Hyouka:Volume 5 Prologue-2
2. Past: 1 Day Ago
I was reading a paperback in the clubroom after school. It was a period novel chronicling the early days of a man who became a master spy later on in his life, and it was so ridiculously interesting that I had become uncharacteristically engrossed in it.
At Kamiyama High School, a place overflowing with various clubs, several of which disband and are then replaced by newer ones each year, it was quite common for clubrooms to be switched around at the start of a new academic term. That said, the Classics Club remained in the same Earth Sciences lecture room. It's not like I was particularly attached to it, but because I'd been in this room so regularly over the course of the previous year, I ended up sitting in my "usual seat." It was the chair positioned, as always, third row from the back and three seats from the window overlooking the school grounds.
As I reached the end of one of the chapters and raised my head to exhale from the excitement, the room’s sliding door suddenly opened. Ibara walked in, her eyebrows furrowed and her face betraying a concerned expression.
Mayaka Ibara was a second-year now, and she had changed slightly. She had quit the Manga Research Society she was once a part of alongside the Classics Club. She herself said it was because she “just got tired of it.” Judging by Satoshi’s conflicted face, it seemed there were other circumstances involved as well, but I didn’t ask.
It’s not like I thought her appearance had changed or anything. If you tossed Ibara into a group of new students and told a hundred people to pick out the second-year, I doubt a single person would have chosen her. She had recently started wearing clips in her hair, however had Satoshi and the others not brought it up, I would have never even noticed.
There was only me and one other person in the clubroom. Just until a little bit ago, there had been three of us.
“Hey, did something happen?”
The one who muttered that was Chitanda.
Eru Chitanda was the recurring Classics Club president. She hadn’t cut her hair in a while, so it had grown a bit.
Ibara looked back towards the hallway and then spoke in a somewhat concealed voice.
“I just passed by Hina-chan over there. She said she wasn’t going to join.”
“Her eyes were kind of red. Was she crying?”
Chitanda was at a loss for words. Without responding to the question, she muttered to herself.
I didn’t know what had happened.
A year passed, and as we became second-years, naturally so were there new first-years. We opened up the Classics Club for new students to join, and while there were a lot of complications along the way, finally we managed to recruit one member.
Tomoko Ōhinata had turned in a provisional club enrollment form, and all that was left was for her to submit the actual club entry form. Not only had she become extremely attached to Ibara, but she seemed to also be constantly enjoying her discussions with Chitanda. She could be a bit annoying at times, but it’s not like I was cold towards her because of that. Everyone thought she would join the club without a problem; rather, I wonder if in reality we all forgot you were even required to turn in an actual club enrollment form after the provisional one in the first place.
And now, we were being told that she wouldn’t be joining. Had all of this collapsed in the short time I had been reading my book?
Chitanda faced Ibara and spoke once more with quivering lips.
"I see,” she repeated as best she could. Even though Ibara didn't know what had happened, she listened carefully and asked, “Are you okay, Chi-chan?”
“I knew it. Because of me…”
“What do you mean ‘because of me’? If you’re talking about Hina-chan, you’re wrong. She even said it wasn’t your fault.”
“No, I’m sorry. I have to go.”
Chitanda forcibly ended the conversation and left the Earth Sciences room with her bag as if she were running.
All I could do was stare.
Ibara watched Chitanda as she left and then turned around to face me. With an expressionless, monotone voice, she spoke.
“So, what happened?”
All I could do was shake my head, mouth wide-open.
Translator's Notes and References
- Possibly referring to the novel Rasputin Came 『ラスプーチンが来た』 by Fūtarō Yamada. The book is about a famous WWI-era Japanese spy, Motojirō Akashi, and his confrontations with Russian "mad priest" Rasputin during his younger days.
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