The Kabuki Dancer

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Historical Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 14 (v.1) - Part One: The Miko - Chapter 13

Submitted: October 30, 2016

Reads: 241

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Submitted: October 30, 2016

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The next day I was awoken by a cold bucket of water being thrown upon me.  I came awake with a start in my cold cell.The two guards leered at me, and beside them was an older woman, dressed in an indigo kimono.  In her hands she had a clean linen shift, a sponge, drying rags, and clean bandages.  I groggily took this all in as I lay in a state of half consciousness, the look of the guards keeping me in my place on the floor.  The woman placed the shift and cleaning instruments aside, moved forward and roughly yanked the dirty and stained linen from my body. 

I cringed as another bucket of water was doused upon me by the two guards, and the chill seemed to enter every wound on my body.The woman, grumbling to herself about eta and why should she clean one lower than a servant, took the sponge and began to scrub my half conscious shivering body with it, and was not gentle.  Wounds that had healed overnight were reopened by her rough cleaning, and I was subjected to her cleaning even those parts that I would normally clean myself, which made me redden in shame. 

Once done, she dried me, then gathered the clean bandages and wrapped my wounds that now gaped open.She then stood, wiped her hands with exaggeration on her indigo kimono, and tossed me the linen shift, which at least was clean.  I took it, my hands shaking, and wrapped it around my trembling body.  “Thank you,” I murmured softly.  The woman looked at me and gave a harsh laugh.  “Don’t thank me, eta,” she sneered.  “I am just following orders from the lord of the house that you are to look presentable when you are presented to the miko of Izumo Shrine while they pass judgment on you.”  She then gathered up the dirty linens and left the cell, and the guards resumed their place in front of the cell.

After what seemed like hours, the cell door slid open and there was Kurosami, clad in a regal gold and black kimono with black hakama, a worn samurai sword tucked into his black obi.  I was too weak to spit, but gave him a harsh glare as he stood there.  Kurosami narrowed his eyes and chuckled.  “Oh, you still have spirit, even after what has happened to you.  Good.”  He leaned forward and looked into my eyes, promising, “Once we bring you back here, you can be sure that we will see what we can do to break that little rebel spirit of yours.  And it will be my turn.”  He patted his crotch lewdly and the two guards chuckled harshly. 

I looked at him and from my sore and worn throat said, “I am quite sure, that your worm is no more useful then the day you raped my sister.If you think for a moment that I will let you or any other man back into my secret place again in this life or the next, you had better kill me, because that’s what it will take for you to defile me with your toys.”  Kurosami looked at me, then gritted his teeth, leaned up close in my face, and whispered, “That can be arranged, eta.”  Then he stood, and motioned to the guards, saying, “Bind her and bring her.”  He left the cell as the guards tied my arms behind my back and lifted me to shaking knees.  I felt pressure between my thighs and moaned as we moved, but the woman who had cleaned me earlier had done a good job of binding me between my legs, so that if I did bleed, it would not get on the shift.

I was brought out to the same cart.  This time there were soldiers on horseback, and Kurosami had mounted a giant black stallion, but much huffing, puffing, and the aid of several of his soldiers had been needed to do that.A palequin also sat in the line, and the bamboo screen that enclosed its inhabitant just briefly lifted, to reveal Kumiko in full apprentice outfit, fluttering a fan to cool herself.  She gave a little start when she saw the state I was in, but her eyes quickly turned away with a look of scorn and the bamboo screen was lowered again.

I was bundled back up in the cart, which now had much better smelling hay then the previous day.I assumed Kurosami did not want to give a bad impression in a showing at the shrine.  As we set off along the streets of Izumo, I was observed by the townspeople who were now just rousing from the previous night’s revelry of Tanabata.Most looked at me with pity, but others looked at me with pure scorn, and one or two of them spat in my direction.I thought to myself how far I had fallen from being an apprentice to the Izumo Shrine to being an eta again.

Arriving at the Shrine, the cart stopped and Kurosami and Kumiko alighted to the ground.Kurosami made a motion, and the guards reached into the cage and removed me from it to place myself between the two of them.Kumiko held up her fan as she saw Priestess Jitsuko and two of her acolytes approach.  “Remember, little eta, one misstep and it will be all the more painful for you.” 

As Jitsuko arrived, my heart sank a little when I saw that Okuni was not one of the miko who were accompanying her.She stopped in front of Kurosami and Kumiko, bowing politely, then acknowledged me with an icy glance.She turned to the two acolytes and commanded in a stern and firm voice, “Please take this eta to the side hall, where she will wait until we are ready to see and judge her.”  The acolytes moved to my side and as much as my dignity would allow, I walked one foot after the other, despite the pain I felt.  I glanced back to see Jitsuko conversing with Kumiko while Kurosami looked on.

We arrived in a little side hall to the main one, where I had once practiced and watched Okuni-chan dance.  The acolytes politely opened the screens to admit me to a small room.  The room was sparsely decorated, but had a comfortable looking futon, a small table, and a small altar to the kami set up.  The acolytes then removed the binds on my hands, and then bowed to me, one of them saying, “Please remain here until you are summoned by Jitsuko.  We will come for you when it is time.”  The two of them slid the door shut.

I stood there in the quiet before I settled down onto the futon in the room.  I proceeded to kneel and offer my prayers to the kami.  I must have stayed like for some time before a gentle knock sounded on the door.  I said, “Come,” and the door slid open.

Standing in the doorway was Hana, dressed in her white haori and red hakama.Her face was filled with sorrow and when she saw me sitting there, her trembling lips gave way to tears following down her face.  “Oh, Umi-chan,” she whispered before closing the door behind her.I regard her briefly, and then opened my arms to her.  My friend rushed to embrace me, and the two of us dissolved into sobs.  After crying for a little while, Hana sat back.  It was only then I noticed her heavily bandaged hand.  Hana continued to sniffle, and she said, “Oh, Umi-chan, what you must think of me.”  I took her heavily bandaged hand in mine and smiled, saying, “Hana-chan, there is nothing to forgive.  I cannot imagine anyone enduring what you did and not telling anything.  Will you tell me though what happened?”

Hana sniffled and wiped her nose before speaking.  “Soon after you had run from the shrine and rehearsal had completed, I was accosted by Kumiko outside of the main hall.  She told me that our father and lord wanted to see me.I quickly followed her home without question, and arrived to find our father standing there as if a storm cloud had struck.  I was more shocked to find Priestess Jitsuko there, standing silently beside him. Immediately I knew there was something amiss, but before I could say a word, Kumiko launched into telling vicious lies about you.” At this she paused to take a deep breath, and I motioned for her to continue. 

“She said that you had unnatural desires and that you lusted after women as a man would.  She said that you tied a jade tool around your intimate parts to pretend to be a man with other women, and had violated many.  There was more, but it is too upsetting to repeat.  After she told her tale, father glanced at Jitsuko, who regarded me with a look of sympathy.  She stated, ‘I will prepare the shrine for the trial of the eta girl.’  She exited the estate followed by the acolytes who followed her without a backward glance.”

“Father looked at me and asked me where I could find you.I said I couldn’t because I did not know, and Kumiko screeched that I was one of your many lovers.  I protested I was not, but father did not hear, and threatened to harm me if I did not tell you where you were.  I still insisted, and then father strode over and hit me into unconsciousness.  When I revived, I found myself laying on a tatami mat and my hand held tightly by two guards.  I shrieked and then I saw my father was there.  He explained calmly that if I would not tell him where you were, he would begin to cut off my fingers one by one, then my nose, then my tongue, then my extremities.  I cried and said I did not know, and that was when he took his knife and severed my little finger.  The pain was so bad that I pleaded for mercy, and that’s when I told him where he could find you.  Then he and Kumiko left, but he stiffly ordered my hand to be taken care of before departing.  Once it was bandaged, I tried desperately to find you, but couldn’t.  I returned here to the shrine, and I found you here after talking with one of the guards.”

I listened to this with horror, and when her tale was done kissed her bandaged hand, saying, “I understand Umi-chan.”  She looked at me with tears in her eyes again, saying, “But what about you?  What’s going to happen?” I frowned and looked down, saying, “I don’t know.But I want you to promise me something.”  Hana squeezed my hand in hers, saying, “Anything.” I took a deep breath and said, “You and Okuni-chan cannot speak for me today.”  Hana’s mouth fell open in shock, and she stammered, “But we are your friends.  You know we would stand beside you no matter what.”

I patted her hand and looked at her thoughtfully.  “And that is why you must stay silent.  Anything that you or Okuni-chan says will make you suspect.  Do you understand? I will not have you two sharing in my punishment, no matter what happens.  And you must tell this to Okuni-chan, before my trial begins.”  Hana looked at me softly, saying, “She won’t like it, but I will do it Umi-chan.” 

I hugged her fiercely to me, tears running down my cheeks.  I pushed her back and commanded; “Now you must leave, before they return for me.”  Hana nodded and made for the screen door.  When she reached it, she turned around to face me.  “Umi-chan, are you and Okuni-chan lovers now?”  I blushed and nodded.  Hana smiled at me and said, “I am glad.  You both deserve love.”  Then she was gone in a breath.  I deeply sighed and turned back to my prayers, praying for myself, my friends, my love, and that by some miracle, the kami would come to my aid.

 


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