Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Our Courage, Chapter Three (part a)

With the chalk in one hand, Takeru faced the blackboard as he lectured.
“Taiyo went to the mountain to gather acorns with his friends.”
In the deserted school, in an empty classroom, about ten kids had gathered. Mori was among them. Takeru had forcibly brought them here and started an arithmetics class.
“All together they gathered 84 acorns. There are seven friends. If they get along well and split the acorns evenly amongst themselves, how many does each person get? OK, who knows the answer?”
Looking around, Takeru saw that everyone was desperately uninterested. Even Mori was unenergetically leaning his head on his palm, while his elbow was propped up on the desk.
“Mori? This is a third-year in elementary school question. You don’t understand it?”
Instead of answering, Mori smiled sweetly at him.
One boy stood up from his desk and started to leave the classroom.
“Hey. Hey! Where do you think you’re going?” Takeru called him back, but he only glared.
“Why study - it ain’t like we need to.”
“‘Ain’t’? It’s not ‘ain’t,’ it’s ‘isn’t.’ All right? And if you don’t study properly now, you won’t be able to get into a good college and a good company.”
“There aren’t any colleges or companies here anyways.”
Other children also started to make a fuss.
“That’s right! Where are they?”
“Quiet. All right. There are high schools and colleges on the outside. None in here, but there are out there.”
At Takeru’s words, once again the children protested.
“We’re never going to get out of here!”
“We’re going to be stuck in here forever so studying is pointless.”
“That’s right. We’re going to die here anyway.”
For a second Takeru was at a loss for words. But, as though convincing himself, he said in a big voice, “We’ll get out. We’ll definitely get out. Sometime soon, we’re absolutely going to leave here!”
Just then, someone called out, “It’s Yamato!”
In the middle of the schoolyard, Yamato could be seen holding a basketball.
“It’s time for PE!”
Cheering, the children started to run out of the classroom.
“Hey! Math isn’t over yet! Hurry up and get back to your seats. Come back, you guys!”
But no one listened to Takeru’s words, and in a minute the room had become deserted.
In the marketplace, a fistfight had started among boys with bloodshot eyes. Of course, they were fighting over food.
One boy brandished a knife, and attacked the other. The next second, the boys stopped moving for some reason.
It was Yuuri, holding her gun. She planted herself firmly in front of them.
Into that gap, Akira and Makoto darted out to grab the food that was the reason for the fight. But Yuuri didn’t miss this. Without hesitating she turned the gun on them.
“Drop it. All of it.”
His face taut, Akira said, “You keep threatening us with that, but do you even have any bullets?”
Remaing expressionless, Yuuri drew near to him, and pressed the gun against his cheek.
“Would you like to try it out?”
Cowed down, everyone had lost their voice. With a contemptuous glance at the boys who seemed to have turned to ice, Yuuri alone stuffed the food into a bag and walked away.
On the way back to the school, she came across a miserable scene. In the middle of a crowd there was a couple. The boy had fallen, his eyes closed. The girl knelt at his side, sobbing unreservedly despite those watching.
Why had he died? Yuuri listened to the whispers of two girls.
“How old was he?”
“Nineteen. That’s early.”
“How old are you?”
“Fifteen. You?”
“...I’ve got three years left.”
A deep furrow appeared in Yuuri’s forehead.
She was twenty years old.

No comments: