Sensei, as usual, is not home when Shinji comes back from school. There is something unusual, though, this day. There is a package. For Shinji.
After a few moments of inspection, the boy discovers that it is an anonymous gift. Whatever it is. "I'm not charity," he mutters, dwelling on the many looks of pity he'd seen in his short life. (Accompanied by whispers, always, about his mother.)
It bothers him. The whispering. The looks. The handwriting, which makes Shinji's address clear but leaves no clues about itself, but Shinji feels he should - there's something about it, something he should know. Something that bothers him.
"Don't pity me," he scowls at the box, not knowing why. He clenches his fist. "I don't need your pity!"
He raises his hand. He's going to smash it, smash it like he smashed his sand castle.
All the other children, their mothers had been at the beach. Had helped them build. Not Shinji's. He'd been left alone, with no mother, no father - just a stupid box and-
He sniffles. Drops his hand. He doesn't know why his anger disappears, but for the moment, it does. Although it's soon replaced with annoyance as he drags the box into the house. Into his room. It takes hours.
Sensei is still not home when Shinji opens the box. Sensei is not there as Shinji peers inside. Sensei is not there to hear Shinji's surprise. Sensei is not there to hear Shinji's first eager, but ear-splitting, notes.
Once Sensei does come home, Shinji is sprawled out his bed, clutching his mother's cello.
As he sleeps, Sensei tells Gendo that Shinji is glad for the gift.