Saturday, August 09, 2008

Goggle Babble

I have plans for both of the short pieces I finished for the Summer Shorts Writing Challenge, so I'm reluctant to post them online. However, I have chunks of text from the first attempt to write the second story that I can share.

En viola, three dead darlings for you.

I

Sometimes he thinks globalization is just humans catching up with the rest of the world, or more honestly, human adults remembering what they’d forgotten from childhood. Differences have to be taught. Children aren’t born thinking to honor their emperor and expel the barbarians.

It’s a lesson harder to learn for some than others. Something he thought he understood, but couldn’t truly grasp until he came to this young country, with its patchwork quilt of cultures and its geography of displaced gods. Being expelled—becoming the barbarian with home scrubbed away—leaves his skin raw and waiting to be bandaged with labels of his choosing. It has been a long recovery, but he finally feels home at the edge of his perception, and finds himself more and more using the word to refer to this land and not the one of his birth.

This land, not that one, where monks from San Francisco claim they located the Center of the Universe.

II

Deadman’s Valley feels more like home to Shiro than his room in that rented bungalow in Rivers, because he knows the knoll for what it is—a temple in a land that has no official temples. Unlike his cousin’s shrine, so cleverly disguised as a coffeehouse, the Center of the Universe doesn’t discriminate. It pours blessings without knowing myobu is the name for the white foxes of Inari, or inquiring what indiscretion her favorite committed that would send him so far from Kyoto and the Fushimi clan.

Even if the valley did ask, Shiro knows it would accept his answer of “compassion” without judgment or comment, and its blessings would remain with him. He has searched for the guardian spirit who embodies its gracious heart, but he has yet to have the honor of an audience, so his gratitude remains unspoken.

All he knows is that guardian allows them to dance in her home once again—and tonight one of her people might finally join them.

III

As the story goes, it was a snowy November night that the first monk arrived in this valley—also dressed completely in white. If asked, Shiro won’t say that his current clothing choices are a nod to that man, an allusion to the journey for enlightenment and the willing servitude. Myobu are forbidden to lie to humans, even if the lie would make the myobu sound witty.

Besides, Shiro just likes white. It’s familiar, and it glows under the UV lights. There won't be any of those tonight, but the coat and the goggles are part of his Fey persona. They’ve become elements of his uniform. He’s still too Japanese to abandon the necessity of having one.

Shiro arrived in Rivers the same year the monks tried to acquire the Vidette Lake Resort and the knoll. He also can’t claim responsibility for their failure, but he’s almost certain the Fey can.

During the vernal equinox, as he felt his power waning, he wondered how things might have been different with the presence of monks in the area. Tibetan in their teachings, true, but maybe he would have earned a more scholarly disposition instead of falling in with humans and their alternative fashion quirks. Maybe he would feel ready to return to Kyoto and accept his sentence of marriage for the sake of the clans.

Maybe, but he hasn’t given up on the possibility of the impossible—that when he’s telling his mistress about Deadman’s Valley, he’ll look in her eyes and know he’s been in her heart all this time, too.

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