Chapter 66: Sixty Six

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

Reads: 19

We enter the Temple, practice going full tilt, Nikko and I change to uniforms, Janah has business matters to catch up on. Students wave, talk later, practice now.
Soon, Nikko is sparring with Disciple Jin, I’m doing gung fu forms, Amaya sits on Sung’s favorite bench, eyes wide, long legs crossed, cute funky sneakers and bangle bracelets. From busy Manhattan streets to a different country in a different time. One group is lined up attacking a master, who is pitching them to the ground one by one. Another group of students follow me in the Praying Mantis, then Snake, there are over seventy styles in Shaolin, which I think rather overkill. I’d learned them, but when the fight starts in the street, style doesn’t cut it. The street doesn’t give you the courtesy of style. Nikko and I use style-less battle with each other to approximate reality. Practice is nearing the close, it will be an hour before evening meditation.
Disciple Jin, “Could you and Master Murakami give us a demonstration of practical fighting?”
I turn to Nikko, she has one corner of her mouth raised a millimeter, I presume that means yes.
The monks gather in a large circle, Nikko and I square off in the middle. Amaya stands on the bench, she isn’t about to miss anything.
Nikko comes in a half feint, I don’t move, I leap in the air and sail a foot over the top of her head. I didn’t go for a strike, which she would only dodge, I’m going for the follow through. Landing, I keep spinning, my left foot had sailed over her head, now my right sails through her ankles. When she jumps, as I’d anticipated, I catch her in the gut with my left foot and send her sailing backwards to the dirt. I roll forward, my heel comes down, the objective of which is to hit her shoulder or chest. It almost works.
She flips to her stomach, shoots out a long leg and catches my jaw with her heel. I twist my head quickly, the blow glances off, but I feel it. We leap up and face each other. Nikko doesn’t circle or hesitate, she comes with punches and kicks to my ribs and abdomen. I take it like a woman, a woman with years of qi training. Nikko’s hard fists bounce uselessly off my torso, I grab her wrist and with a sharp twist, flip her to her side, then aim my knee at her ribs. Unfortunately, when the kick lands, I’m on one leg. Devious Japanese takes full advantage, and despite her pain, her leg snaps out and gets me behind the ankle, I’m on the ground again, hard.
Nikko lunges for me, I plant my foot in her gut and sail her over my head. The irritating samurai lands on her feet.
I jump, face her, just in time for my jaw to meet her bony fist. I grab her wrist and elbow and sweep a foot, put her down again. She crescent kicks me, hits my shoulder, her hard heel will leave a lovely bruise and a painful knot. Ah, now this is living in the moment.
I split her lip with a back fist, “Enough. They got their money’s worth.”
Nikko dabs her lip, “Agreed.”
There is loud applause, we bow and head to our room, our original quarters. Amaya follows us.
“You lived here?”
“For several years, we still stay here sometimes.”
Amaya looks around at not much, “Not exactly your apartment.”
“Am I to assume the Shaolin life doesn’t appeal?”
“Not if it involves me leaving my bedroom for this.”
I laugh, “One question answered, I’ll take you off the waiting list.”
 After a shower and change into street clothes, we meet Janah in the courtyard, “I see you couldn’t resist.”
“Disciple Jin asked us to give a short demonstration.”
“Good thing he didn’t ask for a long one. Let’s go home, I’ve got my work cut out for me.”
We take a cab, Amaya’s had a long day, Nikko and I are stiff. Now we're on the mats, covered in liniment and gel packs. Janah calls Ning, David Li is on the roof with his father and Miyako. Janah orders from Marconi’s and takes Amaya to the roof, she’s covered in kisses by Miyako, and even gets a brief hug from the reticent David Li.
Birds are everywhere, Miyako hopping around the parkour course, Amaya tries the balance beam, and makes a few leaps to the closer cans of concrete and eventually the ladder. Miyako is walking around the narrow edges of the wall that surround the roof.
Amaya, “Miyako, do not fall!!” Miyako laughs and front flips off the wall, sticks it .
Amaya, “After what I saw in the Shaolin temple today, I think I have landed in a dream.”
Chan, “Everything is a dream, a dream of Amaya.”
“What does your father mean?”
Miyako, “That’s one you can ask Aunt Janah. She will first ask you to think about it, and will not supply an easy answer. When you have thought about it, then she will talk it over with you.”
Chan brings the girls downstairs, David is still catching up with his friends, and the barn owl has flown in, which means Aunt Daphne would be here in a minute.
I pass them on the stairs, “Dinner is ready, Italian. Chow down and enjoy a movie or play a game. Soon it will be time for everyone to rest.”
I hug Chan quickly, “Owl needs to talk, see you later.”
Chan says his usual nothing, I hear Miyako screech when she sees Nikko. “What have you been doing….fighting with Aunt Daphne again! Bad girls, always fight.”
She says to Amaya, “They are always doing this. Did you see?”
Amaya, “Yes, at the temple. They were asked to demonstrate.”
Miyako, “They would have done it anyway. It’s a demonstration of their love.”
Amaya, “Something else for Janah to explain?’
Miyako, “Yes, eat now, don’t talk. I ate already, but may I have a manicotti anyway, please?’
Janah spoons one onto a plate, sets it in front of her, “There’s cannelloni for dessert.”
Miyako, “Yay! Aunt Daphne said we could watch TV for as long as we wanted.”
Janah giggles, “Aunt Daphne said you could watch TV for a little while, then bed.” Miyako says to Amaya, “It’s impossible to tell a lie around here. Don’t bother, pure waste of time.”
“That part I have caught on to. It does not matter, I am tired. And I have lessons tomorrow, math, science, and yoga.”
When I return, the girls are already half asleep on the mat. Chan knocks, he picks up Miyako and takes her to their apartment. Before Amaya goes dead out, Nikko gets her up, tooth brushed and bathroom necessities. Then, with no complaint, she lets herself be tucked in, Nikko kisses her soft cheek, strokes her hair, she’s asleep before Nikko hits the light.
Janah gels us up again, and another coat of liniment. Nikko and I frozen and warmed while we spoon together with Janah and watch an episode of Justified. Soon as it finishes we are sweet dreaming. I’d give Janah details of my chat with the owl tomorrow. Our busy lives are about to get busier.

Submitted: January 24, 2023

© Copyright 2023 Daphne Sylk. All rights reserved.


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