* 28 *

My sister’s first words once in the passenger seat of the Mini Cooper were “Stinks like tobacco.”
That wasn't my fault, though. My dad used to drive it, and ever since it was passed to me it'd smelled like that.
Looking in the back seat, though, her fourth was “Dirty.” And that was one hundred percent on me.
The back seat was a mess: textbooks and materials for my classes, convenience store bags of water bottles and empty bento boxes, even tossed-off jackets and shoes.

There were times I did sit in the car for long periods as part of tailing my double, but the real problem was that no one but me ever rode in the car.
If I had someone who I was consistently driving around in it, even I'd make an effort to keep it clean, probably.
It's the same kind of thing as how if you want to be fashionable, you take a job that puts you in front of people.

"It stinks and it's dirty," my sister repeated.
"Tells you a lot about the owner" was the implication. She was something, alright.

But I'd say she's right, that the disarray of an apartment or a car reflected the mentality of the owner.
If you had a "+50 life," you'd likely fuss over little things to get it up to +51. But if you're at -50, it doesn't seem all that worth it to shoot for -49.

The 9 AM sky was cloudy, and everything was shrouded in a light fog.
My sister continued to complain on the way to the library.
Saying that my coat smelled like cigarettes too, and that wasn’t I going to play some music or something?
But if I popped in some of my CDs, I knew it'd just open up a new wave of complaints.
If I wanted my sister's approval, I'd need to play music in the vein of Sigur Rós or Múm. But unfortunately, I didn't have any of that.

I continued to ignore her, and she hit me with a tissue box. "Listen to what people say," she said.
I swear, the only time she was ever this arrogant was when she was alone with me. A braggart only to her bro. A broggert?

We arrived at the municipal library. She muttered "So small" when she saw it, but at least it wasn't a complaint directed at me.
I'd gone there to research things for my college homework once before, so I already had a library card.

I told her "Pick out whatever books you like," and for once, she obediently nodded "okay" before vanishing into the bookshelves.
Myself, I went looking for some books too. I went up narrow stairs to the second floor, where with each step the floor creaked.
There was a young girl sitting on a chair between the bookshelves along the wall, reading a bulky book.
At first, I mistook her for a sculpture and stared for an unfortunately long time. When she glanced my way, I finally realized she was a person and hurried away,

When I went to check out my books and saw the return-by-date calendar, I realized for the first time that it was Wednesday.
Indeed, when you don't make any plans in your life, your sense of days leaves you, even blurring the line between normal days and holidays.
So when it gets bad enough, you forget what day of the week it is.

If it's Wednesday, I thought, then that class must be starting about now... It was my fifth time skipping it. Oh well.
Regardless, it was a strange thing, a college student and his high school sister visiting the library early in the morning on a school day.
Most of the people in the library were elderly, so I wonder how they must have seen us?

After about thirty minutes, I went to look for my sister, and found her deliberating in front of a bookcase.
I asked “Done yet?”, and she hit me with a book. “No talking in the library!”
That was my second-time sister in a nutshell, I suppose. First time it would've been "Oh, please, hold on a little longer!"

About twenty minutes later, we were finally able to leave the library.

All she seemed to want to do was spend the whole day reading in my apartment.
As soon as we returned, she plopped on the bed, sat against the wall, and engrossed herself in a book as thick as some dictionaries.
She had really changed, I thought. But it wasn't so surprising anymore.

I figured it'd be fine to leave her be, so I quietly went to leave.
She looked up and asked “Where you going, big brother? School?”
I couldn’t very well say “I’m going to stalk this guy I want to murder so I can learn his habits,” so I said “Yeah, that. I’ll be back at seven.”

"Hmph," she mumbled suspiciously. "Still... sounds sorta fun. Gonna see anyone you know there?"
Honestly, that was exactly what I didn't want her to ask about.
"A college friend. I got to know them on the festival day last month," I said while thinking it up.
At times like these, it was best to lie with hints of the truth.
"Never hit it off with somebody so well before. It's just like, we know what the other's thinking, just like that. It's great to have at least somebody like that. Yeah, they're a close friend."
"Huh. Or at least... that's what you think about them, huh, big brother?"
Man, there was something just so disagreeable about how she said that.
"Yeah, I guess. At least I think of him as a close friend."

Still, it was odd. I hadn't thought she would care in the least where I was going, what I was doing.
Was she starved for conversation, maybe? Or maybe while I was gone, she was planning on doing things she wouldn't tell anyone.

I didn't know, at any rate, and I didn't care.
She could do what she liked. I had my own things to attend to.

Chapter 29

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