Short Stories →

Plum blossoms

August 28, 2023

I stand in silence, listening to the moving leaves above me. A shower of plum blossom petals dance in the early morning breeze.

I wait, without moving, in the middle of the road. Like the strings of a finely tuned shamisen, my body rests in perfect balance, neither too loose, nor too tight.

They move closer, knowing I can’t see them. A crescent starts to form around me, slowly turning into a perfectly closed circle. Their breath is soft and shallow, their feet thread lightly over the fallen leaves, imitating their rustling in the breeze.

I stand in silence, listening… my hand resting on my simple wooden cane. The shower of plum blossoms stirs, ever so gently.

The first blade stops as it meets my drawn katana, my wakisashi swiftly slices trough something warm and soft.

Rage runs trough me, its fire burning trough my veins. I let a second swift katana slice the empty air where I am no more. My own blade flies from groin to shoulder of my invisible enemy.

I let the rage burn brightly, turning into ashes. Beyond it I find crystal clarity of my four remaining senses. Two blades meet above my head as my katana draws a circle near the ground, cleanly slicing trough four sticks of flesh and bone.

I feel the air being swiftly cut and step aside, almost too late. A thin line of fire burns into my cheek. This one’s good.

I stand in silence, listening… He knows how to breathe in rhythm with the breeze. He cloaks his footsteps under the bubbling of the nearby stream. He moves slowly, with the wind.

I lower my blade, and become motionless. The plum blossoms dance gently all around me. I stop fighting… I stop moving… I stop feeling. I become a single plum-tree, firmly planted on the middle of the road.

A quiet thump… I stop breathing.

A second, slightly louder, thump… I stop thinking.

A soft and rhythmic beating of a distant drum, slowly getting louder. I stop being.

Without being, without thinking, without feeling, my hand moves to where it has to… The beating stops.

Slowly, I pull the blade from the cleanly sliced heart.

The rage had turned to dust, scattered by the wind… I am alone.

I clean my blade, and return it to its resting place within my simple walking stick.

The plum blossoms keep falling all around me, dancing in the cool and gentle breeze. They must be beautiful, I sometimes wish that I could see them.

The stream sings cheerfully, crashing and flowing down towards the valley.

I walk with it.

The rage is gone.

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