Archive for June 10th, 2016

Second Daughter, 12

Hideki’s garden. Past the walls of his house, which is also the government compound, it is the first thing you see. Previously Kaori just assumed that Hideki was simply more attentive to his plants than others. Her father also chose the layout almost a year in advance, which plants would go where, the arrangement of furniture, everything with an eye towards harmony and balance. She had previously half-listened to the principals, but the thought of such strenuous organization had dulled her, and seeing his daughter’s lack of interest, Huiren had not pressed the issue.
Now, knowing the ability of Hideki to bring admirers in the winter, even though it was past the first snow melt, brings her pause in the gateway. She looks around at the curving pathways, snaking through winter greens that were actually a very dark teal, brown woods and bark wet and almost black, around bright red winter flowers and purple-leafed vegetables. All more brilliant against the background of white, powdery snow packed into gullies away from the leafy sections. Archways, carefully covered by wintering vines, segment the garden, that they eye might only be required to take in a little a time. From the gateway, Kaori sees the various segments, each one a different path into the house. Weili has walked forwards a few steps as Kaori takes it in, and realizing she is not following he stops.
“Are you all—” Seeing her expression he does not need to finish his question; instead he grips one hand with the other and stands waiting.
Kaori takes a single step forward. She continuous tracing the path of least visual resistance, following the curve of stone and green arch, gully and fern, plant, decoration and yes, even furniture as she spies the stool hidden near the entrance. Curious she sits in it, and the very scenery suggests something different. In the hiding and revealing of itself, of different accent pieces in how the garden is arranged, Hensei has established a story, and even in this stool, where through one archway a riot of reds across the path from a flood of winter-flower whites, while through the other two simple scenes of almost-black and white, the story tells itself. Perhaps just as stunningly, the layout of the garden allows for easy maintenance as well, the gullies of snow watering and wetting the soils as it melts, the excess funneling into water features; or so Kaori presumes from the gurgling of a brook in the background. She moves off the stool and peers through the archways at the other paths.
In the first a few clusters of stately pink-purple flowers grow, slightly smaller than the one which stands down the path from them, upright and bearing a single flower on its stem in brilliant white against petals of a light green. The path curves out of sight and Kaori moves to the next one, where through the arch are seen pairs of like flowers of different varieties. All throughout Weili waits, the servant who went to inform Hensei of his company returns looking curious. Weili waves him away as Kaori moves to the third archway, then follows her through it. His larger stride crossing the distance quickly, then slowing down as Kaori takes in the vista within.
Highly segregated in the beginning, as the two of them walk through the twists of the path and its gullies, some wild growth from ferns and pollination of the flowers themselves has led to two a less divisive spread as they continue. In some red and white exists on the same side of the path, with one side larger than the other. In other sections a few white flowers stand taller than the mass of red, undone by the closeness of the reds competing for too-scarce resources, where the spread of the white flowers has given them the advantage for growth. The end of the path, a small courtyard with a fire pit, low table and seating, is surrounded with pink flowers. Kaori sinks into one of the cushions as Hensei approaches from inside the house, carrying a tea set.
“Welcome.” He bows to Weili and Kaori, sets three places at the table and sits. Weili follows suit, and Hensei addresses him.
“Your father decided not to come?”
“On the contrary, my father was pulled away by one of our tenants en route here. The snowmelt and mud has caused some problems for their fields, so he wishes father’s leniency with the taxes for the growing season.”
“I’m certain there is enough time left for them to adjust. Your Father is too nice sometimes.”
Weili smiles quickly into his teacup, glancing over at the flowers, and then Kaori before looking back at Hensei.


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