Chapter 24: This Must Be a Sibling Quarrel
Translated by Dawn
Chapter 24: This Must Be a Sibling Quarrel
It was the first day of the first-semester final exam.
I arrived at school with a mixture of nervousness, anxiety, and hope, and somehow happened to bump into Tsujikawa.
Perhaps because it was early in the morning, there were still no people on the street near the school.
I greeted her, and she greeted me back, albeit in a complicated way.
“…looks like you’ve got plenty of time.”
“I’m so nervous I’m going to throw up.
Thanks to you, I woke up earlier.”
After daring to come out with such flamboyance, the pressure on me was enormous, even if it was my own fault.
“How’s mom doing?”
Ever since that day, it’s because of you.”
I’m sorry I’ve been a burden to mom.”
“If you feel that way, why don’t you come home?”
“Because nothing will change if I come home now.”
“What’s there to change?”
Tsujikawa’s eyes were denying my words.
“We have a dad and a mom.
That is the ‘normal family’ that the world forces upon us.
It is ‘normal happiness’.
Now, no one will feel sorry for me, no one will pity me, and no one will assume that I am unhappy.
There is no more happiness than this.
…Both you and I have the perfect happiness of a family with no deficiencies.
What’s there to be unhappy about it?”
What had this girl, Tsujikawa Kotomi, been fighting against? How had she fought?
I thought I could see it clearly.
…..I was right.
You’re just as I thought you were, you know.
“…But I felt uncomfortable.
I didn’t want to go back to that house filled with what you call ‘normal happiness’.
“Then why didn’t you tell me? You could have told me from the beginning.
Why didn’t you tell me from the beginning that you didn’t feel comfortable and that you didn’t need my attention?”
“I know…….To be honest, it hurts my ears when you hit me with that.”
I couldn’t bring myself to refute it, so I ran away.
“Now that I think about it.
I should’ve said something sooner.
I should’ve told her earlier.
I should’ve discussed things more honestly with her.
If I had done that…..maybe things would have been a little different.”
“It’s too late now.”
“Indeed, It’s too late.”
Maybe it wasn’t about who was to blame.
There were no obvious culprits or villains in this issue.
I understood my mom’s concern for me.
I was never the good kid my shitty father wanted me to be.
When Tsujikawa Kotomi, the very embodiment of my father’s ideals, appeared……I could understand why she would be more cautious and concerned than necessary.
I also understood Tsujikawa’s desire for a normal family.
I grew up in a single mother-son home.
I understood the discomfort of people judging me as unhappy or pitiful, and the frustration of being scorned by my parents for raising me on their own.
I also understand the frustration of being helpless to do anything but watch.
And our family was on the verge of—breaking down, and no one, nothing, could say anything.
We had come this far without ever exchanging a word.
If there was a crime, the whole family was guilty.
“Even if it’s too late……it’s too late now, so I’m responsible for taking care of it.
This is fine, I’m your big brother now.”
“What are you trying to say?”
“You felt uncomfortable, too, didn’t you?”
Tsujikawa fell silent at my point.
As if I had hit the bull’s eye.
“Well, that’s right.
People around me are so concerned about me that they don’t mention how hard I’ve worked.
On the contrary, the harder I work, the more they’re going to shrug me off…even in everyday conversation, they’re going to pay more attention to me than they should.”
“…If mom wants me to do that, then I’ll do it.”
“I don’t want that.”
“I want it!”
“Do you think the happiness I’ve achieved at your expense will make dad happy?”
Tsujikawa’s eyes widen, revealing surprise as if she had been struck dumb.
“Right now, you said dad…”
I’ve been able to call him recently.
I’m sorry it took me so long to get here.”
It was a little embarrassing to say that again in front of Tsujikawa.
I’m cooperating with dad.”
“When I asked him to let me stay at Natsuki’s house, he bowed down with me.
I’ve been in touch with him behind the scenes…and he’s been worried.
About you too.”
“He also said he was sorry, for me and for you.”
From Tsujikawa’s point of view, this must be somewhat of a shock.
I destroyed the family, I destroyed the happiness that Tsujikawa believed in.
And she had no idea that her own father was involved.
“……Dad, looked happy.”
Tsujikawa looked down and without even looking at me, she let out a few words.
“Dad looks so happy ever since he married mom.
I’ve never seen dad so happy since then…so happy…that’s why…I didn’t want to break it……”
“…I know what you mean.
I’ve never seen my mom so happy either.”
“If you knew that……why did you destroy it?”
“If you can have that happiness without sacrificing anyone, it’s worth a try.”
I started walking again and moved ahead of my stepsister who was standing still.
“I hate tests, but I’m kind of looking forward to this one.
…It’s the first time I’ve had siblings fight.”
This was a quarrel between siblings.
The most common, mundane, ordinary, just a brother and sister fighting.
Let’s do our best together—Kotomi…”
Narumi-senpai moved forward and onward.
His back was somewhat dazzling.
He was different from the Narumi-senpai of a while ago.
That person had changed.
For the better.
If that was the case.
If change was a good thing.
What is it that I want?
All I can do is stand still, face down, and hope for constancy.
I knew that.
I knew that normalcy was the most difficult happiness to attain.
It was the most correct form.
“….I will not be defeated.
I will never lose to you….!”
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