The discussion quickly reached a deadlock, and started going around in a circle. The same suggestions, the same denials were repeated again and again, with only changes in the words used to express them. I knew how to put an end to that unproductive exchange. All I had to do was accept their persuasion and shut up. However, I just couldn’t give up for some reason. Why won’t they listen? I wondered irritably as I spoke again.
“Is what I’m saying that weird? That story already appeared in the newspapers, so those who know it, know it. Why can’t we publish it, then?”
“Calm down, Urino.”
President Doujima looked at me without unfolding his crossed arms. With his blocky head and wide frame, the stern president gave off the feeling of a thick wall towering ahead whenever he folded his burly arms. However, I was not frightened. In fact, I was irked by his wearisome countenance.
“I am calm. Are you even listening, President?”
“Yeah, I am.”
The body that had sunken deep into the seat slowly started straightening up and moving to the front. President Doujima put force into his words, as if saying, “This is the last time.”
“You’re the one who doesn’t understand. Let me sum it up for you. We publish a school newspaper in this club, not the regional edition of the national newspaper. Do you think that we can interview the police or get comments from the victims? If we get into trouble by any chance, who’s going to take responsibility? Your parents? Our advisor, Miyoshi? Or me?
“I understand your feeling of wanting to cover some incidents in this city, but that’s an overreach. If you have to say something to the masses no matter what, how about the readers’ column in the morning paper? I think there’s a ‘Young Voices’ corner.”
He was not saying it sarcastically, but was wholeheartedly recommending that course of action to me. Even so, that made me all the more irritated.
If we needed to listen to the police, we could just go for it. We could also obtain the victims’ comments if we so wished. Why was the President being so indecisive?
“As I said! About this article…”
I slapped the newspaper laid open on the desk two or three times with the palm of my hand. Written on it was an article with the title “Delinquent Group Kidnaps One Of Their Own”.
“There is information that the kidnapped person is a student in this school. It’s a school topic, isn’t it? Why can’t we cover it, then?”
President Doujima was apparently done with arguing. He replied with a sigh.
“I understand your motive, Urino. If we publish this story, you’ll use it as a precedent to bring in more stories from outside of school in the coming months, right?”
Ulterior motive or not, I’d certainly advocated for that.
“And what’s wrong with that?”
“Ah, whatever. This is my executive decision. Or we could do a majority vote, if you like. Either way, this space will be for a follow-up report on the Sports Festival.”
I looked around the clubroom.
Some notes here, some photographs there. With everything piling up and no decent organization of items, the Printing Preparation Room had turned into a place where you couldn’t make heads or tails of anything. The Funado High School Newspaper Club, which was using the room, had a total of five members. There used to be a female senpai before the summer holidays when the third-year students retired, but now it was all guys.
Doujima Kengo, a second-year student, was the president of the club. He had a well-built body, like that of an athlete, as well as a stern face, giving him a dignified presence. However, to me he looked to be a person with conservative values, or even a coward.
Next was another second-year student, Monchi Jouji. He was not very close to us first-year students, but that said, he was not exactly friendly with Doujima-senpai, either. He had downcast eyes that made him look subservient, and always seemed to be reading a book, as if to show off. They were mostly new books on the liberal arts, those with titles like “Why is OO XX?” that you can buy for about 600 yen.
Kishi Kanta, a first-year student, was a sloppy guy whose mobile phone had a ton of straps attached to it and was continuously ringing. After school, he would make his hair stand on end, as if he had waxed it. He was the type of guy to use the Printing Preparation Room as a dressing room.
There was one more first-year student, Itsukaichi Kimiya. Kishi was unreliable, but Itsukaichi properly wrote articles. The way he would change his words based on my countenance sometimes ticked me off, but I could tell that he was a serious person. However, he was also timid.
Out of the four of them, none of them seemed to be willing to agree with me. I was all alone in Funado High School’s Newspaper Club.
I was not afraid of loneliness itself. In the first place, I’d intended to create articles on my own. However, with no sections assigned to me, there was nothing I could do. Why were they all like this? I didn’t know if I could do it well, but since it was only a schoolwide newspaper, we should be able to easily recover from failures. Did they not think this way too?
I’d lost the will to argue. All I could do after that was storm out of the clubroom in a fit of rage.
I returned to my classroom irritably, only to be met with a wry smile.
“Hey, good work on pushing aside the noren1.”
I sat down at my classmate’s desk with a flump.
“Don’t say it so unpleasantly. As if you could foresee how it would turn out.”
“I did. Even if I didn’t, I can instantly tell what happened from that face you’re making.”
“Is it really written that clearly on my face?”
That person put his thumb and index finger together with only a small gap in between them, meaning to say, “just a bit”.
Hiya Yuuto. I came to know him since we were in the same cram school during middle school, and I’d been quite happy to find that we were placed in the same class in high school.He wasn’t one to be lacking in emotions, but whenever he sat still silently, he looked as if he was holding some deep-seated worries and was in a state of melancholy. His androgynous facial features were well-proportioned even from the perspective of a fellow guy, and he often spoke with a faint, shrill voice.
However, I had my eye out for him not because of his looks, but because of his intellect.
He was always quick to understand anything by far. I had only got into Funado High School by putting quite a lot of effort into my studies, but Hiya had passed easily by idling his time away instead of actually studying. He didn’t only achieve proficient results, but was also good at teaching others. I had been in his care many times in cram school.
If he had a little more drive, he would probably be able to do something interesting. But here he was, not doing anything that would make him stand out, with a smile signifying that he would show restraint in everything on this world. He had that same smile on right now.
“I understand why you’re dissatisfied, Urino. What our Newspaper Club’s doing is certainly boring.”
“I know, right?”
I tightened my fists.
“It’s quite rare for high schools to have a Newspaper Club these days, so I didn’t have high expectations for it, but there’s nothing to do outside of imitating last year’s articles.”
“They aren’t exactly like last year’s articles, though.”
Hiya said with a shrug.
“The Newspaper Club only writes about annual events… The thing is, there’s no change in this year’s annual events compared to last year’s.”
“So it’s all the same!”
This September’s issue was focused on articles about the Sports Festival. Of course, so was last year’s, and the year before that. I understood that some parts of it couldn’t be helped. A schoolwide newspaper has to touch on the Sports Festival, after all. However, it certainly didn’t have to be totally filled with those articles. Exactly what’s so fun about writing articles when I can’t put in effort in my own way?
That was what I was dissatisfied with. There would be no changes to the paper if we only wrote about topics in school. We should expand our horizons. There was enough material, too, with that abduction case that occurred during the summer holidays. I could immediately write it if I was told to. If I did my research, I could have probably turned it into a series of articles, too.
However, my suggestion was tossed aside. President Doujima didn’t even consider it for one second. Seeing that I didn’t know how to vent my pent-up anger, Hiya looked up with a sour look on his face, as if to say, “What a troublesome guy.”
“That’s why I said it was useless.”
If I asked him why he thought it was useless, he would have smoothly laid out his reasoning, and I would undoubtedly be convinced.
No, I’d actually already noticed the futility of my actions. It had already been almost half a year since I entered this school, enough time to exact change in the direction of the club.
But not a single person in the club wished for change. I’d somehow come to understand that. However…
“Not trying at all if you think it’s useless is just like you. But as for me, I’ll try anyway.”
The edges of Hiya’s lips curved upwards.
I could tell that he was trying to mollify me. However, I was not one to be so easily influenced.
“So, Hiya, you also got through middle school in three years, right?”
“Well, that’s the national policy.”
While he was a little confused by the change in topic, his evasive style of speech did not change.
“Thankfully, I also passed in three years.”
“Did you do anything that made you go, ‘This is it’?”
Hiya frowned, his face telling me that he wanted no part of this stifling topic of discussion. Even so, I said my piece all the way till the end.
“I never did anything like that. In those three years, I studied and did club activities, and it ended just like that. I decided that I never want to repeat those three years again. When I made that decision, there was only about half a year left. You should know since you’re good at math, but there are only six half-years in a three-year duration.”
Hiya still didn’t change his evasive manner of speech.
“That’s a high-minded aspiration. But your method of joining the Newspaper Club seems a little off the mark. If you were aiming for an advancement in life, you should have attempted it with a more major direction.”
He’d hit me where it hurt. While I kept silent, Hiya waved a hand.
“Well, I’m rooting for you. I’ll always be cheering you on, no matter when.”
His manner of speech made me imagine that “no matter who” was tacked on to the back of that sentence, right after “no matter when”.
To be honest, I didn’t want Hiya’s support. I wanted him to be an ally. However, my self-esteem did not allow me to say that aloud, so once again, all I could do was walk out of my classroom in a rage.
Editors (Tier 2) : Joshua Fisher
Assistants (Tier 1) : Definitelynotme, Rolando Sanchez
Thank you very much for all your support!