light novel translations > "Bungaku Shoujo" > "Bungaku Shoujo" Volume 1 Chapter 1

"Bungaku Shoujo" "Bungaku Shoujo" Volume 1 Chapter 1

Chapter 1: Tooko-senpai Is a Gourmet "Gallico‟s stories are filled with the flavor of winter. It is as if fresh snow was quiescently melting on your tongue. That feeling of nippiness intertwining with surreality- it cleanses my heart of all its impurity. Such beauty, yet with a touch of sorrow." Tooko-senpai gasped as she looked through Paul Gallico‟s short stories anthology. The club we are in, KiyoshiJou School‟s Literature Club, is located at a four-story high complex, at the west side corner of the third building. Whenever the sun set, its golden sunlight shines through the windows as if the classroom were being poured with honey. The old cardboard boxes that were used as storage containers were currently stacked at the corners of the room. In the middle there was an old beech table, plus two iron bookshelves and a drawer. All these are blanketed with books. Books that have no room to be placed are piled at every corner. If an earthquake strikes, the towers of books would definitely collapse. It seems very likely that we would be trapped under the book rubble and die of suffocation. Sitting in this narrow room, filled with the musty odor of old books and mildew, was Tookosenpai. With her knees bent, and her feet on the chair, one could almost make out the sight of her panties. Moreover, every time she shifted her positions, one could get a glimpse. Her posture is very inappropriate. Senpai put her pale face on her bent kneecaps and, with her arms wrapped around her legs, she carefully turned the page of the book she was reading with those slender fingers of hers. Her black bangs were reclined on her white forehead. Her long braids were hanging from her shoulder to her waist. Her skin was so pale that, in contrast, her black hair, eyebrows, and irises seemed as if they were glimmering. When Tooko-senpai was silent, she appeared graceful to the point of being like a doll. But... Tooko-senpai‟s slender fingers slowly teared part of the page out and put the strip into her mouth. She held the piece in her mouth and, like a goat munching on grass, she started chewing. (Oh my god, she's eating paper...she's eating it. This scene seems surreal to me no matter how many times I witness it.)  Then she swallowed. Her throat gave a bit of a gulping sound as she swallowed the paper. After she was done with that piece, she tore out another strand of paper and ate it. Almost immediately, her apathetic expression changed into an expression of bliss. The corner of her eyes fell and her face gave a very sweet smile. "Gallico‟s stories always taste so good~~~~~Ahh, Gallico! He was born in New York. The movie adaptation of his book „The Poseidon Adventure‟ and his children literature series „Mrs. Harris‟ are deservingly famous. However I think his best work is „The Snow Goose‟! The artist, Rhayader, who live a solitary life in an abandoned lighthouse, and the girl, Fritha, who held an injured white goose when she met Rhayader -their hearts communicate with such silent grieve! They both have boundless affection and empathy, yet the characters never converse! Sigh, what an innocent love! Did you know? Konoha, not everything can be expressed through noisy verbalization. Thoughts that are truly important should be kept inside one‟s heart until he dies. Only by resisting the temptation to speak can one admire the beauty of lamentation! I cry every time I get to the ending. Gallico‟s stories can cool one‟s feverish heart; just like how high class chilled Gelatin dessert can heal one‟s mental scars. That throat soothing sensation, absolutely superb. Oh, you must read „Jennie‟ and „Snowflake‟ as well! I recommend Sumiko Yagawa‟s translation edition!" I put the fifty pages a stack genkoo yoshi onto the uneven table. Then, with a HB pencil, I prepared myself to write a three topic short story. Today‟s topics were "First Love", "Strawberry Daifuku", and "The Parliament Building"- these topics seemed a bit nonsensical to me. As I lowered my head and started writing, I calmly retorted Senpai with comebacks. "Because Tooko Senpai is a monster, one that cannot taste anything other than words on papers, you don‟t know what chilled jelly tastes like; how can you do analogies with it?" The moment I said it, Tooko-senpai became so miffed that she puffed her cheeks.  "Of course I can. I can use my imagination to compensate for this fault. Ahhhh! The taste of chilled jelly must taste like this. And Konoha, you called me a monster; this is a prejudiced term. I only want to swallow all the stories and words in this world into my stomach. I am just a normal high student who happens to have a deep love for literature. A common bungaku shoujo. "I don‟t think a normal high school girl would just tear books apart and then swallow the pieces as if they were the most delicious things in this world. At least in the 16 years of my life, I have never heard of a high school student as weird as Tooko-senpai." Tooko-senpai became even more disgruntled, and the puffs on her cheeks grew even bigger. She shouted- "That is so insensitive of you! You actually called a girl weird right in front of her, you are so unthoughtful! I am hurt. Konoha, despite you having such a gentle face that suggests you may name the roses in your house "Nancy" or "Betty" or something and tend to them, you actually say such mean things to your Senpai." Tooko-senpai became disgruntled and muttered "Gosh! Sheesh~~~", but she recovered almost instantly. She sprang from her chair with a loud thud and, with a merry expression on her face, she walked toward me. "Ah well. My forgiveness is as encompassing as the Andromeda galaxy. I won‟t pay much attention to impolite things an insolent Kouhai said. Now, is my „snack‟ ready?" She really is a very straightforward person, so much so that when she asks for snacks, even her tone becomes lively. If she were a cat, one could probably hear her gulping saliva down her throat at this moment. The 3rd year student Tooko Amano-senpai is the president of the Literature Club; she is also a monster who likes to eat stories. She sees book pages and words on papers as bread and water, and happily devours them. One year ago, this French braid bungaku shoujo dragged me into the Literature Club. From then on, every time we get off from classes, she would nag me "I am hungry, hurry and write something, come on...." I would then proceed to scribble some poems or stories. Now I am in the 2nd month of my 2nd year, yet the Literature Club has Tooko-senpai and I as its only members. We couldn‟t get any 1st year student to join. A few days ago, she finally lost her patience. She stuffed the overdue club brochures to me, and ordered me "Konoha, as the club president, I will entrust these to you!" So I swallowed my pride and, with me blushing furiously, stood at the entrance of the school to hand out the brochures. Even then, no new students joined. Maybe Tooko Senpai and I are destined to uphold this club...? I already decided to quit writing, why would I join the Literature Club? Writing should have become irritating for me. The reason for this is that writing snacks for this monstrous senpai is no longer a tedious task- it has become part of my daily life... Tooko-senpai took out a silver hand watch from her front pocket and shoved it to my face. "Look look. There are only 5 minutes remaining. For the sake of your respected senpai, please write something that is super sweet! Gallico‟s stories are known for their inner calmness and are refreshingly untainted, so for this time~~~ It's best if it's a heart-warming story. Tragic stories are beautiful in themselves, but a romance story must be coupled with a happy ending. Don‟t  make the main character died of leukemia or a heart attack, or have his plane crash, or him choking to death by eating strawberry daifuku, or anything similar in tone!" I got it. I decided to change the plot. I will write that the main character and his first love, after years of separation, coincidentally run into each other in front of the parliament building. The girl will then be killed by a box of strawberry daifuku falling onto her head, and the story will end tragically! Tooko-senpai put her chin on her hands and, with her elbows supporting the weight of her head, smiled at me. She looked as if she were a well-mannered lady; when she was waiting for her food or snacks, however, her obsession surfaced as if she were a little kid. Her eyes gleamed with eager anticipation. "Ho ho. Handwritten compositions are my favorites. When one reads Ougai or Souseki‟s compositions, the reader will taste the sweetness of ripened fruit. On the other hand, the writings of amateurs have that bitter fresh taste that attracts me. Especially those handwritten compositions- it is as if you use your hands to lade water from a clean creek and sip the crystal clear water from your palm- it calms one to the heart! And so fresh and sweet as if you are enjoying some just-harvested tomatoes or yellow pickles! Even though sometimes the fruits taste a bit like dirt, they are still very, very, very delicious!" My compositions are tomatoes and yellow pickles...? If I tell her that I was the mysterious bishoujo writer, what sort of expressions would she have? Of course, I would never mention that incident ever again in my life. "Look, two minutes left. Crunch time. Do your best." Tooko-senpai started cheering for me. She slightly tilted her neck and, with her eyes looking upward, happily stared at me. Senpai, you are too naïve. I won‟t let things go as you wish. And right as this moment- "Excuse me! Waaaah!" The room‟s door opened and, with a banging noise, a person tripped right through the doorway.  A girl was on the ground. Her school uniform skirt is flipped inside out; her teddy bear panties were plainly in sight. Just as I realized that this person was wearing the same style of panties as my primary school freshman younger sister, she groaned and tried to stand up. When she tried to outstretch her arms to balance herself, however, she managed to knock over the book pillars. The pillars toppled over and knocked her face back onto the ground. "Ahhhhg!" Bang! Clang! " nose...." The girl, a bit shaken, pressed her palms onto her nose. Tooko-senpai saw this and hurriedly run to her. "Konoha, don‟t look!" Senpai hastily straightened the girl‟s skirt; unfortunately I already saw what she prohibited me to see. Then again, I am not the kind of special fetishist who gets excited by having a glimpse of teddy bear panties. "Are you all right?" Tooko-senpai gently took the girl by her arms, and tried help her up. The girl, seemingly embarrassed by the accident, remained stationed on the ground. Her face, I noticed, started to blush furiously. "Aaah, I'm fine. Sorry. I always trip and fall. My specialty is falling on to the ground even when there is nothing for me to trip over. I'm used to this. Don‟t worry about me." I can hardly think this can be described as a "specialty"! "Sorry. I am Chia Takeda from 1st year 2nd class. I came here today to get your help on something that is super important." She had a long and fluffy hair style. Her body size was quite petite. All in all she looked like a mini Lion Dog or a Bichon Frisé puppy. Maybe she wanted to join the Literature Club? Perhaps all those fliers Tooko-senpai asked me to hand out actually had an effect? If this was the case, fantastic. The more students that join the club, the more I can offload the duty of writing Senpai‟s snacks to others. Just as I'm starting to salivate at this prospect, Takeda-san put her hands tightly together, and asked with a very determined voice:  "Please help me with my love relationship!" My mind froze, but I immediately recovered and asked: "But we are the Literature Club?" Takeda-san looked at me and nodded her head energetically. "Yes! I saw the mailbox!" "Mailbox....?" I lost what she was saying. "In the corner of the courtyard, next to the trees, didn‟t someone secretly put a mailbox there? On the mailbox it says „We will help you with your love life. If you need assistance, write to us! Brought to you by the members of the Literature Club.‟ An incredible sensation came over me when I saw the mailbox. This must be a gift sent by God. I could hardly wait, so I just ran straight here." I became startled, and then I realized what was going on. "Tooko-senpai!" Only Tooko-senpai would do something like that. Tooko-senpai put her arms onto Takeda-san‟s shoulders. She looked pleased. "Hm, you came at the right time. I am the president, Tooko Amano. Leave everything to us!" At once, I stood up. To Senpai's turned back, I yelled, "Wait a second. You said „us.' Did you count „me‟ in as well?" "Of course. All members of the Literature Club will do their best and become Takeda-san‟s love consultants-" "Takeda is very grateful of you all!" "You're kidding me right?!- Oh my god!" "But we have one condition that you have to agree to." Tooko-senpai reached over and covered my mouth with her hand, and then, with a sober expression, turned to Takeda-san,  "On the day Takeda-san‟s becomes successful, I want you to record down in detail everything that happened, and give me a report of your love story." "What? Write a report? I dread writing essays." "Don‟t worry, just write down the things that happen and how you earnestly feel about them. When a normal person tries their best to convert their emotions into words, it is even more satisfying to read than compositions with all sorts of different writing techniques! Don‟t write the report as a checklist or write trivial things; Write the report in essay format. Also, don‟t use a word processor. You must hand write your report on paper. Don‟t forget to write, ok?" Tooko-senpai, with her slender fingers, grabbed Takeda-san‟s pinky finger. Then, Senpai wrapped her own pinky finger around Takeda-san‟s, and cheerfully did a pinky swear. This was your real intention wasn‟t it, Tooko-senpai. It seems that my writings alone were not enough to satisfy Senpai‟s eating obsession. That‟s why she placed that love consulting mailbox- to squeeze some love stories out of the clients. Even if a normal person came across such a ridiculous idea, he or she would probably laugh it off; Tooko-senpai, however, would definitely try to turn the idea into reality. One could say this trait was her principle of life. So, someone must care for this literature girl. Because her brain is filled with literature related stuff, she often loses her common sense. If there were no one to look out for her, she would do something drastic. She might even drag innocent bystanders into her affairs. "OK, Takeda will try her best to write many reports." It seems that Takeda-san is very naive and impressionable (A sane person would not, upon the sight of the mailbox, run to this strange Literature Club, right?) Her eyes were dazzled with glitters, and she looked at Tooko-senpai with a passionate expression. I think she has already chosen Senpai as her dear older sister[Translation: think Maria sama ga Miteru]. Tooko-senpai puffed up her A-cup (estimated) flat chest, and cockily said, "No problem, we provide the best service. We, as members of the Literature Club, are experts in all trades of romance stories, whether they are Western, Eastern, Ancient, or Modern compositions. With our expertise in writings, Takeda-san, we will write the best love letters you have ever seen. This person here, Konoha, will assist you with the letters" "What?!"  I'm already sick of Senpai‟s seemingly never ending desire for more literature food, that‟s why I've ignored them up to this point. But I still got a bit of a shock when she declared: "'The Ace of the Literature Club, Konoha,' will write your love letters. The letters are guaranteed to melt your secret lover‟s heart." "Tooko-senpai! What nonsense are you talking about again? I have never written a single love letter!" I protested, even though I knew eventually she would reach over, cover my mouth with her hand, and brush off whatever objections I had! The only thing I could do was abide by her orders unwillingly. "'To date, he has created hundreds of love letters. He is the romance story specialist, Konoha!‟ Just leave everything to him. Konoha once joined the xyz Romance Literature Writing Contest. He effortlessly blew away all the competitors and got the number one position in the Contest!" What bull is she making up now? What is this xyz contest? I have a feeling no one in this town has even heard of such a lame contest. "Wahh, amazing! I have such a fantastic writer to aid me, I'm so happy." I told you I am not a writer!... No, I mean, I was a writer at one point... A bestselling writer, in fact... But right now I am only a normal high school student, a servant who prepares Tookosenpai‟s snacks. How can I help others write their love letters? As I muse over my current situation, Tooko-senpai thoughtfully decided everything for me. "Konoha-senpai, thank you for your aid!" "Yep! No problem here, right Konoha?" In the end, I have to play the part of a female student, trying to write a love letter to her secret lover. End NoteAfter Takeda-san left the classroom, Tooko-senpai began snacking on my three topic composition. As she eats, I noticed, she looked as if she were about to cry- "Oh my gosh, why! The girl got killed by a free-falling box of strawberry daifuku landing on her head. No! I won‟t accept it! This tastes odd! It‟s like having red bean paste [dessert, extremely sweet] floating in my miso soup[very salty]!. Ughh, I want to hurl. This tastes so bad~~~~~~" 

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