The sun shines brightly down on us as we make our way down the alley. Its a gorgeous day and I couldnít be happier. Here I am, with my best friend in the world, going on an errand for my parents, and on such a lovely day! Why, I think we were made for these days. Both of us. Me and her. Her and me. Its just the way things will always be; they have to be.

"This way, Kourin-oneechan!" I say, leading her out of the alley and pointing down the road to the store we had to go to. I start down the road, my sister close behind me.

At least, I think she is. When suddenly I hear her tinkling laughter from somewhere across the street, I know sheís not where I expected her to be. "Niichan!" she yells, waving at me from the vendorís table she is stopped at on the other side of the road.

"Oneechan!" I complain. "What are you doing over there? If we donít hurry up, Kaasanís going to be pretty worried!"

Kourin holds up a beautiful glowing purplish orb. "Demo, Ryuuen-niichan, look at this pretty purple ball thing! It matches my hair, isnít it pretty?" she giggles. "Come here and look at it, Niichan!"

Sighing and seeing I donít have much of a choice, I quickly cross the street, carefully avoiding a horse-pulled cart coming down that way. I look at the orb and realize it is startlingly lovely. "Wow, youíre right," I hear myself say, "it is really sugoi."

She looks up at me, her pinkish violet eyes sparkling in the sunlight, and she gets that horrible begging look in her eye--that look that probably belongs to every little sister in the world, that look no big brother can resist. "Can we get it, Niichan? Onegai?" she asks.

"Kourin-oneechan...," I try, knowing I wouldnít be able to resist that look. "The only money I have along is enough to buy what Kaasan asked us to buy. You know I would if I could."

She looks sad for a long moment, that bottom lip threatening to bulge out into a first-class pout. "Well...," she says after a long moment, "okay." She sets the orb back down from where she had picked it up and I let out a breath I didnít even realize I am holding.

"Okay, lets go, Oneechan. We gotta go this way." I gesture back across the road, where we had come from. She pauses and, rather than wait for her, I rush back across the street.

The next few minutes seem to last an eternity. "Niichan! Niichan, wait up! The vendor let me keep the ball!" I hear her yell. I turn around slowly, a mocking grin on my face. She is grinning, clutching the orb, running across the street and toward me, one hand reaching forward a little. I never even notice the cart, nor does she.

Thereís a flash of motion and the next thing I can recall seeing is a pale, ivory hand falling forward from beneath the wagon and the violet orb rolling slowly away from it. I donít really understand what has happened, I just run toward the cart, knowing something was wrong. Something was drastically wrong.

I shove the wagon out of the way like its a childís toy, using strength I didnít even know I had. And then I see her. Sheís covered with dust and grime from the street, and I can see spots of crimson slowly appearing on her dress. I roll her over slowly, tears stinging in my eyes. "Kourin-oneechan! Wake up! Oh, neechan, why wonít you answer me?" I cry, unable to comprehend why she doesnít answer. "Kourin!!"

Her eyes are closed, her pale skin blemished slightly. A tear hits her cheek, dripping slowly off of mine, as I cradle her limp body close to mine. I know she wonít answer. I know in my mind, but my heart wonít give up on you yet, Kourin, my sister, my best friend.

I continue to hold her and try to wake her until I feel a strong set of hands on my shoulders. Looking up, I see my father looking down at Kourin and me. His eyes are sad and dark. "Ryuuen...," he says softly. I donít even see the crowd that has gathered around us.

"Otoosan, why wonít she answer me?" I say, fighting the sobs caught in my throat. "Otoosan, make her wake up! Oh, please, wake her up...."

"Ryuuen. Come along, we need to go home now."

In a daze, I follow him home. My mother and older brother Rokou follow closely behind me, my mother in tears, and my brother trying his hardest not to cry, not succeeding very well. Iím in a thick fog, unable to understand that my little sister isnít with me anymore.

We get home and my father sits me down and looks me in the eye. "Ryuuen, your oneesan is gone. She isnít with us anymore, Suzaku took her away. Its best you forget about her."

"Suzaku took her away? Demo...doushite?" I ask, dumbfounded. Why would our guardian god take away my little sister? And what did that have to do with the wagon? Confusion overtakes me.

"I donít know, Ryuuen. But its for the best." He sighed and tiredly rubbed the side of his eye. "Its best you just forget about Kourin."

A few hours later, after sitting in my room for a long time, I stand slowly. "Kourin-oneechan. Otoosan told me to forget you. But I donít want to forget you," I whisper. "Youíre not dead. Kourin didnít die. Thatís wrong, it must have been Ryuuen that died." I walk to her room. All her things are exactly how she left them. Her window she had left a little open, letting her curtains billow out slightly in the spring breeze. Under her bed, thatís where she kept her dresses. I kneel down and pull out the box of her dresses. No, no. The box of my dresses. Kourin is not dead. Ryuuen is dead. I am Kourin.

I pull the ribbon out that was keeping my bun in place, letting my hair down around my shoulders. I am Kourin. Kourin doesnít wear her hair this way. Ryuuen does. Ryuuen is dead. I am Kourin. I tie my hair in the two little buns that she always loved. That I always loved. I am Kourin. I put on one of her dresses. One of my dresses. I am Kourin.

I look in the mirror. "Now you are me, Kourin. Ryuuen died. Ryuuen got run over by the cart. Ryuuen is dead. I am Kourin, now. I am Kourin. I donít want to forget. Now I canít forget. Because I am you, Kourin.

"I am you."