Disclaimer: These characters do not belong to me; I'm only borrowing them for my own amusement (and hopefully that of others. No money is being made and no copyright infringement is intended.

THE KAZU-NII CONSTELLATION

It was the summer my sister was born, so I must have been six years old. I thought I'd remember more from that age, but most of my memories are really hazy, kind of fuzzy and blurred. Mostly I remember colours and scents and a general atmosphere without specifics, but what I do remember is radiantly magical. Clear, bright jewel shades of green and blue – leaves, grass, water and sky. Large airy rooms with polished wood floors and sunlight flowing in through high windows. Insects caught in jars, studied and released. Laughter and fireworks. Magic and happiness. And your voice, Kazuki. Your kindness, and your voice.

Even though I'd forgotten, or thought I'd forgotten, all this must have lived inside me all this time, stored away in my memory just like that painting in the attic, the one with our note tucked under the frame. When you tell me things about that summer it's like they click in place in my head, like they finally find their true place and settle in it, happily.

There have been small signs of recognition ever since our first meeting here at Bell Liberty, things you did or said that touched something in me, stirred memories that didn't quite surface into my conscious thoughts but sank back into the depths before I could grasp them. I knew your touch, Kazuki, before I recognised you.

Now that I know what to look for, more and more memories are coming back to me. I remember you sitting in the grass with your back against a tree trunk, smiling. I remember your voice when you called out for me. We watched fireworks and you laughed at me laughing. Do you remember hugging me when I was frightened in the thunderstorm? Do you remember us looking up at the night sky in August, when it was so bright with stars?

Yes, you say, you remember that, and then you tell me how you pointed out several constellations to me, told me their names and what to look for, what their shapes were if you connected the individual stars. And you tell me that I said "and there's the Kazu-nii constellation – it looks just like your face".

When you say that, the clicking-into-place thing happens inside me again and I can only look at you. I can't tear my eyes away from you, because when you look at me like that, like that, I know that I've carried the Kazu-nii constellation with me and navigated by it ever since. In my own private, inner sky, the Kazu-nii constellation has the brightest stars of them all.