Chapter Twenty-Three: Care from Friends:

Kirika-chan sat in Watari’s office. He finished his examination her.

“Everything is good,” Watari said. “You are free to go.” He turned off his flashlight.

“I don’t have to go to school, right?” she asked.

“Nice try,” Watari said. “But you have to go to school.”

“Figured I would try,” she said. The girl rose to her feet.

“I’m leaving now,” Kirika-chan said.

“Take care,” Watari said. Kirika-chan bowed and walked out of his office.



It feels strange to be back. I mean, I wasn’t gone long but still…

“Yo!” I heard behind me. I turned to see Nozomi running towards me. A confused look came over my face.

“Nozomi?” I asked. She came up to my side.

“You’re here early,” I said.

“Fine,” I said.

“Good,” Nozomi said. “That’s good.” I blinked for a moment.

“Are you okay?” I asked.

“Yes… why?” she asked. I shook my head.

“Nothing,” I said. “Let’s get to class, okay?” I took her by the hand and pulled her along.

“Kirika-chan?” she asked. I didn’t turn my head.


Class was fine. I counted down to summer break. It was so sweet of Nozomi to worry about me. Same with Akira. He sent me a text this morning.

“Are you doing okay?” he wrote.

“Yes,” I typed back. I added a smiley face. Mama and Papa have been checking on me. I am really that loved. Sometimes it surprises me. I don’t know how to take it at times.

Someone nudged me on the arm. I turned my head. Nozomi looked at me.

“It’s okay,” her eyes seemed to say. I gave her a nod.

“Do you want to come by my place later?” she asked after class. I perked up.

“Sure,” I said.

“Cool,” Nozomi said, nodding. She followed me out the hall.


I am loved. My parents, aunt, my friends, and everyone in our circle. But I am not alone. He is still following me. I don’t think he’s going to let me go. I don’t know what to do.

“Something wrong?” Nozomi asked. I shook my head.

“No, I’m good,” I said. She doesn’t look so convinced.

I sighed.

“Actually…” I said. I had to be vague about this.

“Your kidnapper?” she asked. I nodded.

“Yeah,” I said. Nozomi put her arms around my shoulders.

“I will stay with you,” she said. “Don’t worry, okay?” I force myself to smile and nod. We went to our last class of the day.

I am loved. They will protect me. I will be okay. Just don’t worry about it. Summer break is coming after all.