Once we stepped inside the school was bustling in full bloom. Students and their family collectively made their way from classroom to classroom. The school looked like a whole different world with all of this preparation. Of course, use high schoolers have seen the majority of it already but now that there were people from one end to the other it looked magnificent.
As we walked around, we came to a classroom with a large water pool in it. It was the blowup kind elementary kids would play with in their backyards. The student desk was piled in the corner. On top of them, there were tossing rings from one end to the other. A simple ring toss game that seemed to have prizes lined up for whoever can do the most between four people. Conway-san's face scrunched up as she scoffed.
“What a childish game. Is this all they could come up with?…”
As if something lodged in her throat, something caught Conway-san's eye causing her jaw to nearly dropped to the floor.
“Hm? What’s up Hana-chan?”
Sora-san questioned. Hana leaped and pointed at one of the prizes on the wall. Mounted along the prize showcase was a volume of the manga she let me borrow a while back. Despite the gore, it was really good in the story and romance. It seemed this was a volume I never saw before. In seeming pristine condition, a few onlookers gazed at the manga as well.
“That’s the newest volume of A Lonely Howl in the Dark Night!”
Conway-san squealed. Hana nodded sharply. I wouldn't have imagined that this would be the thing that connected Hana-chan and Conway-san.
“If I get it here, I won’t need to buy it…”
Conway-san whispered to herself. Suddenly, the two looked at one another. I could see the lighting sparking in their eyes as they glared like rivals.
“Are you sure your tiny arms are up for this task, Conway-san?”
“Big talk for a small girl, Koda-san!”
Conway-san’s face twisted manically. She opened her mouth, but before continuing she glanced at me. Her expression changed immediately. I’m not even sure why…was I giving her a scary look?
“Ehh…I don’t want to hurt your feelings Koda-san but I’ll be winning that book!”
“Heh, no way! Onee-san, give me money!”
Nothing was stopping this train now. I pulled out 400yen to pay for both of them. Mae jumped up in excitement!
“Oh, a challenge between the shorties?!”
“Shut up, Watanabe-san!”
They both cried at the blue-haired jester before walking to their respective sides of the blowup pool. It seemed that each contestant has 3 tossing rings. Each floating buoy is worth points. The aim of the game is to get the tossing ring around the buoy. The large blue buoy is worth 1 point. The medium yellow buoy is worth 2. And the small red buoy is worth 3 points. 9 points would earn them the ultimate prize but if there’s a draw between contestants they go into "sudden death mode" and keep going until the rivals are eliminated.
Hana stepped up first. Her outlook was calm and cold, methodical even. With all her might, she tossed her ring causing it to fly in the air and snag a red buoy. At the start, she had already earned the highest of 3 points.
“Ha! Good start.”
My little sister celebrated by skipping around the pool. Her purple locks waved like the ocean as her small frame danced about the room. Oh my god...she's so adorable!
Conway-san bit her lip in protest.
“Alright kid, I wanted to go easy on you but I’m going to make you cry!”
Conway tossed her ring. It flipped oddly but lucky for her, like a magnet, the tossing ring found its way around a red buoy too, earning 3 points.
Sora-chan gasp at the skillful play.
“Oh god, this is going to be intense.”
Mae took the pyro-heads hand and kicked about with excitement.
“I’m on edge! I’m on edge, Hino-san!”
Mae cried as her feet rubbed together! I wanted to root for Hana but then I wanted to make sure Conway-san had a good time. So instead, I crossed my arms and let my worries go with a smile. No matter who wins I’m sure they’ll have fun.
The battle was getting fierce now. Hana and Conway-san were both at an even 9 meaning they both earned the maximum prize. The other two contestants were out of the game a while back. Now that only one could remain, "Sudden Death" was activated. Only one person could be standing last and Hana and Conway-san were in a literal death match now.
“If you give up now, I’ll let you borrow it when I’m finished, Conway-san!”
“Not on your life kid!”
Conway-san, with all her determination, tossed her fateful ring...it flew in the air, flipping like a coin in the air. It hit the waves of the water as it settled on a buoy, earning herself a yellow point. Her score went from 9 to 11.
The shark scoffed. Hana-chan had a chance to win. All she needed to do was get another 3 point score from the red bobber and she'd claim victor.
“Here I go!”
Like a scene from a manga, Hana made a quirky pose before releasing the tossing ring. It looped in the air. The crowd watching the game all held their breath as her ring hit off the red bobber, flipped uncharacteristically, and landed in a blue buoy. The flower's eyes went dark. Her score reached from a 9 to 10, lower than her rival.
Dejected, Hana slumped down on her knees.
“You tried your best girl.”
Sora-chan comforted her from the side. The crowd clapped in fanfare as Conway was handed the manga. Her cheeks were bright red but the smile on her face was one I haven't seen before.
“Yes! I win!”
Mae clapped passionately from the sidelines with me. That's when the victor triumphantly walked over to the loser.
“Stop calling me kid!”
Hana riled back.
“I’ll read it in less than a day. So, after I’m done, I’ll have Nakagawa-san give it to you.”
Hana-san perked up, suspiciously.
“Give it to me? Don’t you mean borrow?”
“Nah, my family makes too much money for me to have to win something like this. I rather give it to the needy. Hohoho!”
With a laugh and scorn, she skipped off cheering her victory all the way down the hall. Something told me she was mimicking Hana-chan's victory lap from a moment ago.
“What a jerk! I hate her!”
Hana-chan crossed her arms and steeled up like a knight of armor. I could feel the heat of anger resonate from her. This was a tad worrisome. If things get worse, I might need to step in and defuse the situation between them...