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Reina had been plotting ways to remove Sayuri. Sure, she did a very small thing earlier, but that was it – just a really small thing. Daichi had fallen hard for Sayuri, so Reina had to really put forth the effort. As she was petting the cat and staring outside her window, her mother entered the room and said, “Kosuke has requested to take you out on a date tonight. We have decided to grant him that request, but on the condition that he keeps a close eye on you.”

“Very well.” Came Reina's answer, and once her mother left, the girl set the cat down on the floor and went to her wardrobe to change. While she was at it, she opened her window and tossed a few articles of clothing out for later. Once she was ready to go, her mother escorted her out the front door, and Kosuke wheeled into their driveway. He was beaming and had dressed nicely for the occasion. Reina grabbed her bike and started off towards the corner gas station, at first allowing Kosuke to get close to her.

When they arrived at the intersection, Reina took a right and kept going, picking up her speed. Kosuke seemed confused by this behavior, but he found a way to keep up. Kosuke said, “Hey Rei, what's going on? You're going awfully fast.” Reina saw a side road come up on her right, and she turned and sped down that road. Kosuke called after her, “Woah! Wait up!”

Reina needed to backtrack, but she was going to have to lose Kosuke first. Once she came to the end of that road, she took a left, then a right, then a left, a right, and one more right as to lose Kosuke. She then biked down along the edge of the ocean, then made her way back towards her house. However, she wasn't heading to her house just yet.

Remembering what Daichi told her about Sayuri's location, she found a brown shack with a chain link fence bordering a flower garden, possibly with some vegetables mixed in there. She snuck back home and grabbed some clothes she had thrown outside her window. She put on a black hoodie, sweatpants, rubber cleaning gloves, and tied on a red bandanna that covered the lower half of her face.

Pulling her hood up, she went to the shack, climbed up and over the chain link fence, and looked at each flower in turn. Some had already blossomed, while others were still in their early stages. Next to a brown trellis by the door was a Japanese pit viper. It coiled up and positioned its head as if it were ready to strike Reina. The snake shook the tip of its tail in warning. It was kind of twitchy as well. Reina was smart enough to back away, and a nasty plot hatched within her mind.

The girl picked up a stick near her and held the snake's head down. She reached over and knocked on the door, before quickly moving out of the way of the window and going to pick up the snake, its head firmly held in place by one hand. The other hand contained both the stick and the rest of the snake's body. Sayuri stepped outside to answer the door, and she looked around the small garden. She closed the door behind herself and started to investigate the garden. Sayuri had just stepped away from the door when Reina made sure the snake's mouth was open, then she threw it at Sayuri. Sayuri screamed, and Reina saw the snake bite her. Sayuri fled into the house, the snake fell off the girl's body, and Reina fled the yard.

Reina snuck back to her house, removing the layers of clothing she had placed on top of her soft pink dress and black tights. She put her blue and white jacket back on, and she snapped the stick she had used into pieces. She then tossed each piece in different directions and biked out from behind the house. Sayuri would likely be in the hospital tomorrow, providing that the girl identified a pit viper bite. Otherwise, she would likely die, which would have been just fine by Reina. Reina decided to try to find Kosuke, and she biked back the way she came out of hopes of finding him again.

The boy wasn't hard to find – the two nearly collided as they were turning in opposite directions on the same curve. Reina had a fast reaction time as to avoid an accident, and Kosuke did a double take at her, as if realizing what had nearly occurred. Kosuke said, “There you are! What was that about?”

“You were supposed to catch me. It was a game.” Reina replied.

“Yeah, I didn't think so. I thought you were legitimately trying to run away from me. Anyway, I was thinking that we could go grab some pizza at the local Western-style restaurant. I've been craving a good pizza here lately.” Kosuke said.

“Do you have the money?” Reina asked, thinking that perhaps he did since he mentioned it. Then again, Kosuke wasn't known as the most reliable guy.

“Of course! Our dating fund is enormous!” Kosuke said, having perked up. So the two teenagers pedaled to the restaurant in question.


“I know you just broke up with Akira, but have you considered breaking up with Daichi as well?” Kosuke asked over his slices of pizza.

Reina knew this question was coming. Kosuke's intentions were quite clear to her. She asked, “Another breakup so soon?”

“Well, yeah. A time will come when you can only choose one guy to spend the rest of your life with. You still have three guys interested in you, but only one will remain.” Kosuke stated matter-of-factly.

“And I am well aware of that, but I would like to give myself some time before I break up with another boy.” Reina responded.

“Right, like you feel close to any of those guys at all. You said so yourself – you only liked Akira for his house, and Masaru because he was more mature than Akira was. And Daichi... well, you haven't really talked much about him, have you?” Kosuke asked.

“We have similar interests, and he seems rather reliable.” Reina answered.

“So you both read books. I can't think of any other similarities you two hold.” Kosuke stated. “I mean, sure, he's from Tokyo and you might find that pretty cool, but I think you can find far better matches.” He seemed to be trying to avoid confrontation, but his point was still the same.

“Perhaps.” Reina said, deciding it was best to leave it at that.

“Sooo how about it? Break up with Masaru and Daichi and you're set for life!” Kosuke said.

“Maybe, I need some more time.” Reina said.

There was something different about Kosuke tonight. He seemed more tense, and very much unlike his usual self. His former smile had dissipated and was replaced with a more bitter look. It was like she was talking to someone totally different. Kosuke asked, “What am I to you?”

“A friend.” Reina answered.

“I know that, but how do you feel about me?” Kosuke asked.

“I can't feel.” Reina replied.

“That's not true. You've displayed anger, so I know you can feel something.” Kosuke said.

“You are my friend.” Reina stated matter-of-factly.

Kosuke huffed, then said with an eerie calmness, “Do you love me, yes or no?”

Reina parted her lips to answer, but something was holding her back. It was this unseen force telling her to tread carefully. She didn't think she could get gut instincts, but apparently she could, and her gut instinct was telling her to say anything but no. She then figured it out, as Kosuke looked fit to snap at any moment. Reina finally answered with, “I can't love. Not in the way most other people can.”

Kosuke seemed to relax a bit, but now he seemed sad. He said, “Reina, I never wanted to have to ask this, but... do you remember your mother?”

“The woman who lives with me? Yes, I see her all the time.” Reina answered.

“No, your birth mother.” Kosuke said.

“Ah, her. How could I forget?” Reina deadpanned. “What do you want to know?” Contrary to what her response would lead someone to believe, the subject of her birth mother wasn't upsetting to her. In fact, it was just another subject for her that carried no emotional weight, much like everything else in her life.

“Do you think she's like you?” Kosuke asked.

“She is, without a doubt.” Reina answered. “She left me to die in the countryside outside Sapporo when I was four. The act of raising a child became dull to her.”

Kosuke furrowed his brows out of possible sympathy, but Reina did not understand. It was nothing but fact, and how could facts bother anyone? Kosuke said, “We should talk more about that sometime. Is it safe to say that your condition is genetic?”

“My mother once told me that my biological father was no different from her, so I believe that is true.” Reina replied, then she shook her head. “What is your point?”

“Do you think that you might be a psychopath?” It was a loaded question, but Reina didn't mind. However, she knew the stigma, so she had to give a different sort of answer.

“Maybe, connections are hard to form. I could have any number of mental health conditions.” Reina said, before eating some of her pizza.

Kosuke remarked, “Well now I have to know more! Have you ever met your biological dad?”

“No. He and my biological mother parted ways after they hooked up behind a bar one night. She never tried to find him again.” Reina had hoped Kosuke would drop the subject sooner rather than later.

“Would you want to?” Kosuke’s chattiness was beginning to annoy Reina.

“No. Why search for someone who cared nothing for you before?” Reina countered, the annoyance creeping into her tone.

“Maybe he just never knew.” Kosuke justified.

“Futoshi Kodaira. If you find any records of him let me know. While you’re at it, maybe you can look into Sasaki Miyuki as well.” Reina shot at him, hoping that would shut Kosuke’s incessant babble down. “Either way, I never mattered to them, and they don’t matter to me.” That ended the conversation, which was nice. Since Kosuke liked to talk so much Reina could scarcely enjoy peace and quiet, so their current silence was more than welcomed.



Reina's punishment was lifted Sunday evening, and she headed in her same dark attire to the Sugiyama shack. Only this time, she was accompanied by the cat. The garden had become less cluttered, therefore looking less inviting to snakes and other vermin. Reina peered into the windows of the family, and Mrs. Sugiyama was cooking something, and Sayuri was doing something on her phone. So she was still alive. Reina would have to try harder.

Moving towards what she presumed was the Ito household, she peered into the windows to see what Daichi was up to. Using the Sugiyama household for reference, she deduced that the Itos lived in the single-story house behind the Sugiyamas. The house was white and mahogany, with a blue metal roof. Two big windows had a clear view of the wooden Sugiyama shack. Judging from the way part of the blue roof had connected to the shack, Reina wondered if the Sugiyamas were living on rented property.

No matter, a look inside Daichi's house revealed... nothing as the blinds were down. Yet through a gap between the window and the blinds gave Reina a limited view of Daichi. The boy was reading a book, having a wooden chair with a cushion tied and placed in the seat. Her heart rate increased as she stared at Daichi, and once she was done, she walked away from the window, her fidgeting hands brought up to her belly and her gaze lowered, a rosy blush dusted on her cheeks. Reina made her way back to her own house, the cat having wandered off at this point to presumably hunt.


“So… I found out some stuff about your biological parents.” Kosuke said to Reina over the phone. It was before bed, and Reina was bored so she decided to answer Kosuke’s call.

“And?” Reina asked, knowing that this was just yet another pointless conversation.

“Well, your dad was given the death penalty back in 2005 after raping then murdering a few women, and your mom just disappeared off the face of the Earth.” Kosuke said. “She had some charges against her for child abandonment on top of some others, but from what I can tell they never caught her. She must have dumped you then ran for the nearest airport.”

“What does this have to do with anything?” Reina questioned, her tone harsh from annoyance.

“Uh… you told me to tell you what I found out. Besides, it was just something cool I found. I got curious about your biological parents and thought maybe you would be just a tiny bit interested in what I found…” Kosuke had grown timid, as he was rather avoidant and accommodating when confronted about anything.

I only said that to shut you up. And I have already told you that the only people who matter to me now are my adoptive parents, as they are the ones who presently take care of me. As far as you are concerned, the Hondas are the only parents who I consider as such, even if I care nothing for them. They are simply useful for the time being, and when I have used them for all they’re worth then I’ll be moving on.” Reina stated authoritatively.

Kosuke had fallen silent on the other end of the phone for a moment, and when Reina moved to end the call, he asked, “So does that mean you don’t care about Daichi or any of the other guys you’re dating either? What about me?” Reina narrowed her eyes at the phone and ended the call, before turning the device off altogether. She rolled onto her back then thought of Daichi, sighing quietly as she stared at the plain white ceiling.

She said, “Daichi is the only other person that matters to me. Outside of the Hondas and him, no one else matters.” She turned her head and stared out the window with an empty gaze. “Daichi will soon be mine, and mine alone.” Reina quietly vowed.


Submitted: October 22, 2020

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