I waited outside my Mother�s bedroom. Doctor Akai walked out ten minutes later. I looked up at him after he closed the door after him.

�How is she?� I asked.

�Good,� he said. �Just get her to keep taking her medication every night and she�ll go back to normal. I tried to smile. He has no real idea of what her �normal� is. I thought about telling him that, but really, what would be the point? He turned to leave when I looked up at the old doctor.

�Doctor Akai,� I spoke up. He looked over his shoulder.

�What is it, boy?� he asked. I shrugged my shoulders. The older man breathed hard.

�Speak, boy! I haven�t got all day!� he snapped. I swallowed hard and shut my eyes.

�I want to understand girls!� I blurted out. He turned and looked at me with a puzzled look.

�Is that all?� he asked.

�Yes!� I said with a red face. Doctor Akai didn�t speak, but then I opened my eyes when I heard him laughing at me. His beard bounced with each laugh. I tilted my head, blinking. Juriko laughing at me was one thing, but hearing the doctor laughing at me felt wrong on so many levels.

�What?� I asked. He shook his head, smiling as he patted me on the shoulder.

�Oh, you poor kid,� the doctor said. �You have a long ways to go before you can even begin to think that you understand them!� I blinked at him.

�What do you mean?� I asked. Doctor Akai tried not to laugh at me again.

�We will have this talk again so time later,� he said. �But right now, I have to go. I�ve got three more patients to visit today. I�ll be back to check on your mother next week.� That old snake just walked out the door. I blinked for what felt like the longest time in my life.

�Huh?� I asked. We never did get have that conversation. He just avoided me with work, drinking, and his studies. He knew how to avoid awkward conversations.