Classroom of the Elite Volume 9 Chapter 7 Part 6
TL: Graze and Regular Days
ED: Graze, Regular Days and PuffyPyjamas
PR: Graze, Regular Days and PuffyPyjamas
In the end, the time limit crept closer. In the blink of an eye, it was already Wednesday.
I gripped a can of coffee I had bought from the convenience store in my hand. It was so cold that I could see my breath in the air.
And today, yet again, I wouldn’t be pressing the matter any further.
It was because Ichinose herself already knew that this was the last day she would be able to stay cooped-up in her room.
She would definitely take action.
I was certain of it.
“February is ending soon. After we overcome next month’s special exam, we’ll officially become second-years. There’s a proverb ‘when the heat has passed, you forget about the shade of trees’, but is that really true?”
The Deserted Island Special Test. The Cruise Ship Special Test. Paper Shuffle. The school had been repeatedly having us undergo peculiar exams one after another.
“When we become second-years, I wonder if the special exams will become even stranger than they are now?”
“…Hey… Can I ask you something…?”
For the first time in a while, Ichinose spoke up, albeit with a quiet voice, as though she was talking to herself.
“Sure. As long as you’re alright with asking through the door, you can ask anything.”
I welcomed her question with open arms, but Ichinose didn’t ask anything right away.
It might have been the first time she’s said anything in the past few days.
“Why haven’t you been saying anything to me, or asking me anything?”
“My classmates… My friends in the other classes… Everyone’s been trying to convince me to return to school, telling me: If you have something troubling you, please come and talk to us about it. And yet, Ayanokōji-kun, you’ve never asked me anything like that, all while coming by to visit me every single day… Why?”
It didn’t seem like she wanted the other students to worry about her.
She couldn’t understand why I was skipping my classes or wasting my lunch break to come and see her every day.
“Compared to someone like me, students who are far more worried about you have already tried to convince you many times now. My human relations are so shallow that if I tried to appeal to you with my emotions, I don’t think it would resonate with you very well.”
I could hear the faint sound of footsteps from within the room.
I had the feeling that she sat with me, the door the only thing between us.
“Maybe, I’ve been coming here every day because I’ve been waiting for you to tell me everything.”
“Waiting for me… to tell you…?”
I decided to step into her personal life for the first time.
“I already know about the crime you’ve committed.”
“That being said, I’m still unaware of the bigger picture. Only the part from when Sakayanagi started everything until you took time off school. I already understand how much pressure you’ve been putting on yourself, Ichinose. Though, it’s useless for me to be saying these things now.”
“Why… do you know?”
“That isn’t very important right now. I have no intention of going into the details.”
If Ichinose didn’t want to talk about it, I would simply end the conversation there.
“You’re probably not very good at confiding your troubles in others. You save others, but you can’t save yourself. That’s why I’m here.”
The feelings I had wanted to convey should’ve gradually made their way to Ichinose.
There was a brief silence.
When you want to pour out your feelings, it’s painful when there isn’t anyone you can talk with.
I had seen countless children suffering from this very problem in the White Room.
They eventually broke down and disappeared. A group of people beyond hope of recovery.
“I am your door now. You can’t see my face, and you can’t touch me. I’m just a door. You can let out your weakness to me without anyone laughing at you.”
There was a clunk as I set my can of coffee down on the ground beside me.
“What will you do Ichinose? This is your moment.”
Ichinose Honami’s close friends are modest, quiet people. It’s not hard to imagine that they’ve been trying to offer Ichinose a constant barrage of kindhearted, well-meaning support.
However, that wasn’t going to work. It may be the correct way to go about it for a person trying to support Ichinose, but it was a mistake for someone trying to fix the problem. You had to pressure her to yield with force.
“Even though I’m so pathetic… Is it really okay?”
“Who has the right to deny you of it?”
“A criminal like me… Can I truly be forgiven…”
“Everyone has the right to be forgiven.”
I had reached out to her heart.
The only thing left was to see whether or not Ichinose would respond.
From the other side of the door, Ichinose slowly began to speak.
“I… was a shoplifter. It got difficult during my third year of middle school, and I stopped going to school for half of it. I never consulted with anyone about it. I just blamed myself and shut myself up in my room, just like I’m doing now…”
Ichinose uncovered her wounded heart that she had been frantically trying to keep hidden as she began to say it all.
About what she had done. About the weakness she had been holding within.
How she had only shared all of this with Nagumo. How Sakayanagi had approached her, informing her about the existence of another shoplifter. This was no coincidence. It was clear that Nagumo had told Sakayanagi about her past. Without the chance to even lie about it, she had no choice but to confess to everything.
She had been acting tough, unable to show any sign of weakness.
Confessing your sins. Do you know how terribly difficult of a thing that is?
Many youths, still immature of heart, have shoplifted… no, have sinned in one way or another at least once. However, if this was brought before a large number of people, they would most likely deny any involvement whatsoever. This is natural. After all, it’s terribly difficult to admit to your sins and confess them to the public. Many people persecute sinners in the name of justice. And in return, the sinners know the tragic fate that would befall them, so they hide, continuously holding onto their sins without ever speaking of them. They perpetually play the role of a ‘good person’ as they move on with their lives.
Driven by her guilty conscience, Ichinose spent half a year completely alone.
And after great pains, she was released from her shackles… no, she managed to break free from them.
But it would still follow her for the rest of her life. Haunting her until the very end.
In fact, her conscience was once again standing in her way of moving forward, relentlessly attacking her spirit.
So, she had no choice but to stand up and face it head on.
By the time I had finished hearing everything she had to say, it didn’t matter whether or not lunch break had already ended.
Even when afternoon classes had already begun, I just continued to sit there and listen to her speak.
Listening without any attempt to console, nor reprimand her.
Ichinose sobbed quietly on the other side of the door.
I didn’t offer her a single word of comfort.
Because that would’ve been meaningless to offer her at this point.
Her opponent in all of this had been clear from the very beginning.
Herself. It was all about whether or not she would be able to come to terms with herself.
There aren’t many people who can stand up and face their sins in a true sense.
However, when the time comes that someone can… they’re then able to take the next step toward the future.
This was the entire exchange held between Ichinose and I that took place before she completely opened her heart to her colleagues.
The Epilogue is also posted! The translation of Volume 9 has been completed! Hurray! I’ll make an update post about what’s to come from here.