It occurs to O-ren to be proud of what she's accomplished in such few years. And she is, most of the time, but it's an odd kind of pride. A hard, stiff pride where she traces down the threads of life that have led her to this point, and concludes that there was no alternative anyway.

Rest was never an option. She can still remember the taste of her mother's blood as it rolled
down her face and baptized her in the name of death. Her father's eyes, as he died hovered over her for years, ever vigilant, only leaving once she avenged his murder.

She couldn't hide from that.

The rage and hurt would have boiled inside and poisoned her. It would have gone against everything she was, everything she is. And so she chose life as she picked up the sword and sliced open the man who had butchered her family.

Everything in her life stems from that moment. It's easy to assume it was her parent's death, but in reality it was the second falling of cold metal that began it all. Ever since then she was always hiding, always planning, grasping, with the desperate calm cunning she learned so young, at anything to stay one step ahead. The mantra she made up that night still flows through every heart beat: strike first, get them before the bastards can get you.

She's never known a moment of peace in her entire life except for that night with Sophie. It was a careless, thoughtless moment that she knows she will never again repeat.

Sophie had touched her face. O-ren remembers how cold her fingers were, how they flayed her flesh from her bones, and laid her bare and exposed. How in that moment she was ready for anything, yet prepared for nothing. The morning after she had berated herself mercilessly for letting her guard down, but that didn't change what had happened the night before. For those few short moments, she became another person. For a few short moments, she forgot to be proud, forgot to be strong.

It's a sensation she never will repeat again, nor is it one she wants to. It is, however, something that from time to time, she remembers. Twisting it around in her head, wondering how it happened, what it means.

The answer, she knows, is meaningless. It will not change anything that has happened, and
it will not change anything that will follow. Her life will continue on the path she set so many years ago, ruthless, aware, and harsh. Nothing can change that.

But sometimes O-ren remembers.