(Grins widely) OOC.

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"Hey..." a hand tugs at my sleeve, "Who's that?"

We are looking through old family photos – we're cleaning out the attic – and the little girl is pointing to one of the people in the picture. The photograph is a school one, so the person is dressed in their school attire, yet you could pick them out very easily; their expression is gloomy compared to the rest of the classmates and they are at the very back, peering over the shoulders of some of the others.

"That," I pause, "Is your aunt."

"Aunt?" her mouth twists in confusion, "I have an aunt?"

"Had," I correct after a hesitation, "You had an aunt."

"Where is she?"

"..." Even know, I can barely answer that question, it hurts too much, "She's elsewhere."

"What's this?" her attention, ever short, is moved to the piece of pinned to the back of the photograph by a paperclip. She takes the paper off and gives it to me, obviously expecting me to explain, "It's got words on it..."

I look at the paper...

(Flashback)

'Hope I made you happy.

-Tomoko'

That's all the crumpled piece of paper says, but it's enough. I stare at the limp form of the blood-spattered girl in front of me and finally react – I'm crying. What? Why am I crying? I should have expected this – social anxiety, depression...it all leads to this, in the end. But it still doesn't stop me from shaking her desperately and begging for her to wake up, to say that it was all a joke to make me feel horrible.

But it isn't.

I hear Mum cry out from behind me, but it doesn't register as my cries of her name become more hysterical and desperate. I feel cold – really cold, actually – and I move my gaze to the wounds on her wrist. Of course, I manage to think, Too deep...the cuts were too deep, and she died.

It's my fault.

She continually asked for my help and I pushed her away. Sure, she was ('was'...I'm trembling – I have to call her a 'was' now...) irritating and drove me up the wall, but in the end, I loved her. Even when I hated her presence, I still loved her, if only a tiny bit. Now she's...

I can't say the word.

...

The funeral was short, sweet and to-the-point. Yuu came, devastated, and this other girl (who told me before the service that she has feelings for my...sister) came along in a similar state, and Mum and Dad, during the speeches, were shaking, if not with their bodies, then with their voices. I tried to make a speech (if only because I felt I owed her that at least) but I broke into angry hysterics during and, from what Mum told me, I had to be sedated, and I was apparently screaming a lot. It's strange, what grief does to you – it can make you a different person.

I am now in my room – I haven't left it for days. I took her favourite plushie, and now I sleep with it. Sad, I know, but I can at least pretend she's still here – the plushie still smells like her – to some degree. I admit it – I miss my onee-chan. A lot. That's the biggest confession I've ever made.

My friends seemed not at all fazed – one even dared to suggest that life's better without her 'moping, depressive, annoying self'. We're not friends anymore.

I clutch the plushie and bury my face in it.

(Flashback end)

"So, what does it say – what's wrong!?"

I don't realise I'm crying until she asks what's wrong with certain alarm – I wipe at my eyes with certain surprise and sniffle – very degrading.

"...don't worry." I bite back saying that I'm OK, because I'm not OK. I've never been OK since that day, "...How old are you again?"

"Eight. Why?" her expression becomes one of curiosity, "Are you gonna tell me how Aunty died?"

"..." I give her a long look, "...Your aunt was in a very bad place – she had very bad anxiety and was...depressed. So, she decided that she wanted to go to a better place." I flinch – I'm still unused to referring to her in the past tense.

"Is she in a better place?"

I don't know...I bite my lip, Stop! Don't be negative!

"...I'm sure she is!" I smile unconvincingly at her, "She was...a good person, at heart. Now, come on, let's keep cleaning!" I take the photograph and paper from her and stuff them in my pocket, and I begin to sort through the nearest box.

Of course...it's full of her memorabilia.

I can feel tears burning my eyes, and I mutter an excuse to the little black-haired girl, getting up and leaving the room. I descend the stairs and go into my room – it's a nice room; spacious, neat, uncluttered...

I go over to the bedside table and look at the photo frames – the first one is wooden and has my wedding picture on it. Usually, this picture makes me smile no matter what, but now it does nothing to me. I look at the next picture – my daughter's birth certificate. Sure, it's weird to keep something like that out in the open, but I insisted, and now, as I read what's on it, I end up focusing on the girl's name:

Kuroki Tomoko.

My wife had raised an eyebrow at this name, but I had insisted. Even as I read it, I feel tears on my face, so I place the photo back and, impulsively, I pick up the other photo frame:

A silver frame with a few patterns on it – in it, a picture of the deceased Tomoko in one of the last years of her life. I love this picture, as it is one of the last times she genuinely smiled. Not a creepy smile, not a fake smile, and honest one.

I curl up on the bed and take the plushie lying in the middle of it – even after all this time, I still have it, and I will never part with it. I hold it close and, holding the picture to me, I bury my face into the large plushie and finally cry.

I still miss you so much, Onee-chan...