Every good thing must, after all, end.

He drowses against the post, grey head warmed by the afternoon sun. Beneath him, the engawa shudders, assaulted by tiny feet. Playful shrieks, gossip at the washline, the day's busy-ness: soothing sounds floating distantly through his hearing.

Her voice missing.

"Dinner's ready. Now!"

The character, if not the volume, of the yard's din changes.

"Where is he?" "Napping. I'll wake him."

Megumi bends gracefully, her hair, still youthfully long, now shot with white, brushes his arm. At her hand on his shoulder, he slumps unnaturally. Her sudden silence ripples outward, stopping each in turn.

She checks his pulse.

"He's gone."

Review Responses: All: I'm so glad this touched you, but I had to smile at how many of you were uncertain about who "he" is. For me, there is really only one "he" in RK, and it actually was the furthest thing from my mind that there would be any ambiguity in this piece at all! "She" is missing simply because she left before him; someone always has to be first, after all.

As for the voice announcing dinner, sometimes I like to think it's Yahiko, who has grown up to take over the dojo; other times, I imagine a daughter for him who is infuriatingly like his sensei, and who also cannot cook, hence the command "Now!", calling the unwilling to the table.