The first grade class president’s lunch meeting is on the same floor as the first grade classrooms are located. As I walk past the ten classes, walking alongside Ageha, occasionally a girl will stop to greet her. She only gives a simple greeting and doesn’t stop to say hello, but the girls who greet her don’t seem bothered by it and look happy to see us off. For a little while, such a response made me feel a wall or distance between the other girl and Ageha’s relationship. If they were casual friends, they would just pass by each other and say hello, However, their relationship seemed to be a bit hierarchical, or something like that.
Ageha, perhaps accustomed to such a situation, did not say anything, which made me feel a little doubtful, but I did not ask her anything more.
Ageha, walking next to me, is carrying a lunch box wrapped in a furoshiki (wrapping cloth), so I knock on the door and enter the room instead. Although I said I would hold it for her, I couldn’t accept it because Ageha insisted that I couldn’t give it to her until she actually ate it.
“I’m Orikawa, class president of the second class of the first year.”
“Likewise, I am Suminodo. Hello.”
Ageha bowed so gracefully that I felt my poor movement stood out. I often realized I was lacking in this area when I was with Rinen. Rinen’s gestures are always flowing and beautiful.
There were up to ten groups of first-year students in total, and more than half of them were already seated, about a dozen of them. In addition, the two student council members who organized the lunch meeting were sitting in the most prominent place in the seating area, which was made up of squares. They are third-year students because the ribbons and ties they are wearing are dark green instead of the first-year’s rouge, and they are the president and vice president who chaired the club activities introduction after the entrance ceremony.
I was glad to see that each group had a specific place to sit, so I didn’t have to worry about getting lost.
“Hello, I am the president of the student council, Makiri.”
“I’m Nagai, vice president of the student council.”
“”Nice to meet you.””
After replying once again, the two groups sat down at their assigned seats. In a neat gesture, Ageha carefully placed a small, three-tiered, stacked box-shaped lunch box on the desk. Looking around, the girls who were looking at us with sparkling eyes stood up with a clatter.
“I see you’re the class president too, Suminodo-san! I’ve got a whole year to look forward to.”
“It’s reassuring to know that Ito-san, who spoke to me so well in junior high school, is with me. Thank you.”
She took a step back as Ito-san clasped her hands together in her seat as if she was moved to tears, but Ageha showed an attitude that said she was someone who cannot be helped, as if she was used to seeing her. I thought she was very open-minded, but then, following Ito-san, a male student who had just entered the room approached Ageha without so much as a word to the other people.
He wore glasses and looked a little nervous, and when he saw Ito san, he had a surprised expression on his face, perhaps because they both went to the same junior high school and were used to seeing him.
“Hello, Suminodo-san, I see you’ve become a member of the class committee as well. Including house, I hope you will do well during the year.”
“Hello, Tanada-san, as a student, I look forward to working with you as class president of the same grade for one year.”
“Since I did not have a chance to greet Suminodo-san at the party the other day, I am pleased to be able to greet you face to face at this time. As one of the few people close to my age, I hope we will have an opportunity to meet again outside of the big gathering.”
“Tanada-san, now that everyone is here, I think it is time for you to take your seat. I recognize that today’s meeting is not with individuals, but with the entire group.”
“Oh, yes, yes I see. We can always talk, and today we will have fellowship with all of you.”
I thought I should interject something, but Ageha took the initiative and I shut my mouth. She herself must have sensed that I was about to shift my chair and get up. The student body president smiled at Ageha as she herself was smart enough to respond in a safe manner. The student council president looked around at us gathered here after saying her name, and then quickly mentioned the names of everyone in the first grade. At the very least, we now have a good match of faces and names.
“Now, let’s get this lunch meeting started. We’re just going to have a casual lunch meeting, though, so we can match names and faces like this. Let’s all start with lunch first. Lunch time is finite.”
The first-year students who were told by the student council president immediately picked up their respective lunches, including bento boxes, convenience store rice balls they had brought, and sweet breads. Then they naturally started friendly conversations with those nearby.
Hearing the student council president’s words, Ageha also immediately spread out a cozy stacked box that was placed on the desk. The contents of the box were rice balls and side dishes, mainly Japanese food, which fit the image of Ageha, who looks good in a kimono. It was more ordinary than I had imagined, and I was a little ashamed of myself for doubting her common sense.
The three girls in the next group who were peeking into the stacked boxes opened their mouths and say
“Wow, Suminodo san, a stacked box in your lunch box! As expected of a young lady! But if you spread them out so wide, won’t there be room for more?”
“Don’t worry, we’ll eat this one together. It’s still a bit much, so it’s just enough for the two of us.”
“Hee?” ” Haa?” “Hoee?”
“Here are the chopsticks, and you can use the plates if you need them. This.”
“Ageha is very well prepared. Thank you.”
“T-the person in charge at home made most of the lunches, so not me”
Using the chopsticks I received from the embarrassed Ageha, I spread the boiled food on a plate, and then ate a small, bite-sized rice ball that was made easier to eat. It’s small, but it’s packed full, and the plum flavor spreads in my mouth, making my appetite even bigger.
The burdock root in the simmered dish has a nice firm texture and I can feel the skill of the chef. When I was about to pick up the omelet, she stopped moving, as she had been picking up a plate of simmered vegetables as I was doing.
I watched her carefully, but she pretended not to notice and took a mouthful of the omelet. The dashimaki tamago was softly fragrant with the taste of dashi broth. The other dishes in the box are so high in quality that they look rough in comparison, but if this were served at lunchtime, I would have believed that it was from an expensive restaurant.
It’s hard to honestly believe that the ladylike Ageha made this, but looking at her nervousness, I guess that’s not possible. I finished eating and turned to her.
“Dashimaki tamago, it’s delicious. It’s my favorite flavor.”
“Oh, uh, um, Suminodo san”
Among those for whom time had finally begun to move, a courageous girl asked a question to Ageha while raising her hand straight up. The small whispers around me quieted down and I could even hear them gulping down their spit.
“What is your relationship with him?”
Everyone around me stared at the brave girl in stunned silence. I thought there was a different way to ask. It was too straightforward. Ageha glanced at me. I nodded my head and said I would leave it to her since my stance was the same, and Ito-san made a mysterious “hyo hyo hyo hyo” sound.
She seemed to have no problem, and when she was about to open her mouth, she got stuck for a moment, as if she wasn’t used to saying her name.
“Hii……. Hisanobu san’s friend”
Ageha said a little shyly like that, and all the girls who misunderstood her shouted at the same time. I thought it would take a while for the commotion to die down, so I got some more dashimaki tamago and picked up a few other dishes.
This is a completely different attitude from Rinen’s, who just responds coldly and dismisses me as a childhood friend.
“Ah, Suminodo san”
Tanada-san, who had been talking to Ageha before lunch started, opens his mouth, but is drowned out by the girls who get up and come near her.”
“Suminodo san, it’s only been two days since you entered the school! Could it be that you’ve known each other for a while!?”
“E-Eeeeh, no way noway, I wonder if this is the young lady’s fiancée or something! !?!?!”
“It’s nice to have a lively first-year student, President”
“Ah, yes. I really hope they get along with each other.”
The student council president and vice president, who were eating the same shaped and different colored lunch boxes side by side behind such a bustle, were talking about such thing. Ageha, with chopsticks in her hands, was horrified by the girls who came with great enthusiasm and answered their questions in a straightforward manner, as if she could not come up with a good response to their questions.
“No, Umm, I’m just a friend of Hisanobu-san’s,”
“You call each other by your first names? When did that happen? By all means!?!”
“Well, well, well, last night, when we were on the phone…”
The people around her were all excited, and their pursuit againts her slowed down slightly, and she turned a slightly troubled face toward me and said
“Hi-Hisanobu san, please help me.”
“I’ll leave it to you, since the girls are asking Ageha. I’m sorry I ate almost all of your dashimaki tamago, it was very tasty.”
“W-Well, I’m really glad that it was good for your taste buds.”
When I heard that it was delicious, Ageha’s mouth loosened with joy. Because of her attitude, Ito san, who is small but powerfully intervenes, raises a loud voice over the loud voices around her.
“Is it possible that Suminodo-sama made this?!?”
She is blushing, not wanting to say it out loud because she did not mean to say it, but she is having trouble coming up with another word on the spur of the moment.
I put down my chopsticks and then strained my stomach to speak out firmly.
“Ageha is in trouble, could you please calm down for once?”
Ageha, who was expecting me to calm them down, asked why the girls around me were getting even more heated up again. I smiled bitterly and waited for them to calm down.
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