HISAO: "I'm telling you, they work just fine, as long as we get the cube-shaped ones, not the rectangular ones. Misha, can you sign that to her? I've kind of got my hands full. ...On second thought, forget it."
NARRATOR: "She is busy cutting out ballot slips, so if she were to make one errant movement she would probably send those scissors flying into someone's head. I drop the box of poster paints I'm carrying onto my little table in the student council room, and cough as a wave of dust hits me in the face. It really has been a while."
SHIZUNE: (signing) "Do you think we should change the size of the ballot slips?"
MISHA: "What~? But Shicchan, I already cut out so many of them..."
SHIZUNE: (signing) "We can make them smaller. It will be more efficient. We just have to shrink the font. More ballots will fit in a single box that way. We'll only need half the amount of paper, then. The format for voting can be changed. It could be more like a real election; then we might be able to get away with buying less boxes. With the money left over, we can get a pizza, or maybe Chinese, or a cake, or three bowls of the new ramen bowl I want to try."
NARRATOR: "Shizune excitedly rubs a finger along the frame of her glasses as she ponders more ways to cut even a half-yen of spending off of our budget. Since I think she is the only one who even knows what our budget is, I'm scared to ask just how tiny is it for her to have to do this."
HISAO: "What about all the ballot slips Misha already cut out?"
SHIZUNE: (signing) "Don't worry, don't worry. I can make them into memo pads and sell them in the school store."
MISHA: "Shicchan, they don't look very cute, though~..."
NARRATOR: "Shizune seems to disagree. Now they're arguing, but it looks like it consists of nothing more than signing “Yes, they do” and “No, they don't” at each other until they're so tired of it they are just taking turns pointing at each other commandingly. It's strange, partly because it looks kind of ridiculous, but also because I've never seen them disagree. Then again, both of them have looked very stressed these past few days."
NARRATOR: "Shizune has been increasingly absorbed in the idea of student council elections, though they're months away. I imagine this is how politicians act when they realize a regime change is imminent and their era is over. I'm having trouble taking student council matters seriously at all, even now, as I practice my calligraphy on signs that won't go up for weeks, but I can understand why Shizune does. After all, she has been Student Council president for three years. According to her dad, she has wanted the job for even longer. I guess three years is too short a career for her to leave feeling satisfied."
HISAO: "Did the last Student Council go through this much trouble to make it a smooth transition for you?"
NARRATOR: "Shizune makes a chagrined face that tells me they weren't very helpful at all."
HISAO: "I guess you're doing all this to set a good example, then?"
MISHA: "That only comes into play if they learn anything from it, Hicchan~! If they don't, I'll be hyper mad~! If they turn out to be the flaky type, I'll definitely be hard on them~."
NARRATOR: "It doesn't sound very threatening when Misha is saying it."
HISAO: "So, you've already met them?"
MISHA: "Ahaha~. Hicchan, there are no candidates yet~!"
HISAO: "What? None?"
SHIZUNE: (signing) "Not even for Student Council president. That is why I am trying to drum up interest for the position. What do you think?"
NARRATOR: "She proudly holds up a poster she has been working on herself. It looks very, uh, military."
HISAO: "You might be taking this a little too seriously, then."
NARRATOR: "Shizune frowns and plays with her glasses, offended."
SHIZUNE: (signing) "Is that weird?"
NARRATOR: "She looks oddly happy that I'm disagreeing with her, and I think that if she weren't genuinely focused on what she was doing, she would try to argue with me just because it would be interesting to her."
SHIZUNE: (signing) "What's weird about it?"
NARRATOR: "It looks like she will do that after all. But then, Shizune waves her hand dismissively, like she is trying to catch the words in the air and delete them. Instead, she catapults into insulting her future successors."
HISAO: "Well, one thing that's weird is that in my old school the elections would happen in about six months, since, you know, we're graduating in March. It's pretty weird to think about them so early."
SHIZUNE: (signing) "It's a little different here."
MISHA: "Hicchan, I'll be discouraged if we don't have any replacements when I have to go~! Shicchan says. But~!, it isn't like the school will stop running without a Student Council. It will be harder for them to hand out forms, though~! Hahaha~."
NARRATOR: "Shizune isn't laughing, however. Misha's joke causes her to flinch, as if she were stung. Though Misha didn't mean for it to come out that way, her quip had a callous cruelty to it in the end."
SHIZUNE: (signing) "Hmph. I'm trying to get more people to run, but everyone is so lazy. They think they can take it easy just because there are no deadlines yet. Slackers, not taking the early game advantage. “Still” six months away? If they aren't making their move now, they don't deserve a vote!"
MISHA: "Do they really think it's such an easy job that they can do everything at the last minute and just coast into the role~? Insulting~! Really~, really~! They're going to be eaten alive once they have to sit at this tiny desk and see just how much work they have to do~!"
SHIZUNE: (signing) "If this were a real election, they would be in deep trouble. I was reading about Japanese campaigning laws the other day. Only the bad ones, for some reason."
HISAO: "For some reason."
NARRATOR: "For a second, Shizune was “talking” like her father there, and it was coming out of Misha's mouth. Creepy."
HISAO: "Well, first off, shadow shogun, you can't really make that call. They'll be elected. Second, it's just a school election. It's not like running for city council, or the Diet. I don't think Japanese campaigning laws apply."
NARRATOR: "Third, although I don't want to say it, I'm nervous that Shizune is so enthusiastic about this, talking of elections and votes. According to her dad, she wasn't even elected herself. Come to think of it, I can't remember Shizune ever saying she was elected, either. Then, did she get this position by being recruited into the Student Council, and having it fall apart until she was the only one left? Somehow, I'd never considered it. I don't know what to think about that, but it wouldn't surprise me. We're only three people strong now. If the circumstances behind her becoming the Student Council president were that sad, I wonder if there will be a vote at all. Interest could just be that low; or nonexistent, really. Then all her energy would be going towards nothing. I slap an exclamation mark on the end of the poster I'm working on. It's a little plain, so I think adding one is okay. Actually, it still might be a little too plain. I make the mark twice as large."
HISAO: "I still say you need to slow down. If this stuff isn't going to be relevant for months, maybe you're working a little too hard on it. That's what I think. You're worrying too much."
NARRATOR: "I don't know how to sign the word “relevant.” I try, and only end up flicking a long line of paint where I didn't intend to. There is no way I can fix that."
HISAO: "Misha, can you ask her that?"
NARRATOR: "Shizune giggles silently, clenching her teeth so that no sound actually comes out."
SHIZUNE: (signing) "Because there is a lot to worry about."
HISAO: "Like what?"
SHIZUNE: (signing) "Like... usually the boxes end up looking very pretty, so people take them. Have to plan for that."
MISHA: "Wahaha~! We should make them funny-looking this time, then, so no one will take them! How about that, Shicchan~?"
HISAO: "We can draw some weird faces on them. Or we can put a little picture of Shizune on each one saying “Stealing is wrong.”"
SHIZUNE: (signing) "No. It's not funny! It's not the only problem, either. There is voter turnout, of course... ...And then the worst case scenario would be not having any candidates."
NARRATOR: "Although it seems she meant it jokingly, from the way she smiles as she signs it, that isn't how it comes out. Even Misha understands that the possibility is very real, and though she tries to salvage the mood by punctuating Shizune's statement with a laugh, it doesn't work."
SHIZUNE: (signing) "What is wrong with both of you? I was just making a joke. There actually is some interest this year. If there wasn't, would I be doing all this work? I'm not stupid. When the elections are over, I'll buy everyone dinner. I'm already planning it."
HISAO: "Even the new Student Council?"
SHIZUNE: (signing) "No, they can buy their own celebration dinner. It will only be for the current Student Council. I'll be happy once I'm through having to do these thankless jobs all the time."
MISHA: "A dinner just for us~? Yay~! It's like a little party, Shicchan~!"
NARRATOR: "Though her cheerfulness is obviously forced, I say nothing. For the rest of the period, which fortunately isn't very long, we work in silence. After classes, I find the student council room locked. It's strange, because Shizune was so busy earlier that I would expect her to continue working after school. It would be what she would normally do. Maybe she listened to my suggestion and decided to take a break. I'm hoping it's that simple. Feeling a little uneasy, I take a brief stroll around the school. It's only half-conscious; I can't remember when I started moving my feet, but I've already covered enough of the campus that I'm starting to feel tired. Not that that means anything, now. Just a short stroll around the school grounds, and I'm already winded. Really pathetic. Before I know it, I'm back in front of the student council office. There's someone else, too, this time."
MISHA: "Hi, Hicchan~!"
HISAO: "It's locked."
NARRATOR: "Seeing a can of lemonade in her hand, I reflexively start looking for a vending machine nearby. I'm so thirsty."
MISHA: "I know that, Hicchan~! Shicchan is somewhere else, I guess~!"
MISHA: "Ahahaha~. We aren't stuck together, Hicchan~."
NARRATOR: "Misha takes a long drink from her lemonade, eventually just tipping it over and pouring the rest into her mouth. I feel like I am being mocked."
MISHA: "Do you want one, Hicchan~?"
HISAO: "No, it's okay. I can't take someone else's drink, it's rude. Besides, you're making fun of me, aren't you? I just saw you inhale all of that."
MISHA: "I have another one in my bag~! I was prepared, see~, see~? I'm just like Shicchan~!"
HISAO: "She's a little too prepared. It's good some of that is rubbing off on you, anyway. After what, two years?"
NARRATOR: "The way she stares at me as I drink it is a little disconcerting, but I'm too grateful to care much about it."
HISAO: "You and Shizune always end up treating me to something. It's starting to embarrass me."
MISHA: "Really~, Hicchan? Ahaha~. Buy me lunch sometime, then, okay~? Then~!, we'll be even. Well, it's funny you should say that. I was going to ask you if you wanted to eat in town... Yeah~ yeah~! I'm really hungry today, Hicchan! Thanks!"
NARRATOR: "...Yesterday. I was going to ask her yesterday. Misha cuts me off before I can finish the sentence, and I can't find an opening to correct her as she dashes enthusiastically around me, laughing, her arms flapping excitedly at her sides. I already have my wallet with me, so I start walking towards town with Misha trailing behind me, playing idly with her hands and loudly wondering to herself where we should go eat. At least, I think so. She could be asking me."
HISAO: "Do you have anywhere specific where you want to go?"
MISHA: "Hmmm~. I want to go to the teahouse, they have a really big parfait there."
HISAO: "I saw you eat a parfait there last time, it looked really big."
MISHA: "No no no~! This one is really, really~ big! It's also really expensive~!"
HISAO: "Really, really~ expensive?"
MISHA: "Hahaha~! A little~..."
HISAO: "Jeez. Well, you and Shizune paid for my food a bunch of times, so it's fine."
MISHA: "Hicchan, I don't think I ever did that~. Are you sure it wasn't just Shicchan?"
HISAO: "Are you really arguing against a free meal? Don't worry about it."
NARRATOR: "We go to the Shanghai, and are seated by a waitress who is surprisingly not Yuuko. Misha is very eager to eat that parfait, because she shouts her order as soon as she walks through the door. When it arrives, I can see that it is both very big and very expensive-looking."
MISHA: "Aren't you going to order anything, Hicchan~? If you're hungry, we can share."
HISAO: "Nah. I don't like parfaits. I don't like []."
MISHA: "You can pick it out~!"
HISAO: "You can't just pick out pralin; don't be silly."
NARRATOR: "Even if I could, Misha is mashing her food together to the point where it is no longer possible. It also looks kind of gross. I wonder if that many flavors can even blend together well. Can she really taste anything in that goop? She is acting like it's delicious, anyway."
MISHA: "Mm~. Parfaits are the best~, I have sensitive teeth, so ice cream is a no-no~. Cake is too soft, though, and if there is too much icing, I get bored. Parfait is interesting. How many cafés have parfaits here~? I think, ten! I've tried them all, I like this one the best. It has a little flan~!"
HISAO: "You sound like you're some kind of dessert expert."
MISHA: "Not just dessert~! I want to eat all kinds of delicious things~. Someday, I'll have enough money to buy a two kilogram Matsusaka beef steak~!"
HISAO: "That's like over a hundred thousand yen... I guess this kind of decadent food is kind of your hobby then, huh?"
NARRATOR: "A hobby isn't something that should take months to learn about someone. I've been very rude, in retrospect. Also, that is one pricey hobby."
MISHA: "I guess so~! ...Decadent~?"
NARRATOR: "Misha giggles, raising her hand to her face. It looks like some ice cream accidentally got on her nose. She doesn't notice it. I can't stop noticing it. I wish she would wipe it off. I'm about to tell her about it, but she suddenly says,"
MISHA: "I don't know what that means."
HISAO: "Oh. I guess that's a bad word, anyway. It has implications. Epicurean is better. It means, someone who enjoys eating nice food. That's the adjective, though. So, epicure is the word for it."
MISHA: "Wahaha~! Hicchan, you're too wordy."
MISHA: "Hahaha~. I think that is what Shicchan likes about you."
HISAO: "Because I'm wordy? I need to buy some thesauruses, then."
MISHA: "Wahaha~! No, not like that, Hicchan~!"
NARRATOR: "I decide to order some coffee after all, but it takes a while to get the waitress to notice, and I think actually getting my coffee will take about as long. The tea shop is filling up. No surprise, as we've already been here for almost an hour while she was chipping at that dessert. I order my coffee to go, but Misha orders one as well, so it seems that we're going to be here longer than I thought."
HISAO: "I really wish it was that easy. It's hard to talk to her lately."
MISHA: "Shicchan's been busy because of the elections~!"
HISAO: "I know we can't have fun all the time. It's just that there's a lot I want to say to her, I think. I always screw up when the time comes, though. And I don't even have the time now. Because of the elections. They're not for a while, though."
MISHA: "Hicchan, do you think that Shicchan is avoiding you?"
NARRATOR: "Misha sounds angry. That's to be expected, but I don't feel that way at all."
MISHA: "Is that so~..."
NARRATOR: "The dreamy way in which she says it makes me think that Misha is disappointed with my answer. In that case, it could be how she feels. I'm uneasy asking such a question, but I trust Misha would answer it honestly. Otherwise, I wouldn't even dream of it."
HISAO: "Do you?"
MISHA: "No, of course not, Hicchan~! But~! ...It's frustrating, sometimes~. Shicchan has so much energy, and is always trying to make people feel as excited about things as she is~. But it's like Shicchan doesn't know how to handle things when everyone gets really hyped up. Or~! I think that she wants to make sure nothing goes wrong. When I want to help out, Shicchan always pushes me away. It's frustrating. I'm just overthinking it, probably~! Right~?"
NARRATOR: "Misha takes a big gulp from her cup of coffee, then sticks her tongue out."
MISHA: "Ow~! Hot~ hot~ hot~... thought it would have cooled down by now~!"
HISAO: "Has it really been that long?"
NARRATOR: "I check my watch. It hasn't been very long at all, but looking outside, the sun is already starting to set."
HISAO: "Not really. Huh, it got dark out pretty quickly today, though, so I could understand why you might think that."
NARRATOR: "At my words, Misha looks outside and yawns almost immediately. She looks sleepy. That's funny, because..."
HISAO: "Are you sleepy? You were wide awake like, just two seconds ago."
MISHA: "I feel tired when it gets dark, Hicchan~."
HISAO: "Just like that? Are you a bird?"
NARRATOR: "I pick up my own coffee and have a sip. It's not very hot at all, but very tasty. I down it as quickly as possible, because now I want to get back to my dorm room as well. Misha tries to emulate me, but it's still too hot for her. While I wait for her to finish, I start to wonder what she meant back then about Shizune liking something about me. Suddenly, I'm very curious, but dragging that back up now feels like an unnecessary action. I try to weigh the option again, but am interrupted by Misha slamming her empty cardboard cup down on the table with a loud pop."
NARRATOR: "She lets out a short laugh, seeming very pleased with herself. Kind of like a toddler. I wonder if she had that drill-shaped haircut when she was little, too. Or was it something more like her current look? It would make more sense."
HISAO: "I guess we should head back then. I can't see the waitress. Try not to fall asleep while I pay for the sundae, okay?"
MISHA: "Not a sundae; It's a parfait, Hicchan. Wahaha~."
HISAO: "You have ice cream on your nose."
Next Scene: Acute Triangle