Second Daughter, pt. viii

Kaori wakes up surrounded by a long-form poem. The sheets of abandoned verses, some half-written, shift and slide off the bed of rumpled sheets. Yesterday’s clothes mirror the paper as a result of being slept in. She reads through most of what she has written, and finds much of it distasteful. It is too emotional, too direct. The subtlety of her work is gone, and replaced with a vicious knife-edge of anger and betrayal. She uses much of it to stoke the fire in her room, shivering from the cold. The first verse she puts back on her desk. Kaori pulls the bell-string by her bed and a servant kneels by the door, “Yes, mistress?”

“A bath, please.”

“Yes, mistress.” The servant scampers off to retrieve the washing basin, and Kaori sheds the clothes from yesterday as though that will let her shed the events that have happened. Now that she is not blinded by her emotions, she can more accurately direct her anger, focus it into something workable, a piece that is emotional, while still being indirect, subtle. Kaori considers verses while bathing.

White lantern shifting, rippling
black waters casting shadows.

She likes the sound of the second line, but it doesn’t mean anything. Perhaps lightning, instead of shadows?

Oriole singing,
pure white blossoms surround her;
etched in rose wood.

When she has dried off, Kaori adds these verses to the one from last night. If she must begin her life anew, she will begin her poem anew. Now that she knows what is to come, she can be prepared. The servant kneels by the door.

“Mistress? Your mother, she requests your presence for breakfast.”

Kaori nods, and leaves her room. Her mother is already seated at the table. The scent of a jasmine and peach tea comes from the teapot.

“Mother.” Kaori sits down. She does not see her mother’s sadness, it is gone quickly and gracefully in the flourish of a fan.

“Kaori, I apologize for the abruptness of the news I delivered last night. I see that it has upset you. Just know that it is happening, and that I will not bother you with it again until I believe I have found someone suitable.” The muscles in her mother’s face tense into a concerned smile, breaking the mirror-glass mask. “You have every right to disagree with whomever I find in the hopes of finding someone better, Kaori. I can only present to you what I believe will be a loving husband, you must walk into his arms yourself.”

Kaori brings up her fan to cover her face. She is still angry, and will not let her mother see how her words affect her. She brings the fan down and focuses on tea and breakfast. “Thank you, Mother. Is there anything specific for today?”

Kaori’s mother sighs and begins preparing her own plate. “I had thought we could work on your new clothes. The shop brought the cloth over late last night, but you grow so quickly… I will need to take new measurements. We can sew them up together.”

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