Hyouka:Volume 5 Chapter 1-3
3. Present: 4.1km; 15.9km Remaining
At the end of the day, it turned out that I was mostly correct about the food poisoning, but Chitanda’s hypothesis about them not getting their mountain herbs in time had some truth to it as well.
The Cooking Society had failed in their preparation of the herbs. It appeared that they had initially intended on cooking a miso soup made from bracken, but when some of the club members sampled it during lunch, they complained that their stomachs began to hurt.
If they were truly intending on hiding their slip-up, there was a strong possibility that the affected members wouldn't even go to the infirmary for help. As I said this, Chitanda immediately started to run off. I suppose she didn’t take food poisoning from mountainous herbs lightly.
“They might need help,” she said as she did so, but I wasn’t so sure about leaving one’s table empty during the New Recruit Festival. The flustered Ōhinata responded with, “Oh, then I’ll help too,” and then started chasing after her. I heard what had happened after that from Ōhinata later.
“Chitanda-senpai barged into the Cooking Practice Room without a second thought. At first the Cooking Society members tried to play dumb, but once they could tell she knew everything that had happened, they pulled out the members with the ruined stomachs. It looked like she knew some of the people in the club, so things went more quickly than expected.”
“Chitanda has acquaintances everywhere. So, how were the poisoned members faring?”
“Not very well. It looked like they really wanted to go home and rest, but they knew they couldn’t do that. The second she saw them, Chitanda-senpai rushed out of the classroom and brought back some student who looked something like an aspiring doctor. Apparently her family is in the hospital business, and she looked really cool and all, but it felt like she was really annoyed by the whole situation.”
That was most likely Irisu-senpai. Ōhinata had said she looked annoyed, but she was probably no different than how she normally was.
“She had them throw up using salt water and then told the others to bring the students to her place if their condition got any worse. Taking them to the hospital would only make things complicated, after all.”
“I guess if they got food poisoning, the doctors would have to report it to the school infirmary.”
“I wonder if they’d actually have to. Isn’t there doctor-patient confidentiality or something like that?”
“I have no clue.”
“At any rate, the members fortunately recovered after throwing up.”
That was a relief.
The Cooking Society managed to hide their failure. According to Ōhinata, Chitanda sternly lectured the entire Cooking Society on how to properly handle mountainous herbs as a condition in overlooking their irresponsible actions. At that point, I was convinced that this time for sure no one would be coming to our Classics Club table, so I took out my book and continued to read.
I had only managed finish one paragraph however, when Ōhinata started to speak again, showing her teeth in a bright smile reminiscent of the one she showed me when I first noticed her earlier today.
“I’m going to join this club. What’s it called again?”
Chitanda told her at that point.
“Are you sure? We haven’t explained what we do at all yet.”
She looked at me and then Chitanda and then smiled once more.
“It feels really friendly over here. Seeing people having a good time with their friends is my favorite thing in the world.”
I don’t remember what I said in response.
The upward slope was finally starting to become fierce, and the number of students that were passing me on it while struggling for oxygen was increasing as well. I hadn’t initially intended on it, but at some point without realizing it, I had slowed my pace to a walk. I guess I was too wrapped up in my thoughts to pay attention to my speed.
A boy who was in my class last year suddenly passed me. If I remembered correctly, he was in 2-C this year. Class C was catching up. I hadn’t even noticed it until now, so perhaps they were closer than I thought.
As I turned around to look for Ibara, I could see a long line of students running up the sloped street, trailing like a procession of hardworking ants. If I continued to walk slowly like the grasshopper I was, I might end up dying a dog’s death by the time the end of the line caught up with me. As I turned my head to face the path ahead of me, the top of the hill came directly into sight. I guess I had ended up mostly walking the entire thing after all. I couldn’t say I didn’t predict it might turn out like this, but my efforts to measure the distance between Ibara and I had clearly failed.
Intending to compensate for this this slip-up, I sprinted up the small stretch of gentle slope that remained before the peak. My field of vision opened up, and I felt a cool breeze so slight that it could’ve been simply born from my imagination. I had thought that the slope would instantly enter into a decline the second I reached the top, but I guess I remembered it incorrectly. The street continued on for about 100 meters at a fairly level elevation. There was a miniature shrine located on the side of the road. I didn’t know what god was enshrined there, but I figured I might as well form a prayer in my heart just in case. A bunch of unanswered questions were still laid out in front of me after all. My piety usually came around in these kinds of troubling situations.
Both sides of the road opened up, and I could tell by the color of their walls that there were several old houses scattered about. A single, brand-new vending machine stood among them and I couldn’t help but feel that it looked out of place.
I slowly walked along the level street. Because it was the haven right after the grueling hill, there were many others walking as well. A massive guy arrived as if he had sprinted all the way from the bottom of the hill, and he sharply exhaled as he stood still, hunched over while grabbing his knees. I had to wonder if he had decided he was going to use all his strength on this one hill beforehand or if he was planning on keeping this pace up all the way until the end.
I had no proof, but I decided to assume that Ibara was right behind me. If she were to pass me now, doing so on this flat stretch of road would be nice. Trying to talk to someone while they passed you on a downwards slope seemed like it would prove to be somewhat difficult. In order to have that not happen, I began to move at a crawl.
When Ibara first heard that Ōhinata was joining, I wonder how she reacted.
I remember Satoshi’s reaction. He had celebrated in a typically exaggerated fashion over the fact that even one new student had joined. “To think that Hōtarō has actually managed to recruit someone… To be frank, I had never even imagined it to be possible. This is truly a miracle.” …among other things of that nature. And then to Ōhinata he started asking various questions about Kaburaya Middle School, like if anything had changed or if anyone had transferred.
On the other hand, I didn’t have the impression that Ibara felt the same way. Before I realized it, they had become best friends. When Ibara had first met Chitanda, they had bonded just as quickly. Maybe it was because, even though she looked like a harsh person to other people, she wasn’t very shy at all. Even though Ōhinata was clearly taller, it was strange how easy it was to tell who the senior was when the two of them were talking.
When did that happen, I wonder.
“Hina-chan, you look really athletic. I mean you even have the tan.”
When Ibara said this, Ōhinata began to look a little embarrassed.
“Some of it’s left over from when I went skiing, but I have naturally dark skin as well.”
“I see, so you ski, huh? Nearby?”
“Sometimes, but this year I went to Iwate.”
“No, I only ski. Do you snowboard?”
“I can’t do either.”
I had remembered that absurd conversation.
In my memory, I could see the two of them smiling brightly.
I looked behind me countless times as I continued to walk forwards.
My prediction was correct. As I was about halfway across the flat stretch, Ibara’s face popped up from behind the rising slope.
Her arms were pressed close to her sides, and she was staring at her feet. Because her head was hanging down, I couldn’t see her eyes through her bangs. As she was probably taking the run up the slope seriously, I could see that her breathing was rough. She had a thin stride, but as the road leveled out, her arms began to swing more freely. She came running at a set rhythm.
I also raised my arms and abruptly began to run over to her. I matched my pace up with Ibara’s and moved alongside her with about a single person-sized amount of space between us.
When I called out to her, only her eyes moved to look at me.
Surely enough, she remained silent and started to pick up her pace. I had predicted this would happen from the start, so I instantly got to my point without any hesitation.
“I just need to ask one thing, Ibara. Only one thing. It’s about Ōhinata.”
Even then, Ibara didn’t move to face me in the slightest, however I could hear the single word from within her exhale.
I had decided on what I wanted to ask.
“Yesterday, you said you passed Ōhinata in the hallway. You heard she was going to quit the Classics Club.”
Ibara returned a small nod.
“At that moment, Ōhinata said something about Chitanda. Satoshi told me about it; he said Ōhinata mentioned Chitanda was ‘like a Buddha.’ Is this exactly what she said?”
For the first time, Ibara turned her face to look at mine. For a second, I thought it looked like there was a hint of confusion in her pained expression.
She quickly returned to look at her feet as she ran. As if to catch her breath on the flat stretch, she deeply inhaled.
Thinking that me being close would only irritate her, I had purposefully stood somewhat far away from her as the two of us ran, and yet, all of a sudden she closed that distance. In the couple of meters that we ran truly side-by-side, she said a single sentence that forbade interruption.
I slowed down. Ibara continued at her pace and then eventually disappeared as she started to descend the slope.
Her words remained echoing in my ears. Ibara had said this.
“That’s wrong. What Hina-chan said was, ‘Chitanda really does look like a bodhisattva, doesn't she.’”
Translator's Notes and References
- A reference to Aesop's fable, "The Ant and the Grasshopper." The story is about a grasshopper that dies because it is too busy having fun instead of preparing for the winter like the ants in the story were.
- Prefecture in the northwest section of Japan’s main island.
- A bodhisattva is a Buddhist term that refers to someone who has achieved enlightenment through his desire to help others. While similar to a Buddha, a bodhisattva is commonly differentiated by his decision (and sacrifice) to cast aside paradise and return to the earthly realm in order to help others achieve enlightenment as well.
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