anko3890 Don't Give Up On Your Dreams
Anon sees a stray Reimu singing by an alley in a shopping plaza. Unlike most dead-eyed, miserable strays, this Reimu's face is full of optimism and hope. Curious, Anon stops to talk to her.
Reimu tells him that her family all died and she used to be uneasy, but she learned how to take it easy from the mister TV in the window of the nearby electronics store. She saw a pop-idol Reimu who said that life is meaningless without a dream, and if you believe in your dreams they'll come true, so now stray Reimu's dream is to become a famous singer just like her.
Anon knows about the idol--he knows there was a "documentary" TV show about her the night before. Apparently a producer scouted a stray Reimu singing on the street and turned her into a big star with a Cinderella story. Idol Reimu's songs are all about believing in your dreams, not giving up hope, dreams coming true, etc (although Anon figures that's just her gimmick, she probably doesn't actually believe that.)
Reimu is disappointed that Anon isn't a Mister Producer, and she asks him to recommend her to any Mister Producers he might happen to meet. Anon wishes her luck. As he leaves, she begins singing again--she must've learned Idol Reimu's "Don't Give Up On Your Dreams" song from watching TV. Her singing isn't very good, but Anon is struck by the hopefulness of her voice.
Several days later, Anon passes by Reimu's alley as he rushes to a business appointment. Even though he's running late, he stops to investigate when he hears loud, arguing yukkuri voices. A Marisa and an Alice are urging Reimu to accept their offer, saying that it'll be good for her, but Reimu repeatedly turns them down and angrily tells them to leave. The Marisa and Alice leave, muttering that she'll regret it and that they shouldn't have bothered to invite her. From the sunflower-shaped badges on Marisa and Alice, Anon thinks he can surmise what happened. Then he has to rush off to get to his meeting on time.
Two weeks later, Anon happens to be in the neighborhood again, and curious about Reimu, he checks in on her. As he expected, she's in bad shape. She's bald, both braids have been torn off, her body is covered with shoe marks, and most of her teeth are gone. Her cardboard house has been destroyed and her ribbon has been ruined, presumably the work of some nearby junior-high punks.
Anon is not surprised. Yukkuris who sing on the streets meet one of two fates--either someone calls the Factory to take them away, or a passerby abuses them.
In a hoarse voice ruined by nonstop singing, Reimu asks why this happened to her, even though she tried so hard to achieve her dream.
Anon asks Reimu why she turned down Alice and Marisa's offer. From their sunflower badges, Anon could tell that they were "Community Yukkuris," stray yukkuris who entered into an agreement with humans to pick up litter and tend the grass in the park in return for food and shelter. Anon knows the work program was being expanded to old-folks' homes in addition to the park, so there were job openings for more yukkuris like Reimu.
Reimu says she turned them down because Community Yukkuris are slaves to humans and can't take it easy.
Anon considers that it must be unpleasant for Community Yukkuris to abide by strict rules, work hard, and endure the glares of a human supervisor. On the other hand, it provides them with what they need most--food and safety--plus after showing what good, obedient yukkuris they are, Community Yukkuris sometimes get adopted as pets.
Anon tells Reimu that he's like a slave to his company, too--he doesn't like all his tasks, but he works hard so he doesn't get fired. He tells Reimu this never would have happened if she had become a Community Yukkuri and saved singing for a hobby to pursue in her free time.
Reimu protests, saying that Idol Reimu said not to give up, that her dreams were sure to come true.
Anon says that that's a lie, of course--if it were true, all yukkuris' dreams would come true and there wouldn't be any unhappy stray yukkuris. Furthermore, even Idol Reimu is a slave to humans. Anon read a tabloid article alleging that her agency is abusive, overworking her without time off and using a stun gun on her anyaru if she complains. There's a rumor that the original idol died of overwork and the Idol Reimu on TV now is just a replacement wearing the original's ribbon.
Anon tells the stunned Reimu that even an amateur like him can tell she's not good enough to be a professional singer--and deep down, didn't she know it too? She wan't pursuing her dream, she was avoiding reality. A dream beyond her abilities is just a fantasy, and the work put towards it isn't "striving," it's "wasted effort."
Anon feels a twinge of pain in his shoulder, and he admits to himself that he's hardly one to talk.
Reimu is silent, and Anon realizes that she's dead--not physically, but psychologically--from the shock of learning the truth that all her effort was in vain and her role model was just a slave.
Idol Reimu's latest song plays over the shopping center's music system--"Yuu yuu yuu, Don't give up on your dreeeam..." Anon thinks back to his youth, when he dreamed of becoming a pro baseball player. Trying to make up for his lack of natural aptitude with sheer determination and effort, he ended up injuring his shoulder so badly, he could never play baseball again. He doesn't regret having loved baseball and put effort into it, but he wishes he had pursued his dream more sensibly so he could still play his favorite sport for fun today.
Anon walks away silently. The whiteness of his breath in the air tells him that winter is approaching.