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Your name is Takeshi and your mother tried to kill herself today.


You’re not entirely sure why – no scratch that, you know exactly why she did it, but you pity her for failing and resent her for even trying. She nearly left you with your father (and you’re only using this term loosely, since the only thing he ever did right by you was spending genetic material) and that’s not something you can forgive easily.


Your father is a misogynistic, abusive and neurotic piece of shit. Oh, he was charming alright, a right amendable fellow to his superiors and comrades, but at home the smile would fall of his face and his hand would raise. It didn’t help that he was a shinobi and mother and you were completely helpless against him. Fuck knows why she even married him.


You are two and a half years old and you’re wiping blood off the kitchen tiles. It’s caught in the groves and sunk into the grout and you don’t have the upper body strength to scrub it off. You are grateful to do this though, because you don’t want to know how your mother is faring with father in the bedroom. There is no sound in the house besides the chafing of the metal sponge against the tiles and you are afraid.

 ---

Today you are three years old. There is a thin book in your clumsy hands and you celebrate alone in the park close to your home by trying to teach yourself to read. It’s slow going, as the language is completely alien to every other language you had known in your past life and there’s no sense in the symbols and hieroglyphs in front of you. When you were little (or well, littler than now) your mother would sometimes read to you and point out some signs, but she doesn’t talk anymore. Nowadays, she spends her days in silence and loneliness. You are glad that you have become so self-sufficient because sometimes you aren’t even sure she knows you exist.


There’s movement by your right as a boy your age unexpectedly plops down right next to you. Your fingers tighten against the book in surprise as you just stare at him and he looks back at you. When you don’t otherwise react, he lifts a pale hand to point at your book.


“What are you reading?” His voice is high pitched and surprisingly smooth. You shrug in response. At this point you’re more trying to set the book on fire with your eyes than doing any actual reading. Being illiterate sucks.
The boy doesn’t seem upset with your lack of proper answer and just looks over your shoulder to get a look himself.


“Isn’t this a grown up’s book? My mom says I’m not ready for these yet.” He looks at you with big eyes. “You must be really good to understand this.”


There is a twinge of humor in your chest for the first time in ages. It’s takes all your strength to convert a laugh into a soft snort, and you close the book with a snap. You are getting nothing done with it anyway.

 ---

There’s a routine in your life. Mornings are spent silently in your room as you wait for your father to leave the house for another mission. Then you would finally find your courage and start your daily bathroom ritual, after which you’d join your mother in the kitchen, where she would set a piece of buttered toast in front of you and a cup of tea. Nobody talks, and you’d feel like a ghost till you finally exit the house. Then you would spend your whole day Outside, where people actually noticed you and spoke to you and looked at you.

 

Outside you are real. Outside is where your friend is waiting for you.