Chapter 162 – Nicole and Reinst

While I was talking to Fenrir, I saw Nicole went from standing to be slumped on the ‘ground’—the white ‘ground’ where we all walked on. As she did so, her hands covered her face.

She looked very different from the usually cheerful and confident Nicole that I knew. The side of her that she showed to the world. As for this sad her… this side of her… this was something that she kept hidden from the world. Only when she was by herself that she dared to be defenseless and showed her fragile self.

But I wonder if she also showed this side of hers to Clyde…? Yes, she must have confided to Clyde from time to time. After all, they are family.

More importantly, the reason why she became this sad was me… Reinst. I wonder how many times did she have a breakdown because she was reminded of me?

Regrets and grief were something terrible to harbor for years…

I thought she was able to move on after years of losing me, but apparently, some wounds in your heart won’t be fully healed no matter how many years have passed. They might be buried deep inside, but when something triggered them to reappear, you’d still feel your heart aching. Although the pain might not be the same as when you first experienced it… But regardless, painful is still painful.

I slowly walked to where she was. Because there was no footstep, I didn’t alert her. She was drowned in her feelings. As I approached her, I could feel her pain as well.

Or was it the pain I felt in my own heart, because I was the one who caused her such a pain?

If we had a better relationship before my death, would she still feel this remorseful? Would that be better for her?

But there is no way we could know that now…

The past can’t be changed, but I can do something with the present and the future.

I stood so close to Nicole, but she didn’t even notice me.

I looked down at the sad her—how come I never knew that I meant so much to her? Enough to send her in regrets like this?

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Gently, I bent my body down and wrapped my hands around her. I could feel her body freeze when I did so.

Before I let go of my embrace, I whispered close to her ears, “Nicole, I’m sorry.”

When she heard my voice, her body twitched.

I let go of her at this moment. She also removed the hands that covered her face, and her shocked face was focused at me. I tried to smile gently… Something that I got used to doing as Lyra, but not as Reinst.

“Re… inst? Is that you…?” Nicole’s voice trembled. Her hands that were stretched to me were also shivering.

I nodded and reached out my hand to pull her. As Nicole stood up, she slowly turned into her thirteen-year-old self back.

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Obviously, I was so surprised at what was happening and I reflexively turned to look at Fenrir. However, he was not where he was before. Behind me, there was nothing.

[It would be easier to talk like this, don’t you think?]

Ah. I see. This must be Fenrir’s power…?

[And also the dream owner’s wish. Ever heard of how people can take control of their dreams and manipulate things there?]

…I see. So, Nicole wishes to confront me like this?

…Just like when we both were still there. Nothing changed.

I see. It must be painful for her to see me still in my thirteen-year-old body while she had grown up so much. If this could lessen the pain for her, even by a bit, then alright.

We stood facing each other. Our line of sight matched. I didn’t need to look up to her. Even though I was still taller than her when we were both thirteen, the height difference wasn’t as significant as when she was still in her adult body. I see, so this was what Fenrir meant by ‘it would be easier to talk like this’.

“It is me,” I said in a gentle tone.

She looked at me with her wide, round moist eyes and her mouth was slightly open.

“Reinst…? R-Reinst?!” Nicole continued to chant my name, still in her disbelief.

“Yes, it’s me,” I said.

“…U-uwaa…,” Contrary to my expectations, Nicole bawled even louder.

I was a bit clueless, but not too clueless this time. I pulled her to my embrace and tapped on her back.

“It’s me, Nicole. Sorry it took me so long to see you again…”

“…*sobs*…”

“I’m sorry…”

“…It’s…alright… I thought… you hated me and… didn’t want to see me again…”

“Silly girl. I died… I’m sorry I died before we can spend more time. Before you can tell me your feelings… But I’m here now…”

I continued to console Nicole as I waited for her to stop sobbing. When she became calmer, I let go of my embrace and we faced each other one more time.

“Reinst… Sorry, I… Uh… Where do I start…,” Nicole stuttered, “T-there’s a lot I want to tell you… From when we first became friends and…”

“I know, Nicole, I know. I watched your dream before, I’m sorry,” I said.

“You watched my dream before?! So, you know?!” Nicole was very surprised.

“Yeah, again, sorry for watching it without asking…”

Nicole shook her head and said, “It’s alright. It’s something I want to tell you, after all. So, you saw… I’m really sorry. I had such an impure thought when I first befriended you… That’s why, no wonder you never call me your friend… I want to apologize for it… And… Know that after that, as time goes on, I really, really treasure and think of you as my best friend… That’s real!!”

“Nicole… I understand. I know that. I believe you, Nicole,” I said.

“B-but… I sometimes wonder if my presence in your life is something that you dislike…? I continued to pester you from time to time…”

“Looking back at it, I might feel annoyed from time to time when you first started, but… I believe that I came to enjoy your presence. As we… knew each other better. But Nicole, I really don’t know anything about you, do I? I didn’t even try to approach you just like how you approached me…”

“No, I also didn’t know anything about you—”

“You did know me. What you said at my funeral proved it,” I smiled very gently. Nicole stopped talking and just stared at me like that.

“…?” I tilted my head.

“Reinst, you… I just noticed. You can smile very gently like this, too?” Nicole said.

“…Aah. Yes, I can. Thanks to you and everyone who cares for me.”

“…Does that mean you’re finally happy now, even if you’re no longer here…?”

I stopped as happy memories flooded my mind.

Even though I am no longer Reinst, even though I am now living as Lyra…

“Yes, I’m happy,” I said as I smiled.

“…That’s the best smile I ever see from you, Reinst. It’s even better than what I imagined,” Nicole said as she smiled.

“Does that mean you forgive me for how I… looked down on you…?” Nicole asked.

“It’s okay, Nicole. I also didn’t respond to your friendship for long. And to be honest, you know how I was raised to be suspicious of others’ motives when they got close to me… I am at fault too, then. We’re even,” I said.

“We’re… even?” Nicole said with a look of disbelief.

“Mhm. More like, I’m the one who owe you so much. Thank you for always staying with me. Thank you for looking out for me, even when I don’t appreciate anything. Thank you… for caring about me, sincerely.”

“H-hey, this is real, right? Is this really Reinst, and not just my wishful thinking, not my imagination forming this dream?” Tears fell from Nicole’s eyes again.

…Nice point. I would be skeptical if I were her, too.

Luckily, my brain played one of the scenes from a story I’ve read before.

In that story, a mother lost her son and was unable to go on with her life. Her son, who now became a ghost, wandered and found his mother and became sad looking at her. He was unable to touch or hug his mother anymore. Wondering what he could do to reassure her that he was now fine and that he wanted his mother to live for him, he eventually found a present that he was making for her—one that he never got to finish and show her. With what little power he got, he managed to ‘give’ it to his mother. His mother who saw the son’s half-done present when she woke up the next day… In short, she believed that he was there with her and so, she tried to live her life to the fullest. For she didn’t want her son to see her like so.

“Let see… I’ll ‘give’ you something that will remind you that it’s me when you see it… in the next few days. How does that sound?” I suggested.

I honestly don’t know what I should give, but let’s think about that later.

“You can do that?” Nicole asked.

“Sure. Who do you think I am?” I said with a slightly cocky smile.

“…Hehehe. I know you’re capable. Seriously, Reinst. You’ve changed a lot since you were freed from this world, huh? You’re more… ‘free’.”

“Indeed.”

“Hey, what comes after death? Will you return once more to this world soon, and we’ll be able to see each other again, though your form might be different?” She asked.

…Sorry, I already did and we already met…

“Let’s not talk about that, alright?” I said as I put my index finger to my mouth.

“Ah… I get it…”

After that, Nicole and I sat together and talked about our old days. Days that she remembered vividly, thanks to her [Oracle1OracleSpecial power bestowed upon an individual. Some Oracles even run in the family! ]. Including the thing I already knew from the memory that I saw in her dream before.

And then…

“I also met a girl that reminded me so much of you, for some reason. But now that I think about it, it might just be my imagination… I mean, you’re here after all. If you’re already reincarnated as her, your soul coming to my dream wouldn’t make sense, right?” Nicole suddenly said.

My smile froze and my face went stiff, but I still responded, “Haha, yes, some people can be similar for some reasons. All the more if you’re trying to find ‘me’ in your life… You’d try to connect anything with me, right?”

“Hmm well, yes, there were times when I thought it was you, but it was just my imagination…”

“Right!” I quickly concluded.

Then, silent ensued. We ran out of things to talk about. Unbelievable, but here it is.

“Hey… Reinst…?” Nicole suddenly said.

“Yes, what is it?”

“We… are best friends, right?”

“Yes, we are. You’re my best friend, Nicole.”

…I could finally say it. Words that I could never say and admit while I was alive as Reinst.

“Are you not mad at me for always taking you for granted while I was alive?” I asked.

“I’m not mad at all,” Nicole said.

“Thank you…”

“…Reinst, we will… always, alwaysss be best friends forever, right?” Nicole asked with a soft voice.

“…”

Nicole, I… You know… Now that I’m gone, we… that ‘forever’…

Even knowing that, why did you still ask for…?

“…Yeah. We will always be best friends,” I tried to hold my feelings back and smiled.

“Pinky promise?” Nicole extended her right pinky at me.

“…Yes. Pinky promise,” I said as I did a pinky promise with her.

When I did so, Nicole smiled. Her face when she smiled after she bawled her eyes out… It was beautiful.

[It’s time.]

Fenrir’s voice reminded me, so I had no choice but to stand up. My back was facing Nicole.

“…Reinst, do you have to go now?”

“…Yeah, I have to go now,” I said as I looked down.

“I see… Thank you for coming to see me, Reinst. You see, even if this were a dream, I still would like to believe that this is real—that you came to see me and that we promised to always be best friends,” Nicole gently said.

“…,” I had no words to reply her.

“Well then… Reinst, take care. See you soon!” Nicole said.

I turned to look at her and said, “Yeah, see you, Nicole.”

Then, I walked straight ahead, to where Fenrir’s portal was. He was my Familiar, so I could sense the portal he made.

As I was very close to the portal, I turned around one last time and expected to see the Nicole I knew waving back at me.

…I really saw her waving back at me, but it wasn’t the thirteen-year-old Nicole I—‘Reinst’—last knew. It was the present Nicole, the adult Nicole… the one that ‘Lyra’ came to know. She was smiling as she waved at me.

“I’ll be going,” I said with a smile as I waved back at her. Perhaps she wasn’t able to hear me at this distance, but even so… I’d like to say it.

Just like how we made a promise, although that promise might as well be broken the moment it was made. Because a mortal’s ‘forever’ would be broken the moment they died.

Both of us were fully aware of this fact.

But even so…

We did it to symbolize our bond and… ‘Hope’.

I entered the portal and the familiar light enveloped me.

As I was going back to my own dream world, I closed my eyes and the last image of Nicole I saw was printed in my mind and heart.

Goodbye, Nicole. I hope this can give you a closure, like how it did to me. You’re really my… Reinst’s one and only… best friend.

Goodbye… I will never forget you.

I would return to being Lyra after this.

Our path as ‘Reinst’ and ‘Nicole’ has ended.

Even so, I’ll always remember your warmth, and the lessons you taught me about ‘friendship’.

And as Lyra, I will always look over you from the distance.

And for the last time let me say it…

I’m sorry, thank you.

Nicole, my best friend.


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