Episode 32: Finished Application
The hustle and bustle of school after hours.
From people working hard at their club activities to the chattering of friends staying late, the sound of girls having fun echoed off the corridor walls several times over, robbing it of yesterday’s serene tranquility.
I walk alone.
It’ll probably be okay. There’s no reason for me to feel anxious…….and yet the buzzing in my chest won’t settle. There is a restlessness running through me that is making my feet feel like lead.
It doesn’t take me long to reach my destination. I timidly knock against the door that feels like it’ll jump off its hinges at any moment and crush me under its weight. The door to the teacher’s lounge.
I give out a small greeting after opening the door. Hearing my voice, my homeroom teacher swings around in her chair. Her desk is closest to the door, making it feel like her gaze is piercing directly into me. My brain understands how personable she is, but my body still gets tense when I’m on my own with a teacher.
“Hey, Fujisaki. Is this about the photography club?”
“Yes. I’ve gathered five club members.”
“Oh, really? Good work”
Despite me answering like a robot mechanically spitting out a synthesized message, she smiled and nodded as if everything was going as she expected.
A smile aimed at fulfilling the wishes of her students――or maybe something similar to the softness of a mother watching her daughter grow up. In that moment, the weight hanging on my heart mysteriously disappeared.
“Is Sensei that happy to see a student start a new club?”
As a teacher, does she have some stake in her students showing initiative?――now that my heart had stabilized and relaxed, I became interested. And in response to my curiosity, she waved her hand in front of her face and laughed.
“Ah, well…… I am happy…… The truth is I have been looking forward to someone like you picking up this club from the beginning.”
“You wanted it reestablished?”
“That’s right. You see, we have people take pictures for the regular school events–the entrance ceremony, festivals, graduation–but we have nothing to reflect the normal, day-to-day runnings of the school.”
As Sensei spoke, she looked me directly in the eyes and motioned with her hand for me to submit the club application form. After silently accepting it, she briefly glanced through the list of names before nodding with satisfaction.
“Oh ho, an interesting lineup.”
“How is it……? Any girls you’re worried about?”
She narrowed her eyes and gave me a suspicious smile. No, if anything, it seems like she’s glancing through the form again. She’s already expressed some concern over Yuzuriha and Honoka, but maybe something comes to mind when she sees Saki or Ranko’s names as well?
“A coincidence or fate……no, can’t say that when I set it up…….”
“Oh don’t mind me. It’s nothing to worry about.”
No, you’re just going to make me worry more if you say that…….when she saw I wasn’t going to let it go, she gave me a light nod. “Let’s talk for a bit,” she said with a deep gaze.
“Honestly, some time ago……the Photography Club was quite active in its pursuits. Anyways, it became clear those times would disappear when all the remaining members were set to graduate, and as the teacher in charge, I soon heard about its inevitable disbandment. I was eager to get it started again……but there’s no need to go too in-depth on that.”
A vague story about the past. But when she closed her eyes and thought back to those gone days, she looked like someone reminiscing about someone they love. Was she attached to the former members of the photography club?
Well, that’s probably natural. She was their advisor.
“But it’s been reestablished. Since you first came to me about this I was confident your application would pass through successfully. Your club members aren’t any ordinary students.”
“You’re talking about…..Otori right?”
“Mmhmm. You guessed it. With the headmaster’s daughter being a member, the request can’t be brushed off, and since you appear serious about the photography club, it’ll pass in spite of anyone’s grumblings.”
She was smiling about it, but all I could muster was a small, forced laugh.
“Don’t worry, it’s not like you’ve done anything wrong. It’s a club that would have dissolved if nothing was done, but that was only because of a lack of people. It is a good thing it’s being started up again.”
“Were the previous members…….unable to gather new people?”
“Rather than that…..it’s more like they didn’t try that hard. There were some rumors swirling around about the club itself, and there was a strong enough bond between the members that they didn’t see a need to gather anyone else. They were all close friends though, so I figured it would be okay……”
Sensei’s voice drifted off. It seemed like she was trying to figure out the right word to use here. Judging by what she’s already said there might have been some kind of falling out between the friends, so it isn’t the kind of thing she can talk about lightly. Let’s change the subject.
“Does Sensei teach photography at all?”
She looked at me surprised when I asked, but she quickly regained her usual countenance after a second had passed.
“Me? Strange as it might seem I’ve only ever used a simple beginner’s camera, so I am an amateur. I rarely dropped in at the original club. I wanted them to work at their own pace. Anyone can take pictures thanks to modern day technology, so if someone takes a photo they think is good without realizing it, each students’ unique sense will shine through.”
Freedom in the pursuit of making everyone happy. If I’m free to do what I want, that’ll give me a lot more options in setting up my yuri harem.
“The scenery from the school, the botanical gardens in the backyard, and the students themselves. Each have their own unique charm. I wanted students who could feel it with their hearts rather than with technology…….”
She took a breath and continued on. Suddenly, Sensei looked incredibly lonely……I’m just a shitty lesbian who wants to form this club for the completely selfish reason of making a yuri harem……there’s no way in hell I’m admitting to that in this kind of atmosphere even if you kill me.
But, it might not be so bad taking some pictures around the school with everyone. I do have some interest in it, and it is fun developing new hobbies. Let’s try and meet our teacher’s expectations.
Speaking of Sensei, her head shot towards the clock on the wall as if she remembered something.
“Oops, we’ve been talking longer than I thought. There’s a staff meeting happening soon.”
“Oh, sorry…..bad timing.”
“The opposite, actually. I can bring up the club now that I have your form, so if everything goes smoothly, you may have your clubroom by tomorrow.”
A clubroom already? That’d be great, but will our application really go through that quickly……?
“Would it be that easy?”
Sensei looked like she had thought of something annoying when I asked, and the corners of her mouth curved upwards in a devilish smirk.
“This might be surprising to hear, but the school respects and values the independence of its students. More or less. If there is an application made, us teachers will give a prompt response. Don’t want to keep any of our rich young ladies waiting after all.”
“Oh, I get it”
She put so much emphasis on the word rich I had to give her a half-hearted laugh. She seems oddly willing to give me a peak back behind the curtain…..maybe it’d be to my benefit to get close with her.
While I was playing with the thought, a couple teachers entered from the door behind me. When I glanced about the room, the other teachers in the room were beginning to make preparations at their desks as well.
“See, the teachers are gathering. You should head home for now.”
“I understand. Excuse me”
I bow my head before turning around and opening the door. Sensei’s hot gaze as we parted lingers in my mind. Those eyes were brimming with expectations and lit a flame of anxiety in my mind. But it’s fine. I will enjoy photography.
I closed the door softly behind me. A resonant sound echoes in my ear despite nobody else being there with me. My racing heartbeat. The din of the hallway barely registered in my brain like it did before.
Now, my gift to keep everyone entertained……my stage is ready!