Kevin circled her cautiously - Sen had a knack for dodging kicks and knocking you down with her notorious leg sweeps. Roy didn't know many women who could rival Sen's jiu-jitsu and kickboxing. She had neither height nor brawn, but her quick reflexes and techniques made up for it.
Ever since the day of the accident, Roy had insisted she live with his family, and he knew that Kevin looked out for her as if she were a sister. Despite his protectiveness, Roy's son respected her as an opponent. Both father and son knew Sen's pride couldn't be taken lightly.
Roy never knew how Sen found out about his bank loans, but she had moved out shortly after making the discovery. He was quite astounded when he came home from the dojo one summer evening to find Sen's room vacated, with a poor excuse for a letter on the bed – it was a couple sentences of chicken scrawl written in the white boxes of the Vancouver Sun crossword. He bitterly recalled what the newsprint note had said:
To the Jones family,
I am moving out and quite alright, nothing to be concerned about. Your presence is no longer required. Don't bother visiting.
Only later did Roy discover Sen had immediately written the high school equivalency exam and enrolled at the local university. She was living on two years of full scholarship – no boarding or tuition fees had to be paid. Now that she was in her third year, Roy wasn't too sure where the money was coming from.
A couple months after her departure, Roy was still upset – he and his wife had treated her like their own child. But slowly, he had come to accept the fact that Sen didn't want to be a burden. Though he didn't want to admit it, the dojo barely generated enough income to feed his family and put Kevin through school. With another mouth to feed, Roy turned to the bank for a loan. As time passed, he reluctantly accepted the turn of events and decided to visit.
It had been close to winter break when Roy had arrived at his goddaughter's dormitory for the first time. She listened quietly as he stumbled through his long, convoluted apology. He was sorry for the missed birthdays. He was sorry for the Thanksgiving dinners spent alone. Above all, he was sorry for not being there.
For the first time in his life, Sen wrapped her arms around him. The silence was deafening, and he fought the tears that threatened spill over and crumble his self-image. Instead, he mumbled another apology and told her to come by the dojo whenever she wanted.