The Kabuki Dancer

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

Chapter 16 (v.1) - Part One: The Miko - Chapter 15

Submitted: October 31, 2016

Reads: 135

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Submitted: October 31, 2016

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I sat in my room late into the evening, regarding the wooden figure of Okuninushi that sat upon the altar, glowing softly in the candlelight.  I watched as his stoic gaze looked at me, not friendly, not like an enemy.  I know I should be celebrating, after all I was no longer in the hands of Kurosami or Kumiko, but what the deity had said to me, about enduring a long road before finding true happiness in my life, weighted heavily on my heart.  I reached out and touched the wood, smooth to the touch.

The screen door slid open and I turned quickly to find Jitsuko standing in the doorway, clad once again in a white haori and hakama to match.  She bowed her head politely, all hint of malice gone.  “May we enter?” she asked politely.  I arched an eyebrow.  “We?”I inquired.  Two pairs of eyes peered over her shoulders, and I gasped, “Hana-chan, Okuni-chan?” I heard muffled sobs as the two of them brushed past Jitsuko and launched themselves at me, enveloping me in white sleeves as I clung to the two of them, crying.

After the reunion, I looked up at Jitsuko and asked breathlessly, “Why?” Jitsuko smiled and knelt on a cushion in the room, stating, “It seemed the proper thing to do, to bring your friends to see you after enduring such an affair.  And such lewd accusations.”  She grimaced visibly upon saying this.I smiled gratefully and glanced at Hana, then Okuni.  Even though I was grateful for this and that Hana was here, really all I wanted to do was lie down in my beloved’s arms and caress her all night.I hugged her tight again. 

A gentle cough sounded from the cushion and all three of us turned to Jitsuko.  She regarded me with eyes filled with sorrow, and I gulped as I knew what was coming.  “Umi-chan,” she began softly.  “I am sorry to say that you will no longer be able to serve this shrine as an apprentice miko anymore.”  Hana and Okuni gasped at this, before Okuni rose to her feet, saying angrily, “The loss of her purity was forced upon her, not any fault of her own.  This should not be held against her!” She clenched her fists and her black hair swung angrily as she stomped her feet.

Jitsuko arranged herself on the cushion, looking at all three of us.  “I am sorry, Okuni-chan, Hana-chan.  But there is nothing I can do to allow Umi-chan to still serve us.  And I mean that, in any capacity.  The reputation of this shrine must be protected, and now that we have stood up to Kurosami and his clan, having Umi-chan here with her background as an eta would surely lend to our reputation being demolished.”  I shuddered, despite the truth in her words.  I had hoped that if I could no longer serve as an apprentice, maybe she would have me work in the laundry under Atsuko, or one of those who prepared the food. 

Hana embraced my shoulders and a trembling Okuni took my hand.  I looked at Jitsuko and asked, “What is to be my fate then?”  Jitsuko regarded me with a look of pity, took a deep breath, and said, “Exile from Izumo.”  The truth of these words hit me, and Okuni gasped, but Hana looked perplexed as she asked innocently, “But you already said she can’t serve the shrine anymore.”  I took a gulp of air and looked at Hana, saying, “She doesn’t mean the shrine.  She means the city of Izumo.”  Hana looked at Jitsuko as her tears flowed. “ No you can’t mean it,” she implored.  A sad looking Jitsuko looked at me and I felt the confirmation in her gaze.  At once Hana and Okuni dissolved into tears, and I joined them. 

After crying with them for a few moments, I looked at Jitsuko with despair in my eyes.  “Where will I go, what will I do?” I wailed.  Jitsuko looked at me thoughtfully, then raised her fingers, snapping them.  An acolyte entered with a wrapped package, placing it at my feet before exiting.  I looked at the crane covered paper and sniffled, asking, “Is this a bribe of some sort?”Jitsuko regarded me with a look of amusement.  “It is not a bribe, my dear, but something that you left behind at the Nakamuras,” she replied.  I took the package and unwrapped it gently.

Inside rested my shamisen, that I had neglected for so long while catering to Kumiko’s every whim.  I reached out and touched the strings.  I twanged one of them, releasing a melodious note.  I turned back to Jitsuko who smiled, saying kindly, “Out of all the shamisen players that I have heard in my years at the shrine, Umi-chan, your music is exquisite.”  I opened my mouth, looked at Hana, and made to protest, but Hana pressed her hand to mine, stopping me.  “Umi-chan, it is true,” she stated.  “When you play, it is almost as if a goddess is playing.  I am nowhere near as good as you.”  I looked at the instrument, then back at Jitsuko.  “But where will I go?” I inquired.

Hana stood up and brushed off her haori and hakama, tears seemingly forgotten.  “I have an answer for that.  Umi-chan, you are going to Kyoto.”  I looked at her dumbfounded for a moment, then laughed.  “Hana-chan, you can’t be serious!” I chortled.I saw the serious look on her face and suddenly stopped.  “Wait, you are serious,” I said.  Hana sat next to me and drew me to her.  “When I was a little girl, I visited the capital city.  No one I heard there was anywhere near as good as you are.  Sure, you may have to play in some seedy places, a brothel or two.  But I can see you playing in the Imperial Court someday, if you work hard enough!”

I glanced at Okuni and sadness filled my heart.  I looked at Jitsuko and said, “I will leave in the morning.  But before I do so, may I have some time with my friends?”  Jitsuko nodded and stood, sliding the screen door open, saying, “Of course.  I will be back in the morning to gather you and provide you with some supplies.  Good night.” We all bowed our heads in turn, saying, “Good night Priestess.”  She exited and slid the door shut.

I looked to Hana and she seemed to immediately understand what I was saying without words.“I have some things that I must attend to as well,” she said, leaping to her feet and to the screen door before Okuni could protest.  “I will make sure I am back in the morning before Jitsuko returns!” And she ran off into the night, closing the door behind her. 

In the dim light of the candles, I looked at Okuni.  I smiled hesitantly and reached out to touch her hand gently.  “Kyoto,” she murmured.  I looked at her and said, “I would never leave you if there was a choice in this matter.”  She sighed deeply, saying, “I know.”  I looked at her and reached out, pulling her into my embrace and kissing her gently on the forehead.  “It is not so far,” I stated, “And maybe someday you will be able to come.”  Okuni laughed gently, saying, “As if the shrine will ever release me from my duties long enough to endure a four day trip to the capital.” I kissed her again, saying softly, “Then we must let this night count.”

By some miracle, Okuni and I were left to our own devices that night.  When we came together, our lovemaking was less frantic, but more slow and romantic.  We didn’t cry out as we had before, but moaned softly with pleasure as our fingers, tongues, and lips explored each other’s bodies.  After we had spent ourselves, we lay in bed watching the moon, lazily caressing each other’s hair.

The next morning dawned sooner than I would have liked it, and the screen door slid aside with Hana standing in the doorway, a pile of clothes in her hand.  She regarded us naked in bed, harrumphed, and slid the door shut behind her.  “The two of you need to wake up soon, or Jitsuko will come upon you.”  At the mention of the Priestess, the two of us leaped to our feet, both of us grabbing haori and hakama, but Hana motioned for me to drop it.  “Hold on, Umi-chan, I have something different in mind for you.”  She took the pile and laid it out on the bed.  I was unclear as to why she had a men’s kimono, hakama, and obi laying on the bed before me.  I looked back to her and she said slyly, “You didn’t think you would be going to Kyoto as a woman, did you?” 

As Okuni laughed and dressed, I flushed.  Hana took the bandages she had brought and bound my breasts tightly to my body.  Then she tied the navy hakama around my waist, shuffled me into a slightly large kimono, and tied an obi around my waist.  She stood back to admire her handiwork, then sighed.  “It will have to do, I suppose.  I can’t have you looking like any samurai could take you on.  Here,” she said, tying my hair in a top knot of a samurai.  She then went to the last item on the floor, a knife.  She thrust it into my hand, saying, “If anyone with bad intentions approaches you, stab them in the gut with this.”  She demonstrated briefly and I weakly mimicked it.She laughed, and Okuni admired my look, saying, “Wow, Hana-chan.  This is really good work.  Maybe some time, I will have you dress me up as a young samurai warrior.”  We all laughed at this.

Jitsuko then entered the room.  She looked at me, then smiled at Hana.  “Brilliant work, Hana!” she praised.  Hana gave a little bow, a smile on her face, pleased at the praise she received from Jitsuko.  The Priestess turned to me and pressed a small bag into my hand.  I opened it to find coin inside.  I was shocked, saying, “Priestess, I can’t possibly take this from the shrine.”  The Priestess smiled, saying, “Consider it a loan, Umi-chan.When you have earned enough funds to take care of yourself, please return the funds to us here at the shrine.”  I smiled back, and bowed, saying, “Thank you.” 

I took up the shamisen, strapped it to my back, and followed her out of the room, followed by Okuni and Hana.  In the courtyard, we were greeted by some of the fellow apprentices.  One offered me a canteen of water, another a small container of rice balls.  I took them both gratefully, thanking them both.  As we all walked out to the road through the red Tori gates, tears prickled my eyes.  I looked at Okuni and Hana and hugged them both to me, telling them, “ I will write as soon as I find a place.”  I looked at Jitsuko and bowed, saying, “Thank you for all you have done for me, I will not forget you or Izumo Shrine.” Jitsuko bowed in return, saying, “Blessings go with you, Umi-chan.”  She turned and headed back inside the shrine, followed by the apprentices.  Hana and Okuni remained.  I hugged Hana tight, then turned to Okuni.  She looked deep into my eyes, and glancing around to make sure no one noticed, I brought my lips to hers and kissed her again.  After a few moments, I stepped back, and turning started walking off down the dirt road, not looking back once. 


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