Precious Friendships (Shizune BE, Sisterhood plot) [Ch52 Updated 14/4/2021: Misha's Resolve!! (Ch53@90%)]

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ShizuneFan2019
Posts: 93
Joined: Wed Jul 31, 2019 9:20 pm

Re: Precious Friendships (Shizune BE, Sisterhood plot) [Ch44 Updated 5 Feb 2021: Cousin Collaboration?]

Post by ShizuneFan2019 » Mon Mar 15, 2021 4:32 am

Chapter 46: Clutch

“Three minutes left!”

While the staff hurry to perform final checks on their equipment, I close my eyes in an attempt to calm myself down.

This is it, the final battle. Shizune is watching. My parents are watching. Lilly is listening through TV. Students of Kasshoku are watching at home. The whole prefecture, no, the whole Japan is waiting for this moment!

Unlike the preliminary round, this time we only have a 40 point lead over the second place. If we cannot score well on the first part, the second part will become dicey.

My heart has been pounding heavily for more than ten minutes. I can only pray that my condition does not trigger during this final.

Let’s distract myself with something else. Think about something other than the JUSC. Anything.

Last Monday, after the principal allowed Shizune’s team back into the election, with the catch being her relegated to the role of vice-president, she and I spent the night together for the first time. We acted as lovers for just one night, pouring out our love towards each other. The next morning was a little awkward though, as right after we woke up, she immediately declared that we’re not lovers any more, and, after allowing me to clean myself up, she booted me out of her apartment, leaving me to go to school myself… except that she texted me right after, asking me to wait for her downstairs.

Luckily I’ve been carrying my medicine with me the whole time. Otherwise I would have skipped that day’s portion.

The same afternoon, Lilly invited me to lunch. When I called her on Monday afternoon after having lunch with Shizune, she just woke up. She indeed overslept, and missed the classes in the morning. During lunch, she told me about the urgent meeting on Sunday with Shizune and everybody. She was thrilled that the Principal accepted her performance, and she planned to invite her parents to the Open Day. I wonder if we should invite Hanako too.

Although the matters regarding the cousins were resolved, I still didn’t have much time to relax, because there were tests on Wednesday and Thursday, in addition to Wednesday’s JUSC drill. The tight schedule means that I had to skip exercises for the whole week.

On Friday, the re-election of the Student Council took place in the plaza. Needless to say, Shizune’s team, or I should say Sakura’s team, received more than enough votes to win the election. They obtained 2679 votes, which is around half of the school’s population. A convincing victory indeed.

“Everybody, get ready!”

I open my eyes, and switch myself into battle mode.

“Five, Four, Three, Two, One, Start!”

The familiar background music plays, and, after the clapping, the moderator welcomes the audience to the show.

“Ladies and gentlemen. Welcome to the grand final of the Joint University Science Contest! (Claps)”

“After nine preliminary rounds and three semi-final rounds, we have three teams competing for the Champion of this year’s JUSC. Let us introduce the teams!”

“The Red team, Tokyo University, the defending champion! (Claps)”

“The Green team, Midori University from Kanagawa Prefecture! (Claps)”

Tokyo was the champion last year, beating Midori by a mere 20 points. Both colleges are in the final once again.

“The Blue team, Kasshoku University from Chiba Prefecture! (Claps)”

I’m on television for the second time! Let’s dethrone Tokyo University and take the JUSC crown for ourselves!

==== Meanwhile, far away from the studio, in Midori University, Kanagawa ====

“The grand final is about to start! Hurry up!”

“Alright, I’m coming!”

I finish peeling an apple, take a bite of it, and hurry to sit next to my classmate in front of the television.

Normally I would be staying at home on Sunday, but tonight is different. It’s the JUSC grand final! Of course I want to support my schoolmates! Yet I don’t have a ticket, so I can only watch on TV in my classmate’s school dormitory.

“The Red team, Tokyo University, the defending champion! (Claps)”

Our major opponent in the final. Last year we lost by only 20 points. This year we’re leading them by 30 points. I received news that Tokyo’s ace in the team didn’t join this year’s contest because of health reasons. We’re going to take revenge!

“The Green team, Midori University from Kanagawa Prefecture! (Claps)”

“Yeah! Midori! Midori!”

Our teammates! This year we have a strong lineup, with five third-years and one second-year. We’re winning this! Go, Midori!

“The Blue team, Kasshoku University from Chiba Prefecture! (Claps)”

Probably the weakest team in the three, although leading by score…

“Wait!”

I watch the screen in shock as I drop my apple onto the table.

“He’s… he’s…”

“He’s Hisao!!!”

==== Back to Tokyo TV studio ====

“Let us take a look at the paper test scores, which will serve as the starting score of the contest.”

“Red team, 450. Green team, 480. Blue team, 520. (Claps)”

“We now commence the mandatory section. In front of me are ten sets of ten questions inside envelopes numbered one to ten. Each team picks a number, and the team will have to answer each of the ten questions. After I read out the question, the team has ten seconds to answer it. A correct answer yields twenty points, and a wrong answer gets no penalties. A fifty-point bonus will be awarded if all questions are answered correctly.”

I’m sure the other two teams will get at least eight questions right. We need to score very high.

“Now we start with the red team. Please pick a number.”

“Eight.”

The moderator opens the envelope with the number eight on it.

“Okay. Get ready.”

***********************

“Seven”

“Correct.”

“After ten questions, let us look at blue team’s score. (Camera zooms in) 700. (Claps)”

We answered one question incorrectly. Unfortunately, that was also the only wrong answer given in the entire evening so far. This means that we not only lost 20 points, but also failed to get the 50-point bonus, which both of our opponents managed to get. They’re certainly strong today.

==== Midori University ====

“After ten questions, let us look at blue team’s score. (Camera zooms in) 700. (Claps)”

Midori is leading now! Although only by 30 points.

“Hey, did you say he’s your high school friend.”

“Y-yes.”

“They’re trailing us. Well, for a debut finalist, they’ve already done a great job.”

I throw away my eaten apple and clean my hands.

“We’ll see. The scores are still very close.”

==== Tokyo TV studio ====

“Let us take a break, and we will come back with the second part of the contest.”

As the audience claps once again, the moderator signals to us that we can take a bathroom break if needed. Meanwhile, the staff in the studio are re-arranging the assistant’s table for the second part.

“Nakai, it’s alright. We’ll just try our best. No pressure. The pressure’s on their side right now.”

I nod. Yeah, let’s just have fun. Against the defending champion and a last-year finalist, losing is definitely no shame.

Once again I close my eyes to relax just a little bit. After a very hectic fortnight, I feel like I’m already approaching my physical limit. I’ll have to take a long rest after today, no matter what the result is.

Rest. Rest. Just keep resting.

“Everyone ready? Five, four, three, two, one, go!”

It’s time! I open my eyes, and prepare to enter full battle mode.

“(Music and claps) Welcome back to the Joint University Science Contest. We are about to start the second part of the grand final. Before this, let us review the scores of the three teams.”

“Red team, 700. (Claps)”

“Green team, 730. (Claps)”

“Blue team, 700. (Claps)”

“Here are the rules of the second part. I will read out a question. The first team to press the button gets to answer the question. A correct answer gives 30 points, and a wrong answer deducts 20 points. If a wrong answer is given, the first of the other two teams who presses the button can answer the question. A correct answer gives 20 points, and a wrong answer deducts 10 points. Notice that once the button is pressed, I will stop reading the question. You have five seconds to answer the question. The contest time is 10 minutes.”

“Before we start, let us verify each team’s buttons. Red team, please press your buttons one by one. (Ding-dong! Ding-dong! Ding-dong!) Green team… Blue team… Good, the buttons are working.”

“Alright. Let’s start the contest!”

Here we go!

“Which element was discovered along with Polonium in the same year by the same persons?”

“Ding-dong!”

As I hurry to press the button, I hear multiple button spams on my right side. I think everybody was pressing. Who was the fastest?

“Blue team.”

“Radium”

“Dingdong-dingdong!”

“Correct.”

Yes! We’re tied with the Green team!

“Refer to the diagram on the screen… If water is added into the beaker on the left, what will happen to the beaker on the right? A: The liquid will turn green. B: Black substance will appear. C: Bubbles will appear.”

“Ding-dong!”

Another button spam, this time won by the team on my right.

“Green team.”

“C”

“Dingdong-dingdong!”

“Correct.”

Darn! They’re leading us again.

***********************

After an intense, fast-paced battle in which there were only two errors, both committed by the Green team (one of which was immediately picked up by the Red team, and the other, surprisingly enough, was left unanswered), we’ve arrived at the end of the contest. Right now Midori and Tokyo are tied, and we’re trailing by 20 points. We still have a chance! The timer on the screen is now at 00:20. There’s only enough time for one more question. In other words, this is the decider!

“Please refer to the diagram on the screen.”

Wait, I’ve seen a similar diagram before!

“This diagram demonstrates a technique of finding similarities between two genetic chains, and is also used in computer science. What is its name?”

I press the button immediately.

“Blue team.”

I know the answer! I can win the contest for my school right now!

Throb.

Oh no!

Throb throb.

My chest pain!

“Ding, ding…”

At least let me answer it before I collapse!

“…ding, ding…”

I use all of my remaining strength to force out the answer.

“Dynamic pro… gramming.”

Throb throb, throb throb.

So painful! My vision is fading!

I’m going to faint in front of the TV!

No. I have to stay strong. Take deep breaths. It’s all over now, the match is over.

Throb throb, throb throb.

Breathe in, breathe out.

I cannot hear anything else except my heartbeat.

Throb, throb.

Stay calm. I can get through this!

==== Midori University ====

We’re now tied with Tokyo! Only 20 seconds left! My classmate and I are both sitting on the edge of the sofa. She is biting her nails.

“This diagram demonstrates a technique of finding similarities between two genetic chains, and is also used in computer science. What is its name?”

It’s the last question! Midori, come on! Win this!

“Ding-dong!”

“Blue team.”

My classmate screams when the blue team gets the right to answer the question.

“Ahhh… Oh no! Don’t be correct! Don’t be correct!”

Hisao’s pressed the button! Does he know the answer?

“Ding, ding…”

Is he… is he clutching his chest?

“…ding, ding…”

He’s definitely clutching his chest!

“Dynamic pro… gramming.”

“Dingdong-dingdong!”

“Correct!”

“OH NO!!!”

The very next moment, several events happen at once: My classmate puts her hands on her head. The blue team’s fans in the television are cheering. Hisao’s still clutching his chest. I cover my mouth with my hands and gasp.

Oh no! His condition! In the middle of the contest!

“Ding, ding, ding, dingdong.”

“Time is up. Let us take a look at the final scores.”

Is he alright?

“Red team, 900 (Claps). Green team, 900 (Claps). Blue team, 9… What’s going on? What’s wrong? First aid! Quick!”

Hisao’s clutching his chest in pain, and the first aid team arrives in seconds. They’re now blocking the camera, so I cannot see Hisao in front of the TV. It seems like they are not taking any action. Rather, they’re just monitoring.

Hisao, please be alright.

You deserve the victory. Please, be fine, and take the trophy.

“There’s an emergency situation. A blue team member seems to be feeling unwell. The first aid team is now standing by. From my point of view, he is suffering from chest pain. I hope he is alright. He was probably too nervous in the last question.”

Please, Hisao. Don’t die!

My classmate, who has slumped onto the sofa after realizing we’ve lost, pats me on my shoulder.

“Isn’t that your high school friend? What’s going on?”

I don’t think I should reveal that piece of information to her.

“I hope he’s alright. He’s probably too exhausted.”

The first aid is still doing nothing except blocking my view. This makes me think Hisao’s recovering. If he is fainting, they will certainly call for the stretcher.

No, I don’t want to see you collapse! Please! Hisao, hang in there!

==== Tokyo TV studio ====

Throb. Throb.

My vision slowly recovers, and my heartbeat starts returning to normal. Everybody must be staring at me right now.

Throb. Throb.

My hearing also returns. Thank goodness, I think I’m going to survive this.

Somebody wipes my sweat away with a handkerchief. Another person puts a glass of water onto the table.

After taking a few more deep breaths, everything gradually returns to normal. In front of me is the first aid team.

“Are you feeling better?”

I try to speak, but discover that I don’t have enough strength yet, so I nod.

“Here. Drink some water.”

The staff feeds me the water from the table. After another minute, I feel a little better.

“Yeah, I’m fine now. Sorry.”

Everybody is relieved. Behind the first aid, I can see Shizune and my parents staring at me with concern. I smile at them to ensure them that I’m alright.

“You need rest. We’ll carry you to the waiting room.”

Sure, but something’s more important.

“Please announce the results first. It’s a live broadcast, isn’t it?”

“Are you sure you’ll be fine?”

It’s a live broadcast! Of course I HAVE to be fine!

“Yes. I’m fine now. Please let the moderator announce the result.”

The first aid team and the spectators gradually return to their seats. My worrying teammates, who gave way to the first aid, also return to my side. The moderator takes another look at me, and I nod back. He then signals to the cameramen.

“It looks like the blue team member has recovered. We apologize for the inconvenience caused. Let us once again take a look at the final scores:”

“Red team, 900 (Claps). Green team, 900 (Claps). Blue team, 910 (Claps).”

“The champion of this year’s JUSC goes to… (camera zooms in) Kasshoku University from Chiba Prefecture!”

My schoolmates are cheering. My teammates are exhilarated. Shizune and my family, while still obviously concerned, show us a dazzling face while clapping.

I’ve won! I did it for the university!

“Now we will hand over the trophy to our winning team, Kasshoku University.”

We leave our seats and come up to the front, my captain acting as my crutch. My other three teammates join us here. The director of the Education Bureau arrives at the scene, grabs the medals and the trophy from the staff, and approaches us.

“Well done. Congratulations!”

“Thank you.”

Each of us is awarded a gold medal for our accomplishment. After that, our captain takes the trophy from the director, and lifts it up.

“Yeah!!!”

What a glorious moment! I’ll never forget about today, for the rest of my life.

The press comes over to us. She whispers to me.

“Can we have a short interview? Just one minute.”

We’re live on TV. If we don’t do the interview now, the program will end, and an interview offline won’t be as effective. I’m tired, but I think I can handle this.

“Okay, if I’m allowed to sit down.”

My captain brings a chair for me to sit down on.

“Let us hear from the blue team. First of all, how are you feeling right now? What exactly happened?”

I cannot afford to reveal my disability, so I have to come up with something.

“I’m fine. I apologize for the accident. I was so nervous on the last question that I could hardly breathe. I also didn’t eat enough for lunch today because I was making final preparations for the contest, so I almost fainted.”

“Understandable. I promise you, you can have dinner right after the interview. You guys have to treat him, don’t you?”

My captain gently hugs me on my shoulder.

“Of course! He won the match for us!”

“Hahaha… Treat him big tonight. Don’t make him hungry again.”

“Sure, sure. I’m sorry Nakai, the training must have been really tough for you.”

“What were you thinking during the last question, before you almost collapsed?”

“I saw the clock was on 20 seconds, and we were trailing by 20 points, so I thought, we can actually win this if we can take the last one. Then the screen appeared, and I immediately recognized the diagram because I saw it in one of the books I’ve read. I pressed the button, and luckily I was faster than my opponents so I got to answer it. Then I became so nervous that my body started to collapse, but I managed to answer it before the timer expired. I was so happy I made it in time.”

“Wow. That was really close! Congratulations! Captain, this is the first time your team entered the grand final, and you beat the two last year’s finalists, including the defending champion. How do you feel right now?”

“Obviously I’m very happy. Last year we were eliminated in the semis, but this time we’re able to make it into the finals. We have a strong team overall. Nakai was clutch for us; he contributed very consistently in the paper test, and of course he won the match for us tonight. Tanaka was also brilliant; he scored the question that gave us the lead in the semi-final and eventually won the match for us. Everybody did well. I’m so proud of this team. We were the underdogs entering the final, but I always believe that my team’s strength is on par with the other two teams. We’re so happy that our full potential is displayed tonight. We’re definitely coming back to defend our crown next year.”

“Thank you very much. I’m going to let them have dinner as soon as possible, so I’ll hand the time back to the moderator.”

“Thank you, Miss Watanabe. This is the conclusion of the Joint University Science Contest. Thank you for watching, and let us congratulate our winner once again, Kasshoku University!”

The background music plays, and when the cameras are switched off, my schoolmates all come over to congratulate us. Shizune and my parents are the first to approach me.

“Hicchan, I was so worried about you!”

Mom! I hate being called by that nickname, especially in the public!

“Sorry, mom. At least it’s over now.”

“You need to take a break from school tomorrow, and have your health checked.”

“Yes mom, I’ll arrange things tomorrow.”

Dad pats me on my shoulder.

“You did it. I’m so proud of you.”

Shizune gives me a gentle hug, and, after releasing, makes a sad face.

[You lied to the interviewer, didn’t you?]

Of course. She knows.

[Yeah. How can I speak the truth?]

She gives out a deep, silent sigh.

[Take a rest. We’ll figure things out later.]

[Yeah. These few weeks were hectic. I must rest. You too.]

She nods, but before she can sign anything else, my captain interrupts.

“Nakai, we’d like to celebrate for the win, but you’ve got to rest tonight. We’ll treat you on Wednesday, okay?”

“Sure. I should fully recover by that day. I do need a couple of days’ rest.”

“Alright then. Again, thank you so much for your contribution.”

The evening ends after everybody eventually leaves the studio, and, after confirming to the first aid team that I don’t need further medical assistance, my parents pick me up, have dinner with me, and drive me back home.

For tonight’s win, we also obtained a sizeable amount of cash prize, which, when equally divided, is worth more than my monthly income.

Today has to be one of the best days ever in my life.

Chapter 47: A Friendly Reunion
Last edited by ShizuneFan2019 on Wed Mar 17, 2021 4:02 am, edited 1 time in total.

ShizuneFan2019
Posts: 93
Joined: Wed Jul 31, 2019 9:20 pm

Re: Precious Friendships (Shizune BE, Sisterhood plot) [Ch46 Updated 15 Mar 2021: Who's back?]

Post by ShizuneFan2019 » Wed Mar 17, 2021 4:02 am

Chapter 47: A Friendly Reunion
Dear Hisao,

How are you doing? I saw you on TV. Congratulations on winning the JUSC! You probably don’t know yet, but I’m now studying in Midori University, which you just competed against. I watched the live broadcast to support my schoolmates, but you surprised me! You deserved the victory.

I saw it. You were clutching your chest. It was your condition, wasn’t it? I was really afraid that you would collapse in front of me. Words can’t tell how relieved I was when you finally managed to get out of it. Does your condition still trigger often? I’m studying pharmacy right now. Maybe I can help?

It’s been quite a long time since we last contacted. I know you’ve been busy with schoolwork over the year, as I was also studying very hard trying to get into university. There is so much I’d like to talk to you, but I’m not sure if you’re still open to have a conversation with me. It’s fine if you don’t want to, but I’ve written down my phone number at the back of the letter.

Wish you well in your schoolwork. I hope I can hear from you soon.

Best regards,
I take a final look at the letter, concluding that I didn’t spell anything wrong, and then write my name at the bottom and seal the envelope. I’ll deliver it tomorrow.

I don’t think I wrote the letter very well. He might not like it. Am I too pushing? I don’t know, but if I don’t take the initiative, there won’t be any further contact.

“I’m turning off the lights now!”

“Okay, I’m coming!”

Since it’s already late at night, I decide to sleep in my classmate’s dorm room for tonight. I don’t like sleeping on the floor (there are spare mattresses available, so it’s not literally “on the floor”), but going back home for the night just to come back school tomorrow seems too much a waste of time. Also, I can chat with my classmate before I fall asleep.

After putting the letter into my bag, I put on hand cream and lipsticks before going to bed. I mean, to my mattress. The lights are then turned off.

“I still can’t believe we lost.”

“That was unfortunate, second place for two straight years.”

“But your friend’s really good. He’s so clutch.”

“Yes. I was surprised he was in the contest. Sigh. I hope he’s fine. That was very scary.”

“I saw it. You were unusually anxious back then. Are you good friends with him? Or is he your ex-boyfriend or something?”

Nice guess. It’s… complicated. My relationship with him is somewhat special. I can’t disclose anything to her though.

“He’s just a friend of mine. I haven’t met him in a long time though.”

“Fair enough. He’s quite handsome by the way. That bit of stray hair is especially cool. Maybe you can introduce him to me?”

HUH?

It comes so sudden that I find myself struggling for a response.

“Uhm… Are you serious?”

“Well it depends. Maybe he has a girlfriend already, given how handsome he is.”

Maybe? I don’t think he wants to date such a fat girl like you anyway.

“Hahaha… Uhm… I’ll try to talk to him. I don’t know, maybe he already forgot about me. It’s getting late. I’m tired. Let’s talk about that later.”

“Sure. Goodnight.”

“Goodnight.”

Relieved that the topic is now dropped, I turn away from her and try to fall asleep as soon as possible.

I hope he replies to my letter. It would be nice to talk to him again.

***********************

“Welcome home, dear. Have you eaten yet?”

I put down my bag on the sofa and change my clothes while replying mom.

“Uh huh. I was very hungry after class, so I ate in the cafeteria.”

“Sure. Hey, a letter for you. Hand-written. No name.”

Is it…? I feel my pulse rising. I need to stay calm in front of mom though, or she would get suspicious.

“Oh, thanks!”

I take the letter from mom, grab my bag, and quickly enter my room at the back of the apartment while singing Chopin’s Nocturne Op. 9 No. 2.

“Wait! Apple for you.”

“Thanks a lot!”

I close the door, and carefully remove the seal to take out the content.

Yes, it’s probably him! I can hear my heartbeat now.
Thank you for the letter. I should have replied you earlier, but I was so busy with schoolwork, part-time jobs, and JUSC training that I don’t really have much time to sit down and do my own things.

I’m feeling much better now. Yes, you’re right, it was my condition that triggered in the match. I’m so sorry that you have to see it again. Actually it was the first time my condition triggered in more than a year. I’ve been living a healthy lifestyle, watching my diet, and doing exercises. But the past fortnight was very hectic because of the JUSC and some issues related to my friends. I didn’t get to sleep much, and I ditched my exercises. And, of course, the final question, I was so nervous. I didn’t know you’re in Midori University! Sorry for snatching victory from your school’s hands. It was a great game anyway.

I also have a lot to talk to you, but I don’t know, I feel like I’d rather text you instead. It’s still too awkward for me to talk to you on phone just yet. Maybe later. I’ve written down my account name and number at the back, so we can text. I’m free this week since I’ve exempted myself from all part-time jobs except Saturday for recovery, so you may reach me in the evening.

I’m looking forward to meeting you on the computer.
Uh… okay. Text is fine too.

So, after taking a bite on my apple, I turn on my computer, click the instant message icon, and enter Hisao’s account number. Then I send him a request. After a while, he accepts. He should be available right now.

Alright, here we go. Take a deep breath.

{Hi.}

I’m getting nervous! Let’s listen to some music to calm myself down. How about some Mozart pieces?

{Hello.}

{Are you free right now?}

{Yes. Just returned home. Thanks for the letter by the way.}

{Sure.}





Looks like the ice is very hard to break! I’ll take the initiative.

{Congratulations on winning! You performed really well!}

{Thanks. I’m very happy about the victory.}

Ah, Sonata No. 16 in C Major K.545 is in play! My favorite!

{How’s your recovery?}

{Good. I took a full day’s rest on Monday, then on Tuesday I went back to Yamaku for a health check. Yesterday I resumed school and had a light celebration party with my teammates. Today I did some small exercise, jogging around the sports field. I’m taking things slowly for this week.}

Thank goodness! He’s alright! I was quite worried.

{That’s great! Take care.}

{How about you? We didn’t quite catch up for a long time, did we?}

What should I type? Uhm… let’s make things generic for the time being.

{Indeed. Nothing too special here. As I said, I’m studying Pharmacy here, and schoolwork is quite busy.}

{I see. I’m studying Science here.}

{Uh huh.}





As the music changes to Turkish March, meaning that five minutes have passed, I find myself struggling for a continuation. Even though there’s so much I want to talk to him, I find it very hard to communicate!

Let’s ask about his part-time job.

{So, you said you’re doing part-time jobs?}

{Yup. Librarian, private tutor, and tutorial center.}

{So many?}

{Yeah. You know, my medical expenses. My family is not rich either.}

Oh no… Sorry about that…

{I’m… so sorry…}

{Never mind.}

{…}

{…}

But I’m curious…

{Where’s the tutorial center? What subject do you teach?}

{It’s in Tokyo. I’m teaching Math and Science right now. I go there on Saturdays.}

Really? I’ve got an interesting idea.

{Hey Hisao, do you mind if I ask you a question?}

{Sure.}

Will it work?

{You see, my family is not rich either. I’m also thinking about doing part-time jobs.}

{I see what you mean. Sure. If you’re willing to teach Biology, I can introduce you to the center. It pays fairly well.}

Is it for real?

{Really? I can! I’m free on Saturdays!}

{Sure. I’ll tell the director. You can come this weekend for an interview.}

{Can I? Thanks so much!}

{No problem. We’re in need of teachers anyway. You joining us would be a great addition to our tutorial center. As long as you love children.}

{Okay! I’m in! But… are you ready to meet me face to face?}





I await his response as the music changes into Sonata No.8 in A minor K.310.

After what felt like ten minutes, a new message appears in the chat box.

{Well, look, we’ll have to face it at some point anyway. Let’s get this done as early as possible. Actually I’ve a feeling it’s not going to be that bad.}

{You’re probably right. I mean, if you can forgive me…}

{Nah. It’s me who should say sorry. It wasn’t your fault anyway. How in the world would you ever know… that would happen?}

He’s really grown up. So different from the one I talked to last year.

{Then we’ll apologize together, okay? Let the past be the past.}

{Fine with me.}

{You have my phone number. You can call me when you’re ready.}

{Alright, please give me some time to prepare. I do have a lot to talk to you.}

{Okay, sure.}

I’m quite nervous about his call! Let’s change the music to calm myself down. How about Moonlight Sonata?

***********************

Eventually my phone rings in the middle of the third movement. I stop the music and pick it up.

“Hello?”

“Hi. Uhm… It’s been a long time.”

“It’s so nice to hear from you again.”

“Yeah. Well, I have to apologize for…”

Let’s stop his “I’m sorry” talk right now, or the conversation will become awkward.

“Me too. Let’s not talk about it anymore, shall we? Let the past be the past.”

“Uhm… Alright then.”

“Let’s catch up then. What happened after… you left the hospital?”

“Long story. It’ll take a while.”

“I don’t mind.”

“Alright. Uhm… You know, after I left the hospital, I was forced to transfer to Yamaku high school. I didn’t want to go there at all! I was like, it’s a school for the cripples! I don’t want to be classified as disabled! It’s so far away from my hometown as well. I’ll be so lonely over there, without anyone to talk to.”

“Sigh. I can understand. If I were you, I would feel the same way as well.”

“But listen. In the first week I transferred there, I made a couple of friends. They were very zealous towards me. They dragged me to lunch gatherings. They explained everything about the school for me. They pulled me into the Student Council room and played board games with them. At last, I was forced to join them in the Student Council.”

“They forced you into the Student Council? That’s so funny! What are their names?”

“Shizune and Misha.”

“They don’t sound like boys’ names. Are they girls?”

“Yes. Shizune is deaf. She’s now studying in the same university as mine. Misha is a nickname. Her full name is Shiina Mikado. She’s currently studying in America, but we talk using text regularly.”

Close friends with two girls, huh.

“Uh huh. Then what happened?”

“A lot. We organized a few festivals. We visited Shizune’s family during the summer break. We studied together for the Center Test – I still remembered Shizune setting up a strict revision timetable for us, how Misha helped me with English, and how I competed against Shizune with past papers and lost all the contests. The three of us experienced many ups and downs. We had a period of difficult time, but we managed to pull through with the help of each other. In the end, we’re able to establish a close bond. After a lot of hard work, all three of us were able to enter university. Shizune and I received scholarships as well.”

“That’s great for you!”

“They made me realize the importance of friendship. I didn’t treat my friends well enough in the past; you know how poorly I behaved back in the hospital. I realized my mistakes. I never regret transferring to Yamaku for the year.”

What an interesting turn of events.

“You certainly changed a lot! At the very least, I didn’t recall you being a ladies’ man back then.”

“Uh huh. I bet you’ll be even more surprised if I tell you I’ve made several more female friends since then.”

“Really?”

“Yup. About two months ago, I went on a trip to Tokyo Disneyland with four Yamaku girls. We each have a disability, but we managed to make the trip successful. We’ve been friends for quite a while already.”

“I’m very curious! Do you mind if I ask who they are?”

“Not at all. I’ll send you our group photo… Here. Check it in your instant message.”

I click on the download button and open the picture.

“Got it.”

“Look. On the left is Suzu Suzuki. She has narcolepsy, which means she easily falls asleep uncontrollably. Next to her, who’s making a pose, is Miki Miura. Well, I don’t think I need to tell you about her disability. She’s a very close friend of Suzu. Next in line is Hanako Ikezawa. You may already notice her s… I mean, you know…, but she very sensitive about her disability. On the right is Lilly Satou. She’s blind.”

“All of them are your close friends? I can’t believe it!”

“Yup. I’ll send you another photo… Here. Check this out.”

“Uh huh. Got it.”

“This is my graduation photo with Shizune and Misha. Shizune’s the slim one.”

“Wow, they all look so pretty! So these are the friends you made in your other high school.”

“There’s another one called Emi, but I don’t have a picture with her.”

“You’re certainly popular among girls, Hisao.”

“Well, considering the fact that most of my classmates in the university are boys, you can say I’m pretty lucky to have them.”

Hmm… My feeling is a mixed bag. On one hand, I’m delighted to see him getting back on track. On the other hand though… After knowing that he has so many female friends, I don’t know… I’m probably being selfish, but a part of me is still waiting for…

Anyway, I’m happy for him overall. At least it makes me less guilty.

“To tell you the truth. I’m very glad that you’ve changed so much since I last met you. I feel so relieved right now.”

“Thanks. Now I feel so ashamed treating you like that in the hospital.”

“It’s alright. I didn’t do my best either.”

“You know what? I’ll peel you an apple when I see you on Saturday.”

I can’t help but laugh at the seemingly ridiculous offer.

“Hahaha… You must be joking.”

“Oh, yeah, about Saturday. Meet me at Tokyo Station at 8:30am.”

“Sure.”

“The director is a kind person. Just relax. He’ll probably give you a written test, and then ask you to make a short presentation in front of one of the teachers.”

“Okay, I’ll prepare for the interview.”

“That’s pretty much it. Well, let’s hope that when I see you this Saturday, THAT won’t happen again.”

No! That would be a disaster!

“No, don’t do that again, please!”

We share a laugh as the conversation draws to a close. Wish me good luck this weekend!

Chapter 48: No Surname No Problem
Last edited by ShizuneFan2019 on Fri Mar 19, 2021 1:35 am, edited 1 time in total.

ShizuneFan2019
Posts: 93
Joined: Wed Jul 31, 2019 9:20 pm

Re: Precious Friendships (Shizune BE, Sisterhood plot) [Ch47 Updated 17 Mar 2021: She returns!!]

Post by ShizuneFan2019 » Fri Mar 19, 2021 1:34 am

Chapter 48: No Surname No Problem

I take out a small mirror from my bag to check my makeup. I bought this mirror when I went sightseeing in Kyoto last year.

Hisao notices and gives me a thumbs-up.

“You look fine. Don’t worry.”

Alright then. I put it back into my bag.

My reunion with Hisao didn’t turn out as dramatic as I thought. He was like, hey, it’s been a while, and, because I was slightly late, we had to rush a little bit in order not to be late for the interview. I’m so sorry! I overslept! I ruined our reunion!

Of course, his condition didn’t trigger. What a relief!

As we approach the entrance of the tutorial center Hisao’s working for, I can see several students waiting outside, some of them carrying notes. There are a few parents reading the leaflets next to the glass door. Those are probably course information. Above the glass door says “Tanpopo Education Center”. I see. So the center’s name is “dandelion”.

Hisao presses the doorbell, and the door is unlocked after a few seconds. We enter the center, and the reception staff greets Hisao with a bow.

“Good morning, Mr. Nakai.”

Hisao bows politely in return.

“And this is…”

I’ll save Hisao’s effort by introducing myself.

“My name is Iwanako. I am a friend of Mr. Nakai. He has scheduled an interview with the director for me this morning.”

“Good morning Miss. Please come in. The director is in the room at the back.”

“Thank you.”

The reception hall is about the size of one in a piano tutorial center. There are several benches on the sides, probably for students and parents waiting for classes. There are two corridors, one on the left and one on the right, leading to several classrooms. Hisao leads me through the right corridor, and I can see the classroom numbers 201 to 206, with the odd numbers on the left side and the even numbers on the right. The two corridors meet at the back, where both the staff room and the director’s room are located…

“Oh no!”

*Thud!* *Splash!*

A boy just tripped and dropped his documents all over the floor in front of the staff room! We hurry over to see if the boy is okay.

“Are you alright, A-ru-bin-san?”

“I’m… I’m fine. Thanks. Sorry about that.”

“You’ve got to be more careful, man. Look, you scraped your elbow! I’ve bandage. I’ll help you.”

“T-thanks…”

A-ru-bin-san, huh. What a weird name.

While Hisao’s putting bandage on that boy’s elbow, I help him collect his documents. His notes look very neat, by the way.

The director’s door behind us opens, and a middle-aged man appears. He frowns upon seeing the boy sitting on the floor.

“What’s the matter? …Oh no, A-ru-bin, are you alright?”

The boy scratches his head.

“Y-Yes, sir. I just tripped over my shoelace, I think.”

“Oh… (sigh) be more careful next time, will you?”

“S-sure. Sorry, sir.”

“And this is…”

“Yes, sir, this is my friend, coming for the interview.”

First impression is important! I make a standard bow to the Director.

“Good morning, sir.”

“I see. Alright, Nakai, I’ll take care of the interview. Please help A-ru-bin to the staff room. Miss, please follow me.”

Hisao gives me a nod, and I enter the Director’s room, leaving the boys behind.

Wish me good luck!

“Welcome to Tanpopo Education Center, Miss. I am Nagase, the director of this center. Would you please introduce yourself briefly?”

“Yes. My name is Iwanako. I am currently a first-year student studying in Midori University in Kanagawa, majoring in Pharmacy. My strongest subjects are Biology and Chemistry. I received a distinction in the first semester.”

“Uh… Please correct me if I am wrong, but I have not heard of a surname called ‘Iwanako’. How should I address you?”

That’s a question I’ve been facing for so many years. It’s still quite tough for me to answer.

“I have written down my surname in my resume, but it is a bit embarrassing, so I prefer others to call me by my first name. Is it too inconvenient?”

The Director laughs out loud at my response, catching me by surprise.

“Hahahahaha… Not at all! There’s another person in this center just like you, who would like to be addressed by his first name! The one you just saw, Alvin.

What a coincidence!

“Re… Really?”

“Yes! No surname, no problem! By the way, he’s the best teacher in the center.”

That bizarre guy is the best teacher?

“Oh…”

“Anyway, enough of that. Sure, I will just call you Iwanako then. My name is Nagase, and this is my business card.

I collect his card with both hands. In a few years, I will have my own business card as well, but I’ll hate putting my surname onto it.

“Do you have any teaching experience?”

“Uhm... No.”

“I see. Why do you want to come here?”

Hisao said this is a standard question, so I prepared in advance yesterday.

“Mr. Nakai told me about the tutorial center. After he shared with me his teaching experience, I find the job very meaningful. I can share my science knowledge to kids. I can not only help them get better scores in tests, but also stimulate their interest in the subjects, potentially helping them choose their career. This is why I would like to give this job a try, even though I do not have any experience.”

The Director seems to be pleased by my answer.

“Very well. Let me introduce to you our tutorial center. As you can see, this is not a very large center, and we only hold classes up to eight students. We want to take care of every student who studies here, not only in academics, but also their general behavior. We even accept one-on-one classes if the parents are willing to pay extra money. We treat students and their parents as friends, so we communicate with them frequently. The staff and I usually chat with them in the reception hall, so you don’t see me in this room often. We specialize in science subjects, but we also have a tutor for business-related classes. Here are some of the materials for our classes, and there are some more in soft copy. We have ten classrooms in total, six on the right, that are rooms 201 to 206, and four on the left, that are 207 to 210. We currently have around 1000 students.”

That number’s much more than I thought.

“We want tutors who are caring and friendly, and are also knowledgeable in science subjects. We want the tutors to not only teach, but also care for students as if they are our own kids. Do you think you can do this?”

“Yes, sir.”

“Good. Now, I need to give you a small assessment. If you are good at science, you should have no problem with this test.”

Alright, test, here we go. I’ve prepared for this!

“Sure.”

“Let’s move to room 210. We don’t have a class in that room until 10 o’clock.”

Mr. Nagase gets up and escorts me out of the room. After passing by the staff room, we arrive at room 210 on the left side of the center.

“You complete your assignment here. I will be back in 20 minutes.”

“Okay.”

No worries, Iwanako. I’ll be fine!

***********************

The door opens, and Mr. Nagase approaches me along with the boy I just met.

“You scored pretty well in the test. There are a couple of errors, but it’s not a big deal. Here, d’you remember him?”

“Yes. How is your wound?”

“I’m fine, no worries.”

“Hey Alvin, this is Miss Iwanako. You see, you two are of the same type. She also hates using her surname.”

“Hontou-desuka. Hajime-mashite. A-ru-bin to mou-shimasu. (Really? Nice to meet you. My name is Alvin.)”

“Iwanako-desu. Hajime-mashite. (I’m Iwanako. Nice to meet you.)”

We shake hands, and the director continues.

“He is a Chinese, coming from Hong Kong. He’s very good at mathematics. As I said, he’s the best teacher here. Many students love him. He has helped us a lot.”

“Arigatou-gozaimasu. (Thank you, in polite form.)”

So he’s Chinese? Wow! His Japanese is perfect!

“Now, as your final test, Alvin will be your assessor. He’ll give you some materials along with a teaching plan, and you prepare yourself for a short tutorial class, with Alvin as your student. Okay?”

So my second interviewer is this weird boy? Uh… I can hardly say no.

“Okay.”

“Then, Alvin, I’m leaving everything in your hands.”

“(Japanese unless otherwise specified) Yes, sir.”

“Have fun, you two.”

The director leaves the room, and Alvin hands me the teaching plan.

“Iwanako-san (Miss Iwanako), here is your task. You’re going to teach me basic life processes in plants. I suppose you are familiar with the materials here.”

“Yes, Mr. Alvin.”

“We have eight pages here. Three pages are the examples, and five pages are the exercises. You try to give students at least 60% of the time to do exercises.”

“I see. May I spend a few minutes on preparations?”

“Sure. I’ll wait for you here.”

***********************

“As a newcomer to the realm of teaching, you performed fairly well. There are a few issues you can improve on, but overall there are no major flaws. I’ll give you a pass in your final test.”

Yes!

“I’ve a class in 15 minutes, so I’ll hand you back to the Director. Good luck for the rest of your day.”

“Thank you, Mr. Alvin.”

Alvin leads me to the Director’s office and knocks on the door. The Director comes out, takes the documents from Alvin who leaves the room, and signals me to sit down in front of him.

“It appears that you have passed your teaching test. Congratulations.”

“Thank you.”

“Let’s talk about our offer. We’re in need of a Biology teacher. You can teach Biology and Chemistry for us. For now I have two classes for you, but I will try to open a few more classes for the next few days. I will tell you about the exact arrangements early next week. About your wage, since you’re a part-time tutor, we offer hourly wage. You have no experience yet, so how does 2500 yen per class sound? A class is one hour.”

Wow, it’s much higher than I thought! I might not have many students at the beginning, but I can take it step by step. Two classes should be fine for me.

“Okay then. I accept.”

“And if you perform well, I’ll consider raising your salary.”

Really?

“I will try my best, Mr. Nagase.”

“Good. When will you be available?”

“Uhm… Next week, I think.”

“Okay, I will arrange classes for you in the upcoming week. Now, do you have any appointments for today?”

“No.”

“Alright. Alvin has a class at 10 o’clock in Room 208. You’re sitting through his class. Then you can study the materials for next week’s classes for the rest of the morning.”

“Yes sir.”

“Now, follow me to the staff room.”

Mr. Nagase leads me into the staff room. It’s a bit larger than the director’s room. There is a large table in the middle, and I can see Hisao sitting there preparing for his next class.

“Here is the staff room, or the commons we usually call. Tutors prepare for their classes here. Over there are some computers. We have two juniors who help design class materials. And we have Hakamichi working on admin and finance.”

Upon noticing my presence, Hisao smiles at me. I smile back in excitement. I’ll be your colleague next week!

“Here are the lockers. You may put your belongings inside, and then attend Alvin’s class. Afterwards, prepare for your classes here, and leave when you are done.”

“Thank you, Mr. Nagase.”

“For now you have two classes in October, both of them being new classes. If I have another class for you, then I will give you a call and send you the corresponding materials. Here are your materials for next week, and your schedule. You might be asked to fill in for classes in case a tutor is unavailable, for example due to sickness, and you’ll be paid at the same rate. We will prepare a contract for you to sign next week. Any questions?”

“No, sir.”

“Then I will go back to my room. Thank you for coming to the interview.”

I greet the Director with a bow, and, after Mr. Nagase is gone, Hisao comes over.

“Hey, how did it go?”

I give him a firm nod.

“We’ll be colleagues starting from next week!”

“Congratulations!”

We shake hands, and, since it is almost 10 o’clock, I set off towards Room 208 while Hisao prepares to conduct his class.

***********************

Hisao decides to treat me lunch before I go back to Kanagawa in the afternoon. The weird boy Alvin, who’s actually attending the same university as Hisao’s, is tagging along as well.

“Hey Hisao, is Hakamichi not coming?”

“She said she’s busy with work today, so she asked me to bring her take-out lunch.”

After attending Alvin’s class, Hisao introduced Miss Hakamichi to me, the slim girl I saw in one of the photos he sent me the other day. She’s very pretty. I’ve a feeling that Hisao likes her; I don’t know, it’s just my sixth sense. I also speculate that the feeling could be mutual, because when Hisao introduced me to her, she frowned for a split-second. She also didn’t come with us for lunch; I don’t know whether she’s really busy, or if she just wants to avoid me.

“Okay then, I guess it’s just the three of us.”

“Iwanako, is ramen okay for you?”

“Sure! Let’s go!”

Since Hisao has a class at 1 o’clock, we chose a ramen restaurant nearby. We ordered a bowl of ramen for each of us, and also some snacks for us to share. When Hisao paid in front of the cashier, Alvin came over in an attempt to share the cost, but he accidentally pulled out a bunch of banknotes and dropped them onto the floor, causing a bit of a chaos. What a clumsy boy! I hope he didn’t leave any banknote on the floor.

“So, you’re Hisao’s high school friend, you say?”

“Yes. We studied in Chiba together for a few years.”

“Iwanako’s now studying in Midori University. You know, the one we faced in the JUSC final.”

“Oh yeah. It was a close match, wasn’t it?”

“Yes. I was watching the broadcast on TV. We lost, but as your former schoolmate, I’m proud of you, Hisao.”

“Thanks so much. The victory means a lot to me. I’m so glad I can bring glory to my university.”

“So how’s your health? It wasn’t anything serious, was it?”

Did Hisao tell Alvin about his condition?

“Nah. Just had to take a couple of days’ rest. Now that the JUSC and the Student Council thing are out of the way, I can finally make up some sleep.”

“That’s great news. So are you planning to join the JUSC again next year?”

“I consulted the Nurse about it. He said as long as I don’t push myself too hard, I should be fine. So I’m probably going to join, although I’ll have to work hard on persuading my parents. They’re worried about my physical condition after all.”

“Understandable. Take care of your health, and hope to see you on TV next year.”

“Sure. Hey, you’re using your chopsticks upside down again!”

“Oh really? I am! Hahaha… Never mind. I always get it wrong!”

I laugh along with the two boys. Alvin’s such a funny guy.

We continue to eat while chatting. The food is great, and their banters are awesome. Working alongside them should be fun.

Time flies, and lunch is over. Hisao goes to the counter to buy another bowl of ramen for Miss Hakamichi, and returns with a knife from the restaurant.

“Hey, Iwanako, guess what I’ve brought you?”

Hisao reaches his bag and takes out an apple! Oh my goodness, he remembered!

“I promised to peel an apple for you, so here you go.”

Using the knife, he carefully peels the apple for me as Alvin and I both watch in amusement. To be honest, I feel quite moved by his kind act.

“Hey Hisao, I don’t know, but aren’t we supposed to eat only the food from the restaurant?”

“It’s alright, just an apple. I promised her. It’s… long story, isn’t it?”

“Y-yes.”

“Here you go. Take a bite!”

I happily accept the offer. It’s very delicious. Apple is my favorite fruit!

“Thanks a lot, Hisao. It means a lot to me.”

With this, I suppose we’re officially reconciled. Let’s make it a symbol of our friendship as well.

***********************

After lunch, Hisao has to go back to the tutorial center, so he asks Alvin to escort me to the train station. I feel a bit awkward walking with this stranger, but I don’t think I can find my way back without him.

But… other than being a bit clumsy, he’s actually a pretty nice boy. Since he’s the best teacher in the center, I can probably learn a lot from him.

“So, you live in Kanagawa?”

“Yes. It’s not too far away from here. Thirty minutes of train ride is all it takes.”

“When is your first class next week?”

“11 o’clock.”

“Okay then. You should be able to make it on time.”

Yup. I’ll remind myself not to oversleep next Saturday.

We pass through a shopping arcade on our way towards the station. I can hear sounds of piano on the right side.

“Hey, a music shop. I don’t remember seeing one when I last came here, so it must be new!”

A teenage girl is playing Mozart’s Turkish March. I slow down my pace to listen to her performance.

“Do you like music, Miss Iwanako?”

“Yes. I play the piano. How about you?”

“I can play a little bit. I learned how to play piano by myself. I haven’t played it for quite some time though.”

“Really? You learned piano all by yourself?”

“Uh huh. My parents bought me a keylight electronic piano as my thirteenth birthday present. It had step-by-step tutorials. After some research and practice on my own, I eventually managed to remember several music pieces. It took me a lot of effort though.”

“That’s very cool! I don’t think I would be able to play piano without a teacher.”

“But I don’t think I can play very fluently anymore though.”

I’m interested! Let’s see how good you can play piano by self-learning!

“Can you try? I’m your audience.”

“Are you serious? I mean, playing in front of a piano expert…”

“I promise you, I won’t criticize, okay?”

“Er… Alright then. Hmm… Hey look, isn’t this a nice electronic piano? I’ll use it.”

Alvin slowly places his fingers on the white electronic piano. His left thumb is on the key C4. His right thumb is on G4. His right middle finger is on C5, and his right ring finger is on D5. I wonder…

He takes a deep breath, and starts playing: C4 G4 C5 D5, four times in a row…

I know this song.

…Then C3/C4 G4 E5 G4 four times in a row…

It’s a beautiful song.

…He moves his left hand gracefully to play the C chord while playing a sixth interval of G4/E5 with his right hand. Three beats later, he plays the G4/E5 again and moves on to A4/F5 while switching to D minor chord.

I can’t believe it. He can play this without a teacher? It’s amazing! His coordination is perfect. His touch is beautiful. The music is soft and elegant.

Then comes the G chord with B4/G5, followed by the C chord again. The cycle repeats once more before entering the second phase.

The A minor chord is played while the right hand gradually goes down from C6/E6, to B5/D6, to A5/C6; then E minor chord with G5/B5, to F#5/A5, to E5/G5. This is the part I love the most.

Admittedly this is not a difficult song at all, but being able to figure this out all by himself, he’s a genius! He’s playing with such a strong and beautiful finger motion, you can actually feel his soul through the music.

F chord, G chord, then C chord. The right hand again goes down, this time an octave lower, starting from C5/E5 and ending at E4/G4. F chord, G chord, and then this is the hard part: A series of increasingly higher thirty-second notes involving the G7 chord with the right hand. It seems he’s unable to play all the notes with the right hand alone, so he uses his left hand to help with the lower notes. He’s really skillful! He disguises his weakness so well that the help from his left hand looks intentional. Only an expert like me can see through his disguise.

His fingers are pretty short. He’s going to have a problem playing octaves. I think this is why he never learned piano seriously. His beats are slightly off, which means he probably never used a metronome in his training.

I’ve never played this song myself, but I think I have all the right-hand notes memorized by now. I have an idea.

The song goes back to phase one, with a slight variation. After the C, D minor, and G chords, the song goes to C chord, then a short E flat, F, G, and then back to C and repeat. He’s handled this section very well.

It might be a bit too forward, but I can’t wait! It’s so tempting!

I slightly push him on his right shoulder. He startles, but doesn’t stop playing. I quickly stick out my right hand to the C6/E6 keys. He looks surprised. I give him a smile and a nod. He seems to understand my intention, as he moves a bit to the left as the song goes to the second phase again.

He plays the A minor chord, and, brimming with confidence and excitement, I cooperate by playing the C6/E6 - B5/D6 - A5/C6. The E minor chord follows, and I play the G5/B5 - F#5/A5 - E5/G5. Very good! Everything’s going well so far.

The F – G – C chords follow, and then comes the lower octave: C5/E5 – B4/D5 – A4/C5, and G4/B4 - F#4/A4 – E4/G4. The F chord follows, and then the hard part is where I’ll shine! Confidently, I start by playing C4 D4 F4 G4, followed by D4 F4 G4 D5, and then G4 D5 F5 G5… I fly through this section of thirty-second notes with perfect accuracy, which earns me a big smile from my fellow performer.

Of course! I’m an expert after all.

There is no other technical part after that. We finish the remaining parts of the piece easily. As I finish the song with a last note of E6, we share a smile. It was a great collaborative work.

Really awesome, considering that we just met today.

I hear an applause from behind. We turn around and realize that there is a sizeable crowd of twenty or so listening to our little impromptu performance. Obviously embarrassed, we flee from the music shop at once and run towards the train station, where he sees me off.

We’ll definitely have a lot to talk about when we meet again next week.

Chapter 49: A Kind Gentleman
Last edited by ShizuneFan2019 on Mon Mar 29, 2021 1:20 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Precious Friendships (Shizune BE, Sisterhood plot) [Ch48 Updated 19 Mar 2021: More Iwa-chan!!]

Post by Mirage_GSM » Sat Mar 20, 2021 12:26 pm

That Japanese bit in the middle was really jarring - especially since the whole of the story is supposed to be in Japanese...
A bit as if suddenly learning that up to this point they all were speaking English^^°
Emi > Misha > Hanako > Lilly > Rin > Shizune

My collected KS-Fan Fictions: Mirage's Myths
griffon8 wrote:Kosher, just because sex is your answer to everything doesn't mean that sex is the answer to everything.
Sore wa himitsu desu.

ShizuneFan2019
Posts: 93
Joined: Wed Jul 31, 2019 9:20 pm

Re: Precious Friendships (Shizune BE, Sisterhood plot) [Ch48 Updated 19 Mar 2021: More Iwa-chan!!]

Post by ShizuneFan2019 » Mon Mar 29, 2021 1:19 am

Chapter 49: A Kind Gentleman

“It’s 1500 yen, please.”

I take out two 1000 yen banknotes to the cashier. He gives me the change of a 500 yen coin and the shopping bag, which I take with my left hand. I’m about to check the items inside the bag when I discover something is wrong.

I carefully feel the characters written on 500 yen coin on my right hand. This isn’t right. The numbers on the coin clearly write “100”, not “500”.

This has happened multiple times when I go to convenient stores or shops. I’m pretty sure they do this on purpose, trying to cheat on a blind girl. They thought their evil plan would succeed. Not today.

“Excuse me. This is not a 500 yen coin. This is a 100 yen coin.”

“Uh… Oh, I’m sorry. I made a mistake. Here you go.”

Now I get a 500 yen coin. He, of course, claims that it’s a mistake, but I don’t trust him. I can’t believe such cheaters exist in a disciplined country like Japan.

Throughout my 19 years of living as a blind person, I’ve been cheated enough times to learn how to distinguish between different coins and banknotes. For coins, I can easily read the characters by feeling them with my hands. For banknotes, the subtle size difference tells me whether it’s a 1000 yen, 2000 yen, 5000 yen, or 10000 yen banknote. I still cannot distinguish between real and counterfeit money, so whenever I need to buy something of a high value, I opt for credit card instead.

Let’s check the items in the shopping bag... This should be everything.

The automatic door opens, and I exit the convenient store. The bus stop is on my left side, according to my classmates. We’re supposed to meet here.

“Hey, Lilly!”

The cheerful voice of Tatsuya draws my attention. I hear footsteps approaching, so I step aside the exit and wait for him.

“Good morning, Tatsuya.”

“Good morning. We’re waiting over there. Let’s go. Let me take your shopping bag.”

“Thank you.”

“Hmm… Candies. Thanks so much, Lilly.”

“You are welcome.”

Tatsuya leads me to our classmates, and we chat while waiting for the others. A few minutes later, everybody has arrived, and we are set to go.

Today we have sixteen students joining the picnic. It was originally scheduled to be a couple of weeks earlier, but due to the discrimination incident, we delayed it until the matter was resolved. I need to thank my classmates for their support. They not only wrote a letter of complaint to the university, but also joined the Sunday meeting with the Principal. Without their speaking out, I would not be able to represent the school on the Open Day. Therefore, I have made some nice food for them, in addition to the candies I bought in the convenient store.

After a short bus trip and a few minutes’ walk, we have arrived at our picnic location. The occasional breezes, the humidity of the surroundings, and the grains of sand I’m stepping on tells me that this is probably a beach. There isn’t much noise nearby, which indicates the site is empty right now. How fortunate!

“Hey guys, can you all help me build the stove up please?”

“Where’s the charcoal?”

“Kozuki has it.”

“Hey Kozuki, we need the charcoal!”

“I’m coming!”

“The girls can settle everything down on the table over there. Yumi, please lead Lilly to sit down. Hikari, please help with the food.”

“Sure. I’m on it.”

“Lilly, please come.”

I follow Yumi’s lead to the table, and then unzip my backpack and take out a bunch of tuna sandwiches. I received this backpack from Mother last week. Backpack has never been my outdoor outfit, but since I need to carry a lot of food today, sharing the load with my shoulders is the most sensible option.

“Everybody, I made sandwiches for you all. This is my gratitude for supporting me during the Open Day incident.”

“Wow, Lilly! Thank you so much!”

“Wow! It looks so deluxe!”

“I’m hungry! Thanks so much Lilly! Take a bite right now… Mmm! Tastes really good… *Cough cough* *Cough cough*”

“Sigh. What a kid, Kentarou. You didn’t eat breakfast, did you?”

I am delighted to hear that they are praising my sandwich. I spent a lot of effort on them.

About half an hour later, the fire is set, and the picnic is in full swing. We have a lot of food here. Besides the candies and the sandwiches I brought, they bought barbecue food (including sausages, fishballs, steak, potatoes, corns, and mushrooms), bread, lettuce, and soft drinks. A few girls have brought their own shares of food. This is going to be a big feast.

The last time I participated in a barbecue event was in my previous middle school, so I had some difficulty using the barbecue fork. Fortunately, my friends are kind enough to offer assistance. Bread is my first priority. Although I do not like eating bread, if I can make it into toast then it becomes much tastier, especially if I put other food onto it. Accordingly, I hold a piece of bread each with my two barbecue forks, and stick them out above the fire. Since I have no idea how high I should hold my bread, my friends are going to help.

“Lilly, hold them a little higher… Yes, that’s it.”



“Lilly, turn your bread.”

Barbecue has been a game of trust for me, and today is no exception. I hope that my classmates are mature enough not to bait me into eating raw food today.

“Your bread is ready. My steak still takes a few minutes, so I’ll help you.”

I am very happy to have such caring classmates.

***********************

We finished our lunch without any issue. I loved the mushrooms and the corns the most. The steak is great as well after I attached honey onto it. After lunch, I decided to have a practice session for my upcoming speech, and the girls were willing to offer help. I kept on improving my intonation and gestures until they were satisfied.

Sitting on the bench alone resting my throat, I hear footsteps coming over.

“Hey, Lilly.”

“Yes, Tatsuya?”

He sits down next to me while bouncing a ball.

“I’d like to play a ball game with everybody. Do you want to join?”

With my inherent condition, sports is obviously not my piece of cake. In fact, I don’t think I’ve played a ball game since secondary school.

“Tatsuya, I am not confident that I can play a ball game without eyesight.”

My negative response does not seem to deter him.

“Lilly, if you couldn't play I certainly wouldn’t invite you. Trust me, it’ll be fun.”

I’ve made a lot of friends throughout my years of studying, but I don’t always trust everybody around me. Other than my family, Hanako, and Hisao, Tatsuya is one whom I can safely put my trust on, especially after his brave rejection in front of the school administration last month.

I guess I will have to personally find out how fun it will be.

“Alright then. I will try.”

“We’ll play in the sand, so we’re taking off our shoes to avoid covering them with sand. We’ll wash our feet afterwards. Is it okay for you?”

“Alright then.”

I remove my shoes and follow Tatsuya towards the group. I’m both excited and a little worried about what is to come.

“Is everybody here? We’re going to play a ball game.”

“Volleyball, huh? There’s no net though.”

“No, not volleyball. This game is originated from China. It’s called ‘Number Ball’.”

“Number Ball? Like in Snooker?”

“No. The rules are simple. We assign a number for each person. At the starting position, one of us will hold the ball, while the others gather around. The person with the ball throws it upward while calling a number. The one whose number is called must catch the ball as soon as possible while everyone else runs away. After catching the ball, he or she calls STOP, and everybody must halt. The person can then walk at most three steps, and attempt to hit another person with the ball. The targeted person can dodge by moving his or her body, but not by moving the feet. If that person is hit, he or she loses a point; if the ball misses or if the ball is caught mid-air without touching the ground, then the thrower loses a point. Three points and you’re out. How does that sound?”

“Interesting!”

“A couple more rules. One: No throwing at the feet, because the target cannot move the feet. Two: You cannot call the person who just threw the ball at you. So, for example, Number Four throws the ball at Number Five and hits. In the next round, Number Five cannot call Number Four.”

“How about if the ball hits the person, but the person manages to grab the ball before it reaches the ground?”

“That counts as a miss as well.”

“Okay.”

“So, any questions?”

“No, Tatsuya. It sounds fun.”

“And for Lilly, let’s make the game fair to her. When we call Lilly’s number, try not to throw the ball too high, so that she can catch it more easily. Also, if the catcher wants to throw the ball at Lilly, he or she can only take one step, and must call for her attention before throwing the ball. Are the rules okay for you, Lilly?”

A very unconventional ball game indeed. I would like to give it a try.

“Alright, I accept. Please do not throw the ball too hard on me.”

“No worries, Lilly. It’s just a game. Now, Lilly please pick a number for yourself.”

“Um… Ten.”

I choose the number that corresponds to Hanako’s birth date.

“Alright, guys, remember. Lilly is number 10. I’ll now assign numbers for everyone. I’ll be 1. You’re 2. Then 3, 4, 5, 6…”

I’m number 10. So, if anybody calls out 10, I must try to find and grab the ball.

“…16. Everyone, remember your number.”

“Okay!”

“Alright. Let’s play a practice round. I’ll throw first. Everybody, gather around the ball. Lilly, come here.”

I obey and wait for Tatsuya to call out a number.

“Number Three!”

As Tatsuya throws the ball up and everybody else starts running away, I quickly run towards a random direction while the person who’s number is called (I think it is Misaku) is in the process of catching the ball.

“STOP!”

I halt, and await my destiny.

I hear Misaku taking steps towards the opposite direction. She’s not targetting me. I can relax now.

“No, don’t throw at me!”

“Ah!”

“Haha… Hit! Yumi would have lost a point. Is it okay for everyone?”

“Yup. Got it. Should be fun.”

“Alright, everyone. Come back. Let’s start the game officially. Yumi’s going to throw the ball.”

Round One. Let’s hear who Yumi’s going to call.

“Number One!”

That’s Tatsuya. I again run towards who-knows-where, but the sand slows down my pace significantly.

“STOP!”

No! Don’t target me!

I hear footsteps towards my right side. I breathe a sigh of relief.



“Oh no, I missed!”

“Haha. You lose a point, Tatsuya. You’ll throw again.”

We gather around the ball again. Let’s see who Tatsuya calls.

“Number Ten!”

It’s me!

As everybody hurries to escape, I find myself scrambling for the ball. It doesn’t take too long though, as Tatsuya apparently didn’t throw the ball very high.

“STOP!”

Now I need to figure out everybody’s distance from me based on their breathing. The one closest to me seems to be behind me.

I turn around and take three big steps towards that person. While I’m walking, I notice that the person has held his or her breath, obviously trying to deceive me. That’s not going to work.

From the rising surrounding temperature, I know that he or she is only a few meters away from me. After confirming my target’s location, I throw the ball.

“Ah!”

“Hit. Misaku loses a point.”

“Great job, Lilly!”

“Thanks, Misaku.”

We gather at the center again. Here comes the third round.

“Number 16!”

Since it’s not 10, I need to run again. This game is really tiring!

“STOP!”

Oh no! I only managed to take a few steps before Kozuki calls out.

“Lilly, prepare to dodge.”

Me? Oh no! I turn to face Kozuki’s general direction. I need to focus on the dodge.

“Are you ready? Here I go.”

Unable to predict his throwing direction, I simply crouch when I hear the ball being thrown. I feel the ball flying past over my head.

“Miss! Kozuki loses a point.”

Hurray! I managed to dodge a ball!

Next round, here we go.

“Number Eight!”

Run for my life!

Tatsuya is right after all. It’s a fun game.

***********************

After what felt like an hour, the game ended without any of us being eliminated because most of us are so exhausted from running in the sand that we had to call it a day. I had a lot of fun though. It had to be the most enjoyable sports game I have ever played. We then line up in front of the showering area to wash our feet and dry them with handkerchiefs brought by Tatsuya.

He probably planned the game beforehand. He’s such a nice boy, maybe even nicer than Hisao. What a kind gentleman he is.

We sit down, take a drink, and do whatever we want. I chat with Misaku and Yumi. I can hear a few classmates playing board games. A few boys who still have extra stamina play their own ball games.

“So, what are your plans during the winter break?”

“Me? I’m going back home for Christmas. My high school friends organized a gathering in a deluxe restaurant.”

“Wow! You’re so lucky, Misaku. I had to stay in the campus!”

“Why?”

“My parents are renovating our house. They’re staying in a hotel right now, so even if I go back, I’ll have to book another hotel room. Might as well stay in the campus.”

“When will the renovation be done?”

“The work will be done next month, but since we repainted the house and renewed the furniture, it takes at least two extra months for ventilation. You know, there’s the chemical that has no smell but is very dangerous. I think it’s called Formal something.”

“That’s Formaldehyde.”

“Right. So it will be done in late January.”

“That’s not too bad. At least you’ll have a new home to live in.”

“That’s only good for mom and dad. I’m mostly staying in the campus for four years anyway.”

“You may treat it as your vacation home.”

“You’re right, I guess. By the way, are you going to buy a new dress to the party?”

“Uhm… I haven’t thought about it yet. Why?”

“Why? Isn’t it obvious? A great chance for you to find a boyfriend!”

“Hey, I don’t go to the party just to grab a boyfriend!”

“You never know, Misaku. You’ve got to grab your chances, you know. How about you, Lilly? Where are you going during the break?”

To be honest, over the past two months, I have been pre-occupied by schoolwork and the Open Day incident so much that I never thought about the break. The default option is, of course, family, but doing some traveling does not seem too bad. Unfortunately, I will most likely not bring Hanako with me, because she will be busy studying for the Center Test and Entrance Exams.

“I have not thought about it yet. Right now I would like to focus on the Open Day recital first. After that, I will consider my options.”

“Cool. Don’t worry, Lilly, we all support you.”

“Thank you so much.”

Speaking of the recital, there is something I planned to do before the end of the picnic. Now should be a good time to do this.

“Yumi, would you please ask Tatsuya to come here? I would like to have a word with him.”

“No problem. Hey, Tatsuya, Lilly wants to talk to you.”

“Sure. A moment please… Yes, Lilly?”

“Tatsuya, would you mind if I have a word with you in private?”

“Not at all. Do you want to take a walk on the beach?”

“That would be great. Thank you.”

I take out my retractable cane from my bag and stand up.

“Misaku, Yumi, I will talk to you later.”

“Sure. Take care.”

I follow Tatsuya towards where I suppose is the seafront. The afternoon breeze in the middle of October seems to be singing a lullaby to me. The temperature is not too hot. Autumn is definitely the best season for a picnic.

“Would you mind describing the surroundings to me, Tatsuya?”

“Not at all. We’re now standing at the edge of the sea. There are a few small islands in front of us. I can see several boats. One of them is quite close to us. The man on the boat is currently fishing. Far away into the ocean is a jet ship.”

He pauses for a short while before continuing.

“To your left is a small mountain. It seems like there is a narrow path to climb up there. We may try it out if we want to. To your right are some private villas. They must be pretty expensive. Owning one of them would be a dream come true for any typical Japanese.”

“Indeed.”

“And on the ground are some seashells. If you’d like, you may grab some back home.”

Seashells? Interesting. I’ll grab some for Hanako.

“Really? Where are they?”

“They’re just in front of you.”

I crouch and search out the sand. He’s right. I find two seashells within seconds.

“I’ll go get some as well. Let’s pick some for our classmates too.”

“Sure. Oh, here’s another one.”

After several minutes, we have enough seashells for everyone in the class and more.

“Lilly, please pick the ones you like the most.”

I scan through all the options and pick the one with the best curves.

“Would you please help me pick one for my best friend?”

“Sure. Hanako, isn’t she?”

“I appreciate that you still remember my best friend’s name.”

“Of course. Kozuki’s still talking about her, like, every day.”

Really? I cannot suppress a smile upon hearing that. Is Hanako going to get a boyfriend right after she enters university?

Boyfriend. I recall what Yumi said earlier. You’ve got to grab your chances.

Several months ago, after I entered Kasshoku, Hanako had a lengthy phone call with me one evening. We talked a lot about each other. After knowing that I do not yet have a boyfriend, she asked me what kind of person I would like to choose to be my boyfriend. I told her some of my conditions. She then suggested that Hisao would be a feasible choice, now that he is officially single after breaking up with my cousin and we’re in the same school.

Indeed, maybe if circumstances had been different, I could have fallen for him. I admit that I am not one to fall in love with someone at first sight. In order for me to fall in love with someone, I need to come to know him and like him over time, and he must also show an interest in me, so that I can be open to the possibility of a relationship. However, based on our interactions so far, it is clear that Hisao is still solely in love with my cousin. Therefore, I shut that possibility down and leave it to my cousin to take the initiative.

Tatsuya was not the most extroverted person in the class at the beginning of the school year, but over the time he has gotten warmed up with my classmates. To be honest, I find him quite similar to Hisao (I remember that Hisao was also very shy the first few weeks he transferred to Yamaku, but he slowly acclimatized himself in the school, and made a lot of friends). I really would like to know why Tatsuya provided me with that amount of support during the Open Day matter: Is it really his nature, or did he do this out of pity? If his intentions are pure, maybe…

“Here you go. I think this is the best one in terms of color. My taste might not be the best though.”

“I will trust you. Thank you.”

With a bunch of seashells on hand, I think it is time for me to bring forth my intentions. I try to face him as directly as possible.

“Tatsuya, I would like to thank you again for your support earlier. You could have replaced me as the school’s representative, but you rejected the school’s offer and helped me fight against discrimination. Please accept my deepest gratitude.”

I give him a standard 30-degree bow.

“It’s okay. It’s not that big of a deal. I just did what I think was correct.”

“Tatsuya, it might sound a little forward, but to express my gratitude, I would like to invite you to dinner at my home after the Open Day event.”

“Uh… Really? Are you serious?”

“Of course. You deserved it.”

“Um… I’m of course… happy that you’ve invited me, but… is it appropriate for me to accept the offer?”

I grin.

“If you reject my offer, I would treat it as a disrespect.”

“No! Of course I respect you. Okay then. Thank you so much.”

“Fantastic! Now let us distribute the seashells.”

With everything settled, we head back towards our classmates to enjoy the rest of today’s picnic.

Chapter 50: The Great Escape
Last edited by ShizuneFan2019 on Fri May 07, 2021 3:35 am, edited 2 times in total.

ShizuneFan2019
Posts: 93
Joined: Wed Jul 31, 2019 9:20 pm

Re: Precious Friendships (Shizune BE, Sisterhood plot) [Ch48 Updated 19 Mar 2021: More Iwa-chan!!]

Post by ShizuneFan2019 » Mon Mar 29, 2021 1:49 am

Mirage_GSM wrote:
Sat Mar 20, 2021 12:26 pm
That Japanese bit in the middle was really jarring - especially since the whole of the story is supposed to be in Japanese...
A bit as if suddenly learning that up to this point they all were speaking English^^°
Understood. The story is in Japanese. They're all speaking Japanese.
I was trying to depict the situation when someone's not supposed to speak Japanese but turns out speaking it fluently.

I'll think about it. There will be another similar situation a few chapters later, so I'll have to handle it a little better.

ShizuneFan2019
Posts: 93
Joined: Wed Jul 31, 2019 9:20 pm

Re: Precious Friendships (Shizune BE, Sisterhood plot) [Ch49 Updated 29 Mar 2021: Lilly's Big Chance?]

Post by ShizuneFan2019 » Tue Mar 30, 2021 10:38 pm

Chapter 50: The Great Escape

After my vision gets restored, I find myself locked in a closed room. I look around. There are quite a lot of stuff here. Let’s investigate them one by one.

There’s a green door in front of me. It’s locked, unsurprisingly. I need to find the key that belongs to this door.

To my right is a desk with three drawers. Let’s check each drawer one by one. The top two have several buttons on them: The top one has four arrow buttons pointing up, down, left, and right, while the middle one has four square buttons colored red, blue, yellow, and green. It looks like I need to find the correct pressing sequences to unlock them. The bottom one has no buttons, but it won’t open. On top of the desk is a pumpkin that can’t be moved.

Opposite to the green door is a bookshelf with several books in it. To the right of the bookshelf is a strange painting. I try moving it, but it won’t budge.

Opposite to the desk is a television set. Let’s try turning it on… Nope, it looks like the buttons are not working. Maybe I need a remote control to make it work. Under the television is a shelf with two drawers. The left one has a blue box in it, and the right one has a single battery. The blue box has a number pad on it. I probably need a number password.

Next to the green door, under the air vent, is a clock. It seems like there’s a piece of paper in it. Can I open it? Let’s pry it open… Oh, there’s a screw on the side. I need a screwdriver.

Screwdriver… Screwdriver…

Is it locked behind one of the drawers? But I can’t find any sort of clue to the passwords. What should I do?

Let’s search more carefully. Any other hints? The television? Maybe the door? The bookshelf looks suspicious. Maybe one of the books holds a clue? Hmm… The books are not really books; they are just dummies. They are of different colors though, so they might be the hint to the middle drawer.

The desk… The pumpkin looks suspicious, but I don’t get anything out of it.

Can I move the desk? No. It’s hammered to the floor. If I have a crowbar I can remove the nails, but I don’t think I should do so anyway.

OH!!

There’s a screwdriver behind the desk, stuck inside the gap between the desk and the wall! I can’t reach it though.

There’s got to be a stick or a similar device available in this room. I need to search the room more extensively!

Wow, this game is much harder than I thought!

***********************

After a thorough search in the brown bookshelf, I finally discover a brown stick cleverly hidden at the bottom layer, behind the wooden board!

Using the brown stick, I meticulously retrieve the screwdriver from the desk. Now I can unlock the clock!

Let’s see what the little piece of paper says…

What on earth is this?

There’s a simple drawing of several Yamaku students standing in a row, with hands raised. In order they are: Me, Hisao, Emi, Yuuko, Misha but upside-down, my cousin, Miki Miura but upside-down, and, finally, the English teacher sideways.

Huh.

I’ve not a single idea.

Let’s look at the back of the note. Two drawings of my homeroom teacher Mutou. The left one is raising his right hand (“left” from my point of view), holding a sign that says “A”. The right one is raising his left hand, holding a sign that says “M”.



Oh! I get it!

Let’s work this thing out. So, from my point of view: Me, left; Hisao, right; Emi, left; Yuuko, right. Misha upside-down, both hands… Hmm. Lilly, right; Miki upside-down, left; Miyagi rotated 90 degrees anti-clockwise, right.

What a clever idea!

A couple of minutes later, I manage to crack the code on the top drawer of the desk: South, North, East, South, South, West, South, West, and East*. Assuming that the arrow pointing up is North, I can press the buttons in the right order…

Nope. It doesn’t work. Why?

Oh!! There’s a small sign on the top-left corner of the drawer! So the right arrow should correspond to North! Okay! Now let’s try it again: Left, Right, Down, Left, Left, Up, Left, Up, and Down.

Click.

Great! The drawer is unlocked!

Remote control acquired!

Put the battery into the slot at the back… Oh no! I need TWO batteries!

Well, while I was solving the top drawer puzzle, I noticed another small sign on the top-left corner of the second drawer. Hmm… Eye mask plus rectangle?

What does it mean?

Oh!!

I was blindfolded when they led me into this room. After removing the blindfold, I threw it onto the floor and started searching the room right away. I’ve neglected it all the time!

Grabbing the blindfold on the floor, I carefully inspect the item for possible clues. There seems to be nothing out of ordinary on the blindfold until I realize that there’s an opening at the side, which reveals a note inside!

Alright, let’s open it! Um… A piece of paper with random holes and arrows?

Ah!! I get it! The rectangle in the small mark means the picture frame. I must put the piece of paper on that strange picture!

Now let’s see… Okay! The holes reveal the colors I need to press on the second drawer, and the arrows give the order. Good! Let’s input the code: Yellow, Red, Green, Red, Yellow, and finally Blue.

Click.

Excellent! The drawer is unlocked!

Battery obtained! Newspaper obtained!

The next step is obvious: Insert the second battery, and press the “ON” button. Yes! Television is on!



A crossword puzzle? Yikes!

Alright, I’ll do it. I asked for the toughest difficulty after all.

“Instructions: 1. English. 2. Use surnames. 3. Do not add space. So, if your answer is ‘Baby boy’, then it will become ‘Babyboy’. 4. All related clues correspond to your third year of study in this school.”

Alright, here we go.

“Across 1: Student Council member.”
“Across 2: Popular in Halloween. Often placed in front of houses.”
“Across 3: Often stays in the library.”
“Across 4: Room often occupied by someone who’s blind.”
“Down 1: ___ Thing on No Legs.”
“Down 2: Name of this school.”
“Down 3: Third-year Newspaper Club member.”
“Down 4: Class 3-3 student. Boy.”
“Down 5: Eats blood. Often cosplayed in Halloween parties.”
“Down 6: Completed the mural project.”
“Down 7: Editor in Chief.”

Some of them are easy, but others have several possible answers. I need to figure them out using the puzzle itself.

Let’s start with those I’m sure of. Down 1: Fastest. Down 2: Yamaku. Down 5: Vampire. Down 6: Tezuka. Down 7: Inoue.

Across 1 has six letters and starts with the “M” coming from “Yamaku”. The only Student Council member that fits the criteria is Misha, which is Mikado.

Across 3 has seven letters, and the third letter is “E” from “Fastest”. “Satou” only has five letters, so this must be “Ikezawa”.

Across 4 has seven letters starting with “T” from “Fastest”. “Blind” most likely refers to my cousin. So the answer is “Tea room”, without the space.

Now, Down 3 has three letters, and stems from the “O” from “Tea room”. The only Newspaper Club member starting with O is Natsume. So the answer is “Ooe”.

Across 2 is very long. 12 letters. The clue probably refers to the pumpkin. Its English name is… Something-o-lantern? Yup, it fits. I don’t know the first word, but luckily I don’t need that in the puzzle.

Down 4 is five letters with the form _A_A_. I have a good idea who he is.

Okay! Now, some of the squares are colored. The blue squares spell S, E, E, N, V. The red squares spell O, E, R, Z. The green squares are F, U, O, R. The yellow squares are T, W, O. The bottom of the screen says Yellow, Green, Blue, Red. Easy. I’ve got the code: 2470.

Put 2470 into the number pad… Yes! It works!

I’m actually quite proud of myself. *Adjust glasses*

Key obtained! Let’s unlock the green door with it…

Oh no. It doesn’t fit. Didn’t expect that to happen.

Well, it has to fit in a keyhole. I must find it.

I have a feeling that it’s related to the third drawer. Let’s search the desk more.



Finally found it! The pumpkin!!

The suspicious pumpkin has a keyhole inside. Since I’m short, I had to raise my feet and look into it to see that keyhole.

Alright! Insert the key, and, with a click sound, the bottom drawer opens!

Er… A knife? What am I supposed to do with it? I don’t want to destroy the room.

There’s nothing special about the knife. Just a simple kitchen knife.

It’s time to search for more clues.



Found the clue at last! Deep in the bottom drawer is a mark: Door lock with key + knife + rectangle = key. But what does it mean?

***********************

It took me another ten minutes to figure this out. It’s a very clever trick. By peeping through the green door keyhole, I can see that the key is actually stuck inside the opposite side of the keyhole. In order to retrieve the key, I need to first put the newspaper I took from the middle drawer through the gap underneath the door, then use the knife to push the key out of the keyhole, dropping it onto the newspaper, and finally pull the newspaper back to get the key.

Well constructed puzzle.

I unlock the door, and finally completed my great escape! *Adjust glasses*

The Student Council members are waiting for me outside. They clap hands upon witnessing my extraordinary performance. It took me 48 minutes and 53 seconds to get out of there.

Nicely done, Student Council. I enjoyed the game a lot! Thanks for inviting me as a tester. It will serve as a great element in the upcoming Halloween event.

I wonder how my fellow tester is doing. I don’t see him around. Did he escape already? Did he manage to beat my time?

[Hey, where’s the boy? Is he done already?]

Luckily Yamanashi is able to communicate with me in sign. He joined the Student Council earlier this year, and acted as my translator before I left Yamaku.

[He gave up about half an hour ago. He then took a phone call and left, saying that it is an emergency. He asked me to inform you when you come out.]

What? No way!

So, I escaped from the room, and he escaped from me? That’s not fair!

This is very rare of him, dumping me behind like this.

I anxiously take my bag back from Keiko, grab my phone, and text the boy.

{What happened? Where are you?}



Let's ask the Student Council for more information.

[Do you have any idea where he went?]

[No. He looked quite worried though. It must be something very serious.]

[Can you help me ask your classmates if they have noticed the boy?]

[Sure. I’ll help.]

Yamanashi hurries towards the main building as I check my phone again. There’s no response. Very unusual of him.

I’ll call him.



It doesn’t connect. Has he turned his phone off? What’s going on?

Stranded outside of the test room, being left behind by my companion, I find Aoi and Keiko standing helplessly next to me. I’ve been neglecting the president duo since I escaped from the room. Since my translator is gone, I take out my notebook and start writing.

{Nice work! How long did you take to make that room?}

{A whole month! Isn’t it great?}

I can’t help but praise their effort. The tricks are amazing. The ideas are creative. I like the fact that they added elements of our school into the puzzles, and the contents are tailor-made for me. They’re probably going to make the puzzle questions more generic in the upcoming festival.

This is interesting. If they can come up with this, there’s no way I can’t make something better.

{I’ll make something better in my university. I’ll beat this!}

The current Student Council president smiles at my ambitious claim.

{Hahaha. We’ll see what you can do.}

{You two should come visit me in Kasshoku when I’ve finished my own room escape game. I think it’ll be in the spring festival next year.}

{Sure. Don’t disappoint us. By the way, is the Kasshoku Open Day going to be next Sunday? We want to come.}

{Really? You two want to enter as well?}

{Yup. Yamanashi too. Since three Yamaku students managed to get into Kasshoku in the last school year, our homeroom teacher is now recommending the school to anyone who might want to study in Tokyo or the nearby area.}

{Sure. I’ll be there, although I might be busy throughout the day. I can invite you all to dinner after the visit.}

{Great! We’ll go then. I really want to see if Kasshoku is an appropriate choice for me. What do you think? Do you like the school so far?}

{Of course! You two should try to get in. Try to grab the scholarship as well.}

{That will be in two years, but sure, we’ll study hard to get in.}

We continue chatting on paper for a few minutes until I see Yamanashi rushing back towards us. Has he found the boy?

[Hey Hakamichi, I’ve got some information for you.]

[Where’s the boy?]

[There was an emergency in the girls’ dorm about thirty minutes ago. The stretcher was called. According to the witnesses, the student in question was a tall long-haired girl. A couple of students were seen accompanying the girl onto the ambulance. One of them was a tall girl with blonde hair.]

Uh... okay...

Only five sentences, but so much information. I need time to sink everything in.

[Okay, thank you. I’m going to find the boy right now. If I don’t see you later today, we’ll meet again next Sunday.]

[Sure. See you soon. Bye.]

I say goodbye to my Student Council successors and walk towards the main building.

Let me think. It’s pretty clear the boy is in the medical room with the girls, but the reason they ended up together is a mystery.

I consider visiting the boy, but I don’t think that is the correct action to take, so I end up exiting the school and setting off towards the train station.

Misha’s words way back in February comes to my mind. She’s probably right.

I need some time to figure this whole issue out. However, first thing first: Student Council work tomorrow.

*Puzzle spoiler: Shizune Hakamichi, Hisao Nakai, Emi Ibarazaki, Yuuko Shiragawa, Shiina Mikado (M upside-down is W), Lilly Satou, Miki (M upside-down is W) Miura, Miss Miyagi (M anti-clockwise 90 degrees is E), so “SNESSWSWE.

Chapter 51: Very Tough Assignment
Last edited by ShizuneFan2019 on Mon Apr 05, 2021 7:30 am, edited 1 time in total.

ShizuneFan2019
Posts: 93
Joined: Wed Jul 31, 2019 9:20 pm

Re: Precious Friendships (Shizune BE, Sisterhood plot) [Ch50 Updated 31 Mar 2021: Tricky Puzzle!]

Post by ShizuneFan2019 » Mon Apr 05, 2021 7:30 am

Chapter 51: Very Tough Assignment

“Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing, Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing…”

“NO!!! PLEASE, SPARE ME!!!”

I try to run away from the lethal attack of the flesh-eating giant cell phone, but my feet won’t listen to me.

“Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing, Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing…”

It’s getting closer!

Why is the phone chasing me? It’s ridiculous! I’m not food!

“HELP! SOMEBODY HELP ME!”

It’s too late! The keys on the phone transform into spikes, and the screen changes into a big mouth. It’s going to swallow me alive!

“WAAAAAA…”

Suddenly, a shadow appears above my head, and the phone gets knocked back. What just happened?

“Rrrrrraaaaaaaaaarrrrrrrr…”

It’s Lilly! With an ear-piercing feminine roar, a giant Lilly about the same size as the phone enters the scene with her retractable cane, which is as thick as a lamppost. She has come to save me!

“Lilly! Help me!”

The phone retaliates by shooting out its spikes at Lilly, who blocks them by spinning her cane.

“Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing, Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing…”

The phone gets really angry, and summons another phone to help! The buttons on the other phone can throw out quick punches. Lilly tries to block with her cane, but with two enemies attacking at the same time, she easily gets overwhelmed and takes several punches to the face. Oh no!

“Rrrrrroooooaaaaarrrrrrrr…”

With a masculine roar, another giant figure appears! It’s Hisao! He doesn’t carry any weapon with him, so he removes his green sweatervest and rolls it into a make-shift whip. He repeatly whips at the punching phone’s screen, causing it to miss its punches. He then takes out several bandages from his pocket and seals up all the buttons, incapacitating the punching phone!

Meanwhile, giant Lilly is still fighting the first phone and its spikes. Hisao tries to whip at the phone’s screen again, but it dodges. Realizing that its ally is now trapped, the spiking phone shoots out a stream of flames at its friend, freeing its buttons from the bandages. However, the fire also damages the punching phone, scorching the buttons and stunning the phone temporarily. Lilly seizes this chance by jumping up and then delivering a huge strike with her cane onto its screen, shattering it into pieces!

Witnessing its ally’s defeat, the spiking phone retaliates by shooting laser beams at my two friends, who manage to narrowly dodge them. Lilly then takes out her secret weapon – a plastic shopping bag! She jumps up and covers the phone’s screen with the bag. The phone tries to counter by shooting flames, but they backfire and the phone is now trapped in its flames. Hisao then delivers the killing blow by sealing the plastic bag with his bandages, trapping the flames and suffocating the phone. After a while, the phone finally falls, ending its annoying ringing sound.

I’m saved! Thanks, Lilly and Hisao!

“Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing, Riiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiing…”

I’m about to give my best friend a hug when I hear a thunderous ringing sound behind them. It’s the boss phone!

Giant Lilly and Hisao turn around to face the boss, but before they can react, the boss’s screen fires off huge beams of energy that completely decimate my two friends in one hit! Then, before I can even respond, the screen transforms into a big mouth and shoots out hot flames at me!

“WAAAAAA!!!”

“Huh!”

The next moment, I find myself back in my room, sitting in front of my desk. I must have fallen asleep, even though I’ve been trying not to sleep.

My legs have been shaking. I don’t think they have stopped shaking since this afternoon. I might have escaped from the giant monster phone, but what’s about to happen is even scarier.

If I go to sleep, the nightmares will come back; if I stay awake, I'll have to face an even scarier monster. There’s simply no way out!

My stomach is growling loudly. I haven’t eaten anything since I received the news. I know that if I don’t eat, I’ll die; but I’m seriously considering dying over staying alive right now.

I must be the only person in the world who would voluntarily starve oneself to death; I’m also the only person in the world who would get scared to death by one of the simplest tasks ever: To attend a lecture.

I must be the most useless person in the world. Who would be scared of a lecture? Nobody is afraid of a seminar. A seminar is supposed to be enjoyable.

My legs eventually get tired. They don’t have enough energy to shake. If I keep on starving like this, I’m most certainly ending my life here.



But I know… If I want to realize my dream, I have to go there.

To meet Lilly over there… to live with her…

Deep inside my heart, I know that I MUST complete my mission! At all costs! This is my promise to Lilly!

But… can I do this? Will I return triumphantly, or will I suffer another devastating defeat? Self-confidence is an attribute I’m hopelessly lacking, probably for the remainder of my life.

Maybe I should give up. My life has been miserable anyway. I don’t see any hope in my future. Lilly deserves a better friend. A more competent friend.

Sorry, Lilly. Sorry Hisao. I’m going to let both of you down. I can’t do that.

I think I’m fainting. My body is lacking energy to continue its operation.



I vaguely hear quick footsteps approaching. Are they junior students who just finished their Saturday morning classes?

The footsteps suddenly stop in front of my room. Oh no! Is the dorm keeper coming to check on me?

“Is she inside?”

The dorm keeper! I recognize her voice!

I don’t want to respond. Well, it’s not like I have the energy to respond anyway.

Will she open the door with the spare key?

But who is she talking to? I don’t hear a reply…

“She is. I hear the breathing.”

WHAT?

*Knock knock knock*

“Hanako?”

I gasp. Isn’t Lilly supposed to come tomorrow? Why is she here?

“Hanako? What’s the matter? Are you alright?”

I’m starting to feel dizzy. Everything I see is blurring. Without enough strength to speak, I can only whisper one last word before darkness absorbs me.

“L-Lilly…”

***********************

Mmm…

“Beep Beep. Beep Beep.”

What’s that sound? Where am I?

I find myself lying on a bed. There’s something covering my nose and mouth. I try to open my eyes; it takes a few tries before my eyelids finally give way.

Am I in a hospital? What happened?

I try to lift my hands, but immediately realize that something is attached to my left hand. There’s a bag of liquid hanging above me. It must be glucose.

“You’re awake, Ikezawa.”

It’s the head Nurse. He removes the device covering my face, allowing me to speak.

“Am I in the h-hospital? What h-happened?”

“You? No, you’re in the back yard of my private villa. We found you lying unconscious in your room. After performing preliminary diagnosis, it is evident that you fainted because of severe hunger. I figured that since you don’t even have the money to buy food, you probably went bankrupt, so I made a deal with the Principal and the Japanese government to repay your debts and purchase you as my housemaid. You’re going to serve me for the rest of your life. Hahaha…”

The Nurse enjoys his own joke at my expense while I search in vain for an appropriate response. A few seconds later, he takes back his laughter and faces me directly from above.

“Jokes aside, you are warned that under no circumstance should you starve yourself to death. This is irresponsible to yourself and the people around you.”

His stern facial expression makes me wince. I reflexively utter the word with the highest frequency of usage from my end…

“S-s-sorry…”

…which I know is also the most useless word ever.

“You were lucky to have Satou and Nakai visiting your dormitory at the right moment, and don’t you also have to thank Yamaku for providing dormkeeping service even on Sundays, eh?”

Upon hearing the word “Sunday”, the beeping machine next to my bed immediately spikes up.

“S-Sundays? Is today S-Sunday?”

The Nurse frowns at my foolish question.

“If you can’t even keep track of the dates, I’ll have no choice but to bring you back to my private garden and train you. If I have one, that is.”

So today is Sunday! Not Saturday! No wonder Lilly came! And, more importantly, I just realized that I haven’t eaten for two days! No wonder I fainted.

I let out a deep sigh. I’m feeling so guilty right now.

I don’t think explaining my situation to the Nurse will do me anything good.

“Are they s-still outside? May I m-meet them?”

The Nurse takes out some chocolate bars.

“Well, yes, but you have to eat these first. Your friends brought them for you.”

Deeply suffering from hunger, and eager to meet my two best friends as soon as possible, I munch down on the chocolate like a mad wolf.

“Your friends surely care for you. You know what? You’re a lucky girl.”

I almost choke my food at that comment.

I’m a lucky girl? I can never agree with that! Not in a million years! Since the accident that permanently changed my life, I’ve convinced myself that I’m one of the world’s unluckiest persons, probably ranking within the top 50.

However, on second thought, maybe he’s at least partially right. If they didn’t come to see me, I probably would have died. The fact that Lilly still treats me as her best friend, despite her having so many friends already, means I do get my fair share of luck. As for Hisao, if he didn’t stop me from exiting the school earlier this year, I can’t imagine where I would’ve been right now.

That said, the fact that I’m still alive means that I’ll have to face that dreadful Miss Yumi assignment in seven days. Once again, I’m not sure if I want to survive.

For now, let’s meet my two best friends.

After I finish eating, the Nurse carefully removes the needle attached to my left arm and applies bandage on the wound. He asks me to press on it for a while and exits the room, leaving me alone in his “back yard”. Well, considering the fact that this is the inner room of his office (I know because I’ve been here for a few times), to say this is his back yard is not completely absurd.

I hear approaching footsteps and the sound of a poking cane. Soon enough, my two ex-classmates appear in front of me, both unsurprisingly worried.

“Hanako, are you here?”

My benefactor leads Lilly towards the bed who, after feeling out my presence, pulls me into a firm embrace. I’m immediately in tears.

“I was worried! Are you alright?”

For one moment, my inner devil returns and tells me that Lilly is just pitying me, but Hisao, seemingly seeing right through me, stares at me with a pair of soft yet authoritative eyes, and I throw that evil idea away at once.

The feeling of guilt towards my two confidants, combined with the fear from the upcoming assignment, causes me to lose control and sob on Lilly’s shoulders, soaking her blouse in the process.

We stayed like that for several minutes in front of a watching Hisao, who briefly left the room but then came back a minute later. Then I finally release, and signal Lilly to sit down next to me. Hisao hands me a handkerchief, which reminds me of his kind gesture back in March. He’s still the nice gentleman I’ve known him for a little more than a year.

“Well, Hanako, we certainly didn’t expect to have our reunion right here in the Nurse’s office, but I just talked to the Nurse, and he said that since today is Sunday, we can stay here for a little while longer. But we probably don’t want to trouble him any further, given that today’s a holiday, and, in addition, I don’t think we want him to eavesdrop our conversation. So, how about we let the Nurse finish up your health check, and we can talk elsewhere. Is it okay for you?”

I certainly don’t want the Nurse to know the reason behind my two-day fasting.

“O-okay.”

***********************

After retreating into my room, I told my two vistors everything about Miss Yumi’s big challenge and my reaction. I briefly considered hiding the truth from them, but quickly decided against it: They came all the way from Chiba just for me, and they saved my life.

Lilly gave me a call last week, saying that she wanted to visit me here on Sunday along with Hisao. She said that it was several months since we last saw each other in Tokyo Disneyland, so it would be great to hold a small reunion before we dive into our respective exams. After the Disneyland visit, she and her parents asked me to assist her in using a computer. I received the computer from her mother, then installed a speech recognition software on it and established an e-mail account for her. I also put braille stickers onto the keyboard so that she can type more easily. We then exchanged e-mails for a while before switching back to phone calls. Even though we still communicate regularly, I am of course delighted to meet my best friend again. I also speculate that their visit might have an ulterior motive. Since Lilly is chosen to speak in the Open Day event, she might have wanted to figure out if I am open to the idea of attending Lilly’s performance. None of us expected the reunion to turn out like this, and now, regardless of whether I choose to be Lilly’s audience or not, I’ll have to attend the Open Day anyway, because I didn’t die.

“Hmm… It is certainly a harsh assignment for you, is it not?”

Lilly looks worried while Hisao plunges deep in thought.

“Well, Lilly. With the situation as it is, I think we should tell her about it.”

“Hmm… You’re right, I guess.”

It seems like my speculation is correct.

“Uhm… Hanako, thanks for being honest to us. We really appreciate it. I guess we should be honest to you as well. In fact, one reason we want to visit you today is…”

I’ll save him an embarrassing moment.

“Y-you two want to invite me to L-Lilly’s Open Day p-performance. Is that r-right?”

Lilly chuckles.

“It appears that I cannot hide anything from my best friend, can I?”

“I knew you w-would like to invite me. I r-really want to go, b-but…”

There’s no need to finish the sentence, as all of us know about the issue. A complete silence follows. None of us knows what to say right now.

A minute later, Hisao shrugs lightly. What does he have in mind?

“Well, Lilly, I guess we could still go on with our plan. With some modifications.”

“I would like to hear more about it, Hisao.”

Hisao turns to face me.

“The thing is, Lilly’s family is coming to watch her performance, and that’s going to include Akira as well.”

“She f-flew from S-Scotland to watch L-Lilly’s performance?”

“Yup. We figured that the two of us alone probably won’t be able to persuade you to attend the recital, but Akira’s presence should bring you more security…”

What Hisao said is probably true. Even though Lilly is my best friend and I feel most secure with her around, she unfortunately has the disadvantage of always being the receiving end of public attention. And while Hisao is a dependable companion, we obviously need to maintain social distance if I don’t want to induce Shizune’s wrath. Akira is the best option for me to go out with in public.

“… So our original plan was, if we say Akira is coming, we’ll significantly increase the probability of you answering our invitation.”

Lilly chuckles again.

“Hisao, I believe that both of us already know how proficient you are in mathematics, that there is no need for you to speak in technical terms in front of us.”

My closest male friend scratches his head.

“Uhm… I’m sorry. I spoke it out of habit. Anyway, now that we know about your therapist’s assignment, we can still continue with our plan. Let me confirm once more. Hanako, your therapist only asked you to attend that lecture, right?”

“Y-yes.”

“Only that lecture. You don’t need to attend the whole program, do you? Then we’ll stick to the schedule before Lilly’s performance. You’re going to follow Akira for the whole day. In the morning, you can do whatever you want with her. You can take a walk in the campus. You can sit in Akira’s car. You can even leave the campus and have some great food. To be honest, I don’t think you need to listen to those introductions; you’ve already determined your major, haven’t you? In the afternoon, we’ll attend Lilly’s performance together. I’ll be there too. I was supposed to demonstrate some experiments to the highschoolers, but I can find a substitute in the afternoon.”

Hisao takes a sip of tea and continues.

“The original plan was to leave the school before the exit gets too crowded, and then we’ll retreat to Lilly’s apartment for dinner. We’re still doing the same, except that we’ll first attend the seminar with you after the performance. I still don’t know what happened to you last year – I’m not going to ask, and you don’t need to tell me – but with so many of us around, it’s virtually impossible for an accident to occur this time around. And if anyone dares to laugh at you or whatever, then that person will have to fight against a whole gang of troops led by Akira, who’s probably the best fighter in our group.”

The last sentence is so funny that both Lilly and I can’t suppress a laugh. He’s probably right by the way. The three of us are disabled, and Lilly’s parents are in their fifties, so Akira should be the most energetic person in the group, followed closely behind by Lilly’s mother.

With my two friends and Akira factored in the equation, the prospect of this visit suddenly becomes much brighter.

“B-but will I b-bother Akira too much?”

“No. I bet she’ll be happy to drive you around the campus looking for nice food. Maybe she’ll find some secret places we haven’t explored yet.”

“That would be excellent! However, I just think of a flaw in your modified plan.”

“Huh? What’s that?”

Lilly’s smiling. Mischievously.

“I am sorry to say that, but I believe that your presence during Hanako’s assignment will be redundant.”

What? Why?

“What do you mean, Lilly?”

Lilly holds out a finger to indicate that she is actually serious.

“Hisao, remember you just appeared on TV one month ago? Do you not realize how many high school students were watching that contest? I have every reason to believe that you are now a famous figure among Japan’s high school students. Will you not attract attention towards our group? I am confident Hanako would not enjoy such attention.”

“Uh…”

Lilly’s words may be a bit too harsh, but she’s probably right. The last thing I want in completing my assignment is to receive attention from strangers.

“Well, Hanako, if you don’t want my presence, it’s fine. You just go with the Satous. But if you do want me around, we’ll both wear masks.”

Mask, huh. Just like what I did in Disneyland.

Even if Hisao wears a mask, his trademark stray hair is still going to expose his identity. As much as I want him with me, I simply cannot risk this.

“Uhm…”

I turn my eyes away from Hisao, trying to find a way to indirectly reject him. He seems to take the hint though.

“It’s fine. I’ll just go back to the Science Department after the performance. I’ll meet you all in the evening.”

“S-sorry…”

“It’s alright. Please, Hanako, study hard and be our schoolmate. We all miss you.”

“T-thank you.”

“Hisao, are you sure you will be fine joining us in the Open Day? Will my cousin not need your help on that day?”

“She’ll okay. I told her I have Department duties, so she already found help elsewhere. Speaking of Shizune…”

Hisao reaches his bag and take out his phone, then gasps.

“Oh, no! My phone is off! The battery must have run out! I’m supposed to text her!”

“You forgot to charge your phone last night, did you not?”

“I must have forgotten! This is bad! I need to go now. I’m actually coming to Yamaku with Shizune, and she’s now with the Student Council. She must be waiting for me right now.”

Really? Did I just occupy his dating time? I’m feeling even more guilty right now!

“No w-worries. T-thank you for everything.”

“Take care. We’ll meet again next Sunday.”

“Sure. Goodbye, Hisao.”

“Bye Hanako. Bye Lilly.”

Hisao hurries to leave the room, and it’s now the two of us. I pour some more tea into Lilly’s teacup. It’s been quite a while since we last had a tea party.

“Hanako, there’s something I would like to give you.”

She reaches her bag and takes out… two seashells?

“We picked these up during the picnic a few weeks ago. Tatsuya helped me choose a few for you. He said these are the most colorful ones. Do you like them?”

They are really colorful! Her friend surely has a great taste.

“Yes. T-thank you! They are r-really beautiful!”

I’ll treasure them! Thanks so much, Lilly!

“Fantastic! By the way, Hanako, there’s something I need to confide to you.”

Huh? Confide to me?

She comes over to sit next to me, and whispers something into my ears.



“WHAT? You did?”

“Yes.”

“How d-did it go?”

“Hmm… I’ll think about it.”

So she said, but she’s smiling all ears.

According to the information I’ve gathered so far, I know that none of my friends nor affiliates are in an official relationship right now. Hisao, Shizune, Miki, Naomi, Natsume, Jun, even Yuuko, none of them. Maybe Lilly will be the first one...

“And by the way, Hanako, there’s something else I’d to tell you.”

She whispers another shocking news into my ears.

“WHAT? No way!”

Another mischievous smile appears on her face as I struggle to respond.

University is definitely an interesting place. Hopefully I’ll experience it in a few months. First of all, though, I need to tackle Miss Yumi’s assignment. Wish me luck.

Chapter 52: Quieres Buscar un Novio
Last edited by ShizuneFan2019 on Fri May 07, 2021 4:38 am, edited 2 times in total.

ShizuneFan2019
Posts: 93
Joined: Wed Jul 31, 2019 9:20 pm

Re: Precious Friendships (Shizune BE, Sisterhood plot) [Ch51 Updated 5 Apr 2021: G-Max Lilly haha!!]

Post by ShizuneFan2019 » Wed Apr 14, 2021 5:11 am

Chapter 52: Quieres Buscar un Novio

Ramen? Burger? Rice? Or pasta? Hmm… It’s so hard to decide!

Mindlessly spinning my pen around, I find myself staring blankly at the whiteboard, my mind already teleported to the cafeteria several streets across.

I hate studying~~~~!!!!

Why do I have to study linguistics in my freshman year? Why is the practical training starting in the second year? I want to be a sophomore right now!

After what felt like a million years, the bell rings, and the class is finally OVER! I give my body a nice stretch and proceed to collect my belongings before exiting the lecture hall. My next class will be after lunch near the cafeteria.

As I step out of the building and prepare to head towards lunch, my eyes meet a familiar face.

“<In English> Hi, Daniela~~”

“Hey Misha, how’s it going?”

Huh. Quite surprised to see Daniela here. I know she’s studying business, and she doesn’t have a language-related class this semester, so she shouldn’t appear in this area of the university.

“Aren’t you in the business school~? Do you have a class here~?”

Our dorm rooms are directly opposite to each other, but I don’t see her often because I always go to sleep early at night. I don’t know too much about her except that she has a boyfriend called Fred who lives across the hallway.

My hallmate smiles.

“I’m waiting for my boyfriend. Oh, look, there he is.”

I turn around. That’s strange. I don’t see Fred anywhere.

“Hey there!”

Daniela steps forward and greets the tall boy who I know as Dan with a sweet kiss on his lips as I’m left shell-shocked.

WHAT?

Oh my goodness! She was still dating Fred last week! And now she’s with Dan?

Uh… Okay…

“Hey Misha, how’re you doin’?”

I try my best to appear nonchalant.

“Hi~!! Where are you two going next?”

“Lunch in the cafeteria. How ‘bout you?”

Awwww… I wanna have lunch there too! Well, I don’t want to be a third wheel, so I guess I’ll have to get lunch elsewhere.

“Me? I’m going to grab a sandwich at the fast food shop~!”

“But don’t you have humanities class after lunch? The fast food shop is so far away from there!”

Oh no! I just got caught lying! Now I must cover up my lies.

“Wahahahaha!!! I dunno, I just want to have sandwiches today~!! If my tummy wants to have sandwich, I’ve got to answer its request, right? Right~! Wahahahaha!!!”

“Fair enough. See you in the evening then.”

“Hehehe… Bye~!”

After successfully getting away without causing any suspicions, I turn around towards the fast food shop in order to fulfil my prophecy. Sigh… I really wanna have ramen today~~

Me and my… lying mouth, I guess.

Nah. “Me and my big mouth” is fine. I love eating. Wahahahaha!!!

But what a shocker! Daniela and Dan~! In just one week!! Fred must be heart-broken! It’s going to be awkward when I go back to my room this evening, as all three of them are my hallmates.

Although I’ve been quite used to American culture, being migrated to the States since I was small, this is one thing in the country I will never get used to. Romantic relationships are so volatile here~! I’m still not sure if this is a university-only thing, but why is everyone here swapping partners like changing clothes? I still freshly remember Angel, a girl I got to know during the orientation event. She was so chaste when she just entered university – she scored a whopping 94% in the purity test*! But~! Only two months into college, and she already changed two boyfriends! Needless to say I was shocked when I met her again last week!

As I stroll slowly towards the fast food shop, the words “changing partners” keep haunting me in my head.

While I’m sort of “accusing” my schoolmates for swapping their partners with the blink of an eye, I can’t help but think back to myself.

Was that it?

Was the culture, or idea, of volatile relationships already planted into my veins subconsciously? I never thought about that possibility! When THAT mistake happened, did that kind of mindset urge me into committing such a terrible error?

No. It was my own fault. Even if my “volatile relationship” mindset has affected me, I shouldn’t use that as an excuse. The mistake I committed was a total disrespect towards Shicchan, and it doesn’t matter whether it occurred in America or Japan.

Makes me wonder what Fred is thinking right now.

Why am I thinking so much? I’m supposed to be a simple-minded girl, right? Right~!

“Supposed to be”. Sigh. Sometimes even I myself grow tired of these cover-ups.

Now I’m feeling awkward meeting Shicchan again at Christmas.

In our previous text conversation two weeks ago, Shicchan asked me to come back to spend time with her during winter holiday. I asked if that would get in the way of her Student Council business, but Shicchan just shrugged it off, saying that meeting me is the higher priority.

It’s so rare for her to rank something, or someone, higher than the Student Council. She still trusts me, even though I’ve betrayed her trust before.

Of course, this is only possible because we decided to conceal the truth from Shicchan. I can’t imagine how Shicchan would react if she gets to know what really happened. I know I’m a master of disguise – to say that this is my “disability” might not be exaggerating – but I’m really afraid of somehow spoiling the truth! If that happens, not only my friendship with Shicchan would be over, Hicchan would... No, I MUST keep my lips sealed!

Anyway, let’s keep the status quo for the moment. I’m a simple-minded girl~! Lunch in cafeteria~! Wahahahaha!!!

…except that I’m heading towards the fast food shop. Awwww… I really want to have ramen~~!!

No, I’m not returning to the cafeteria. I definitely don’t want to be a third wheel.

Speaking of third wheel, I wonder if Shicchan will bring Hicchan to our gathering. In the last few months of my Yamaku days, I was like a third wheel between Hicchan and Shicchan, although I think my position was more like a match-maker. It was quite an awkward position in either case.

I wonder how Hicchan and Shicchan are doing. In terms of their relationship.

“May I help you?”

“BEEF RAMEN! Wahahahaha!!!”

“Uh… I’m sorry, we don’t serve ramen here. You have to go to the cafeteria for that.”

“Hehehe… I know I know~~ Chicken sandwich please~~”

***********************

“Phew!”

After putting down my backpack and taking off my “Bush Cheney 2004” shirt in front of my roommate Natalie, I grab my towel and clean clothes and prepare to reward myself with a nice shower after sitting through a barrage of incredibly boring and useless lectures.

“¡Buenas noches! Tough day, huh?” <**Spanish translations at the end>

I sigh heavily and shake my head, causing my bubblegum hair to swing around. I considered keeping my hair short permanently, but after moving to America, I decided to revert to my trademark curly hairstyle, simply because I love it.

“Oh man~! I hate Wednesdays! You know, linguistics, humanities, philosophy, all the boring classes on the same day~~!”

“I feel for you. I also had a rough day, with lectures after lectures.”

I’m about to leave my room for shower when I suddenly remember today’s event. After a long day of boring classes, I totally forgot about it already, and I didn’t see any of the three on my way back.

“Oh, by the way, do you know Daniela and Dan?”

“Daniela and Dan? Of course I know them. What do you mean? Are you saying…?”

“Yep. They’re dating. I saw them together this morning.”

“¿De verdad? ¡Qué sorpresa! Wasn’t she dating Fred?”

Natalie’s from Venezuela, and she has a habit of getting in a few sentences of her mother language while talking. Luckily I know some basic Spanish, or I’ll have to ask her for translations every now and then.

I shrug.

“I was thinking the same question! I can’t believe Daniela managed to change a boyfriend within a week~!”

Natalie shakes her head.

“Sigh… It seems like everybody here is switching and trying out different partners planning for their future marriages. Maybe I need to think about myself as well. ¿Y tú? ¿Quieres buscar un novio?”

I think that translates into “And you? Do you want to find a boyfriend?”

I haven’t told my roommate about my sexual preference yet~. Natalie is actually a pretty girl. She’s slim, cute, and has big eyes. I don’t know why she hasn’t gotten herself a boyfriend yet; maybe she has a high standard? But~! Sadly, I don’t have any feelings for her~~. Actually, since I’ve arrived in America, I haven’t found anybody, boy or girl, who I’ve developed feelings for! I wonder why~~!

“¡No sé! I haven’t found anybody I’m interested in just yet~!”

Natalie looks surprised.

“Really? Nobody? But there are so many boys around!”

She then backs away a bit and stares at me curiously.

“Don’t tell me you’re actually into girls!!”

WOW! She actually guessed it~!! No! I’m not ready to tell her that secret just yet! At least I’m not admitting~!

“Wahahahaha!!! Of course not! I just haven’t found my match, that’s all~~”

Natalie laughs.

“Haha!! No worries! ¡Estoy bromeando! Hmm… Actually, guess what? Maybe we’re facing the same issue.”

“Issue?”

“Sí. You know I’m from Venezuela. Do you know why I haven’t found myself a boyfriend yet? It’s probably because the only boys I’ll fall in love with are my countrymen. Or at least South American. ¿Eres japonesa, no? I’ll bet you can only find true love with a Japanese.”

Countrymen huh. I never thought about that~!

“Hmm~~ I guess you have a point, Natalie. I’ll think about it in the shower. See you in a minute~~”

I wave Natalie bye and head towards the bathroom. Unload my belongings onto the basket. Enter the shower. Hot water~~!!!



Natalie’s reasoning is quite interesting. Although in my case, the logic can be further narrowed down from “Japanese” to “a particular person”. Whenever I see somebody, I tend to subconsciously compare him or her to Shicchan. No wonder I don’t find anybody attractive! Shicchan is just so good~~!!!



Maybe I can make an argument for Hicchan as well~~. I like him~~ I do like him~~ But I cannot betray Shicchan anymore! Sigh.

Natalie’s words keep ringing over my head. “¿Quieres buscar un novio?”

¿Quiero buscar un novio? Or “una novia”? Hmm… Let’s assume my partner isn’t Shicchan or Hicchan. Can I find anybody here to spend the rest of my life in America with? Or, if I want a Japanese instead, I’ll need to go back to Japan to find one…

…which will be two months away, although I doubt I can find one within a few days.

Hey! I’m a simple-minded girl! I shouldn’t overthink things, right? Right~!

Hot water for shower~~!!! Yay!!!

***********************

Natalie greets me in our room after I finish cleaning myself.

“¡Hola! I forgot to ask you: Friday is Halloween! And no school next day as well! ¿Qué quieres hacer? I think I’m going to party hard.”

Halloween? Yup, I’ve got my plans already~! I planned it way back from last year!

“Wahahahaha!!! I’m going to a cosplay party~! I’ll bring a broom and a hat and make myself a witch! Isn’t it awesome? Wahahahaha!!!”

Natalie bursts into laughter.

“Interesting! You’ll look fabulous in your witch outfit! Definitely wear your costume in front of me. I’ll take pictures of you!”

“No problem~!”

“By the way, they’re holding a party downstairs right now. Do you wanna go? Maybe you can even grab a boyfriend! I’m going.”

“Nah. I promised Shicchan to text her tonight~.”

“Ah~~! Shicchan. ¿Tu amiga, no? ¡Vale, vale! I’ll be late. You sleep first. No need to wait for me, okay?”

“¡Vale! See you tomorrow~~”

“¡Hasta luego!”

Alright! With Natalie gone, let’s find Shicchan online~. It’s now eight o’clock. Shicchan should be awake by now. We only have around half an hour to talk.



{<Janapese, obviously> Hi~~}

{Hey there.}

Let’s start with her favorite topic~.

{How’s Student Council?}

{Great! It’s already been more than two weeks since we got our hands on the club, and we’re already on our way to implement most of our plans!}

{Haha… What’s the first plan you’ve implemented?}

{Distribute the goodies, of course. The tests and exams are coming up, so the students will need food and drinks to study overnight. We first try to obtain their full support, then, when we gather enough forces, we’ll proceed to dominate all the clubs and become the dictator of the school!}

Yup, that’s the Shicchan I’ve known since Yamaku.

{Wahahahaha!!! I’m glad you’re happy with your job over there.}

{How about you? Halloween is coming soon. Any plans?}

{Yup, as I mentioned, I’ll wear a witch costume for the school’s cosplay party!}

{Send me your photos, will you?}

{Of course! I’ll have my roommate Natalie do that for me. How about you? Any Halloween events for the Student Council?}

{We’re going to hold a festival, similar to the ones in Yamaku. We don’t want to hold another party because we discovered that most of the other clubs are holding parties themselves, so we might as well make something different. We did a survey before the elections, and found out that the number of students who love parties is lower than expected. On the other hand, many students love the idea of a festival, in which you can play games, buy food, chill out, and relax, instead of just loud music and alcohol. For the Halloween event, we’ll include more stalls that fit the theme, but otherwise the festival will be similar to Yamaku’s.}

{I think that’s a great idea, Shicchan. In America all we have here are parties after parties and beer after beer. I’ve lost interest in them already.}

{I can feel for you. I promise, we’ll have fun when you return to Japan.}

Christmas, huh. The visit that I’m feeling quite awkward about.

{What are we going to do in Japan?}

{Let’s go on a trip. Maybe Kyoto? Or Okinawa? Hokkaido is also fine if you don’t mind the cold.}

{Hmm… Okay~! Okay okay~~!! Anywhere is fine~~ Just bring me somewhere with great food, and I’ll be happy!}

{We’ll make the plans later. After I’m done with this month’s Student Council work. By the way, I need to discuss something important with you.}

{Uh huh. Sure.}

{I’m starting to think, maybe what you said earlier was right.}

{Huh? What do you mean?}

{Remember last week I told you about the room escape tester thing?}

{Oh I remember! You and Hicchan were invited to test out the Halloween room escape game made by the current Yamaku Student Council! How did it go?}

{The room itself was well made! They employed a lot of clever tricks in the design! I think it will be a success on Friday. But the point is not the room escape itself.}

{Uh huh?}

{Guess what happened after I escaped the room?}

{Uh… the Student Council made a surprise for you?}

{Surprise is right, but not the Student Council. It was the boy! He was supposed to be my fellow tester, wasn’t he? It was not until I finally escaped from the room that I was told the boy had already gone!}

{He was gone? Did he beat your time?}

{Beat my time? Hmph! If he did, I wouldn’t need to discuss with you! It turned out he had given up half an hour ago, because he received an urgent phone call. Guess who needed medical attention?}

{Uh… no idea.}

{You had no idea either, huh. Yamanashi helped me ask his classmates for the boy’s whereabouts. A while later, he reported to me that a tall long-haired girl was sent to the medical room through a stretcher, and accompanying her onto the ambulance was a tall girl with blonde hair. Ring any bells?}

{Hmm… Licchan and Ikezawa?}

{Bingo! I didn’t know how in the world my cousin would call the boy, but apparently he left me behind to visit Ikezawa. And then his phone was turned off, so I couldn’t even talk to him. I decided to leave Yamaku alone in the end.}

{Didn’t you visit them in the medical room?}

{I considered it briefly, but ultimately I thought it wasn’t the right action to take.}

Sigh. It seems like their relationship is still pretty unstable.

{Maybe Licchan happened to notice you two in Yamaku while she visited Ikezawa?}

{It could be the case, but it’s much more likely that when the boy accompanied me to Yamaku, his secret second mission was to visit Ikezawa with my cousin. And somehow that weakling managed to get herself into trouble.}

{Hmm~~ It is possible. If what you said is true, then he had every reason to hide his second mission from you.}

{Anyway, he later apologized to me, saying that his phone ran out of battery. That’s okay. But I’m actually thinking, what you said way back in February was quite right.}

{Uh… What did I say again?}

{Remember what you told me in my room? You mentioned that the boy’s getting along with a bunch of lady friends. You asked me to treasure him, and if I keep pondering, I’m going to miss the chance.}

{Yup. I remember that.}

{I tell you. You were absolutely right back then. A few months ago, we visited Yamaku along with his two Tokyo friends. During that trip, I noticed the boy already taking a liking to Miura. A month ago, the boy introduced another girl to work in the tutorial center. I remember her name. She was the one who wrote a letter to the boy that we secretly looked at its content before delivering to him.}

{Oh I remember! The letter with pink ink, wasn’t it?}

{You’re right. She was probably his ex-girlfriend. And now they’re working in the same place. In front of me. Who knows what will happen between them next?}

{Then isn’t it obvious? You have to take action right now!}

{I don’t know… He’s surrounded by so many girls right now… I’m hesitant.}

{Hmm… I see what you mean. Are you saying that even if you two get into a relationship, you’re not sure if it will stay?}

{Sort of. I can’t blame him, as I was the one who encouraged him to make more friends. I just didn’t expect him to get along with his friends so well.}

That’s Shicchan in a nutshell. Pulls others towards her, and pushes them away. I can feel for Hicchan. Being Shicchan’s boyfriend must be really hard!

{So, what are you plans right now?}

{I don’t know. I’m thinking of giving up. You know, I have Student Council to work on, and I don’t think I can manage a relationship very well especially with such a huge responsibility to bear. I can still deal with relationships and marriage issues after I enter the society.}

Their situation is getting even more complicated!

{Hmm… Have you talked to Hicchan yet?}

{No. To be honest, we haven’t been communicating much recently. There’s Student Council. There’s the Open Day. We’ve been pretty busy these days.}

That’s not an excuse at all, and I’m sure she knows it.

{You’ve got to talk to him! Try to find a time to put down your work and find him!}

There’s a minute of pause before the textbox is updated again.

{Uhm… Actually… What I’m going to say might be a big surprise to you, but…}

Huh?

{…Misha, I know. You like him, don’t you? You can try. I’m not officially in a relationship with him, so he is up for grabs.}

WHAT?

My mouth is blown wide open after seeing the message on the screen.

NO! How can I betray Shicchan again? I hurry to type a rejection.

{No! I cannot!}

{Why? Are you afraid of me? No need. You have my consent.}

Wait! It’s… It’s just nonsense!

{Don’t do that, Shicchan! No! Why in the world? Cool down!}

I don’t even know what I’m typing. The only thing I want to do right now is to stop her foolish idea.

{I’ve thought about it for quite a while. I think what I’m doing is the best for all of us. I give up the relationship to focus on the Student Council. He doesn’t have to wait for me anymore, and gets a chance to try other partners. You can’t find a partner in America, can you? Well, you have a chance to try the boy. It’s the best solution! I can’t think of anything better than this!}

Her words are so logically correct but so ridiculous at the same time! And there’s a bit of sarcasm in it too! No, Shicchan, this is not what you want, is it?

What should I do right now? Somebody help me!

It’s true that I like Hicchan, but even if I want to date him, I don’t want to do it at the expense of Shicchan! That mistake was just a one-time stupidity! If, let’s say, they get into an official relationship again and then break up, then maybe I can consider trying. But what Shicchan suggests is just so wrong!

What a mind-blowing statement from Shicchan!

Keep cool, Misha~! Shicchan is in trouble. If I can’t help her, who can?

Let’s buy myself some time.

{Give me some time to think.}



I’m generally a simple-minded happy girl, but in this particular situation, I need to think hard. I need to give Shicchan an appropriate answer!

I close my eyes and attempt to concentrate. I need to pull her out of this. I did it once last year, so I know it’s not impossible. I have to show Shicchan my resolve!

Let’s figure this whole thing out.

For almost three years of my Yamaku life, I was acting as Shicchan’s interpreter. Due to Shicchan’s dominating personality and the technical difficulty of adding my own words while translating for Shicchan, I allowed myself to become like an empty shell, only relaying (and agreeing with) Shicchan’s ideas without processing it myself – I think it is called “critical thinking”. Licchan told me once that I’ve become Shicchan’s sycophant, which was some harsh words from her but is probably true. Yes, I’ve even sacrificed my own grades for Shicchan’s sake. However, Hicchan’s joining of our little Student Council group changes everything, especially after he proposed to Shicchan. She has another person to translate her sign language and spend time with, so I can start being my own self again. I started to have my own ideas and considerations, and stopped agreeing with her all the time. I started to pick up my grades. This is why I managed to study here in America.

I’m feeling so embarrassed right now. Before she left the Yamaku Student Council, Licchan actually warned me about my total obedience towards Shicchan enlarging her ego and hurting me in the process. I never listened to her. She was right after all! If I had accepted her advice, I wouldn’t have to wait until Hicchan’s arrival to start picking up my grades again. I heard from Hicchan that she’s now using e-mail. Maybe I’ll send an e-mail to thank her.

This morning, I thought about my relationship with Shicchan. I had a tendency of comparing everybody around me to Shicchan. Now that I think about it, I don’t know! Shicchan is awesome, sure, and I’d glad to be a close friend of her, but maybe I shouldn’t make Shicchan my standard of choosing a partner! Actually, I’m not sure if I want to be in a relationship with someone like Shicchan now, because if I do that, I would certainly lose my own self again! Being in a romantic relationship with Shicchan or someone like Shicchan is not healthy for me at all! On the other hand, Hicchan can be Shicchan’s boyfriend alright because unlike me, he won’t get controlled by Shicchan. Hicchan is definitely the best match for Shicchan, because they benefit each other.

Oh! I see! This is why despite having so many female friends, Hicchan’s still not in a relationship! Hicchan MUST have realized who he really needs as a girlfriend, so he’s willing to wait for Shicchan even though it’ll take him ages!

Yes! I finally understand! This is also the way to answer Natalie’s question! She asked me if I want to find a boyfriend or not. I must first figure out what kind of boyfriend or girlfriend I really need! Shicchan is not the one I need as a partner. Hicchan… I’ll have to think about it, but I’d say he’s probably not either! Is my partner an American or a Japanese? I don’t know, but it’s not the key issue. The more important issue here is: If I don’t know what I need, how am I going to be ready for a relationship?

And the same must be true for Shicchan as well! I can finally give an appropriate response to her ridiculous offer!

Shicchan, I cannot agree with you all the time! Misha is Misha, Shicchan is Shicchan. Misha likes Shicchan, but will never obey her without thinking things through. When Shicchan is in trouble, Misha will help!

{No, you’re absolutely wrong, Shicchan! I’m very serious. You MUST listen to me!}

{…Why? I’ve never heard something like that from you…}

{Yup. Shicchan, I’m 100% sure Hicchan’s not in love with anybody else, and I am NOT in love with Hicchan either. Trust me.}

{Why are you so sure?}

{Don’t ask. You’ll understand later. Go, talk to Hicchan. You two need to sit down and talk. Put down your Student Council tasks and find him.}

{…But… I’m… not ready yet…}

Are you so not used to talking to him already? Seriously? It’s only been a month!

{If this week is too busy, do that after you’re done with the tasks. Stop thinking about your crazy ideas and TALK TO HIM!! If you don’t do that, I’m NOT coming back for the winter break!}



{…Okay, okay. I’ll prepare for it. I need to work on the stalls now. See you later.}

She goes offline before I can respond. I think she gets my message.

Am I too angry? I think I just slapped her on her face online. However, I’m very happy I actually did that. I hope this is for everybody’s benefit.

I shut down my computer and lie on the bed, but I don’t think I can sleep. Well, maybe I can think about the question I’ve left for myself: What kind of boyfriend or girlfriend do I really need?


Notes:
*Purity test: For those who don’t know, in many American universities, freshmen who enter the orientation are usually asked to take the purity test consisting of a list of (usually 100) true-false questions about your “purity”, such as “have you ever kissed someone underwater”. The lower your test score, the more “contaminated” you are. The lowest score I have witnessed was 13, although I’m pretty sure a score of zero should exist somewhere in the world.

**Providing Spanish translations mid-story would be too annoying to read, so I write them down here.
“¡Buenas noches! = Good evening!
¿De verdad? ¡Qué sorpresa! = Really? That’s surprising!
¡No sé! = I don’t know!
¡Estoy bromeando! = I’m joking!
Sí = Yes
¿Eres japonesa, no? = Aren’t you a Japanese (girl)?
¿Quiero buscar un novio? = Do I want to find a boyfriend?
una novia = a girlfriend
¡Hola! = Hi!
¿Qué quieres hacer? = What do you want to do?
¿Tu amiga, no? = Your (lady) friend, isn’t it?
¡Vale, vale! = Okay, okay!
¡Hasta luego! = See you later!

Chapter 53: Stellar Performance

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