* 7 *

First thing I want to get out of the way: I made no compromises in my recreation of the first time ‘round.
It was a difficult road, to be frank. Taking lessons for a ten-year-old with the intelligence of twenty and having conversations that suited a kid my age was harder than you'd imagine.
Real grueling. Felt like I was gonna go insane in a classroom one day.
Maybe this isn't the best way to express it, but I bet that's how it feels to be a sane guy thrown into a mental hospital.

Anyway, I was serious about everything I did, cut no corners.
Everybody craves the limelight from time to time, so of course I had urges to answer questions that nobody in class knew, or object to ridiculously wrong nonsense the teacher said. I'm not gonna deny it.
All that self-control can't be good for the body; it was pretty stressful resisting those urges.

But it wasn't all bad, of course. There's nothing better the world can offer than the luxury of seeing the world through a child's eyes again.
I was still friends with the world then, you could say. The trees, the birds, the wind, they all opened for me. And that's not half bad.

Of course I'd seen all of this before, yet it all seemed new somehow, so it was a great experience.
I wondered what exactly it was. Maybe my memories had been damaged in the trip back. Or maybe they were compressed for space into something less detailed, more abstract.

For example, let's take this memory: "The starry sky on the day we camped at the lake during the summer when I was twelve."
If I tried to recall that, I'd think "The stars were innumerable and pretty, and there were a number of shooting stars too."
That's what I'd naturally remember, but not a trace of the physical scenery came to mind.
I couldn't remember what the lake or the campsite were named. I just remembered "lake" and "campsite."

Even if I tried to recall deeper, sometimes I just couldn't scrounge up any more detail.
This is how memories work to begin with, of course, but it seemed extra prevalent in my second loop of life.

So because of that, I chose to not waste any of those moving experiences.
Or maybe I should say that, with some knowledge of what was going to happen, I could be prepared, and would take the opportunity to enjoy every moment.
Maybe you could say it was like reading a book having only read the summary prior.

But with how vague my memories of the ten years ago were, I'm sure there were things I just flat-out forgot.
Still, I planned to do what I could to recreate my first life.

Using my limited memories to shed light on the situation, I made the choices that felt most "natural."
It wasn't an easy thing to do, but I'd sent off all lingering doubt about using my advantages to improve my life further.
I loved everything about my first life, and I was bound to the idea of keeping it. Whatever happened, I didn't want it to be undone.

But as they say, something as small as the flapping of a butterfly’s wings can bring drastic changes.

Five years into the second round, my life began to veer off from the path of the first significantly.

Chapter 8

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