VSS - 2022-03

Tweeted story snippets using vssCollab and at least one of #BraveWrite and #FlexVSS prompts.  

Matsuo

  (continued from: VSS - 2022-02 Matsuo's story.)   1 - My dad shook as he spoke. “I thought I’d hit a stroke of luck when we came to Japan—that she wouldn’t pursue me so far. But her hunt continues and her tendrils in my life continue twining, choking me, even across the sea.”   2 A knock at the door makes us both jump. Outside a silky voice coos, “You didn’t mask your scent.” My father’s hushed voice turns staccato as he grabs a charm to slap it on the door. “Go upstairs.” But I’m stuck to the spot.   3 Frozen, I watched as our cat arched its back and hissed. A shimmering wave from the talisman washed over us. Everything around us became more vivid and crisp. Pale as a ghost, Dad said, “Now we enter the fray.”   4 “I’ve avoided her for four years. Then suddenly, she pops up in the middle of nowhere in Japan. How did she track me? I even gave up my Korean name, for the sake of fitting in here and to hide from that damn gumiho.”   5 ”We have one advantage. We’ve warded the house. She can’t get in.” Outside, the gumiho shrieked and snarled as she scratched and beat at our entry. In the morning, we found the gunmetal grey door marred with claw marks.   6 In front of the door, I sat mesmerized by the proof she’d been there, that she’d been real. What was it that made me wish I could have seen her? It wasn’t logical. Not at all. The detritus of her aftermath littered the street.   7 Dad covered the rainbow shaped swath gouged into the doorframe with an ofuda. “We won’t be like ants to her. From today forward, none of our household goes anywhere alone or without a talisman. The local priest gave us a supply of them.”   8 That incident was a watermark on my life. I wanted to know what drove her, or any yokai or dokkaebi. To this day, I cannot believe she was the only one we crossed paths with. How did they hide among us?   9 I’d thought the whole situation behind us until a Friday afternoon last year, when a fox transformed in front of my friends and I. The suffocating hollowness returned in a flash and I scrambled backward right into the wall.   10 She didn’t heckle or attack. She just gave a pithy explanation for hiding among us. But what blew me away, is she even provided a stack of talismans against yokai, like her.   11 A soothsayer told Dad I’d meet a fox spirit one day, so he warned me often to avoid them. It only made me more curious. With today’s meeting, I’d have to dance around the truth.   12 But this kitsune before me wasn’t a superstition. She was flesh and blood, a pillar of the community, and known for her kindness. Was she different enough from the gumiho that had chased Dad, that he’d understand?   13 Even though I’d grown up around of the fox, disguised as an old woman that I respected, I was still the proverbial rabbit frozen in place. She was so much more than the helpless image she portrayed and it explained her loud opinions.

 

Nakamura's Purpose

1 - Not long after my husband passed, I questioned fortune’s cruelty in giving humans such brief lives. I wandered, lacking any purpose, and found myself at the beach. Wading in to the waves, I let the sea-foam swirl over my feet.   2 - Dawn’s rays mirrored in Tokyo Bay’s calm surface. Had I been reduced to a shell, a mere droid? Was there anything I could find meaning in again?   3 - The simple rhythm of the sea was a balm for my black, bleak soul.   When I wandered into town, the back of my neck prickled. Someone had the gall to stare as I shuffled by? A tanuki, in human form, greeted me with a saucy grin.   4 - I wasn’t cross, though, as he invited me to try English style tea, which was all the rage.   The alchemy gone wrong of what used to be perfectly good tea leaves turned into this milky disaster made it hard to mask my expression.   5 - He gave a good-natured chuckle at my reaction before saying, “But to the point. How do you feel about ladder climbers and those who upstage others. I have a reason for asking.”   6 - Society expected me to refrain from marching in with a strong opinion, but I paid it no heed. “This generation focuses on fortune. Fussing about its waxing and waning. What happened to honor?”   The tanuki nodded crisply.   7 - As if in thought, he flipped a *coin between his fingers. “I can’t *begrudge you the importance of honor. And what about loyalty?”   “They go hand in hand.”   “Should superiors always be obeyed?”   My hackles raised. “Not necessarily.”   8 - He slapped the coin on the table. “You don’t put up with shenanigans, do you?”   “Where are you going with this conversation?” I asked.   “I’m a veteran of a secret organization. It wasn’t a fluke you came up on my radar.”   9 - As if I’d believe such nonsense! Salty replies poised ready for a takeoff from my sharp tongue. But a memory flash of the white fox who visited me when I was small kept me crossing myself off from the tanuki’s potential invitation.   10 - This tanuki wasn’t the visitor I’d waited decades for. Raising my umbrella as I stood signaled the end of our conversation.   ”Your bravery is what Yoshiro-sama said to look for.”   My breath hitched. THE white fox spoke to him?   11 - Obediently, I plopped into the seat to listen. My fingers tightened around the umbrella handle so hard that it drove my knuckles to pop.   ”I wondered if that would get your attention. He spoke highly of you.” The tanuki winked.   12 - The umbrella’s wood handle splintered under my grip. Would I finally be called to train under Soujoubou? Why wasn’t Yoshirou-san here? He’d said he’d be the one to visit me with the news of when I’d be called.   13 - The tanuki’s expression turned grave as he flicked his fingers. A faint blue glow flashed—the only sign of the privacy spell. “I will be open with you. A kitsune would not be my first choice to replace me in the League of Guardians.”   14 - My eye twitched. Tanuki weren’t my favorite yokai either. But I wasn’t so green I’d lash out and doused my expression. His words were blunt and effective. The unique brand of honesty intrigued me.

 

Sweet Romance - Kitsune

1 - I stretched in the morning sun, to only find a pillow beside me. The chilly lack of his presence in his bed made my heart sink. But he left symbols of his devotion—a note, larkspur from his garden, and my favorite coffee.   2 - Venturing into the garden, I searched through the shamrock to find a four-leaf clover and pressed it into my return note. ‘Acushla—Darling, I’m lucky to have you.’   3 - When he returned, we walked downtown gallivanting from shop to shop, following our whims. All that mattered was being together. I basked in his presence, soaking it up like a starfish needs the sea.   4 - He blessed each day of our courtship with some thoughtful deed. How could I reciprocate? Should I send notes in his lunch box? Provide a back rub when he returned from work?

These Very Short Stories (VSS) posted on Twitter relate to my book series the Liminal Chronicles.   The newest ones are at the bottom. So start at the top. Click here to read the newest vss.
 
What is #VSS365? Fun daily prompts for tiny stories that fit in tweets. The bolded word is the prompt of the day.
   


Cover image: by Odette.A.Bach (Art), AWV (text)

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