At any rate, school was probably going to be put on hold, what with the typhoon’s interference.
There was a time when I had thought that.
But dosukoi, an entire night hadn’t even passed and the typhoon went its way, everyday life taking back its rightful place in the morning.
And the result? DO-TEN P-KAN, the sky was painfully sunny, IPPAI OPPAI, I was full of energy.1 Like hell I was.
I was confident I could go to school late, using the typhoon as an excuse, a scummy move, so I stayed up considerably late. And here I was, deprived of sleep. Heck, this lack of sleep could pass as an ending song for Kiteretsu2.
The typhoons lately had been so feeble that it was causing problems for me.
I somehow managed to make it on time to school, but I was assaulted by drowsiness the entire day. Usually during breaks, I’d either sleep or pretend to, but I was especially sleepy today.
It wasn’t only just during breaks. I was also battling with it during class. That’s to say, I tried resting my chin in my hand, sprawling forward on my desk, and placing my head on my crossed arms, looking for an ideal sleeping position. Yeah, it’s definitely that. Since fighting wasn’t a nice thing to do, it’s better to settle things peacefully, yep. I think I’ll get along better with drowsiness from now on.
And before I knew it, class had ended.
The conclusion I had arrived at for the best sleeping position was falling prostrate on the desk with both arms interposed at my neck. This way I wouldn’t leave any imprints on my face. The only problem was the dull pain in my neck, shoulders, and back.
Or so I said, but I couldn’t even get a wink of sleep, and my lethargy reached its peak because I had an unnatural posture. I had the feeling I wouldn’t be able to get a decent amount of shuteye unless I lay down.
It was obvious where I needed to go.
I stood up and walked to the back door of the classroom with unsteady steps.
It was that instant when I opened the door.
We didn’t make a beep, bop, beep ☆3 collision, but I did receive a light impact to my chest. I had bumped into someone who was just about to substitute my position in class. Hey, who the heck was this “person who had better not get a license for not watching where he was going of the year4?”
I scowled at the person with a sidelong look and gave my respects to his face. It was a small animal-like boy I was familiar with staggering on his feet, making him very cute. The one who had entered the room with short gasps was, “I really think you shouldn’t get a license, instead, you should just sit in the passenger’s seat with me while I drive my car… of the year!”, Totsuka Saika.
“Oh, Hachiman. Sorry about that…”
“N-Nah! That was my fault. I was kind of out of it for a bit there…”
In fact, I was completely out of it right now. Though it might’ve been a coincidental side effect, right now, I was posed with Totsuka in my arms… Phew, that was close. Had there been bread in Totsuka’s mouth, I would’ve fallen head over heels for him.
Totsuka realized that we were suspended in our position and gently took some distance from my chest. “Sorry again, I was kind of in a hurry… Hachiman, were you going somewhere? It’s almost time for class, you know?”
“Nothing much.” I answered.
I’m skipping class to sleep in the infirmary, but I couldn’t really say that out loud. Boasting criminal behavior like that should be done on Twitter only.
Totsuka slightly tilted his head. “But wouldn’t it be better to stay? We’re going to decide on our duties for the Cultural Festival in the next class.”
The only thing we were able to decide on in long home room the other day was the theme. They were probably going to discuss in detail about how to proceed forward in the next hour.
“…Well, anything works for me.”
It’s not like I was going to do anything anyway. As always, I would just be present, an existence that served only to exist.
Once everyone started on preparations, the only thing I could do was act like a bizarre totem pole and stand still.
It didn’t matter what job I was given, what I’d do wouldn’t change.
I didn’t have anything to do, but with the so-called preemptive style, I’d find myself standing behind someone, taking a peek at their hands, mumbling “uh huuuh” with a know-it-all face, and simply wait for them to tell me “could you do this for me?”
“It’s fine if you just pick whatever’s available for me.”
I had no idea whether my thoughts had gotten across to Totsuka, but he nodded with a curious look. “Okay, got it.”
Thanks, I lightly waved my hand and left the room.
× × ×
While listening to the bells that signaled the start of class, I headed for the infirmary on the first floor of the special building.
I walked in the dead atmosphere, obviously with no students frolicking around given the time.
It was slightly relaxing around the infirmary. I lightly knocked on the door in front of me, and when I opened it, the smell of antiseptic solution drifted to my nose.
A female student was chatting with the school nurse inside. But the moment I entered, their talking abruptly stopped.
The female student whose name I didn’t know dropped her eyes to her cellphone in discomfort. It felt like I did something bad there. Sorry, tee-hee.
“Oh my, aren’t you one of Shizuka-chan’s kids?” The school nurse, a young woman wearing a white gown, said, looking at me closely.
I’m not sure what to think of being considered that. It’s almost like we’re parent and child or something, you know? Someone will get mad, okay? For the most part, Hiratsuka-sensei will. Especially regarding her age, that is.
“I think I have a cold.” I briefly explained my visit. Of course, I made sure to show how sluggish I was feeling too. Times like these were where I showcased my unrivaled acting skills. It wouldn’t be weird to call me a master of the cold. Oh gosh, that name sounds soooo cool. Still, using master and cold in one phrase made it sound way too chuuni.
“I wouldn’t trust an amateur’s judgment. Let me have a look.” Regardless, the school nurse casually brushed off my full-powered acting.
Tch, you couldn’t expect any less from the school nurse, a veteran at handling skipping students. Couldn’t you just have pretended to have fallen for my little performance!?
Sensei gave me an intent stare down, as if trying to look past my lie. No, it might be more accurate to say she was leering at me with sharp eyes instead. Had this been the world of Pokémon, my defense would have been lowered.
“…This is definitely a cold.”
“That’s a rather quick assessment…”
What the heck was that little charade from earlier then…? I sent her a gaze, both with objection and discontent.
Sensei laughed. “I mean, just look at those dull eyes of yours. There’s no way you’re not sick.”
She made it sound like I was afflicted with something around the clock. What exactly did she mean by “dull”, anyway? Even the dull London became Paris once the weather cleared up, you know? Tomorrow’s who-ja?5
Sensei looked at me with an “okay” after she finished writing something on her clipboard. “Well? Are you going to rest here?”
She asked casually, as if suggesting “do you want to equip here?”
“There’s a bed further in.” She gave a brief answer and I listened obediently. The bed, separated by the curtain, had a neatly folded linen blanket on top. I slid it over my stomach and lied down.
The chatter beyond the pink curtain started up once again. As I fell asleep, those hazy voices lingered in my ears.
× × ×
What… the hell…6
It was the end of break.
At some point before I made it back to class, I had been forced into the planning committee for the Cultural Festival.
On the blackboard was written “Hikigaya”. And it was under planning committee no less. Gwaaah! Dis’ some kinda conspiracy!?7
I mean, granted, I did say to toss me whatever position that was available. Regardless of what I’d be tasked to do, nothing would change, so I was ready to accept any kind of work no matter how mind-numbing it’d be.
But, but, even so, didn’t any of these guys feel any kind of of guilt from pushing a job onto someone because they didn’t want to do it?
Wasn’t it common sense at times like these to assign loners harmless jobs? As a matter of fact, that was always the case up until now.
The “we made you the committee chairman because you were resting (lol)” method was conceived primarily because the leaders of the class could get a kick out of it by forcing each other to do something hilarious, so if you imposed that onto an individual belonging to another cultural atmosphere…!
Then that was pretty much a war…! No count…! No count…!8
I stood in front of the blackboard in dumb amazement until my shoulders were tapped.
“Do you need an explanation?” It was obvious who it was without turning around.
Sh-She’s here~ the female teacher near thirty who can’t get married, Hiratsuka Shizuka~
I wordlessly looked at her for an explanation.
Hiratsuka-sensei briefly sighed and glanced at the clock. “It’s almost time for the next class, yet everyone was still dawdling around. That’s why I chose you Hikigaya.”
Hold it right there, Japanese teacher. You can’t be using “that’s why”. There’s no logical connection here.
“Sensei, what are you trying to pull…?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Don’t give me that… Just what do you take loners for, sensei!? Forcing loners into things like class events only brings about tragedies, you know!”
These types of events were meant primarily for people who were friendly with each other to enjoy themselves in. If I was there, then they’d have to be considerate of me! Had I been given a worthless position, where my presence had absolutely no influence, then both parties could take it easy and do our own things in peace! While I may not advocate Ghandi’s nonviolent civil disobedience doctrine, I did support the nonintervention unnegotiable doctrine, you know!
“I was going to check with you on the matter, but… I believe you’re the one that said anything was fine though?”
Oooph… I thought, and let out a sigh. I turned towards the window side of the class and Totsuka clapped his hands together apologetically. Cute. Aah, join your palms together for bliss. Pray, pray.9
As I stood there distracted, the wrinkles at Hiratsuka-sensei’s brow inched closer and closer until it couldn’t anymore. Wriiiiinkles.
“Enough already, I can’t start class with you up here so get to your seat. Decide on the rest after school.”
× × ×
Class after school was chaotic.
We were going to decide on all the responsibilities for the Cultural Festival. This was supposed to have been done in the previous class, but it apparently took a long time just trying to pick out the male representative for the planning committee. Ultimately, Hiratsuka-sensei’s tyrannical judgment led to the role being pushed onto me. This was what they called power harassment… Argh! If only I had more power! Then I would’ve been able to pass it onto someone else! This series of power harassment… you couldn’t expect nothing less from this vertically structured society of Japan. It was this exact moment today that I truly felt the Japanese in me.
Now then, that’s how I was feeling, but we still had to choose the female representative for the planning committee.
At the teacher’s lectern was the class officer leading. I didn’t know his name. Everyone tended to call them class officers anyway. There was also demand for girl class presidents too, but unfortunately, it was a boy, so class officer was sufficient.
“Erm, okay, if there’s any girl who wants to be a committee member, raise your hand,” said the class officer. No one responded and he briefly sighed in resignation. “If we can’t decide, we can go with rock-paper-scissors…”
The class officer was cut off by Miura. He started to stutter, going “mmmg” out of fear. With just her destructive “haa” alone, she was able to silence the area around her. What temple was she brought up in? Being brought up in a temple sure is amazing. I couldn’t help but think that again.10
After that, sporadic chatter followed by silence looped. People would talk somewhere in class, and when the class officer touched on the matter, “how’s that?”, the silence would set right back in. This scenery played over and over.
“…Is it, like, a lot of work?” Yuigahama asked, seemingly unable to watch the situation any longer.
The class officer showed an obvious expression of relief. “I think if you just do it normally, it won’t be all that difficult… It might end up being pretty hard for the girl though.”
That damn four-eyes, he totally glanced in my direction when he said that. That damn four-eyes, he was totally indirectly telling me I’d be useless. But because he looked so shameful saying it, I ended up feeling apologetic before getting angry. It was my fault, four-eyes. Okay, okay, help yourself to the glasses.11
“Uh huuuh…” Yuigahama said, looking in my direction with slight anxiety.
The class officer went on the offense, interpreting her to be wavering, as if this was his only chance.
“Honestly, if you took up the mantle, Yuigahama-san, that’d be great. I think you’re really suitable, since you’re popular, so I’m sure you’ll be able to get everyone working together in no time.”
“No way, I’m not really…” Yuigahama answered, embarrassingly shaking her head12, and a voice resembling the freezing temperature of ice, could be heard.
“Oooh, Yui-chan, you’re gonna do it, huuuh?”
“Eh?” Yuigahama turned and ahead of her was a female student.
Let’s see. I think she was Sagami?
Sagami was solidified in a group of four, sitting a distance away from Yuigahama and the others. Opposite of the window side, furthest back in the class, where Miura’s group resided was the hallway side, slightly farther in towards the classroom, where Sagami’s posse was located.
“Hey, that sounds sooo awesome too! Close people at an event sounds like a tooootally cool party~,” Sagami said, and her nearby friends giggled with sardonic laughter.
With a vague smile, Yuigahama replied. “Well, that’s not really it.”
Sagami directed a meaningful look my way.
That smirk was disgustingly repulsive. The mingled snickers from the girls sitting nearby, even more so, were altogether grating.
Exactly what was inherent in those sneers? There was no way I couldn’t know.
They were the same things underneath the laughter that time, the day of the fireworks display.
To Yuigahama, who always belonged to the inner circle, and to me, who always belonged to the outer, those sneers were chock-full of scrutiny and scorn.
The laughter resembling ripples echoed deep within my ears.
“Hey, like,” said a voice, sounding pompous in nature, and cleaved the commotion apart. It was like the sudden halting of insect noises when stepping audaciously into a thicket. “Yui and I are going to get customers, so no way that’s possible.” Miura Yumiko asserted decisively and brazenly.
As if pressured by her intensity, Sagami and the others stuttered, and then went silent. Sagami’s smile continued to keep its shape. “Oh okaaay, getting customers is important too, yep.”
“Y-Yeah, yeah, getting customers is important, er, since when did we decide I’d be doing that!?” Yuigahama answered, conforming, but ended up surprised. I was pretty sure only the male representative for the planning committee was elected so far, though…
Yuigahama’s reaction caused Miura to get flustered in her own special way. “Eh…? Y-You’re not going to do it with me? W-Was I wrong? Was I totally jumping the gun there…?”
“No worries, Yumiko. You’re not too far off. That reaction of yours is what makes you Yumiko too!” Ebina-san replied, sticking her tongue out, and winked, followed by a thumbs-up. Yes, well, that really was something you’d see from Miura.
“Wha, Ebina, stop flattering me! You’re gonna make me embarrassed!”
Miura, I know you’re already completely red and hitting Ebina-san, but I don’t think that was a compliment, sorry.
On the side, Yuigahama’s shoulders were downfallen. “I-I guess I don’t have a say, huh…”
You finally noticed? But you should be relieved. I mean, I didn’t even have that right. Heck, not only did Hiratsuka-sensei decide things with her arbitrary judgment, everyone clearly had some misgivings about it. I was seriously an unwanted child.
Seeing absolutely no progress, the class officer let out a short sigh. I could feel the grief coming from the middleman.
“In other words, how about something like this?” Hayama, who had been silently watching the entire time, started up without bothering to raise his hand. Everyone’s attention was naturally lured in. Even the class officer was looking at him with sparkling eyes of expectation. “We just have to ask someone who can show leadership, right?”
Hayama’s words were extremely reasonable and valid. True, it wouldn’t hurt to have leadership experience considering you’d be in charge of various responsibilities. Though, if there was one problem, then it’d be how he sounded like I had no leadership at all. Okay, sure, the only things I had were cold compresses13.
Still, in that case, then it became a discussion about how jobs like these should be left to those in the top caste. But since the male representative seat was already occupied by me, the girls were quickly declaring their lack of willingness to take up the role.
If we think about this from a general perspective, in the event where people from the top caste didn’t take up the responsibility, then it would fall in the hands of the next group down.
The implications of Hayama’s words were perceived exactly as that by Tobe.
“Sounds like Sagami-san, yeah?”
“Yeah, that might work. Sagami-san seems like she’d do a good job too.” Hayama looked convinced despite being the one who had come to that conclusion.
Tobe, in his own special way, looked proud, going “I know, right?” It was a little sad how cute he was trying to be.
On the other hand, Sagami, who was suddenly mentioned, shook her hands in front of her face. “Whaat? Meee? I dunno if I can. It’s, like, toootally impossible for me!” She may have been refusing, but there was no sincerity in it.
Hey, hey, as a leading expert in rejection, you can’t fool my eyes, you know? When a girl really rejected something, she’d say, “Um, could you stop please?”, with a near blank expression and extremely colder eyes. It’s so scary that you’d feel like your heart was going to stop and you’d want to die.
Grasping this standard of pre-established harmony, Hayama clapped his hands together, with an apologetic look for insurance. “Sagami-san, could I ask you to do it somehow?”
“…Well if no one else is going to do, then I guess I’ll have to. Buuuut, me, huh?” Sagami’s expression happily turned red, intentionally mumbling her words. What Jigoku no Something-sawa14 were you?
She probably wasn’t in a bad position since she was being asked by that Hayama, rather, “I’m getting relied on by that Hayama!”
“Okay, I gueeeess I’ll do it.” Sagami answered, looking reluctant.
The class officer breathed a sigh of reassurance on his glasses and said in exhaustion, “Okay, let’s end it here for today…”
Everyone then stood up and left the class.
× × ×
And so, the planning committee was going to begin as early as today.
The time was 3:45 in the afternoon. I reviewed the schedule in my head.
On campus, not only were you expected to adhere to isolation, but also to have the ability to manage yourself. Moving from class to class, holidays, and after school plans were, for the most part, everything you needed to have a solid understanding of. This was because no one would tell you these things. I was super good at looking up things related to the holidays in particular.
The time progressively neared. I started for the conference room where the committee meeting was planned to be held.
People heading to the conference room were sporadic in staggered groups. In the traffic of people, there were also boy and girl pairs talking on their way there. Good grief, could these kids lost in life not make it anywhere unless they had someone with them?
The conference room was allocated as the Cultural Festival planning committee meeting space. Its size was just about the size of two regular classrooms and gaudy seats and tables were prepared inside. It looked like it was typically used by staff members for meetings.
When I entered the conference room, about half so far had gathered.
She must’ve headed here before I did, because Sagami was there as well.
Grouped with two other girls, whom she was friends with the entire time, or gotten friendly in this short amount of time, Sagami was engrossed in conversation.
“Wow, I’m sooo glad you’re a member too, Yukko. I sorta got pushed into the position, so I was freaking out. ” Once Sagami got the ball rolling, the other two followed.
“I’m here because I lost at rock-paper-scissors.”
“Me toooo! Oh, Sagami-san, can I call you Manami-chan?”
“Sure, sure. What should I call you?”
“Oh, Haruka? Aren’t you in the girls basketball club with Yukko?”
“Oooh, that sounds nice. Maybe I shoulda joined a club too. I totally have no luck with class, you see.”
“Ah, class F is the one with Miura-san right?”
Sagami’s gloomy expression was scary, but the other two girls who brought up Miura’s name from just the phrase “no luck with class” were in a league of their own.
Standalone girl talk didn’t have any malice worth worrying about, but when they aggregated into something bigger, they became a deadly poison; that’s what made them dreadful. Just like how the accumulation of miniscule poisons from other living creatures in a blow fish was converted to tetrodotoxin, this was very similar.
“But hey, Hayama-kun’s there, so it’s not so bad.”
“Pretty much. Hayama-kun’s the one who actually recommended me to the committee too. I had no idea what to do then.”
Again, what Something-sawa were you? Sagamisawa-san?
I strained my ears and I could hear conversations coming from others besides Sagami and her friends.
As the number of people increased, those ripples of conversation transformed into noise.
The number of people in the room increased one by one as the beginning of the meeting approached. Whenever the door slid open, everyone would direct their attention towards it, but quickly look away upon realizing it wasn’t a friend. Those stares were really unpleasant… The way they’d look away nonchalantly was as if they were declaring, “I wasn’t waiting for someone like you, I have no interest in you.”
But when the next person came in, it was a far cry from that.
The instant the door opened, the boisterous chatter immediately ceased.
Walking through the abruptly set stillness, her footsteps hushed, was a girl, Yukinoshita Yukino. Her usual overbearing attitude was nowhere to be seen. Every single individual’s breathing had stopped, like that of gazing at thawing snow that continued to dissolve.
When Yukinoshita noticed me, she stopped for just a brief moment. But she quickly averted her gaze, and took a few steps, and even took a few more as if rethinking her decision and sat at the nearest seat to her.
It was only a short amount of time for her to arrive at her seat, but time in the conference room had definitely been frozen until then.
Although I should’ve been used to seeing her already, my eyes were still taken in by her for just that moment. Was it because this was the first time I had seen her outside of where we’d usually meet? Or was there was something surprising about her participation in this Cultural Festival planning committee?
Time was already moving. Though there were hints of restraint, reserved chatter started up again like a sea roar. Just a little longer and the hands of the clock would turn to the commencement of the meeting.
The door of the conference room opened once again, simultaneous to the sounds of footsteps and conversation.
It was a group of students with a sense of solidarity holding printouts. Entering after them was Atsugi, the physical education teacher, and Hiratsuka-sensei.
Why is Hiratuska-sensei… I thought, finding it odd, and looked at her. When our eyes met, she smiled at me. That smiling face of hers made her appear younger than her actual age and cute.
In other words, there was some ill will underneath it.
I really did get suckered, didn’t I…?
After several of the students gathered at the front of the conference room, they looked at the face of a single female student. And then, the soothing-looking female student returned a nod.
With that as a signal, two students, apparently first years, began distributing papers around to everyone. Confirming that the two made their rounds around the room, the female student gently stood up.
“Okay, let’s start the Cultural Festival planning committee meeting.”
Her medium length hair dropped down to her shoulders, her front bangs were clipped with a pin, and her slick and beautiful forehead radiated brilliantly. Her uniform was worn as per the school regulations, but the colorful hair band that was wrapped around the lapel badges and her wrist gave her a feeling of adorableness. That female student sweetly looked at everyone with narrowed eyes and a smile, and gave us a, somehow, soothing command. Everyone then sat up straight.
“Um, I’m the student council president, Shiromeguri Meguri. I’ll be extremely happy if we can manage another Cultural Festival this year without issue by cooperating with each other… U-Um… S-So let’s do our best, everyone! Yeah!” Meguri-senpai finished with a simple remark that made you think she was saying to “go get ‘em!”
When she was done, the other student council members gradually gave round of applause. Lured in by that, the rest of the conference broke into claps as well.
Meguri-senpai nodded to that scenery. “Thank you~ In any case, let’s get to electing the planning committee chairman.”
The members present here grew noisy.
Well, right. I was completely under the impression the student council president was going to assume the positon of chairman myself.
Meguri-senpai made a strained smile. “I’m sure there are a lot of people who know this already, but every year, a second year is usually chosen as the planning committee chairman. And see, I’m already a third year.”
Haa, I see. Well, third years couldn’t really be doing these things at the beginning of fall. They were going to be test taking students soon after all.
“Okay, is there anyone who wants to try for the position?” Meguri-senpai asked, but no one raised their hand.
It was understandable. I doubt the students lacked motivation for the Cultural Festival. There were probably quite a lot of them working their butts off in high spirits too.
It’s just that wanting to show off, wanting to participate actively, and wanting to try their best were different scopes altogether.
If there was something they could do, then it was more natural for them to want to do it with their class or club. What they really wanted was working together with people they were friends with, enjoying a festival with that one girl they were taken with.
In fact, it was more of an issue of how they should do their best in a group of misfits.
“Is there aaaanyone at all?” Meguri-senpai’s voice sounded perplexed, but the conference continued to maintain its silence.
The physical education teacher Atsugi cleared his throat like he was screaming a war cry. “Oh, what the heck is this? You guys need to show more motivation. You guys aren’t ambitious enough. Listen here, this Cultural Festival is an event meant for all of you.”
It was a zeal that made you think he was going to end his sentences with “damn, right it is!”
It looked like Atsugi was acting as an advisor for the Cultural Festival. Hiratsuka-sensei, who was crossing her arms beside him, was on the same boat.
Atsugi surveyed the conference room and he eyed each person one by one.
That immodest gaze stopped at Yukinoshita.
“…Oh. Aren’t you Yukinoshita’s little sister!? I sure hope we can expect a Cultural Festival like last time, eh?”
It was implicit. Buried under his words and what could be interpreted was “Of course, you’ll be the chairman, right?”
Meguri-senpai seemed to have noticed as well and whispered, “Ah, so that’s Haru-san’s little sister.”
I expected nothing less from Yukinoshita Haruno. She had left a long-lasting impression on both her teachers and juniors here.
“I’ll do my utmost as a committee member.” Yukinoshita answered succinctly, but politely. The slight twitch in her eyebrows looked like she was put into a bad mood.
Taking that cold rejection, Atsugi reluctantly answered with lukewarm “oh” and “right” answers and then went quiet.
When that happened, even Meguri-senpai was at a loss. She crossed her arms in exaggeration and went into thought. “Hmm… oh, I know. There are benefits to being the chairman, you know? Like, it’ll show up on your transcript. For those aiming for a school recommendation, I think there are plenty of merits to it.”
Is she an idiot…?
Did she really expect someone to volunteer with that kind of explanation…? Besides, someone who became the chairman with that objective in mind would be too transparent.
“Ummm… So how does that sound?” Meguri-senpai said, directing her gaze towards Yukinoshita.
Whether she realized it or not, Yukinoshita remained unresponsive, continuing to look in Meguri-senpai’s direction.
She was someone who didn’t like to stand before people in public. Committee chairman just didn’t fit with her character.
Nevertheless, having Meguri-senpai focusing on her with a smile, even Yukinoshita was starting to feel uncomfortable and squirmed a little.
It was a pure smile, permeated with heavy pressure, and even her innocent gaze contained no elements of dishonesty to it.
Just a little longer and Yukinoshita would probably break…
But it was the exact moment when Yukinoshita gave in and heavily sighed.
The atmosphere stricken with a strange tension immediately relieved itself. What broke the silence was a timid voice.
“If no one wants to do it, then, I don’t mind doing it.”
The origin of the voice was three seats away from me. It was Sagami Manami’s.
Meguri-senpai, who heard the proposition, clapped her hands happily. “Really? Yay! Okay, could you introduce yourself?”
Urged on, Sagami adjusted her breathing. “I’m Sagami Minami from class 2-F. I’m a little interested in stuff like this… And, like, I want to grow through this Cultural Festival or something… I’m not too good at putting myself out there, but you know how it is, ‘what the heck am I saying, then just don’t do it’ or something, right! Ah, but, that’s the thing I want to change about myself. How should I say it? It’s sort of like a chance to skill up, so I want to try my best.”
…Why in heaven’s name do I need to help you grow? I thought, but the others looked like they didn’t have any qualms about it.
“Uh huh, that sounds great to me. That’s important too. Stepping up, that is.”
Sparse claps arose, and the room continued with sporadic applause throughout the class.
Sagami bowed her head, looking slightly embarrassed, and took her seat.
Overjoyed from being able to settle on a candidate, Meguri-senpai murmured “yay!” in a small voice, swiped the pen from the secretary, and wrote on the blackboard “Planning Committee Chairman: Sagami”. Um, it’s not like you’re E. Honda15 or anything…
Meguri-senpai tossed the pen back to the secretary, and turned around as she swished her skirt. “Okay, what’s left is deciding on responsibilities. The minutes have a simple explanation on them so please read them. In five minutes, we’ll proceed with taking hands for who wants to do what.”
As we were instructed, I looked at the minutes that were distributed to me.
Public advertising, volunteer management, item management, health division, finance accountant, assistant historian… This was kind of bloated.
That being said, a high school Cultural Festival shouldn’t be all that complicated up to a certain extent.
My little sister, Komachi, was working in the student council, but it didn’t seem all that strenuous. In the end, this was nothing but a school event. All we had to do was just steadily tread along the laid out rails. Stand By Me.16
I scanned over the minutes. Which one of these had the least work?
Public advertising. Well, I didn’t need to read the description for this. It was basically something like sticking up posters on the windows of a convenience store. But that meant designing the poster and negotiating. The only future I could see was getting laughed at. Pass.
Volunteer management. The volunteer group; in other words, you had to deal with people taking part in the band and dance. Impossible. I thought far and wide, but it ultimately boiled down to dealing with individuals belonging to the top caste. If it was a financing agency, then I would’ve signed up. No chance.
Item management. This was basically renting out desks from various classes and managing transportation of technology. Transporting sounds pretty hard and seems super tiring. Though if it’s just going untan♪untan♪ with castanets17, then I wasn’t opposed to that. Let’s ignore this one.
Health division. Ah, this was probably one of those jobs where you had to collect food commodity applications and stuff. It might’ve worked out if it was physical health. I’ll refrain from this.
Finance accountant. Yeah, yeah, handling money related stuff, right? Nope, there’s no way I’d be able to take responsibility for any problems that sprung up, so that would be a lot of trouble. The last thing I’d want is to be strapped for cash and hung out to dry. I decline positively.
…Really, just now, even I thought I was pushing it a bit.
So the only job that might be doable for me was the assistant historian. Just a quick skim of the description and it apparently involved taking pictures on the day of the event. It’s not like I had anything booked for that day anyway. It should be pretty good for killing time.
After arriving at that conclusion, I did a light stretch.
I also looked around and people were either playing with their phones or talking to each other, meaning they, for the most part, had made their decision.
There was an especially loud voice in that group, nearby even.
“I became the chairman in the heat of the moment, oh gosh, what am I gonna do~!”
“It’s okay! Sagami-san, you can toootally do it.”
“I wonder, can I reaaally? Like, I totally said some super embarrassing stuff earlier. There’s no way I can, right?”
“That’s not true, heck, it’s a good thing. Besides, we’ll help you out too.”
When she started the conversation with “right”, the two other girls responded in agreement.
“Reaaaally? Thank yooou!”
I could hear that heart-warming exchange. Amazing. It was like the beautiful friendship you’d see before the start of a marathon.
…It felt like I’ve seen that exchange somewhere earlier. What the heck? Was this déjà vu? Or maybe it was copy-and-paste? Still, even if it wasn’t, those kinds of people always talked like that every time. The topic and vocabulary might be different, but at the very end, they’d just finish with compliments to each other, or something. Looks like fun.
“Are we about ready now?”
Meguri-senpai’s voice was surprisingly easy to hear. Maybe because it was soothing, fluffy, or wannyaka papa yunpappa18, but it’s because of that that it easily lingered at the corners of my consciousness.
Unlike how you stood up from someone shouting and screaming at you, everyone’s face peacefully and naturally shifted in senpai’s direction. It’s likely that this wasn’t her ability, but the natural disposition of her character.
“I suppose everyone’s got an idea of what you’d want to do. Okay, Sagami-san, the rest is up to you.”
“Uh huh, I think the rest is where the chairman should take charge.”
Senpai motioned Sagami to come her way. Sagami sat in the heart of the student council group.
“O-Okay, we’ll be deciding now…”
Her disappearing voice could be heard properly even in this quiet class.
Except, this silence was the kind which lacked a sense of stability.
It was a keen stillness that criticized foreign irregularities.
It was an unpleasant, poignant silence that treaded a fine line between transforming into a storm of curses and vile and not, should somebody burst into laughter inappropriately.
Sagami, who was having fun chatting earlier, was a shell of her former self.
Her voice that started up was feeble.
“…First, is… people who want to do public advertising…”
The gradually shriveling voice saw no hands.
“Okay, advertising PR it is. It’s advertising, you know? You can go to a lot of places, maybe even on television or on the radio, you know?”
Meguri-senpai’s soliciting words caused my heart to shake for just an instant. When you say television in Chiba, then you think of Chiba TV, and when you say radio, then you think of Bay FM. If they played that famous song, “Fight! Fight! Chiba!”, on Chiba TV and claimed you could meet Jaguar19 then, I would’ve jumped on the opportunity without a moment’s notice.
But I probably wouldn’t get to meet Jaguar so I held in the urge. By the way, this wasn’t referring to the Jaguar of Pyuu to Fuku!20, but the hero of Chiba.
I wasn’t sure if Meguri-senpai’s bizarre follow-up worked or not, but her assist finally evoked some movement from the group. Numerous hands were raised and after settling on the number of volunteers, they moved on to the next responsibility.
“O-Okay… Next is volunteer management.”
A considerable amount of hands shot up, as if volunteering was the main component of the Cultural Festival. It was a number surpassing expectations as well.
“Eh, eh…” Sagami was at a loss.
Meguri-senpai supported her. “So many! There’s so many of you! Rock-paper-scissors for it!”
A sparkling display of motivation and pika pika pikarin21 lit up her forehead, and thus began the Megu Megu rock-paper-scissors.
× × ×
Meguri-senpai resolved one situation after the other with inexplicable, but unique enthusiasm. Whether it was due to the numerous experiences she had gone through or her natural-born disposition, she steadily managed the situation even in the chaos.
Roles were distributed in that fashion the entire time. That was the student council president for you, despite looking unreliable at first glance. With Meguri-senpai’s ability, the allocation of jobs was appropriated properly.
By the way, I was able to lock in my position as an “assistant historian”.
Whether it was the fault of the order in which this “assistant historian” position was appropriated, or due to the gathering of same-minded individuals as me, the situation had transformed into a graveyard of assertiveness.
All the groups in charge of different responsibilities broke into groups for introductions, but they were incredibly hard to watch.
“Um, what should we do?”
“Introduce ourselves, I guess?”
“Should we do it?”
“Um, so who first?”
“Ah, I’ll start.”
It went like that. There were only seldom conversations resembling along the lines of “hey you, even barbers wouldn’t have that kind of hair”.
As a matter of course, Yukinoshita was in this group as well.
After we introduced ourselves with just our class and full name, it was time for the long-awaited rock-paper-scissors to decide the leaders of the various groups.
The “person who loses will do it” rock-paper-scissors we played had a different implication than the one the volunteer group had just moments ago.
First, it started off with deciding whether to go with rock or not, and then rock-paper-scissors after a dispute. A third year senpai by the name of Something-san was chosen as the group leader and quickly dismissed the group.
“Have a nice day.”
After repetitive, polite farewells, everyone gradually dispersed. Yukinoshita was the first to leave. I tried to get on board with the flow and leave the conference room, but it was that moment.
At the corner of the conference room was Sagami Minami, sitting in dejection. Was she depressed over her first job as the planning committee chairman didn’t go as well as she had hoped? Next to her were the two other girls she had been with, and for some reason, Hiratsuka-sensei and Meguri-senpai were present as well. It looked like they were planning to discuss what’s going to happen from here on.
The moment I had passed them, my eyes instantly met with Hiratsuka-sensei’s.
She sent me a sparkle ☆ wink and waved her hand at me, indicating nothing but “bye-byeeee”.
…Let’s go home quick.
- Dragon Ball Z – We Gotta Power ↩
- Kiteretsu Encyclopedia – The opening is called “Lack of Sleep”. ↩
- Beep bop beep ↩
- Pani Poni – Suzuki Sayana’s catchphrase. ↩
- Ashita no Nadja – The previous line is from the ending song. ↩
- Bleach – KUBOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO, whenever something “surprising” happens in Bleach, this is the go-to phrase. ↩
- Shinsei Motemote Oukoku ↩
- Kaiji (S2, episode 8 of the anime, 10 minutes in) – When Ootsuki, the foreman of Kaiji’s group of the underground labor camp, gets his cheating figured out and gets cornered, he shouts “No count! No count!” ↩
- Commercial ↩
- A Japanese copypasta meme. The original joke is about a monk called T-san who randomly appears and saves people from spiritual related stuff by screaming “haa!” After he leaves, the person always ends with “being brought up in a temple sure is amazing”. ↩
- Idolmaster – Haruna Kamijo‘s phrase. ↩
- Tereriko, tereriko ↩
- Cold compresses ↩
- Jigoku no Misawa – mangaka ↩
- Street Fighter ↩
- http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4DdLH75GKkc ↩
- K-On! – Yui playing castanets ↩
- GA Art School – Commercial ↩
- Jaguar is a band. “Fight! Fight! Chiba!” is a famous song performed by them. ↩
- Pyuu to Fuku! Jaguar: The Movie ↩
- Smile Precure – Cure Peace’s phrase. ↩