Kiyoko sat in a corner with her head down as she waited for Satoru to get her something to eat. She didn’t feel comfortable at all and she felt out of place because she had never been to this kind of place, nor could she afford anything from here.
Today, she had missed her dinner once again and had been debating with herself whether she should come here or not, but in the end she gave in to the hunger and came. She didn’t know why she made this decision when she could’ve begged on the street.
‘It’s just because I’m too hungry. Don’t think too much Kiyoko, eat your food and leave.’
As Kiyoko was in her own little world, Satoru put a bowl of soup and a few sandwiches in front of her.
Kiyoko picked her spoon up and took a sip of the soup. It had been a while since she’s had something so delicious. Without her realizing, a huge smile formed on her face. When she looked up she saw Satoru staring at her. She quickly looked back down and continued to drink her soup.
“Why is he staring at me? Do I have something on my face?” She thought to herself and brought her left hand up to wipe her mouth, but there was nothing, “Does he have some weird habit of staring at someone when they are eating? That’s rude….”
“No, I don’t have weird habits of staring at someone’s face when they are eating.” Satoru replied to her.
“Huh? Does he have powers that allow him to read minds or something? Or did I say it out loud…”
“No, I can’t read minds. It’s just that your thoughts are reflecting on your face right now.” He laughed as he answered her, “Where are you staying right now?”
Kiyoko turned pale upon hearing the question. She felt her stomach turn and twist, feeling down as she was reminded of the place she sleeps at night. It wasn’t comfortable, nor the best place, but she had no other choice. It made her feel uncomfortable to hear such a question, so she kept quiet.
Satoru, seeing her facial expression change, apologized and stopped talking. Kiyoko continued to eat her food in silence. Satoru only watched, as they could see cars passing by and people chattering. Both remained quiet until Kiyoko finished her food, stood up and got ready to leave.
As Kiyoko walked past Satoru, he looked offended and said “Goodbye, I hope I’ll see you soon. Sorry about earlier.”
As time passed by, Kiyoko went to the café whenever she didn’t have food. She had never spoken once; it was always him who did all the talking.
One evening, Satoru closed the cafe as usual before he made his way home. He walked down the streets and happened to look into an alley that was dark and dirty. Some homeless people would sleep there during cold nights.
Someone caught his attention –a very familiar figure that always visited his café.
‘Is that…….’ He thought and walked into the alley full off trash and unpleasant surroundings. , Satoru’s eyes focused on the girl that looked familiar to him. As he got closer, it was confirmed.
‘It’s that girl.’ He thought and slowly walked up to her sleeping figure.
She was curled up into a ball on a piece of card board. Seeing her like that, Satoru felt really bad and thought the pain in his chest would not go away. It wasn’t pity that he felt, but the need to hug or take care of her.
Satoru knew that she wasn’t living well but never thought that she was homeless.
His mind was full of thoughts as he wondered if he should wake her up and take her with him or leave her and ask her about it tomorrow. He knew that she would probably dislike it if she knew he’d seen her in these conditions. But if he left her, he’d feel terrible and worry to death. In the end, he decided to wake her up.
“Hey.” He said.
Kiyoko heard a faint but familiar voice. Her eyes opened, and her vision was blurry at first but as soon as it cleared, she gasped. ‘What is he doing here?!’
“Hey…um…I was walking by as I closed the café…and saw you…. ”
Kiyoko felt embarrassed –or actually, ashamed would describe her feelings better. She didn’t like that he saw her in this kind of place. She wanted to run but was too shocked to get up. Plus, it was already dark. There was a long pause, and Satoru felt like they were getting nowhere with this silence. Satoru thought that if he sat next to her, it’d help break the tension.
“….You know, when I was a kid my parents didn’t have much. We had just enough to eat and we lived in a very small, broken down apartment.” Satoru confessed, “And to top it off, my parents were always working. So I rarely saw them.” He added, as he looked up at the sky.
Kiyoko started to feel less ashamed and felt more comfortable.
‘I see…so even he had some problems in the past…’ Kiyoko glanced over at Satoru, then back at her feet.
“So…don’t feel bad or ashamed. Cause I know how this feels too….” Satoru said as he gave her a gentle smile. Kiyoko felt a warm sensation inside her chest, something that she hadn’t felt in a long time.
Then there was another long pause. Kiyoko didn’t talk much and Satoru didn’t expect her to either. But he felt the tension was gone and they were more comfortable now.
“I really wish you’d talk to me. Cause I want to know more about you. I can lend you an ear whenever you need someone to listen to you.”
Kiyoko felt nervous yet a tint of happiness in her. The times she had spent going back and forth to the café had made her calm around Satoru but it just wasn’t time yet for Kiyoko. The trust and fear that overwhelmed her made her unable to even utter a word.
Those were the words that Kiyoko wanted to tell him. The urge to say something to him made her feel unpleasant. But she wouldn’t give in, to this situation.
Satoru turned his head to face her, “Did you want a job? I can help you get one. You can work in the café I work at and also live in the attic upstairs. It’s not much but I think it’d be nice once it’s cleaned out and better than…..here.” Satoru said as he got up, holding his hand out to her.