Maria-sama ga Miteru:Volume29 Chapter6
 The Miracle Worker
 Part 1.
Contrary to the expectations that Yumi had held when she left her house about 30 minutes earlier than usual, the bus she caught was quite crowded.
Not only that, today was the day of the third-years' send-off.
The entire four hours usually reserved for Saturday classes had been allocated to the send-off.
Yumi surveyed her fellow early-birds as she held on to a strap and swayed back and forth with everyone else. Since they wouldn't need their textbooks or notebooks, only a handful of students were carrying their school bags. Consequently, you may expect there would be a bit more room inside the bus, but that was not the case. Instead, most people were carrying things like sports bags, or paper bags, or packages wrapped in cloth – everything except a school bag, which contributed to the claustrophobic feeling.
Almost all of the students arriving early were either performing in the third-years' send-off, or exhibiting something they had made. Therefore, it stood to reason that they would have a lot of luggage. Squeezed amongst them were costumes, props, and exhibition pieces that had finally been finished.
(Come to think of it, I was like that last year.)
Last year Yumi had destroyed her health on the day before the third-years' send-off, so she hadn't caught a bus 30 minutes earlier than usual, but she had carried a paper bag holding a cloth-wrapped package to school. Of course, that wasn't for the third-years' send-off, but for the Roses' farewell party which was held after it.
(For the Roses' farewell party … )
After thinking that much, Yumi suddenly remembered. In fact, she may have even cried out in surprise. One of the students standing nearby looked doubtfully in her direction.
(Damn it. I completely forgot!)
What she had forgotten to do was to talk to Touko and Noriko-chan about the party performances.
Hadn't they decided not to tell them about it? Yumi reconsidered. It seemed like they had decided that it would be bad to make the first-years worry about it, since they were already trying their hardest. But was that where the conversation had ended?
Someone said that the third-years might suddenly request a performance. And they'd thought it would be unfair on the first-years to make them perform without any warning.
(So what happened after that?)
The first-years had returned, and the conversation was shelved –
After that, they'd completely forgotten about it.
It seemed unbelievable that they would have done that. Had they really forgotten? Or had Yumi purged that memory to help her cope. She wracked her brain trying to reel in any additional memories, but there was absolutely nothing after the shelving of the conversation.
(What should I do? No matter how talented Noriko-chan and Touko are, telling them today and expecting them to perform on the same day is just impossible.)
The blood rushed to Yumi's head, possibly aided by the overcrowding in the bus.
At any rate, she had to calm down first.
Panicking wasn't going to help her come up with a plan. First of all, she should go to the Rose Mansion and discuss this with Shimako-san and Yoshino-san. If they put their minds together, they should be able to come up with a plan.
After finally getting off the bus at Lillian's, Yumi was taking a deep breath of fresh air when she was tapped on the shoulder.
Obviously, the only one who would call Yumi that was Touko.
(Aaargh, it's her.)
Controlling her impulse to flee, Yumi turned around. Then.
Something was odd. There was no doubting that it was Touko standing before her, but there was something about her that was different to usual.
"I saw you getting on the same bus as me, onee-sama, but we were a fair way apart so I didn't call out to you."
Then, finally noticing the look on Yumi's face, Touko said, "Ahh," and pushed her hair back behind her ears.
"Right. That, your hair."
Touko's trademark hairstyle, the two vertical rolls, or drills, or cones, or spirals, were not there. Well, even if the hair rolls weren't there, it wasn't as though the hair itself had gone away.
"I didn't coil it this morning."
"Since my character in today's play has her hair down."
She had changed her hairstyle because of the character she's playing. Well, that made sense. Actually, Touko had changed her hairstyle for the school festival play too. But, back then, it had been a part of her costume, so was easier to accept. Seeing Touko wearing her school uniform without her vertical rolls, however, was like looking at a completely different person.
Touko spoke next:
"Shouldn't we be going soon?"
"That's a surprise. It seems kind of a waste to go to all the trouble of arriving early only to spend that time standing around talking at the bus stop."
Hearing this, Yumi looked around and saw that the students that had been on the bus with her were no longer around. Looking up at the pedestrian bridge, there was a line of girls clad in blackish school uniforms. If Yumi hadn't been surprised by Touko's hairdo, they would probably be a part of that queue.
Touko walked off, so Yumi followed her. Touko would probably be angry if she found out, but Yumi was intrigued by her unusual appearance.
Touko's straight hair swayed across her back. It wasn't as long as Yoshino-san or Sachiko-sama's, but about the same length as Shimako-san's. The hair that she usually coiled up was surprisingly long when let down. That may have been common knowledge, but it was impressive to see it first-hand.
Touko was also carrying a large bag. It was a black, nylon overnight bag, the kind of bag you'd use when going on holidays. The zipper running down the middle was firmly closed, so there was no way of knowing what was inside. Probably her costume or some props for the play. It looked quite heavy.
 Part 2.
They went straight to the Rose Mansion, without stopping by their classrooms.
Even though there weren't any classes today they would still have homeroom and morning prayers as usual, however Yumi expected to spend her time prior to homeroom carrying things, like the signboard, to the assembly hall.
"Can you just give me a minute?"
Touko entered the storeroom on the first floor of the Rose Mansion carrying the heavy bag she had brought from home. She emerged from the storeroom with Noriko-chan beside her, looking curiously at her hairstyle.
"I suppose it's going to be like this all day today."
As predicted, Touko got the same response from Shimako-san and Yoshino-san when she arrived on the second floor. She'd probably get the same treatment from the first year camellia class too.
Now that the five Yamayurikai members were all present, they carried the signboard entrusted to them by the arts club, the vase they had borrowed from the flower arranging club and all the roses over to the auditorium. After placing the signboard outside and arranging the flowers and the vase just inside the entrance, they did a final check, adjusting the arrangements and the lighting slightly.
Behind and to the sides of the stage, students were holding desks, tatami mats and koto instruments, waiting for their turn.
"Ahh ahh. One, two. One, two."
The girl from the broadcasting club doing the mic check bowed when she saw the Yamayurikai members appear in the guest seating area.
The preparations were proceeding steadily. Yumi and the rest of the Yamayurikai left the auditorium for now.
It would be okay.
They would definitely see this through.
Because they were all doing this to show their onee-samas that they weren't dependent on the third-years. That they could prepare this all by themselves. Of course it was going to be a success.
Those were the common thoughts of all the first- and second-years participating in the third-years' send-off.
"Well, then. See you at the auditorium after homeroom."
Upon returning to the Rose Mansion, they formed a circle. They probably wouldn't all be together again prior to the assembly.
"Let's give it our all."
They put their hands together in the center of the circle and gave a cheer before dissolving.
Before leaving the Rose Mansion, Touko fetched the bag she had left in the first floor storeroom.
Maybe Yumi was just imagining it, but the bag looked smaller and lighter than it had before.
 Part 3.
Now that the ceremony had begun, time seemed to fly by.
After all, as organizers they were only required to give the opening and closing addresses, barring some terrible accident. Still, it's not like they could kick back and watch the show – they were on standby behind the audience seating and to the side of the stage, making the day shine by ensuring that things went smoothly and nothing went wrong. Basically, it was good that their turn didn't come.
So, even though Yumi's class had a seat for her, she didn't sit down at all.
"You don't have to save a seat for me."
Yumi had told her classmates, but they had all responded with, "Come and sit with us, just for a little while," and reserved two aisle seats for Yumi and Yoshino-san. Looking around, it seemed the second-year wisteria class and the first-year camellia class had done the same thing, saving seats for their hardworking classmates. Even though they knew it was probably futile. Still, Yumi appreciated the gesture.
Off to the side of the stage, Yumi looked at the monitor that was showing the audience. Sachiko-sama was visible at the front of the third-years' section. On stage, the story-telling club were on to the final part of their performance. Sachiko-sama was smiling in response to their bizarre acrostic based on the letters of 'Lillian'.
Sachiko-sama seemed to be truly enjoying herself. They had exchanged a few words at the entrance, just as the third-years' were being welcomed. Sachiko-sama had encouraged her, saying, "Best of luck to you." Yumi then said, "I hope you enjoy it," to which Sachiko-sama responded, "I plan to," and that's all that was said.
Alright, now that the story telling club had finished, the judo club, kendo club and karate club were preparing for their demonstration.
The scripture reading club was literally performing a scripture reading in front of the curtain while the set was being changed. Behind the curtain, the members of the story telling club collected their floor pillows and cleared the stage, then the judo club laid their tatami mats down on the stage.
Yumi turned around on hearing her name, and standing there in her kendo gear was Yoshino-san.
"Sorry I had to leave me post. When this is over, I'll take your spot."
"It's okay, it's okay."
Yumi urged Yoshino-san not to worry about it, and instead focus on her performance. Club activities would always eat into their Yamayurikai work, even at the best of times.
Poking out her tongue, Yoshino-san ran off to rejoin the other kendo club members. She had her shinai but wasn't wearing the protective armor. The kimono's collar matched the hakama perfectly. She looked like a wonderful swordsman.
(Oops, sorry, meant to say a samurai.)
However, just as Yumi was revising her opinion.
"No, Yoshino-san. You're supposed to be over here."
Tanuma Chisato-san called out from the other side of the stage. The curtain had already started rising, so the audience probably saw Yoshino-san's legs as she ran from stage right to stage left. Yumi thought the audience probably wouldn't be able to tell who it was, though, since they didn't see Yoshino-san's face. However, the people she could see did seem to know who it was, even though they hadn't seen her face. As for how they knew, it was obvious just by looking at Rei-sama as she sat amongst the third-years.
Yumi knew absolutely nothing about martial arts. Still, the displays of judo, kendo and karate were beautiful, like dances. Did Yoshino-san finish without making a mistake? Yumi thought she must have put on a good display, since Rei-sama had gradually changed from looking completely dejected to leaning forward excitedly.
The koto instruments were carried on to the tatami mats that the judo club had laid out, and the koto music club's concert began. After this, it was the drama club's performance.
Students clad in entrancing kimonos, probably their costumes, were starting to gather behind Yumi. Touko hadn't yet appeared. Since Touko and Tsukasa-san were apparently doing a scene with just the two of them, the kimono-clad girls were probably from some other play.
A student in school uniform weaved her way through the drama club members over to Yumi. It was Shimako-san, who was supposed to be stationed behind the audience seating area.
"I'm here to take your place."
Shimako-san responded before Yumi could ask her about her post.
"I've left it in Noriko's hands."
Then what about the job that Noriko-chan was supposed to be doing? Yoshino-san still hadn't returned. And Touko was out for now. Shimako-san blew all these concerns away with her next sentence:
"You're to watch from the audience, Yumi-san."
Yumi had no hand to play against someone who could turn over a wildcard with such a serious expression.
"Thank-you. For making this possible."
Yumi bowed, then left her position at the side of the stage. Through the door with the poster on it, out the side exit and into the corridor. The color and monochrome drawings by the manga club that she had seen some time ago were on display in here. Squinting her eyes against the bright lights, Yumi arrived at the photography club's corner. After confirming the presence of the air-conditioning vent, saying, "Ahh, it's really there," and chuckling, Yumi quietly opened the door to the rear of the seating area.
 Part 4.
The curtain was lowered immediately after the koto music club's performance ended. Yumi gave Noriko-chan, who was waiting by the door, a look of gratitude, then hunched over and quickly made her way to the second-year seating area.
Yumi sat down on the seat that had been reserved for her and looked up just in time to see Tsukasa-san, microphone in hand, walk out in front of the curtain.
"I thought that, as president of the drama club, I should explain what you're about to see before we start our March performance."
Tsukasa-san was still wearing her school uniform, but it looked as though her hair and makeup were already done – her skin was prepared with dohran and her hair was held in place with several pins.
"For this performance, the drama club split into three groups, so we'll be performing three plays."
Tsukasa-san continued, explaining how they wouldn't be able to perform three plays in their entirety simply based on how long it would take. They'd chosen three scenes from well known plays, that she hoped the audience would enjoy. After making her introduction, Tsukasa-san exited to the side of the stage and the curtain was raised.
There was no set. A solitary kimono-clad girl walked on to the stage from the left. She carried a walking stick, but it didn't appear as though there was anything wrong with her legs. She stopped and wiped the sweat from her brow. Ahh, based on that she was probably on a journey. That would explain why the cuffs on her kimono were a bit higher than normal.
On the right of the stage, another girl leapt forwards. Her kimono was a tad more plain than the first girl's and she jogged across the stage to stop in front of the traveling girl.
"Momoko-san, Momoko-san. Those millet dumplings you have at your waist, won't you give me one?"
There was scattered laughter around the auditorium. For those audience members who had been watching, trying to figure out what play it was from, this line revealed that it was 'Momotarou.'
"Okay. I'll give you one. But you have to join me in my battle against the demons, Inuko-san."
"I'll accompany you."
It seems that this Momoko-san was a lady who knew no fear. She recruited Saruko-san and Kiji-san to join her too, and they were about to head off to the island of the demons.
– Then the curtain fell. Still, since it didn't look like they were going to have sets, the curtain stayed closed for about ten seconds before being raised again and the next play started. There were two people onstage, dressed like boys. And a number of chairs.
One of the characters said, turning to the other. The penny dropped immediately because of the unusual name. It was 'Night on the Galactic Railroad.' They had sectioned off the heron catching scene. By omitting the sorrowful finale it left a whimsical, dream-like impression. Despite the joyous nature of the scene, Yumi's chest tightened when she remembered where Campanella really was at this point.
Touko still hadn't made an appearance yet. The final play must be her scene with Tsukasa-san.
The curtain raised for the final time in the drama club's performance.
The pair were sitting slightly to the right of center-stage. They were both wearing old-fashioned dresses and a bespectacled Tsukasa-san seemed to be cradling Touko. The only set decoration was a single pole, about a metre tall, to the left of the stage.
Tsukasa-san was manipulating one of Touko's hands into various positions, over and over.
"Water, Helen. This is water. W, a, t, e, r."
(It's 'The Miracle Worker.')
"Egg. E, g, g. That's its name."
The Miracle Worker. The miraculous story of Helen Keller, who lost her sight and hearing as a baby, and her teacher Annie Sullivan. Annie was teaching Helen sign language so that she could lead a somewhat normal life. But while Helen would learn the shapes, as though playing along with a game, she didn't understand what they meant.
Helen had grown up being pampered by her family, so would become violent whenever the mood took her. Annie tolerated none of that. The pair would eventually wear each other out, covered in scratches and bruises.
And then, the famous final scene.
Tsukasa-san dragged Touko, no, Annie dragged Helen over to the sole piece of scenery. It was the pump. As punishment for intentionally spilling some water, Annie was forcing Helen to draw water from the pump.
"Now, draw the water."
Helen looked around for her mother to save her.
"No, your mother isn't here. Draw the water!"
Helen lived in darkness. In a silent world. A rough hand guided her to the pump's handle.
Even though it really was just a simple pole, it seemed as though there was a handle there when Helen reached out for it. The invisible handle went up and down. Then some water came flowing out.
Water spilled from the jug and splashed on Helen's hand. Annie used Helen's hand to spell w, a, t, e, r in sign language.
A light shone in those eyes that had never seen anything. Her mind's eye opened.
Those lips that had never uttered a single word shook. Not just her lips, it looked like her entire body was shaking. Then she erupted.
Probing for the water, Helen signed w, a, t, e, r.
Now, she understood. That it was called water.
A brilliant light shone down upon the pair. Then the curtain fell.
The auditorium fell silent as the curtain descended. It was like the world without sound that Helen lived in.
Eventually, when the lights in the auditorium brightened, the audience members came to their senses and remembered to clap, their applause descending like raging billows.
Amongst this endless applause, Yumi rose from her feet and started walking. She sensed the curtain call occurring behind her.
It was only when she arrived at the rear door that Yumi remembered Noriko-chan would be there.
"Keep this a secret from Touko, okay."
Yumi said, pointing at her tear-stained face.
Yumi had been thinking that she should get back to work now that the drama club's play was over, but she couldn't walk around with her face looking like it did now. Consequently, she had to hide for a little while.
The title of the play was 'The Miracle Worker.' Taking it literally, the one who worked the miracle was obviously Annie Sullivan. So it was only right that Annie would come out ahead. Even so.
Yumi chuckled to herself as she opened the bathroom door.
(I've got to hand it to you, Tsukasa-san.)
Yumi was profoundly envious.
(There's no way I could beat that.)
But it was in no way a resentful envy.
 Translator's Notes
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