The next day Rin was at home, and working again. She had been using vacation days for the reunion, but that, of course, had been cut short.
At work, Rin avoided all questions about why she was back early. She grabbed her apron and didn't answer any questions.
"Hey, you! Order up on table twelve!" Being a waitress was not glamorous. The restaurant itself was nice, but its workings were seedy and underhanded.
On break, Rin sipped tea she had brought in a thermos, looking out the window towards the park. After looking for a few seconds, she could recognize the usuals. The old lady and her grandson.
The blonde woman and whomever she was dating that day. But, somehow, something was missing…
"Hey! Lookit that cute boy over there!" Another waitress squished in by Rin. "Where?" The others squeezed in, taking over Rin's spot. Pushing Rin out of the way, the first waitress ignored her falling to the floor.
Rin pulled herself up, annoyed at all the commotion on her break. She managed, however, get up and peer through the door, which no one had thought of yet.
Looking out casually to see what the hubbub was about, she noticed someone the girls would think of as cute, but Rin didn't agree; Elliot was looking back at her. Rin flinched as he waved to her.
Rin quickly ducked back into what she hoped was the safety of the restaurant. Elliot, outside, turned back to the stand and finished purchasing a banana-strawberry smoothie.
"Hey, long-dark-and-creepy." Rin turned around to see the first waitress who had spotted Elliot. "Did that guy wave at you? Or was that just my imagination?" She cracked her gum. Rin looked up from where she had buried her arms on the table. "I don't know. Wasn't he looking at you?"
She leaned over Rin, and cracked her gum again. "Yeah, he was. Who would like little creep like you?" Rin met her glare for a moment, then gave up and dropped her head back onto the table. She had more pressing issues to deal with than co-workers right now. Like the boy in the window. Like the suspect she never named.
Rin collapsed on the door after work. She didn't want to move. Right after she closed her eyes, she heard thudding footsteps in front of her. She opened her eyes to the unpleasant sight of her mother's face looming over hers. Rin closed hers, but her mother's grinning, slithering voice still reached her.
"Had a good day at work, did we? What did we make today?" her mother's kindness was infinitely worse than her mother's anger.
Rin mumbled something from the floor. "What was that, dear?" Rin opened her eyes. "I said, it's none of your business!" Her mother's face hardened. "Well. Aren't you one to talk. Who pays the bills? Who cleans up?" Rin closed her eyes.
She didn't want to see this. "I have to do all the work. Can't you even give your poor mother a bit of money?" Rin braced for impact.
"Who has to take care of a little, irresponsible, useless freeloading brat who never does a lick of work? Who has to do this, on her own, without a single person to get help?"
The blows, when they did come, hurt. "You miserable brat! It's your fault he left! You're a disgrace! A useless brat! Get out! Get OUT!"
Get out? Rin couldn't think. But Rin ran.
By the time Rin ran out of breath, she was in the middle of the park. She collapsed in the center, and couldn't get up.
It was raining hard like yesterday, but Rin couldn't pull herself off her knees if her life depended on it. She gasped and wheezed, forcing all her energy into her breathing. Her face was burning where her mother had hit her, and her body was burning from overexertion. Rin couldn't go on.
As she lay down, she thought she heard someone call her name faintly. "Rin?" She didn't move, but the call got louder.
"Rin!" someone pulled her up to her knees and made her sit up. Rin opened her eyes.
Elliot was looking back at her, with a desperately worried look. Rin started to shake. It was too much to bear. She couldn't take it all; her mother's anger, her stress with money issues, or what had happened in the hotel room.
She started to cry. He pulled her to her feet, and threw her arm over his shoulder to support her. He slowly started walking her to the edge of the park. She stopped crying, eventually, and looked over at him. "Where…where are you taking me?" He looked at her from the other side. "My house." She started to try to pull away. What would he do to her there? Her attempt to free herself was successful; however, she still could not stand. He caught her as she fell, and continued talking. "This is in place of the police station." The police station? No! "Officer Hitachi is on duty now, and would let you stay for a while… but then this would be filed under abuse, and social services would have to be called in." Rin stilled. What her mother hated was anyone who messed in what she called "her business". If social services got to Rin, her mother would kill her! Elliot, noticing Rin had stopped resisting, moved her to a position that she was most comfortable in and kept moving.