He got full marks on his entrance exam.

Kirie got full marks on her entrance exam.

General Honda tousled his hair, and laughed.

" I'm glad Kirie brought you home," he said. His voice was warm, like a blanket.

" Dad, there's some kind of package at the door," Kirie said. One of the aunties grabbed her up again, like a ragdoll, to take back to the room to get 'all ready for the party'.

" That must be the cake," Robert said, standing up and leaving. " Make sure those women don't maul our Kirie, will you?"

William walked down the hall and paused before the door.

" You're soooo pretty, honey," he heard Aunt Mariko say. " You have such nice hair. I can't believe that mother of yours was a blonde. You're jet black, jet black all the way through."

" Where is your little boyfriend? He's going to faint when he sees you with makeup," he heard Aunt Ririka say.

" He's going to faint when he sees her in a dress! I still can't believe we got our Kirie into a dress!" he heard Aunt Junko say.

He opened the door to see them all surrounding Kirie, sat down in a little chair. Ririka was smearing some pink gunk on her cheeks. She was wearing a weird looking dress with too many frills, half zipped up. Junko was running a straightener through her hair; it snapped and popped from the heat, steaming.

" Kirie," he said. " Your dad says there's a cake here."

" She'll be out in a minute, can't you see she's still getting ready?" Mariko chastised him.

The aunts all pushed him out of the room, herded like a complacent lamb.

Kirie was sitting in the chair, still, half her face covered with makeup, staring.