The final exams had started. Today was the bookkeeping exam, said to be extremely difficult to pass. But I’d diligently studied for June’s exams with Mizuhara as my tutor, so I felt confident.
I’d probably pass as long as I didn’t make a line of careless mistakes. I spent the morning doing some last-minute revision in the clubroom to prepare for my exam in the afternoon.
At lunch, I had a meal to improve my stamina to concentrate better. Then I returned to the clubroom to get my exam items.
Well then, time to do my best! I arrived at my seat in the examination room only to discover new trouble: Somehow, my calculator wasn’t working at all.
「……!!!」 Huh, why wasn’t it working?!! I impatiently attacked the power button. Then I tried randomly pressing all the buttons, but it didn’t give the slightest response.
Quickly glancing at the clock on the teacher’s table, I kept hitting the calculator. It had been working throughout the morning, but now it didn’t show a single digit.
The exam was about to start in 10 minutes. I completely panicked at the critical emergency. No matter how much I studied, tackling the bookkeeping exam without a calculator was like climbing Mount Everest in flip flops and shorts.
Some club members who also studied bookkeeping noticed me panicking and talked to me. 「Noda, why’re you dancing with your calculator? The exam supervisor’s gonna show up soon!」
The members realized the state of emergency. 「Did the battery run out?」
「Try changing it!」 They tried it and checked, but it didn’t work. I’d just changed the battery two days ago in the first place.
「Maybe it was just faulty when you bought it?」
「But it was perfectly fine when I was studying in the clubroom earlier!」 We argued pointlessly back and forth, me panicking over what to do and them telling me to calm down.
「We’ll ask some friends if they have a calculator.」
「Might be tough though, considering the time.」
I hoped for the best as they headed out to the corridor, phones in hand. I’d already asked some people too but none of them had calculators.
Nowadays, every phone had an in-built calculator so it looked like there was no benevolent person who’d walk around with an actual calculator. The people I’d asked all hadn’t even come to school in the first place. Since they didn’t take this class, it was obvious they’d be working hard at home instead.
「I have an extra calculator, but……」 One of the members returned after finishing the call, saying the words I was hoping for. As he picked it up, I suddenly raised my face.
「Huh?! Let me, let me have it!」
「But it has a little problem…」
「It’s fine, just a little problem!」
Even if it was a little difficult to use – if its display went out halfway through, or if its reactions were slow – it was better than nothing.
I pestered him to give it to me, holding my hand out.
「It makes sounds when you tap it. But it’s still fin—」
「There’s no way it’s fine!」 If I made tapping sounds in the middle of the exam I’d be forced to leave on the spot. I got my hopes up for nothing! As I was trying to think of a solution, the exam supervisor entered the room.
……It was all over.
The members returned to their seats, giving me useless advice as I was crestfallen, my shoulders dropped and head hanging low. 「Do mental arithmetic! Be one of those Indian math gurus! Namaste!」
There was no way I could do it mentally. Although the calculations themselves weren’t that hard, there was an incredible amount of numbers to calculate.
As the question papers were passed to me, I passed them on behind me, head still hanging low. Even if I failed once, it didn’t mean I couldn’t graduate. But it’d be recorded on my grades, and I wanted to avoid having to show that to my future employers.
As I waited for the question papers to be passed to all the students, I pointlessly played with my mechanical pencil, clicking it over and over.
I held my paper down as my sighs were about to make it fly off. I still continued sighing, accepting my fate, when I felt someone subtly poke my back.
「……?」 I glanced behind to see a girl I didn’t know hold out a calculator to me.
「I was told to give this to Noda-san.」
The calculator showed up from behind! My eyes sparkled at her whisper. I thanked her and turned back around.
I didn’t know whose it was, but I was saved. It must have been someone the members got in touch with. I faced my exam with a sudden change in mood, full of motivation.
After finishing the exam, I returned the calculator to the members, thanking them and promising to treat them to something.
「That wasn’t my friend.」
「Not mine either.」
They all completely denied it.
「Huh? Then…… Whose is this?」
They asked if she wasn’t my friend, but everyone I’d asked wasn’t in school.
I wondered if one of those friends had sent her and asked them all again, but no one knew anything about it. In the end, I just kept it in my bag, still not knowing who it belonged to.