Tanaka: We're meeting at your class again right ( •́ ⍨ •̀)
Me: Yes then the three of us will head to club
Me: Don’t be late
“Hi Kazuma-kun! Hi Dachi!” Tanaka says as she greets us by our classroom.
“Hey Rika-tan,” Dachi calls out. “So are you ready for the upcoming exam?”
Tanaka pouts, “Don’t remind me, I hate studying. What’s the point of having tests anyways.”
“To see what you know,” Dachi says.
“To make sure the teachers are doing a good job at teaching the materials,” I responded.
“You guys know that was a rhetorical question right.”
We couldn’t help but laugh.
Dachi begins to sigh, “Still, it’s too bad after today, after-school activities are going to be canceled for a while.”
“That’s not fair,” Tanaka complains. “Now what are we supposed to do for fun?”
“Well it’s school policy, plus it makes sense for clubs to close down for a few days to have us focus on studying,” I said. “Plus you know, you could always read or watch anime at home.”
“Hmrp. That's not the same,” she says.
“Well, it’s not like it’s shutting down forever. Once exams are over, we get to hang out like usual. Come on, let's enjoy our last day,” Dachi said.
The three of us headed over to the club room. When we arrived, we noticed a lot of supplies and school textbooks across various tables. One table even had headbands on it.
“What’s going on here,” the three of us said.
Saori comes out and places a tray full of various fruits and nuts on the table. “Midori, they’re here.”
“Hohohoho,” Prez shouts. “Welcome, I am glad everyone made it. The reason why I gathered you all here today is because I’m concerned for your future.”
“Since when! Dachi shouts.
Prez raised her arm and chucked a piece of chalk at him.
“Ow! Did you seriously hit me with a piece of chalk? I mean it’s very on-brand for our club. But seriously.”
“Anyways, you see this club only accepts the best of the best, that also applies to academics as well. So for now until the end of exams, club activities will only be based on fostering the growth of your easily manipulated feeble minds.”
“So pretty much, she just wanted to make a study group,” I said.
“Yeah, that's right,” said Saori.
“Ito, if I were you I would take my advice seriously. After all, if any of you score below the top ten of your class, you will be kicked out of the Japanese Literature and Animation Appreciation Club.
“WHAT!” Tanaka shouts. “Top ten, really? That’s impossible! Great, my last memories of this club are just going to be full of suffering. I’m going to fail badly. And I really liked you guys too.” She mumbles.
Tanaka seems pretty worried. I should probably comfort her, but how? I raised my arm and began to pat Tanaka on the head. With each pat, I noticed she would grimace a bit. She’s probably holding back the tears. Maybe some words of encouragement will help.
“Don’t worry Tanaka, it'll probably be alright.”
“Probably?” She said nervously.
“No worries Rika. The reason why Midori and I put together this study group is to make sure we all get high marks together.”
“Of course. And even if you were to fail, it’s not the end of the world. Sure you will be banned and prohibited from joining this club ever again. But we will still be friends, well only until we graduate. Then we will naturally drift apart. Until we see each other one day at the supermarket. But you turn away in shame since you will never forgive yourself for getting kicked out for failing a simple test. Always living in regret. Never being able to move on.”
“Eh?” Tanaka says with a shocked expression.
Sensing her uneasiness I decided to pat her head more intensely.
“Senpai, you should probably choose your words more carefully, you’re scaring her. Also Kazu, I think you might be patting her a bit too hard.”
“Oops,” we both said.
“Like I said before, the goal is to make sure no one fails. So grab a textbook and some brain food. Everything will be okay,” said Prez.
“Okay,” Tanaka nods.
Over the next few days, the five of us would study together. However, Tanaka still seems to be struggling a lot.
Suddenly Prez taps me on the shoulder and pulls me aside. “Ito, how do you think Tanaka's progress is going?”
I looked over to her. “She could use some more help.”
“I believe her biggest hurdle is her lack of confidence. After all, because she doesn't believe she’s capable, she performs poorly. Since she performs poorly, it reinforces her beliefs. It’s a classic self-fulfilling prophecy.”
“The best way to have her move forward is for her to assist you. If she can help her dear Kazuma-kun. Then it might be the confidence boost she needs. But, she is going to need a lot of help. Historically, she has always scored quite low.”
“Wait, you looked into her academic records, isn’t that illegal.”
“You call it illegal. I call it research. After all, I make sure to research all my subjects.”
“Still, don’t you think this ultimatum is a bit much, given her record? Tanaka will be devastated if she doesn’t score high enough.”
“If you think low, you score low. it’s better to believe in achieving the unachievable. That's when progress occurs. Let me ask you something. Do you want Tanaka to fall below the top ten?”
“Of course not, this club means a lot to her. Even though I don’t care about being in it, I know she loves this club a lot."
“Exactly. So go give her that encouragement. Ordinarily, I could have asked Yamazaki, he’s good at playing dumb. But he’s busy helping Saori.”
I sat back down, next to Tanaka.
“So how’s it going,” I asked.
“My brain is currently on fire,” she says.
“I see. Well, I have been having trouble with this problem. Maybe you can help?”
“Really? You seemed to be doing well before.”
“I was just guessing, but I was hoping you could help me with this. I pointed to a random question.”
Tanaka begins to read the question aloud. “What is the powerhouse of the cell? You don’t know this one. Weren’t you just helping me with the Krebs Cycle?”
“I guess not.” Why did I pick such an easy question?
“The powerhouse of the cell is the Mitochondria.”
She’s right. “Well, how do you know it’s not the nucleus? I still don’t understand.”
“Maybe this will help. Visualize the body as a school. The furnace is the mitochondria as it powers the school. The nucleus is the principal since they are in control. The vacuoles like to eat, so that would be the cafeteria. Oh, the floor is like the cytoplasm since it keeps everything in place, and the walls of the schools are the cell walls since they support everything.”
“Wow Tanaka-sensei, your visualization technique was quite helpful. Mind teaching me some more. After all, I don't want to fail too.”
Over the remaining few days, Tanaka focused her energy on teaching me. It’s funny, she seems to understand the material more, when she tries to teach it to me. Soon enough it was time to take our test. Then a few days later, the results were posted.
“Well everyone, what are your scores? Be honest or I’ll hack into your records," said Prez.
“That’s illegal,” Dachi said.
Saori gets closer to the board. “Ah ha, I'm first. Take that Midori!”
“Second place for me. Oh well,” Prez sighs. “Your turn first-years.”
I searched for my school ID number on the board. “ I’m ranked second.”
“I’ll check next,” said Tanaka. She carefully searches for her ID number on the board. “I don’t believe it, I’m ranked tenth. I get to stay! Thank you everyone, especially you Kazuma-kun!” She runs up and hugs me tight.
I can feel my face blush. “Don’t mention it.”
Dachi quickly glances at the board. “What do you know, rank seventh. Since we all passed. This calls for a celebration. I say we head to the taiyaki spot down the street.” He then grabs my arm and drags me away. "Let's go Kazu!"
“Hey, you don’t have to drag me.”
“Meet you girls at the gate.”
Dachi and I waited by the school gate. Finally, the girls had arrived.
“You guys sure took a while,” said Dachi.
“Well, we are all here now, so let’s go,” said Saori.
Together, we all headed down the street to enjoy some celebratory taiyaki.
In all, I'm glad Tanaka gets to stay. Sure, this club and its members can be annoying, but it's worth staying in it just to see Tanaka's smile.