The Doll That Took A Detour: Chapter 1: If I Have To Do It, I'll Do It Quickly; Subchapter 217 min read
Hyouka Volume 4
Chapter 1: If I Have To Do It, I’ll Do It Quickly
I like to believe what’s in my heart.
But it’s because of that, one afternoon after school, trouble snapped me out of that thought. There are two calligraphy sheets on my desk. One is titled, “One Month into School and My Ambitions,” and the other is blank. “If you make the freshmen talk about their ambitions, then they can at least write two pages about it”; a warm welcome from Guidance Counseling. How considerate.
This was homework, so I had already done it once at home. I don’t exactly remember everything I wrote, but I know I did the assignment. As for why I was being kept after school, this was what I’d come face to face with: I should say I’m puzzled, but to put it bluntly,
“Sir, I forgot my homework at home.”
Satoshi laughed as I held my pen, unable to write even 3 lines on the two sheets I was given.
“I guess this is the you ‘not doing it if you don’t need to’. I’m sure you’ll be stuck on writing your ambitions. Even so, you could just ramble on.”
I seemed to understand…but I don’t. I held the pencil between my fingers, spinning it around in rebuttal.
“I did, last night.”
“Well then, what’s so hard about doing it twice?”
“Because doing it twice is one time too many.”
Satoshi puzzlingly scowled at me.
I spun the pencil. Well, I tried to. Catching between my fingers while giving it forceful spins, my mechanical pencil slipped out of my grip, grazed Satoshi’s cheek, and flew all the way to the corner of the classroom. I calmly stood up, walked over, and picked up the pencil, returning to my seat as if nothing had happened. Satoshi once again made a blank expression, wondering at what had just occurred.
“What’s so hard about rewriting it?”
“I’ll give it plenty of thought once, but I’m not going to go out of my way to rethink it all. I just can’t properly rewrite the whole thing.”
I came up with it in itself yesterday, having to fabricate my own “ambitions”. To toss it aside completely and start from scratch would be quite a pain. Wondering what was so funny, Satoshi smirks,
“So….it’s not like you don’t know it. Why not just try to remember what you wrote yesterday?”
“That’s the thing; I just can’t remember what I wrote.”
I bumped the base of the pencil atop my desk, and Satoshi shrugged his shoulders in a calm manner.
April will be over soon. Even though school is long finished, the passing minutes turn into hours. There are other people besides me in the classroom, and they seem to be overly-excited about a conversation. It’s drizzling outside. According to the forecast, it’ll rain pretty heavily tonight. The weather forecast isn’t the only reason why I’d like to go home early.
At my corner desk, Satoshi peeped into my wallet. He swung the draw-string bag that always hung on his shoulder round and round.
“Our teacher’s taking a while, maybe I should take care of some club activities.”
I unconsciously made a grim face when I heard the words, “club activities”.
I guess it’s because the conclusion I drew from my motto frowned at the thought of it. Even though I wanted a simple high school life, the reality is rather the opposite.
However, I had fussed over an event listed on a single letter. A letter from Benares, India. “Join the Classics Club”. In order to tell the difference between misfortune and the meaning of that misfortune, I’m giving everyone in the Classics Club a label.
Sitting before me is Fukube Satoshi of the Classics Club. He’s also at the same time in the Crafts Club, as well as an Officer in the General Affairs Committee. His hobby is cycling. A man of leisure.
“Chitanda’s curious about you. You could come to see her.”
I kept silent, holding the pencil steadily in my hand.
Chitanda, whose full name is Chitanda Eru, is also a member of the Classics Club.
According to Satoshi and his fountain of trivial knowledge, she is the daughter of an old family who owns a huge plot of land in the North-East part of Kamiyama city. Her appearance doesn’t exactly reflect her family crest. With long hair and a slender face, she’s the picture of a graceful classmate. Chitanda… At that name, I silenced my thoughts. Did Satoshi notice that? To be honest, I’m a guy that’s not really good at that kind of thing.
Even though I joined the Classics Club thinking that it had no actual club activities, Chitanda changed that. There’s that too. But that’s not all.
She’s not the type I’d have a problem with. An energy-conserving advocate wouldn’t care to give her a second thought. However, on the day I first met Chitanda, she turned and asked me this:
“How did we get locked in….. I’m curious!”
On that day, Chitanda went to the clubroom with no key, and I didn’t even realize the room had been locked. I was the one who opened it, but of course I didn’t lock it. Curiously thinking about it, I knew. However, why did Chitanda demand an explanation from me? She was very insistent about it. Being stared down, I was seduced into thinking of reasons for her.
That glorious day was when everything began. However, after the conclusion became obvious, I remembered a delicate premonition. I couldn’t shake off my energy-conserving principle. Because, if a complete stranger were to entrust someone with such small faith, then nobody would be able to purposely shake it off. Typically that is. Of course that goes for Chitanda as well. However… She closes in on me with her big eyes as she says the words, “I’m curious!” It’s been ingrained deep in my memories, as a strange premonition for what’s to come.
“I had Chitanda fill out an application form. The official document procedures, even for me, is a painstaking requirement as a General Affairs Committee member.”
“I see. Poor you. I have no respect for those who write complex letters. Why not just write, “I’ll do my best”?”
Satoshi’s the kind of person who basically says what’s on his mind, but whose input holds value. I heaved a little sigh,
“…..Well, it’s not a matter of wanting to go or going out of my way, ‘cause it’s a club activity.”
I’m not saying I don’t want to go. It’s just that, just for today, my essay, “One month into school and my ambitions” comes before the Classic Club. An opinion where you stack up your tenacity as a student of Kamiyama High School. It’s not so much a self-study at all.
I completely ignored my paper, and Satoshi stifled a yawn. When I glanced out the window, thinking I’d see some endless drops of spring rain, I suddenly laid eyes on a smiling face.
“Oh that’s right; I heard about something interesting. There’s this cliche rumorr going around. I wonder if you have heard of it already.”
I looked up. The fact that I turned my attention away so easily is evidence that I had lost interest in my “ambitions”. Satoshi gave a triumphant nod and, with a snap, up went his index finger.
“A cliche and a cliche. Now I’ve got your attention, right? Kamiyama City is the most renowned prep-school, and a questionable den of club activities. Just what kind of inhuman, haunted men of Kamiyama High School cross the school gates? Who’d have thought there were these kinds of stories.”
“What’s with that finger then?”
“Ah, sorry, no reason.”
He quickly brought his finger down, but his smiley-face remained.
“It’s a romantic ghost-story. Suspicious rumors about the school… You want to hear it, don’t you?”
With that subdued voice, what was he going on about this time…
“…From what I heard, it’s a mysterious story wherein after school, when the leaves are silent and still, the piano in the Music Room begins to play all by itself.”
“Okay, that’s enough.”
I can’t say that seemed interesting. I thrust my palm out to put a stop to the story.
It certainly is a cliche. It was in elementary school, and it still was in middle school. It’s just a creative, well-thought up “school rumor”. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m sick of it, I’m just not particularly interested in it. It’s all because Satoshi the hobbyist brought in a dull story.
Feigning disappointment, Satoshi shook his head exaggeratedly
“So you don’t know, Houtarou. Do you think I, Satoshi, find interest in these mundane “school ghost stories?”
Who knows. He could’ve found something interesting even in the structure of postal life insurances.
“You’re wrong. What’s interesting is how this rumour started; the truth behind it all.”
“There we were, all 325 of us pitiful freshmen wandering about in confusion, within a new environment where we couldn’t tell left from right. Two hours after we got in, I was about to come up with a story that begins with the words, “So the thing about this school…” Didn’t it seem so grown up?”
He spread his hands, expressing his joy.
I see now. What he was trying to tell me. I placed my right elbow onto the desk, and placed my fist onto my chin.
“You’re right. Going back to the part where we were feeling around in that new environment, there might not have been a rumour going around. We were able get used to things, and from there a strange story was born.”
“Yeah, that’s it. Surprisingly, understanding this place is what quickly saved us.”
“Don’t remind me of that blood type fortune-telling thing.“
As a result of the idea that had come out of his mouth, the good-humored Satoshi stopped nodding.
“You can’t just bring up the topic of our first meeting. We’ve come to know each other quite a bit and this is the first time you’ve ever brought this up. In most cases you’d harmoniously and excitingly breeze through the story, but there are also times when you’re an unbelievable guy that mentions things completely out of nowhere.”
Following that, Satoshi heaved a breath and opened his eyes wide. He bent towards me in exaggerated fashion.
“What is it?”
At that, I sat up straighter.
“Houtarou is criticizing my methodology of interpersonal communication! I, without a doubt, thought that Houtarou overlooked the point in terms of being a social animal.”
“It’s not like I hate it. It’s just that I can see it in your eyes.”
I insinuated, as I looked into Satoshi’s eyes. Of course Satoshi didn’t like it, and turned the other way.
“Oh, well. You’re just being your energy-conserving self. I get it.”
Who knows. It’s strange.
“Well, how about it? Our first year’s symbol of composure, the Music Club’s Ghost Story; want to hear about it?”
Even if we go on with this tedious-talk, it’s not like I didn’t want to hear about it. But even if I were to tell him I didn’t want to hear about, I’d probably be told, “As expected, you’re the type to defy any sort of social situation. But even if the stories are boring, enjoying what you hear is the first step to forming harmonious human relations.” Well, it’s not like I can tell him that since writing about my aspirations is a nuisance. I picked up my pencil, and as my consciousness returned to the questionnaire, I said,
“You want to tell me so badly, so I’ll listen.”
He cleared his throat forcefully.
“It happened yesterday. A first year Girl went up to the special part of the fourth floor.”
“It wasn’t Chitanda, was it?”
I had planned on not listening at all, but I was drawn in from the very first word.
On that part of the fourth floor, there is a lecture room in addition to the Music Room. The room of the Classics Club.
Our first year classroom is on that same part of the fourth floor. In order to get to the fourth floor of the Lab building, first you go down to the third floor, and then pass through the connecting open-roof passageway to enter the Lab building. From there, you climb up the stairs to the fourth floor. If it were raining like it is today, you wouldn’t be able to use the passageway, so you’d have no choice but to go down to the second floor. It’s detestably far.
The special classrooms on the fourth floor really are in Kamiyama High School’s remote region. If we’re talking about girls who’d like to go to those kinds of places, Chitanda is the only person I can think of. I had interrupted at that point of the story, and Satoshi made a miserable face.
“Well, just listen.”
He got mad. I shut up.
“After school, the girl went up to the fourth floor. It was right around 6. The entrance gate is locked at 6, so the school was just about empty.
On her way up the stairs to the fourth floor, she heard the approaching tune of a piano. Luckily or unluckily, she had an appreciation for music, and it sounded absolutely wonderful. The art of the piano playing, the powerful expressions; both overwhelmed her. The song sounded familiar to her ears. Moonlight Sonata. Just as she was about to turn around to get the things she had forgotten, she became entranced by the sound, and lost herself in the music.
The corridor, stairway and the girl were all dyed a brilliant crimson from the setting sun. It was as if the world was being swallowed up and consumed by the burning flames. She listened to the beautiful tone, which seemed as if it were devoting a requiem for its finale. A paralyzing fear enveloped her, creeping up from her leg as that girl practically…”
There’s something I object to in that story.
“It was raining yesterday; the sunset couldn’t have been visible.”
“Right, a dreary rain was falling continuously as dusk approached. An unpleasant, damp-like feeling began to coil around her body, as the music delicately blended with the noisy pitter-patter of the rain. According to what was said, because of the music, anxiety was carved deep into the girl’s chest.”
Just get to the point…
Satoshi’s tone didn’t waver a bit.
“Kamiyama High School, where a sound could be heard from the Liberal Arts building. Even if there was a pianist of such caliber, there was nothing strange about that. The girl wanted to compliment the pianist, and reached her hand out to the door of the Music Club room. She could hear the faint sound of music coming from the room. Where else could a piano be but the Music Room?”
There’s a piano used for ceremonies in the gymnasium. I thought of other places a piano could be, but I stayed silent.
“But the moment she reached for the door, the music stopped. Why was that? With that thought in her mind, she slowly opened the door…”
Miming the gesture of opening a door, Satoshi lowered his voice. With that kind of repressed tone, I knew the conclusion was coming.
“There, inside the Music Club room, a strange atmosphere filled the air.
All the curtains were closed, engulfing the room in darkness. The girl immediately turned her attention to the piano. But no one was playing it. Although the piano lid was popped open, there was no pianist. She asked herself why. Glancing left and right with just her eyes, she spotted a girl. ….With long disheveled hair spilling over her face, her uniform wrinkled in exhaustion, and her eyes blazingly blood shot, the girl stared motionlessly back at her from the corner of the room!”
I clenched my hands into a fist, trembling in indignation, thinking, “Oh, is this supposed to happen?” I paid close attention to the details.
“The girl was struck by a well-known fear. She quickly turned and ran away, without a single look back. The girl later learned what had happened. Yesterday, the Piano Club rented out the Music Room. The Piano Club is composed of just one member, a third year. That third-year, caught in a tragic accident, hurt her finger and was unable to play the piano.
Ahh, but Houtarou! The piano was playing by itself, so I wonder how that could be possible. Long ago at Kamiyama High School, during the national competition, there was a member who met a tragic death.”
Satoshi returned a serious look. This story of his was long.
“Well, maybe there was, but I wouldn’t know.”
Strangely, the pace of my writing had somehow hastened while I was listening to Satoshi’s ridiculous story. Perhaps my writing ability has to do with my state of mind when I ignore people. Without looking up, I said,
“But you know about the Piano Club renting out the Music Room, and who that single member was.”
Satoshi made a hint of a wry smile.
“Very sharp of you, Houtarou. You’re right. Tamaru Junko, the Piano Club President. Currently has a broken finger.”
I have no idea what kind of person that female witness is, nor would I know what state of affairs the club’s activities are in. But Satoshi would know. He’s a member of General Affairs; he’s familiar with all the Club Activities that go on in Kamiyama High School.
Changing the dramatic tone from a few moments ago, Satoshi amusingly said,
“But, I did hear there was a ghastly girl with disheveled hair in a uniform. I wouldn’t know if that freshman was frightened or surprised, but today during our lunch break, it seemed to have become a problem for class 1-A.”
“Of course she’d have a uniform.”
The uniforms for Kamiyama High School are as follows: a gakuran* for the boys, and a sailor uniform for the girls. (*t/n: traditional boys uniform, the style Houtarou wears in the anime) If there was a girl wearing a blazer or smock here at school, then I would be a bit surprised.
“All that’s left is whether or not the story has spread. If you expand on it, at what rate has it spread? If you document the circulation of its spread, I believe it could even become the basis for folklore material. I mentioned once that “there are Seven Wonders of Kamiyama High School”; that would be number two. Just how long will it take for it to reach my class, 1-D?”
Although he said that jokingly, Satoshi was quite compelled by it. He’d certainly been up to his neck in the circulating rumors.
However, I don’t have time to be mindful of Satoshi’s research. …Although I hadn’t missed a single word, something from Satoshi’s story caught my attention.
“Wait a minute, what did you just say?”
“Eh? Folklore? Maybe I should call it an urban legend. There’s a subtle difference between the two.”
“No, not that part.”
Noticing the change in my complexion, as one would expect, Satoshi gave me a dubious look.
“Oh? Was the story about the piano playing the Moonlight Sonata that interesting? How surprising. I never thought you’d take any interest in it.”
I don’t care about the story itself. But if what Satoshi says is true…
This is not an easy task. I need to deal with this.
“Then listen to a bit more of it. Actually, before that, this…”
I turned my attention to the questionnaire, “One Month into School and My Ambitions”.
If I just quickly finish writing this up, it shouldn’t be a problem. But the more I think about speeding through it, the more my pen refuses to expel any words. If I have to do it, I’ll do it quickly. However, for every situation that I can finish quickly, there is likewise a case where I can’t.