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Tiptoeing carefully back to the closet, Izumi stood there shaking her head. Her whole wardrobe consisted of school uniforms. It would have to do for now, but what a way to dress on the first day of her womanhood!

After dressing, Izumi sat down at the table, and eagerly waited for her parents to wake up. Now that she was a woman, and no longer a child, they would be proud to have such a daughter. After all, had she not finished at the top of her class?

Both of her parents had seen the little notes that Izumi had posted around the apartment, in the hope that they would attend her graduation. Neither one had said anything about it, so Izumi hoped that maybe they intended to surprise her by coming after all. In vain, had she searched for them among the crowds of happy students and proud parents. As a faithful dog sits at his master's feet, hoping for a pat of affection, Izumi now waited for her parents, hoping against hope, for some sign of their approval.

"Izumi!" her mother's sudden burst of voice made her jump. "Why aren't you in school? Leave now, before your father finds out!" snapped Mrs. Mizukiyo. Feeling the disappointed tears welling up inside, Izumi silently bowed her head. "I am dressed for school," she reasoned to herself, "she just forgot." However, this thought was of little comfort.

Assuming, that for once, her daughter had forgotten the time, Mrs. Mizukiyo went about eating the food Izumi had prepared. Izumi left quietly. The hot tears fell fast and thick, but no one noticed the small "woman" crying silently as she walked down the crowded street. She headed towards the zoo and spent her first day of womanhood chatting to the animals.

"O thou afflicted, tossed with tempest, and not comforted, behold,
I will lay thy stones with fair colours, and lay thy foundations with sapphires."
~ Isaiah 54:11 ~

end of chapter
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