* 63 *

I wiped my wet face with a sleeve and looked at myself in the mirror. There I was, in that idiotic Santa getup.
"You have a right to know all this," I said.

"Every single thing is all my fault, for falling in love with the wrong person. If I hadn't done that, by all means I should have been living a life nearly unchanged from my first right now. And if I'd been the same, so would my family, and Usumizu, and you. Everything'd be the same, we'd still be living fulfilling lives.

"But I made an awful mistake. I messed up who I fell for. And on top of that, I went on believing she was the girl I was destined to be with, never noticing what I did wrong until this winter. Because I'm an utter moron. That threw all the cogs out of whack. Even a guy who I was really close to in my first life was awful to me the second time around. I'm like a contagious source of bad luck.

"In my second life, I became someone unfit for the position of "the first me." And why should that happen, but the appearance of my double. Someone else was playing the part that had been given to me in my first life. And my girlfriend became someone no longer suited the role of "the first her" either, so that position was taken by her double. So we became friendly losers. I guess it's not impossible that could've been fate, but that's one piece of crap fate.

"I'm not the only one who fell in love with the wrong person. But Hiiragi, I know you couldn't have helped doing it. Anyone who knew me in my first life would have assumed "I" was Tokiwa, not my second-life self. ...Then again, us both falling for the wrong people made things get increasingly out of control. We couldn't have "just passed each other by" any harder.

"So we loved the wrong people. ...But this is what I think. Even if that love arose from a mistake, ultimately, it's the more real one for our second lives. Because of our initial misconception, we went thinking about Tsugumi and Tokiwa respectively for years. Now, Tsugumi is the "real deal" for me, and Tokiwa for you.

"And, to tell the truth, both of them are going to be gone from this world within an hour. ...I was thinking about it, and I feel like this is an ideal development for us. Because if we just keep waiting around like this, Tsugumi will never be mine, and Tokiwa will never be yours. Plus, whenever we see them, we'll unwillingly remember our first lives, forever trapped in the past. So it's for the best if Tsugumi and Tokiwa just go away. Then we'll be finally able to escape our impossible dreams and unfixable regrets. Yes, the moment they're gone, our second lives can actually begin. It's the most realistic, wisest way. We'll forget all about our first lives, forget all about Tokiwa and Tsugumi..."

I stopped.
That was enough.

I exited the bathroom, back into the break room.
I would just have to face Hiiragi and tell her the long speech I'd been practicing.

That was all there was to it.

Chapter 64

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