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My One and Only…
The older we turn, the blurrier our earlier memories are.
But some memories will forever be ingrained in our mind.
I am not blessed with the Oracle like my wife—Nicole’s. Sometimes, I envy her perfect memory, but I’ve seen her suffer due to it, so…
My memories of ‘her’ became blurrier the older I got, but Nicole would kindly remind me of the memories if I wanted to hear them.
As time goes on, we talk less about her… even though we knew we would never have the closure we wanted, even though we knew how bitter we were with regrets. Time doesn’t really heal the wound; it only buries the memories even further.
It was unexpected that my wife would bring up about ‘Reinst coming to see her in her dreams’ suddenly.
“I’m not sure if it’s true or not, but it felt so real… I guess I’ll know sooner or later, as I made Reinst promise me to give me a sign if this was real…,” she said with a wry smile.
“How nice it would be if it was really her…,” I said as I patted her.
“Yeah… I wish she would come and meet you, too!” Nicole suddenly said.
“…Yeah,” I smiled, although I knew it might never happen.
All our lives, Reinst was told that I wasn’t her ally at all, let alone family.
I still remember vaguely of the time when we were younger…
It was natural for children of the same age to be eager to play with each other, right? And we lived in the same house, saw each other every day.
And I remember how we—as children—would often want to play together.
While my mother didn’t seem to mind my wanting to play together with her… Reinst’s mother didn’t agree. I still remember her sharp glare at me whenever she tried to separate me from Reinst. And how awful her scolding was to the maid who was in charge of Reinst, who let her play with me.
But the more you forbid a child from doing something, the more that child wants to do it. Reinst and I were the same. We secretly played together—I wonder if she still remembered those time? I only remember vaguely…
Yet at one point, Reinst’s mother had enough of it and scolded us fiercely. My mother came to my rescue quickly, but Reinst had received her scolding.
Then, I wasn’t sure why, but Reinst started to avoid me gradually.
But after I turned into an adult, I understand.
Dahlia—her mother—seemed to plant negative ideas about me in her head.
That, reinforced with Dahlia’s fierce scolding to Reinst, seemed to be effective in making us turn into strangers with a portion of shared DNA.
And I stopped trying to reach out to her because I didn’t want her to get into trouble… and I didn’t want to face her unfriendly glare towards me.
Before we turned nine, Reinst had the same hostile glare as her mother whenever they saw me.
I was her rival.
I was the reason why she had to study and train a lot.
I was the reason why her mother was so strict with her.
I was the reason why her life was miserable, why she was robbed of her childhood.
Perhaps it was also easier for her to view me as the scapegoat at that time.
It was so bad that if her people were to hear me mentioning Reinst, they would assume that I was talking bad about her, or anything about rivalry.
As such, my mother and I used the code name ‘carnation’ or ‘Carnatia’ to refer to her. Carnatia was Reinst’s middle name, and although the correlation was easy to see, she was never called that way, so it was safer than mentioning her name.
After Domi was born, her hostile glare towards me stopped—but it was replaced by her lifeless eyes. I wasn’t sure if I would rather see her like that.
Even as our so-called rivalry was dropped with no winner among us, our status quo remained.
Looking back at it, I believe there was no reason for Reinst to reach out to me, not after what her belief of me was constructed—by her mother.
As for me… I was a coward. I was afraid of her rejecting me, so I would rather us remain like that. I remained hopeful that I could take things slowly and eventually, I would have the courage to repair our relationship.
As to why I still wanted us to be close, despite our bad history…
It was as simple as the joyful memories I had with her when we were small children. For we only had each other to play together, to learn the swords together.
Plus, my mother had a brother who was close to her. Their sibling relationship became a good example for me.
Back when she was still alive, we couldn’t really spend the time bonding alone. Nicole’s presence as our ‘bridge’ really helped. Dahlia took care of her image all too well, and so, whenever Nicole and I were with Reinst, she wouldn’t scold Reinst or me just like when we were little.
Dahlia was… yes, a perfect example of a two-faced person.
In front of others, she would try to be good. But behind them, she would speak ill of them, telling her daughter to never let her guard off against the others—as if we were all evil and nobody would want to wish her daughter well.
She viewed the others as ‘competition’.
Such a grim view of the world—one that she ingrained to Reinst, sadly.
I thought I was doing well in progressing slowly with Reinst.
I was really happy when I managed to dance with her during her coming-of-age ceremony, and how I was able to look back at Dahlia in the eye during that party… and how I felt victory over her, for she just turned away from me and Reinst who were dancing.
Perhaps Dahlia was also starting to feel indifferent towards me, for Domi was already there. Or perhaps she knew her brainwashing of Reinst was successful that she didn’t need to worry about me influencing her in a bad way.
It didn’t matter. What mattered to me was how we were able to start getting along well as siblings.
And from that day onward, I was sure we could slowly fill the gap between us and eventually… I would be able to be a good big brother to her, that I would be able to make her smile sincerely, again.
…But time was cruel, it wouldn’t acknowledge my feelings.
The world took her away from me, before I could even make her smile, before I could tell her about how I cared for her, before I could become a big brother for her…
I felt as if it was mocking me.
Haha, take that, you coward! Why were you stalling for time? You thought you had all the time in the world to accomplish your lifelong goal?
If only I was braver…
If only I took the risk sooner…
Would I be able to change her fate, too?
I am her big brother, yet I couldn’t do a single thing for her… my one and only little sister…
When I heard her death announcement, no tears fell from my eyes. My heart wasn’t sad. Rather, my whole being was numb. Everything felt so unreal…
I could only cry when Nicole visited me before Reinst’s funeral.
At that time… she looked sad and it was apparent that she had bawled her eyes out. Even so, when she looked into my eyes that time, tears quickly fell from her swollen eyes again. She then pulled me to her embrace as she continued to cry.
“Clyde… She is no longer here…”
Nicole’s words were simple and stated nothing but the truth that my brain had known before that… but for some reason, the wall that I had in my heart just crumbled… I cried together with her.
Perhaps I was refusing to acknowledge that fact all along. I was waiting to hear that it wasn’t real. But Nicole’s pitiful state that I never saw before, her tears, and her words… everything was like a confirmation that this cruel news was indeed real.
We talked a lot after that, I talked about everything I could remember about Reinst to Nicole at that day.
During her funeral, I could keep a straight face… but I couldn’t say goodbye to her. I didn’t want to.
And perhaps due to hearing my childhood story of Reinst, Nicole was triggered upon seeing how fake Dahlia seemed during Reinst’s funeral.
I hated her. Hated Dahlia, for making everything turn this way.
For making Reinst and I never really got along well.
…But more than anything, I hated myself for not having the courage to do anything while she was alive.
Every year, I would come to Reinst’s grave during the time when nobody was there, so I could sit down and spend the time to talk to her…
“Hey, Reinst. It has been one year, huh? Are you happy over there? The other day, Nicole and I watched the finale to the series you liked. It was great…”
“A new cake shop just opened close to our school. I know you secretly still love sweet things. Here, I bought you one. Let’s eat together.”
“Have you heard, Reinst? The prince is getting engaged to some noble girl we never really knew… I wonder if the prince ever thought of you even once after your death? I mean, you two were almost engaged…”
“Reinst, this is unexpected, but Nicole and I are dating…”
“…I’m sorry for not being able to become a proper big brother to you when you were alive… my little sister… I…”
“Hey Reinst. I’m bringing Nicole with me to our sibling time. You don’t mind, do you? She was… your best friend, right? She has now become your sister-in-law, too…”
“Reinst, sorry for coming late. My son was just born… We named him after you, here, see your nephew… If you’re still here, I wonder if you’ll have a child by this time? It would be great if our children could get along well…”
How odd it is?
I could never talk to you like this when you were still here, but after you were gone, everything sort of slipped from my mouth…
There is really no medicine for regrets.
Losing you made me realize how happy I would be if I could talk like this with you when you were here…
But what was I expecting from talking to you like this? Was I hoping that you’d hear me as a spirit and then you’d be happy?
I guess you wouldn’t.
I guess you would be angry at how incompetent I was.
About how it was all too late…
I know, I know.
That’s why I sort of gave up… I guess I would never get any closure when I was alive.
I am not sure if you’d be there and be willing to meet and talk with me even when I can finally see you after my own death…
From the bottom of my heart, Reinst… I really care about you. I love you as my little sister. Even if we never really got along well.
And I’m… I’m really sorry.