Chapter three.

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Unlocking the door, Naoki found the house to be tranquil and undisturbed by the presence of another human. A note on the counter explained that she was to make dinner and have it done when her father got home so she quickly got to work on what little they had at the house; for there was no time to run to the grocery.

Humming to herself, she washed and peeled carrots and potatoes while a soft, summer breeze fluttered through the kitchen, toying with the fabric curtains. It took her about one hour to complete making dinner and she had to keep it warm until her father got home. She would not be allowed to eat without him when one of these instructional notes appeared, demanding her presence. She sat at the table sipping on some water as she waited.

Towards the better half of two extra hours, her father barged into the house and she quickly had him seated with alcohol and dinner, while she sat across from him quietly eating, careful not to bring up conversation with him. He gave her grunts of appreciation when she continually brought him more alcohol. Finally, she stood to do the dishes and left her father alone, reading some political paper like usual; she knew that would get him riled up.

Soapy water swished angrily as the dishes disturbed the liquid and Naoki washed the dishes with a skill she had practiced since her youth. She did not hum and had since shut the window from the warm evening air, washing the final bit of the dishes and letting the water begin to drain before turning from the kitchen.

In the doorway stood the large body of her father, it towered over even some of the taller boys at the school and was built with muscle that suggested that he had a lot of time to work out. Naoki looked at him before stepping up and looking downwards, murmuring: “Excuse me... I need to get to some homework...”

Peaking up, her father’s face had turned purple with rage and veins were popping out of his neck. As soon as she lifted her chin, her father took it as a challenge and with as much force he could manage in his buzzed, angry, state, his hand collided with her cheek sending her sideways.

His hand roughly grabbed her arm to keep her standing and he swung again, this time with a closed fist. His hand colliding with Naoki’s fragile nose, tears streamed down her face and she did not struggle. Continuing his barrage of attacks, he finally shoved her to the ground and kicked her ribcage, unable to break anything in her this time around, he turned away and stormed out of the house.

Laying on the cold tile of the kitchen floor, with tears streaming down her cheeks, Naoki lay where her father had left her; broken and beaten down, unable to know if she were going to be alright for the next twelve hours.

One day I hope very much.

               That my father will end up in a position

         That he might not make it out alive,

                                  Maybe then I wouldn’t hurt anymore.

Suzuki and Sano Sensei immediately noticed the absence of their teammate, and Suzuki and Kiwisawa sat with Sano, speaking about the issue.

“Yes, I walked her home last night and she seemed perfectly fine!” Suzuki exclaimed, in disbelief that anything could happen to the new gymnast in just one night.

“Well, she may have come down with a twenty-four hour flu. But still, that is bad if she wants to make it into the next competition...” Kiwisawa mused, looking to Sano for guidance.

“I believe that you two girls should take a trip to her house tonight, just to make sure she is alright, and bring her schoolwork with you so she can catch up tonight.” Sano said after many moments of thoughts. “Suzuki-chan, you know where house is, correct?”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Alright, let’s go after practice then, okay?” Kiwisawa said with a resolved nod, and stood up, with Suzuki, getting back to the practice floor.

“This sure is... something.” Suzuki said, blinking as she took in the rather run down looking home that she and her teammate had stopped at just the other day.

“Let’s go.” Kiwisawa said, walking towards the door and knocking on it, Suzuki trailing behind somewhat.

A large man answered, he looked as if he did more hard labor work than anything. He was well muscled, and broad chested, but instead of looking happy, he seemed  upset at the door being answered and his eyes narrowed at the two girls.

“What do you want?” He demanded gruffly.

“Are you Kimori-san?” Asked Suzuki, fearing she had made it to the wrong house.

“Yeah.”

“Is your daughter home?” Kiwisawa asked, her eyes meeting him, but her willpower faltering under his gaze.

“No. She’s out running errands. Go home.” He growled, slamming the door in their faces, the two girls turned quickly and left the property, no longer afraid they had made it to the wrong house, but more afraid of her father.

“Running errands?” Suzuki asked, Kiwisawa was very quiet and bid her friend farewell after walking a short distance with her.

“I’ll call Sano-Sensei and tell her what happened and that we couldn't’t get the homework to Kimori-san, okay?” Kiwisawa said, Suzuki agreed and left at the doorstep of her own house.

“Hello, Sano residence.”

“Hey, it is Kiwisawa Hotaru. We couldn’t get the work to Kimori-san because she was out. Her father answered the door and frightened both Suzuki-san and I away.”

“I understand, thank you very much for running the errand. Maybe walk that way and see if you can walk to school with Kimori-san tomorrow if you see her, okay?”

“Yes ma’am. Thank you.”

“Thank you Kiwisawa-chan, have a good evening.”

“Yes, you too Sano-sensei.”

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