Genre(s): Slice of life, Romance, Drama

Character(s): Kai — Male protagonist, 17 year old high school student at Musashi Senior High, Kyoto, Japan. Kai maintains his poor grades and bad behavior, but is a man of principles. He doesn’t smoke or drink or keep bad company but always manages to get in trouble, both in and out of school. Kai is misunderstood, troubled, and full of unadulterated rage.

Mila — Female protagonist, 17 year old high school student at Musashi Senior High, Kyoto, Japan. She is a proper lady, always well dressed. Owing to her chronic illness, Mila can rarely experience life to the fullest. Even small things like weekend trips or eating street food is out of her reach. She lives life on the safe side.

Shoto — Kai’s younger brother, 13 year old.

Haruki — Mila’s mother.

Plot: Kai is a seventeen year old high school senior full of angst and rage that he knows no better to control or channel. Always poised and proper, Mila is the definition of grace. She is determined to hold her own, but her ill-health has always been a bottleneck in her life. Kai and Mila live on the same street and their families know each other well. Every day after school Kai pays Mila money for the bentou her mother makes for Kai and his brother. A group of delinquent boys who Kai had once been in a fist fight with make notice of this arrangement. One day after school, they get hold of Mila confusing her to be Kai’s girlfriend. To get back at Kai and enrage him to madness, they misbehave with Mila but things get out of hand pretty quickly. Mila’s frail health gives up and by the time the news of the incident reaches Kai, Mila has already been escorted to the city hospital. In a burst of anger, Kai badly wounds the lot, the brawl gets him suspended from the school afterwards. He shows up at the hospital feeling guilty in his bones for what happened to Mila but as soon as he lays his eyes on her bruised body lying limp on the hospital bed, he vows to make it up to her for the rest of his life. So begins their story…

Plot Details: Mila’s family is of a modest background and to earn some extra cash on the side, Mila’s mother prepares bentou for Kai and Shoto. Kai’s mother is a busy single mother of two and barely spends any time at home.

Glossary: Bentou — Traditional Japanese lunch box.

Onigiri: Traditional Japanese rice dish.

Author’s note: It’s a story of compassion and how a little bit of understanding and human empathy can melt the stoutest of hearts.

[In the hospital after the incident when Mila opens her eyes and finds Kai sitting by her bed.]

Kai: Your mother left me in-charge.

Mila: You have dried blood on your face. (Tear-stained face)

Kai: I-

Mila: No need.

Kai: Mila —

Mila: Your words will not fix anything, and it would kill me to see you try.

Kai: Let me —

Mila: Just leave.

Kai: Your mother —

Mila: We are fine without you. I would like you to leave me alone.

Kai: I don’t want to.

Mila: (Turns her head away.)

Kai: Shoto asked when he could come for Onigiri.

Mila: He is always welcome.

Kai: Mila, I am sorry. I really am. What can I do to make it up to you?

A long pause.

Mila: Make me strong and powerful. (Pause) Like you.

Kai: That —

Mila: Teach me how to be lethal. (Sobs.)

Kai: I’m not strong.

Mila: You can beat people up.

Kai: Physical strength doesn’t make you strong. You’re much stronger than I am, Mila.

Mila: I am weak. And powerless. And useless.

Kai: Tell me what you need strength for?

Mila: What? (Confused)

Kai: I can be your muscles.

Mila: No —

Kai: I promise. Everything has to go through me to get to you. Just wait and see.

Mila: I don’t need —

Kai: Just be my friend.

Stories. Sometimes of words, sometimes of people.

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