Chapter 37: the circle

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

Reads: 58

 “What comes to your mind if I mention the word ‘circle’?”

Sung Ji, roasting fish, raised his head the moment the girl spoke.

“Circle?” he asked. “Many things come to mind. The moon when full, the shape of the sun, ripples made by a rock tossed into a pond, the reflection of an arched bridge over water, like those I’ve seen in China. There is the circle of 'life', the cycle of the seasons and the theory of karma; whatever one does while alive comes back to them full circle. Why do you ask?”

“Because of a dream I had the night before we left Kenji Tanaka’s farm.”

“A dream?” Sung Ji repeated.

“Hai,” Silence replied. “In the dream I was sitting alone in a garden, beside a carp pool. Someone called my name, Yuki. When I turned toward the sound I saw the girl in white, walking toward me with her hands behind her back. I rose up as she came near. She smiled as she approached, then moved her arms from behind her back and proudly displayed something she held. It was a circle of ‘hi-ka-ri’ (light).”

“Like an orb?” asked the samurai, “or glass ball?”

“No,” she replied. “Like a ring.”

“A ring of light…” he mused. His thoughts ran back to a conversation he had with Kwai before leaving China; “Where does the circle begin and where does it end?” the shaman asked. He remembered being slow to reply, Suspicious of his trick questions he was slow to reply, and finally said that there is no beginning or end… “It is constant, complete.” Then, proud of himself for having thought of it, he proclaimed… “But if there must be an answer, I believe a circle ends precisely where it begins.”

“Good,” said Kwai. “If one were describing a ring or hoop…”

“I knew it,” said Sung Ji, mildly frustrated. “That question is simply a prelude to another of your confusing revelations.”

Lost in thought, the samurai was brought back to the moment when Silence asked… “Are you asleep? I hoped you could help me make sense of the dream.”

“What was the last thing you had on your mind last night before you fell asleep?”

“My decision to return and confront Sensei Hawk. Could it be that girl is happy with my plan? And the circle of light, could it have something to do with my destiny…or perhaps hers…?”

“Impossible,” said Sung Ji abruptly. “Her destiny has already claimed her. She has long since left this world.”

Silence was startled by his terse response. “Left this world? As in death?”

“Is there any other way?” He intoned remorsefully.

She felt a sudden chill, causing her to shudder, and wondered if he loved a girl capable of moving between two worlds. She recalled previous encounters with the ghostly girl, and following a brief, uncomfortable moment of quiet she spoke. “Perhaps you can tell me about her. Is she the one who taught you the meaning of love?”

“Dea. She was a victim of Miyamoto and his men. They killed her father as well. I blamed myself for their untimely deaths. If I had confronted Miyamoto in Tsukimi, Asako and her father would not have died.”

Silence was stunned… “Tsukimi? That girl lived there?”

“What is it?” asked Sung Ji.

“That is where my family was killed,” she declared. “I suspect Ichiban was one of the murderers…he and Miyamoto were once partners in crime…” Her eyes gleamed as recognition suddenly took hold of her. “Perhaps the two of them…” She became catatonic as her words drifted off.

“It is possible,” said Sung Ji, neglecting the fish as he pieced together fragments of the puzzle. “Miyamoto seemed to know Tsukimi well, as if he had been there before. He may have known only Toshima and his daughter lived on the mountain. It’s a perfect place for fugitives to hide…”

The samurai ceased speaking, distracted by the aroma of burning fish. As he quickly removed them from the fire Silence spoke slowly, almost hypnotically… “Sensei Hawk was in Tsukimi at that time…”

“You said he rescued you.”

“Hai,” she said. “It was so long ago…I was only five. It all happened so fast. My father was struck first, then my mother as she tried to shield him. The killer was preparing to strike again when Sensei was suddenly there… Why was he there so quickly?”

It was not actually a question. She was being carried along by the flow of her thoughts. Then, as if she recalled something long lost in memory, she exclaimed… “He was there at the same time! It was dark, I was frightened, but I remember… He was tugging on Ichiban’s shirt sleeve…”

“Perhaps he fought with them,” said Sung Ji.

“No…not fighting…just pulling on his sleeve…as if prompting him to leave.” Silence slumped as if physically drained. “I’ve been trying for years to remember that night.”

“You’ve never asked Sensei Hawk about the incident?”

“Only once.” said Silence… “Long ago. He said it was in the past and the past no longer existed. He said I must forget the past, and was never to speak of that night.”

“Long ago…” repeated the samurai. “I think it’s time you ask him again.”

Submitted: August 29, 2019

© Copyright 2020 C Wm Bird. All rights reserved.


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