* 25 *

My memories of my sister were even clearer to me than those of my girlfriend. She played a rather important role for my first self.
The first time around, she was a frighteningly lively girl. She loved sunlight and exercise more than anything else, and would sunbathe all year.
Just a big ball of energy. And merely having her around made me feel more upbeat myself.

I wouldn't say her figure was all that "feminine"; it might've been that she didn't pay much heed to proper calorie intake.
Still, she always had a smile on her face and not a care in the world, so guys liked her. My friends would always ask me to "introduce them."

However, when it came to the second time around... She became a gloomy, pale sister who preferred reading and shade, and had no courtesy whatsoever.
It would have seemed like a joke to anyone who knew about the first time. The sheer difference between them seemed even more significant than my own case.

And I think it was my fault that my sister changed to be this way.
With her older sibling skipping school and generally demonstrating poor behavior, it's not surprising that would influence her, the younger.
Perhaps my sister, as she saw her brother leaving the house with a face like death and coming home only to curl up in his room, lost all hope for the future.

With both brother and sister gloomy, our whole house would be up late every night.
It was awful, really. Nobody ever smiled. There was only the sound of cold, hollow laughter from the TV.

Our parents lost confidence in their upbringing skills, even their own genes when they saw us.
They were wonderful people, though I know it sounds weird to say it like that as their son.
But with son looking like it was the end of the world, and daughter always reading and stuck in her shell, there was no chance they alone would remain bright and cheery.

That kind of thing warps people. My mother came to see me as a mistake and had great expectations for my sister, getting her a family tutor and all these other things which put pressure on her.
"Now don't you fail me," it felt like she was saying. It was a heavy burden for my sister, of course, and every time I saw it I felt like my whole existence was being denied.

As for my father? It seemed like he decided to give up on the family entirely. He ran off to his own world, started riding motorcycles.
I didn't much care, and in fact I thought it was a good hobby. But he was hardly ever home on days off, and he neglected to so much as go shopping with my mother.
It was scary to see. Fights broke out every Saturday morning. Nobody could stop them.

When I was seventeen, my father got in a pretty serious accident. He was hospitalized for a month, for which the house was inordinately peaceful.
But the day he was released from the hospital, my parents had a huge, huge fight, and more or less stopped talking to each other afterward.

And I had to say it was all my fault.
When I changed, it changed my sister, and us changing changed our parents. There was no need for those two to fight.
But telling them that wouldn't get them back together. They'd just think their idiot son had gone nuts to boot.

That got kinda sidetracked onto my parents, but I said this was about my sister, right?
Right, well. Me and my sister used to be amazingly friendly. But in the second round, we didn't even look at each other, much less talk.

I wondered if my sister hated me. On the rare occasion she did open her mouth, it was usually an insult.
Like “Your face looks like crap,” or "Your hair's too long." Rude things to say to a brother, I thought.
After all, she looked more out of it than me, and she let her hair grow pretty unkempt.

It really was a saddening thing. I imagine a father hated by his daughter might feel the same way.
But it's also not surprising, I figure. I was just the kind of person it was perfectly natural to despise.

Chapter 26

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