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I’ll be meeting with Aoi-chan for the first time in a while. The last time was in spring break so I’m really happy.
Unfortunately Aoi-chan’s been attending a different cram school ever since high school started, so we can’t see each other on a regular basis anymore. It had been my emotional oasis too…
But we’ve been talking via text and phone so I think we’ll stay friends forever. I won’t let you escape, Aoi-chan!
The two of us went to a café known for its cakes. True to its reputation, the menu boasted quite a large selection.
The banana tart looks really nice.
But it’s so hard to ignore the black tea chiffon cake.
Maybe it would be fine if I bought the swiss roll to take home.
Aahh~ How can just a bit of cake send me to heaven like this.
“It seems that your complexion has improved a lot since spring break, Aoi-chan. I’m glad.”
“Mn, thank you.”
Aoi-chan had completely recovered from her haggard self, and the gaunt cheeks from right before the exams were back to their fluffy selves.
“Have you acclimated to your high school?”
“The moment I entered there was a test. I thought I was free from studying for the moment but then they hit me with that.”
As expected of a prep school.
“But I’m done with studying for now. I’ve been thinking about joining a club so I’ve been having a look around.”
A club, huhh… I was in the go-home club as a middle schooler. Maybe I should try joining one too. It might lead to some new meetings too!
“I was thinking that since I’m joining one anyway, it might as well be a sports club. Maybe ballet or badminton or something. I was in the basketball club in middle school, after all.”
A sports club? That’s nice, moving your body around. Most importantly, it’ll help you slim.
“Perhaps I should join one too. A sports club, that is.”
“You, Reika-chan? I think that’s a great idea! Let’s see, I think tennis would suit you!”
“I am open to all suggestions except tennis.”
Tennis is the only club I’m absolutely against joining. Even though I’d be a complete beginner, I can already super see people expecting me to be some expert.
It’s one of those things, you know? Like when some boy is named Tsubasa and everyone just expects him to be great at soccer.
It’s scary how easy it is to see myself being stuck with the name Madame.
“I think I may simply have a look around as well. I still have only a faint idea of what clubs my school offers. I did have a quick look at the list earlier, but…”
“Yeah. It’s hard to really know what you want without seeing it first, right?”
Aoi-chan laughed happily as she took a bite of her black tea chiffon cake.
I knew that was going to be good. Maybe I should place just another order…
“Now that your exams are over, you seem to have having fun each day, Aoi-chan. I’m glad.”
“Hmmm… It’s not all smooth sailing, you know. It’s not school this time, though, it’s home.”
“Yeah. My Oniichan suddenly awoke to his guitarist’s soul, so now it’s just dundundundundun every single day. It’s driving me crazy, but he won’t reflect.”
“Not only that, he’s even starting singing along these days. It’s just a nightmare. Dundududundundun aah aaa aaah aah~ The whole neighbourhood is filled with his crappy guitar and weird cries now. You know, the other day somebody told my mum, ‘Your son is such a talented guitarist’. It was completely sarcastic!” she shouted, something incredibly rare for her gentle self.
“Incidentally, which of your two oniisamas is it?”
Muscles and guitar? Is he the hot-blooded type that would sing at the base of a volcano or something?
“I’m just so sick of it already. It’s so embarrassing I can’t even walk outside.”
“You have it hard.”
“Mn,” nodded Aoi-chan, before letting out a big sigh.
But although I feel sorry for thinking this, Aoi-chan, I kinda wanna meet that brother of yours.
“Would it be possible for me to meet…”
“Sorry for bringing up a weird topic. Enough about Muscles. How has school been, Reika-chan?”
“Well, it appears that others think of me as difficult to approach. Especially the boys.”
“You’ve said something like that before as well, haven’t you? I think it was during your remedials?”
“Oh, yes, that’s right. Things are undoubtedly better than that time, at least.”
I stayed a deserted island until the very end, after all.
“Could it be that I truly do have a bully’s face? You know, it seems that there are lots of kids who avert their eyes in fear.”
“Eh… But don’t you have some close friends too? And I mean, you said you had that male friend from cram school too.”
“Well, yes, I suppose.”
“What if you had that boy spread your good points amongst the others? You could ask your girl friends too. You might makes lots more friends that way.”
“Isn’t that just a massive farce? If it was ever found out that I orchestrated it all, I would die from the embarrassment. And to begin with, it would be much too embarrassing to ask anyone for that favour.”
“Well, that’s true…”
I don’t want to believe that I’m cornered enough to do that.
“Then it has to be a club after all! You’ll definitely make new friends!”
“I think so too. I should go look at the clubs the next chance I have!”
Yeah. I’ll make lots of new friends once I join a club, and then maybe I’ll even start up some romance with a dreamy senpai!
I wonder what club I should join.
When they heard I was joining a club, the Tennis Club immediately came to invite me. I told you guys, the Tennis Club is just out of the question.
And what the heck is the Tenni-Pong Club. Isn’t that like tennis too? And it’s way too niche. I never even knew you guys existed.
And the Tennis de Table Club? Please just call it Ping Pong. Have some confidence in your own club, damnit.
And if you lot want to make me hold a racket so badly then maybe I’ll compromise with badminton. Aoi-chan was considering it too, after all. Lots of the friends from my old life did it too. Mn, that might be a good idea.
I went to the Badminton Club without much thought, and was sent trembling by the speed of the shuttle. Impossible. I’ll die if that hits me. And it looks like the running is really intense too. For me, running is a bit… Sometimes when I run I swear I can taste blood. I don’t think I’m quite suited for it.
At my friends’ invitations I went to look at the various sports clubs, but the intensity of it all steadily disillusioned me.
“After all of that touring, I think that sports clubs may be a bit much for me. I am sorry for making you accompany me,” I apologised to my friends, but everyone had this expression like, ‘I thought so’. I’m sorry, guys.
While I was walking around, feeling a little depressed at my own weakness, by chance I came across Class Rep who invited me to the Literature Club. Class Rep, are you still writing poems there?
Anyway, poems aside, maybe the Literature Club would suit me. I might make some kind friends. Maybe I’ll have a look tomorrow. Yeah. I’ll do that.
In the end, despite my optimism towards them, the members of the Cooking Club and Handicrafts Club were incredibly nervous when I came to have a look, so I decided against them.
I actually wanted to try making a plushie though…
The hurdle for joining a club are actually really high, aren’t they…
“It’s one of those things, you know? Like when some boy is named Tsubasa and everyone just expects him to be great at soccer.
It’s scary. There’s a huge probability of me being called Madame as a nickname.”
The first line is a reference to Captain Tsubasa, about the adventures of a Japanese youth soccer team and its football/soccer captain Oozora Tsubasa (大空翼).
The second line is a reference to the manga Ace wo Nerae!, and I have to thank zoom for the heads up. The story is about Oka Hiromi (岡ひろみ), a high school girl who struggles to become good at tennis.
Hiromi starts playing tennis at her school, Nishi (西高), because she is fascinated by Ryuuzaki Reika (竜崎麗香), an older girl who is the best player in the team and is nicknamed “Madame Butterfly” (お蝶夫人, Ochoufujin) because of her grace on the tennis court.
Guess which one of the three girls is Madame Butterfly.