Main Story 39
Unlike the salon’s café, the cafeteria was bustling with life.
I carried my lunchbox with me and went to sit in a corner.
Upon which, several people who looked to be upperclassmen commanded me to move, for that seat belong to someone else.
I suppose that under some kind of unspoken agreement, the seats here are mostly fixed.
I had no choice but to move elsewhere, but I don’t know where to sit.
Nobody said anything to us when I came here with Sara-sama and Souju-sama.
It is a bit late to feel this way, but I finally realized just how much I have been profiting from their favor.
They must not have taken kindly to how I, as a scholarship student and therefore of the lowest rank in the hierarchy, have been receiving favorable treatment for being friends with the twins.
There are a lot of things one realizes when alone.
I had no choice but to wander around looking for empty seats.
In the middle of me doing this, an outside student from the same class called out to me.
“Kujouin-san, this seat’s empty.”
May I join you?”
“You’re in a loss, aren’t you? It’s fine, it’s fine.
Everyone’s fine with it too, right?”
Kimoto-san asked the outside and scholarship students sitting at the same table.
The five of them, including Kimoto-san and comprising of a mix of boys and girls, agreeably let me in.
“I was at a loss, not knowing where to sit.
You have saved me much trouble.
I so thanked them and took a seat.
“You were always with the Hongou-samas so we could never call out to you.
When we first entered the school, we ignored you, didn’t we? That was because we had heard that you came from a rich and prestigious family but entered as a scholarship student because of certain circumstances.
We were told that you would bully us and so to be careful of you.
Though after a while, we did realize that that wasn’t the case at all… We’ve always wanted to apologize.
A girl from among them clapped her hands together in apology.
“No no, it is I who should apologize for not being able to read the room.”
The atmosphere between us became lighter.
“The choral performance was really fun! We ended up in the choir because they wouldn’t let us in the theatre group but the choir turned out really fun!”
“Right, right! Kujouin-san was ridiculously enthusiastic after all.”
“And you started DJing 3 days before the actual performance too.”
“Our choral performance was the most lively, wasn’t it!”
“Seriously so! It was the most fun I had since entering this academy!”
Speaking of, how did Takanashi-sama and Yuuki-san’s Romeo and Juliette go? I know nothing since I left early without watching the performance.
I tried asking Kimoto-san about it.
“Yuuki-san’s Juliette received a lot of criticism from the inside students.
They said that they cannot allow for an outside student to be in the leading role.
As a result, there were not a lot of audiences that turned up.”
“But still, Yuuki-san were often with us at first but now, she doesn’t even speak to us anymore.”
“During that time, she was also saying things like ‘It’s not right to discriminate between inside and outside students, let’s all work hard together’.
What was that all about, really.”
“Her attitude has been bad lately too.
Thanks to her, the outside students’ reputation has taken a hit.
She’s such a nuisance.”
So Yuuki-san has fallen out with the outside students.
Thinking this, I opened my lunchbox.
“Huh? What’s this? Is this wrapped in bamboo skin?”
It seems that this onigiri is out of the norm after all.
This bamboo skin is something I pick every May from a bamboo forest nearby.
I dry and then keep them.
This year too, I have picked a lot of them.”
Everyone stopped eating.
“You’re the one picking them?”
I am poor with no relatives after all.”
“This again~ Kujouin-san cracks jokes too, huh.”
I tilted my head.
I made no jokes.
“It is not a joke.
I am poor, no, I am deep in poverty.”
A buzz went through the group of outside students.
“But you go to school in a car with a driver, don’t you?”
“Ah, that is entirely a favor being done to me.
It seems that my grandfather was that person’s benefactor.
They kindly worried about my safety, since it takes me two hours to come to school if I were to take public transportation.
I’m fine with it, but in the end gave in and am receiving their kindness.”
They looked at one another.
“Hey, where are you coming to school from?”
It’s known for its peanuts.
Though there are no peanut fields near my house.
There are only paddy fields and mountains around.”
For some reason, they fell into complete silence.
I’ve been there on a field trip to dig up sweet potatoes.
Isn’t that place deep in the countryside?”
It’s in the countryside, surrounded with nature.
There are wild boars and deer there too.”
I want to start eating soon.
I have not been able to eat even one bite because of the onslaught of questions.
It feels as if my stomach will rumble soon.
When they once again fell silent, I whispered thank you for the food.
But just as I reached my hands out to an onigiri, I heard a voice from behind me.
I know this voice belongs to Katsuragi-sama.
I don’t want to turn around!
“Rei-chan, it’s been so long! We never meet, do we? I wonder why.”
That is thanks to Madenokouji-sama.
“The Hongou twins aren’t here, huh.
Wait, don’t you have their share of lunchboxes there? Can I have one?”
Before I could say no, a hand reached out.
I was about to protect my lunchbox when Madenokouji-sama came approaching with rapid steps and slapped Katsuragi-sama’s hand.
“Kaoru, cease this unbecoming farce.
“No, it is not something for you to apologize for.
Have you finished your lunch?”
“No, I haven’t eaten yet.
I came to pick up Kaoru who had run away.
We have student council work to do.
You, please escort Kaoru to the student council room.”
Kaoru-sama was led away by the people I assume to be student council members.
What an unmanageable childish prince.
Would you like to take a lunchbox? Today was a day where I prepare Sara-chan and Sou-kun’s lunchboxes too.
I can’t eat all these myself.”
“Eh, are you sure?”
I am always in Madenokouji-sama’s debt.
If he’s okay with a lunchbox made by me, of course he can take one.
“Then, I’ll have one.”
I kept just the onigiri meant for Sara-chan and packed the rest off to be handed to Madenokouji-sama.
“Good luck on your student council work.”
Just like that, Madenokouji-sama went away.
Kimoto-san and the rest who had been watching our interaction until then started inquiring, full of curiosity.
“Kujouin-san, are you close with Madenokouji-sama too?”
Madenokouji-sama’s grandmother was a fan of my grandmother.
We have gotten close because of that.”
“Your grandmother, what did she use to do?”
“She was a pianist.”
They nodded their understanding.
“So that’s why you’re so good at the piano.
Your piano accompaniment during the choir was impressive too.
Though you ended up DJing instead.”
“Right right, we were so surprised.
You even went so far as to raise your arm.
That pose you took during the actual performance! You like Alan Walker?”
I could finally start eating an onigiri.
“We’re really so sorry for everything until now.”
“Please, don’t mind it.
My attitude was not very good either, was it? We were equally to blame.
I am exceedingly glad to have been able to get along well with all of you like this today.”
“Then, should we all go somewhere together sometime?”
“You, you’re getting carried away!”
I have never been invited to anything by my classmates like this.
“I want to go somewhere with all of you.”
“Ah, Kujouin-san’s going with it! For real? Really? Do you have anywhere you want to go to?”
I do have somewhere I want go, but it’s something I need to decide after considering my financials.
No, I should make up my mind here!
“I want to try going to Yoshinoya, the gyudon place!”
“Huh? I go there sometimes but, aren’t girls who go to this school the type to have never gone there before?” (Boy)
“Right, I’ve never gone there before.” (Girl)
What, do girls not go there?
“Have Kujouin-san gone there before?”
I shook my head.
“I want to try ordering the Oomori Tsuyudaku and eat at the counter.”
When I said this, a roar of laughter erupted from the group.
“The large portion with soup, no way! For a young lady to eat the large portion with soup at the counter, way too surreal!” (Boy)
“Is someone like me not allowed to go?”
I was growing sad.
Is something so abrupt a no after all?
“No, wait just a minute! Don’t go making such a sad face.
If you really want to go so badly, I’ll take you there.” (Boy)
“I might want to go too.” (Girl)
“Then, me too.” (Boy)
We decided to go to Yoshinoya next week after classes end.
I have now made friends with the outside and scholarship students too.
They understood when I told them that I can’t give them my cell phone number since it’s a borrowed thing.
In exchange, I gave them my home number and free email address instead.
“To think that we now have Kujouin-san’s home number.
It feels like we’ve gotten hold of something big.”
“You, don’t you dare misuse it.”
“Iiidiot, like hell I will.”
“Boys sure are children.”
I’m going to be fed up with them.”
Oh, it looks somewhat like the high school life I’ve read about in manga.
To think that such an opportunity would be bestowed upon me too!
I was so happy that a perpetual grin would not leave my face.
It was a first for me to get along well with a classmate that is neither Sara-sama nor Souju-sama.
“Kujouin-san is really so amiable, huh.
Your way of speaking and behavior are all so polished and refined.
We thought you were hard to approach.”
“My, is that so.
How should I behave then?”
“No no, you’re fine the way you are! The gap between is nice!”
“Right! Isn’t it intriguing? You’re a beauty with a good head on her shoulders, but you DJ and want to go to Yoshigyuu.”
There were more people who would accept me the way I was.
Perhaps I have been looking at things a bit too cynically.
I ran a simulation in my head.
The reason why I wanted to go to Yoshinoya in the first place was because when I was looking up videos on the internet, I found one in which a vocaloid called “Yukkuri” was doing something called the Yoshinoya copypasta.
It was so eccentric that it caught my attention.
I didn’t quite understand it, but the words Oomori Tsuyudaku kept on resonating within me.
When I spoke about this to the outside and scholarship students, a boy scholarship student explained to me that Yoshinoya copypasta was something born from internet culture.
He also said that it was something from even before we were born.
It’s a bit late, but I was made aware of just how outdated the cultural aspects surrounding me in Hanaoka Town were.
 Outside student here refers to students only entering the academy from either the middle or high school section, in contrast to the inside students who have been there since kindergarten or elementary school.
I did not use internal and external students as they have different meanings in the English language.
 Free email services such as google and yahoo mails.
In Japan, they have provider mails, which is a paid service and functions basically like phone numbers.
You have to have a contract with a provider and pay their fees to have this mail address.
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