As I wait for the lesson to begin, I hear the literature teacher's footsteps becoming increasingly louder until the door opens.
"Good day, everyone. I hope you have well-thought-out ideas," the teacher, Chisaka-sensei, states emphatically. Hinata and Mitsuko immediately raise their hands. "You may proceed to the blackboard and suggest a club name."
"After that, all students must place a plus sign next to the club they wish to join," she adds. Tension and a rapid heartbeat, combined with shaky hands, make me struggle to make a move. Despite how I may feel, I know I must come to the blackboard.
Besides, Fulvius-kun expressed an interest in joining my club. I'll have to put my trust in him. What will Mitsuko-san say if she notices Fulvius-kun putting a plus sign next to the name of my club? That could annoy her. Why does this have to be so difficult?
I approach the blackboard as quietly as possible, writing the name "The Botanical Research Club" on it. My hands are sweating the chalk I am holding, and writing makes a familiar crunch. I turn around in an effort to catch Fulvius-kun's attention among the other students.
He appears to be focused while lowering his head. Perhaps he's trying to remember something or is lost in thought. Emiko-san, a medium-length brown-haired girl, is having a conversation with Mitsuko. They appear to be having fun talking to each other.
"You were brave enough to break the ice, Hinata-san. This merits applause." Chisaka-sensei says with a contented smile. I wish she had said nothing. This is making me very uncomfortable right now. The other students applaud my bravery, and I return to my seat. Mitsuko-san hands me a note as we pass each other walking in the opposite direction."You shouldn't dare speak to Fulvius-kun so lightly."
As I read what the letter says, I feel a small shock hit my head. Why would she stop me from speaking to Fulvius-kun? She doesn't have the right to be that domineering, even if she feels something for him. Furthermore, I doubt he would enjoy such a behaviour, and I even doubt he would be interested in me other than for the club.
Mitsuko approaches the chalkboard. Within a short time, she confidently writes the name of her club. She undoubtedly anticipates a larger round of applause than the one I received. Only the girl described before, Emiko, and a few other students want her to have her moment of fame, which completely wrecks her mood. She is furious and on the edge of tears, but she bites her bottom lip and controls herself. Mitsuko believes, or at least hopes, that no one notices.
The teacher unwittingly raises a ruckus in the class with the inquiry, "Is everything okay, Mitsuko-san? Should I open the window?"
The majority begins to gossip, enjoying how they spoiled pretentious Mitsuko-san's attempt to gain attention. You might be wondering why, given how much they detest her, they have chosen her to be the class president. Because no one wants to perform the necessary tasks. They supported her in the hopes that she would relieve them from such problems. She instantly understands it, which makes her feel sick.
As her face turns paprika red, Mitsuko clenches her hand. She must be feeling awful for letting Fulvius-kun witness her irrational outburst.
"No, everything is OK," she says while she is unable to hold back her tears any longer and leaves the classroom as quickly as her legs allow her to. After asking for permission to depart and packing her belongings, Emiko-san goes to find and comfort Mitsuko-san.
"I suppose voting can now begin. Any more club-friendly suggestions, please? If not, we can begin. " Chisaka-sensei states as she begins to read out names in an alphabetical order.
They are moving sequentially, making a faint sound on the chalkboard, and then discreetly making their way back to their seats. It seems they are worried about receiving a scolding from the teacher after the lecture. When something unusual happens, I'm struck by how quickly the lesson passes. It's a pleasant change from the usual long, monotonous lessons. Otherwise, I find it almost impossible not to become lost in thought.
It is Fulvius-kun's turn now. Before I can even begin to question if he will keep his word, I notice that the Botanical Research Group has gained a new member. I get a warm feeling inside. However, there are also problems. If Mitsuko-san detects his interest in me in any way, who knows what she might be capable of, considering she could have made such a scene earlier.
"Why do they have to behave that way, just why? I'm ready to shoulder their burdens and fulfil my duties as a class president, just like I did the previous year. Even though I truly believed they wanted me to be president because they trusted my abilities. Fortunately, I have you, Emiko-san." Mitsuko murmurs while controlling her cry as she softly touches Emiko's shoulder. They are talking while standing by the sink in the school bathroom. Modern light grey tiles in the bathroom are accented with sophisticated darker tones.
"Everyone can see that you are qualified for the job, so take pride in yourself, Mitsuko. They merely took advantage of your vulnerability." When her face is cooled down by the temperature of the water, Emiko drags her in the direction of the school's entrance while attempting to cheer her up.
"Also, try not to take things personally. Since I was unable to write a sign, I will let the teacher know later that I want to re-join your abstract painting club. I have no doubt that she will agree. We'll create the most beautiful paintings once more," Emiko adds. As the breeze brushes their faces, the air seems fresh.
As they sit on a bench beneath the tree in front of the school building, Mitsuko appears to have calmed down and says, "Emiko-san, you are the best." Soon she opens the lunch bag. She is eating when she hears the same students that left her feeling so bad racing toward the lunch hall.
"I'm curious if Hinata-san opened the message I handed her. I'm not sure I can call her a friend." Mitsuko wonders. Emiko-san appears to be my only friend here. Once they see my abilities, they'll understand that I'm worthy of their respect.
Beginning tomorrow, I'll behave differently.