Here’s a piece I wrote in ’06. I wanted to attempt to do a Japanese horror story, mainly because they were really popular with my friends at the time and I was having a lot of nightmares from watching so many scary movies. It’s probably not very authentic, but I think the key elements are there.
Also, if you like this, you should check out my story The Pythagoras Syndrome over at Jukepop Serials. It’s updated every other Wednesday and is probably much better ^_^
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Long ago, in far away Japan, there lived a beautiful woman. Her name was Kumiko Yamada and the people of her tiny village swore that she was the most perfect woman in all of the world. Her hair was black as ebony and as fine as the silk the Emperor wore. Though her complexion could have been paler, her skin was delicate and smooth and her eyes were deep, deep like the night sky. Her family was poor, but her beauty and fame brought them much honor and many men, asking for her hand in marriage. However, she had love for one man and one man alone, Akio Hashimoto, a fisherman who lived at the edge of the village. Every time her mother sent her to the fish market, Kumiko and Akio would exchange messages, confirming their love for each other. Kumiko would write their words of love, Ai Shiteiru, in the sawdust that coated the counter of Akio’s stall, and he would hum a song as he packed her fish, smiling as he wiped her message away. It had to be kept a secret. Kumiko’s parents had seen what opportunities their daughter’s beauty could and barred her from accepting the proposals of the poor boys of the village; surely their blessed child could do better for her family.
Day after day, new suitors came to the village to barter for the right to marry the most beautiful woman in the world, but Kumiko, consumed with love for Akio, couldn’t see any of them as more than a bother, though she was polite and smiled at them, inside, all she wanted was for them to leave her well enough alone. Her parents reminded her that it was her duty to the family to marry a successful man and birth heirs to his name. Each day they went to the shrine where their ancestors resided and prayed for a famous, rich husband for their daughter. They called upon and prayed to every spirit they could think of, hoping for luck and success to come of the marriage. The only thing Kumiko prayed for was to be married to Akio, to give him sons and maybe a daughter. But the gods did not seem to hear her over the rest of her family, for one day, they sent an old Samurai to the Yamada’s door.
Takahashi Amano was an older gentleman, a samurai of some regard, who had lost his wife years and years ago and had yet to take another. He had never had the heart to search for another woman to share his house, but now the need was becoming dire; his first wife had not given him a son to carry on his family honor. Without an heir, his family’s history would come to a sad, quiet end with him. When he heard tell of Kumiko from one of his servants, Amano-sama had been skeptical. No woman had struck him as particularly unique since his wife had passed on. How could this woman be any different than the others? But when he began to hear more and more about “the most beautiful woman in the world” from not only servants, but friends, the elderly samurai began to wonder. It didn’t take him long to decide to journey to Kumiko’s tiny village by the sea. The Yamadas could not believe their good fortune; they’d never expected anyone like a samurai to show interest in their daughter. They welcomed him into their house immediately, bowing and bowing. “You honor our humble house, Amano-sama,” they said while they served him their best tea in their modest sitting room.
Amano-sama smiled politely, though their tatami mats were dirty and worn and their tea was weak and watery. A breeze came through tiny rips in their rice screens, which obviously hadn’t been repaired for years. It was hard for Amano-sama to imagine how anyone could live this way, it was terrible. He was about to leave, when Kumiko came home from the market. Even though she was dirty and smelled of the disgusting village, her beauty was so great that it shown through the grime. All thoughts of changing his mind disappeared completely. He turned toward Mr. Yamada. “Your daughter is… not ugly. I suppose I could do you the honor of marrying her.”
“Thank you, Amano-sama, thank you! You will not regret choosing our daughter for your bride!” Kumiko smiled politely and nodded to him, trying to look as calmly happy as her parents, but inside, her heart was breaking.
That night she snuck from her house and went down to the sea-shanties where Akio lived. He sat outside on the big rock jutting out of the beach, repairing a net. When he saw how upset she was, he forgot all about the net. “What’s wrong, Kumi?” he asked, letting it drop to the sand. She threw her arms around him and began to cry, which was particularly startling. “What’s happened?! What’s going on?!” When she told him, he cried a little bit too. Amano-sama and Kumiko were married later that month. The entire village turned out to watch the festivities, all but Akio, who sat on his rock and stared out to sea, repairing his nets.