Implication 7: A Starting Point

Credits and thanks goes to Boss Charisma for the poster!

 The first week of school has been nothing but a breeze. Absolute bore, and I was expecting university to be more interesting. I find it is high school all over again, except people are even more alcohol and sex driven and sometimes lazier. Actually, you’ll realize there are a lot of different people lurking on campus. You just have to find the crowd, but I don’t do that sort of sh.it. I’m tempted to skip all clubs, but I know my resume needs to be filled up with activities. Let’s apply for some positions, shall we?
I’m thinking about some obscure club that no one really cares about; surely, there will be more executive positions available for me. I have to join some finance one too, something relevant would be good as well. Be well-rounded huh? I think I have it all covered. I’m passing by these booths at clubs’ week. There are so many clubs that shouldn’t exist like the pop culture club or the Sudoku club. They’re pretty meaningless, but I guess if you want to meet people like you, then you go to those types of clubs. Like people go with like . . . right.

“Hey!” I feel a tug on my arm before being dragged to a booth. “Why don’t you join the fashion club?” I can feel this girl’s boobs press against me. I guess she’s trying to seduce me to be part of her scheme. She’ll need bigger breasts than that.

“No,” I utter.

“Oh come on.” She winks at me while pouting her round lips at me. “You’ll meet a lot of hot girls! Plus, you look pretty cool. I think you’d look awesome as one of our male models for our charity fashion show.”

I give her a good stare and decide that she’s rather ugly. She is trying to be cool with those neon, retro-framed glasses, but they’re way too big for her face. Plus, she has a huge mole above her lip and teeth that remind me of a chipmunk. Nope. That will never persuade me to join her club.

“No, really.” I pull my arm away from her. “I think I’m—“

“I’ll give you a position for sure.”

“What position?” My eyes narrow at her pupils, trying not to focus on her flaws.

“You can be our secretary! I’m the president.”

Hearing that role, I immediately mutter, “Forget it.” Being a secretary would mean that I’d have to go to every meeting and actually pay attention. What’s worse is that I’m directly under her. Gross.

“Then, what if I let you be in charge of events?” she proposes just as I’m about to walk away.

Mm . . . that sounds more like it. Events. That sounds more legit. “No interviews?” I question. 

“Nope.”

“And no resumes or cover letters?”

“Nope.”

“Why?” I proclaim. “What makes you think I’d be good at this?”

“Just a feeling, and I like your style . . .”

“Nogiri Azuma.”

“I like your name too.” She shows off her squirrel-like fangs. Placing her fingertips on her lips, she chants, “Nogiri Azuma. You’re quite the devil, aren’t you?”

I just scoff, and walk over to the signup sheet on one of her booths. As I’m filling out the table, I warn her, “You better not pull any tricks.”

“It’s Shimizu Kiku.”

“Whatever, thanks for the job.” I don’t even face her and just wave back at her. I move along to another row of posters and displays. There sure are a lot of people here. God, I hate people with their strong perfumes that suffocate me. Sometimes, people go all bare, which is worse. Body odour. People need to learn. 
Just when I’m stuck between a guy who is trying to convince a group of girls to join the Christian club and another girl who is explaining to a nerd about golf, I feel a small push. “Excuse me,” I hear a familiar voice. It’s Sumiko’s. This is the first time I assess her voice. She doesn’t have a high-pitched voice like Ayane. Instead, she reminds me of a radio host, slightly deep but alluring. I finally get another look at her too as she has reached the stall she wanted: the manga club. Her straight, black hair has grown past her shoulders now. Her eyes, though, are still the same. They’re pretty mundane in colour, the typical shade of brown, and in shape, almond, average sized eyes. Her nose is small and straight, and her face is interestingly shaped, a bit angular yet still oval. I can’t say she’s ugly nor can I say she’s beautiful. I can say that she’s refreshing and angelic in a bizarre way. It’s not like Ayane’s innocence that stems purely from naivety. It’s more like having an unwavering heart untainted by sinfulness.

Then, I realize again where she is at: the manga club. Why in the world would she be there? I look at the executives in charge of the station. There’s a guy with large, round glasses and short hair. Then, there’s that girl with pig tails and bangs. They don’t seem to care much about fashion; they’re dressed in plain jeans and t-shirts that are way too big for their shoulders. Honestly, I don’t get why Sumiko is going for that club. Is it because they are missing executives? I guess I can try out my luck.

I end up wandering to that location, and as soon as I’m a foot away from the two executives, they are standing with their backs straight in fear. I don’t blame them. I don’t look like a manga fanatic. In fact, I’ve never even flipped through one before after elementary school. Manga is for kids, for useless dreamers, so I slam my palm hard on the table.

“Are there any exec positions?” I holler.

“Y-Y-Yes,” the guy stammers. “Communications.”

“What do I need to do for that?”

“C-c-create posters u-u-using Photoshop, umm . . . send emails to members . . . What else, Yoshihiro-san?” The girl nudges him with her elbow.

“M-m-maintain our website, a-a-and sell tickets to our events,” he answers without making any eye contact at me.

I relax my tone and reach for the pen on their table. “So, I just sign up on this sheet here?” I point to a sheet of paper displaying a poorly made chart.

The girl finally takes a deep breath and answers, “Yes, just fill in the chart there, and we will email you what you need to do next. We-we-we’re thinking of having interviews next week?”

As I’m completing this table, I see the job that Sumiko wants. It’s editor-in-chief for their newsletter or whatever they have. Her writing is unexpectedly messy, almost too cursive to be legible. Now that gets me wondering what her room would be like. Is she a disorganized girl who somehow manages to find everything amongst all the clutter or is she a neat freak who can’t stand a bit of dust?

“So, Nogiri-san, I am Y-y-yamagishi Ran, and I’m in charge of finance,” the girl states.

The guy fixes his glasses before uttering, “I-I-I’m Amano Yoshihiro. I’m the p-p-president of the manga club.”

I try my best not to laugh. This guy has got to be the least confident person I’ve ever met. I’m surprised he is a leader of a club. If he can be the head of something, then I should just start my own thing. What sort of club would I make? The pessimists clan? Sounds good already.

I still maintain my manners, and give him a smile along with a slight bow. “Nice to meet you,” I utter. “Well, I’ll be off now. I have to go to class.”

“Sure! Good to see you too!” Ran flashes her crooked teeth at me. She’s at least better looking than that girl from the fashion club.

---

I overhear from a few people that it’s club’s week, so I take a turn to the student centre. The first week here has felt a bit like high school in a way. There are course introductions. However, there are way, way more people in a hall. The whole place is nearly packed, and there are no familiar faces. For some courses, you have people waiting outside to head in to steal the best spots. I guess I better do the same in the future. Moreover, the professors don’t seem to care about the students at all. Sometimes, when a student asks a question, a professor may ignore him or her completely. What I mean is that the a professor won’t respond to a question wholeheartedly; he or she just wants to teach and then get out of here.

So, after a disappointing round of classes, I pray that I will find a few clubs suitable for me. I know it is important to be involved at school because I need to meet more people somehow. Maybe if I try to find people with shared interests as me, then I’ll succeed. As I’m walking down the row surrounded by tables, I’m wondering what I even like to do. Write? I guess that’s what I do the most these days, but I have stopped writing for several months now. I have been too busy preparing for school that I focused all my energy on studying. I suppose it would be nice to be part of a writing club, and that’s why I decide to stop at the booth for the school paper. Coincidently, I see Takeshi hovering over the table. He is even jotting down his name on a sheet of paper. Immediately, I feel queasy in the stomach. I don’t really want to be facing him every week during a club meeting. I’m not ready to see him after that event in high school. In fact, I feel embarrassed if he even recognizes me. I can sometimes still hear those boys cackling and jeering at me in my head. I know high school is over, and university is a new chapter of my life, but sometimes, that moment haunts me. It strikes me down unexpectedly, and I feel trapped. I think there’s nothing I can do to change, but then I remember the promise I made with Azuma. In a year, he will see a new me. I can’t disappoint him after all he has done to help me.

So, I still march forth to that table. I pretend like we are simply strangers and greet one of the girls working at the booth. She has a long, side pony tail and is wearing large, gold hoop earrings. She is clad in a tight baseball t-shirt paired with a blue plaid shirt. Smiling at me kindly, she utters, “You’re a first year right?” Once I nod, she hands me a clipboard and explains, “If you’re interested in becoming a writer, then please sign up here. Just leave your name, email, and phone number. We’ll be emailing you more information later on.”

“Okay,” I grab a pen while replying.

“I’m Murakami Shizuka. Nice to meet you.”

With a bow, I greet, “I’m Kuhara Sumiko.”

“Let’s just go with Sumi-san? Is that all right with you?” Shizuka asks.

I kind of want to say no, but I know she seems to be an important figure. So, I settle on agreeing, “Sure.”

“Great! You can call me Shizuka-san too!”

That’s how our conversation ends, and subconsciously, my eyes start searching for Takeshi’s presence. I think I’m too used to of his figure that it’s weird not to be following him with my eyes. He is already gone, and for some reason, I feel slightly dejected. I really don’t understand myself. Logically speaking, I should forget about this jerk. I shouldn’t even hunt for his shadow, yet my body can’t lie anymore. I still . . . care about him and his thoughts of me. I don’t . . . want to be seen as a fool once again. I don’t . . .

“Excuse me, Miss,” I feel a girl pull me aside.

“Oh, no, excuse me,” I mutter at her because I seemed to have crashed into her.

This girl is rather cute with her pigtails and bangs. She has a nice smile too. Immediately, I feel comfortable talking to her. I think . . . she’s like me, and it’s okay for her to approach me. Her cheeks are truly red and her fingers are twirling one of her pig tails. “I . . . I . . . w-w-w-was wondering if . . .y-y-you’d want to join our club?” Her voice cracks halfway through her sentence. 

I know she is trying her best because her eyes are completely closed and her nose is fairly wrinkled. I feel bad. I feel like I know. I know what that’s like to be living on the edge of fear, wondering if anyone will ever accept me. That’s why I answer without even considering what I’m doing, “Sure. Why not?”

The girl immediately leaps in the air and hugs the guy beside her. “Oh my god! Oh my god! Yoshihiro-san, we have our first new member!” she cheers ecstatically. “Thank you. Really, thank you . . .”

“I’m Kuhara Sumiko,” I tell her.

“Oh!” The girl blasts a nice smile. “I’m Yamagishi Ran! I’m doing finance! What position would you be interested in?”

“Umm . . . I actually . . .” I look up at their poster’s title and realize that this is the manga club. I don’t really know much about manga. My little sister likes to read shoujo manga, but I only know about Skip Beat. Other than that, I don’t know much. “I actually . . . don’t know anything about manga,” I admit.

“Oh . . . mmm . . . then . . .” Ran scratches the back of her head. “What should we do then, Yoshihiro-san?”

“Umm . . .” Yoshihiro fiddles with his watch to say, “I guess . . . we could try to revive . . . that newsletter?"

“But last year, it was a complete flop.”

“Well, maybe if we have different columns, then we could . . . work s-s-something out?” Yoshihiro argues.

“I-I-I guess . . .” Ran stutters before staring at me. “You could be . . . the editor-in-chief for that. You have any experience in writing?”

Suddenly, I feel my throat being caught up in a huge mess. Experience? I’ve been reading a ton of novels, and I have been writing my own stories in my own time. However, I have never revealed my intentions of becoming a writer to anyone. I just treated writing as a hobby. It’s just something I do for fun, I tell myself. Writing can’t make you money. Writing can’t feed you. But . . . I don’t know why I can’t seem to refuse this job. I can’t stop myself from ever writing. I am always jotting down thoughts in my spare time. I just can’t throw away my words, and therefore, I confess, “I . . . I do have some stories that I have written.”

“Stories?” Ran questions.

“Yeah . . .”

“Oh my god!” Ran suddenly shrieks and almost latches onto my arm. “I have the greatest idea ever! Yoshihiro-san, I think . . . this year will be a success! Kuhara-san, please fill out this form here, and I’ll email you straight away within this day about everything! Okay?”

“O-okay . . .” I hesitantly scribble down my contact details, wondering what this girl has in mind. 

“We’ll be in contact soon!” Ran waves at me as I move along to leave this crowded room. 

I think that’s enough for today. I don’t think I should sign up for too many clubs. I should focus on one or two things in life just like how Sen is only concentrating on his dream and his love life. Now that I think of Sen, I’m wondering what cake I should get on my way home. I think I deserve a bit of sweetness for trying out something new today. I put myself out there, and I’m making some progress. I think . . . this year will be a good one.

I think . . . I’m finally ready . . . for whatever life has to give to me.
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