You wanted to end it all, take your own life, but somebody on the other side knew that a friendly stranger wanted to help you. Your late loved one saved your own life so you could learn to move on.

    "How are you feeling, Arisa?" Ms. Okenawa asked me as the nurses helped me out of my hospital bed once more. I was in the hospital again for about two days and was well enough to go back to the orphanage.

    I didn't answer her, still not accustomed to talking. Ms. Okenawa smiled halfheartedly and grabbed my coat for me that she brought when she and Chi came to visit me. I haven't spoken to Chi since I told her I was sorry after I had woken up. My throat was still incredibly sore from the suffocation and the burning of the vomit. Chi still didn't know what I was going through, but I was planning to tell her once we can have some alone time. Now it will probably be either Ms. Okenawa or Chi that will constantly be watching me under an eagle eye, monitoring my every move. I wasn't thinking about doing something like that ever again, no matter how much I want to be reunited with my family. I missed them incredibly and I'm sure they missed me just as much, but they gave me an opportunity; Chi wanted to know me, wanted to be my friend, and mom, dad, and Aya didn't want me to miss out on making my first true friend--next to Aya.

    The nurses generously rolled me outside in a wheelchair and Ms. Okenawa and Chi helped me into the cab that had been waiting for us in front of the hospital. I was placed in the middle and was looking down the whole time, the fateful night of my parents' murder still playing in my head. I flinched when the shreik played once more and Ms. Okenawa and Chi immediately asked if I was okay and I only responded by nodding. My severe problem with reminiscing was finally getting to me. It's what almost made me kill myself.

    "Chi, when we get to the orphanage, I want you to make sure Arisa gets something to eat. I imagine she's barely eaten for a few days." Ms. Okenawa asked of Chi.

    Chi nodded, "Yes, of course,"

    "And if you would like, you two can eat in your bedroom upstairs and I'll make sure nobody interrupts you," Ms. Okenawa smiled again. "You two should get to know each other since you're the only sixteen-year-olds."

    I nodded and Chi nodded with a smile. The rest of the ten minute ride back to the orphanage was quiet, which was somewhat nice. I shouldn't get too accustomed to the quiet, however, because it could probably drive me insane again. I felt horrible for making Chi suffer through my choice. I wasn't planning on anybody finding me until the whole thing was over. I hated myself now for ever thinking of doing such a thing. I'll bet that even mom and dad and Aya were surprised. It was something that shall never cross my mind ever again.

    We arrived at the orphanage and Ms. Okenawa led us to the kitchen where we heated some leftover miso soup for me and brought some sushi out of the refrigerator for Chi and we headed upstairs. Ms. Okenawa shut the bedroom door after Chi and I entered the bedroom and we were left alone in silence. I sat on my bed and Chi sat on hers and we ate in silence until we were both finished. We set our plates and bowls on the floor and sat in silence for another few minutes. I grabbed my pillow and cuddled with it once more. Right now, curling up tight with a pillow in hand was the only thing holding onto my composure.

    "I...I hope you don't mind me asking," Chi broke the silence, "about how you ended up here."

    My face fell and I buried my face in my pillow. Chi climbed off of her bed and sat next to me on mine and wrapped a friendly arm around my shoulders. I sighed and lifted my face from my pillow and breathed deeply to keep myself together. Chi rubbed my back and waited for me patiently, but wasn't pushing me to tell her.

    "If you don't want to talk about it--"

    "It was about nine days ago," I started, interrupting her, "that something happened to my parents."

    "What happened?" she asked me, somewhat surprised to hear me speak again.

    I breathed deeply again and closed my eyes, replaying that night once more, "Nine days ago, they were murdered,"

    I could feel Chi stiffen and she held her breath and there was a long pause again, "Why?"

    "I--" I shook my head. "I have no clue. They were basically the only family I had left because my twin sister died just six months ago from leukemia."

    "I'm-I'm so sorry," Chi covered her mouth with one hand.

    "My parents weren't bad people," I pointed out, "but they were kind of strict. They were just amazing. I don't know who could have been corrupt enough to do what they did to my parents."

    "Were you there when it happened?"

    I nodded, "Yes. It was around two or three in the morning and a ear-splitting shreik was what woke me up. I thought it was from outside, but it seemed much too close to me to be outside. I went into their room and asked if they heard the screaming too and as soon as I turned on the lamp--"

    I flinched and clutched my pillow tighter, the images rushing through my head once more. Chi rubbed my back again and whispered comforting words to me. I pulled myself together again and sighed deeply.

    "And the murderer or murderers spared you?" Chi finally asked me.

    I nodded again, "Yes, but one of them tried to kill me. He broke my left wrist just by squeezing it and nearly knocked me unconscious by running me into the wall. And he tried to suffocate me." I cupped my hand on my throat. "I still have some bruises and it hurts so much. I thought he was going to penetrate right through my airway."

    Chi flinched a little this time, "Oh my God,"

    "But..." I whispered. "I think the other man told the one that was trying to kill me to stop because I was suddenly tossed to the ground. I couldn't move or barely breathe or barely see or anything. Luckily, I had called the ambulance right before that man grabbed me and tried to kill me. But my parents..."

    I help my pillow closer and buried my face in it and started crying softly. Chi gave me a soft side embrace and we sat for a long time, listening to my muffled sobbing. I couldn't stop the images from repeating themselves, but I was finally able to slow them down along with my tears. I lifted my head a little and looked over at Chi.

    "How did you end up here?" I asked her with a slightly shaky voice.

    Chi smiled halfheartedly, "Well," she thought for a moment. "I was about nine when I arrived here. I...had some family issues."

    "What kinds of issues?" I asked her. I stopped myself and spoke again before she could. "You don't have to tell me."

    "No, it's okay, I'm pretty much over it now," she said but even I could tell she wasn't completely over it.

    "Okay," I granted.

    "You see..." she started, looking down, "my father left me and my mom when I was about three years old. My mom met somebody else and married him when I was eight.

    "He was really a nice guy." she smiled lightly. "I almost thought of him as a father since I didn't remember mine, but I had a strange feeling about him deep down."

    I continued to stare at Chi as she continued her story, "My mom ended up getting mysterious bruises and I was unaware of my step father's inclining alcohol abuse. He ended up beating my mom about twice a week. And when I was almost nine, my step father..." she looked down again, "my step father raped me."

    I gasped and covered my my mouth; she was only nine years old?

    "I don't know if he was drunk or not at the time, but I was a wreck for a few days and I tried to shrug it off. Then it happened again, and again, and again, so many times. He ended up forcing himself on me almost as often as he beat my mother. I felt disgusting, ashamed, horrible, useless. Mom never knew about what my step father did, though.

    "The day finally came where my mom left my step father. She just packed her things and left with me. That was the last time I ever saw him. My mom dropped me off at this orphanage after we were living homeless for a month. We had slept under bridges, in alleyways, in parks on the benches, you name it. When mom dropped me off, she gave me a hug and a kiss, told me she loved me, and left. Of course, I had thought that she dropped me off just so someone would watch me for a little bit because I thought she was running some errands. A few days after she brought me here, the news reported about finding a woman's body in the ocean; my mother.

    "I was in shock for a long, long time. She had drowned herself by tying rocks to her feet and jumping off of a ledge. They said they found her with a photo, a photo of me and her just a few weeks before we left my step father. She had left a note on the ledge which she jumped off of, but nobody ever gave me the note and nobody ever told me what it said. Well, one family member said part of the note was saying how she felt guilty for not being able to take care of me much longer, for feeling guilty about what my step father did, everything. I was surprised she found out about what my step father did to me; he probably told her before."

    "Chi..." I gasped. "I'm so sorry..."

    Chi smiled halfheartedly again and sighed, "That happened seven years ago. I'm okay now."

    I shook my head, "You've learned to not think about it as much, but you're still hurt by the thought."

    "True," she agreed with me, "it does still hurt, but I'm in a better place now."

    Another question buzzed in my head, "How come after all these years, you haven't been adopted?"

    Chi sighed, "Because I don't want to be," she whispered. "I honestly don't want to take the chance of having something like that happen again."

    I smiled halfheartedly at her, "I understand,"

    "But now," she smiled, "you're here and you're the same age as me."

    "Yeah," I smiled back at her, immediately uplifted by her sudden joy.

    "Just know that I'm here," she reassured me. "You can talk to me about anything. I've never spilled a personal secret that belonged to somebody else."

    I nodded, "Okay, thank you. Same goes for you."

    Chi and I embraced once more and we immediately got to talking about our good times in life. Holidays, parties, friends, school, everything. We talked for hours until our throats were dry. I had never felt so accepted by a stranger in my life before, a peer, no less. I was making another friend, another person I could share my feelings with. I had never felt better in the past six months.

    The police ended up arriving at the orphanage after another week and a half and I hesitantly gave them as much information as I knew. They got frustrated at one point because I couldn't describe the men, except that they were ungodly cold and pretty tall. I couldn't see their faces, only their blood-drenched silhouettes. The interrogation took about three hours straight and both Ms. Okenawa and Chi were with me. I was able to go through the interrogation without crying since they were with me, but my voice was still pretty shaky. Ms. Okenawa and Chi had been so supportive of me and I couldn't have been more thankful. Chi and I ended up becoming best friends, knowing everything about each other right down to our favorite kind of fabric.

    Chi went to the same school as me, but dropped out very shortly after Senior year started. She felt as though she couldn't finish everything that was required. She was instead hired to help watch over the younger ones at the orphanage. It was scary at first, walking to school by myself and riding the bus by myself, but I learned shortly after to get used to it. But later, I ended being grateful for having to walk to school by myself because if I hadn't, I wouldn't have met Kai on that crosswalk and again on that dirty bus, sitting in that empty seat across the aisle from me.