Crimson has created a piece of music to reflect this interlude: The Correspondent. Please do him, and me, the honor of listening to it.
I come out of the auxiliary building with the night duty nurse – I haven't learned her name yet – but I don't accompany her beyond the top of the hill. Instead, I stand and watch as she makes her way down to the track toward the girl lying curled up on what I think is called the back stretch. I start to feel a little uncomfortable, but I did promise Ooe I would tell her anything that happened involving this girl.
The last time I was here, the scene I was watching made me smile. It was a pair of third-years, sharing a passionate kiss, the kind that I hope that I can share with the boy I love someday. It was just the kind of thing that Ooe always wants to know when it happens. Even though that sort of thing isn't supposed to get printed in the paper, she likes to be able to hold it over people's heads so they'll tell her things that they might not otherwise. It's all part of the reporting business, she says.
What I didn't know then was that the boy, whose name is Nakai, is someone that one of my fellow club members also likes. I've never actually talked to Ikezawa, but I've heard a lot of funny things about her. Of course, I don't believe any of it. That was the first thing Ooe told me when I joined the newspaper club: don't believe anything you hear from the rumor mill without checking it yourself.
The second thing she told me was that if I saw something interesting, I should call her immediately, so when I happened to be walking by the track that day, that's exactly what I did. I was very proud to have gotten my first "scoop." Ooe told me to keep a close eye on things, and to call her if anything else happened. Ever since then, I've been watching Ibarazaki – that's the girl's name – waiting for something to happen like today. At first nothing seemed out of the ordinary, but about an hour ago she came out of the boys' dorm crying, and a few minutes later she was making a beeline for the track.
I watched her for a while, but I could tell something was wrong. Ibarazaki's a track star, and at the last track meet of the year I watched her win every race she was in. It was awe-inspiring how easily she ran that day, like she was born to do it. This time, it wasn't like that at all. She looked like she was straining with every step, but she kept going faster and faster, and then she collapsed.
The first thing that went through my mind was what I'd told Ooe. I started to wonder if maybe what I'd said had gone from Ooe to Ikezawa, and maybe even led to what happened today. As I'm watching this scene continue to play out in front of me, I wonder, what if it was my reporting that led to Ibarazaki getting hurt?
I also remember another thing Ooe told me when I joined the club: that sometimes, people are going to get hurt by what gets printed in the newspaper. You can't worry about whether what you write gets someone into trouble, or makes someone cry, because your responsibility as a journalist is to print the truth, no matter what might happen because of it. If that's my guide, I should be calling this in to Ooe and Inoue, and if it gets into the paper, so be it. I was okay with that when it was just about kissing in public, but this feels...different. I know for a fact that this isn't something that Ibarazaki would want anyone to know, and that's something I feel like I have to respect.
See, Ibarazaki isn't just another girl to me, really. I guess you could say she's my idol. Watching the night nurse carrying her back up this way, I quickly duck behind the bleachers. I watch through the spaces between, and look at the running blades she's wearing.
Then, I look down at my own prosthetic right leg that I got two years ago, and decide that maybe I didn't see anything tonight after all.
Keep on running, Ibarazaki...
Okay, so, Chapter 34 is giving me fits. I may have to rewrite it from scratch at this point, but either way it'll be at least a few more days until it's posted. To tide everyone over, here's a little piece I banged out in about an hour and a half just now.