Posts Tagged anger

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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Second Daughter, pt. vii

“I do so love Auntie’s tea, and it is is good she has much in common with her husband.”

“One day I hope you as well have something in common with your husband.”

Kaori pauses, picks up her tea, drinks. “Is that day soon, Mother?” She hopes the jest is well received.

“I have spoken to the Matchmaker, yes. The same one that found your Uncle, even. You are old enough, experienced enough in the ways of a household, I think it is time that you made someone a lovely wife.”

She sets the cup down. “Oh…” She looks at what little tea is left, overwhelmed by the thought of leaving her household and knowing she has no power to contest this decision. Her eyes shimmer in the candle light, but she notices her cup is almost empty and her mother’s is. “More tea, Mother?”

“Please.” Kaori’s mother waits until she is done pouring, until the tears spill down her face. Her voice is gentle. “I will not let you be married to a bad man, my lovely daughter. It will be hard away from the house, but there are always letters, and festivals and visiting. Soon you will have a family of your own to raise with your husband-to-be. It will get easier my lovely little bird.” Uncharacteristically, Kaori’s mother reaches across the table and holds her daughter’s hand.

Kaori does not know what to think. She has come to love this house, her place in it, helping her mother with the house, serving her father, his rare but extremely rewarding affection. She will miss most his wit and guidance, his insight into the world around him that she has mined so often for her own work. She will miss her mother’s direct instruction; Kaori panics for a moment. She is suddenly incapable of leading a household. What if she forgets something? Even now she can feel everything her mother has taught her slipping out of her mind like tea from a spilled cup. Even now the image is retained for poems. She feels her mother’s hand and looks up at her. The sadness turns to anger. She pulls her hand back, focusing rage to force tears into stop. Kaori sits rigid.

“May I be excused? I have some work to do on a long poem before bed.”

Her mother pulls back, looking down at her tea cup. It is her turn for her eyes to shimmer, briefly, before her face composes itself into a mask she never thought to use with her children. “Of course. I will finish the tea.”

Kaori leaves the sitting room, she does not see the hallway, the lights, the other rooms. She sees the desk in front of her when she finally reaches it, and the cherry tree outside. She uses her tears to grind the ink, though she knows it is bad for the brush, she does not grind much, enough for a first verse.

Small cups fall from hands
fire and water poorly mixed.
Tea spills on long grains.

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