Student Council President, Early Afternoon Inspection
Story and Art: Hato Moa
“W-wait... If you run so far ahead, geez, I can’t keep up...!”
“Coo coo! (It’s fighting spirit! You don’t have enough fighting spirit! I won’t go easy on you!)”
The weather today was clear. Two pigeons were racing on the wide schoolground beneath the refreshing blue sky. One pigeon, Kawara Ryouta, appeared totally exhausted and was already wobbling on his feet at a speed not far removed from walking.
“Coo coo coo! (Birds can become the wind! Right, left, right, left, go around faster and faster!)”
The other, white pigeon, called Oko San, did two or three laps around Kawara as he gave a loud, restless pep talk. He was able to keep running even as he chattered incessantly. His intelligence was at the level of the ancient breeds, but his endless physical strength was of great value. He could run to the ends of the Earth and still have energy to spare.
“I, I can’t... take it anymore...”
Before long, Kawara collapsed ungracefully in a cloud of dust. He had kept running, dragged along by Oko’s pace. It was understandable. But what turn of events brought Kawara to spend his break time exercising? Normally he would be in the classroom enjoying silly, vulgar chats or looking over advertisements for hired wings, definitely not going outside.
“Coo coo!? (Stand! Arise! This is no time for a nap!?)”
“...What on earth are you doing?”
“Just what it, looks like... it’s... training... something like, basic physical exercise...”
In a reversal of roles, it was Kawara who answered, unable to catch his breath. Basic physical exercise? What a strange claim. Kawara was supposed to be one of those not in a club.
“You’ve resigned from the life of a part-time worker and joined the track team?”
“That’s, not it... It’s not, like that... I’m...”
The pigeon had used up all his strength.
“What...!? Oi, Kawara! Get ahold of yourself!”
“Cooo!!? (This is bad! Was I too hard on Ryouta!?)”
“It’s a typical case of dehydration...! Lend me a wing, Oko, we’re bringing him to the infirmary.”
∙ • ∙
“Heatstroke, hm. With rest, he’ll soon recover.”
Dr. Iwamine took one glance at Kawara, lying exhausted on the bed, and briskly closed the curtains.
Though the top of the calendar indicated that it was already fall, Japan’s lingering summer heat was harsh. Compared to the schoolground at high noon, the air-conditioned infirmary was quite pleasant.
“I apologize, Dr. Iwamine. I was reluctant to trouble you with a simple case of heatstroke, however...”
“There’s no need to worry. It’s my job.”
Dr. Iwamine scribbled something on the patient’s chart and filed it away in a drawer labeled 2-3. It seemed he individually recorded even cases of heat-induced collapse. He was a methodical bird.
“In addition... saying that it is ‘simple’ implies that it is of little consequence. The sun’s light and heat can easily kill a bird. More readily than you think, it seems.”
It was true that just this summer vacation alone, news of deaths caused by the heat had reached their ears countless times. Many of the birds of Japan believed that they could live on such hot and humid islands.
“I will keep that in mind, Dr. Iwamine. As the student council president, I will supervise the students more strictly than ever from here on out.”
“Yes, that would be of great help. ...Although, students who have fainted are quite convenient, so I won’t refuse them either. Hohoho.”
Doctor Iwamine whispered softly and returned to his desk. It was true that unconscious students would not struggle or make a lot of noise, but it did not change the fact that they were a bother. The student council had to issue an advisory so that they would not neglect to take in sufficient water during extracurricular activities.
∙ • ∙
There were about five minutes left of lunch break when he returned to the classroom. Before the next class started, he had to hear this guy’s story.
“Oko, what were you doing with Kawara? Explain.”
“Coo! (Ryouta answered you! Did you forget already!? Are you a forgetful fantail, Sakuya!?)”
“Do you mean to insult me, peasant!? Kawara said it was training, but unlike you, he is not athletically-minded. Why did he suddenly begin independent training? Because you invited him?”
“Coo coo! (That’s not it! Lies and slander!)”
Agitated, Oko hovered in the air, noisily flapping his wings.
“Cooo! (Ryouta asked Okosan to train him! So Okosan became Ryouta’s intensive training master! It’s hot-blooded coaching!)”
∙ • ∙
The circumstances that Oko explained were roughly as outlined below.
As was common knowledge, the human goodwill ambassador Tosaka Hiyoko carried out her hunter lifestyle in the remote wilderness.
The troublesome part was that many wild animals had migrated north for the summer during this year’s heat wave. With few living things now in the wilderness, it was impossible for a single human to hunt by relying on her intuition. Then Kawara had volunteered to help out by finding prey from the air, but--
“He doesn’t have any strength, so she couldn’t rely on him very much?”
“Coo! (He asked me to train him so he could hunt with Hiyoko!)”
“What does that mongrel bird hope to gain by training now? Haven’t you and Kawara heard of the saying ‘the right person in the right place at the right time’?”
“Coo coo! (Where there’s a will there’s a way! Even Ryouta can grow bulging muscles!)”
“That won’t happen.”
Everybirdie in the class knew that Kawara had had a weak digestive system since he was born. One could not at all say that he had a strong body like Oko’s. It was evident that if he pushed himself and trained, he would only run down his body like he did today.
“Honestly, what a foolish story.”
“Coo coo! (Ryouta gives his all for Hiyoko! Okosan won’t forgive laughing at him!)”
“Don’t misunderstand. I’m not denying his enthusiasm. I simply found it humorous that he erred when choosing where to direct his efforts.”
There had been no need to recklessly exert himself in the area which was his weak point. Even stupidity had its limits. For example, if he just learned the methods to prepare the ingredients after they were caught and preserve them for long-term storage, that would be of enough help to Tosaka.
Kawara had a fault where he sometimes worked frantically, to an unreasonable extent, without considering the future. This was particularly true where Tosaka was concerned. When Kawara returned, he would advise him again.
It’s enough to just do what you can.