Walking into the classroom, Chiyabashira-sensei looked around the classroom in surprise. Everyone was waiting in suspense for the results of the midterms.
"Sensei. I heard that the results will be released today, but when exactly?"
"There's no need for you to be that excited about it, Hirata. You probably passed."
"...When will they be released?"
"Well, now is a good time. There isn't much time for certain procedures if we did it after school."
At the words "certain procedures", some of the students had a visible reaction.
"What... what do you mean?"
"Don't be confused. I'll explain it now."
After all, this school likes to explain the details all at once.
She stuck the paper with everyone's names and scores on the board.
"Honestly, good job. I didn't think this class would do this well. In math, Japanese, and social studies, there were over 10 perfects."
Looking at the row of 100s, the students were cheering. However, one group of students weren't smiling.
The only grade is Sudou's English score.
Four of Sudou's grades were a solid 60 points. His english score was a 39.
Sudou stood up and shouted in relief. Ike and Yamauchi stood up at the same time and cheered.
There was no red line to be found on the paper. Kushida and I glanced at each other and breathed a small sigh of relief. Horikita... wasn't smiling or cheering, but she appeared to be relieved inside.
"You saw it, right Sensei? When we put our minds to it, we can do it!"
Ike had a triumphant smile.
"Yea, I recognize that. You did well. However-"
Chiyabashira-sensei had a red pen in her hand.
Sudou let out a concerned voice.
She drew a red line right above Sudou's name.
"W-what the hell? What does this mean?"
"You failed, Sudou."
"What? That's a lie, right? Don't bullshit me, why did I fail!?"
Of course, Sudou was the first to protest.
The classroom did a complete 180 from cheering to an angry uproar in a split second.
"Sudou. You failed on the English exam."
"Don't lie to me, the passing grade is a 32! I passed!"
"When did anyone say that the passing grade is a 32?"
"No no, Sensei said so! Right, everyone!?"
Ike shouted in support of Sudou.
"Nothing you say will help. This is the unmistakable truth. On this midterm, the passing grade was a 40. In other words, you were one point short. Almost, but not quite."
"F-forty!? I never heard of this! I can't agree to this!"
"Then, should I tell you how we decide what is a passing grade?"
Chiyabashira-sensei wrote a formula on the board.
She wrote, "79.6/2 = 39.8".
"Last test, and this test as well, each class has a set passing grade. And that grade was half the average."
In other words, anything lower than a 39.8 was a failing grade.
"Well then, that shows how you failed. You got a lower score."
"Impossible... Does... does that mean, I am expelled?"
"Although it was a short time, you did well. After school, you will be asked to fill out a dropout form, but you will need a legal guardian. I'll contact them for you afterwards."
Seeing everything progress so casually, all the students knew that it was actually happening.
"The rest of you, good job for passing. On the final, please work hard to do the same and pass the test. Well then, onto the next topic-"
"S-sensei. Is Sudou-kun really dropping out? Is there no way to save him?"
Hirata was the first to reach out to Sudou.
Even though Sudou hated him and verbally insulted him.
"It's the truth. He got a failing grade, so he will have to drop out."
"...Can we see Sudou-kun's answer sheet?"
"Even if you look at it, you won't find any mistakes in the grading. Well, I expected you guys to make a fuss about it."
Taking Sudou's English exam answer sheet, she passed it to Hirata.
Hirata looked through every question with a gloomy expression.
"There are... no mistakes."
"Well, if that's all, homeroom is now over."
Without any sympathy or any second chances, Chiyabashira-sensei ruthlessly announced his expulsion. Knowing that any comforting words would have the opposite effect, Ike and Yamauchi stayed silent. Hirata was also the same. And sadly, it looks like one portion of the class was relieved. Are they happy a hindrance to the class has finally been kicked out?
"Sudou, come to the staff room after school."
"...Chiyabashira-sensei. Do you have some time?"
Although she had stayed silent until then, Horikita quickly raised her hand.
In her school life, Horikita had never made remarks during class voluntarily.
At the new sight, both Chiyabashira-sensei and the whole class were surprised.
"That's unusual, Horikita. You're raising your hand. What's your question?"
"Earlier, Sensei said that the previous test had a passing grade of 32 points, which was calculated by the formula you wrote earlier. Is there no mistake in calculating the last test's passing grade?"
"Yea, no mistake."
"Then, I have one more question. I calculated the mock test's average to be a 64.4. Dividing that by two, you get 32.2. In other words, higher than a 32. Despite that, the passing grade was a 32 by truncating the decimal point. That's contradictory from this time."
"Y-yea. The passing grade should be a 39 then!"
In other words, Sudou's grade of 39 should've just barely passed.
"I see. You anticipated Sudou's grade to barely pass. Only your English grade was low, after all."
Sudou noticed something. The other students, in surprise, looked at the paper once again. Even though four of her five grades were perfect, she got a 51 on her English score.
Sudou realized what she did.
And by no mistake, too. In order to lower the average grade, she purposely lowered her own grades.
"If you think my opinion is wrong, please tell me why the calculation differs between the last test and this test."
The last ray of light. The last bit of hope.
"I see. Well then, let me tell you one more thing. Sadly, there's one error in your formula. Rather than truncating, we rounded the tests. Last test rounded down to 32, this test rounded up to 40."
"In your mind, you probably noticed that the score was rounded. But holding onto that possibility... well, that's too bad. First period will start soon, so I will leave now."
Horikita had no more ways to retort and stayed silent. She wasn't able to counter her words, and her last hope was shot down. After leaving the classroom, the door slammed shut and the whole class was silent.
While trying to face the reality of having to drop out, Sudou looked at Horikita, who tried to stop him from failing by dropping her own grades.
"...I'm sorry. I should've dropped my points even further."
Horikita slowly lowered her hand.
Even 51 points was considerably low.
If she dropped her grade to the 40s, she herself would be at risk for dropping out.
"Why... You said that you hated me, didn't you?"
"I'm just doing this for myself, don't misunderstand. It was in vain, though."
I slowly got out of my seat.
"W-where are you going, Ayanokouji!?"
"To the bathroom."
I exited the classroom and quickly walked towards the staff room. While wondering whether or not Chiyabashira-sensei had already reached the staff room, I saw her looking out the window, standing still in the hallway. As if she was waiting for someone.
"Ayanokouji, class will start soon."
"Sensei. Is it fine if I ask you one question?"
"...A question? Is that why you ran after me?"
"I have something to ask of you."
"Starting with Horikita, and even you. What is it?"
"Do you think that today's Japanese society is fair?"
"What a sudden change in topic. Do you get anything out of it even if I answer?"
"It's very important."
"If I speak my opinion, then no, it's not fair. Not one bit"
"Yes, I also think the same way. Fairness and equality is a lie."
"Did you chase after me to ask that question? If that's all, I'm leaving."
"One week ago, when you told us that the test material had changed, you said something like this: 'I forgot to tell the class.' Because of that, the notice reached us about a week after the other classes were informed about it."
"I said that in the staff room. So what?"
"Even though all the questions, our points, and the threat of expulsion is the same among all classes, only class D is treated unfairly."
"Are you saying you can't agree to that? But it's a good example. I guess you could call it a micro example of our unfair society today."
"Of course, no matter how positively you look at it, the world is an unfair place. However, we are humans that can think and act."
"What are you trying to say?"
"I'm trying to say that it should seem equal at least."
"It doesn't matter whether or not 'forgetting' to tell us was on purpose. However, it's a fact that one person is now being forced to leave the school because of those unequal conditions."
"What do you want me to do?"
"That is why I came to you. I want to meet with the school, who is perpetuating this inequality."
"To say you don't agree?"
"I just want to confirm the school's decisions with the right people."
"Sadly, even though you aren't wrong, I cannot let you. Sudou will drop out. It'll be very difficult to overturn that ruling at this time. Give up."
She ignored my argument. But that doesn't mean there's no meaning in her words
As expected, this person is someone who always has a hidden implication in her words.
"Difficult to be overturned at this time. In other words, there is a way to change the outcome."
"Ayanokouji, I personally have a high opinion of you. Certainly, getting the old test questions was a correct solution. Furthermore, coming up with that idea even goes beyond common sense. But you distributed the questions to the class and raised the average test score. I think there's merit in coming up with that idea."
"Kushida also helped in getting those questions, so I did nothing special."
"I know that you didn't openly admit it, but there are upperclassmen too. I also know that you got the test questions from a third year."
Somehow, my actions were discovered.
"However, despite having a solid start by getting a hold of the test questions, you messed up at the end. That was why your plan didn't work. If he memorized them more thoroughly, Sudou probably wouldn't have gotten a failing grade in English. Why don't you give up and let Sudou drop out? Won't his future be more comfortable then?"
"To be honest... probably. However, I decided to help out this time. Or rather, I should say that I'm not giving up yet. I have one last attempt."
From my pocket, I took out my student card.
"What do you mean?"
"Please sell me one point for Sudou's English test."
Looking at me in astonishment, she laughed loudly.
"Hahahahaha. That's an interesting proposal. As I thought, you're different. I never imagined you would try to buy points."
"Sensei, you said so on the first day. There's nothing that can't be bought by points in this school. The midterm is one such thing in this school."
"I see, I see. Certainly, you could think of that way. Do you even have the money to pay me, though?"
"Well then, how much is one point?"
"A very difficult question indeed. No one's ever asked to buy a point before. Let's see... I'll give you a point for 100,000 points."
"Sensei, you're cruel."
There isn't a single person in the school who hasn't used a point at all.
In other words, there isn't anyone who has 100,000 points.
"-I will also pay."
A voice came from behind me. Turning around, I saw Horikita standing there.
"Kuku. As I thought, you two are interesting."
Chiyabashira-sensei took both our student cards.
"Alright, I'll agree to sell you a point. I'll take a total of 100,000 points from the two of you. Tell the rest of the class that Sudou's expulsion has been canceled."
"Is that fine?"
"You promised to pay 100,000 points, so it can't be helped."
Chiyabashira-sensei talked with an amused tone as she continued to look at us in wonder.
"Horikita, you also understand, right? Ayanokouji's skill."
"...Well... I only see an unpleasant student."
"What do you mean by unpleasant..."
"You purposely got low scores on tests, thought to get old test questions and give the credit to Kushida-san, and came up with the idea of buying test points. I don't think you're particularly special, you're just unpleasant."
Somehow, it looks like she heard about the test questions too.
"If it's you guys, you might actually be able to move your class up."
"I don't know about him, but I will definitely rise up."
"In the past, there's never been a case where a class D has been promoted. It's because the school immediately labels you as inferior and pushes you aside. How are you going to accomplish that?"
Without wavering, Horikita returned Chiyabashira-sensei's gaze.
"Honestly, many of the students in class D are inferior. However, that doesn't mean they're trash."
"What's the difference between inferior goods and trash?"
"There's a paper thin difference. I think that with a little help, there is the possibility of improving an inferior good to a superior quality."
"I see. When you say it, it sounds oddly persuasive."
I had to agree with her words as well. Her words were certainly significant..
Horikita, who previously looked at other students and people as a hindrance, was slowly changing.
Of course, it's not that simple. Even though it's a tiny glimpse of her change, it's a huge change. As if she noticed as well, Chiyabashira-sensei faintly smiled.
"Well then, I look forward to it. As your homeroom teacher, I'll make sure to watch attentively to future events."
Chiyabashira-sensei walked away, towards the staff room.
We were left behind in the hallway.
"Shall we go back too? It'll be class soon."
She struck my sides with her hand.
"Hey, the hell was that for!?"
"I just felt like it."
With that, she left me behind and walked away.
Good grief, what a bother... I looked at her as she walked away.
While thinking that, I decided to chase after her.