I don't know what possessed me to write that letter.

I really don't.  All I know is that I got tired of the girls bullying me around all the time.  I was tired of Motoko and her death threats, tired of Su and her mecha, which seemed to be built for the sole purpose of killing or otherwise injuring me.  I was tired of Kitsune's schemes to get me to buy her more alcohol, or teasing me, or getting me in trouble.  I was still mad at her for the time she got me fired from Mura Sake.

I was tired of Shinobu and her earnestness, all the time.  She meant well, but she really needed to realize that there was far too much of an age gap between us for any kind of relationship to form, more or less survive.

But I don't think that any of this was what drove me to do what I did.  I think that they may have been contributing factors, but the final straw was none of these. 

The final straw was one Naru Narusegawa.

It seemed that she could go on torturing me forever, could punch and kick and abuse me to no end.  At least she thought so.  She never thought, not for one minute, about my feelings for her.  She just pushed and pushed and pushed some more.  Maybe she thought that it would never affect me.

She was wrong.

The previous evening…

Naru and I were studying in her room, waiting for Shinobu to call us down for dinner.  I was currently immersed in a rather complex calculus problem, while Naru tackled her English.  I had been asking her for help on my math; it wasn't my best subject.  Naru had helped me, though the past few times, her irritation level had risen noticeably. 

I looked down at the problem before me once again.  It had looked easy when I started on it, but after three failed solutions, I couldn't see where I was going wrong. 

"Naru, could you help me with this?"

She looked up from her own book, and seeing that I was stuck again, slammed the volume down on the low table.  "NO!"

I was taken aback by her sudden anger.  "Naru, what's wrong-"

She cut me off.  "I'll tell you what's wrong, you pathetic loser!  You can't possibly pass the entrance exam!  Not unless I was there to hold your hand!  I can't get any work done myself because you always interrupt me to ask for help!  Get out!"

Naru was standing now, her face flushed.  Her little tirade was nothing new, it happened almost every day, in fact.  I usually just let it pass, like a summer storm. 

But this time, something snapped.

I stood, took my books, and left her room, just as Shinobu knocked to announce that dinner was ready.  I muttered something about not being hungry, and brushed past her, to my room. 

Shinobu took one look at my retreating back, then at Naru's face.  It was nothing new for her, and she simply assumed that I would be down momentarily. 

Not this time.

I paced in my room, thinking over Naru's treatment of me for the past year.  Maybe I thought that after all this time together, she would take the hint, maybe notice how my expression changed when she walked in the room, or how she dominated my every waking moment.  I had tried to tell her, and had been interrupted every time. 

And just now, her sudden outburst had made me think.  Maybe she would never take the hint.

An idea struck me then.  What if I left?  Not permanently, just long enough to make them appreciate the effect I had on this place.  No more clean baths, no more waxed floors, no more cut grass.

And no more abuse from Naru.

Perhaps she would miss me.  She might even decide to come after me.

Or maybe, like me, she would learn loneliness.

It is a powerful emotion.  It has caused me to sink to the lowest depths of depression, and had forced me to look at my life from outside myself. 

Naru, probably, hadn't ever felt anything like it.

Maybe it was time for that.

I could think of no other way for her to experience my feelings, my emotions.  And if I didn't take some time to cool off, I might do something I'd regret later.

I took out a sheet of paper, and began to write.

The next morning

I rose earlier than my usual time, I wanted to be gone before the rest of the household woke up.

Quietly, I packed my bags, leaving nothing behind.  I knew that they would try and find me, and I had no intention of leaving any clues as to my whereabouts.  My photo book and journal went into my school bag, everything else into a large suitcase.  I had few personal possessions, so my room, bare before, was almost antiseptically so now.

After making a final check to ensure that everything was in order, I silently snuck into Naru's room, making no noise.  She was asleep, her bangs falling gently across her face.

I almost lost my resolve there.  She was so beautiful, so peaceful, just lying there.  She looked like an angel.

Gazing down upon her, I realized that I loved her more than I could possibly tell her, more than any words could express.

I had to do this.

Just as silently as I had entered, I left, leaving her.  It hurt, but I knew, deep in my heart, that there was no other way.

I crept down the stairs in the predawn darkness, momentarily enjoying the stillness that was present before everyone awoke.  If only it was like this more often.

It was drizzling rain as I stepped out, the sky painted a depressing mural of gray.  A fitting mood for what I was doing, I thought. 

I considered the letter that I had left on the kitchen table.  It was short, and to the point.  Doubtless they would try to extract other meanings from it, but I knew what it was to mean, and Aunt Haruka probably would as well.  Of all the girls she was the most likely to understand.  Perhaps she would aid me in my journey.

I looked up at the sky, allowing the drops of water to cascade over my weary face. 

It was time.

I walked away, not looking back. 

Hinata House

Naru woke, noticing an unnatural stillness.  Usually, the house was much more noisy than this in the mornings.  Su made sure of that.  But it was far too quiet.

She rose, and made her way down to the kitchen.  Perhaps everyone else was simply still asleep.

Upon entering, though, she found everyone else there, gathered around the table.

"What's going on?"

Then, looking around, she noticed a familiar face missing from those present.  "Where's Keitaro?"

Shinobu simply handed her the letter.