Chapter One: Today's the Day?
Satsu is the name. Wanna know what that means? It means "murder". That's right. I'm murder…
"Satsu!" Satsu's father's voice was low but somehow it echoed throughout the house. Satsu rolled her eyes upstairs and turned her music a bit louder to drown out the growl that was her father's voice. "Get down here!" He yelled in Japanese. Satsu sighed, and stood up. She knew what was coming.
"Yes, Father?" Satsu replied as she walked down the stairs as quietly as she could. She kept her distance from him, of course, and she made herself take up the least amount of room possible. She had her head slightly bowed as she looked at her feet. Her jet-black bangs swayed back and forth in front of her.
"Tell me what you told her mother today." He commanded. He did that a lot. She could feel his piercing eyes glare at her. He was a tall man, her father, with a muscular frame and wide shoulders. In his younger days, he had been a great warrior, holding prestige among the people of his village. But they were in America now, and the times had changed. He was always angry and bitter. He no longer held respect and he had back during his "glory days", and he was especially angry when she didn't give him the respect he believed he deserved from her.
"I—I told her a lot of things today…sir." She replied. Lying wasn't one of her fortes. She was trying to avoid looking at him as much as possible, which she imagined served her father just fine.
"Don't you be smart with me, kid." Her father's voice was low, but the fiery rage was behind so much of it that every word he spat out felt like burning coal against Satsu's rather delicate skin.
"I—I told her—that—" it was hard getting the words out. What was he expecting? How was she supposed to say this?
"That what?" he demanded and he took a step closer to her. Satsu took a step back and hit her back against the wall behind her.
"That I—don't like—boys." Satsu finally mustered up. She could feel her heart beating in her chest, the world around her spinning, and her father raising his large hand.
"Why don't you like boys?" he asked rather slowly. Any moment now, that hand was going to come down and smack her against her face. It was an awkward question, really, if her father had thought about it.
"I like girls." Satsu said simple, fast, and decisive. She looked up at him, into his eyes. Defiance was written all over her face and she even smiled a little after she had said it. It was out. In the open. She had said it to her father, the person she feared most would know about her secret. Was it a secret? A million thoughts were going through her mind at a million miles per second but everything was wiped clean when she felt his rough hand come down on her face. She was lifted off her feet and her shoulders slammed against the hardwood floor of her house. She was confused, dazed, and disoriented for several seconds before she realized what had happened. Her face felt like it had been smacked with a sledgehammer. Maybe worse.
"What did you say?" Her father asked again. Tears were rolling down Satsu's cheeks as she used every last ounce of strength left in her body to stand up.
"I'm gay." Satsu said again, coucourage from somewhere, somehow, rushing into her. "That's what I said." She could feel strength swelling inside of her. She ld feel power pulsing in her blood. She couldn't feel the pain in her face any longer. His hand came down again but somehow she caught it. Her hands held tightly onto his wrist. She couldn't even wrap her whole hand around it, but somehow, she was stronger than him. "It's who I am. Take it or leave it." Her father was staring at her in complete shock. But that was only for a split second. Next she knew, his face was back to it stern and hateful expression.
"You get the hell out of my house." He said. He said that. Get the hell out of his house. As if she intended to stay after that confrontation.
"You got it, boss." Satsu let go of his wrist and opened the door of his house, not even intending to grab her clothes.
"I don't want to ever see your face again." He said like a child. Satsu nodded, still pumped with adrenaline. She turned to leave. Then her father' voice came again. "You're the death of me, child." It was an almost inaudible whisper but she had caught it.
Well what do you expect? You did name me "murder". Kind of expected, don't you think?
One would expect school to be the last place Satsu would go to after she had been beaten and disowned by her father. But that was exactly where she went. After she left her house, she jumped on the bus and made her way to school. Zack and Julia, her two best friends, were sitting at their usual spot, under a large jasmine tree. Zack was sitting with his back against the tree and Julia was staring to some far off location.
"Hey, guys." She said, smiling. Even though she was homeless, Satsu hadn't been ever happier than she was as she stood in front of her two friends.
"Hey—what the hell?" Zack stood up from where he sat. "What the hell happened?" Julia was up now too, looking concerned.
"What?" she asked, looking from Zack to Julia and then back to Zack. "What's wrong? I have something on my face?"
"You cannot tell me you didn't notice there's a big ass bruise on your face. What'd you get hit with? A sledge hammer?" Zack got closer and touched her face. She didn't even feel the bruise.
"Is it really that bad?" she asked and Julia nodded.
"Hey, how about we go to the restroom. I might have something that could cover that up—or something." Julia said, indicating the restroom not far from where they were. Satsu nodded and she held Zack's hand, lowering it from her face.
"I'm fine, Zack. I don't even feel it." Zack nodded and Satsu and Julia made their way to the restroom.
"So what really happened?" Julia asked as she handed Satsu her makeup bag.
"I—I came out today." She said. Only Zack knew that Satsu was a lesbian. Well, him and her parents. Julia, on the other hand, had no idea.
"Came out—what?" Julia asked, looking at Satsu through the mirror.
"Of…the metaphorical closet?" Satsu replied, praying to God, or some such nonsense, that Julia wouldn't freak out. Julia was of a more conservative crowd, but she was loyal and had always been an amazing friend to Satsu. So despite their opposing beliefs, Satsu still loved her.
"Oh." Julia said. There was a moment of silence between the two of them and then Julia shook her head. "You know," she started and then stopped.
"What?" Satsu asked, trying her best not to sound nervous.
"You don't have a thing for me or anything—"
"No," Satsu replied, annoyed. These stupid, ignorant…
"Okay because this stupid idiot kept saying that and I mean I totally knew you didn't but—"
"Oh, honey, I know you're gay." Julia smiled. "I've always known. I've just been waiting for you to tell me."
"You did?" Satsu asked, surprised. She wasn't sure if she should be relieved or offended.
"Oh, of course. I mean your taste in men, sweetheart…atrocious." Julia joked.
"I'm that obvious, huh?" Satsu said, a frown on her face.
"Well—lying isn't really one of your strong suites. You know that right?" Satsu laughed and nodded her head. "And that's actually a good thing...if I recall correctly."
"Hey, I think my face is…healing." Both Satsu and Julia stared in amazement as her extraordinarily large bruise healed in front of their very eyes.
"Maybe it comes with being out of the closet?" Satsu joked.
"That was—definitely weird." Julia remarked, but she shook her head. "Whatever." She said putting her makeup bag back into her backpack. "Zack's prolly pissed we left him for so long. Let's go." Julia always had a knack for ignoring the weird. So Julia wasn't a conservative. Guess everybody had secrets.
Zack was reading a book when they had come back out, and he immediately rushed up to them. He examined Satsu's face and then looked at her, studying her face with much interest.
"What happened?" Zack asked. "Your bruise…"
"Good makeup, I guess." Satsu looked over at Julia who looked back at her with a shrug.
"I have don't cheap stuff on me, Zachary. You should know that." She gave him and wink and he shook his head. Then he directed his attention back to Satsu.
"How'd you get the shiner to begin with, anyways?"
"I told my father—"
"Oh," there was a short pause. Then with an outburst, "That son of a bitch!" he yelled.
"He is my father, Zack."
"I don't give a—" he took in a deep breath and for a split second there, Satsu was almost sure his eyes had gone completely black. Like pitch black…even the whites. But it was so quick that she couldn't be sure. "We got to get to class, Jules. I want to talk to you later, okay Satsu?" Satsu nodded and the two of them left her. She stood, looking at the backs of her two friends. Zack was hiding something.
I didn't feel it until after I had gone through the first half of the school day. It went by rather uneventful, much unlike the earlier part of the day. By lunchtime, I could feel it growing stronger and stronger. And that was when it hit me…
"Hey, Satsu." Zack was walking towards her alone. Julia must have had a theater meeting.
"Zack," she replied. She was standing by her locker, having just gotten her books.
"I need to tell you something." He said but before he could continue, she was falling…falling…falling. Everything suddenly seemed to rush at her all at once. She was a different girl…and then she was a different girl again…and then again…and again…and again…
"Satsu!" when she came to, Satsu was crying, tears rolling down her cheeks uncontrollably. She was on the ground, leaning against the lockers. "Hey, you okay? What's wrong?" Zack was standing over her with a hand on her shoulder. She could barely feel his touch.
"I'm fine…" Satsu finally said after a long pause. After another minute or so of crying, Satsu stood up. The power and strength that had run through her veins at her father's house was back. "I'm…more than fine." She clenched and unclenched her fists. "I feel…strong. You know? Like I'm invincible."
"Invincible." Zack laughed. "Look…I gotta talk to you about something."
"Yeah?" Satsu asked, looking around at the school. Everything felt smaller, slower, and more accessible…
"Your dad," he said rather cautiously. "You don't intend on coming back—you know—home do you?" Satsu was seventeen years old, and her birthday wasn't until another eight months. Technically…she had to go home.
"He told me I was the death of him." Satsu sighed, sitting down on a vacant bench. "As if my sexual orientation was something I could control…as if…"
"I'm sorry." Zack said holding her hand. "He's an ignorant idiot." He was looking deep into her eyes, as if he could see her very soul. "Come live with me." He said with a matter-of-fact tone.
"Zack," Satsu said shaking her head. "I can't—"
"At least for a couple of nights. You can't sleep on the streets. And Julia's parents are no way in hell going to let you sleep over at their house. C'mon."
"Your parents won't mind?" Satsu finally asked, giving in.
"Nah," Zack replied, taking a bite of his sandwich. "They're chill."
So as much as I didn't want to bother Zack with my housing situation, he was kind enough to offer me his family's guest room. I had known Zack's parents for a long time, and they knew how close we were. His parents had told me they'd hope he and I would date and I told them that he was more of a brother to me, which he truly is. They told me that kids often thought that way…