My apologies for the earlier mistakes. Let’s correct that:
The room was enveloped in darkness as I faced my sister.
[What is it?]
[Come with me.]
The room shrouded in darkness crumbled at that moment.
“Ah… a dream.”
In my room, only the morning alarm was ringing.
The relentless alarm pulled me from my slumber at 7 AM. Normally, the sound of an alarm is a symbol of despair for me, but today, of all days, I couldn’t help but applaud its existence.
“…I can’t believe I had a dream about her.”
Yes, today’s dream featured the person I despise the most in the entire world—my sister, Maya Kimisaki.
In the dream, my sister was just like in reality, with her jet-black hair and captivating eyes. It was an exact replica of the hell I’ve been through for the past few months.
“A traumatic experience can lead to vivid dreams.”
It’s just a personal theory, but I’ve experienced it more times than I care to remember. Trauma tends to run much deeper than you might think. The fact that my sister appeared in my nightmare strongly supports this idea.
Getting out of bed, the words my dream sister spoke to me echoed in my mind.
[Come with me, Yuran.]
I couldn’t help but ponder the meaning of my dream sister’s words. The words she said in a dream were nothing more than fantasies with no connection to reality. However, they were etched into my mind so deeply that I couldn’t forget them.
“I wonder what she meant by ‘come with me.'”
The words my dream sister uttered. They were just fantasy, but they had left such an impression that I couldn’t shake them from my thoughts.
“But there’s no use dwelling on it.”
There’s no point in seriously contemplating something like that. I shouldn’t waste my precious morning time on it. I resigned myself to my thoughts and headed for the sink.
As I was about to go to the sink and start preparing my coffee maker with a few fresh coffee beans, I heard the shrill sound of the intercom echoing through the apartment.
“Who could it be at this early hour?”
I hadn’t ordered anything online, and nobody would normally visit me this early in the morning. Who in the world…
“Could it be… Ginro-san?”
Ginro-san once waited for me at the nearest bus stop when we first started commuting together. It’s entirely possible.
With trepidation, I glanced at the monitor. What I saw was a girl carrying a large travel bag.
The voice I’d heard recently but hadn’t expected to hear in person. It was Mana.
I had not expected that it would be my estranged younger sister, Mana, who had come to visit me so early in the morning.
Honestly, I was left baffled by this turn of events, and Mana’s actions were causing me a headache. Nevertheless, I couldn’t leave her outside, so I allowed her into my apartment, and now she’s sitting on the living room sofa.
Mana, who carried an absurdly large suitcase, was beaming with excitement, in stark contrast to my bewildered state.
This suitcase is ridiculously huge; it looks like something you’d take on a month-long overseas trip…
While I silently lamented the excessive size of her luggage, I realized I needed to ascertain the purpose of her visit, so I started questioning her.
“Mana, why did you come here?”
“Because I missed Onii-chan.”
“But it’s a weekday today, I have school, and you do too. Plus, didn’t you tell Mom and the others that you were staying over at a friend’s house?”
“I have the week off from school, and I lied to Mom and the others.”
“Yeah! I promise I’m not lying, or I’ll drink a thousand needles.”
“But you know… you could have at least notify me”
Mana is smiling so broadly that I think she could compete with the 100-carat night view without seeming to be offended.
A surprise, huh… Well, it’s certainly an unexpected one.
“Could it be… that I was a bother?”
“Frankly speaking… well…”
Mana is at a loss for words as she looks up at me with moist eyes.
That’s not fair, not fair…I can’t say anything if she looks at me like that….
I don’t know if this superior look is natural or intended, but I’m really vulnerable to my sister’s superior look.
I don’t know if it’s natural or if she’s trying to make a point, but I’m really vulnerable to the way my sister looks at me.
Her eyes, filled with emotion, made it even more difficult for me to speak sternly, and I couldn’t resist the power of her upturned eyes.
“T-the truth is, I didn’t come here just for a surprise.”
A moment of silence.
Mana’s single sentence hung heavily in the room, making the already tense atmosphere even heavier.
To break this heavy air, I asked Mana a question.
“So, why did you come here?”
“…Because I was feeling uncomfortable at home.”
Mana’s answer was straightforward, and she seemed to have no trouble sharing her feelings.
It’s understandable; she’s 15 years old, right in the midst of adolescence. Conflicts with her parents were likely to become more common.
“I’m sorry… but I thought it might be better to tell you.”
I gently patted Mana’s head.
“Aren’t you angry?”
“No, I’m not. It’s okay.”
While I was surprised earlier by her sudden visit, ever since we reunited last month, I had made up my mind to do anything I could for Mana. It might sound hypocritical to call it atonement, but it’s my way of showing some sincere effort.
Well, that’s what I’m thinking in my mind… but in reality, I was just happy that she turned to me.
“Thank you, Onii-chan.”
Mana had a blissful expression on her face.
A smile I hadn’t seen in so long, a smile I couldn’t bring out before. It’s a bit embarrassing to say it myself, but just seeing that smile made me feel strangely relieved. I might as well keep this feeling locked up inside, as expressing it might be a bit awkward.
“Mana, do you want some coffee?”
“Yeah, I remember I was making some earlier.”
Mana’s arrival had made me completely forget about it, but I had actually prepared some coffee right after waking up.
By the way, this coffee maker was a gift from Ginro-san.
Ginro-san liked coffee in addition to spicy food, and she wanted me to appreciate the goodness of coffee too. That’s why she gave me that coffee maker.
“Oh… um, yes, I’d like some!”
“No need to force yourself, you know?”
“Nah, I’m not forcing myself! By the way, when did you start drinking coffee?”
“Oh, probably influenced by Ginro-san.”
“Hmm? Did I say something weird?”
Mana, who had been smiling brightly just moments ago, suddenly lost her smile.
Huh? Did I say something wrong?
I’m not a morning person, and even my own words from a few seconds ago slipped from my mind. That’s why I dislike mornings.
“No, it’s nothing! Ginro-san really likes coffee, isn’t it?”
“Ah, she loves it.”
“Yeah, that’s surprising.”
“Just because… I mean, you don’t really drink coffee, right?”
“Oh, was it like that?”
“Why don’t you remember?”
“Uh, don’t look at me like that.”
Mana gave me a look that said, “Really, this guy?” My memories about whether I liked bitter things or not were getting a bit fuzzy now that I had made drinking coffee a part of my daily routine.
“Well, whatever! Please give me some coffee!”
“Sure thing. Do you want sugar or anything?”
“Nah, it’s fine.”
“Really? This coffee is pretty bitter, you know.”
Mana stretched her arms wide, expressing, “It’s fine,” with her whole body. Her bright smile and the way she conveyed it with her entire body made me find her adorable. Now that drinking coffee had become a daily habit, the little frustrations of the morning and the surprise visit had all faded away. My heart was simple like that.
“Here’s your coffee.”
As soon as I handed the coffee to Mana, she immediately took a sip.
She really likes it…
“Mmm, it’s delicious!”
“It’s not supposed to be like that, you know…”
Mana’s way of drinking coffee was definitely strange. She downed it at the speed one might drink a bottle of sports drink after club activities.
“Don’t you think coffee is meant to be sipped more elegantly?”
When I pointed it out, Mana blushed and covered her face with her hands. However, even the parts of her face she couldn’t hide turned bright red.
“You’ve never drunk coffee before, have you?”
“Sorry, I haven’t.”
“I thought so. Wasn’t it too bitter?”
“Yeah, it was really bitter.”
But she was drinking it so happily that maybe Mana had a good poker face after all.
“Oh, it’s time for me to go.”
“School, you know?”
While Mana was temporarily lost in thought, I quickly put on my school blazer, grabbed my bag, and finished getting ready for school.
“Ah ~ right, school… I totally forgot. You did mention it, though.”
“I’m sorry for inconveniencing you even though you came all the way here.”
“But I came over on my own, so it’s totally fine! I’ll wait.”
“Are you sure? About being alone…”
“I’m already in 8th grade, and I’ll be a high schooler in two months! Trust me!”
“Oh, right… Sorry.”
“In your eyes, I’m probably stuck in 3rd grade or something.”
“Yeah, that might be it.”
So that’s why I’m weak against Mana’s puppy-dog eyes… Wait, isn’t that just plain lolicon behavior!?
“Well, I’ll be waiting!”
“Yeah! Feel free to open the fridge and stuff.”
“Also, I’ll be back as soon as possible.”
“I appreciate it, but you don’t need to rush.”
“But still, come back quickly!”
“Which is it?!”
I dashed to the front door, changed my shoes, and waved to Mana, saying,
That was all I said.
This phrase used to be taken for granted, but after experiencing the loneliness of living alone, the significance and weight of these words changed. It meant that there was someone waiting for me. I reflected on the “happy weight” of that phrase as I headed to school.