The Kabuki Dancer

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

Chapter 9 (v.1) - Part One: The Miko - Chapter 8

Submitted: October 29, 2016

Reads: 132

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Submitted: October 29, 2016



After Hana had departed the Nakamura home, I curled myself up into a ball and lay beneath the blanket on the futon, trying to catch what scent I could of Okuni.The scent of her hair on her pillow was the only comfort to me, and I lay that way in the bed, ignoring my shamisen and the fact that I was wearing my haori and hakama in it.I didn’t reply when Nakamura – san came to knock on the door and let me know dinner was ready.  Eventually I fell into a deep sleep in bed.

The next day I was awoken not by the sound of Okuni jumping on my bed or shouting in my ear, but the sound of silence.  My dreams had not been quiet, and had been full of a giant kami devouring Okuni as I ran towards her to save her.The dawning sun cast shadows across the now empty room, and it was almost more than I could bear.  I slowly got out of bed and stood, attempting to smooth out the wrinkles and creases in the fabric of my clothing.I took a glimpse in the bronze mirror sitting on a nearby table, and adjusted my hair the best I could.  I looked at the shamisen in the corner, deciding to leave it, as Hana would most likely have a spare.

I left the Nakamuras’ home after formal goodbyes were made, and started walking along the path that Okuni and I had walked so many times before, now alone.  The people walking by me bowed to me courteously, but it seemed empty to me now that Okuni’s infectious attitude was no longer there to bring spark to the world.  I could hear now the sound of my straw sandals crunching in the gravel of the path, and it was loud enough to me to make me wince.

Arriving at the shrine and passing through the three red Tori gates, I arrived at the inner sanctum of the shrine.I did my daily purification ritual, washing my hands with the sacred water and offering prayers to the kami of the shrine.I was just exiting when Hana ran up to me, having arrived at the shrine a little early.  “Umi-chan, how are you doing today?” she asked with concern.  I looked at her with sadness in my eyes.  “How do you think I am doing today, Hana?” I asked, leaving the friendly chan off the end.  “I’ve just lost my best friend and sister.”  Hana gave a small smile, saying, “You haven’t lost her Umi-chan.  She is still here with us.”  I swallowed a sob and retorted, “She may as well be gone now.  In service to some kami who will never show himself to her.  Or love her.  Or…” I noticed Hana looking at me peculiarly.  “What?” I snapped.

Hana froze, and made to walk away, turning her back to me.  Then she whirled around, her eyes ablaze.  “The way you are acting, Okuni-chan, it’s almost as if you have lost a lover,” she snapped.  “Well,” I took a deep breath, about to reveal my secret, “Maybe I have.”  Hana stood there for a moment, stunned, then she asked, “Umi, are you and Okuni … lovers?” 

I sighed deeply, replying, “No we are not.  The affection is … one sided at best.” Hana stayed silent for a moment, then stated, “So you prefer the company of women.”  I had never heard the words uttered before, so it was a shock to hear the statement of my truth related so bluntly.I couldn’t find the words, but tears found my eyes and I nodded.  Rather than turn away, Hana smiled and opened her arms to me.

I went into her embrace, and I cried as she stroked my hair calmingly.  “There, there, Umi-chan,” she whispered.  I sniffled and looked up at her.  “So you’re not mad, or disgusted?”  I inquired.  Hana folded her arms around me and guided me to a nearby bench underneath a large sakura tree.  She sat me down and took my hand in hers.  “The only reason I would be mad is that you did not tell me sooner,” she said.  “Of course, women are not my preference, but growing up in the home of a noble samurai, I do know of relationships between an older man and a younger man.It’s referred to as “shudo”.Although,” and she raised her hand to her mouth to hide a small chuckle, “I have not heard of “Shudo” occurring between women.  But I suppose, since such a thing as it exists between two men, why not between two women?”

I stood up, frustrated.  “But that’s the thing,” I moaned.  “I never told her how I feel before she entered the rituals to become a miko, and now I will never get the chance.”  I got down on my knees and took Hana’s hands in mine, looking up pleadingly into her face.  “You must promise me never to tell Okuni-chan about this,” I implored.“She is a miko now and as such must remain pure for the shrine, despite my feelings.”  Hana looked at me with thoughtful eyes, and then nodded.  “I promise not to tell,” she whispered.

“Well, I certainly don’t,” a hard voice said from somewhere nearby.  As Hana and I looked around, Kumiko emerged from the shadow, her black hair blowing in the gentle breeze.  “An apprentice in love with a miko.  And a female apprentice at that?” she tittered, looking at me as a hungry snake might eye a rabbit before injecting it with its venom.  “I wonder what Jitsuko would have to say about that, and Okuni, for that matter.”  I jumped to my feet, my hands clenched at my side into tight fists ready to strike.  “You can’t,” I stammered.

Kumiko raised a finger to her porcelain cheek, and looked at me, amusement showing in her eyes.  “I can’t,” she stated.  “How can an eta woman tell a woman of noble birth what she can and can’t do?”  Hana rose besides me, starting to speak.  “Kumiko, it is really of no import …” she began.  Kumiko’s hard smile turned into a sharp frown, and her cutting tongue lashed out as she snapped, “Don’t say a word, Hana.  I can easily turn this clandestine meeting into a lover’s tryst, and then where would you be?”  Hana shifted uncomfortably at my side, her eyes downcast. 

I strode up to Kumiko and looked her square in the eye, our faces almost touching.  “Leave Hana out of this,” I gritted through my clenched teeth.  “This is between you and me.”  The smile returned to Kumiko’s hard face, and she said sweetly, “Of course.”  I bit my tongue, and looked Kumiko in her pretty face, saying harshly, “In return for your silence, what is it you want?” Kumiko placed a finger to her pink lips, mimicking thinking.  “In return for my silence…” she thought out loud, tapping the finger to her lips.  “You are to be my slave, eta.  At my beck and call whenever you are here at the shrine.  You will do what I want, when I want you to do it.  And if you ever speak a word of this deal to anyone, I will certainly tell the Priestess of your … carnal desires.  Not only would it ruin you, but it would most likely ruin your dear Okuni-chan.  Even though you haven’t done anything with each other, I have a good imagination.” 

I had all sorts of visions of strangling Kumiko there and now, but I restrained myself, and managed to grind out a reply between my clenched lips. “Of course Kumiko” I grated.  “Oh, it’s Kumiko-san from now on, eta” she said cheerfully.  “Now,” she clicked her fingers, “Follow me and we will get you started on your first task.”  She strode by me, her red hakama swishing the dust on the ground.  I looked at Hana, and she regarded me with a worried look.  I took a deep breath and walked by her, now the maid of the worst apprentice in the whole shrine. 

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