The Approximation of the Distance of Two: Chapter 1: The Reception for Joining Clubs is Over Here; Past: 42 Days Ago – Part 214 min read
Chitanda quickly came to her senses.
“Ah, uhm, are you perhaps somebody who wishes to join the club? I am Chitanda, the Classics Club president.”
The girl with the blouson laughed as she answered. “That’s not what I’m here for, but when I look around at all the clubs, they talk about interesting things. Call me Oohinata. I’m a first year.”
I don’t recognize that name. Since “Chitanda” doesn’t sound familiar, it is an unusual surname. If I heard a name like that, I don’t think I’d be able to forget it. However, even if I do say so myself, such a method is unreliable, given that I’m not good at remembering people’s faces or names.
But I think I’ve seen her face somewhere before. If I’m recognizing a first year, then there’s only one reason.
“Kaburaya Middle School?”
Turning to look at me, Oohinata laughed in an extremely glad way.
And nodded. She’s a person with clear expressions.
As far as it goes, she’s equivalent to a kouhai.
Although I thought I should say something about Kaburaya Middle School, I kept silent as there was nothing in particular I wanted to say or hear regarding it.
From the side, Chitanda said, “Since the recruitment is only for the time being, how about it? We the Classics Club, that is, we do a lot of things.”
‘We do a lot of things’; that’s a good one.
“But it seems like it’d be difficult. It’s things like reading Chinese characters, right? If it’s Japanese though, I’d probably like it.”
“No, that’s too much. Of course, if you want to do that then you can.”
Although Oohinata listened absent-mindedly, she suddenly crouched down, bringing her face close to Chitanda.
“My friend often says that you should finish the things you start. So senpai, in the end, what’s the deal with the pumpkin?”
What, she overheard?
“When did you start listening?”
She tugged on her lips as she thought it over.
“From when you were saying, ‘if you want a cookie, it’s okay if I go.’”
“That’s not from the beginning, is it!?” Chitanda almost raised her voice to a scream. Looking at her, I could clearly see her cheeks turning red.
“Didn’t you hear everything? That’s so embarrassing.”
I wondered what was said that she found so embarrassing.
Reacting to such an unexpected response, even Oohinata recoiled a bit.
“Uhm, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean it like that. It’s just… I stopped because I was curious about what happened to the pumpkin. And then it was because the story was steadily moving forward. I don’t think that those people even thought that much about the purpose of the pumpkins. And also,”
She quickly bowed her head.
“No… It’s okay, but…” While saying that, Chitanda covered her mouth with her hand as she coughed. Oohinata looked awkward as she kept her head bowed a moment longer, but quickly returned to normal.
“So… What’s wrong with the pumpkin?”
I understand with Chitanda, but why is this first year burning with curiosity about it? That’s what I thought, but in any case, seeing as we’ve come this far already, there’s no turning back now. I thought back to where we left off.
“I’m pretty sure it was at the point where they weren’t expecting to also use the gas burner. And because they are using a large table, they thought to use a lot of pumpkins as decorations. And since they requested to use a tabletop gas burner, they were assigned a large table. But in fact, the gas burner isn’t being used. That’s what’s weird. Was this the place?”
I said looking over at Chitanda, who looked down and didn’t even answer. It seems she was really embarrassed. Ever since Chitanda joined the club, she’d brought various problems to us, but I’d never seen her act like this. What was it that she minded so much?
“If we take this into consideration, what happens?”
In the clamor of the surroundings, with a voice that won’t lose to the noise, Oohinata said,
“Those people, they had originally intended to use the gas burner, for reasons other than brewing black tea. But then later on, they changed their plans, not needing it anymore. But since they said they’d be using it, they decided to put it there for the time being.”
As soon as I heard her reasoning, it hit me. It seems she was listening really carefully to our story. Although I couldn’t say that she hit the mark.
“But in order for those guys to put out sweets and tea, they would have needed to decide on it in advance. At least, it means they didn’t decide on it today. They were sure then of bringing black tea and sweets to the Shinkan Festival. In addition to that, to think they had a plan for using the gas burner, I can’t approve of that.”
“You don’t know that. If they had the tea and ingredients ready, they could still be on time if they decided it today, right? If they prepared everything in the morning, wouldn’t they be ready to bake during lunch time?
Indeed, the Baking Club might have had a few ingredients on hand for the cookies. But that’s not where the problem was. I raised my arm to point over at something.
“The cookies, yes. But they wouldn’t have been able to prepare that banner if they had only decided today.”
On the hanging banner that said “We ____ tea time” on it, beads had been used to embroider the words. Making such an elaborate thing during their spare class time would have been difficult.
“If they decided to do a ‘tea time’ before the Shinkan Festival, then they could take the time to make something like that.”
Oohinata looked unsatisfied.
“Well, but, now that you mention it, it would be difficult.”
At the sight of that expression, I think I failed. Because I don’t really have an obligation to clarify anything to Oohinata, I could have quickly said something like “that’s possible” instead. As an advocate of energy conservation, I made the wrong choice.
“Well then, uh…”
I thought for a moment. Although Oohinata didn’t consider the pumpkin being the only thing that was strange, she was quite enthusiastic about this mystery. And though she told us earlier about ‘finishing what we started’, that was probably just her personal belief all along.
Not thinking of anything else, Oohinata bitterly glared at the Baking Club.
“For the most part, I’ve decided that such bad people-“
And I said, “Calling them bad people is mean. Even so, I’ve eaten those guys’ sweets.”
“Did you go and get some when they were distributing them?”
“They were offering them during the Cultural Festival. Well, why did you just call them bad people?”
After intently looking at the Baking Club once more, Oohinata puffed up her chest and said, “A friend was saying that since they don’t have their nametags out, they’re definitely shady people.”
I wonder. Regardless of the occasion, we are not excused from walking around without our nametags on, so I had ‘Oreki Houtarou’ dangling from my chest. Or was that some kind of metaphor? While I was confused as to how I should answer, Chitanda suddenly lifted her head up.
“Eh, wh-what is?”
“What Oohinata-san said. You’re amazing, that’s what the problem really is!”
Surprised, Oohinata stepped back. Chitanda, please don’t startle the innocent first-year.
“What do you mean by ‘that’?”
Chitanda turned her intense gaze to me, seeming to have a question for me.
“The pumpkin being put there is what’s strange.”
“That’s why we’re talking about it.”
“No, that’s not what I mean. What I’m saying is this,” Chitanda said as she pointed. On top of our table is a single piece of promotional material, a colored paper with “Classics Club” written on it.
“I had thought that there was something wrong; something that the Baking Club was missing.”
To the enthusiastic Chitanda, from the side, Oohinata seemed to timidly ask, “Uhm… Just now, you said the word “seika-ken,” but what does that abbreviation mean?”
As she said it, that’s when I finally noticed. I see. Something that the Baking Club should have but doesn’t. Geez. I didn’t notice it because I had thoughtlessly grown accustomed to Kamiyama High School. If I looked at the high spirits of the two, I’d immediately understand it because of the Baking Research Society. However…
“I see. There’s no sign. They also didn’t put “Baking Research Society” on the banner on that table.”
“That’s right. To be able to invite people, a sign is extremely important. It’s because they don’t have that one thing that clubs are supposed to take out and show here. Since for some reason they put pumpkins instead, I’m curious!”
With the Baking Research Society in mind and ignoring the nodding Oohinata, I thought. Was it a mistake? No, that’s unlikely. If they got fired up about the Shinkan Festival enough to make those banners, then it’d be stupid to not put their club name anywhere.
Then, was Oohinata right? That is, because the Baking Club is shady, they couldn’t display their names. And as for the ‘shady’ part? Is that a shady thing for a person to do in the first place?
Considering that, is there any relation to turning in the application to use the gas burner and yet not using it?
The sounds of many voices yelling reached my ear. The Quiz Club, Debate Club, Photography Club, Flower Arrangement Club, Astronomy Club, and of course, the Baking Research Society.
At Chitanda’s call, I came back to reality. Somehow, I think I found it.
“The reason why there are pumpkins there is because that table isn’t the Baking Research Society’s place,” I abruptly declared.
Of course, since I omitted a ton of things, Chitanda gaped at me.
“What do you mean by it’s not their place?”
“That is… I guess I’ll start from the beginning.”
Staying silent, I put the story together.
“It’s like this.
A club turned in an application for the use of a tabletop gas burner, and so was assigned a large table. However, today, the club using the table doesn’t need a gas burner. Why is that? Because the club that turned in the application for the gas burner wasn’t the Baking Club.”
“Then that means…”
Chitanda covered her mouth with her hand.
“That they stole it?”
That optimistic duo from the Baking Club? No, that’s not it.
“They were exchanged; the place where the Baking Club was originally assigned and the place of the club that requested the gas burner.
If this is the case, then it becomes ‘even though they turned in an application for a gas burner, the day they need it they aren’t in a position to use it.’ Since the Baking Club didn’t plan on using a large table, they brought the pumpkins as placeholders. The other point is that they don’t have a sign to put out. It’s because the Baking Club used the assignment exchange for their own convenience and without the knowledge of the General Affairs Committee. It’s no wonder they couldn’t put out their club’s name.”
Immediately doubting the believability of such an explanation, Chitanda shook her head.
“Well then, doesn’t that mean that the club that originally planned on using that table just lost it? Why is that?”
Directly answering that question, I gestured with my hand at the dozens of clubs overflowing and standing around, surrounding the grounds.
“In the midst of all of this, there is a club that should be using a gas burner but isn’t.”
“No, even if you say it in such a roundabout way…”
From the side, Oohinata teased, “A club that uses fire, no matter how many there are, there can’t be that many, right?”
You’re seriously underestimating the diversity of clubs at Kamiyama High School.
You don’t know what the clubs will do. If you make one mistake, the Classics Club may be responsible for entertaining the school with pork miso soup and tempura bowls. That said, well, you’ll be drastically reprimanded for sure. (tl/n: give them food to appease their anger is what he’s trying to get at)
Chitanda murmured, “Ah… That’s right, how could I have forgotten?”
She had also seen the orientation at the gymnasium. As Chitanda’s memory is better than mine, her remembering it isn’t a mystery.
“It’s the Cooking Club, right? They said that they’d be treating everyone to edible wild plants.”
That Cooking Club would probably have cooked some dishes for the freshmen. Actually no, they don’t have anything to serve. Just the day before, they were saying “if you come by the clubroom, we’ll make something for you,” in order to invite the students.
“And weren’t they having problems with the ingredients during that time?”
“The edible wild plants? So if the Baking Club were given the large table, then the Cooking Club could concoct something else that would be suitable.”
“Concoct something… Please at least say ‘with the available ingredients, they might be able to make something.”
“With the available ingredients, they might be able to make something.”
Chitanda glared my way.
“That’s not what should be said. It’d be a bigger problem. They simply can’t treat the freshmen to any cooking.”
“I wonder how removing the bitter taste wasn’t enough. Because of that, the food couldn’t be eaten.”
“It’s going to be the same thing, isn’t it? It’d be better if they threw it away and used fresh ingredients. Even if we suppose they used up everything, that doesn’t mean they need to give up a large table. It’d be fine if they just filled the space by properly setting up cookware or something, like what the Bakery Club is doing.
Even if they exchanged tables with the Baking Club, the Cooking Club would have to cover up the failure they committed. When people pass by, if the Cooking Club put a stove on the table and made that mistake, people would think ‘I wonder why the Cooking Club would put out a stove and not serve any food’. Wagering concerning this is okay. It’s the same with the Baking Club; the Cooking Club couldn’t put out their sign either.”
As Oohinata had said, only shady people don’t put out their nametags.
Before I knew it, my voice was getting smaller. It must have been difficult to catch my words in the midst of the surrounding clamor, as Chitanda brought her face closer. Incidentally, Oohinata too bent forward in curiosity, her sun-tanned face coming nearer.
In a hushed voice, it was Oohinata that asked, “There’s no mistake that could be that bad. It’s bad of me to say this but at most, that was about the club’s homemade dish right? It’s impossible, what kind of mistake could they make, a mistake so bad they’d have to cover it up no matter what…”
If she can’t help but think about it, then I suppose it’s better if I sugarcoat it.
“A food that one can’t handle. There’s definitely one mistake that can absolutely destroy a real store’s business.”
“That is, don’t tell me…”
I nodded, and executed in a still voice.
“It’s food poisoning.”
So that’s the end of the second subchapter. Anyways, somebody helped me edit this thing. Well, it was more like they (just in case you’re not a girl. I immediately think all people on Tumblr are girls lol) edited this and made it more bearable for you all so give a thanks to bombasticplastic for editing 😀
I’ve finished translating the last subchapter for Chapter 1 and there’s a cliffhanger at the end of that, it pisses me off! I’m working on the second chapter atm 😀
And Oohinata is quite annoying in this chapter but it gets better in the next subchapter. Well I think it does since she gets along with everybody and what she supposedly said to Chitanda back in the prologue is totally different from what Satoshi said it was. In a good way.