If there was one thing Chie absolutely did not want to spend her time doing over the school break, it was sitting around in some stupid uptight inn with a bunch of boring grown-ups.
She pouted more blatantly and pitifully than she had in all of her 6 years as her mom attempted to force a comb through her short, unruly hair. Finally managing to struggle out of the ever-cumbersome maternal grip of doom, she stamped her little foot and huffed. "I don't wanna go to a dumb inn! I'm staying home!" Sighing, her mother started to launch into her spiel once again: no, Chie was too young to stay home by herself, this was a family vacation and she'd better behave nicely - Chie was so frustrated she wanted to scream. This was her school break! She should be playing outside with her friends, not behaving nicely! She solemnly vowed to herself not to talk to her mom and dad the whole way there, and maybe even the whole vacation. Stupid inn. Stupid grown-ups.
The inn experience immediately proved to be just as mind-numbingly boring as Chie had predicted. Her mom and the inn manager exchanged police niceties in that signature way that moms do, and her dad checked over the paperwork, which would probably take, Chie guessed, about one million hours to complete. She sighed, forlorn - didn't her parents realize how much fun she could be having right now? Defeated, she flopped herself onto the ground and leaned against her dad's leg. She was about to tug at the cuff of his pants and ask how much longer this horrible ordeal would take when she happened to catch a shy pair of eyes peeping from behind the counter.
Noticing Chie's curious stare, the inn manager laughed and collected the owner of the shy eyes - a kid who looked to be about her age. This perked Chie up immediately, of course - this was a potential playmate they were talking about! Maybe this miserable vacation would take a turn for the better after all. "This is my son, Yukiko," the manager explained proudly. "He's going to take over this inn when he grows up." The kid looked down bashfully, letting a lock of silky hair fall from behind a blushing ear.
Chie wasted no time in grabbing the kid's hand and pulling as she headed straight for the door. "Mom, me and Yukiko are going to play outside!" Not bothering to wait for a response, she flitted into a small garden situated outside, new friend in tow.
Reclining in the pleasantly warm grass, free at last, Chie grinned at her quiet companion. "I'm Chie. What game should we play?" Yukiko fidgeted with the hem of an impeccably clean shirt and knelt carefully next to her, avoiding a patch of dirt Chie had failed to notice. "Um...I think we should play 'house.'"
Chie made a small noise of approval and nodded, satisfied with this choice. "I'll be the mom, and you can be the -"
"Um, actually...I'd like to be the mom..." Yukiko's gaze met Chie's shyly. "I'm a girl, too."
"Hmm..." Chie considered this for a moment. "I know! We can both be the mom!" Proud of herself for thinking of such a clever solution, Chie grabbed her new friend's hands, a huge grin spreading across her face and revealing gaps from lost teeth. "And this is our baby," she declared matter-of-factly, plucking a little flower from the ground and holding it out for the other girl to see.
"That's...our baby?" Yukiko's hand flew to cover her mouth as she began to tremble slightly. At first, Chie thought she may have offended her in some way - she felt her heart skip a beat with panic - but after a moment she realized that Yukiko was shaking with laughter, not sobs. Soft giggles soon became wild guffaws and snorts, and Yukiko held her stomach as she convulsed with laughter and tears beaded at her eyes. "That's not a baby! It's a flower!"
Chie had begun to laugh too - she'd never heard any laughter in her life that was as contagious as Yukiko's. When Chie's mother walked into the front garden to summon her daughter back inside, she was greeted with two small forms lying on the ground together, panting for breath but still breaking out into new bursts of giggles on occasion.