It took Sayori all of her effort to not jump out of her seat, leap across the cafeteria table, and force Monika to look behind her.
"Hey." She whispered, pointing, "Someone's looking at our poster."
Monika's eyes widened, and she almost dropped her fork into her salad. Her one lunch break where she wasn't busy, and someone pays attention to the poster? It's like the stars were aligning in her favour.
She subtly turned her head to look behind her, quickly turning back before anyone could notice, sighing in frustration.
"I didn't see well, and if I look again, people will judge." Monika said, "Describe them."
Sayori looked again at the poster, the one that Yuri had made for them, advertising their brand new Literature Club, of which there were only three members, one short of the minimum required to be an official school club. A short girl stood in front of it, looking up at it, sipping her juice box.
"Um, she's short." Sayori noted, "Has to look up to see it."
"We put it at eye level…" Monika said, "If she decides to not join because we put it too high-"
"Okay, she has pink hair. Real skinny. I think she's a first year! I would know her if she was in the school last year, right? It's only September! ...Wait, what if she moved here recently-"
Monika took a sharp breath in and hopped out of her chair.
"We have to talk to her."
"What?" Sayori said as she pulled a cookie out of her lunchbox, "Oh, but I wanna eat my cookie…"
"This is more important than a cookie!"
"H-How can anything be more important than a cookie?" Sayori grumbled, showing off the smiley face icing on it, "Look! It's happy to be eaten!"
"Cookies are replaceable! People who could join our club are not!"
Sayori reluctantly put her cookie down and stood up.
"Fine." She pouted.
Yuri walked up to the table, carrying a sandwich.
"Oh, hey… Sorry for intruding, but…" Yuri managed to say before Sayori picked her cookie back up and shoved it into Yuri's free hand.
"Stay here and protect the smiley cookie!" She said, "We have important President and Vice President matters to attend to!"
Yuri frowned as Sayori and Monika walked off.
"...Hmph." She muttered to herself, "Guess I'm bringing both flavours of tea."
Natsuki stood in front of the poster, craning her neck to see what was written on it.
A quiet, laid-back environment to write and discuss literature of all kinds!
Natsuki wondered why this poster in particular stood out to her, pasted somewhat lopsidedly in the middle of a random cafeteria wall, covered in purple and black.
Perhaps it's fate?
If Natsuki had her way, the poster would be pink and white, proven by many to be the cutest colours in the world. Then again, if Natsuki had her way, she'd be reading her manga right about now.
She didn't have much time to dwell on that, however.
"Good afternoon!" Monika said as she walked up next to Natsuki, "How are you?"
Natsuki winced, whether it be at the sudden noise or the sudden socializing, and, without thinking, replied.
"Who the fuck are you?"
Natsuki's face turned slightly red from embarrassment, but she tried to keep her composure.
"Just act like that was on purpose." Natsuki thought to herself.
Monika pressed her mouth into a poker face, trying not to look too distressed at this short girl swearing at her.
"Oh, wow, that was rude..." Monika thought to herself.
Sayori awkwardly put her fingers together, trying to think of something to say.
"If I say something stupid, then we won't have a new member, and Monika will be sad." Sayori thought to herself, "But if I say nothing, then maybe we won't have a new member and it'll be my fault still! I want my friends to be happy…"
Yuri watched this from afar, eating her sandwich.
"I put too much mayonnaise on this." She thought to herself, "I'm drowning in mayo."
"Well…" Monika said slowly, trying to break the awkward silence, "I'm Monika! President of the Literature Club!"
"I'm Sayori!" Sayori chirped, "Vice President and Nice President!"
"Okay, that explains some questions I had." Natsuki replied, sticking an arm out to lean against the wall on in an attempt to look cool, "But, uh-"
"We need you to join the club!" Sayori blurted out, "We need one more member in order to make it an official school-sanctioned club, please just join!"
"...Sayori." Monika said in a deadpan tone.
"We might as well get to the point! You have an issue with skirting around conflict!"
"I do not!"
"I saw you in Debate Club, remember? You always started your arguments with 'That's a good point, but…' and-"
"That's called being polite!"
"No, it's called not wanting to start anything, Monika! You don't go full out!
"Ngh?! At least I don't blurt things out in… in front of our…" Monika slowly turned to look at Natsuki, still sipping on her juice box, "Our potential… Our potential new club member… Oh God, I'm so sorry."
Natsuki quietly cursed her existence for letting her have to socialize for longer than five seconds with a pair of strangers before shrugging, "Um, well… I don't have much else to do… When is it? During lunch?"
"..Isn't it on the poster?" Monika said.
"Oh, Yuri…! It's after school everyday, up on the second floor. We've been having unofficial meetings in Mrs. Taman's room… With her permission, of course! We have tea, and we talk about things, and we have a good time, and…"
"Sometimes Yuri reads a poem to us, and it's always good…" Sayori added, "Uh, and scary… scary good."
Natsuki tried her best not to look too excited at the prospect of having an excuse to stay out of her home so often. Most clubs only met up twice a week, or during lunchtime, but daily? That's a dream come true.
"I'll guess I'll come by." Natsuki muttered, "But, y'know, don't expect me to join or anything. I'll burn that bridge when I get to it."
"Shit, that's not the saying." Natsuki thought to herself, "Act like it was intentional! Play it cool!"
"Isn't it cross that bridge?" Sayori said.
"I know, it, uh…" Natsuki slowly replied, "It's a reference… To a book…"
Truth be told, Natsuki hadn't touched an actual book in years, only manga.
God help her.
"Just don't bring any strong scented items or be too loud." Monika said, bringing back up her professional persona, "Yuri has a sensitive nose and sensitive ears."
"I'm allergic to certain types of medicine!" Sayori chirped, before awkwardly tapping her fingers together, "But, uh… that doesn't matter, I guess!"
It was at this point that Natsuki realized that her juice box was empty, and she was still trying to drink out of it. Should she keep sipping? Should she just say something?
"...Okay." Monika said, breaking the silence, "We'll see you later… uh…"
"Natsuki." Natsuki replied.
"Okay! We'll see you later, Natsuki!"
Natsuki took a sip of her empty juice box in an attempt to not have to say anything else, but the telltale sound of empty slurping echoed out of the box. She sweated nervously, now having no excuse to keep her mouth shut. Natsuki prayed that they would just leave and not extend their goodbyes beyond a reasonable point.
"Oh, I'll throw that out for you!" Sayori said, grabbing the box, "See you!"
As Sayori skipped off, Monika following behind her, Natsuki felt a sudden sense of dread.
What did she get herself into?
Across the room, Yuri finished off her sandwich and stared at Natsuki. She pursed her lips, wondering what exactly her two new friends had to do with this girl.
"Oh, hey, Yuri!" Sayori said, snatching her cookie back, "Thanks for protecting my cookie."
"Don't mention it…" Yuri muttered.
"Ugh, my salad is all soggy now…" Monika whined, "But Presidential duties come first!"
"So, uh… what's with her?"
Yuri pointed at Natsuki, who was now sitting at a table all by herself, tapping her fingers against the surface.
"That's Natsuki!" Sayori said, "She's coming to our club meeting today!"
"She what?" Yuri replied, "You actually won her over?"
"We need to wow her…" Monika mused, "We need to make her think 'Yes! I want to give up countless hours of my life for this!' We need to…"
"We need to what?" Sayori asked.
"I was hoping I'd be able to come up with an idea before the end of that speech."
"Four members makes a full school sanctioned club…" Yuri said, "I suggest we show her the nuances of the different types of writing, and how they all help strengthen the work if done well!"
"...Or we could get some more smile cookies." Sayori said, munching on her cookie, "It's hard to not want to do anything when you're eating something so joyous!"
"Cookies don't have any connection to literature!"
"But they're tasty…"
"Okay, everyone!" Monika said as she clapped her hands together, "We'll do both! Sayori, you buy the cookies! Yuri, you get your spiel ready! I'll… I'll… Uh…"
"Help me buy the cookies?" Sayori said.
"Help you buy the cookies! We'll split the cost! How much do you have?"
"...Well…" Sayori muttered, averting her gaze, "Uh… negative eight dollars and thirty two cents…"
"Plus, I owe some money to some people…"
"And… And I kinda need you to… foot the bill…"
"...I'll buy the cookies, and you'll…"
"Oh! I can write some poems!" Sayori chirped.
Yuri instantly cringed at the idea of Sayori, simplistic and idealistic Sayori, writing poems for the new member instead of her, but she somehow managed to will herself into keeping her mouth shut.
"That's great!" Monika replied, "See you guys later today!"
An awkward silence ran over them as Monika blushed.
"We… We still need to eat…" Yuri muttered.
"Please don't rub it in, I'm already embarrassed enough as it is."