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Little Comfort

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I've heard Satoko cry many times before. I've known her since we were kids, after all. Little kids cry. At school, at home, over minor incidents, and when everything goes to hell. Between that time her parents died and before her brother left she'd break down at the slightest opportunity.

It was understandable. Crying might not help a situation, but it's an inevitability when things build up so much, and really not that terrible a reaction. Especially with what was happening around us, more than enough of a reason for an occasional meltdown. I didn't blame Satoko for it, neither her for reaction nor what was happening. But she did.

After Satoshi left, Satoko suddenly became quieter in that way. She was growing up, hoping to become a stronger person as she matured. Though I didn't doubt that was happening, I also knew how much she was holding in. I'd heard her crying at night a multitude of times. On the same date, so it was an expected event after various worlds had gone by.

Initially, I'd embarrassed her by noticing. Now I know it's best to just ignore and let her go through this suffering privately. I wanted to go over and comfort her, but I also didn't know how. It was an awkward situation. I was likely to somehow offend, or make it worse. I knew Satoko would be smiling in the morning again, anyway.

But one of these times, I also sat awake, thinking, when I heard Satoko's muffled sobs. I saw the situation unfolding around us, but I knew that nothing could be done. Could that also be why Satoko was crying? No, this situation was unique to this Hinamizawa, and Satoko's pain was not. I realized then I didn't really know why she cried, only that she had more than enough reasons to.

I considered asking her. Perhaps talking with me could help her feel happier for a moment. On some level I knew it was useless. Nothing I could do could erase the cause of Satoko's suffering. But still, I felt the urge to do something. Now I consider it was because of my own selfishness, not wanting to be alone with my own burdens.

But then I just thought of a way to do it. Quietly, I crawled over to Satoko. She noticed me before I reached her, choking back sobs. As a crouched over her, she looked at me, waiting to see what I was doing as she tried, though still failed, to regain her composure. I leaned down, giving her a quick kiss on the forehead.

Satoko looked at me, tears still welling in her eyes, looking at me as I looked lovingly down at her.

"Leave me alone, Rika!" she finally yelled.

Then I felt another pain. An immediate, more intense feeling than some of my others. The feeling of rejection, for fear of which I'd never done anything before. I can consider now how Satoko may have felt, but at that time I just bit my lip, frowning from the sum of my own distresses.

Satoko took the time to reach to me, squeezing my hand, implying she hadn't meant to be so harsh. I crumbled to the ground, halfway on Satoko's futon, and took the opportunity to hug her tightly. Satoko also hugged me, quieter now, taking time to comfort me instead of being helped by me. It's truly selfish of me, but Satoko won't complain. Even without knowing the whole story, I think she understands.