Hyouka:Volume 5 Chapter 4-1
Chapter 4 - Easier to Just Let Go
1. Present: 14.3km; 5.7km Remaining
Around what I think was ten years ago, I had walked a fairly long distance with my sister. Apparently they were going to be tearing down an old community center and my older sister decided to take me along with her to go see it, excitingly wondering if they were going to destroy it with explosives. Actually, I’m fairly certain I was equally as excited. If I could go back in time, I would have wanted to grab my shoulders from behind and tell myself with a smile, “There’s no way that’d happen.” At any rate, the two of us fervently walked and walked. Even when I was on the verge of tears, she’d tell me, “It’ll definitely be amazing!” and I would continue pressing forward. I was a tenacious child, wasn’t I?
Of course, they used heavy machinery to assist with the demolition without a single explosive in sight, but I don’t really remember feeling disappointed as a result. I think the sight of a giant building being destroyed with various crunchings and gnawings was definitely enough to satisfy me.
What I vividly remembered, however, was the brutal road home. The excitement of the trip going there had already become a thing of the past, so I blindly followed on an unknown road without even remotely knowing where we were, my stomach growling and the sun setting. As I dawdled behind, my sister said this to me.
“If you keep stopping while you walk, your legs will really start to hurt. Make sure you keep up with me.”
Was I able to make it all the way back home on my own that day? I didn’t remember.
Of course, the reason I even recalled this in the first place was because my legs started to hurt as I constantly switched between walking and running. Specifically, it was the joint in my right leg that started to flare up with pain. Had it been my feet or calves, hell even my spleen, that had hurt instead, I would have been able to accept it as being something inevitable, but why did it have to hurt there?
The downward slope had all but ended.
I intentionally raised my head and saw a vast scene in front of me containing sprawling, green rice paddies that were sparsely dotted with several estates. Perhaps they hadn’t cleaned it up yet, or perhaps they simply combined the Boys’ and Peach festivals in this area, but I could see flying carp banners on the houses in the distance. I saw the form of the wind as it flew through the banners, creating wave-like ripples, and finally felt it as it refreshingly blew over my body. The sun had already risen, but I didn’t feel any discomforting heat from it. For the first time since I had begun the race on the school grounds, I felt like running a little bit. The point at which I actually wanted to run was, of course, also the point at which I could no longer bear the pain in my leg.
It probably wasn’t too big of a deal, but just to be sure, I slowed down and came to a stop. A white flower had bloomed on the side of the road. Even someone thoughtless and insensitive like me could understand the beauty of nature. It was a lily bell. As I stared fixedly at the small flower without really paying attention, I touched the leg joint with my palm. I tried pressing down on it and then tried hitting it.
“Well, if this is all…”
The pain hadn’t subsided, but putting pressure on the area didn’t really seem to make it any worse. It didn’t feel stiff either. As I finished making sure that it would probably be fine and went to start running again, a harsh voice called out from behind me.
“How about you start running seriously, you piece of shit?”
I raised my head wondering what happened and saw Nanigashi, a boy who was in my class last year, as he ran past me.
I didn’t know much about him. Even though we were in the same class, we didn’t really talk at all. Thinking about it, actually, I remembered hearing that same tone of voice from a while back. It was before winter break, when all of the students were cleaning up the school facilities. The trashcan had filled up, but when I went to empty it, he yelled at me with an extremely loathing voice, “You’re not going.” Perhaps thinking that he was just looking forward to doing it himself, I simply left without saying anything in return.
If he had known I was in Class A, he probably would have been confused to see me all the way back here. What confused me, however, was the harsh severity in his tone. I suppose somewhat unsurprisingly, it appeared that he held some deep-seated hostility with regards to me. I had no memory of me doing anything to him, but whatever it was, it probably got on his nerves regardless. Maybe he was just irritable from all the running.
If I started running now, I would end up following right behind him, and I didn’t like the sound of that no matter how I sliced it. My legs were probably fine, but I decided to walk for a while regardless.
As several students passed me, I started thinking about the act of disliking something.
I don’t consider myself to be the type of person that stands out and makes enemies, but I’m also not really the type of person that’s loved by others either. If I were to involve myself with a hundred or so people, there’d probably be some that would absolutely not be able to stand me. After all, no matter how favorably you might try to frame me, I wasn’t the kind of person that took an active role in a group setting. There were many times when I expressed flagrant disinterest in class activities. And, of course, even though I was then a recipient of all the cold, silent stares that judged me due to my nonparticipation, how should I put this, even then I was the kind of person that didn’t care. Maybe it could even be called indifference.
That said, I really didn’t want to approach the people that did genuinely hate me. The fact that I was walking was even a testament to that. I was different from Satoshi in that regard.
That guy never shied away from things like dealing with others, so he constantly showed his face everywhere. As well as lent a hand. And also ran his mouth. Though, in saying that, it wasn’t like he was intrusive or anything. Rather than being the type that said, “Leave it all to me,” he never pushed any further than, “Let me help out just a little bit.” He never did anything irresponsible like that. Occasionally, there were times when his intentions were misunderstood due to his incessant flippancy. However in the end, even if he was fully aware that he was hated, he would still go out there regardless. Essentially, he was even less concerned about what others thought of him than I was. Perhaps this was also indifference.
But there were also those extremely far removed from that indifference. Thanks to Nanigashi’s violent swearing, I suddenly recalled something. I felt like I had heard a similar story yesterday.
Except, the only ones who could talk about its contents were probably the two directly involved.
There was a bus stop on the side of the road.
Thankfully, there was also a small waiting area with a roof over it. The sheet iron walls were spotted with rust; the nailed-in sign had an old-looking font and glossy enamel finish. The bench was made out of plastic, and although the structure looked like it was supposed to be able to stave off a typhoon, the constant weathering made it appear somewhat fragile. In actuality, there was a large fissure stretching across it. A portion of it had faded and none of the pieces had fallen. It didn’t look like it had split recently.
It was the perfect place to watch the Kamiyama High School students as they passed by. I nonchalantly stepped inside the structure and pressed myself against the shady portion as if to hide myself. As long as I waited, I’d be able to catch Chitanda when she came.
Even though Nanigashi had hissed at me to run, I ended up not even walking. There was more or less a reason for doing this.
This morning, before I had even left the starting line, I came up with an idea. Yesterday, there were three of us in the Earth Sciences lecture room: Chitanda, Ōhinata, and I. Afterwards came Ibara, who told us that Ōhinata said she was going to leave the club. As a basic summary, none of that was incorrect.
My recollections ended there, however, and the rest of the stories I heard from Ibara and Satoshi later on only served to illustrate just how important those dozens of minutes after school truly were. Saying “I was reading a book at the time so I don’t remember anything” wouldn’t cut it. As I realized this, a memory that I once deemed meaningless and threw out as a result resurfaced once more.
Setting aside if it’s even true or not, Chitanda believed that Ōhinata quitting was her fault and took the responsibility for it on herself. Even had I shamelessly got up and chased after her, saying, “I might be able to help, so please tell me the entire story,” she would have likely just shook her head silently. She was the kind of person that wouldn’t bend after something like that.
I had to stop Chitanda.
To that end, I absolutely had to remember what exactly happened yesterday after school and present her with a single inference. In other words, an inference explaining why Chitanda thought she herself was responsible for Ōhinata quitting.
I felt like I might know why.
Translator's Notes and References
- Boys’ Festival, taking place on May 5th, is often celebrated by hanging carp-like tube banners that flow in the wind.
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