The Moonlit Corridor

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 2 (v.1) - Awakening

Submitted: August 21, 2019

Reads: 26

Comments: 1

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Submitted: August 21, 2019



Far above, in the great expanse of blue sky, the sun shined brightly. That was the first conscious thought of which she was aware. The sun was warm, embracing…but where was she? That was the next thought that drifted into her mind, settling like a wind blown leaf on the calm surface of a mountain lake.  Looking up, she gleefully clapped her hands like a child when she saw the ‘morning moon’ still visible in the sky. She loved day skies like that, when both of heaven’s lights shared the same blue space.

Momentarily she became aware of her bare feet. The rough stones and driftwood upon which she stood were at the base of the cliff close to her father’s house. Although aware of the rock and wood’s jagged edges against the soles of her feet, she felt no pain. ‘How curious,’ she thought. There was no pain; only awareness. ‘Awareness’… it was good she told herself. But how did she get here, beneath the precipice? And the sun above…wasn’t it just nightfall? She searched her mind, tried to remember but could not. Although the sun shone bright and clear her mind was shrouded in mist…in a dense fog of forgetfulness. Where were her shoes? And her dress was torn…how did that happen? The dress was something she never wore outside. It was for sleeping only. At that moment she realized the dress was wet; not soaking wet, but damp, as if she had been in the rain…or the pool at the foot of the falls? ‘Why,’ she wondered, was she clothed this way…and her dress wet? How did she come to be here? Had she been sleepwalking’? She had heard of such things, but could not recall where or when. Oddly enough, it didn’t really matter. ‘I should return to the house,’ she told herself, ‘Father will be there soon.’ With that thought in mind she set out for home, suddenly carefree and humming an old Japanese ‘ai no san-ka’ (song of love) her father had taught her; “It was your mother’s favorite,” he had said.

She nonchalantly walked past the amassed driftwood, along the river’s edge and the clear water pool fed by the small river atop the cliff. The cascading falls seemed louder than usual, and the river alongside which she walked was swollen and moving a bit more swiftly, as if it had rained recently. The ground beneath her feet was soft and damp; much more so than usual she reasoned, as if there had been a heavy rain, perhaps in the last few hours. Another random thought entered her mind; wasn’t it just last night? There were dark clouds in the distance when she was returning home, she remembered, and the fresh smell of rain was in the air. She could not recall if it rained or not, but it occurred to her once more that her dress was wet, as though she had been caught in the rain. ‘Last night…’ she contemplated. ‘It was…’

Her disjointed thoughts were interrupted suddenly as a vagrant breeze gently stirred the trees, caressed her skin and ruffled the silk of her dress. She paused, tried to rally her memories, and then apathetically shrugged her shoulders. Something told her it didn’t really matter; the rain last night, the sun and moon above or random breezes. She was on her way home, and standing still in the middle of the day wasn’t going to get her there. Proud of herself for reaching such a wise conclusion she walked happily on, humming her mother’s favorite love song.

Eventually reaching the steep trail that led up the mountain, into the forest and to her father’s house, she had climbed less than a hundred yards when she heard the frenzied voice of a man yelling. Looking back in the direction she had come she saw a group of men from the village running toward and gathering at the rocks and driftwood beside the pool. Watching with a curious fascination she noticed some of them bending to lift something from the ground. A sudden chill ran up her spine as the wind picked up again, more forceful this time, blowing her long black hair across her face, briefly blocking her vision. Pulling the hair back with her hands she turned her attention once again to the path, shrugged her shoulders anew in sudden disinterest and continued the climb. Her father taught her not to get involved in the affairs of others, she reminded herself. That was one reason he chose to build their home in the forest on the mountain, far from the village and prying neighbors. Life was less complicated and more tranquil there than in the town where there always seemed to be something going on, regardless of the time, day or night. Whatever the villagers were doing at the pool at that precise moment didn’t really matter. It wasn’t her business, and the villagers seemed to be always busy about something. “Curious…” she thought aloud, as she picked up the pace.

Reaching the top of the mount she followed the age old trail leading into the trees, wondering why she was not fatigued from the climb. In the past she would be out of breath and had to rest before entering the forest. The thought that her endurance had improved made her smile, as she nonchalantly trekked toward home. For just a moment she considered going to the top of the falls, where they began to form before reaching the cliff edge. It was beautiful there, where the rushing water picked up speed…roaring as it hastily showered down to the pool beneath. Oddly, when she thought of that she felt a sudden chill, causing her to shiver. But as abruptly as it happened she shrugged it off, as if it were incidental.  Although it did seem extremely odd, she thought, this sudden disinterest. Today she seemed to totally disregard almost everything that would have, at any other time, naturally stirred her curious nature. So much seemed strange this morning, but she could care less. She was content, casually enjoying the sun and the sound of the breeze as it animated tree limbs, prompting birds to flight, when suddenly she arrived at the house.

She wondered where the time had gone. It seemed as if just seconds ago she was walking through the forest, past the bamboo and the verdant canopy that hid the sun and sky. And it seemed as if just moments ago she was at the base of the cliff, standing barefoot on the rocks and driftwood. But now she was standing in front of the house, puzzled to see her shoes resting at the base of the landing below the porch. It seemed extremely odd. She never left the house or stepped onto the ground without first placing her feet in those shoes. Ordinarily she would have seriously reflected on such curious events, but once again found herself quite disinterested.

She retrieved a cloth from a hook and sat on the landing to clean her feet. The birds singing in the trees and the aroma of the jasmine her father planted near the house made her smile, and she began to think it was truly a wonderful day. The lilting melodies of the birds reminded her of the flute her father carved and taught her to play. ‘How nice it would be’, she thought, to sit in the warm sun and play the song she had been humming on her way home. Rising, she replaced the cloth on the hook and turned toward the door.

She was startled by the disarray inside the house. Tables and vases were overturned, clothes strewn about the room and her mother’s portrait knocked off the family altar. Although a rather grim discovery she seemed quite unperturbed. ‘I’ll have to tidy up before father arrives’, she told herself, then immediately began cleaning and putting things in their proper place. When finished, she retrieved the flute from her room, returned to the front porch and began playing her mother’s favorite song. The melody calmed her and brought back pleasant memories she kept tucked away in her heart; memories of childhood, of romping on the grass in front of the house, chasing butterflies while her father worked in the garden. As a child she called them ‘butter-flowers’. Her parents thought it was ‘ka-wai-e’ (cute), and didn’t correct her pronunciation until she was older. She recalled the buzzing of the cicadas in summer, and the fireflies at evening, like miniature golden stars gliding and floating about so close to earth. She remembered frost on the ground as winter neared, and the snow that eventually covered everything, weighing heavy on bare tree limbs. She thought of her mother in the spring in her colorful yukata, singing while cleaning bean sprouts on the porch, periodically calling her name if she strayed from sight. Her name…what was her name? The thought was like a mild shock.

Her name…? Her father called her name often, when she accompanied him in the forest, for kite flying in the hills, or picking berries… “Curious…” she thought aloud, followed by an abrupt awareness; where was the music? She suddenly realized she had ceased playing. ‘Too much thinking…’ she imagined. Placing the reed to her lips she began anew, all her confusion carried away by the melody wafting languidly on the afternoon breeze. Nothing else seemed to matter. Perhaps the music would welcome her father home. He loved listening to her flute, and at times, tears would come to his eyes as she played. She was only a child of eight or nine years the first time that happened. She stopped playing immediately, but he asked her to continue. “There is nothing wrong,” he said, “you play beautifully, like tenshi (an angel).” Remembering those words always made her smile. She whiled away the time that way, adrift on a sea of memories.

 Eventually she decided she should begin preparation of the evening meal. ‘Father is always hungry after a long day’, she reminded herself. Once in the house she returned the flute to her room, where she saw her bedding on the floor. She didn’t notice it earlier. How odd, she thought. She never began the day without first putting those things away. Perhaps she had been sleepwalking after all. Looking at her ruffled bedding stirred something locked deep within her subconscious. She began to think she should be resting. ‘A nap would be good,’ she told herself, ‘I should lie down. There will still be time to prepare dinner.’ That was her last thought before drifting off to sleep.

© Copyright 2019 C Wm Bird. All rights reserved.


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