone”
A while ago, some black thing called ‘telephone’ entered the fantasy, and this seemed to be the same kind of object. Marisa spoke of the information she must have gotten from the owner of that shady antique shop as if it were her own credit. They were all in an uproar when that phone thingy appeared, but this was a completely different shape. The telephone was big and black, with some kind of round dial on it, and there was a handset and a body, so the smartphone couldn’t be that. The difference between what was in front of her and what she saw was too much for Reimu to comprehend, so she took the smartphone from Marisa’s hand.
“Let me borrow it for a moment.”
She held it and stared at it. Was it really the same thing as the phone? It fit in the palm of her hand, there was no dial, and she wondered if she could really talk to someone with it. With the phone, she didn’t understand why she could have a conversation with someone who wasn’t there, but it still made sense because the line was connected somewhere. Marisa said with a triumphant expression that with this thing, one could talk to someone and exchange text over the airwaves.
“It’s quite fantastical”
Reimu was marveled by it. “Over there, they call existence like you and me a fantasy,” said Marisa while standing up, taking off her shoes, and walking into the house. “I’ll grab some tea.” Reimu, who was tired of poking at her behavior, asked the witch to leave some for her as well.

By touching the smartphone, a message that said to slide it out and type in a four-digit number would have appeared. This was the first time they’ve ever seen a screen where you have to type in a specific number, and Marisa has been playing with it for about an hour while sitting on the kotatsu. Reimu wondered how she didn’t get bored, and at that exact time, she found the right number.
“Yay, I did it!”
It was 0916. Marisa handed it to Reimu and she typed in the same thing, and sure enough, there were some buttons on the screen, and underneath there was a picture of a man and a woman smiling happily. When she touched it without thinking, it responded, and the shrine maiden impatiently handed it to the witch as another screen appeared. Reimu wasn’t very good at handling high-tech things. Ignoring her, whose mouth twitched in a ridiculous smile, Marisa touched the screen and slid it, excited about what to do next. Sighing exaggeratedly, she peered at it from the side and saw something that looked like a conversation between two people, one coming from the right side and the other from the left.
“I think it’s a conversation”
“Apparently so”
The duo both looked at the screen and bumped each other’s heads. Ouch, Marisa protested, but they kept looking.
“Are they fighting?”
On one side, there were phrases like, “Why do you always do that?” or “I wanted to do this!” and other words of intense emotion. On the other side, the only answers were “I’m sorry, I’m not good” which seemed to make the other person angry. “This guy is an idiot,” said Marisa, and Reimu was a bit confused.
“I mean, don’t you feel like he’s just apologizing?”
She could have said more, but it would have been counterproductive. Reimu countered as she was overwhelmed by the force of their colliding heads.
“Really? I think to apologize is a good idea”
“That’s what opportunists do”
She was annoyed. Today Marisa was very picky towards Reimu. She thought to herself for a moment if she did something wrong, but within three seconds she concluded that she didn’t. Maybe she was trying to pick a fight. Reimu relaxed and stood up, and her eyes met Marisa’s, who was surprised at her sudden loss of support. When they opened their mouths, the words and voices overlapped.
“If you have something to say, say it”
“If y’have something to say, say it”
They both looked at each other and said “eeeh?” “Reimu, your face looks stupid” “Yours as well, Marisa” “Not sure if I should applaud the fact that our words overlapped,” continued Marisa.
“Why did we go from talking about these guys to talking about us?”
“Just sit down,” she said, tapping the floor next to her. It’s not that she didn’t know what was going on, but maybe she was being arrogant, or it was just Marisa as usual. Reimu reluctantly sat back down, admonishing her mind that maybe she was just frustrated.
“Oh dear, things don’t look good”
They read the rest of the conversation. The other one, frustrated by the one-sided anger of his partner, blurted out very long sentences, and everything ended with “Fine. We’re breaking up.”
The conversation was cut short there.
“Oh no”
Marisa sighed and pressed a button. The screen came back up and showed the same picture of the couple as before. Reimu thought Marisa, who was getting used to using it casually, was honestly amazing. And maybe she wasn’t cut out for this kind of thing, as Marisa had said. The shrine maiden was about to open her mouth to ask if this was a conversation between the two people in the picture, but the witch preceded her. Reimu was surprised that they were both thinking the same thing. Marisa didn’t notice and said it was a waste.
“If this thing is here, it’s because they don’t need it anymore”
It wasn’t like the whole concept has already entered the fantasy, like in the case of the telephone, it was more like the solid itself has come to them. It was too high-tech to be a fantasy.
“If those two had such strong feelings for each other, they should have talked in person.”
Marisa certainly talks a lot, but she seemed more sentimental than ever today. Perhaps she had something to say.
“Humans are wonderful creatures, aren’t they? They can talk to each other”
She threw the square thing on the tatami, saying that it was the kind of thing that would have got them in trouble. Earlier, Marisa also said to tell her something if there was any. Reimu called her, and at that moment, her hand on the floor slipped, and she fell to the floor with Marisa wrapped around her. She got up and saw a bright red face underneath her.
“…you’re blushing”
“Shut up and get out!”
The shrine maiden was amused by her unexpected reaction and wanted to tease her. When she brought her face as close as she could, she pushed her away with both hands and told her to stop. Hmm, she’s surprisingly cute, Reimu thought, so she said honestly.
“You’re so cute”
“Stop it, you don’t have to say that”
“You’re the one who said, ‘If you have something to say, say it’”
She reluctantly retreated as she pushed her away once more with all her might. When she got up, Marisa was still turning her face away. “Don’t you have something to say?” Reimu sipped her tea and asked. Marisa climbed into the kotatsu, away from Reimu, and played with her bangs messily.
“I told you there’s nothing”
It was written on her face that there was, Reimu thought. Finally, she told Marisa
“I’ll tell you something else I was thinking about, just for the record… Yes, I like your smile. It’s so cute in a winsome sort of way.”
She looked up and looked at the witch for a moment, and she tried to make eye contact with her, but she immediately turned her head down again. Marisa threw her face on the desk, muttering accusingly that she said cute again, and let one sigh. Then, she finally retorted.
“I’ll say it then… I hate your smile.”
It was surprising to hear such words. Well, it’s true that their bond is a strange thing that can hardly be called friendship, but Reimu stared at Marisa, not expecting her to say she hated her. Reimu had a feeling that her words would still continue, so she waited for it. She waited quite a while, so long that it took a while for the air to stop and start moving. A few moments later, Marisa dropped a faint, almost vanishing voice.
“Because you’re invincible. It’s a reminder that I’ll never win.”
In other words, Marisa wants to win, but she thinks she can’t, and that’s frustrating, and Reimu thinks that’s pretty cute too. If Marisa, who hates to lose, thinks she can’t win, that means she’s the object of so much obsession. Her lips were curling up, for that reason.
“Reimu, your face is red”
“It’s just your imagination!”
Reimu didn’t know if she could put into words everything she wanted to say. Well, not in this case, but she picked up the smartphone, typed in 0916, and looked at the picture of the happy couple again. It was hard to imagine that these two people just had that exchange. Even if people love each other, they still have differences, and no matter how many words they use, sometimes it happens. So, instead of giving up, she still wants to live her life using words with sincerity. Then there would be no regrets or feelings left. The owner of this smartphone is surely regretting it right now. It’s a pity, but it can’t be helped.
So, let’s properly say cute to the cute creature in front of us. Reimu tried to open her mouth again, but Marisa stopped her.
“If you say anything else, I’ll assume you’re trying to fight me!”
Her hakkerou was in her hand. Sighing and laughing, Reimu stood up and replied with her invincible smile.
“I don’t have a choice if that’s what you want.”
“Shall we play some danmaku?”

The sound of the two of them echoed high in the cold, sharp air.