I have a younger brother. My brother’s name is Tachibana Kanata. And now his name is Shiina Kanata.
[….Nice to meet you.]
At that time, I was in the first year of high school and he was in the third year of middle school. The age difference between us was two years, so I was a little relieved that there would be no generation gap. And since there were not many people my age that I was close to, I was genuinely happy to have someone close to me.
However, I remember that when I first greeted him, his first words were blurted out in a tone of voice that lacked confidence and high spirits.
–An eerie, timid-looking child.
That was my first impression. I knew through my step mother that he had suffered some emotional scars due to some trouble in middle school. I was careful not to hurt his delicate heart. That was my task as a family member, as his step sister.
One week after we started living together, my father did not come home as usual. And my step mother, perhaps getting on track with her work, began to come home late. Inevitably, I spent a lot of time alone with him.
When I was a freshman in high school, I still had plenty of time to spend. I belonged to the archery club, but I didn’t take it that seriously and I didn’t stay up late. Because of this, I was able to devote some of my resources to Kanata.
On such an autumn evening.
[Erm, Kanata kun, what shall we do for dinner?]
[You’re not going to eat again today? You’re still growing, you have to eat, you know?]
He rarely comes out of his room. In fact, we haven’t even talked since we moved into our new house. We’ve only known each other for a week or so, and we don’t trust or believe in each other.
[…..Not today either.]
I continued to cook for the two of us, hoping he would come downstairs. Unlike my father, my step mother came home every day, so there was no problem cooking for two people. But if he didn’t eat anything, that would be life-threatening.
(I can only hope he’s eating something while I’m at school.)
He hasn’t been going to school since he started his new life with us. And since he never comes out of his room, I have no way of knowing his health. The door is locked and there’s nothing I can do if he were to collapse in his room.
After all, there was nothing I could do.
[…..I’m going to do club activities.]
Even on my day off, it didn’t show any results and I went to club activities. And I would leave him all alone. By then I knew there was nothing more I could do.
[In the first place, I had to do something about myself before I could do anything about others.]
I had decent marks in tests, achieved good results in my club activities, and had few friends. I started to realize that I didn’t have the time to care about others in the first place.
Besides, if he doesn’t want to be bothered, why should I bother to care about him at all? I even began to think that way. Why should I care about someone who rejects me?
[Haruka chan, I have something to tell you. That boy is, in fact, my……]
Still, I recall the words of the woman who became my step mother. On the day they remarried, I was surprised at what my step mother told me about her family situation. If that’s the case, that boy has always felt lonely……
That’s why, instead of abandoning him, I continued to call out to him through the door every day. There was no response at all, but still I kept going without breaking. I knew that doing so was the first step toward becoming a family. But nothing changed and time passed mercilessly.
Then one day, I collapsed due to a high fever. I soon found out the reason was that I kept pushing myself too hard.
In the latter half of my first year of high school, the difficulty level of my classes was coming into its own. In club activities, as a first-year student, I would go to the archery range earlier than my seniors to get ready, and at the end of the day, I would maintain the equipment and return home later than my seniors. Even though my days are busy, I couldn’t make the choice to rely on someone else. Because I’m a loner with few friends.
In addition, I shared housework with my step mother. However, my step mother worked until late at night, so I was practically in charge of the housework. My step mother always apologized to me for being too busy to do the housework, but I should’ve relied on her a little more if this was going to happen.
I knew that if I lived like that for more than half a year, I would break down one day. But if I didn’t make that much effort, he probably wouldn’t even look at me. But the result was that it all ended halfway.
(I’m such a wreck.)
As I endured the chills in my bed, I was confronted with my own feelings of worthlessness. My mother was worried the school contacted her, but I convinced her that I could take care of myself and got her to go to work. My father wouldn’t even know that I was running a fever. He’s a real jerk, only when I really want him to be there.
(Ah, I see…….)
In the midst of the weariness that made me feel like I was going to pass out, I finally realized. Why couldn’t I leave him alone? Because that bot is just like me.
I lost someone important to me in a way, but I still look forward, inspiring each other with my remaining family members, and I also keep moving forward, looking only ahead myself. But I know that this is a very lonely way to live.
Because no matter how hard I kept going, it never warmed my cold heart.
And so, my heart has completely cooled down, and now it’s Kanata. I’m still surpassing him, but I don’t know when I will end up like him. No, I may have reached my limit too.
I see, so I’m convinced that that is why I felt a sense of security when I had a family. A new family is usually difficult to accept. But I was honestly happy. That’s why I’m afraid of being left alone again. I can congratulate my father on his newfound happiness, but I wonder if he might have forgotten about me and…..
In my fading consciousness, I remember my mother who passed away when I was very young. I was really sad at the time, and my father couldn’t have been more distraught. But for a few months or so after the funeral, he took time off from his job, which he loved, to take care of me…….
(Oh no……my consciousness……)
I’m trying to cool my head down, but I’m getting so fuzzy that my eyes are getting empty. Remembering more of the past will only make my headache worse, so I’m going to sleep for now. If I do that, I’m sure it will get better and……
I woke up to my still sluggish body and checked outside the window. It was already evening outside. I’m still a little tired, but my fever has gone down a lot. It seems fine to move around a bit.
[Sigh, I’m a little sweaty and my clothes are sticky. I’m gonna change my clothes…and?]
As I was about to get up from the bed, I noticed something on my forehead. It must have been quite some time since I slept in the morning, but the heat sheet still feels cool and cold?
[Or rather, it’s pretty new.]
Could it be that they have improved their product? If so, it’s a tremendous progress. At any rate, I decided to leave my room and go to the first floor while appreciating the conveniences of advanced civilization.
But then I noticed something strange.
“Hm, was this house ever this clean?”
I know this because I usually pass this hallway many times. It wasn’t this shiny before I went to sleep. I usually clean up after myself, but for some reason it feels even cleaner today. Could it be that my eyesight has improved after a good night’s rest?
I went downstairs and went to the living room. Then, I feel someone’s presence there. No, to be precise, I hear someone sleeping.
There was a boy with a weak body and shaggy hair. For a moment I thought he was a suspicious person, but I immediately thought of him.
He was asleep, plopped down on a table in the living room. On the table was a plastic bag from a convenience store. I took a peek at the contents of the plastic bag, being careful not to wake up the sleeping Kanata.
(A fever sheet, sports drink…… jelly, and instant porridge.)
Apparently, he had left his room and gone to the convenience store while I was asleep. And there, it seems that he bought this for me.
(And maybe this too?)
Maybe he was concerned about my health and visited my room moderately to take care of me. He went out of his room all the way from the morning until now. If I look closely, I can see that he has a dark spot under his eye for some reason.
(And I thought the house was awfully clean.)
Perhaps he was doing house chores for me. Probably just cleaning, but he cleaned everything in sight. As expected, he didn’t go to my room, but the living room, kitchen, bathroom, toilet…..all of them were clean. There’s a big difference compared to the way I clean them.
(Well, that’s exhausting enough for him to sleep in a place like this.)
In other words, we became a tired duo. When I was thinking about that, I accidentally hit my foot on the chair. A dull thud was heard and a dull impact was felt on the table. And as a result
My eyes met his. I was feeling awkward, but he got up and headed upstairs as if nothing had happened. I wasn’t sure if I should let him go, so I bravely started to talk to him.
[Is this for me?]
He stopped, but he neither made eye contact with me nor spoke. In fact, he was so expressionless that I couldn’t even tell what he was thinking. But he didn’t seem to harbor any hostility toward me. Anyway, I decided to continue the conversation.
[You’ve done a lot for me. Um, ah……]
[……Why don’t you eat it?]
I tried my best to speak, but the words wouldn’t come out, so he quietly said so and went upstairs. Left behind, I warmed up the porridge in the plastic bag and started to eat it. At any rate, I need to eat something to replenish my nutritional needs.
Since I hadn’t eaten anything since this morning, the porridge that day tasted really good and I quickly finished it. I thought about having some jelly, but I was really full. The leftover jelly could be stored at room temperature, but I decided to put it away in the refrigerator for now.
[Little brother, huh.]
On this day, I realized for the first time that I had a younger brother.
If you enjoy our content, feel free to donate 🙂 Thank you in advance !