For some reason, it’s the most joyous moments that speed by, like a ball of yarn getting smaller and smaller as the string is pulled away from you.
The last remaining scent of that time was something I was reluctant to part from. I was sure that the festival would continue even after we had left, but our own little adventure today had come to an end. We parted from Leon, our guide for the day as well. During the goodbyes, he had even said, ‘nobles aren’t all despicable people, huh.’ So it was at least a fruitful day for him as well.
Now we were on the road home.
I, Mishuli and Mariwa were in a carriage that the Calibrachoa’s had sent for us. Surfania had returned to her mansion first. She had walked around, cried, become obsessed and done so many unfamiliar things in succession that she must be sleeping in her room from all the exhaustion now.
Now that she was back home, the carriage was taking us to back to the Noir mansion.
Mishuli was sleeping on my lap. She had been quite energetic up until we entered the carriage, but that was probably a reaction to her intense excitement earlier. Now she was clinging to me as she breathed softly in her sleep.
The space we were in was blocking the atmosphere of the festival from all sides, there was something lonely in the way you could hear the sounds of the carriage wheels turning.
Within this atmosphere, only I and Mariwa were awake. We sat facing each other.
“So, how was it?”
“I’m very pleased.”
She asked about the day’s results, and I reply with a brilliant smile.
It was a most enjoyable day. The joy I felt upon seeing Charles was the highlight, but that aside, there had been so many interesting things. I was glad that I been able to show Surfania around, and while it was by chance, I was happy that we had met Leon so that he could be our guide. It had also been the first time I had taken Mishuli out like this. It had been stimulating. More than enough to help broaden her world.
“A lot happened today. Most of all, I am happy that I was able to execute my plan of becoming independent from my sister.”
In just one day, Mishuli’s world had expanded from only being the mansion to something much larger. And that was still only a small part of a bigger whole. I could still tell that she was spoiled from the way she slept on my lap now. But the fact that I had happily allowed this, showed that I still depended on her a lot myself.
But, it was fine.
Slowly, together we could lovingly find the best distance we needed to have. Not leaning on each other, but finding the right place that would be best for both of us.
“A plan to become independent from your sister.”
Mariwa parroted my words. Seeing this, I pout with a measure of annoyance.
She clearly meant to mock me. After all, even Charles had baselessly declared that my plan was impossible.
I would certainly make a big show of sulking if she dared to make fun of my plan, which had ended so successfully today. Such were my thoughts, but when she continued, the words were not what I had expected.
“I’m impressed that you decided to do such a thing. As young as you two are, you are much too close. Mishuli especially, has a dangerous side to her, and you my lady, can often be blind to it.”
It took me a few seconds to understand what Mariwa was saying. When I did, my eyes widened.
Could it be? Was I, in fact, receiving praise from Mariwa?
“Mishuli practically had no parents from the moment she was born, and you lost a parent when you were so young, my lady. Your losses made you alike. Perhaps your two thought to bury that loss with each other.”
Hearing her indirect words, I began to remember things from my past.
It wasn’t completely related to what Mariwa was saying. It wasn’t to do with the plan to become independent either. It was about my origin as a genius, a memory that I had kept precious deep inside my consciousness. It was a memory of when I started to walk when I was a year old.
There was a single voice that I could never forget.
–Brilliant! She can already walk. Christina, you are a genius!
It was the wise words of my mother when she had seen me walk for the first time.
She had been the first person in the world to notice my genius, she had showered me with deserved words of praise. I remembered being happy with how straightforward it was. She had praised me with almost childlike abandon. I was happy, I was happy that she was happy. I even remember that I had tried to walk over to my mother as she praised me, only to fall in the end.
But my mother had passed away before I was two, and the wet nurse who took care of me received a reward for her terrible betrayal.
The two people that were closest to me were gone in an instant. I think that it was around this time that the genius inside me decided to study and evolve like there was no tomorrow.
“There is a tranquility in this dependence, of leaning on the other. It is not an easy thing to break away from, and to return to a healthier state. Even more so for the person in question to do it on their own accord.”
I did well. I am a genius, but even then, I did well. Not just with today’s plan. I’ve always tried hard, put in an effort, persevered. I was talking freely when I was three, I had read all the books in the library when I was five. I was a genius, it was only normal for me to accomplish all this. It was obvious.
What should I do next? What did I need to do? What else did I need to do to—then, I remembered something.
My mother was no longer here.
My beloved mother who had praised me was no longer here.
No matter what I did from here on out, she would never praise me for anything again.
This obvious fact struck me for the first time in that library, after having conquered it. It was also the same time father told me that Mishuli would be coming to live with us. At first, I had assumed that she was the child of a mistress, and had been enraged at this insult to my mother. But such thoughts were blown away as soon as my eyes saw her.
Her eyes were beautiful, transparent like glass. But the color of her eyes was so pure, I had felt that her heart must be in a much more dangerous place than mine.
And so I praised her with all my might.
I threw everything at her, everything I was thinking, even though we had just met. That she was adorable, that I was so happy to have a younger sister. I felt that the memories of a past life had suddenly come to me so I could praise this sister in front of me. And so I went all out with praising her.
I did to Mishuli, what made me the happiest when done to me. Mishuli’s eyes had shifted with hesitation at first, but then small hints of joyous colors appeared. I was so happy at these subtle signs of happiness in her reaction. I knew then, that I was capable of giving this happiness, and from then on my efforts were all directed towards Mishuli. Without words, I knew that what I and Mishuli wanted was very similar. We were trying to bury what was missing in the other, trying to find fulfillment.
But, that was all likely to end today.
“My lady, Chris. You’ve worked hard. I feel like you should be rewarded, at least a little. …Is there anything you would like me to do for you?”
I had a feeling, that at this moment, Mariwa would grant me almost anything as long as it was in her power.
But I didn’t feel it was right to order her either. Like I always did with the servants, like I had done with Leon today. I didn’t want to order something I wished for. I was highborn and a genius, there was no mistaking that I was in a higher position, but what I wanted could not be granted by demanding it in such a way.
Not an order, but words that expressed what I wanted her to do. I slowly petted Mishuli as she slept on my lap. I returned to a state so very close to when I had first started to walk as I looked straight at Mariwa.
I was the type of child who grew through being praised.
And so I wanted her to praise me.
Not my mother, not my father who had witnessed me growing all these years. Not the servants who supported me, not the friends who I was on even footing with. It was this person, who was incredibly strict, mostly cold and would use corporal punishment as part of my education.
But I had an unwavering trust in her, and I wanted her to praise me.
Not in the roundabout way she had done moments ago. Something more simple. A patting of the head and a ‘you did well,’ was what I wanted.
“My lady, Chris.”
In spite of being inside a moving carriage, Mariwa stood up. Both of her arms slowly stretched out towards me and she pulled my head towards her in an embrace.
I had not expected this much kindness, a sigh even escaped my lips. But of course, I had no intention of resisting.
“You’ve done so very well.”
Her embrace was somewhat awkward, and the way she patted me could use some practice. But now she was so close to my ear, and I heard her say the words of praise.
“All this time, you’ve done so well.”
“….Yes, I have!”
It wasn’t my imagination or a misunderstanding, she was so warm that tears were pouring from my eyes.
Miss Toinette praised her because it was in private and not during her lessons.
Mariwa wanted to praise her but could not, Christina wanted to be praised but never received any. Such was the story of these two awkward people.