Y1 Vol 1 Chapter 10 | Midterm Exam

It was Thursday. Tomorrow, the midterm would be upon us. Class had ended for the day. After Chiyabashira-sensei ended the homeroom period and left the classroom, Kushida immediately leapt into action. She took out printed copies of the old test that I’d made at the convenience store and brought them up to the podium.

“Everyone, before you return to the dorm, would you mind listening to me for a moment?”

Everyone, including Sudou, stopped and listened to Kushida.

This was a role that neither Horikita nor I could play. Only Kushida could do it.

“I know that you’ve all been studying a lot in preparation for the test tomorrow. I have something to help you. I’m going to hand out some papers.”

Kushida distributed the question and answer sheets to the students in the first row.

“Test…questions? Did you make these, Kushida-san?” Horikita was visibly surprised by this sudden turn of events.

“Actually, these are the old test problems. I got them from a third-year student last night.”

“Old test problems? Huh? Wait, will these questions be on the test tomorrow?”

“Yes. To tell you the truth, I heard that the midterm test from the year before last had almost exactly the same problems as this one. So, if we study what’s on this test, it’ll surely come in handy.”

“Whoa! Seriously? Thank you, Kushida-chan!” Overjoyed, Ike hugged his test paper. None of the other students could suppress their elation, either.

“What the hell? If we had these, then wasn’t it pointless to study so hard?” Yamauchi complained, even as he laughed.

It looked like I’d been right.

“Sudou-kun, do your best when you study today!” “Yeah. Thanks, you really helped me out.” Sudou also

happily accepted the test papers.

“Let’s keep this a secret from the other classes! Don’t be scared, everyone! Do your best and aim for a high score!” Ike shouted with joy and determination. I was inclined to agree with him. We didn’t need to send supplies to the enemy. Everyone returned to the dorms with high spirits.

“Kushida-san. Excellent work.” Horikita gave Kushida genuine praise, which was unusual.

“Eh, really?” Kushida said.

“I’d never even considered trying to use the old tests. I’m also grateful that you verified that the questions were still useful.”

True. The always-solitary Horikita hadn’t come up with that

idea. said.

“I just did it for my friends. It was nothing special,” Kushida “Also, I think that you were correct to announce that you had it today after class. If you’d carelessly let word get out about this test, it’s possible that everyone would have lost their motivation to study.”

“That was only because I received the test papers so late. If many of the same problems are featured on the test tomorrow, then everyone will probably manage to get pretty high test scores.”

“Yes. It also means that the last two weeks we spent studying weren’t for nothing.”

The past two weeks had probably been tremendously long for Sudou and the other failing students. Hopefully they’d gotten more into the habit of studying now.

“It was hard but fun.”

“I don’t think the Idiot Trio found it the least bit fun.”

Well, we’d done as much as we could. The next step for those three simply came down to effort.

“I just pray that I don’t draw a complete blank during the actual test.”

Well, I couldn’t really do anything about that part. No matter how much they were taught and what they demonstrated during the study group, everything came down to their performance on the actual test. At least the previous questions were one crucial bit of help.

“Well, should we head back?”

Horikita quietly looked over at Kushida as she put her textbook into her bag. “Kushida-san.”

“Hmm?”

“Really, thank you for everything you’ve done. If you weren’t here, the study group would not have succeeded.”

“Don’t worry about it. I just want to get into the higher- ranked classes together with everyone else. That’s why I did it, and why I agreed to help with the study group. I’ll help you again any time.” Smiling, Kushida grabbed her bag and stood.

“Wait. There’s just one thing I want to confirm,” Horikita

said.

“Confirm?”

“If you say that you’ll continue working with me for the sake of our class, then I need to be sure of something.”

Horikita looked straight at Kushida, who was still wearing that dazzling smile.

“You hate me, don’t you?”

“Hey, hey…” I’d wondered what she wanted to ask, but that was ridiculously unexpected.

“Why do you think that?” Kushida asked.

“You’re not answering my question because it’s true. Right?” “Ha ha, you got me.” She shouldered her bag and lowered

her hands. Kushida faced Horikita without losing her smile. “That’s right. I really hate you.”

She answered clearly, making no attempt to hide it. She was direct.

“Do you want me to tell you the reason?”

“No. That’s unnecessary. Knowing that is good enough. I can continue working with you without hesitation.”

Despite what she’d just been told, Horikita spoke calmly.

10.1

“There are no absences today. It appears everyone is present.”

Chiyabashira-sensei strode through the classroom with a bold smile on her face.

“That’s the first hurdle for you leftovers. Are there any questions?”

“We’ve studied diligently these past few weeks. I don’t think that anyone will fail.”

“Oh my. You sound quite confident, Hirata.”

Everyone wore a confident look. The teacher promptly took up the test papers and passed them out. Our first period test was for social studies. Out of everything we’d studied, it was probably the easiest subject.

“If anyone stumbles here, the other tests will be an uphill battle, quite frankly. You’ll take this midterm and the final exam in July. If no one fails either test, you’ll be rewarded with a vacation during your summer break.”

“A vacation?”

“That’s right. A dream vacation on an island surrounded by the brilliant blue sea.”

Of course, the beach in summer meant we’d be able to see the girls in their swimsuits…

“Wh-what is this strange pressure…” one of the boys muttered.

Chiyabashira-sensei stepped back from the obvious tension the students exuded… mostly the boys.

“Everyone. Let’s do our best!”

“Yeah!” Ike howled along with our classmates. I shouted too, my voice getting lost in the cacophony.

“Pervert.” Horikita glanced at me. I immediately fell silent.

Before long, everyone had their test papers. On the teacher’s signal, everyone began. I held off on starting for a moment and looked around at the others. With everything they’d learned, could the Idiot Trio avoid failing? First off, how many of this test’s questions were the same as the ones from the old exam? I needed to check that first.

All right.

I discreetly clenched my fist in triumph. Despite my fears, the questions here were the same as the old ones. I hadn’t looked them over in any detail, but I saw no great difference. If I’d memorized what was on the old test, it was clear that I could get a near-perfect score.

Glancing around the classroom for assurance, I didn’t notice any students looking flustered or confused. I assumed that many of them had engaged in some last-minute studying. Slowly, I went through and answered all of the problems.

The second and third period exams were for Japanese and chemistry, respectively. While I worked, I discovered something else that intrigued me. Looking over the problems again, I realized that what Horikita had drilled into the study group was consistent with what was on the test. She’d been able to accurately predict what problems would appear just from the lessons. The silent girl beside me was even more impressive than I’d imagined.

Then came fourth period. Mathematics. All of the abnormally difficult questions that had been featured on the mock test also appeared here, but the content was the same as the old exams. Even if Sudou and the other guys couldn’t understand the problems, they could still apply the answers if they’d memorized them.

Then came the break.

Some members of our study group, including Ike, Yamauchi, Kushida, Horikita, and myself, gathered together.

“An easy victory! We’ve got this test on lock!”

“I feel like I might get 120 points.” Ike sounded pretty sure of himself. Yamauchi must have felt the same, judging from the smile on his face. Confident, they looked over the old test papers for a final review.

“Sudou-kun, how about you?” Kushida spoke to Sudou, who sat alone at his desk and stared fixedly at the old test material.

However, Sudou looked sullen. “Sudou-kun?”

“Huh? Oh, sorry. I’m kind of busy.”

He didn’t look up from the questions as he spoke. He was reviewing the English test material, his forehead covered in a thin layer of sweat.

“Sudou, did you…not study the old test material, by chance?”

“Everything but English. I fell asleep partway through.” Sudou sounded irritated. In other words, this was his first time reviewing the material.

“Eh?!”

That also meant that Sudou only had ten minutes to review. “Damn, I can’t get any of these answers to stick in my head,”

he muttered.

Unlike the other tests, the English problems weren’t easy to memorize. Trying to cram all of the answers in just ten minutes would be impossible.

“Sudou-kun, memorize the problems that are worth a lot of points and those with the shortest answers.” Horikita leapt up from her seat and moved next to Sudou.

“O-okay.” He stopped focusing on the low-point questions and instead zeroed in on what would net him the most points.

“A-are you going to be okay?” While trying to avoid getting in the way, Kushida appeared anxious.

“Unlike Japanese, I don’t know the basics of English. These letters look like some kind of magic spell or something.

Memorizing it’ll take time.”

“Y-yeah. I struggle with English, too…”

The break passed in the blink of an eye, and the heartless class bell rang.

“I did all I could. I’ll try to answer the questions I remember first, before I forget them.”

“Yeah…”

And thus began our English test. While the other students calmly made their way through, Sudou clearly had trouble.

Occasionally, he’d stop writing and whack his pen against his head. However, no one could help him now. Whether Sudou sank or swam was entirely up to him.

10.2

After the last test, we gathered around Sudou’s desk again. “Hey, did you do okay?” asked Ike, anxiously.

Sudou was on the verge of losing his cool.

“I don’t know… I did everything I could, but I have no idea how well I did…”

“Don’t worry. You studied as hard as you could. I’m sure you did well.”

“Damn it, why did I fall asleep?” Sudou fidgeted, clearly frustrated with himself. Horikita then stepped in front of him.

“Sudou-kun.”

“What is it? Are you going to lecture me again?” he grumbled.

“It was certainly your fault for not reviewing the old test’s final section. However, as you said, you did everything that you could with the time that you had. You didn’t cut any corners or give up. Considering how much effort you put in, I think you should hold your head high and feel proud.”

“What is this? Are you trying to comfort me?”

“Comfort? I’m speaking the truth. When I look at how far you’ve come, I understand how hard studying is for you, Sudou.”

Horikita was genuinely praising him. None of us could believe what we were seeing.

“Let’s wait for the results.” “Yeah… Okay.”

“There’s…one more thing. Something I need to amend.” “Amend?”

“Earlier, I said that your dreams of becoming a professional basketball player were foolish.”

“Why are you reminding me of that?”

“I researched how someone could become a professional basketball player, and I learned that the road to success is an incredibly rocky one.”

“So, you’re telling me to give up because it’s a reckless dream?”

“Not at all. I know that you’re passionate about basketball. I also realize that you probably understand how difficult it is to play professionally.” Horikita still acted in her normal, aloof manner, but this was clearly an apology, albeit an awkward one. “There are many Japanese people who fight to enter that profession. There are some among those who wish to become internationally renowned. You’re one of those people, right?”

“Yeah. I’m incredibly stupid, but I want to play ball. Even if I have to live a pathetic, miserable life as a part-time worker or worse, I’m going to achieve my dream.”

“I never thought I needed to understand anyone except for myself. So when you first told me that you wanted to play basketball, I insulted you. However, I now regret that. Someone who doesn’t understand how difficult, how arduous basketball is has no right to dismiss that dream as foolish. Sudou-kun, don’t forget the hard work and effort that you poured into studying.

Apply that diligence to basketball. If you do, you might be able to go pro. At least, that’s how I feel.”

Horikita’s expression was the same as always, but she bowed her head to Sudou.

“I’m sorry for what I said back then. Well. Now that I’ve said my piece, I’ll be going.”

Horikita left the room, her apology still hanging in the air.

“Hey, did you just see that? Horikita apologized! And so nicely!”

“I can’t believe it!”

Ike and Yamauchi were both completely stunned. I was pretty surprised, too. Kushida was as well. Horikita had acknowledged that Sudou had done his best. A dumbfounded Sudou, still seated at his desk, looked after Horikita as she walked through the classroom door. Soon after, Sudou, put his right hand over his heart and looked at us.

“O-oh, no… I… I think I might be in love with Horikita…” he said.

Written on August 15, 2022