Now that I’m back from my university graduation trip, I have called Itsuki over to pick me up in that large car the last he picked me up. This time, I have carried all my stuff from the dormitory, the things I had bought and received since my first year there, and some souvenir for my friends and family in several luggage. It was a struggle just bringing it to the check-in counter from my friend’s car back in California, and again from the luggage collection point here. So, taking the long train ride with all of these by myself is out of the question, and my family does not have a car. My uncle is obviously too busy with his work.
When I called him to pick me up before I boarded my plane, Itsuki sounded rather reluctant to do it. He did, however, tell me to wait at the back end (following the flow of traffic there) of the airport’s pick-up point. His car should already be there, or less than an hour, after my plane landed.
I headed to the specified pick-up point. I do see that car, but not my boyfriend. Instead, it’s that so-called sister of his, Mamiko, again. Of all people, why is this (near-)perfect girl here in his place? It’s a long story, but she makes me depressed everytime I look at her. And what is that she’s wearing now? It not casual clothing for sure, but except for the colours it looks quite close to a business attire.
Me: “Now Mamiko, where is he hiding this time?”
Saeko: “Erm, call me Saeko instead, his younger sister. That’s what I’m known as here. Anyway, he’s busy at work and couldn’t come here. Since my school has ended for the day. He told me that you needed help to carry your luggage, so I brought my car along.”
So that makes what you are wearing a school uniform. Wait, you’re still in high school? I thought we were in the same year 4-6 years ago. You mean you are in the high school first year for the third time?! What were you thinking??? Then again, she looks exactly the same as though she never aged, except for that hairstyle. It’s hard to tell if she doesn’t ages until I get a lot older since the current gap is still too small to notice. But what about that car?
That still does not explain how you brought the car here. From the way she said it, she might have also indirectly said that she can’t drive. If she can’t drive, and Itsuki is not around, how did she bring the car here?
After bringing my luggage onto the car and wearing my seat-belt, I noticed that Saeko was sitting at the front passenger seat instead of the driver seat. She’s just lying there, reading what appears to be a normal textbook as though we are waiting for someone else, when the car started to move. What? Don’t tell me the handbrakes are faulty.
Me: “Hey Saeko! The car is moving by itself! We’re going to crash!”
There’s an another stationary car parked in front, and the car I’m in is moving faster. Just as I thought we would crash, the car seem to have already overtaken it. What happened? Saeko wasn’t even looking when it happened! Let alone be in the driver’s seat…
Saeko: “This car is specially designed so that I could just sit back and let the car drive me to where I want it to go, even if I don’t know the way. It seems to only work for me when I’m inside though.”
I remained scared throughout the journey. I know I’m amazed to seeing a vehicle moving by itself as though there’s a driver like the subway trains in some countries, but not with me inside! I tried to shake Saeko out of fear that we may actually crash, but she seems to be glued to the seat, despite not wearing a seat belt. How did she do that? I didn’t see her doing anything special before and during the time she boarded the car.
Me: “By the way, what have you been doing these days? You don’t seem to have aged since I last saw you the night after my high school festival five years ago.”
Saeko doesn’t seem to want to talk about it, but did admit that she is stuck at fifteen years of age. Entering a high school right after graduating from an another is hell for her. She doesn’t want to, but Itsuki or someone at work made her do it with the reason being gaining knowledge and studying trends or something for the Hatsuya corporation. Despite me being a relative of the director and having worked there before, I still don’t get what they are up to. It’s as though they are hiding something from me.
Some weeks later, I managed to secure a job in the more built-up areas of Tokyo with lots of skyscrapers. Since Nanami’s house is the closest and with my great-grandmother there too, I might as well stay there until something happens. The house where my parents and siblings are is kind of far and need to rush if I were to make it to work in time. I’ve never been there before, so I needed instructions. She did send me a photo of the place taken during a summer day, but I don’t know how different it looks like during a winter’s evening, which is right now.
Fujibayashi… Fujibayashi… Is it this house? Oh? My great-grandmother is standing there.
I brought the stuff I brought along and left it at the bottom of the stairs that would lead to my room. This house feels kind of creepy: I can still see a bit of the blood stains around where the family was found dead. Great-grandma introduced me to Nanami like I’m some kind of idol. Really, what’s so special about me? Well, the tests I have taken since primary school seemed easy, but they place me at the top of the ranking list most of the time for some reason. So, maybe I am smart without knowing it? That’s a shock. It’s a huge contrast with my boyfriend when I first met him though: he barely got in the high school I went into, but I’m overqualified for it. Since he became a girl though, she’s mysteriously even better than me overnight, richer on top of that. Oh, back to my cousin, Nanami.
Great-grandma: “Let me introduce you two to each other. Kotomi, this is Nanami Fujibayashi, my granddaughter. She’s just graduated from Stand**** University in America and is now 21. Nanami, this is Kotomi Miyazawa, my great-granddaughter. She’s 16 years old and is a second-year student of a school around here.”
Hm? I’m related via great-grandma on dad’s side? (That also means that she’s not related to my other cousin, Aiko Hirano, who is on mom’s side.) Hold on, Nanami is her granddaughter and I’m the great-granddaughter? But I’m older than her, how can that be? Did she also mention the school Saeko was at before her current one?
Nanami looked at me intensively as though she has seen me before despite the current one being the first.
Nanami: “Hm? Where have I seen you before?”
Me: “It’s me, Kotomi! Surely you have seen me when you were 9 back in April 2004. You were even playing with my younger siblings back then.”
To tell you the truth, I wasn’t paying attention whom she was playing with back then as she’s one of the many unfamiliar faces in my extended family. I know it can’t be Kuniko, my youngest sibling, as she was still a baby then though.
Nanami: “I do remember that I was playing with someone during Hanami when I was younger, but not the faces though. However, I have seen you quite recently though.”
Great-grandma: “She was at the funeral.”
Great grandma said that out of nowhere and walked away. On that, Nanami thought hard to recall the scene back then.
Nanami: “You had a boyfriend whose younger sister gave me the largest sum of money! I thought the bag contained clothes until I opened it! Never seen someone like that before. You sure are lucky for you to meet a family that rich!”
That came out of nowhere… What’s she said is true though. I can’t tell her about the truth about Saeko since I’m somewhat involved and I’m already recalling the horrors I went through. Still, what should I tell her? The odd silence created by me thinking now is already drawing suspicious.
Me: “Yeah, I myself didn’t know they were that rich, since it happened out of the blue. They portrayed the exact opposite image when I first met them: poor, typical house, minimal furnishing inside, some dust here and there. My boyfriend is jealous that his younger sister is more popular than him, but at least he got me. I don’t know what made me like him though, like he’s a magnet to me. Since then I can’t stop thinking of him, like I’ve been brainwashed to not want anyone else. I went crazy when I didn’t see him for a long time, but meeting his sister during that period of absence calmed me down since she resembles him a lot, though I still wanted him. I’m surprised that I’m even aware of this spell. Wouldn’t be surprised if he proposes to me anytime now, we’ve known each other for 6 years already.”
Yes, even after all these years, I still don’t know why I’m attracted to Itsuki like a magnet: there was nothing special about him, and there are many other guys competing for my attention. The worse part? It was me who did the first move…
Me: “Can you show me my room?”
Nanami: “Sure, come with me.”
She helped me to carry my luggage up the stairs and opened the door of a room that already has furnishings.
Nanami: “This was my older brother’s room, but I never step into this room myself. So I don’t know if he has things hiding around that may offend you.”
There was a hint that she was crying in her mind. Knowing guys, I know that there are magazines and other things that they won’t let us girls know.
On the desk are some notes, photos of what might be her brother with people we don’t know, and some other stuff. Her brother seemed to be of the same age as me.
Nanami: “My brother used to tease me, but assists me when I needed help. He does make mom mad from time to time though. Dad would talk to me some interesting things he did before he married mom. You can use or give away unimportant things belonging to my dead family: those are
no use to me, and I don’t want to cry again just because I am reminded of them.”
Me: “You seem to have an interesting family.”
My family is even more chaotic with mom doing everything and my siblings being demanding and noisy that there is hardly any silence. When I brought my friends over back there, they were shocked at the madness I had to put up with and how young my parents were. The are probably still teenagers when they had me.
Great-grandma: “Kotomi? Nanami? Dinner is ready!”
The voice came from downstairs. Guess I’m feeling hungry already.
After dinner, I attempted at unpacking my things. The office attire that Saeko bought for me fits me perfectly, but how does she know my measurements? Since most of the shelves and
cupboards are filled with stuff belonging to Nanami’s late brother, I didn’t take much of my stuff out of my bag. I can call saeko over to help me since during the last I asked her to carry my things, they seem to have mysteriously disappeared until I need something from it.
My first day of work came. I asked Itsuki and Saeko to pick up things that neither Nanami, my great-grandma, or me wants anymore, during the time I would be at work. They keep assuring me that there would be no problem when I said that there may be heavy items and need the whole
week to get everything out. I didn’t say that the house is Nanami’s… but I did say the address of the house and that my great-grandmother is there.
How long it would take to get to work is currently unknown, since it’s my first time. During the interview, I came straight from my house outside the times the train would be packed.
Guess what? It’s even worse than the time I took the train to school. The train was so packed that there wasn’t any gap between me and other people. To make matters worse, staff at each station tries to squeeze even more people onto the train. As a woman, I don’t like the upper front part of my body being pressed against anything since it forces me to blush unnecessarily that causes me to not be able to think properly. Why do I even have these things? They started expanding during my last few years of primary school. “It’s normal for people of your gender” was the answer my uncle gave me. Really? I thought I have tumors, and the shape is freaking obvious no matter what I wear. He also added that the smarter I am, the bigger they are, using me as an example of it. What rubbish! Sadly, there are official reports from last year in the news somewhere supporting this.
After some mental torture, which I’m likely to go through again and again, I reached the building where I would begin work from today. It’s not on a floor as high up or as big as the first house Saeko brought me to though.
Boss: “Oh! It’s the newbie, Ms. Kotomi Miyazawa! Welcome!”
He introduced himself before introducing me to my co-workers. It’s too much for me to remember what they said for their self-introduction though.
Boss: “She has scored top marks in middle and high school, did well in Stand**** University in California, with work attachments to many companies like ****os***, **ogle, *ppl* at the nearby ***icon Valley, and has even contribute greatly to the Hatsuya research institute here. At such tender young age too.”
I started to miss that place. Those achievements are not important to me though.
Me: “Oh, boss, that was nothing.”
Colleague A: “Are you single? Want to go out together with just the two of us?”
My first day here and you are already asking such questions?
Me: “I’m already in a relationship with someone for six years now already. Sorry.”
Yes, 2004 was six years ago. This included the time Itsuki became a girl in mid-2005 and me being overseas during my university days. That means I have never see Itsuki as his original self in person for about four and a half years, which, sadly, is still a girl. The other Itsuki is what the Itsuki I liked would have done if the event never happened. For legal and biological reasons, I can’t go out with the latter (but I want to) and had to go with the former if I want to maintain the relationship. At least they both know me and each other well. It’s now December 2010… Time sure do fly by quickly.
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