The last of the foursome was Heart. Heart's name was “Haato” in Japanese, which is how “heart” is pronounced. The Chinese character is actually read, “Kokoro,” but Heart's parents wanted her to be called, “Haato,” an English word that is so common in Japan, everyone knows what it means.
Heart had an endless supply of jokes, laughter, and amusing replies to every situation. She was always the class representative, always had a crowd of kids around her, always got asked by the teachers to organize eraser cleaning and classroom mopping activities on the days the students stayed late to clean the school. She was endlessly optimistic and often a little blunt and a little pushy, but things got done when Heart was in charge.
She was the responsible older sister of six year old twins, which was partly why she was so cheerfully assertive, but there was another reason.
Heart's mother died of complications from pneumonia when the twins were barely a year old, and she was forced to act as both mother and sister to the babies, even while she was grappling with shock and sadness herself. Her father buried his grief by overworking himself and ended up in the emergency room shortly afterward, suffering from exhaustion.
Heart was only eight years old when she realized that most people are not as strong as they look, and that includes parents. She told herself quietly that she was the toughest person she knew, and that she would make sure she could always count on herself.
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