Hyouka:Volume 5 Chapter 4-4

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4. Present: 14.6km; 5.4km Remaining[edit]

Yesterday, I was reviewing my English class materials.

I could tell someone was in the hallway. Because it was so quiet yesterday, I could clearly hear the sound of footsteps. I couldn’t tell exactly who it was, however, until I saw you enter the class yourself. I also realized then that the person you were talking to was Ōhinata.

I could really feel that there was some kind of wall between Ōhinata and me. It was like she was always being far too polite when she said hi. That’s why I was really happy when she started talking to me of her own volition yesterday.

At first, we started talking about the textbook sitting on top of my desk. Things like about how she wasn’t very good at English, about how math would probably be more useful anyways, and about what subjects I myself was good at. I had thought it was a very typical kind of chat.

After that, we moved on to the weather. Because the Hoshigaya Cup was going on the next day, Ōhinata was telling me how she was hoping it would rain. Because I had assumed she was the athletic type, I believe I told her that I found her saying that to be unexpected. She laughed and then told me, “Running cross-country because I like it and running in school are two entirely different things.”

It felt like this entire conversation was predetermined, however. Thinking back on it now, Ōhinata might have decided on exactly what she was going to say ahead of time. She suddenly cut herself off and looked like she wanted to say something else. I didn’t encourage her to say it or anything, but I don’t think I did anything to prevent her from telling me either. But she ended up taking a small breath, and said this in her usual cheery voice.

“Ibara-senpai isn’t here today, huh.”

I didn’t know whether Mayaka-san would be coming or not, so I just went along with that.

“I suppose so. Perhaps she went to the Manga Research Society?”

As soon as I said this however, I realized I made a mistake and went to correct it.

“Oh that’s right, she quit already.”

I remembered that as soon as I said this, Ōhinata started to lean in out of curiosity.

“What? Ibara-senpai was in the Manga Society?”

“That’s right. She’s really good at drawing. I think she had some friends in the club, but it’s probably for the best that she quit.”

As I said this, Ōhinata seemed to become a little tense.

“Ibara-senpai joined the Manga Society because she liked manga, right? If she had some friends there as well, why would her quitting be ‘for the best’?”

I was somewhat at a loss for words. After all, I knew that Mayaka-san had experienced many painful things while being in that club. Mayaka-san would have likely never told Ōhinata-san anything about these painful experiences herself, so I wondered if it was okay for me to talk about any of it without asking her first.

That’s why I spoke about it very broadly, making sure as to not give any specifics.

“Let’s see. I do think that Mayaka-san still has some affection for the club, but… it seems that there were a lot of people in the Manga Society who had views differing from Mayaka-san’s. I’m sure there were still ways for everyone to agree on certain things, of course. Last year, I believe she put up with quite a bit.

“However, trying to reach an agreement while everyone continues to hold onto their differing opinions can be quite difficult. While she might have some regrets, I do think that she made the correct decision in the end.”

Ōhinata-san listened to me as I said this with uncharacteristic attention. It looked as if she were peeking into my eyes, and then as she politely lowered her head in front of me as I sat there troubled, she said this.

“Even then, you shouldn’t just abandon them, right?”

“Abandon” was such a harsh word to have chosen.

I’m sure you were also aware of this, Oreki-san, but Mayaka-san actively alienated herself from the dominating faction in the Manga Society. When talking solely about her supporters in the club, however, I suppose one could make the point that she abandoned those in the minority that looked up to her by quitting. Thinking that was Ōhinata-san’s point, I responded.

“It might’ve been painful, but Mayaka-san needed to look out for herself as well. Even though she was hurt in all the conflict, no one in the Manga Society came to her aid.

“Truthfully, there was no reason Mayaka-san had to introduce conflict into the Manga Society. It probably would have been best if she had simply remained aloof, appearing to only be concerned about the manga aspect. It’s already far too late for that however, and Mayaka-san isn’t the kind of person to do that anyways.

“…If she was going to eventually quit at some point, wouldn’t you agree that it was a good idea to do so at the start of a new academic year?”

Ōhinata-san was lost in thought. It made me feel a little happy that she was thinking of Mayaka-san to that extent.

After a little while, Ōhinata-san showed me a smile that even I knew was fake and got up from her seat, saying “I guess she didn’t choose a bad time, did she?”

She then added, “Excuse me for a second,” and proceeded to leave the classroom.

Oreki-san, I don’t get any of it! I didn’t really say anything that strange yesterday after school!

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