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Chapter 5

The day was just like any ordinary day. Kumiko had gotten Rumi up bright and early and whisked her off to school. Her daughter was showing no adverse effects from what had happened to her the previous day, making Kumiko the only one dwelling on the unfortunate event.

Nothing out of the ordinary took place that morning at school. Rumi would occasionally take peeks at the clock on the wall, but that was quite normal for kids who could tell time, as they were quite eager for recess to begin.

Between peeks at the clock, Rumi would feverishly doodle on a piece of paper. Her artwork consisted of a man wearing a long white lab coat. The ferocity with which Rumi was drawing made her seem like a little girl possessed.

One perplexed boy was staring at Rumi. When Rumi noticed he was staring at her, she pulled out a pair of scissors and snipped at the air, all the while a menacing look covered her face. The now terrified boy quickly averted his gaze.

With her black crayon, Rumi angrily scribbled over the man in her picture until there was nothing left of him.

Recess arrived shortly thereafter and the eager children sprinted to the playground. A few of the fortunate ones were able to claim a swing before the others could. Rumi was surprisingly fast, so she was the first to claim one.

The children were well aware of how to use the equipment in a responsible manner. But those rules would have to go by the wayside today as Rumi immediately began swinging as high as she could go.

The other children noticed and were quick to point out to Rumi that what she was doing was wrong.

"Rumi-chan," exclaimed one of the boys. "Teacher says you're not supposed to go so high."

"You can't tell me what to do," exclaimed Rumi.

Once she had reached her peak, Rumi let go of the swing. She seemed almost weightless as she soared high above the ground. Gravity would show her no mercy, however, so with a most unpleasant thud, Rumi crashed to the ground. She immediately let out a horrific series of screams, prompting the other children to run for help.

Kumiko was called by Rumi's teacher after the accident. She got to the school as quickly as she could and took her daughter away for the rest of the day.

Fortunately for Rumi, Kumiko had her doctor's appointment that day, so she would take her daughter with her to get checked for any potential injuries.

Rumi was the ideal patient as Dr. Kojima cleaned and bandaged her injuries. There was no crying nor even a wince from her as the good doctor tended to Rumi. She calmly sipped from a juice box and made nary a peep. Rumi had suffered only a few minor cuts and bruises to her arms and legs, making a trip to the doctor a bit overkill. But Kumiko had insisted she take her daughter from school and have her checked out.

"You were very lucky your mama had an appointment to see me today," Dr. Kojima told Rumi. "That way I could see the both of you at once. Two birds with one stone." Rumi gave no response and merely stared at the doctor, all the while sipping from her juice box.

"Moving on," said a now nervous Doctor Kojima, taking a seat behind his desk. He immediately began scanning Kumiko's file. "How have you been sleeping?" he asked.

"Not very well, I'm afraid," replied Kumiko.

"You have a lot of weight on your shoulders these days, don't you," said Dr. Kojima. "I saw your father last week. I don't know how much time he has left, but it's not much."

"Um, I was wondering if you had something stronger to help me get to sleep," said Kumiko.

A nurse entered the room and carefully placed a cup of coffee on the doctor's desk before quickly departing. "Ah, thank you very much," he said. "Where was I?" the doctor asked himself. He then took a sip of his coffee. He winced and quickly placed the coffee back on his desk. "She always makes it too hot." Dr. Kojima then opened one of his desk drawers and began rummaging. "A new pill just came out a few weeks ago."

"Is it stronger than what you've been giving me?" asked Kumiko.

Dr. Kojima retrieved a bottle of pills and gave them to Kumiko. "They're quite a bit stronger," he said. "So you have to make sure to take only two before going to bed. Please don't take any more than that. Just put them in a glass of water and they'll dissolve quickly."

"Thank you very much," said Kumiko. "Um, do you have my anxiety pills?"

"Yes," said Dr. Kojima, retrieving another bottle of pills from his desk. "Please remember not to mix these two medications." The doctor then took a quick peek at Rumi. "Can we discuss the rest in another room?" he asked. The subject about to be discussed was far more personal than a mere sleep disorder or anxiety.

"Of course," said Kumiko. "Rumi-chan, you wait here okay. I'm going to talk to the doctor for a few minutes and then we can go home."

Rumi smiled and nodded to her mother before she and the doctor took their leave.

Dr. Kojima took Kumiko to a nearby exam room. "The results are the same as last time," he told Kumiko. "There's too much scar tissue on the uterus. The fact that you were able to have Rumi was nothing short of a miracle. But the problems you had during the delivery only made things worse, much, much worse."

Kumiko immediately began crying.

"I just thought if we could have another child, then things would get better," said Kumiko. "Rumi-chan is having problems with the other kids at school. If she could have a little brother or sister then she would open up more with other kids. She only wants to be with me all the time."

Doctor Kojima sighed. "I think maybe we should cut back on your anxiety medication."

"No, please don't," said Kumiko. "I need it."

"I'm not supposed to be prescribing these to you," said the doctor. "I only do it as a favor to your father."

Rumi was waiting patiently for her mother in Dr. Kojima's office. She couldn't help but look around the room at all the interesting things. But what really grabbed her attention were the pills in her mother's purse. She took the bottles and, with a little struggle, was able to get their lids off. Her attention then focused on the cup of coffee upon Dr. Kojima's desk.

Kumiko and Dr. Kojima returned a few minutes later and Rumi and her mother took their leave. The car ride home was quiet. Kumiko usually had plenty to say to her daughter, but the news she had received left her in no mood to converse.

"Why were you crying?" asked Rumi.

"What do you mean?" asked Kumiko.

"When you came back your eyes were red," replied Rumi. "Did the doctor say something mean to you?"

"It was nothing," said Kumiko."

"Were you talking about grandpa?"

"Um, yes, we were talking about him. He's been sick for a while." Kumiko became silent as she thought about her father's situation. She perked up quickly, however, as not to upset Rumi. "We're going to see him soon. That will make him feel better."

"I can't wait to see grandpa," said Rumi.

Later in the day a nurse knocked on Dr. Kojima's door. "Doctor," she said after not receiving a reply. The nurse opened the door to find the doctor face down on his desk. "Doctor, are you okay?" she asked, carefully making her way closer. "Doctor?" She shook him but that did her no good. She immediately felt the doctor's wrist for a pulse and placed her ear against his chest. There were no signs of life. "Somebody help!"

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