Brothers of Battle
Author's note: I decided to write this after seeing a photo. It was a photo of a man in a man in uniform crying... Show full author's note »
War CallPeople hollered and hooted while drinking sake on the house. A geisha in a blue kimono and delicate face saw Kazuma's intense expression " I see that you don't much care for politics either Kazu- chan. I listen to men talk about it all night and it get's rather boring." She propped her shamisen on her lap and plucked away. He studied intently and asked " Do you play from your heart ?" She was taken aback from the question " I don't know " Kazuma was perplexed by this " How could you not know?" She crinkled her eyebrows " Sadly I never had the choice of which instrument I play." Somehow it looked as if Kazuma thought more deeply at this minor thing. As if it was life altering subject.
I turned to father “ Father what about Kazuma ? This is his party after all.” He took a swish of sake and said “ My dear son.. We all know that Kazuma will not make it far in life. Why celebrate such a meaningless victory when you are saving all of Japan.” For the first time in my life I hated my father. I wanted to spit at his feet for demeaning Kazuma again. I wanted to yell out that my father was a cruel bastard . Or to simply just leave and not be a part of this, but yet I did nothing. I wanted to disrespect father but I just couldn’t make myself do it..
The beautiful geisha with the shamisen swayed as she played a song for Kazuma. He watched and sang along to the kabuki song until she started giggling. “ What’s so funny Dokiume –san” She covered her mouth like what most geishas did while laughing and replied “ Ah it’s just that you have a good voice.. You are talented in many ways Kazu –chan” He blushed and for a second I thought maybe he would forget all about Mei Shobake. Right when I was thinking this Mei wrapped her arms around me like tentacles slyly whispering “ Come with me warrior I must tell you something.”
Either I was very naïve or stupid because following Mei would cause trouble right from the start ,but I couldn’t abruptly push her off me in front of everyone. She grabbed my sleeve and pulled me through the tea house to the back entrance. I kept as much distance as I could by leaning back , that didn’t stop the stares and snickers though. They knew who I was with .. It was late and the lanterns glowed as music faded away. “ Shobake –san why have you called me out here? If it is a subject that has to be hidden from the party I don’t want to be included.” Before I could say more she put her lips on mine. She smelled of cigarettes and the few seconds she kissed me felt like hours. I did not find any good qualities of this woman and certainly was not pleasured by what was happening. I shoved her away but tried once more. I ran out of patience and shouted “ Shobake san leave at once!” Mei’s face warped into something vicious like a snake. She hissed “ This is about Kazuma isn’t it!? He’s stopping you! I knew he had eyes for me but that shouldn’t matter!” How dare she bring Kazuma into this was my first thought.
“ I do not want you ! Find another man to smother Shobake san.” First her face was in pure rage but then something changed. She seemed calm and collected when she gave a small bow and apologized “ I’m greatly sorry Yokyashi –san.. I am ashamed of my actions and will respect your wishes by leaving .” It was obviously rehearsed and not sincere but at least she was going far away from me. As she turned she said “ Goodbye Yokyashi –san” and at that moment I saw a tiny lift and a gleam in her eyes.
My mind was on much bigger things to think twice of such a small thing. A upcoming war, family , and just trying to make it through the night.
When I entered the tea house people seemed unphased by my brief absence. I didn’t want to be here anymore.. With my father and poor brother and let alone Mei probably spreading nasty rumors.
I decided to sit at the head with Father and Dokiume –san until we departed . Maybe I could sleep with my eyes open. My head was so crowded with thoughts that I don’t remember much during these few hours. I can recall wondering where Kazuma was all this time but I thought he must have been entertaining guests.
By the end of the night most were drunk and onto other events or going home. Father agreed to just go home so I can get rest for more training. As I hazily exited the teahouse I saw Kazuma and right beside him Mei. She was walking him down the street arm in arm. I yelled “ We have to go home! You need to rest for your trip.” He never heard me because Mei laughed loudly with that evil gleam and wicked smile piercing me.
Father tugged my shoulder “ Let him on his way. He will learn his lesson .”
If there were to ever have a time in life that I could change it would be this moment. I have spent countless years thinking of how I could’ve stopped this , to only have more painful memories arise. If I knew how truly vile Mei was I would have shaken some sense into Kazuma and taken him home by force. My flash back was interrupted by Jake my seven year old grandchild. His small voice chimes “ Sofu! Sofu!! Do you think I could be a soldier like you!?” Next to him is his shy younger sister Rima pouting. I knew that face all too well. “ What is wrong sweet Rima ?” She looked at Jake and stuck her tongue out “ Jake said that being a vet was dumb!” Jake glared and yelled “That’s because it is dumb!” I couldn’t help but laugh “ Children do not fight. You have to do what you love. Don’t let people push you away from it and especially don’t shame others.” Jake crossed his arms “But we have no vets in the family!” I leaned down and patted his head “ It doesn’t mean she can’t be the first.”
If only I could have been wiser and told the same thing to Kazuma that I told Jake.
It was early in the morning and the sun was barely up. I was deep in sleep when I heard a large slam of the door. I sprang up to find Kazuma in our room near the drawers. His arms were shaking and his fist were clenched so tight his veins were popping. I had never seen Kazuma like this .. I always thought he never had it in him to act on his anger. I slowly walked to him “ Kazuma are you alright?” No response came from him but I noticed how much his kimono was in disarray. “What happened last night? Your kimono is dirty” He jerked violently and his face was what you see in a man who had lived a life of being beaten down and coul dn’t take anymore.
“ Mei told me everything!!! I never wanted to face it but I knew that you never respected me! That there was never a way I could ever be like you or father!! You think I’m pathetic and weak!”
His words stabbed me and I tried speaking “That isn’t true..”
“ Shut up! I’m not going to believe it again!! I’m going to prove to you and father of my honor !” Father rushed in and yelled in his deep voice “ Kazuma why are you harassing Miyago!?” Kazuma froze and looked like he was going to implode. Through gritted teeth he said “ Father this is the last time I want to ever see you. I will be on my way when I am finished packing.”
Father grunted “ Grab what you need and go. I don’t allow strangers in the house.” I stood in silence.. Kazuma couldn’t hide the pain when a tear dropped down his cheek. He stared at my face and looked like how he did as a sad child with those melon eyes welling up. The house felt as if a cold wind blew it over as the tatami floor creaked under Kazuma’s swift gate. He only grabbed what he could carry and rushed out the door. I saw him stumbled further down the dirt road along the marsh till he disappeared over the hill. Father went back to sleep peacefully and sat in my room checking the window for any sign of Kazuma returning.
I knew he wasn’t coming back … when I found his flute in the dirt..