Saturday, March 27, 2010

My Place

I'm going to do something a little different this time. I'm late (I was in Tokyo and therefore didn't have access to all my usual goodies on my computer... sorry), so I'll just change things up all around instead. This month, instead of writing a blog blog, I'm going to give you a short story I wrote a little bit ago. Kinda new, kinda special... let me know what you think. :)

My Place

Congratulations. You’ve found my place.

Everyone’s got one, that particular spot where you feel safe no matter what. Sometime’s it’s secret, sometimes publicly known. Anything from a mall, to a coffee shop, to a park, to the corner of the couch in your living room will do. Everyone’s got a place, and that place reveals something ostensible about his or her temperament. It’s personal, and someone rarely feels the same way about another person’s place.

Welcome. I’ll show you mine.

First you see the gate. It’s made of iron, nearly two stories high, see? Ivy likes to crawl up the verticals; it keeps them from rusting. There are words engraved in the crossbar with silver filigree, but I’m sure you can’t read them.



Oh, to watch you struggle. It’s not even a dead language. Here, I’ll take pity. It says, “My heart is living. Forever, I’ll sing.” Pretty, no? It’s a shame you don’t notice the rest… but we must move on.

Don’t tell me you’ve seen enough? Why, this is just the introduction, the prelude. The real piece has yet to begin. It frightens you, the way you can’t see past the front of trees, doesn’t it? They’re rather foreboding, even in the daylight, but they don’t mean you any harm. They’re only trees, after all. Now, just after twilight, the leaves are black instead of green, the trunks barely visible in the shadows. Don’t worry, though, I’ve always been safe here. Come along.

It’s a rather abrupt change, isn’t it? You can feel it in your very bones. As you pass through this gate you’re leaving the city, entering the patch of untamable land the earth demands. Don’t mind the rustling, it’s just a kitsune[1] looking for it’s meal. It starts getting hungry about this time, you know.

Follow the path around here. See, it winds through the plum trees beautifully, don’t you think? Two weeks ago the attenuated branches would have been choking in pink and white blossoms, but you’re too late for that. Now they’re bare, little portals to let the moonlight through. The stars are obstructed by the wretched smog from the city, of course, but the moon is simply stunning. Look at how the fallen petals coruscate a haunting blue. I can’t look at it enough; it makes my soul hungry. When there are enough white flowers it almost looks like snow. It’s a shame it hardly ever snows here, or we could invite Yuki-Onna[2] to a little tea party, provided we brought a child for supper. Who knows, maybe there’s a Hana-Onna[3] instead. What’s that you say? Ghosts and witches are no laughing matter? Of course they’re not. This way, now.

This is my favorite part: the lake. You’ll see it in a moment, just keep following the stream. Be careful not to slip on the rocks. They look sturdy, but they’re really quite treacherous. Come now, along the boardwalk. It’s quite well built, I promise. There, see? This is the only spot in the whole damned prefecture you can see for more than fifty yards. You’re lucky, too; the full moon makes the murky water shine. Look, down into the tarn. Don’t lean over too far or you might fall. That would be a treat for the kappa[4] though, wouldn’t it? That’s why they live here; you can’t see them through the water until it’s too late.

Wait, now, what’s the matter? Don’t throw yourself about like that, you might get hurt. A face in the water? Well, of course. Didn’t I just tell you this is where the kappa live? Either that or it was a ningyo[5]. Of course they’re real, why would I lie to you? Come off the lake then, if they frighten you.

Please, don’t shriek so, I told you the kitsune were here not a moment ago. If you scream like that you’ll wake all my friends, and I still have more to show you. It may be too late for that now though. Running won’t get you anywhere; I’m sure the tengu[6] are awake now. They’re much faster, and they like a chase.

There, see? Just kneel down; the grass is soft here. Don’t be afraid of my friends. I know they must look eldritch from here, gathered all around us, but they won’t torture you. They need to live, just like any other creature, but they do not delight in pain. Well, except the tengu.

Please don’t blame me, it’s not my fault. I never once lied to you. It is beautiful here, isn’t it? Can you hear the singing? The trees, the water, the yokai[7]… even the rocks join in the chorus. It’s the most exquisite aria the world has ever heard, and with you as the soloist. How lucky you are, to have stumbled across my place on such a night! Tonight, you are the main act, with the moon as your limelight. Enjoy it. Revel in the glory. Then, morosely, you must say goodbye to everything else, for this is my place, and my place will keep you.

[1] Japanese legendary shape-shifting fox

[2] Snow Woman; cannibalistic figure of Japanese lore

[3] Flower Woman

[4] Japanese water goblin, known for capturing humans and eating their intestines before drowning them

[5] Japanese mermaid. Differs from the Western mermaid in that it is more like a monkey’s upper body with a fish tail rather than a human’s.

[6] Japanese monster, said to be corrupted monks with a body of dog, avian, and human characteristics

[7] Japanese word for monster, specifically of Japanese folklore

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