Once Upon a Time and Way Back Then
My recent Goldfish for Dinner #fridayflash which was inspired by a goldfish vase I saw on Antiques Roadshow has put me in the mood to start posting visual writing prompts using old photographs. To kick off my Wayback Wednesday I’ll start with this photo of Onsen geisha Matsuei.
Write a story, write a drabble, write a poem, write anything. If this inspires you drop me a link to your post in the comments, or send it to me on Twitter.
The Price of Beauty
I could hear the girls in the next room giggling. My heart pounded inside my bound robes. Tonight was the night I would become a woman. My flower had been purchased for a very high price. It was enough to pay back the house-mother, buy a strand of pearls and get me one step closer to being a kept woman with my own apartment.
My sister waltzed into the room, her oval eyes were riddled with worry. “Are you ready sister?”
She fitted a jeweled ornament into my lacquered hair. I averted my eyes. I did not want to tell her that giving myself to Shujan would not be difficult. Whenever we sat next to each other at the tea house he was always kind in thought and manner. His smooth voice made my heart race. I was fortunate the others did not out bid him.
“I think so.”
My sister brought her delicate fingers up to her mouth and hid her teeth while she laughed. “Tomorrow you can tell me all about it. I want to be prepared when my time comes.”
Her words stilled my heart. “Father would not like you to say such things.”
Her eyes flashed with anger. “Our poor father does not have the luxury to shame us. Afterall, he is the one who brought us here. “
I understood her anger, even felt it sometimes. But, being the older sister my memories reached further back than hers. To a happy time, when food was on the table and laughter filled the air. A time before mother was sick and death had reached our doorstep.
My sister fixed the collar of my robe. Her eyes glistened with tears. “Would mother have liked Shujan?”
I grabbed her hand, it was soft like flower petals. I often forgot she was too young to remember mother and too young to understand how heartbroken father was when she died.
“Yes, she would say he is a good man.”
She straightened her shoulders. “Then we must find such a man for me.”
I kissed her. My red lipstick marked her check. “We will, I promise.”
My sister’s small face leaned toward me; her voice was soft. “Sometimes at night, when the house is quiet, I can sense her watching over me while I sleep. “
“You are lucky dear sister. I have never had that feeling.”
She squeezed my hand. “Don’t worry older sister, I know she watches over you too.”
That night as I got into the carriage I looked up into my window. For a brief moment I thought I saw my mother smiling down at me. Her long, black hair hung loose about her shoulders, her palm rested again the glass. My mind was flooded with memories of the sound of her voice and the smell of her skin. I blinked and she was gone.
- Goldfish for Dinner #fridayflash #flashfiction #samplesunday (laradunning.wordpress.com)
- Existential Angst and the Prompt-Addicted Scrivener by Paula Tohline Calhoun
- I Would Understand by Paula Tohline Calhoun