* 23 *

My room had gotten awfully dim. I heard the chirping of crickets outside the window.
I had settled down considerably. And I felt that a small flame had lit deep in my heart.

Strangely enough, I was calm.
I consented to the fact that I wasn’t the right man for Tsugumi, and that I could never beat Tokiwa.

So then what am I to do?, I asked myself. That's easy, I replied.
"My double just needs to be taken out."

I readily accepted this answer I'd derived.
Wouldn't say I was at my most sane, no.
Because in short, I considered murdering Tokiwa, this man taking my place.
Then, of course, Tsugumi would be lonely again and move toward me, the next best thing.

No matter how you looked at it, it wasn't rational, and even if I succeeded in murdering Tokiwa, it was difficult to say it would fundamentally solve everything.
In fact, if Tokiwa were to die at this time in their relationship, it was very possible that Tsugumi would deify him and not even try to look for any other men.

But regardless, in that moment, I was very serious. I even selfishly thought "This is for Tsugumi's sake, too." Despite how she would clearly be happier the way things were now.
Those driven into a corner really don’t tend to have good thoughts. Their outlook is too narrow.
Altogether, I have to admit my second self was a complete and utter dumbass.

Depending on how you looked at it, my mental age could've been considered twenty-nine: twenty years of one life plus nine of a second.
But as far as I could tell, it seemed like my mind hadn't matured any further than twenty.
I think I was experiencing that "tortoise and the hare" phenomenon that tends to happen with precocious kids.

Well, now... It got a little long, but all this has more or less been the introduction.
Tell the truth, what mattered most in my journey back to twenty were those last few months.
So from here on out, I'm gonna start explaining things more thoroughly.

Chapter 24

Novel List