The Guild – Chapter 72 – Hitomi 2

    I touch the ink filled fude (brush) to the paper and carefully draw the first stroke of kaze (wind). I sometimes find peace is practicing shuji (calligraphy). The focus it requires to write the kanji (characters) in a balanced fashion is soothing.

    I dip the fude into the sumi (ink) and wipe off the excess, continuing with the next stroke. Soon, my kanji is complete. I set the fude down on the stand and move the paper to the side to dry. This kaze is written in kaisho (simple script). Next, I will write it in gyousho (semi-cursive).

    Kaze sama leans over my shoulder, watching each stroke and stop. Each start and lift. It would bother me to have him watching if I wasn’t already so entranced by the kanji before me. It is his name after all.

    When I finish writing kaze in gyousho, I move to sousho (cursive). This, I know, is his favourite script.

    Your writing is getting better, Hime sama, his voice is gentle and warm, like a new spring breeze. I pause, fude hovering above the paper.

    “Ma ma, Kaze sama.” [No, it’s just ok,] I tell him politely. I am not a master of shuji. I am but a student. I may have written this kanji out more than a thousand times, so it looks like I am better than I really am. I blush at his comment all the same.

    You are modest. It is better than mine, at least, I catch his smile out of the corner of my eye. I keep my retort to myself – he’s the one being humble. He uses the wind as his fude and his script is gorgeous.

    You could at least smile while you write, Hitomi hime, he suggests.

    I stop the fude and look at him. Doesn’t he know it takes concentration to write it perfectly?

    If you like it so much, why are you frowning? he asks.

    I roll my eyes and groan. His comment deserves no reply. He’s just trying to get under my skin. I see it in his smile, that mischievous grin as he leans back and taps his ogi (fan) to his chin, like a sensei (teacher) inspecting his students work.

    I exhale, trying to settle back into focusing on the strokes. My mind begins to wander though, unlike before, thinking about his motives and why he teases me so. He is closest to me, he knows how to annoy me, but he also knows what I need. The mountain journey, a week ago, was something I needed. Even if I did want to continue avoiding the reality of it.

    When it comes to caring for me, he knows best, sometimes, better than myself. It doesn’t help me relax though. His… caretaking is something I have come to expect. I am not independent. I need to try harder.

    My fude slides a little too far to the right and I freeze, hand shaking on the paper. I’ve messed it up. I stare at it for a long time before placing the fude down and folding the paper into squares and placing it on the practice pile. I’ll start again.

    I ink the fude.

    Hiiiiiitoooooo….

    I wipe the excess off.

    Miiiiii……

    I set the fude and begin the first stroke.

    Hiiiitooooomiiiiii…

    I lift the fude from the page.

    Ssssmmmiiiiillleeeeee……

    I fling my arm out to the side, fude pointed at the voice whispering on the wind. The ink covered bristles connect with something hard, I don’t know what I hit as I am still looking hard at the kanji on the paper.

    Hime sama! What have you done?! he shouts.

    I finally look up from the page and turn to Kaze sama, face smeared with sumi (ink). He wears a delectable frown on his otherwise flawless face.

    “Sumimasen, kaku tsumori desu. Kanshō wa hyōka sa remasen.” [If you don’t mind, I am trying to write. Your interference is not appreciated] I seeth through my teeth. The room suddenly bursts with movement as a wild wind picks up, throwing paper about the room like leaves in a windstorm. My hair comes loose from its tie and whips across my face as I glare hard at Kaze sama.

    His face goes blank and he returns a flat stare, unmoving, unfazed by my burst of emotion.

    This reaction is unbefitting of you, Hitomi hime, he states blatantly, his expression growing serious.

    Looking at his expression, I feel a light bubbling in my tummy. Is this… amusement? The sumi smeared on his face is somewhat entertaining, but his serious expression doesn’t match. I am tempted to laugh, but the moment passes and I turn away, the winds dying down around me. I realize I am not as in control as I thought I was. I set the fude down and stand, moving about the small tatami room, collecting the papers as they float to the floor.

    As I pick up the last sheet and set it on the pile in my arms, I detect a presence, something that wasn’t there before. Being bonded to Kaze sama has gifted me with many strange abilities, other than being able to see him and other things others cannot normally see, I can control the winds, ride them and create storms by altering the weather patterns. But I can also hear things and sense when people are near. It has given me a sense of constant awareness that doesn’t allow me to be peaceful, even though I am physically alone.

    It is also a gift because things of the physical realm cannot sneak up on me. It is nearly impossible. I say ‘nearly’ because I suppose it is possible, if one knew of my ability, to cloak themselves. That is why I keep this information to myself.

    I often ask myself why I was given these strange powers. I wonder where they came from, if they were granted or if my parents had them. I don’t think I’ll ever know, because they are dead.

    I set the pile of paper down and walk to the open porch, gazing out at the wild gardens that surround my solitary home in the mountains.

    [Dare ni kimasu ka?] “Who is coming?” I wonder aloud, placing my hand on the frame of the shouji.

    If you ask nicely, I can tell you, Kaze sama teases behind me. I subtly glare over my shoulder at him; he is particularly bothersome today.

    It doesn’t matter to me who is coming. Meer curiosity crossed my thoughts but I don’t wish to act on it. I’d rather be alone. I wipe my fude down and hang it set it on the stand, covering my sumi so it doesn’t dry out and placing a paperweight atop the paper.

    [Ikitai.] “I want to go,” I state, sitting back on my heels and looking out the shoji as minute snowflakes being to float to the ground outside.

    I understand this, but wouldn’t you rather-

    [Ikitai. Ima kara.] “I want to go. Now,” I say again.

    I close my eyes and I feel the wind rough against my skin and clap my hands together in prayer. Futen, I pronounce as my soul ascends with the currents. Kaze and I burst through the shoji and into the snowy sky, rattling the shoji as we depart. Higher and higher we climb, until the mountain house is but a dot on the mountain cloaked in trees.

    We slink together through the skies, farther and farther away. That mountain home is my getaway, my refuge, but it is not the only place I need to be. Unfortunately, I have school.

    In no time at all, we are blowing over the coastal town of Nagasaki where I am attending high school. It’s my final year, and exams begin soon. I often skip out on my studies, preferring to ignore regular life and drift about like the wind. My teachers think differently.

    My homeroom teacher, Hama sensei, encourages me to study English. He is also an English teacher, and admittingly, he is really good at it. My only problem is I don’t really feel confident that my English is any good. I have no great desire to go abroad and I don’t have plans for my future. He sees this as a concern and a challenge, as graduation is only two months away.

    We skim down towards the town and meander through the buildings till we arrive at the dorm that is my other home.  The window to my room is left open, and Kaze and I thunder through, shaking the window in its frame. The space is cramped, but that is normal for most city homes in Japan.

    I let myself settle, coming away from Kaze sama and sitting seiza on the floor, hands together. I release and exhale, physically in my body again. It doesn’t take me long to relax, I’ve done the transition long enough to be used to the sensation of returning to a physical body. I briefly recall a time when I was younger when I would be out of breath and weak for hours. I’m glad for the familiarity now.

    Why did you run? Kaze sama asks, floating above my desk by the open window.

    [Dare mo desu kara, mienai.] “Whoever it is, I don’t want to see them,” I say as I stand and step over to my desk where my favourite headphones rest, waiting for me. I set them over my ears and connect the Bluetooth to my device. I need some music to distract my mood and prepare for homework.

    You can’t ignore people forever, you know. He tries to convince me.

    [watashi wo tamesu koto ga dekiru] “I can try,” I mumble.

    What if they were good people? Friends? he tries to reason.

    [Tomodachi ga inai.] “I don’t need friends,” I reply.

    I turn up the volume and ignore what he says now, which leaves me staring at his frowning perfect face. With a curt sigh, he shakes his head and flutters out the window. Finally, I’m alone. Just… me.

 

By Kayla West

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