I explained to Kotomi of how I was the same person as she met 5-6 years ago, but in a different body. She seems to be believing every word I said even though I have been expecting otherwise. She seemed more friendly towards me than Itsuki.
Then, as though I’m hearing Itsuki’s voice from inside my head, he tells me that he has done changing and hidden the Mizuho uniform somewhere in the car. Come to think of it, I haven’t changed mine too: I was intending to change into what Kotomi is used to seeing me in, but time constraints didn’t allow for that, and I can’t wear anything over the uniform, except a lab coat. Since transferring into my current body, I’ve always found myself always wearing a skirt of a length halfway between my hips and knees, with the longest I could wear barely reaching my knees, and unable to wear longer ones or anything else, including jeans and traditional outfits, for reasons unknown to me. The timing of the new Mizuho uniforms seems as if it’s because of me that they made a major redesign after decades.
As scary as it was, my complete change of natural behavior six years ago still scares me. If I didn’t have Itsuki around, I might have forgotten what I was like. My mood keeps changing, but I am unable to express anger, which is why I can’t scold Itsuki even when he annoys me a lot. Since he’s with my original body, was tasked to watch over me, and with some tracking device inside me that I can’t turn off or remove myself, it’s hard to avoid him. I’m now living on what I had wished strongly for six years ago, but never expected for it to actually happen.
Me: “Oh, sorry to drag you into my sad story. Itsuki is waiting for us outside. I’ll handle your luggage and prepare the clothes for the funeral of your relatives.”
Come to think of it, I have never verbally said his name for a long time. The feeling of saying my former name from a third-person perspective gives me the creeps.
Itsuki: “Oh, Kotomi. I see you have met up with my master, this little girl with you. Hehe.”
“Master”? “Little girl”? What are you talking about? You treat me like trash just because I’m a female clone of you and think that you can do whatever to me without… oh whatever.
Me: “Just drive, seeing that you are showing off to her.”
I feel small with Kotomi and Itsuki both having already aged. I was supposed to be of the same age as them now, but my body is stuck as a teenager: neither a child nor an adult. Strange that Kotomi has yet to ask what I have been doing or called me by name. It was raining heavily with dark clouds when we left the airport.
Kotomi: “So, anything we didn’t discuss on the phone or online?”
There was a pause, probably too quick for Kotomi to notice. Itsuki can’t say that he works inside Mizuho or being forced to turn into a woman because of the work uniform. He came to my apartment yesterday to hide things like those clothes if Kotomi were to visit his house. It’s already troublesome enough to ask our parents to not talk about it with Kotomi around until the right time approaches.
Itsuki: “Oh, nothing much, just some work and all. I’m working there full time now. This girl with us here is currently in the third cycle as a high school student in first year, changing schools at the end of each cycle. I’m actually gaining knowledge on what is the latest trend and behavior among teenagers of a particular era, and maybe solve some mysteries and cases.”
Don’t remind me. Anyway, I explained to Kotomi about how I knew Nanami while at Kamisugi High (previous school I attended) and her resemblance to Kotomi. I explained on how Nanami is like while her family was still alive.
Kotomi: “You have certainly know a lot about her. I didn’t even know I had such a relative: my family tree on dad’s side is too big and confusing. I can’t control who my relatives above me are since I’m their decedents, but I can say if I want children, when they are born, or how many.”
Nanami’s grandparents and Kotomi’s great-grandparents both refer to the same people. Isn’t that confusing? The confusion was caused by Kotomi’s father and grandfather of being the eldest son and having children while still teenagers or in their early twenties. Kotomi has been complaining to me of how she was born when her parents had just graduated from high school and before being married. She also does not want to be the eldest child of so many siblings. By tradition of being the eldest child, she is supposed to stay with her parents even when they retire and grow very old, but they are thinking of leaving that to Kousei or Kuniko, Kotomi’s two youngest siblings, instead. Their parents had told Itsuki that Kuniko has been invading Kotomi’s bedroom while she’s away. The parents really do look too young to be Kotomi’s parents, but wouldn’t look odd for the younger children.
Kotomi: “By the way, have you seen my luggage? I’m sure we entered this car empty handed.”
I stored them inside me while you weren’t looking. Apparently, she doesn’t understand my hand signal for that. Giving up trying to understand, she asked mostly on what I was doing since she last saw me. I’ll give you what you want from your bag when you need it.
One of the things I talked about is about Itsuki and my parents still living at the old house despite offering financial assistance (I have too much money and they don’t earn much) and to live in a place I own nearby that is larger with better fixtures. Nobody is living there now, though Itsuki does drop by the house even when I’m not around.
We have reached the place of the funeral. Outside, the weather remains unchanged. It seems as though the rain itself represents Nanami’s sadness. I heard some of my staff from Powell discussing about me paying a lot for an unnecessary grand funeral place as the deceased is neither important enough nor rich. To be fare, the general public and the media also contributed to the funds, and I never touched the company’s funds for this funeral.
During the entire time, I quietly stayed away from Kotomi and her family until it was time to give things to Nanami. Kotomi’s dad was crying the most. The children had a look of being clueless of what they are even doing there.
I gave Nanami some of my money. It’s only small change to me, but it is a lot to most. She was thinking that I’m a relative’s friend’s sister, but she seem to have the odd feeling of familiarity when it was my turn. Nanami had never seen me before that moment for a long time, and I look different from when she last saw me. She might be shocked on how much cash I’m giving as it’s probably worth more than the total that everyone else gave. Kotomi noticed me giving me the cash.
Kotomi: “Itsuki, I will be heading back to the airport. There’s still the final exam to come.”
You are going back already?! Not even to go back home with your family?
Itsuki said exactly what I was thinking, but with delay.
Kotomi: “Don’t worry. I’ll be back after graduation. People from our high school already have expectations since not much students who graduate from there could even make to places like Todai, let alone a top university overseas.”
I wasn’t around when Kotomi graduated from there or found out about her being able to go there, so I can’t really say what happened.