Lei-Meun's Story

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

FIRST OFF: I had no exact cultural reference in mind when writing this; my head just blended some together as the story poured out. If you have a problem with non-cultural appropriate names, I'm
sorry. I write what my brain pushes through my hands. Another older short story I'm porting over from storywrite.

Submitted: June 12, 2018

A A A | A A A

Submitted: June 12, 2018



He’s Dead. The thought resounded in her head like a church bell, singling out to the heart of sinners. He was dead; and she had killed him. 

Lei-Meun stared down at the outstretched hands. They were dripping with blood: his blood, and they seemed a fathom away. Her heart thundered feverishly in her slender chest. All around her persecuting eyes revealed shock, dismay, and disrespect. She felt her face grow red, whether with embarrassment or hatred she couldn’t tell. 

Taking a step backward, she felt her tatami sandals squish softly beneath her weight. She stood in a puddle of blood. Her own puddle of shame. Dropping the knife, she turned to run, but was abruptly confronted with even more disengaged stares. The mumbles of the crowd rose around her, almost silencing the screams in her mind. Almost, but not completely. 

Murderer. Her mind echoed gruesomely; You dishonor your family. White-hot tears cascaded down her face. She knew the country’s punishment for murder, and her little village of Savm-Chi was no different. She would hang ; and her family would be shunned from society. 

She pushed through the crowd of woe-seers and ran. She ran away from the harsh whispers of the villagers, away from the shame.Away from the vision of her husband: his face twisted in agony, his eyes wide and screaming of betrayal. 

She was far from the village now, wading through the rice plantations that helped the small community thrive. Despite the distance she had now put herself from her home, she could already hear her mother’s cries in her mind. It was not the thought of death that frightened her the most, it was the shame she had now bestowed upon her family that forced the tears. 

Shame. Scandal. The words repeated in her own voice over and over. Then she stopped. A new voice was taking audio in her mind. HIS voice.

Ungrateful Wench! She remembered his voice so affluently. The anger stemmed from a night at the bars. He would beat her every night. She lay a fragile hand upon her mid-rift where the most recent bruise had been applied. Then there was this morning. Not more than a few candle marks earlier he had the nerve to say she was less beautiful than his first wife. He had hurt not only her feelings, but her pride. 

She collapsed to her knees, the sweet rice stalks waved about her in the unseen winds. How she wished she could just lay back and drown away in this sea of grain. 

Over There!” A man’s voice broke her serenity. They were already after her. Her head shot upwards and she spied a small cave in the Cliffside a short run away. She knew she could not escape them forever, but maybe if she had a little bit of time she could think of a way of redemption. 

So she ran. She sprinted for the cave like she had never ran before. Her life, nay, her family’s honor depended on her redemption. The death-bringers were closing in on her, but still she made for the cave, silently praying to any ancestor whom would hear her desperate cries. 

Somehow, she made it. The darkness was blinding at first, yet she did not hesitate to plunder through the blindness deeper into the haven. She ran, panting breathlessly until she could no longer hear the world outside. There was no light, and here eyes were only partially adjusted to the darkness.

Psst!! This way!” A quiet voice called to her from her right. She stopped to listen for any other sounds. As she expected, the crowd had followed her even this deep and were approaching fast. She had no choice but to follow the child-like voice which beckoned her from the shadows. 

She ducked away to the right into a previously unseen cove. Before she could utter a sound, a soft hand grappled around her mouth. The angry crowd thundered past outside, much to Lei-Meun’s shock, including her own parents. 

After they were past, and the sound of their footsteps faded, the hand released her. Letting out a deep sigh of regret she tried to peer through the darkness at her savior. Like a blaze of thunder and magic, a fire appeared before her. Beyond it, a young boy smiled pleasantly at her. 

Hello,” he raised a gentile palm towards her, “I’m Fei-Shal”. He crawled around the fire and sat by her side. This gave her the opportunity to look around, now that the temporary blindness from the flash of light had faded. The little alcove was bare, save for the fire and a bit of wood. 

As if reading her mind, the boy spoke again: “I don’t live here, I just found this hideaway today while exploring these caves. I do that a lot nowadays, explore that is.” His round face was dirty, showing signs that he had already been here for most of the day. He shifted slightly, letting his face get dangerously close to the fire. “Not much room in here, I know, but it’s nice to hide in and get away from everything, right?” He smiled widely, his lips seeming to spread from ear to ear. A few of his teeth were missing, she noticed. 

I’m Lie-Meun,” she bowed her head in respect, “it’s very nice to meet you, Fei-Shal.” She gave a soft, loving smile. “And thank you for saving me.” 

He inched closer to her, showing that he was comfortable in her presence. “Tell me, Lie-Meun, what are you running from?” He shifted uneasily, knowing he was batting a touchy subject. “Why are such infuriated people at your heels?” 

She felt tears well up in her eyes again. This boy was so young, so innocent. How could she tell her morbid tale to such a young mind? 

I’m sorry,” he lay a hand upon her still blood-stained hands. “He had hurt you, hadn’t he?” 

Her head shot up, he knew! He had seen the blood coating her skin and clothes and he knew. Does this also mean he could understand?

Please. Tell me, Lie-Meun. Confess to me what you have done.” He put his arms around her and held her tightly. “I cannot save you from your death, but I can offer you a feeling of peace and finality before it.” He was crying now, too. She could feel the tears like little rain drops fall upon her shoulder. 

He knew, and he could understand. She knew this, so she told him. Weaving with her words the morbid tale of her first and only husband, Reimal. Reimal the drunk; staying out every night, gallivanting around the larger cities surrounding Savm-Chi with the Geisha’s from the bars. She told this boy, this mere child, of the spirit shattering insults she was awaked to every night, the smell of sweat and strong ail lingering around her. Then she ended with the present experience. In detail, she described how Reimal had insulted her in the market square. The very market square of HER village. She closed her eyes and recalled the dagger of which she had ripped so diligently from her husband’s belt; then she relived the gruesome act of murdering him. Jabbing the knife into his back, then into his neck, and as he turned around, into his chest. 

She opened her eyes, the fire had grown dim in the time it had taken her to relive the past year of her life, and Fei-Shal made no attempt to fuel it. He instead sat there, as he had from the start, listening intently. When she had finished, she turned to him and cried again, throwing herself around him. He stroked her hair lovingly, almost as if he were the parent, and she the child.

It’s all over now, Lie-Meun. He can’t hurt you anymore.” She lifted her head and stared at the boy again. His soft face glowed with sympathy and pain. It was then she saw it. This boy to whom she had digressed her life to was the exact image of her husband. Why, he could pass for his twin, if he were some twenty years older. 

She jumped back. “Fie-shal, ” her voice quivered with fear. “You are not from my village, yet these caves are closer to my village than any other.” The boy’s smile was unfazed. 

No, Lie-Meun. I am not from your village. I am from very far away, I travel through these caves for days at a time. I have ever since my mother and father passed on.” 

An Orphan, she thought, how offended he must be, I never would have thought! He seems so refined and well-mannered. “How long has that been?” She hesitated to ask, knowing it was most likely quite painful of a memory.

He titled his head forward nonchalantly, “Oh, it has been a very long time.” His eyes rose to meet hers. It was very disturbing, it was as if she gazed into her own husband’s eyes. She could not tear her stare away from the child, though she knew how rudely she was behaving.

Here!!” A strong voice boomed from behind her, they had found her. A rough hand latched around her frail arm and dragged her out of the alcove. “Thought you could hide, murderous betrayer?” She shot her gaze upon her capture, it was Lee-Quo, the village’s blacksmith. “You cannot escape your punishment, Lei-Meun!” The crowd murmured their agreements from behind her. “Let’s go, it’s time for your punishment to be carried out.” She seemed to hear a small hint of sorrow in his angry voice. She had known Lee-Quo since they were very young, and knew how much this must hurt him. 

As he dragged her slowly out of the caves, she tried to look past the crowd to find Fie-Shal, but he was already out of sight, most likely off to find a new hiding place, now that his had been discovered. 

It was sunset now, the final time she would ever see the sun. Lie-Meun stood upon a stool, thick rope noosed about her neck. Her family mourned the loss to come from beyond the crowd, and the villagers mumbled their disgust, sorrow, and even; regret. 

As her executioner spoke to her of her ancestors, then of redemption to the family name through her death, she closed her eyes and remembered that comfortable time in the alcove with Fie-Shal. He had been a friend to her when she had none, yet- why was it he owned her late husband’s face? Had Reimal had a son before their marriage? She would never know now. 

She heard the executioner stop his silent prayer, the prayer done before her final moment. Then, the stool was removed from below her and gasps escaped the mouths of all around her. Her eyes still closed, she welcomed death with a heavy heart. She had to leave her family; but would be with her ancestors. Her family’s cries faded away as she moved away from the world and into the arms of her long since passed family.

Surrounded by a brilliant light, she smiled and absorbed the warmth. She saw her grandmother and grandfather, whom died more than three years before. She was surrounded by family members she’d never known, save through legendry and history. Despite the circumstances; she felt so warm…So at home.

And then she saw him. Fei-Shal. He approached her from the light, his hand extended to take hers, and his gentle voice echoing about her as they walked into eternity:

I’m sorry, Lei-Meun. I’m sorry I hurt you…”

© Copyright 2018 Justin Daugherty. All rights reserved.

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