| This article contains HEAVY spoilers. Please view at your own risk.
This is Chapter 2 of "Fall-Fattened Tiger" from Volume 2 of the Toradora! Spin-Off Light Novel series.
☆Minori’s Diet Memo☆
Item 1! <Healthy eating!>
Eating well balanced meals. Of course, we cannot eat too much, but if stress builds up due to insufficient food, it is meaningless. After eating well, go running flat out for an hour.
Item 2! <Healthy Exercise!>
After leaving club activities, run flat out for two hours. Returning from school also, avoid accidents by running flat out. Get a part time job, then run flat out all the way home from your job.
Item 3! <Always Keep Moving!>
Don’t sit still at home. Don’t rest. Always have a plastic water bottle in your hand. If you go to the bathroom, then afterwards go for a walk, thirty minutes at a flat out run. If you watch the television, then afterwards go for a walk, fifteen minutes long at a flat out run. If you chat on the telephone, then afterwards go for a walk, after the call is over run flat out.
Item 4! <Pamper yourself every now and then!>
If the effort wears on you, then once in a while it’s all right to have a snack. If you have a snack, then go out for a walk, three hours of flat out running.
"...Huff...huff...huh..urp! Ack! ...Yech...”
"Taiga, wh... cough! ...Huff...huff...cough cough cough!"
"Yech... ye... yech..."
"... up ...!"
Off to a bad start.
It seems both of them wound up puking.
Eight o’clock in the evening, a bench in a small children’s park. The two of them were in really bad shape. Ordinary exercise can be nothing more than a routine, but doing all-out sprints after eating is not a good thing. It didn’t even bother Minori... Ryuuji clung to the bench, prostrate. Feeling nauseous, he frantically swallowed his bile. Poor Taiga, down on all fours, her nice ponytail all messed up, couldn’t even resist when a toy poodle, out for a walk, came over and sniffed her.
"Ta, iga… to the bench..."
Her jersey sleeve shaking, Taiga grabbed the bench at once and pulled herself up. Taiga said nothing, she was so exhausted she was unable to sit properly on the bench. Then for some reason she pulled her cell phone out of her pocket and hit speed dial.
"Yo, Taiga! What’s up?"
"...Huff... huff... Mi, Mino... rin..."
"What’s all the excitement? Ah, wait a sec. ...hmm. ...yes, it’s OK. What’s up, what’s going on?"
"... Minorin... that... that, from school, that diet memo you gave me, well it’s a bit..."
"Ah, yes, yes. Are you putting it into practice?"
"...Impossible... coming from you, Minorin… walking and running flat out, is wrong, I think… people, usually, running like that, I think... as far as I’ve heard..."
"Are you kidding? Is that so? Taking the time to call while you’re walking, at a flat out run? Wow! Beast! A flat out sprint on a fall evening sure feels good!"
"...Huff...huff... ...Excuse me, I’m feeling a little bad... panting..."
"Eh, have you got a cold? Take care to sleep warmly!"
The phone call over, Taiga put the phone away in her pocket. She simply said, "I think this is the first time Minorin and I disagree."
On the verge of fainting,dizziness making it hard to think, Ryuuji tried to add it all up. Dinner had, in itself, been quite a production. The main course was fish instead of meat. The side dishes were vegetables, full of natural carbohydrates. They expected to moderate their calories without having to suffer much. They were thinking to have their meals this way for a while. Nevertheless, it was a "moderate" degree. Taiga had a bit of trouble getting into her new fall outfit, a flesh-color leotard. This, even though it was new clothing. So of course, refusing to exercise was not an option.
However, for anybody but Minori, recklessly running and running flat out is impossible. They had learned by their own experience that Minori was rather strange. For a normal human being it should be good enough to walk instead of running flat-out. Nobody but Minori could have proposed that "whenever you say walk, it means running flat out". Once a day should be sufficient, provide that one deliberately and without fail takes the opportunity to walk.
"Chestnut! Let’s go! Stop bothering the young lady's butt!"
At that moment, the toy poodle was very much absorbed in sniffing Taiga’s rear, its feet splayed out stubbornly, looking up at Taiga with moist eyes and barking eagerly with a charming voice. Taiga looked it over.
"...What’s with this little dog? Friendly little guy, he seems to be looking at me with love..."
"Kiyuun...", responding to that nose, "Ura!", she took off both her sneakers and went over in her stocking feet. "Ararara!", said the dog’s owner, an astonished lady, as she pulled on the leash. The dog was very excited. "Haga!", without warning everything went crazy. Next thing you know, "A-hahaha-ha-haii-yahha-!", laughter sounded as the dog pushed its face to Taiga’s feet, licked her socks, bug-eyed, belly showing while tears began to flow. In this world, there are truly all sorts of pets.
"... You, some kind of secretion must be coming from your feet..."
"It isn’t a secretion. It’s a pheromone. Shall we put some on your face?"
"No thanks, really. Just try doing that, and I’ll die."
Quite embarrassed, the dog’s owner mumbled, "Sorry about that", escaping as quick as she could with the crazy dog. Watching that figure, Ryuuji thought, Dog, is it? ...Now I see. Things like that can be reasons to go walking.
"...Dog, it’s just as well. Going out for a walk every day is not fun. But, if walking becomes a natural daily routine, it really ought to be as good as dieting."
"Hey you! That’s woman’s figure, did you notice?"
Having spoken to Taiga, Ryuuji now bit his lip. Having only really noticed the curly-haired toy poodle, if he could get another look at the pet owner he would have to apologize. People like Taiga cannot be compared to people with normal metabolisms.
"What are those awful eyes of yours looking at? Oh, something else has gone wrong. We can’t run anymore. That is, that guy is not likely to give up wandering around town. We absolutely have to go to the convenience store and do some shopping. Then we can have oden.
And ice cream. ...If you try to do like those three fools, every day
eating only bamboo shoots, shiitake, lotus roots, all you can do is get frustrated... Arrgh, it’s too unpleasant..."
Even in the best of times, Taiga is sullen by default. Ryuuji was exposed to the worst of her violence day after day, and what Taiga would be like, with yet more stress accumulating, getting yet more nervous, is terrifying to imagine. For the moment, easing the tension level by joking, the violent girl and the generous guy taking the abuse, the plan came into existence at the last moment. Turning it all into a joke is better than getting sent to the hospital. Hardly a matter for the police.
"... As far as extreme diets are concerned, I am opposed to them. Yet for us, there is still a way left."
"Eh, what, what? Ah, I have it! Liposuction!"
"Great. That should fly. Go ask an American celebrity."
Ryuuji got out his cell phone, looking for a particular address. Whether that sort of woman would be close to her phone on a Friday evening was a nice question... the call sounded twice, three times,
"... Eh, hello? So suddenly, it’s a big surprise. What’s up?"
Got through. It was their representative Japanese celebrity – Kawashima Ami.
"Oh, suddenly’s no good. That’s... a bit awkward, favors for both of you."
"---What’s with you? My clothing hobby is not strange!"
"Bakachii is wonderfully fashion-conscious by habit. Unusual, her hobby."
They met Saturday, their day off, at ten in the morning. At the same station as the three went to before, in front of the ticket gate. The weather was nice.
The three looked at each other without being too obvious: the area around the station was a little more prosperous than where Ryuuji and Taiga lived.
Ryuuji was wearing a T-shirt and denim pants, a parka styled like a traditional haori,
and VANS sneakers. In his hand he had an eco-bag bought on a Kyoto
field trip, a largish canvas tote bag from a famous store. Scary though
his expression may be, his style was very much that of an ordinary high school boy. On the other hand, Ami was no less than you’d expect from a performer. On her small fist-like face there were Chanel-brand
sunglasses. Her long hair was brought together in a bun, and over her long legs she wore cargo pants tied at the waist. On top, a thin, but probably absurdly high-priced tank top, with a knit cardigan over that, she was an aura model on display in a habitually simple style. Her sneakers were PUMA, but the tote she put to her shoulder was branded with the Chanel logo.
The problem was Taiga. Looking upon the scene, Ami had a scowl on her face.
"Rather unique, you might say... really making a statement, with both barrels! Aren’t you separating yourself just a bit!?"
"Even looking trashy can be good. In any case, meeting up with Ryuuji and Bakachi was just an excuse. It would be rather strange if going to the gym has become unfashionable", Taiga answered, unruffled.
From the start, she really loved ruffles and lace. Overskirt with the front buttons undone, unfashionably wearing petticoats and underskirts inside, that was Taiga’s standard fashion. Fluffed up and disheveled stuff, cardigans and sweaters too. Anyway, it’s like she had made a vow to dress in layers, using knits with flowers and suchlike attached randomly here and there, really girly, really flowery, frilly, lacy and with live cotton. The whole thing’s total price in a certain famous frilly brand turned out ridiculously high, and the first one should have been her favorite.
Taiga’s chosen fashion for today, first of all, was a T-shirt. Looking like just a white T-shirt, in fact it was young lady’s phys-ed class clothing, 'graduated' from the school. And then those tired old pajama pants. Gray and white striped, UNIQLO, they cost 980 yen. Barely wearing shoes, she had put on some rather cutesy girl-brand dress-up sneakers, and over the T-shirt she wore a windbreaker a few sizes too big. In fact, it looked like she was wearing one of Ryuuji’s jackets.
"Heh", laughed Taiga, looking defiant.
"Well, Bakachii, it looks like we can’t help but have you along with us. To be honest, my clothes aren’t just frilly stuff. It’s truly awful, having to dress this body for a little more volume. It’s all about volume. Seriously, I do too much along that line. Size is not a reason for not going somewhere, but rather a reason why you cannot wear something. ... You can laugh, at least for today. Anyway, I owe you a trip to the gym. Going to the gym for first time in your life can be a problem, all the more because you don’t have an experienced person by your side, and the going is rough. In fact, getting a good laugh might put you at ease. Go ahead and laugh, Bakachii. Laugh."
Through her light brown sunglasses, Ami looked carefully over Taiga’s (more accurately, Ryuuji’s) windbreaker. She double-checked the worn old T-shirt inside. She stepped back, said "Uwaaa...", and shook her head.
"... Sorry, but I can’t laugh. You’re just too pathetic..."
Taiga quietly looked up at Ryuuji.
"... Sometimes apologizing is easier than laughing at someone, eh, Ryuuji..."
"It can’t be helped. Well, it is right now. If you could slim down everything would be as before."
While Ryuuji and Taiga nodded at each other, agreeing in a easygoing manner, Ami, with a serious look on her face, finally took off her sunglasses.
"How can you two be so carefree about it all...! Honestly, you two talking about 'taking me with you to the gym', though I find it annoying to the core, something, Ami-chan, has now awoken. Rather volunteer minded, this feeling. Taiga dear, you are seriously dangerous. Your clothes don’t really matter. Let’s hurry up. If we don’t get on our way to the gym soon, things could get pretty bad. Let’s run, since it’s not far!"
No sooner did she say that, then Ami as if inspired by Minori suddenly began to cross the street at a trot. Ryuuji and Taiga, rather confused, gave chase.
---Well, it seems we receive according to how we dress ourselves.
"...This place’s atmosphere is surprisingly normal."
Ryuuji paid the 1500-yen visitor fee and changed into a rental outfit, a T-shirt and jersey shorts, then waited for the two girls to change, looking around at the machines lined up in a row. There was hardly anybody there, here and there a machine being used, really just neighborhood housewives, and by herself a rather plain office-worker.
In fact, Ami had been asked a few times for a personal tour of this gym by that fellow. It so happened that her parent’s home was near to Azabu, Shirokane and Omotesandou. Having been brought to such a super-famous gym, they were slightly nervous with anticipation. Because she often stayed with relatives nearby, Ami was a current member and could bring them as guests. As far as Ryuuji was concerned, the place was more than good enough.
Whether or not it really suited him I cannot say, but for now he sat down on a bench near the locker room. According to the map of the inside of the building, on this floor was space for machines, and, separated by glass, there seemed to be a few special workrooms set aside. The list of workrooms showed a wide variety of things available to do; eventually they planned to try out some of them. And in the basement there was a pool and sauna. If it weren’t for Taiga’s glare, he by all means would have gone to try it out.
Painfully he paid 1500 yen more than he had planned to, though in truth Ryuuji had more than enough. Of course they wanted to get over the gloom from their fall fatness, but still, right now, it was 1500 yen. Now that they had grudgingly paid, they got to experience the gym. Glare, his sanpaku eyes gloomily glowed.
"Takasu-kun, sorry to keep you waiting---"
"Sorry about that."
The girls came out of the locker room, Ami and Taiga making their appearance. Taiga, like Ryuuji, wore differently colored rental outfits, but Ami ---
"... What? ... What’s that...?"
"What does it look like? I can dress down now and then too."
Ryuuji and Taiga simply left their complaint about Ami’s appearance hanging in the air. "Wh, what?", said the knowing Ami, tilting her head as if in puzzlement, that body, her beautiful form showing through the light T-shirt and yoga pants. You might expect her to be a model with impeccable style, like some two-dimensional cartoon character, but you would be wrong. She wasn’t what you might expect.
"'Kawashima’s like this?', you were thinking for sure. Right, Taiga?"
"That’s right. 'Bakachii dressing as expected', let’s call it a base hit."
The two of them 'like this' proudly showed their forms, their high leg leotards awfully tight. And at their hips, scarves fluttered for some unknown reason.
"Huh!? What’d you say!? Do you have a problem with what I wear!? Just what were you expecting of me?"
"Nooo, Bakachii’s wearing the bikini she used at the school pool. The gym leotard pinched so she changed into something with a little more space."
Right then, a lady with a cats-eye style leotard, a punch-perm hairstyle and too much makeup was about to cross in front of them. "Phew", there was a tail of too-strong perfume following her. Taiga escaped to the wall, scared, and Ryuuji reflexively held his nose.
"Wh, what now, something like a bad dream was going back and forth...!?"
"Ahh, it was, it was. All over town they say this place is a haunt of older ladies..."
Ami pinched her nose too, but soon got used to it. That time, a young female trainer noticed and rushed over.
"Kawashima-san, good afternoon! Do you have friends with you today?"
"Ah, good afternoon--! Thank you so much--! These two haven’t been getting enough exercise recently, could they try a visit? (♥)"
"Is that so? Aw---!"
She wore a professional smile, but for a moment it stiffened in fear. Of course, Ryuuji’s face begged for such thing to happen. They had kind of gotten used to it… Ryuuji firmly concealed his chagrin, to the last a gentleman, yet still rather a high school student,
"...Takasu is my name. I am just starting gym, so please show me what I must do."
He bowed his head gravely. When you know you look like a gangster, it looks good… and it’s the very easiest thing to do. The trainer nodded once rather like she recognized. "L, let’s start this afternoon! There are many things we can try, ok?", she said, her professional smile returning. Then she looked towards Taiga.
"This way, you’re Kawashima-sama’s friend, aren’t you! Hey, aren’t you the pretty one! Ah, perhaps, might you be one of her model friends?"
Before Taiga could say anything,
"No way! How can somebody like me hang out with such as them--! They’re a bunch of classmates--! Commoners they are, just commoners--! It’s just that we’ve gotten too fat from the fall!"
Taiga’s back showed insult in its very lines. Ryuuji gasped, his breath taken away. Seeing how things were going, Ami winked so she might not wind up a corpse. But her worry was unfounded.
"...Fattened by fall, Aisaka am I."
She gave a tortured shout, and then nodded. Taiga looked like she really planned to return and change back to her flesh-colored leotard. The trainer smiled and laughed,
"If that’s so, then first of all, shell we go over there and check your body fat and weight, and then put together a plan?"
"Well, rather than that, could we try some of the various kinds of personal training here?"
--- Could you give us 1,500 yen worth? The Scrooge in Ryuuji wanted him to say that. The line of machines on this floor wasn’t all that interesting, after all, since they didn’t want to exercise alone. The young lady trainer smiled and nodded,
"In that case, just past studio B the beginner’s basic yoga course is about to start. Would that be good for a warm-up?"
Three sets of eyes gleamed. The first stage would be yoga.
"Here’s a yoga mat. Spread it out."
Ami was handed a rolled up mat. Ryuuji and Taiga were a bit taken aback. The instructor wasn’t there yet, but in the studio at least ten young women were each in their places, drinking water and doing their stretches. They were all getting used to the scene: though it was a beginner’s course, the truth was that Ryuuji and Taiga seemed to be the only couple starting personal training.
"... So that you won’t be embarrassed, I will show you how to do it."
"Oh, me too. Kawashima will be used to this, right? Since you’re free, go to that place in the middle of the front row."
"Eh? Even though I was over there... ah, I’ll do it over here."
Together in a corner near the wall, the three of them laid out their mats. The rest of the people seemed to have come alone. Ryuuji’s group talked while drinking,
"Wh, what... This is the real thing, isn’t it? The one guy here will show you that learning by doing is best."
Ryuuji’s voice, even lowered, was strangely conspicuous against the healing music in the background. Ami looked back while seated in front in a cross-legged pose, Indian style.
"Just relax yourself. At your own pace, if you can just pose you’ll be fine."
She slipped off her thin T-shirt in a smooth motion. High-leg leotard nearly overdoing it, her yoga pants and navel-showing sports bra showed her form rather nicely. "Oh", "Seems to have a habit of showing herself off", Ryuuji and Taiga’s voices were a bit upset, but Ami said "This is best for yoga time."
Now that you mention it, there was an awful lot of exposure all around. Low-riser yoga pants fitting so tightly the panty lines were visible, showing their navels, several showing their bellies, several more in tank-tops, T-shirts clearly showing their body lines through the super-thin fabric everyone was wearing. Now that he realized this, Ryuuji didn’t know where to direct his eyes. Even Ami in front him, flat bellied with spine clearly exposed, arms outstretched, so dazzling… but it couldn’t be helped. Hardly so pretty as to be holy, she seemed rather too disagreeable to save.
Shock! It was Taiga’s voice over his shoulder. The strange thoughts drifting about this wholesome yoga studio seemed to have been discovered.
"Keep thinking like that and you’re going to get kicked where the sun doesn’t shine."
Taiga was holding out several hairpins she’d brought stuck in the hem of her T-shirt. Ryuuji skillfully made a ponytail from her long soft curly hair. "Spoiler", said Ami, but, as for Ryuuji, his glance found a refuge: Taiga’s very uncool rental wear. Ami, it goes without saying, but all the other young women’s outfits, with their strangely realistic skin-like textures --- they were surrounded, every direction polished like a mirror. In every direction everything was completely visible, as if it were heaven, as if it were an ordeal---
"Wow, that’s good! Even my head’s doing well!"
--- It’s a test!, thought Ryuuji, on the verge of shouting. Phew!,
a whiff of strong perfume and before their bugged-out eyes there was
the old lady, in yoga pants and yoga bra, suntanned yet creaking as she did her sit-ups. She was working hard, looking like Pharaoh with brown eye-liner dripping down her cheek (super scary!), her strangely long, silky, pitch-black hair also scary. From that direction came "Hey, I did it!" This looked to be a test without equal.
"Hey, stop teasing the guy! You wouldn’t like it in his place!"
"But it’s perfectly fine once in a while! Besides, we don’t see too many young guys here--!"
"Oh! Here they come! Hayano-san hurry up! Here, here!"
"They’re coming! Can you make some room, my friends are coming! Hey, I’ve heard the ugly lady instructor has quit!"
"Doesn’t that just figure!? She gave up, of course!"
A test. A test. This was definitely a test. Before Ryuuji realized it, the Aunt Squad had gathered around.
"Hey, youngster! Want to eat some of this?"
A bag of shrimp chips was held out to him. Through the yoga studio, healing music streamed down. For just that moment, Ryuuji’s frightening face lost some of its force. At any rate, it wasn’t scary for this bunch. Ami and Taiga, while vaguely rejecting the shrimp chips, let their eyes wander.
"Oh, Bakachii, arm-pit hair, arm-pit hair."
"Liar. It’s been permanently removed."
Those guys must have been making their own escape. Not liking sitting in the center of the front row, the two had quietly moved, leaving Ryuuji as a sacrifice, the stranger passing through.
"Th, those guys... this time it’s a conspiracy...!"
A towering impregnable wall of old ladies separated him from the area of younger women. "Ay", muttered Ryuuji, and shook his head. This was rather nice. Cutting through to get back would be a problem.
He tried to get ready, emulating the others by sitting on the mat and breathing quietly. Trying to achieve peace of mind, he closed his eyes tightly to escape from the distractions around him. Yes, a strange warm feeling was suddenly coming over him, though the aura coming from the withered old lady was preferable somehow.
"Hahaha! She’s gotten fat too!" "Gyahaha! She’s a housewife!" "It’s because that one’s house is poor!" "Hahaha! Want some shrimp chips!?" "Here, here, they’ve arrived! Yoshida-san, here!"
He didn’t want to hear --- no, he couldn’t hear anything. His heart was clear and serene, like still water. He hadn’t been gone too long from the world of old ladies when the female instructor showed up. In gray yoga pants and gray bra. But by then Ryuuji’s breathing had settled down, having been set in order.
"We're running late, so let’s get started with the lesson. ...Breathe slowly... breathe in... breathe out... in... out... concentrate below your navel... in... out... relaax... relaax..."
"This one’s the new teacher?" "Resembles a chicken." ... Relaax...
"Slowly... arms towards the ceiling… that’s right... breathe... stick out your chest... relaax..."
Sitting seiza-style with arms uplifted, they bent their bodies. Filling their lungs, oxygen got down to their navel. "It’s hot in here!" "Isn’t the A/C working!?" ... In... Out...
"Knees as they are… put your hands out front. Lower your head to the floor… slowly, and stretch as if you were drawing a big circle with the top of your head. Keep it there."
They grunted as they bent backwards to the Nagoya Castle killer whale pose. It wasn’t painful, the female teacher’s peaceful way of speaking keeping even Ryuuji calm. "You couldn’t do it! Hahaha!" "Eh, your way!? No way! I have bad hips!" "I’m gonna take a little break!" ...Keep going.
"Slowly get up... right hand to the right ankle, left hand in the air… feet spread wide, slowly... hold..."
Hold it steady... "What are we going to do for lunch!?" "That French place was awful!" "Rather expensive for what they give you!" ...Switch to the other side and hold. Through all the twisting and stretching, Ryuuji had his eyes half closed. Concentrate on your navel... ah, has Taiga fooled them...? I don’t know...
"Don’t force your body. Stand straight up… both hands raised up. Breathe deeply. Quietly... deeply. Close your eyes... open up your mind. Breathe together, move your bodies... keep your right hand straight in front. Lift your left leg behind you... bending your knees is OK, grab your ankle with your left hand as gently as you can... right leg steady... hold it there."
...I did it.
Ryuuji finished, cleanly snapping to one leg, purity coming from the area of his navel as if it were a lotus flower blossoming. He felt his senses open up. Grandma’s voice? Didn’t I hear... Has Taiga fooled them again? I don’t know...
Keep it there...
"Those old ladies made such a racket, I was completely unable to concentrate!"
"In your case, you did whatever poses you felt like doing. I couldn’t concentrate either because of it. Hey, Takasu-kun. ... Takasu-kun?"
"...Ryuuji are you listening? ... Ah, this guy’s chakra is open. Oy!"
Lightly poked, "Huh!", he returned to his senses. Ryuuji opened his eyes. Standing stock-still in front of the workout room, he realized that the yoga class was completely over. He felt pleasantly tired, and had a light sweat… his whole body felt lighter, but even more than that his head was clear. He instinctively approved.
"It seems that somehow ... I might like yoga...!"
Kinda looks like it, Ami nodded,
"For even one person to concentrate that way in the midst of all the racket from the Aunt Squad, that’s quite something. Especially with all those mirrors, you had to be a strangely forceful kind of person."
"Of course, in normal life, many things may be forcing you..."
"...What are you two trying to say about me? I’m better than that!"
Glare! Taiga frowned.
"Such quiet exercise won’t help to lose weight, Bakachii! You have to exercise hard enough to get breathing hard!"
"Yeah yeah, of course that’s so. In the end, it was a warm-up exercise, after all, I didn’t want to squash you... race you to the machines? We can watch DVDs."
"Eh!? Would that be machines like treadmills? No way for me, after that workout room, I’m restless to work up a sweat dancing!"
"Selfish fellow... ah, there’s something. Yes, yes, something that fits you to a tee..."
With Ami leading, Taiga and Ryuuji filed out of the glass-enclosed studio. Adult men and women performed ballet together in a studio, in another there were older people using the balance ball. There weren’t a lot of obvious amateurs amusing themselves with intense hip-hop dance in another studio. "So many things to do...", said Ryuuji interestedly, looking around through the glass. Before long, for some reason or other, a high pitched sound became audible,
"...Dancing to work up a sweat, wasn’t that what you described? If that’s the case, here’s your wish."
Ami came to a stop, pointing with her finger at the studio before her. Ryuuji and Taiga both realized where they were, and were frozen in astonishment.
"Aerobics – HARD", was written on the note naming the class in that studio, a butterfly --- no, a moth fluttered wildly about. Unfortunately, the cats-eye lady was already there. There was somebody in very bright, shocking pink tights, too. There was an middle-aged guy with a deep tan wearing a V-neck leotard (!) that exposed one of his nipples, another guy with purple, gold-spangled leg-warmers, a few other guys in ordinary jerseys, another guy so hugely overweight he could have been a sumo wrestler, and another person of unknown gender and unknown age, but so light and flexible he/she could do a triple spin easily.
There was a spray of sweat. The glass fogged up. A euro beat began. The teacher was really something else. "Hey, turn! One, two, three, four, hey turn. One, two, three, four, next time do it really good. Ready...set! Yeah, hey!" "Yeah, hey!" "Phew. Ah, I can’t! Can’t! Ow!" "Whoa!"
Bambambambam! Their bodies shook, and they all popped and jumped up at the same time like a bunch of shellfish. From a crouching pose, "...Hah!", they looked up. Clap! Clap! Clapping their hands, they started doing the Two-Step! Two-Step!
"...This is scary..."
Taiga sighed, and muttered. What might it be? Ami looked at Taiga, "We girls don’t want to do this. We’ll just do some of the quiet exercise machines." Ryuuji didn’t raise any objections. The three of them tried to leave quietly without anybody else seeing them,
"Noooo! Wait! Hey, come on!"
Startled, without thinking, the three of them turned around. Turning towards the heat-fogged glass, the chief moth, who was wearing a full-length gleaming golden tight and exuded a powerful feeling of sweat, that female (?) teacher spun around while he/she locked on to the three people trying to learn by doing. Their feet frozen in horror, they missed their chance to escape.
"Hey! Come on! Hey! Come on!"
"In-cha, in-cha", clapping time, while tapping a little cool-down step, he/she repeated through the glass at the students, "Come on! Come on!". Keeping the same expression, making the same look, keeping up the same step. ‘No way, impossible, seriously,’ the three thought as they slowly stepped back.
"What an experience! Aoow!"
Finally the spell on the door broke, and the golden moth appeared in the corridor. "Ewww!" "Yech!" "No way!" In nothing flat, the three of them were entangled, running about screaming and trying to escape, the smells of perfume, sweat and sneakers mixing together and crowded into that stuffy, hellish space. Their ears hurting to death from the high tension Euro beat, the teacher let out a shout through the mike, "No way, this can’t happen!" "Forgive me!" "No way, no way, no way, no way, no way" Dumped into the middle of the dancing crowd, the three’s voices were heard by no-one. And so a new round started.
Bah, everybody jumped up together, legs spread wide. The three were dumbfounded by the thunderous noise. But they really couldn’t help it, at any rate in this crowd, so reckless, magnificent and furious was their abandon. "Oh!"
"So, sorr...ouch!" "Hol, no! Sto...ah!" Arms bumped, stomach struck. Knocked down on their butt, trampled to death. Can’t stop, nobody can stop. Not wanting to die, you have to move like everyone else.
"Step! Step! Right! Left! Step! Step! Slow turn! Hmm... wow! Ha!"
Sweat flew around, glittering. Their heads were soaking wet.
At that moment, Ami’s hair came undone softly and fluttered about in the air. "Mm, sexy!", came a voice, Ami said "Wow!", and turned a bit more. "Hey!" At the sound, Ryuuji lifted his face, "Smile!" called the voice. Ryuuji answered "No!", showing his teeth. My face may be scary, but I’m OK with that. Taiga just kept dancing. Shake you booty! "Yahoo!" Bend backwards, pose to the max! Snap your fingers and jump with your legs spread! "Unnh...", curling the body, moving forward on tiptoes, "Experience!" --- And while you shout all together, you’re done! And everybody collapsed, the lesson done!
Waah... from the midst of the heat came applause, applause, and great shouts of joy...
--- "Huff, huff," ...painful gasps. Ryuuji, feeling he had lost something of himself, forgetting about the two girls, wept alone in the studio.