An unbroken link.A group of Yamaku students visit the Yokohama Christmas market while on a weekend trip to Tokyo. (Writing OCs is not required but encouraged.) Link for reference: https://jw-webmagazine.com/christmas-ma ... 46876b5b72[sic]
I'm only part of the way through telling this story but I trust we'll get to Yokohama before long. Apologies for making you wait for the pay-off, Mirage, but they say the trip is half the fun.
Merry Christmas and happy holidays!
Reserved for an index
Part One: The Pitch
“What do you think, Mutou?” Morihiro Zekozawa, the Student Council’s rotund first-year Vice-President is elated as he finishes his sales pitch. Mutou flinches at his noise, then again when Morihiro throws down the pamphlet he’s been waving about enthusiastically this whole meeting.
“A German Christmas market, you said?” Mutou leans forward to look at the pamphlet tentatively, as though fearing another outburst. Morihiro nods eagerly and – blessedly - silently. “Where was it again?”
Atsuko Ichisada, President of the Student Council, sighs quietly when he asks that. He was saying exactly what she’d warned her VP he would say. She would know; Mutou is her homeroom teacher.
“It’s in Yokohama, near Tokyo.” Atsuko speaks for the first time, careful to keep her own disapproval for Morihiro’s plan from her voice. Publicly, they are a team.
Mutou’s suit – characteristically dark and ill-fitting – shifts as he sits back in his chair to scratch thoughtfully at his chin.
“It’s quite a distance to travel…”
Atsuko thought he’d say that too and now she plays her trump card to get Morihiro’s ambitious and budget-slaying trip shut down.
“It’s only a few hours by train. We’d have to spend the night to make it worthwhile and I think the total cost would come out to around” she pauses to “check” her notebook “-20000 yen.”
That has the intended effect; Mutou’s eyes widen noticeably. As the Assistant Principle, he’s largely responsible for Yamaku’s flagging finances. In Atsuko’s opinion, they couldn’t have picked a worse man for the job but Mutou was by far the most senior person left on the teaching staff so the additional responsibilities had fallen to him.
“We’ll raise funds to cover part of the cost, of course,” Morihiro says quickly.
Atsuko nods her outward agreement. Secretly, she’s annoyed that her VP is trying to salvage the situation after she’d told him she would handle the financial side of things. “Morihiro and I had picked the 18th as the best time to go. That-”
“Any closer to Christmas, the market’s last day, and it’ll be too busy,” the vice-president irritatingly explains.
Atsuko pauses a beat before continuing. “Leaves us with less than three weeks to fundraise. Considering the short notice and that holidays start soon, I don’t think we get much more than 5000, maybe 7000 yen…”
Mutou inhales sharply. Morihiro, who’s been bouncing up and down in his seat next to Atsuko’s wheelchair, is suddenly still, like prey that realizes it’s being stalked.
“Morihiro,” Mutou begins with a frown. Before he can continue, however, the Vice-Principal’s survival instincts kick in.
“With all due respect to the President, I am sure that we can do better than that,” Morihiro says with more than a touch of asperity. “There is already considerable interest in this trip and it’s barely out of the planning stage.”
“A couple of enquiries from friends can't be called ‘considerable’, Vice-President Morihiro,” Atsuko replies, calling him out on his bold-faced lie and surprising herself with her venom. She glances at her teacher, worried she may have offended him.
Mutou slouches heavily in his chair, looking like he wanted this whole conversation to end. Atsuko is suddenly painfully aware of the greying hair that hangs limp around his pinched face, of the suit that fits more loosely than it did when the school year began.
Even the setting for the meeting is unusual. Instead of using his assigned office, Mutou had asked the Student Council members to join him in class 3-3. He’d told Atsuko that he just couldn’t spare the five minutes to walk over to the admin building.
She feels a wave of guilt. Atsuko shouldn’t be torturing Mutou with a disagreement she and Morihiro were having. He’s having a hard enough time between teaching and his added responsibilities without her barging into his “office" (“Try to keep the meeting short please,” he’d asked), airing her own irritations.
Nor should she be torturing herself. Atsuko had started another round of chemo just last week and was off her prosthetic and stuck in this damned wheelchair (her PT had sympathized) until the chemicals were done ravaging her body and weakening her immune system. She has enough to deal with.
“It’s a good start and we can build on that, but we’d need to put the word out to the student population on the whole.” Atsuko makes herself sound as conciliatory as she can and is relieved by the gratitude on Mutou’s haggard face.
For a moment, Morihiro is silent, trying to detect the trap Atsuko’s words contain. When he detects none, his usual ebullience returns. “We can get some posters made up and have them all over the campus by tomorrow evening!”
The President stifles a groan. Morihiro’s fingers are misshapen by syndactyl, which means she’ll have to be there to help him and the job will take hours. She didn’t want to spend any more time with him but Mutou looks thrilled to not have a Student Council spat unfolding in his office. Good manners have their price.
“What do you think, Mutou?” Atsuko asks.
“If you can raise thirty percent of the cost for this trip, I think the school can cover forty. Hang on.” Mutou rolls his chair to one of the filing cabinets behind his desk and pulls out a piece of paper thick with numbers. “Yes, forty. The remainder will have to come from the parents, I think. Will that work for you?”
The Student Council members fall silent as each worked through the figures. Morihiro gets there first.
“That’s only 6000 yen per student. That’s not much.” Atsuko wants to wince, barely suppressing the urge. It might not be much for him, but she knew other students would struggle. Besides, as members of the Student Council, they wouldn’t have to pay; that would come out of the council’s budget.
“We’ll do our best. Thank you for this opportunity, Mutou.” Atsuko writes down the costing scheme, privately pessimistic about the trip’s prospects.
“You’ll need chaperones, too. I want one staff member for every five students you bring,” Mutou continues. Atsuko nods and writes that down too. “Let me know how you’re doing with fundraising. If you can’t make it, we’ll have to do something else with the money.”
He tails off abruptly, peering at Morihiro and Atsuko in turn. It takes the latter a moment to realize Mutou was ending the meeting and another to pack her notebook and to get Morihiro’s attention.
“We’ll do our best, Mutou,” Atsuko says again. The Vice-President echoes her sentiments and they leave, closing the classroom door tight behind them.
As soon as they round the corner, Morihiro lets out a great whoop. “We did it!”
Apparently he’s already forgiven Atsuko her betrayal. He claps her on the back, almost crashing her elevated foot -knee- into the elevator doors.
“We have done nothing yet.” Annoyance, exhaustion, and a sudden wave of gut-clenching nausea all combine to make her voice harsh again. “Mutou has asked us to raise - in two short weeks- a lot of money, more money than any council has ever raised in that timeframe! Not many students here have jobs so we’re not raising thirty percent from the students and forty from parents; we’re asking parents to pay seventy percent-14000 yen- which most will balk at.”
She pauses, too irritated for the moment to continue. At times, Morihiro reminds her of a puppy, an energetic, over-eager puppy that’s always demanding attention. This is overwhelmingly one of those times and she just wants to give him a swift kick.
Astuko can’t do that so she does the next best thing. “I don’t think we’ll be able to make this trip to Yokohama happen and you know what? I would be happier if it didn’t.”
She falls silent, not for lack of things to say but because she’s too frustrated to put them into words. Morihiro doesn’t fill the void because even from where she sits, her rage has got him on the retreat. It isn’t until the elevator dings and the doors sweep open that he finds his tongue.
“You don’t actually mean that, Atsu-”
“You’re right; I probably don’t,” the President says. “I would probably support this trip if we weren’t planning it two weeks ahead of it actually happening!”
To that, Morihiro says nothing. He makes no attempt to follow when Atsuko wheels herself into the generously sized elevator.
“Tomorrow, we have work to do so get to bed early tonight,” she tells him.
“I thought you didn’t want to go on this trip?” Morihiro asks.
“I don’t, but we told Mutou we’d try so we have to put in an effort. I won’t let this council lose face, especially not for your stupid German market,” Atsuko replies. The doors close slowly enough for her to get a last look of Morihiro’s face, mournful for once. Yep, definitely like a puppy, she thinks guiltily.