Of siblings, fairy tales, and dreams that don't come true. And how there is always someone waiting to comfort you.

By: Rosethorn Li

Akane is seven, nearly eight, and she wants to be a princess. Kasumi smiles and laughs at this with all the knowledge eleven brings, pats her head and says, "You can be anything you like." Even though her little sister is five times stronger than those who would be 'Prince', with a temper unfit for a tiara and evening dress.

There's a play in her grade, and Akane is excited; to be Juliet, she tells her onee-san, would be a dream come true. Another pat and smile and this time a cookie, and with Kasumi's blessing, she goes off to practice her lines.

"She'll be a perfect Romeo," sensei says when Kasumi picks her sister up the next day. "Better than all the boys." Akane is clinging to her skirts, looking shy. Never one to talk back to those in authority.

"I see," the older girl agrees with a smile. "Thank you."

She takes her sister's hand and leads her away, into the hall and outside. The day doesn't seem as bright as it should have, with the shining sun and cloudless sky.

Akane is crying. Kasumi stops, leans down, says her name. Sniffling and protests and the need to be strong; so strong, this little girl. There is no, "I'm sorry"; that's not what Akane wants. Reaching out with open arms, she scoops her sister up, hugs her close, and comforts her all the way home.