* 36 *

My memory's not entirely clear on this, but I had so many friends I was sociable with in my first life that it was unbelievable to me now.
At the very least, I think I was friendly with nearly everyone in my department and clubs. And at the time, I saw each and every one as having their own good qualities.
But now, looking at them from a bit of a distance, they all seemed like good-for-nothings. Most of them seemed entirely unlikable.

Of course you'd see those whom you have relationships with as good people, and those you don’t as bad people.
Strangely enough, that idea comforted me. Hah. So the first me wasn’t so blessed in everything after all, I thought.
Miserable as it was, I found joy in that.

My first self was convinced all his college friends were great guys. He earnestly thought "I'm so lucky to be surrounded by all these good people in college."
But from my point of view, they were all lowlifes in one respect or another.
People I used to think of as kind were a big ball of ego. People I used to think of as humble were attention-seekers.

However, I’m just speculating, but I don’t think it was necessarily wrong of me to feel that they were good people in my first life.
When your life isn't going well, you have a negative outlook on everything, so badness will stand out - of course, it was certainly still there. But that's not the only thing.

I wonder, if you put someone in front of a truly superb person, can they temporarily become better people by unconscious influence?
Perhaps when they stood before me in my first life, they were truly good people.
But in front of people like the present me, they’d feel less pressure and revert to trash.

I’m not too sure what point I’m trying to make, but there you go.
Perhaps that if you feel someone isn’t a good person, you carry some degree of responsibility for that.

Yet there are those who seem to acquire more and more charm regardless of their relationships... Naturally, I’m thinking of Tsugumi.
The more unattainable something is, the more you want it. I believe that in my second life, I came to love her more than I had the first time.
Yes, it wouldn’t be much of an exaggeration to call it worshipping.

I'm not sure I could say what was most charming about her. I'd consider every little thing that made her up charming, but I was looking with rose-colored glasses.
I could talk about "a smile like flowers blooming," but it was my head that bloomed when I saw it.
Since my mind was always a flower patch in front of her, I couldn't possibly compare to say what stood out more.

Even objectively speaking, Tsugumi was beautiful. But if you asked me to explain why "no one else would do" even though there are lots of other such girls, I'd be lost.
Truth is, it's hard to talk about what charms you in a person. Much easier to talk about somebody you don't like.

It's repulsive, but I won't lie: I copied only the pictures of Tsugumi from my middle school yearbook and carried them around with me all the time.
And I'd look at them and imagine what it'd be like if she were there with me now.
You'd think it'd make me lonelier, but to me the girl in the pictures was someone different from the one that actually existed.
Kind of like a symbol of the happiness from my first life.

This time - THIS time, I wanted a chance to start my life over.
That’s what I thought. This time I would do it right.

I returned to the apartment, sank into my bed, closed my eyes, and prayed another night.
Prayed that when I woke up, I’d get my third chance.

Chapter 37

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