Chapter 1:

Prologue

Flew Off! Trumpet: "This is Our Higashida Concert Band"


The stage now completely empty. No more performance for today, and after all bands were over with our pieces, we then forced to sit here, to behold the result which will determine our final year performance.
The whole room is fully filled with student and teachers from various schools. I can’t count just how many of them. But certainly each of these people must been praying all day, delivering fervent hope to the ‘Mighty God’ so their efforts not gonna end up in vain, and vast victory will be visible ahead of their eyes, although if the possibilities were low, even its impossible, they still hope for the Gloria.
Up ahead, right on the wall of a large stage, a wide banner hinged, where an annual line is written in bold: “Osaka Prefectural High School Concert Band Competition”—the concours which we attend every year, though, never been won once. Today, and it means now, this waiting might became our last performance with this uniform. If we stuck here, then the stage will be closed for us, and the third years—us—must retired as a looser.
“You’re okay, Yuuta?”
A small voice asking near my ear. Haruka— Its Takahashi Haruka. The girl who always played with me since six years ago—my classmate and my club mate. She embrace her shining euphonium tightly. Her redden cheek invaded by sweat, came from her worries. Inquire is needless. I know that this girl also feels this unstable tremor of fright.
“Afraid?” ask Haruka again, with a little smile.
“Isn’t you also the same?” said me.
“Well, yeah, actually, I am,” replied Haruka, then looks to the front. “Though, we can’t do anything about this, aren’t us.”
“Well, whatever the result will be, that’s the image of our own efforts. We must accept it fully.”
“This gentleman does likes to look perky in any situation, isn’t he?”
On my right, Kobayashi Karin voice uttering. Her expressionless nuance as always makes her look strong and hard to approach. Also, it shows just how calm she is. But, a little dissatisfaction can be observed on her shivering eyes. Somehow, she tremble a little, as if looking into disaster she can’t pronounce.
“Karin-chan, are you okay?” asked Shimizu to Kobayashi, as she clutched her clarinet, with quivering hands.
“Mikoto-chan, you’re the one who not looks fine actually,” said Kobayashi, in the same moment, holding Shimizu’s trembling hand.
“What can we do about it,” Yukki who sit behind me uttering, “today may be our final performance in junior high. Miko must be afraid a lot.”
“Don’t you afraid about this, Yukki?” asked Sakagami next to him. “You looks too relax.”
“Me...? Nahh, not really. More than that, I thought I already predict the result—”
In an instant Haruka throws Yukki with a mineral water bottle cap, then nagging him, “Don’t say scary thing like that, you idiot!” with small tone of course.
Yukki apologizing, bowing his head. Behind him, I catch the rows of our junior and our classmates. Like us, they also got that fright. The freshmen and juniors stoop in anxiety. The tense of this unknown situation stressing their heart and mind—primarily the seniors. Those who have experienced the taste of defeat certainly understand how dread this moment is. The moment when judges will show the results of our hellish practice for weeks.
“Yamato-kun.” I turned around. Kobayashi didn’t move her eyes from glaring the stage in front of us. “Can I ask one thing from you?” continued her.
“What?”
“If we win to the Regional, let’s going out.”
“……”
Karin turned to me, with a serious face she repeat that magical sentence, “If we got the gold and continue to the Regional, let’s go out with me.”
“……”
Karin softly said it so no one can possibly catch her phrases. I look into that tiny face. The timid face that looks so intimidating sometime. We’ve been together since primary school, in the same class, in the same neighborhood, and always play ensemble together. I know this girl like I see the sun every morning. But— Never, never ever, not in any consideration, under whichever circumstances, or in aught dream, I have thought she would say something like this—or if it was a joke. Moreover, in this kind of day.
In that confusion I coerce myself to replied her, “……what if we lose?”
Hearing my question, Kobayashi averting her face. She look down, clutching her knees, then sunk that timid-cold-looking face onto her thighs. I could hear her response, lightly pronounced.
“If we lose…… then I will enroll the high school you attend, and won the gold. Right there, you better make it happen, to the Regional, and National Concours’. Then, go out with me.”
It sounds like a jester line. If I can’t hold myself, I’m gonna blow, laughing hugely. But, Karin said it with a sincere tone, innocently, and determinedly, which came from depth of her feelings. Then it means she meant it…… I just never consider about this scene. Now, how can I respond to her—
“YUUTA——!!!” Haruka’s shout diverting my sight. I looked up.
Suddenly everyone bawling. On the balcony—above the stage—two men in suit step forward. They crane a banner, banner about the result of today competition. I can see names of the schools that managed to get medals. ‘Number 1’—and annually—is Daigorou Private Junior High. Below them other potential schools are listed.
“EVERYONE, LOOK———!!!”
When we observing the name, an unpredictable view is flashing. Our school, for the first time in the history of my junior high, and the annals of this junior high itself, after the wait of seven years, we get the gold medal.
“Gold!”
“We get the gold——!!!”
“I can’t believe this……”
“Senpai! Its gold, you see!”
Exhilaration welled up in our flock. This school never receive any medals in the past seven years. Today, a little surprising, in my lead as the club president, finally we can get one, breaking that curse of ‘no result’ that had breaking our band into miserable image. We got gold.
Though, yeah, however, this joyous moment not really get us excited too long. This gold not send us to the Shangri-La. The reason is because we not get the real gold, but instead the dud gold—which means we can’t continue to the Regional Competition. This is a ‘gold’. But, not the gold that we want.
“This is pretty good actually, we broke through the curse. You all had tried the best, and this result shows it. You make me proud!”
Up there, our advisor give his praising compliment. The freshmen and juniors can get their spirit revive for a little. While the seniors—our contemporaries—look glum. There’s even those who start crying and cursing themselves. Students from the other schools which got nothing lethargically fall distress. Their soundless cries slicing my ears.
“See, like I thought,” said Yukki.
“Maybe it’s because your surmise, that’s why we lost. Yukki, you did bring bad luck,” continued Sakagami.
Shimizu says nothing. She just drooping sadly. Tears loosing like waterfall, wetting her clarinet. Haruka stroked her head, calming, in the same time dropped in distress too.
“Yamato-kun.”
Meanwhile, I could feel my gakuran sleeve is pulled by someone. It’s Karin. She looks up, staring straight ahead, with eyes all wet. Her tears fell likes June downpour. Heavy, and hefty……
She utter, “Which school will you attend?”
I try to come out with something, but nothing get into my mind. I caress her head, softly, feebly, then said, “Let me think about that first.”
“When you decide it, let me know.”
I just smiled bitterly.
The banner in front of us not changed a bit. When the committee man announce about the schools that will proceeding to the Regional Competition, slowly, Karin is crying on my shoulder, with the weep who can be heard by me only.
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