Chapter 3:

Really Close To Being Helpful

Dating My Sister's Crush's Sisters!

The day ended with nothing of note happening, a perfect day in my book.Bookmark here

I put on my outdoor shoes before exiting the building. The blaring sun made my shirt stick to my now sweaty back. The timid breeze lightly moved my fixed hair.Bookmark here

I walked towards the gate, alongside the many other students going home at the same time. Upon reaching the gate, I stopped and leaned against the wall. I pulled out my red notepad and crossed off “Finish School” from the list.Bookmark here

“Don’t forget to cross off ‘wait for my favorite sister’.” A voice said from my left.Bookmark here

Standing there with crossed arms and a wide grin was my twin sister Keiko. Her caramel hair and eyes were similar to mine, even our heights matched. Even though we had been nearly identical at some point, it was hard to mix us up anymore. My broader shoulders and her thinner frame made us easily distinguishable.Bookmark here

“Huh, I would but for some reason ‘favorite sister’ isn’t on any of my lists.” I pointed at all my options then flipped through the other pages to prove my point.Bookmark here

A fist slammed into my shoulder.Bookmark here

“Ow.” I let out as I rubbed my shoulder.Bookmark here

Regardless of how thin she might look, she packed an unbelievable punch.Bookmark here

“Let’s get going,” she said as she walked past me. “I’m already starting to melt!” she fanned herself with her hand.

Bookmark here

Keiko stared at her phone as she walked. The way to our house was usually empty, and today was no exception. We were the only people on the sidewalk, and the roads only had the occasional car or two.Bookmark here

The leaves on the trees seemed to droop like they too were melting from the heat.Bookmark here

With the weather app opened, Keiko groaned. “It’s going to be this hot all week…”Bookmark here

“Really now?” I asked.Bookmark here

“Yeah, look.” With a few taps, Keiko made a small light at the top of the phone turn on. In a moment, the letters “T.R.A.C” floated above the screen in blue holographic letters before turning into a calendar of the week. On it was displayed the date and the projected weather for each day. The image wasn’t too clear, but it was enough to make out what it said.Bookmark here

“What are you doing?!” I place my hand above the screen, getting rid of the hologram immediately.Bookmark here

“Calm down,” she said, removing my hand. “It’s not like there’s anyone nearby.” She looked around as she gestured with her hand.Bookmark here

“But we shouldn’t be using these things in the public. Especially this one that has the company name already on it.”Bookmark here

“I know what I’m doing.” She answered with a confident smile. “You’re too paranoid.” She patted me on the back.Bookmark here

I had no choice but to sigh and give in. “If you say so.”Bookmark here

I couldn’t imagine how I would explain it to someone if we were to get caught with this type of technology. Holograms were possible, yes, but to this level and with this ease of access was still unheard of.Bookmark here

“If mom and dad get mad at you, that will be your problem.”Bookmark here

“You’re telling me you won’t stand up for your younger sister?” She made a puppy face.Bookmark here

“You’re only younger when it conveniences you, huh.”Bookmark here

In all honesty, I would’ve, without a doubt, stood up for her if that scenario came to pass. There was no one who I would rather protect over Keiko.Bookmark here

“Practicing in this heat is going to be a nightmare!” She complained.Bookmark here

“You definitely should be used to that by now. During our training days we would work out in temperatures hotter than this.”Bookmark here

“You’re really going to tell me that while you’re sweating bullets?”Bookmark here

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” I looked away.Bookmark here

I unconsciously wiped my brow. It had been many years since the two of us trained martial arts under one of our relatives. We might’ve been used to nightmarish weather at some point, but we’d gotten much weaker since.Bookmark here

“Oh, right!” Keiko suddenly said. “Speaking of training, is that Terada guy still asking you to join basketball?” she asked as we were in the final stretch of our journey.Bookmark here

“Yeah. Ever since he saw us in that one v one, he hasn’t stopped asking.”Bookmark here

It had happened near the beginning of our second year in high school, Keiko had challenged me to a quick match with the loser having to buy pudding on the way back home. The basketball team wasn’t supposed to be practicing that day, so we took that opportunity to play. However, for some reason, Terada had still come to the gym, and that’s where he saw me play for the first time.Bookmark here

“If you had just let me win this wouldn’t have happened,” Keiko said mischievously.Bookmark here

“Well, I wouldn’t have gone all-in if you hadn’t been playing dirty.” I spit back.Bookmark here

She laughed as she slapped my back once more.Bookmark here

“I don’t think he’s going to stop until he gets you to play. I hope you’re ready for a year or two of him begging you to join.”Bookmark here

“Are you insinuating that I should join?”Bookmark here

“No, no, I’m just pointing out the obvious.” She shrugged.

Bookmark here

With that, we’d finally made it back home.Bookmark here

“We’re back!” Keiko called out as she quickly took off her shoes.Bookmark here

“Welcome back!”Bookmark here

Standing by the doorway leading to the living room was a woman wearing a grey suit and red tie, the image of an office worker. She fixed her glasses, which had thick metal devices on either side, as she walked over to us. Bookmark here

Near her face were small floating holographic squares that glitched in and out of existence every few seconds.Bookmark here

“Hey, Muuka, the holograms are acting up again.”Bookmark here

“Huh?” she let out with furrowed brows. Only then did she look at the messed-up squares floating around her face. “Oh, you’re right!” with the tips of her index finger and thumb, she grabbed each hologram and pressed it until it blew up into pixelated polygons.Bookmark here

Muuka smiled as she turned her attention back to us. “Anyway, how was school today?”Bookmark here

Ignoring the odd scene that had played out, Keiko answered, “Great, like usual!” She elbowed me to answer, but I simply nodded.Bookmark here

“That’s great!” she smiled. A holographic smiley face popped into existence in front of her real one. She quickly wrapped her hand around it and crushed it into polygons once more.Bookmark here

This woman was Muuka Kitagawa, our current guardian. She was our mother’s sister, our aunt, and she was taking care of us while our parents were off doing their job. She worked in the same company as our parents but instead did all her work remotely.Bookmark here

The name of that company was plastered all over the side of the devices on her glasses. In small white letters, it read, “T.R.A.C”.Bookmark here

Keiko stayed and talked with Muuka for a bit longer, but I headed straight to my room upstairs. I threw my bookbag on the floor then fell face-first to my bed. I pulled out the red notepad and pencil from my pocket and, without taking my face out of the bed, crossed out “Arrive home” from the list.Bookmark here

“Mmm.” I let out a muffled groan.Bookmark here

The A/C turned on as if sensing my whining.Bookmark here

“Thanks,” I said in a barely audible voice.Bookmark here

You’re welcome!” a metallic voice called back.Bookmark here

As the only technology-based item in my room, I didn’t mind that A.I that basically controlled the house. It wasn’t very smart, and it only responded to basic commands, but maybe that’s why I didn’t mind it existing.Bookmark here

Keiko Noro is approaching.Bookmark here

“Stop announcing.” I plainly said.Bookmark here

With a low beep, the A.I accepted the command.Bookmark here

Not a second later, “I’m coming in!” Keiko slammed the door open.Bookmark here

“Hey, have you ever heard of privacy? What if I was changing?”Bookmark here

“We’ve changed in front of each other every day during training.”Bookmark here

“Yeah, and that was years ago.”Bookmark here

Keiko was someone who rarely showed shame. She wasn’t shameless perse, but she was overly confident in herself. At least that’s how I saw it.Bookmark here

“So, what is it?” I asked, sitting up.Bookmark here

She took a deep breath, closed the door behind her, then sat on my bed. Her expression lost her usual joyous glow. Her brows furrowed slightly as she looked at me with a concerned stare. “You’re still not willing to talk to her?”Bookmark here

Ah.Bookmark here

I understood what this was about.Bookmark here

“No.” I plainly stated.Bookmark here

Keiko let herself fall on my bed. She was still wearing the school uniform, which meant she had gone straight here after finishing her talk with Muuka.Bookmark here

“She’s nice,” Keiko said.Bookmark here

“Seems like it.”Bookmark here

She turned to look at me then back to the ceiling. “You know that she’s probably the last guardian we will have before becoming adults, right? Don’t you think you shouldn’t push her away as much?”Bookmark here

She was right. We only had a little over a year to go before we became adults. After that, I would become responsible for myself. I would finally be free.Bookmark here

“No, that’s only more of a reason why I should.” I expressed what I truly believed. “You know that this family doesn’t care for us.”Bookmark here

We’d talked about this before, many times even. Up till now, we’d been passed from family member to family member. We never stayed too long with any of them though. It was always for one reason or another, but we both knew what it boiled down to…Bookmark here

“I know,” Keiko admitted, “but…she seems different.”Bookmark here

“Do you remember how many times you said that?” I asked. “I don’t want you to hurt again.”Bookmark here

Keiko’s eyes widened. It seemed like she realized what I was talking about. Her mouth opened and closed repeatedly, but no words came out.Bookmark here

I continued. “I trust you. I know you really do believe she is different, but we’ve both seen this play out again and again. If there’s something this family is good at is deceiving.”Bookmark here

She let out a sigh. “Maybe you’re right, but do you really think that pushing everyone away will end well for us?”Bookmark here

I didn’t know how to answer. I knew that pushing people away was all I’d done in my life, but I never stopped to think if what I was doing was right. But by this point, I found thinking about that useless. I had already committed to that, so that’s what I would do.Bookmark here

But what about her? A voice in my head asked.Bookmark here

Yeah, I didn’t really think too much about that. I loved my sister, but as we’d seen, our paths were slowly diverging.Bookmark here

A sharp pain ran through my heart as I thought that.Bookmark here

Was this the best path for her?Bookmark here

“I…don’t know.” I finally said, half answering her and half answering myself. “But I know this is the path I want to go down. As long as I have you, I could run the rest of my life alone.”Bookmark here

Yeah, as long as I knew someone was in my corner in this life, that’s all I needed.Bookmark here

“As for if this is the best for you?” I pointed at my sister. Her back straightened a bit when I did. “I can’t say. But if you decide that it’s not, then don’t let me hold you back.”Bookmark here

My chest tightened.Bookmark here

“Is that right?” she said with a half-smile. She got closer to me and warmly embraced me. Her motherly embrace was always nostalgic to me. “I guess you’ve really grown up, huh.”Bookmark here

Did I…?Bookmark here

My mind was a mess. I felt there was something I was missing. A key detail that I wasn’t seeing. That something was really close to being helpful, yet all I could do was slowly hug her back.Bookmark here

You can resume reading from this paragraph.