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Kyoko looked down the slope to where her two best friends sat chatting by the water line.

Took you long enough.

It wasn’t as if they hadn’t spoken before, but they hadn’t spoken about those things. Still, as far as Kyoko could recall they had stayed friends despite all. Friends with things unspoken between them, but friends still.

She left her friends by the water, climbed the hillside and crossed the veranda to the kitchen.

With the kids still sleeping and all the local guests gone both house and garden seemed larger than before. It was, Kyoko decided, that a place needed people milling around to seem small.

She quickly made tea and gathered some of yesterday’s leftovers for an impromptu breakfast. Or rather an impromptu first breakfast. Yukio might be first in her heart, but sometimes she wanted to be alone. She’d wake him up in time for a second morning meal, and he’d know it was her second, and he’d pretend he didn’t know; and she’d love him all the more for that.

I became an adult believing you were all so strong, but maybe the strong ones were the two of us. Kyoko grimaced a little. That wasn’t entirely honest. Maybe because we were allowed to be the teenagers we were. Urufu and Kuri-chan hadn’t been, and as for Ryu and Noriko, well they got dragged into the world of adults in a way Kyoko and Yukio avoided. It hurt us and it gave us gifts, but I guess we could step aside and watch it from the outside.

Suddenly grateful for everything Kyoko sat down in a chair and enjoyed some time by herself. This time as an adult by choice.

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StenDuring

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