Red Heart

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Chapter 2

When Mrs. Suzuki walked into the living room she found Minami on the floor drawing at a fever pace in her sketchbook. So consumed with her artwork was Minami that she failed to notice her mother had entered the room.

“What are you drawing?” asked Mrs. Suzuki.

“This,” said Minami, handing the sketchbook to her mother.

“Oh, how cute,” said Mrs. Suzuki, smiling proudly as she appreciated the crudely drawn picture of a little girl. “Is this you?”

“It’s not me,” replied Minami, taking back her sketchbook. She then began adding the finishing touches to her picture. “This is Sayaka.”

“Sayaka?” asked Mrs. Suzuki.

“Sayaka’s my new friend,” replied Minami.

“I haven’t seen you playing with any other kids since we moved here. Does she live around here? I’d like to meet her.”

“You can meet her anytime you want,” said Minami. “She lives in my room.”

When Mr. Suzuki got home from work, his wife sat him down at the kitchen table to have an even more frank discussion about their daughter than the previous night.

“She’s getting worse,” said a clearly frustrated Mrs. Suzuki as she stirred her coffee so vigorously that some of it spilled over the edge of her mug. “She’s drawing pictures of her imaginary friend. And she even gave her a name. Sayaka. Sayaka. Have you ever heard of such a thing. And she said she would introduce me to her.”

“Calm down,” said Mr. Suzuki.

“I will not calm down. First thing tomorrow I’m taking her to get professional help. And I don’t care how much it costs. We’re going to put a stop to this before it gets out of hand.”

“Professional help?” asked Mr. Suzuki. “Let’s think about this.”

“There you go again,” exclaimed Mrs. Suzuki. “What’s there to think about? You just want to ignore the problem and hope it goes away on its own. If you don’t do something about this, I will. So, what’s it going to be?”

Mr. Suzuki rubbed his now throbbing head. “I’ll fix this.”

Though she was supposed to already be in bed, Minami was sitting on the floor of her bedroom with another girl of the same age. “Do you like penguins, Sayaka?” asked Minami as she played with a stuffed penguin doll.

Sayaka nodded. “But I like cats more,” she said.

With a stuffed cat doll nearby, Minami picked it up. “Cats?” she asked before rubbing it in Sayaka’s face, prompting both girls to begin laughing.

As the girls continued playing with stuffed animals a floorboard outside Minami’s room creaked. The sound was so slight that Minami had failed to hear it, but Sayaka had, and it prompted her to flash an angry glare at the door.

Slowly the door began to open. In entered Minami’s father. “Minami, you’re already supposed to be in bed. You don’t want mommy to get upset, do you?”

“I was playing,” replied Minami.

“Ah, with Sayaka?” asked Mr. Suzuki, though he could clearly see that the only other inhabitants of Minami’s room was a group of stuffed animals.

Minami nodded.

“If I let you stay up, will you promise to be quiet?”

“We’ll be quiet,” said Minami, who then placed her finger before her mouth to shush all others in her room.

“Good night, Minami,” said Mr. Suzuki.

“Don’t forget to say goodnight to Sayaka, too,” said Minami.

Mr. Suzuki chuckled. "Of course," he said. “Good night, Sayaka.” After closing the door, Mr. Suzuki found his wife standing only inches away, giving him quite the scare.

“I heard what you said,” whispered Mrs. Suzuki. “You said goodnight to her imaginary friend. You’re encouraging her behavior.”

“Sorry, sorry,” said Mr. Suzuki. “I’ll take care of it tomorrow.”

Though she would liked to have stayed up all night to play with Sayaka, sleep eventually took a hold of Minami. Fortunately her bed was large enough to accommodate not only her but Sayaka, as well, though a ghost had no real need for rest.

The floorboard outside Minami’s room once again creaked. The sound wasn’t loud enough to wake her, but it was more than loud enough to capture Sayaka’s full attention. Like a cat, she stiffened up and glared at the door.

Heavy breathing could be heard coming from out in the hall. After a few long scratches on the door, the knob slowly began to turn. Though it was unlocked, the door refused to open for whatever it was on the other side.

As unexpectedly as it had begun, the strange occurrence came to an end.

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