Chapter 4:

March 4: The Lethality of a Pen

One Month to Figure out my Future

“So how did it go? You didn’t run away right?”Bookmark here

Class was yet to get started and Hayato was already asking questions. He is expecting me to say, “You were right”, not a chance I’m going to accept defeat without putting out a fight.Bookmark here

“Well, she needed some help with her computer.”Bookmark here

“Just that? There must have been something really wrong with her computer than…”Bookmark here

“What do you mean?”Bookmark here

“Yesterday afternoon I tried calling you at home, I know you always put your phone on do not disturb so I didn’t even bother. It was already pretty late, but nobody answered. I assumed you were still with Rihoko.” He was saying those final words with a weird smile almost as if what he really meant was “I got you”.Bookmark here

It’ weird that Miyo didn’t answer, maybe she was still on her way home after club activities or maybe he is trying again to play mind games with me, or maybe he told my sister to act as if he never called. I can’t read him clearly, what is happening to me, I know him better that anyone else, I think he is getting better and better at tricking me.Bookmark here

I had to gather more info to verify that what he was saying was actually the truth.Bookmark here

“It depends on what you consider late”Bookmark here

“Five and a half.”Bookmark here

He didn’t hesitate, he knew I was going to ask for the time. Club activities finish at 6pm but Miyo never stays at school so late, she is already home around that hour. His story makes sense until now.Bookmark here

“You know, Miyo was running late because of club activities so she asked me to go out and buy some groceries. That’s probably why you didn’t find me at home.”Bookmark here

Hayato smiled again, he must have another ace up his sleeve.Bookmark here

“That would be understandable, but there is still a little detail which bothers me. You see, Miyo must have noticed that someone called while nobody was home and she actually called me back and told me you weren’t home yet…”Bookmark here

Just one word… checkmate.Bookmark here

“Oh come on Hayato, wasn’t it enough for you to force me into this, now you track me down as some sort of private detective??”Bookmark here

He started laughing like there was no tomorrow. I can’t hate him, I would have done the same.Bookmark here

“I just wanted to check how it went but then the fact that you didn’t get home, got me really interested. So what did you two do?”Bookmark here

I then explained everything to Hayato exactly like I did with my sister, and now I started having some suspicions on me being her actual brother and not Hayato. They plotted everything! But I will get my revenge, just wait.Bookmark here

“Satoshi, I have to say it, this time you truly surprised me. Good job. Who would have thought that your computer addiction would actually come in handy.”Bookmark here

Thanks a bunch for calling me an addict…Bookmark here

“I’m just helping her, don’t go thinking anything crazy.”Bookmark here

“I wouldn’t dare.” He said those words with that same provocative smile.Bookmark here

Fortunately the investigation from detective Hayato was over, I never wanted for class to start so badly.Bookmark here

I was actually looking forward to that afternoon. Maybe I could make a little addition to my career plan saying that it would be nice to be a website designer. Of course I would need to learn proper programming languages to do it but it might actually be quite enjoyable. Unfortunately the more I thought about it, the less I found it possible. The job market is already oversaturated with web designers, making it a really competitive sector, thus reducing my possibilities of success.Bookmark here

It was already lunch time, as always Hayato and I were setting up our tables so that we could eat together. When we were all done and about to start eating, Hayato tells me: “Wait just a second.”Bookmark here

He went to talk to Rihoko who was about to exit the classroom.Bookmark here

“Hey Rihoko, want to have lunch with me and Satoshi?”Bookmark here

“Sorry, I prefer to eat lunch in my club room where I also do a bit of work.”Bookmark here

And just like that, she vanished again. I have to learn her skill of instantaneous disappearance, it can be pretty useful.Bookmark here

I waited for Hayato to return and asked: “So what’s the deal, what did you ask her?”Bookmark here

“I thought it might be nice for all three of us to have lunch together, but she said she prefers to eat alone in her club room where she can get some work done.”Bookmark here

“I guess she thinks you are too loud to have around.”Bookmark here

“Yeah really funny…”Bookmark here

While we were just about done eating, our peaceful brake was interrupted by Miss Kamuro who blasted inside our classroom with her usual energetic spirit.Bookmark here

“Sorry for the interruption, I’m looking for Rihoko Sonoda.”Bookmark here

Hayato was fast to answer: “She is not here, you can find her in her club room.”Bookmark here

“All the way over there???”Bookmark here

She said that with a really depressed tone, I guess she wasn’t really a fan of stairs just like me. But then her face became really scary.Bookmark here

“Kamizaki!”Bookmark here

Oh no, please no, don’t let it be what I think it is.Bookmark here

“Yes…”Bookmark here

“You are young and strong; please do me a favor, give this envelope to Rihoko. I trust you not to open it. If you do that it’s a serious privacy violation.”Bookmark here

Well yes, but it shouldn’t be a student’s responsibility to go around with someone else’s personal documentation, especially when the student who has to go around the school is on lunch break!Bookmark here

“Don’t worry teacher, I wouldn’t dare to do something worthily of criminal punishment”Bookmark here

Hayato had a good laugh while Miss Kamuro replied: “You know, you always have a really quick tongue. Well I leave it up to you Kamizaki. See you later class.”Bookmark here

Let’s look at the bright side, at least I already know where the club room is, and I bet Miss Kamuro knew I was the only one knowing that so there was no other way of salvation for me.Bookmark here

After the enormous commitment of going up the stairs, I reached the literary club room. I knocked on the door and I was welcomed by the long haired version of Rihoko. She was also wearing glasses just like the first time we met. Actually yesterday she told me that she can’t really see well up close so when she reads books or works on a computer she always wears glasses.Bookmark here

“Oh hi Satoshi, I was actually working a bit on the website, did you need something?”Bookmark here

“It’s Miss Kamuro, she couldn’t find you in the classroom so she told me to bring you this envelope.”Bookmark here

I handed her the envelope, and she quickly unwrapped it while I was still standing in front of the club. She gave the letter an insanely quick read, I guess she was used to read quickly, and her mood immediately dropped.Bookmark here

“Is there something wrong?”Bookmark here

She took a bit to reply: “Come in.”Bookmark here

I took it as a “yes, there is something really wrong”.Bookmark here

“It says that if I don’t get any another members to join by the end of this year, they are going to shut down the club for good.”Bookmark here

“What?? Do they realize that finals are coming up and nobody cares about joining a club at this time of the year!?”Bookmark here

I think she didn’t consider this and it made her even more anxious.Bookmark here

“Listen, forget about it for now, later we can talk with Miss Kamuro and we will figure something out. The bell is about to ring so we don’t have a choice.”Bookmark here

During the second period I could clearly notice Rihoko in the back completely emotionless. I could imagine what she was thinking, she has been working so hard all this time just to try to revitalize the club, and now, she was getting shut down. The thing that most surprised me is how on the way back to the classroom she still thought about putting her messy bun back as usual, it must be something she really cares about.Bookmark here

After second period finished, Hayato wished me luck in his own style: “Good luck with your date.”Bookmark here

Before I didn’t have time to fill him in about the all situation regarding the club but regardless I replied with my own style: “Shut up.”Bookmark here

“Rihoko was actually waiting for me outside the classroom and she asked me: “Are you sure you want to come with me? I don’t want to drag you into this.”Bookmark here

“I was the only one to suggest it, don’t worry, you might need some backup.”Bookmark here

Sometimes with Miss Kamuro you must be really straight forward, and I feel like Rihoko might not have the strength to do it. Why am I helping again are you asking? No, it’s not what you think. I just believe that it was really stupid for the teachers to force the literary club closure.Bookmark here

We got to Miss Kamuro’s office and the first thing she said was: “I knew you would come here as fast as possible, and it looks like you brought some reinforcement.”Bookmark here

Rihoko didn’t say anything; I was worried she was going to freeze for the whole time. Did I mention she undid her messy bun?Bookmark here

“You all look so serious, try to relax and have a seat.”Bookmark here

“Miss Kamuro, you are asking the literary club to recruit members to avoid closure, but as Satoshi made me notice, it’s the last month of school and all students are focused on the finals, they are certainly not interested in joining a club. Why you are giving me just this month to figure something out?”Bookmark here

“I see Kamizaki is sharp as always. Why you ask? The reason is simple, they want the club to be shut down. They know you can’t recruit any members now, so they impose an impossible condition to achieve their goal. But you might still be asking yourself why they want to close the club. The literary club has been dyeing slowly over the past few years and they don’t want to put any more money into an unproductive club.”Bookmark here

It’s a pretty reasonable excuse, I would accept it if it was coming from an economist, but it was coming from teachers, who’s goal should be educating people, and to me, shutting down the literary club, as unproductive as it might be, is against the ideal of education.Bookmark here

Those were the words that I wanted to say, but I knew they weren’t going to work. A decision was made and Rihoko had to somehow find enough members to keep the club going. That’s right, how many members do they actually want?Bookmark here

“Miss Kamuro, how many members should the literary club recruit in order to save itself from closure?”Bookmark here

“How many you ask? To be honest they didn’t mention it, in that case even one would probably be enough.”Bookmark here

In the meantime Rihoko was in a state of hibernation with her head tilted down looking at her knees.Bookmark here

“Sonoda, you might want to step out for a second. Get yourself together and, in the meantime, I will have a word with Kamizaki.”Bookmark here

She nodded slightly and left the office looking down the floor.Bookmark here

I asked Miss Kamuro: “Did you also agree to the literary club closure?”Bookmark here

“To be honest, no, I did not. But the majority of the teachers did, so I couldn’t do much more.”Bookmark here

I still had one little thing that was bugging me: “Why did you suggest her to make a website for the club if you knew it was going to be shut down?”Bookmark here

“I did suggest her to create a website in order to have a way to publish her reviews, but that was it. She decided on her own to use it to make the literary club more appealing for other students. In reality I thought she was expecting this to happen. Half trough the year the club was moved to a smaller room, as you probably noticed when you went there, to make room for bigger clubs.”Bookmark here

“She did so much for the club and nobody acknowledges that, it’s pathetic.”Bookmark here

“Kamizaki you are still in front of a teacher, you should choose words more carefully.”Bookmark here

Trust me I chose the words the best I could otherwise worst things would have come out of my mouth. But I wasn’t done yet.Bookmark here

“That doesn’t change the fact that something like a stupid calligraphy club gets better treatment than the literary club. How do you expect people to join her club if the only thing you do is penalizing her by moving her into what it looks like a closet and giving her ultimatums?”Bookmark here

“Sometimes in life you need to learn how to face difficulties, Hayato certainly has learned that, even if it cost him so much.”Bookmark here

I wasn’t satisfied with that answer, sure it sounds cool and all, but I couldn’t tolerate the teachers’ decision.Bookmark here

“Please give me one of those papers.”Bookmark here

“Which paper?” Now she had that same scary face as before.Bookmark here

“You know… one of those papers where you formally express your will to join a club. I know you certainly have one ready for me.”Bookmark here

Now that face showed a really big smile.Bookmark here

While winking she said: “You never let me down Kamizaki.”Bookmark here

That was creepy.Bookmark here

As I was filling up my formal request to join the literary club, Rihoko came back in.Bookmark here

“Sonoda! I think Satoshi here has some good news for you.”Bookmark here

“They are going to have to come out with something different if they want to close your club, I’m joining.”Bookmark here

Rihoko froze, again. It seemed like she had seen a ghost.Bookmark here

“I… I don’t know what to say, I can’t… I mean you have already been helping me so much I can’t make you do this too.”Bookmark here

“You are not making me do anything, I decided to join because I want to. Just like Miss Kamuro said the other day: a pen can make more damage than a sword. As the literary club we are going to prove the teachers how true this is.”Bookmark here

Now I was feeling like somewhat of a rebel giving a speech to incite people to fight. It was pretty embarrassing now that I think about it. Why did I get so carried away? I could be at home playing videogames but I’m at school fighting for some kind of ideal. Bookmark here

When we were finally out of Miss Kamuro’s office I only had one thing in mind: HOME. I was already picturing myself sneaking under my bed sheets while playing some games on my smart phone. So I tried to let Rihoko know my intentions.Bookmark here

“I think we should call it a day, it was pretty exhausting, see you tomorrow.”Bookmark here

“Wait...”Bookmark here

She showed me her smart phone with a QR code while her face was super red as usual.Bookmark here

“As an official club member you show have my number, if you want you can scan and have my contact added to your library but I guess you already know that.”Bookmark here

That was unexpected but sweet at the same time. I scanned the QR code and quickly texted her so that she could add me too.Bookmark here

“One more thing… thank you. I don’t know how but I will find a way to pay you back.”Bookmark here

“Don’t even mention that, it was nothing.”Bookmark here

Finally I was alone and on my way home. I would have never thought one day I joined a club, especially the literary club. I once checked out the IT club but it was so lame I immediately run away. They were using ancient computers, the best they could do with those machines was browsing the internet. Talking about unproductive clubs that one is certainly on top. There were quite a few people so it should get more fundings from the school but, from what I saw that time, it didn’t seem like they ever got any money to upgrade their equipment.Bookmark here

At home I was also alone, Miyo always does a million things at school and one of them is being in the cocking club. You would have never guessed right?Bookmark here

While unpacking my bag a familiar piece of wrinkled paper came out. It was my career plan, already filled with two lines of text. I didn’t feel like I had anything to add, I just knew that “working at a random IT company” certainly excluded a company focused on web designing. I put it back and stared my well deserved gaming session. Bookmark here

After who knows how much time Miyo got home.Bookmark here

“Big brother is that you?”Bookmark here

She must have noticed that my shoes were already there, while she was expecting me to come home late like yesterday.Bookmark here

“Yes I’m already home.”Bookmark here

“What did you do this time?”Bookmark here

Shouting from one room to another wasn’t really practical so I took the tough decision to come out of my bed and go to Miyo.Bookmark here

“I didn’t do anything, we just decided to finish a bit earlier. Actually you have in front of you the new proud member of the literary club.”Bookmark here

“Wait did you really join a club???”Bookmark here

“Indeed.”Bookmark here

“You are not my brother, you changed too much recently. Is that really the effect that girls can have on guys?”Bookmark here

“I don’t know, I have never met one.”Bookmark here

“You meany…”Bookmark here

It wouldn’t be a conversation between us without some teasing.Bookmark here

“I’m not the one who started. But there is a reason why I joined. Get changed I will explain it to you later.”Bookmark here

In other words I have to go back to complete a quest as soon as possible. Bookmark here

When dinner was ready, as usual, I explained everything to Miyo. Since we have parents who work hard and come home very late, we are used to talk a lot to each other. Sometimes it might be cool but sometimes it’s just a pain.Bookmark here

And just like that, another day was over.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.