Episode 38: Forgotten Photo
I moved away from the two girls clamoring around the room’s desk and began messing around with the camera settings. I took a test shot of all four of them together. A sneak shot, but it was for the sake of seeing whether the camera worked. Yep. Somehow or other it seems it is working just fine.
And then while I was double-checking the photo I just took,
“Hey—! No fair hogging it for yourself. Let me try too—”
Honoka appeared at my back with a sour look on her face. She swung around, grabbing me by the shoulder and reaching for the camera.
“All right, all right. Then let’s all pass it around.”
There was a second there where I thought about extending my arm up, using my superior height to keep it out of her reach. However if she shook my arm and I dropped the camera, I’m the one who is going to look like a child. It’d be bad if my teasing lead to something serious…….so I gave up trying to act coy.
“Once Honoka and Yuzu get a little more used to how it is supposed to work, I’m sure the both of you will be able to take wonderful pictures too.”
“Hmm~? Why is it just the two of us—!?”
Unlike Yuzuriha who obediently accepted her position with a determination to improve, Honoka kicked up a fuss while booing the rest of us. She’s just like a cute elementary school student.
“When you noticed the camera wasn’t working, I thought you were about to toss it aside because you thought it was broken. You have to be more careful with it.”
Honoka crossed her arms with a huff over my words, but a mischievous smile soon spread across her face.
“Oh dear, oh my, we are young ladies. If it should break, we only have to buy another one—”
She used her hand to simulate a fan and waved it in front of her face as if she were some old European aristocrat.
“Who here is supposed to be a young lady? Although I really don’t think that’s the problem here.”
I hit back on her playful, bourgeois remark, but I don’t believe she’s saying that because she really thinks of herself as a well-to-do young lady. Because she was grinning like she always does when she wants to get a response from me.
“Heheh—. It’s important right? I understand—”
“That’s right. It’s important to take good care of our things……..because this is equipment from the school and passed down by our predecessors. Even if you are using it by yourself, don’t do anything unreasonable with it.”
I directed those words towards everyone, not just Honoka. I looked around and got four nods back for my warning. I know this should all go without saying, but accidents are more likely to happen when you feel relaxed. It might be a good idea to give out this warning regularly, even to myself. I’m not immune to the occasional blunder either.
“Should we practice with it until we get used to it? To be on the safe side.”
“Indeed. I cannot completely say I would not inadvertently drop it either.”
Having been watching quietly for a while now, Saki spoke up with Ranko pitching in her support as well. Although Ranko does still have that tinge of overconfidence in regards to her maturity…….yet she’s still pretty adult-like compared to a few others.
“Here we go then—! Try giving us a show Yuu—!”
“Yeah yeah. Hold this button here down.”
At Honoka’s goading I pressed down on the power button, adjusting my body so everyone could see the camera switching on and off. It’s pretty self-explanatory and shouldn’t cause any problems.
“Well, this is your starting screen, and the zoom function will be over here. Shutter here. The settings are fine, so we can go over adjusting those later. If you press this button here, you can see the pictures that have already been taken.”
My fingers swipe across the camera’s LED screen as I talk, opening the picture of the four of them that I just took.
“Oh ho. High image quality.”
“You should have told us you were taking a photo.”
“No, what does that…….”
Yuzurin absent-mindedly extended the chain while Honoka energetically through out her own addition to the peculiar series. Despite them both being almost complete opposites personality-wise, they are still able to come together like this……… Cute isn’t it…….
However Saki was still more focused on the camera, giving the screen an inquisitive look.
“Take a look at the display. It says there are ten other photos saved besides this one~”
“Oh, you’re right.”
If you look closely at one corner of the screen, you’ll find a 1/10 marking attached to the currently open image. In other words, there are nine other photos we can cycle through.
“Bum Bum Bum—! ……..Strange photos left by her predecessors. Can Yuriha solve this mystery?”
“Enough with the narration.”
I delivered a swift karate chop to the top of Honoka’s head.
“Uhihi. But, the fact that these ones were left behind must mean they were important—”
When she puts it like that, I have to agree. Apparently all it takes is a little trauma and Honoka’s head is able to let loose some pretty nice words.
“They forgot to erase them…….probably isn’t right…….”
“They couldn’t erase them…….doesn’t make any sense either……”
“Perhaps they wanted to leave them for whatever members came afterwards?”
Three guesses came one after another in quick succession. Any of them could be true in the end.
“Well, why don’t we try taking a look through them for now?”
I’m already pressing the next arrow as I suggest it.
“What, it looks normal?”
After making sure everyone had gotten to see the first picture, I cycled through the rest one after another. One looked like it was taken just before winter’s end. The next was a picture of the sky while looking up at the school building. Flowers blooming behind the school. The sun setting from on top of the roof. The back of some students in a well-decorated hallway…….all of the photos were like that.
“They’re all beautiful though”
“Skillfully done……it definitely feels as if they only took what they wanted to take though.”
“Their heart’s eye……”
Saki, Ranko, and Yuzu each gave their impressions as we went.
“You all might be right. Each of these came out great. Maybe they really did leave these behind so other people could see them.”
Once we went through the last photo, I nodded my head in agreement and returned the camera to its menu screen.
“What—? So it wasn’t a dining message?”
“It’d be a major problem if it was……and do you mean a ‘dying’ message? Did you think the photographer died while she was eating?”
I guess that would make sense if the food was poisoned……
“Tch—. Still, there could be a hidden message…….don’t you think?”
Is Honoka hoping for some kind of incident to happen? There’s no way something is actually going to happen in reality though, so if she could keep those kind of thoughts to a minimum…….if you keep waiting for those kinds of special moments to come to you, you will end up wasting your youth away. With that being said, I really don’t want any kind of serious incident to happen.
“All right everyone. It’s going to be dark soon, so we should get ready to be heading home.”
It felt like it had taken a bit to get all this set up, and sure enough, when I took a look out the window, the sky was dyed in a vibrant red, and the sun was only going to sink even further down.
“Right—. The camera’ll still be here next week.”
“It’s cold and scary when it gets dark.”
Everyone agreed with me and began getting ready to leave. I pressed the button to turn off the camera.
But I accidentally opened the photo list instead. I’m trying to get ready to leave, but this is the pattern where a person’s curiosity runs counter to that noble effort.
And unfortunately I’m not one to go against a good cliché……..
There was another photo left at the very end. A field of flowers in full bloom. And a woman standing at the center.
It was a picture of Ms. Shibuya, standing in front of a large flower garden, her normally cool expression distorted in a shy smile.
1. Bare/Bale is the Japanese word for a secret being leaked or some such. So after the first two lines where Honoka says Yuriha is busted and Yuriha confirms she was busted, the next two words, Valerian and Ballerina, are just two words that start with bare/bale.