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Plums and Cherries Chapter Two - The Hope Of a Girl

Some things go unseen ... others are forgotten, escaping from mind and time ... such as memories, such as life. Such as love.

As the sun settled lowly over the hills, its orange rays streaking the purple sky, Chiyo took her place in the Nitta household, eating quietly as Hatsumomo spoke of her day at the tea houses. It seemed she was the most popular Geisha in all of Kyoto, and she looked it too. She turned her face towards the girl, smirking, as she began to speak of one of the patrons whom asked her to dance. It appeared that the geisha enjoyed attention, as Pumpkin and Chiyo listened to her every word.

Even with her bragging and boasting almost every hour that she was home, they enjoyed the stories. So many of them - and none of them included life inside of the Nitta house. Chiyo didn't mind that, as she had almost never left the place, only to run to the store for emergency groceries, or to hold the parasol for Hatsumomo until she reached the gate where she met up with her friend, Korin.

The warm room seemed to be bursting with life as the almost-twenty-something laughed loudly, shaking her head. She seemed very much like an Empress, with her pale make-up and long gowns. Chiyo did not feel jealous of her, much more in awe, though she kept her thoughts to herself and her eyes on the ground. The woman also had a temper. She had learned this from when she had served her rice that was slightly underdone and Hatsumomo threw the black bowl at her, which missed and shattered against the wall. Anything could set her off, and it was easy to step on toes in this household.

Turning her eyes towards Pumpkin, the young girl felt like it should be right if only they were able to stay together. She had heard talk of moving Pumpkin to Hatsumomo's room as an apprentice, and this made them anxious. What would it be like, living with the girl? In the same household, it was almost impossible. But the same room? And after the eldest Geisha had lost her temper after Chiyo had been ordered to clean her room, what would she do? No chattering as one cleaned and the other practiced shamisen.

Perhaps tomorrow would come earlier and Chiyo could slip away, to her sister Satsu, and head out back towards her home by the sea. But looking around the room at the women, as only women lived here, it seemed impossible. No one was allowed to leave unless instructed. Pumpkin, Auntie, Mother and Hatsumomo. Grandmother was upstairs in bed. How could she escape from this place?

No, no. She wouldn't. She needed to stay here. For Pumpkin, possibly. But mostly for the Chairman. She wanted to see him - she needed to. His kind eyes and soft smile made her heart flutter. It was like a dream. An impossible one, so vivid and real that it tore her heart. It was like a nightmare as well. Could she not have him? She was only ... Chiyo counted her years mentally, as she had nearly forgotten in the fuss of the house. How old was she? Fourteen? Almost. It seemed like she was so much older, running errands and cleaning. Scrubbing the floors, sweeping the rooms and sewing collars. All of it just to meet a single man years older than her.

Looking back down at her rice, Chiyo felt a feeling bubble inside of her. It was not hatred, as she had felt towards Mr. Tanaka as he sold her and sent her on the train, and it was not fear that she felt the first night she was taken from home. It was something else, something stronger ... Hope? Was that it? Had she ever felt it before? It was almost strange, feeling her stomach churn and her heart beat faster. Yes, she believed it was hope. Hope for what, though?

Hope for her sister, that she'd get away from that .. place. And hope for Pumpkin, that she would find peace in living with Hatsumomo. And hope that she, herself, would grow to become a Geisha. And hope that one day, even for a single second, she would meet that handsome man with the kind smile and laughing eyes. The one on the bridge that gave her the cherry ice and handkerchief. The one whom was escorted by two lovely women towards a play.

Hope that she, Chiyo Sakamoto, would meet, once again, Ken Iwamura.



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