Nanami stared at the single piece of paper left under a coffee cup on her kitchen table.
I supposed I should have seen it coming…
Her brown schoolbag was dropped onto the floor without care as she slumped onto the floor, senselessly reaching out to the letter with shaking hands.
The room was silent save for the soft crinkle of the folded stationary. As she glanced at the first few words through increasingly blurry eyes, the sobs she had been holding back burst forward.
Was I ever good enough?
Nanami couldn't see the words anymore, and the letter was getting soggier by the second. It didn't matter anyway. She knew what it said, even if she only read the first two lines. She knew, even years ago, what her father would have said in such a letter when he'd finally had enough of her. She knew, from the first time his father laid a hand on her mother, that there had been no love lost.
The seconds ticked by, but Nanami would soon have no use for time. In a few hours, even the run-down apartment she had so determinedly kept by her meager earnings would be taken away from her. In a few hours, she would become just another nameless person living on the streets.
She bit her bottom lip in frustration. Hurriedly, she stood up and ran into her bedroom. Moving the tatami mat aside, she desperately ran her fingers along the tiles, searching for the nearly invisible crack that ran through a loose tile. She all but yanked it away when she found it, hoping to find the emergency money she'd stowed away.
The wad of money she'd painstaking hidden from her father's prying eyes was gone, as was the jar of coins where she kept her loose change. No doubt those said coins were jingling in her father's pockets at this very moment.
Or maybe he'd already gamble those away as well…
Nanami looked around the room in a daze. Unbidden memories flashed before her, and she ruthlessly squeezed her eyes shut against the images. She swiped her arm across her face, trying to dry the unending tears. The doorbell buzzed a few times, but she did not get up to open the door.
Still crying aren't you, worthless girl?
There were voices in her apartment now, loud and angry. Dimly, she realized they had broken her door and were hauling out the furniture. A head poked into her room, saw nothing salvageable, frowned at Nanami, and left. In a few minutes, she was alone again.
She must have cried herself to sleep, because it was quite late now, and the sun had hidden itself behind the distant hills. Nanami blinked owlishly in the faint lighting of the dying day, stood up, gathered her few belongings, and walked out of her decrepit home onto the street. She almost choked on the chilly air that entered her lungs, its icy touch once again reminding her of her solitude.
Her hesitant footsteps echoed loudly on the empty street, and if the occasional individual passed by the lone girl wandering the street in a school uniform, they thought nothing of it.
Still crying aren't you, worthless girl? Her father's hurtful words echoed in her mind.
No. I won't keep crying anymore. I can't keep crying if I promised Mother to smile, right?
The night swallowed her whole.