My father always had a short temper.

I grew up without a mother, so my father was the only family I had. He showed me how to farm and told me the facts of life. He treated me gently yet roughly, treating me like a girl but also as a farmer. My hands were scarred and burned but I was a prideful girl. At sixteen I was almost as good as my father when it came to farming. I helped him tend to the fields and father always praised me, which only added to the pride I always felt after a day of work.

But my father's temper was a hindrance in our relationship. If I made a mistake he blew up, calling me a mistake and useless. He got over his anger quickly and always apologized, but his outbursts were disturbing to me.

So on one particular day in the midst of the war, I wasn't that surprised when I saw my father chasing a boy away from the crops. It wasn't unusual to find people stealing from our fields, which made father angry. We worked hard to survive during the war. Just because we grew our own food didn't mean we were better off than anyone else. Our crops were dying and we were struggling, but father was too proud to admit it.

I stopped and watched in astonishment as father tackled the thief, beating him with such rage that I couldn't help but step back in fear.

Then I saw the boy's face.

He looked like my brother. He had the same gentle eyes, the same brown hair…I couldn't help but be pulled toward that face, even if it was bloody and scared. My timid walk turned to a run and I grabbed my father's arm.

"Dad!" I shouted, tugging him away from the boy. "Dad," I said gently this time. "Please stop. Let him go."

"He's been stealin' our crops! This isn't the first time! I'm takin' this brat to the police."

The boy began to panic, begging father to let him go. I tightened my grip on his arm and forced him to look at me. I shook my head.

"Dad, please, it's a war. Do we need to bother the police about this? If the police see what you did, won't you get in trouble, too?"

His face paled the slightest bit and he glanced at the boy. "Fine," he spat, "but if I catch you lurking 'round here again, I won't hold back."

The boy struggled against the ground as father stalked back toward the house.

"Come on, Emiko! It's late out, let the brat crawl off to wherever he came from."

I hesitated. "I'm just going to check to make sure he didn't upturn any crops."

A pause, and then, "Good idea. Be quick."

I waited until I couldn't see him anymore then turned to the boy, who had gotten to his feet by then. I approached him, not surprised when he looked at me suspiciously and began to run away.

"Wait!" I said, grabbing the food he had stolen, "take this."

He stopped, spinning to face me. "What?"

"My name is Emiko," I said, taking a small step toward him. "My brother…he died in the war. I know what it's like to feel alone…here…take this…please," I held my arms out, offering him the food. He stared at it then me, not sure what to say. Then he took it very gently and sent me a kind smile.

"Thank you."

I nodded. "Please take care. I advise you don't return here; my father never goes back on his word."

He grimaced. "Yeah. Thank you."

He turned and ran off. I watched him go, looking down at the ground, where father had tackled the young teen. I saw blood smeared over the grass and walked over, rubbing my shoe against it until the blood blended in with the dirt and grass. I licked my lips and ducked my head, headed home before father got worried and came looking for me.

I sent one last prayer to the sky before I faced the wrath of my father.

Please, God, help that boy find happiness.

A/N: Emiko is the made-up daughter of that jerk farmer guy who beat Seita up for stealing his crops. She's the only thing I own.