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Machiko's Story

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It is said that we, humans, are born selfish creatures. We are born into this world alone and we depart it alone. We are born with a ceaseless feeling of emptiness in our hearts. So, we spend most of our lives trying to fill that hole. And as time progresses and the hole begins filling, we become selfish in our want for more. We succumb to greed for more and envy towards those with more than us. We do so much work and become so corrupt in the process only to have everything we worked for ripped out from under us, our hole empty again. Pure creatures born incomplete strive to be whole only to be tainted and remain a fragment of what we are supposed to be.

This thought holds true to most, but not I. No, I was born complete, unlike the rest. The reason I was born complete was not because of some miracle. No, I was simply born whole, I never had a piece of me missing, never. The part most people lack was always with me. That part of me lived with me inside the womb for nearly a year, until the first breath was taken. I was born with a companion.
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As a child I never enjoyed being confined, trapped, within the demon-like house I called home. So, instead, I rather enjoyed sneaking out into the garden, past the large Sakura trees, and past the bamboo forest. Farther then the flowers of lilies and roses winding down the hill like a snake on the prowl. I moved quickly and silently down this path made only for the use of the Main house. Past the Yasuo River and across the bridge and into the hanamachi to meet Mother for afternoon tea.

The hanamachi here in Kurada was my second home. The home I fled to when the evil witch in the demon house whapped me with a bamboo stick. The home I fled to when the witch’s dog ignored me when I tried to show him my cartwheel. The home I fled to when at night I cried in my sleep because all my dreams turned to nightmares. The home I fled to when I was displayed as a disease to the people that called me their family. The home I ran to, to see Mother and my other half.

As I ran across the bridge I began to slow my pace, taking in the sights and sounds of my home. Large buildings with steep slopping red colored roofs and dragons that dangled from the ledges, ready to gobble you up if you got to close. Streets made of cobble stone that made clacking noises whenever I stepped on them with my wooden sandals. And off in the distance I could just barely see another large sloping roof top, but this one was notably larger than the rest. Unlike the others, which were just teahouses and bathhouses, that particular building was the theater. I had never been there before but Mother had promised she would take me there when she preformed for the Spring festivities held there in April. The streets were filled with men dressed in what Mother calls “western” style suits. I saw many of the men followed by women in brightly colored kimono and faces painted the color of snow.

Though the crowds were big they were scattered all about the Main Plaza. I started walking forward into the alleyway leading to the plaza, for you see, the bridge I came from was supposed to be a secret, a small back area only walked by those who know of it. As I slip through the tiny path, not looking in front of me, I run straight into a man in foreign clothing. I rub my nose as I bumped it hard against something hard, maybe metal. After I am satisfied that my nose feels a little better due to the rubbing, I look up at the man.

The man had pale skin and hair the color of sunshine. Barely visible streaks of gray gave him away to be of an older age, but that was not the only thing. His face, sharp with edges and a mustache large and thick, was filled with creases and spots of brown. The lack of creases by the edges of his mouth tell me he is not a happy person. I have to look up at him with my head nearly tilted all the way back, he was a giant. On further inspection I see he is wearing one of those suits from the west. A dinged blue color with faded white strips going down it. I could tell his pants matched his coat but I was fixated upon the thing my nose had hit, a black belt with diamonds in it.

Now, at the time I could tell the man had money, that much was obvious. But my thought then was that my family had plenty of money to spare and yet we had no belts encrusted with diamonds. I knew I should not have but I did, I compared the man to my family, and instantly had a distaste for him.

“Are you all right, Miss?” the man asked in perfect Japanese.

I was still comparing him and making hollow opinions about him when he asked me. I barely had enough sense to say “Yes” and quickly dash away from him in the direction he had come from. As I ran I turned around to see that he was surrounded by at least ten painted faced ladies, some of which I knew. He was rich, and he had a taste for richly clothed women, just like the dog did, they were the same. I quickened my run and left the plaza feeling angry and exhausted.

When I turned down the street with my home on it I stopped my running. I walked through the street savoring everything about it, for I knew I would not be able to return for at least a month if the witch had her way. The fish store with a sign of a silver fish that always blew in the wind making creaking noises. The bathhouse filled with beautiful women bathing as young men looked through the straw fence trying to catch even the slightest sight of flesh. And the hairdresser in which more beautiful women went into then came out with hair styles that always reminded me of swans or flowers. As I walked past the hairdresser and the little side street leading to the school, I came to the residential area. I searched for the house with a gold swan on the fence indicating it was the Kururugi okiya, home. When I finally came to it, nearly ten houses down the street, I was overwhelmed with a sense of happiness.

I opened the gate and stood in the little courtyard leading to the main gate. I walked past the bushes of an unknown but familiar plant and past the wind chimes right to the door. I knew I should have just gone right in but instead I reached up on my tiptoes and grabbed the little strap hanging from inside a little wind chime. I rang the bell and soon I could hear the doors opening.
Standing in front of me was a tall woman with raven black hair and warm chocolate brown eyes and had the most beautiful face I’ve ever seen. She was pale in complexion and wore a beautiful silk kimono. The kimono was black and gold with patterns of beautifully stitched bamboo on it. The obi that was tied firmly around the woman’s waist matched perfectly with the kimono, gold and with patterns of black grass on it. The woman looked down at me and her faint smile spread across her face. Her perfectly made-up face, a snow white face with red lips that looked like tulips, which reminded me of the beautiful women I had seen in the plaza.

The woman bent down with the grace of a dancer and deftly moved her arms around my tiny neck, being careful not to mess up the makeup. She pulled back and smiled at me, warmth radiating from her. I smiled back and felt warm all over.

“Welcome home, Michiko,” the woman said in a soft whispery voice, “Machiko, has been waiting for you.”

“It’s good to be home, Mother. Where is Machiko?”

Mother got up from her kneeling position just as gracefully as she had the first time and gently took my small hand in her’s. She walked me into the small doorway and closed the sliding door softly. She walked me down the hallway to the small courtyard behind the house and reluctantly let go of my hand.

She placed her hand on my head and said, “Machiko is outside playing, join her.”

“But what about Mother?”

“I have to get to the Mizaki Tea House in about an hour so I must leave now, duty calls.” She sighed sadly. Mother knew I would understand that she had to leave, Mother was a geisha after all. She didn’t have time to play with me, but Machiko did.

We said our goodbyes and Mother exited the okiya along with a gray-robbed maid. I wave goodbye and stepped out onto the hallway that was near the courtyard. I briskly walked to the stairs leading down and slipped off my indoor shoes for some outdoor ones. I knew exactly where Machiko was so I didn’t hesitate to call her name. I went straight through the courtyard, filled with bushes of flowers and some weeds here and there, and turned toward the back of the house. As soon as I made my way to the back of the house I called her name.

“Machiko!”

Moments later a tiny body emerged from behind a large thicket and out came my other half. With a face exactly like mine and body just like me, it was as though I was looking in a mirror, this person was easily my twin. As soon as the mirror face turned my way it lit with ecstasy. Out from my mirror mouth was my voice, just slightly whispery and lacking self-confidence. Out came the words I loved to hear and the words I longed for when my days were rough.

“Sister!”

Machiko ran toward me and embraced me. I was home.





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