Akane arrived home from school to find Mai drunk. She had been drinking heavily since Naoki left. She was sitting on the kitchen floor as Akane walked in. It gave Akane a slight scare, but she was getting used to her mother's unusual behaviour. Mai being drunk was not that unusual. She normally hit the alcohol pretty heavy during any function or party that had free drinks. It was one of the problem Naoki had faced. The wife was always drunk at the office parties and always let things slip. Not always things Naoki believed, but things Mai picked up off other party guests. Somehow, Mai could always make it sound like it was Naoki's opinion. If someone was believed to be sleeping around, Mai would somehow let it slip out. If someone was said to be lazy, or stealing office supplies, out it came from Mai's mouth. Always at the detriment of Naoki. She was an embarrassment. Never able to stay sober, never able to keep her mouth shut when drunk. Always able to make herself the centre of attention. So when Akane arrived home, what she saw was not completely unusual. It was only unusual in the fact that Naoki was not arguing with her over something she said, or Naoki trying to keep her on her feet. Now, it was just Mai, sitting on the floor, scotch bottle in her left hand, empty vodka bottle to her right and a Jim Beam bottle, half empty on the counter. Akane tried to help Mai to her feet. 'Come one mum. Lets get you to your bedroom.' 'Thish ish your fault! You drove him away with your imper ... imper ... it's your fault!' 'Calm down mum. Help me get you up.' 'No! I don't need your helps! I can do it myshelf.' 'Mum, your drunk. Let me help.' 'Go away Yariman bitsssch! I do not need help!' 'Okay, stay sitting on the floor. Just scream when you vomit so I can bring a bucket!' 'Do not leave me here! Do not leave me! You come back right now!' 'I haven't left yet. What do you want?' 'I have not ffffinissshed wiff you yet, Yariman! Thish is all your fault.' 'Yeah, yeah, I've heard it all before.' Akane walked out of the kitchen, taking her school books to her bedroom. She could here her mother screaming insults at her was she walked away. 'Thish ish all your doing! You are to blame!' Then came the sound of the bottle being smashed on the floor. 'Look what you made me doooo! You make me dooo that!' Then the next smash, the vodka bottle. Then, Akane heard the cupboard door open, and Mai started to take the plates out and stack them on the floor. 'You clean this up! You clean this up! You make me do this.' Then Mai started breaking the plates on the floor. One big smash sounded like she had thrown three at once. Akane was worried about returning to the kitchen. She started to get changed out of her school uniform and into some jeans and a T-shirt. The sounds of smashing plates continued, along with Mai's insults and blame. Akane realised she must have run out of plates, but the smashing continued. She must be doing the dishes and cups by now, Akane thought. More smashing, more hysterical screaming from Mai. Akane just sat and waited. Part of her wanted to cry, another part wanted to laugh out loud. Soon, they would have nothing to eat off, or drink from. Akane decided to wait. It was all she could do. She was planning on seeing Bob, but she would wait now. Wait till her mother ran out of things to break and then, Akane would clean up the mess and put Mai in bed. It was a waiting game. 'Akane? Akane? Help.' The smashing had stopped. Good, thought Akane, we must have something left. She went toward the kitchen, but didn't enter. She had a feeling that Mai might throw a plate at her. She was just waiting around the corner, as soon as Akane tried to enter the kitchen, Mai would throw it at her. She was probably just waiting for Akane's little head to peer around the corner. 'Akane? Akane? I am so sorry. Please, help me.' Akane decided a quick look might suffice. Just quickly peek around the corner, and then pull her head back before Mai could get a good shot at her. She looked. Mai was lying on the kitchen floor surrounded by her own blood. At sometime during the plate smashing, a chip of china had hit Mai in the head. Mai's hands were also covered in blood. Akane wasn't sure how Mai had managed it, but she'd hit an artery in her forehead. The bleeding looked worse than it was, but it looked very bad. Akane immediately entered the kitchen, picked up the telephone and called for an ambulance. She then grabbed a tea towel and held it to Mai's head. She made sure the china was not still embedded in her forehead before holding it tight. She waited. The ambulance shouldn't be too long, she hoped. Mai was drifting in and out of either drunkenness or consciousness. It was difficult for Akane to tell. 'You know, this is your fault,' Mai said to Akane. 'How do you figure that?' 'If you were a better daughter this would not have happened.' 'Mum, can you stop blaming me. It's always everyone else's fault but yours. Why don't you have a look at what you're doing to yourself? What you are doing to us!' tears weld up in Akane's eyes. How could she hold the mirror up to Mai that she needed? She felt their roles had been reversed. Somewhere in life, her mother had remained the little girl, and now Akane needed to be the mother. It wasn't right. This was so unfair, Akane thought. I am still too young to take on this responsibility, but I have to step up and take the mantle. I have to wear the role of mother till my own mother can become herself again. Or maybe this was the real her. Maybe she was always like this, and Akane just never saw it. She was so caught up in her own world that she never saw how much her own mother was suffering. Akane held the tea towel to mother's forehead and cradled her head in her arms. She still had the telephone in her hand. She dialed Bob's number. She now knew it of by heart. She waited. Bob answered. 'Bob, I can't come over. There's been an accident.' 'Who are you calling dear?' asked Mai. 'Hush, mum. Yeah, I have to go to the hospital with my mother. I'll talk to you when I come home.' Akane pressed the button to hang up. 'Who are you talking to?' 'Bob, Mum.' 'Who is this Bob?' 'He's my boy friend, Mum.' 'Eh, you grow up too soon.' 'Sure mum. Whatever you say.' Akane and Mai sat in silence waiting for the ambulance to arrive to take Mai to the hospital. Akane was very sad. She somehow felt that the happiness she had found with Bob was wrong. She felt guilty that her mother was in such pain, and she had found love. She knew though, that she could not give Bob away. She would not give away the one thing she had hoped for in her life, her soul mate.