Part 177: (cont'd)
BGM: Worldend (solo)
...And tonight, I alone was moving a cardboard box on a trolley to the station, preparing to give out tissues until the night falls.
Yup, and it's not just tonight... yesterday and the day before yesterday, too... or maybe... I've been doing this forever...
Speaking of the moon viewing, I heard that tonight it was going to be an especially large, bright white full moon.
I found myself thinking that maybe my coworkers would, just this once, cooperate by refraining from drinking.
...No, they have no obligation to that, either.
My purpose here is to appeal to the crowd to spend the night peacefully, not disturb my coworkers' social gatherings.
...An Inquisitor's duty is to root out heresy, not converse in court language.
The same logic applies to both, does it not?
I feel like I finally understood what Senior Aide Gertrude was trying to tell me that day.
Even so, I'm still stuck in the same rut...
I don't see any possible way to clear out this box by tonight.
And even if I did, there are still a few full ones left by the workplace.
...What should I do?
I mustn't just throw them away. ...I should probably ask if the police would take care of the leftover ones.
...Now that I think about it, even police told me I was ordering more than enough, didn't they?
I had proudly announced in clear court language that it was indeed the amount we required...
"...How goes it."
"...The thing you're doing."
It was Senior Aide Gertrude.
In the span of this entire week, I had not seen her even once.
In other words, she doesn't normally use this station... so she must have expressly taken the time to come look at me here.
She offered her outstretched hand.
...Before I knew what was going on, I was giving her a tissue that I had twisted from gripping onto it so tightly.
She accepted it... and took a sidelong glance at the cardboard box with all the numerous tissues still remaining inside it.
...She did not say anything.
Or no, maybe it was like before.
By deliberately not saying anything... she was silently admonishing me.
"...The dreams made during childhood are no more than childish dreams."
She must have read my resume. She knew I had written about that on my job application.
"...Reality is always different from one's ideals."
"......I have no room for rebuttal."
"...Changing one's ideals accordingly means changing oneself."
Ever since the first day of my assignment... my expectations had been betrayed.
Even though I got the job I always yearned for... it was nothing like what I dreamed as a child.
For that very reason... I ignored reality to keep chasing my dream.
...Right. The perfect job that I imagined... clearly only exists in the TV.
That drama series about Inquisitors that I watched in my youth... I was so excited about the world of that show that at some point I had turned my eyes away from reality.
"...Will you change the world?"
"...Or will you change yourself?"
"Imp... Know that doing it is impossible..."
If you're trying to promote your immature and unrealistic ideals alone, nobody will sympathize with you.
And... for someone like me who has been clutching on to those ideals those childhood dreams for all their life from cradle to this moment... changing them is just not going to happen.
Saying 'the world is wrong' and 'I am wrong' have effectively the same meaning.
Changing my misguided self is exactly the same as changing the entire world.
It's never going to happen.
"...You are not cut out for this."
"What... might you be referring to?"
Cut out for this job? For my ideals? What, for the reality?
The Senior Aide... did not answer.
Just like on that day... I silently posed my questions to nobody but myself.
"...On the floor."
"I... Beg your pardon, do you mean right here?"
In the middle of the crowd, Senior Aide Gertrude folded her legs underneath her thighs and sat up straight on the ground.
Thinking I was about to get scolded as usual... I followed her example.
I braced myself for the scolding, whatever may come, but she stayed as quiet as ever.
Once again, the silence just made me question myself.
But then... she abruptly held up a single finger.
As in the first point she was about to make...?
No... She wanted me to look at what she was pointing at.
But where was that? ...Above...?
A perfectly white, round moon.
Perhaps... all of my coworkers from the department were also seeing the same thing right now.
I could already imagine what tomorrow morning was going to be like.
Their conversations would probably be filled with phrases like 'the moon sure was beautiful last night' and so on.
I may not be present at the moon viewing party, but... perhaps I might be able to join those conversations, at least.
"...Please, allow me to speak."
Senior Aide Gertrude spoke, in court language besides.
She spoke using the words nearest to my heart.
"...Dreams, ideals. As well as their realizations... Know that these are not things that can be achieved alone."
"People will not listen to ideals."
"Madam, my humble apologies, but if I may enquire... If that is the case, in what way am I to achieve my ideals...?"
To that question, Senior Aide gave a quiet answer.
People will not listen to ideals.
People will not listen to others.
But people may listen to their friends.
So if you talk to your friends about your ideals, they might even offer you their help.
No matter how grand your ideals may be, if your words cannot convince anybody, you may as well be blowing hot air.
How does one convince others, then...?
There is no way other than for your hearts and minds to interact.
Regardless of your ideals, that comes always first.
...Without communication, nothing can be conveyed.
There we were, the two of us, in the middle of the nighttime crowd in front of the station... sitting straight up on the ground and looking up at the moon.
Somehow, despite the lack of sake and dango, and while feeling oddly calm in this congestion of people moving back and forth, numerous enough to be called a veritable forest... we were having this strange moon viewing party.
It's true that I may be inexperienced as a member of the society.
Perhaps I could be called one of those typical, uncooperative "youngsters".
Perhaps I'm all the worse for waving my aspirations around like a flag.
...Maybe I had already made some big mistake a long time ago.
Quit your job?
How do you plan on getting reemployed if you quit, in this day and age?
Just getting a job in the first place is difficult enough...
The time I had for quitting my job and reorganizing my life passed long ago.
Actually, the last chance you get for reorganizing your life is probably around the time you graduate middle school.
But... is that everything my passions amounted to?
Was is all really just a misunderstanding...? Am I not where I am today for the sake of the dreams I believed in...?
It turned out that Gertrude had taken care of the cardboard boxes still left at the workplace.
Now they didn't have to be in the way at work anymore.
I didn't know how, but it seemed she was aware of all the circumstances surrounding me.
Later on, I learned that she was an acquaintance of the chief clerk, who had some concerns and asked her for advice.
As a newcomer, Gertrude had been similarly eccentric and suffered her share of hardships as well.
The chief clerk must have thought that without it coming from another girl like that, I wouldn't take their words to heart...
I'm sure an Inquisitor must have grown up to that extent at least.
...And for someone as immature as me, it's not a suitable job in the least.
On that day... I was finally able to let go of the most purely immature part of my childhood dream.
Or no, I don't want to call it 'letting go'.
I told myself to call it a fresh start.
My aim is to be an Inquisitor of Heresy. However, that is not what's important.
Before that happens... I want to become a full adult.
And if I can accomplish that... then perhaps I shall remember my childish dream once again.
Having said as much to her, that night was over.
BGM: In The Sun
"Oh, you dropped the court language?"
"...I'm not used to speaking like this, so it's embarrassing... Madam..."
The chief clerk was smiling. Senior Aide must have told her about everything.
She probably knew all about my childhood dream, my conflict with reality and my decision to start anew.
I felt like my heart had been laid bare, and embarrassment rose to my cheeks.
"You know, being an adult isn't decided by age or employment. You gotta take a good look at the life after that. You gotta become mature, to figure out what adulthood is... Cornelia, you're young, so you might be frustrated, thinking you're running out of time to do that. But that's not true, alright? Life really is long."
"I hope that someday you can be what you really want to be."
The tedious, woefully inadequate and unchanging workplace... seemed just a little more relaxing than usual.
"Did you bring your lunch from home today? Tomorrow, let's get everyone on the shift and have lunch at the local sushi place."
"It's decided, then. Remember to leave your lunch box home tomorrow. Anyway, give section chief your project summary report later. Also, could you get me a cup of tea?"
This was a story from long, long before Cornelia became a member of the Eiserne Jungfrau...
There was a heap of tissues piled up on Dlanor's paper tray.
Gertrude had divided the tissues between her colleagues, and that heap was a portion of it.
"...That's your portion. They're very useful... like for drying up spilled tea, cleaning a dropped piece of candy, wiping your nose, wiping ketchup from your cheek... All very relevant for you, boss."
"They are not NECESSARY. Stop treating me like a CHILD. I don't want THEM. You're annoying me to <ｄｅａｔｈ>."
The recent ketchup incident was still a sore point for Dlanor, who was now puffing her cheeks in disagreement.
"...In that case, they're not tissues, they're documents. Therefore, Madam, please allow me to submit them for your approval. Please stamp each and every one of these tissues."
"STAMP...! My stamping is FINISHED, FINISHEDFINISHED. FINISHEDFINISHEDFINISHED...!!"
Every hair on Dlanor's body was standing on end. It was like she was covered in rash.
Despite being in the management, Dlanor had a phobia of stamps. This was a torture, inflicted in order for her to get over it and start stamping things.
That young newcomer came to Gertrude's mind.
It made her remember her own time as a newbie. Such bittersweet memories.
Before I knew it, I had forgotten about my own passions. I wonder when that happened.
At what point did I become something resembling an adult...?
"Let me GO. The ketchup and seaweed won't be a problem today, I'll be FINE!"
Without realizing, Gertrude had been patting the head of her ever-youthful superior.