Chapter Eighteen: Mothers of Doubt:

November 16th, 2010.

Anna wanted to be alone. Tsuzuki had to work late tonight and Daiyu stayed with the baby. Right now, everyone was asleep. Anna slipped out of bed, got dressed, and walked out of the apartment.

“Where are you going?” the Mother asked.

“Out,” Anna said. “I just want to be alone.” The Mother shrugged and went quiet in her head.


Anna found herself at Kimoto Manor. She knocked on the door, shivering. Rihoko poked her head outside as she opened the door.

“Anna-san!” she exclaimed. “What are you doing here so late?” The other woman shuffled her feet and shifted her shoulders.

“I had to get away,” she said. Anna looked around inside. “May I come in?”

“Okay,” Rihoko said.

“Thank you,” Anna said, bowing. She followed Rihoko inside.


“I didn’t know which one you wanted,” Rihoko said walking into the living room with sake and red wine in her hands. “So I brought both.”

“It’s fine,” Anna said. “I just don’t like beer.”

“I remembered that much.” Rihoko walked over and sat down next to her former roommate. Anna took the red wine.

“Need a glass?” Rihoko asked. Anna twisted the bottle open and took a drink.

“Guess not…” Rihoko muttered. She tilted her head. “What’s the matter?” Anna lowered the bottle and sighed.

“Do you have class in the morning?” she asked.

“Only an online one,” Rihoko said. Anna leaned back against the couch.

“It’s about a baby,” she said.

“A baby?” her friend asked. The other woman nodded.

“Asato invited me out on a clean-up job in Okinawa. We came to this ruined house. Everyone was dead, but this little baby somehow survived.” She pressed her hand to her forehead.

“Somehow, the kid lives with us now.”

“Sort of.”

Rihoko tilted her head. “Sort of?”

Anna took another drink and sighed. “Kirika-chan already has a family. Her aunt wants to take her back to Hong Kong.”

“Who doesn’t want her to go?”

“Asato. He’s already taken to the baby.”

“And you?”

Anna sighed and flopped backwards. “I don’t know.” She looked at the bottle in her hand. “I can’t be a mother at all.”

“Why is that?”

“Long complicated issues. Please don’t ask.”

Rihoko set down her beer. “I wasn’t ready to be a mom at seventeen either.”

Anna turned her head. “Rihoko…”

Her friend shook her own head, smiling. “My parents were too wrapped up in their divorce. We had just moved to Tokyo and I felt so lonely.” She looked up at the ceiling.

“I met an older boy. He paid so much attention to me. One thing later to another and he took my virginity. It didn’t take long for me to end up pregnant by that beautiful boy.” The geeky mother giggled.

“He said that he would love me forever and help raise the baby. Heh. Needless to say, it was doomed to fail. We broke up and I had Yoko-chan alone in a city clinic.”

“But you’ve done such a good job with Yoko-chan,” Anna said.

“Yeah,” Rihoko said back. “When I saw her little face, I fill in love. I let her in and I vowed never to become like my parents.” Her friend tilted her head.

“So… what does that mean for me?” she asked. Rihoko patted her back.

“You’ll find the answer for yourself when the time comes.” Anna pressed her lips together.

“Can I stay here with you and drink?” she asked. Her friend smiled.

“Sure,” Rihoko said.

“Thanks,” Anna said. She didn’t leave until morning.