jolantru: (chinese)
She found herself, armed with her digital camera, in the little wooded area
near her oba-san’s house, a tiny grove lush with bamboo, reed and a carpet of yellow
wood sorrel. To her citified senses (and because she grew up overseas in Singapore), the
yellow wood sorrel looked bigger and greener. They covered the grove, looking like tiny
green hearts.

Her oba-san had welcomed her with an open heart, greeting her
granddaughter warmly by plying her with food and tea. Her grandmother made yakata –
kimono – in the traditional style, doing it by hand. In her house stood bolt after bolt of
vivid fabric, material for yakata. Dignified ladies would visit her to inspect the material
and design their kimonos, before they wore them for auspicious occasions like festivals.
She was more than happy to show her granddaughter a proud tradition.

Admittedly, the first two weeks were boring and the girl wanted to go
back to Singapore. At least, it had more life than a rural village, more lights than
darkened skies and quiet fields. Then, as if knowing that her granddaughter was quietly
and desperately bored, her oba-san started to show her stuff. It was not just praying at
roadside shrines or placing offerings in the village temple; she began to regale her
granddaughter with stories, replete with samurai and princesses in brilliantly woven
kimonos. Over grilled mochi, she wove a world of myth and legend, of foxes who could
turn human.

“Kitsune?” The girl had asked, wide-eyed and suddenly curious. She only
knew about kitsune from the anime and manga she had consumed voraciously, like a lot
of the teenagers in Singapore.

“Oh,” her oba-san had an infectious smile on her rosy face, “they do
exist.” Lowering her voice, she leant towards the girl with a mysterious smile. “In fact,
they appear in the forest nearby. Be careful, because they can be cunning creatures.”
So, where are they? She thought as she walked amongst the yellow wood
sorrel, glad that she knew the names of the plants around her. She loved botany, probably
due to her father’s influence. Her father was gaijin, an English professor who taught in
one of Singapore’s universities. She particularly loved yellow wood sorrel.

The sun was bright today, golden light filtering through the bamboo
leaves. It was quiet, quite unlike Singapore’s hustle and bustle. She knelt down to caress
a cluster of the green heart-shaped leaves …

… only to feel a pair of eyes on her. Her back prickled and she could feel
the tiny hairs on her neck standing on end. She controlled herself, annoyed at her
reaction. So much for being a city girl!

She stood up bravely and turned around to face her watcher.
It was a fox. Orange-furred, black-tipped tail and black ‘socks’ for its
paws. It was not a very big fox. It was looking at her with bright black eyes.
It is only a fox, she tried hard not to think about kitsune and their wily
ways. A wild fox.

There was a sharp yip, coming from her right. The fox seemed to become
more alert, ears pricked up and poised to run. Another yip – and the fox darted back into
the reeds. There was a gentle rustling sound at its passage.

A wild fox, she told herself, walking out of the forest grove. They are
probably common.


She dreamt.

She knew she dreamt, because the colors were unusually vivid. She
always dreamt in color. This time, she was back in the little grove, walking amongst the
thick yellow wood sorrel. It felt extremely real; she could smell the forest around her:
rich with plant sap, earth-loam and water.

She gazed down and gasped. She was wearing a summer yakata. Light
green, intricately designed with stylized … heart-shaped leaves. Yellow wood sorrel,
tracing in patterns, curling at the sleeves, swirling around at the edges of the hemline. She
did not have to turn around to know that the obi was tied correctly, the way her oba-san
had shown her: a butterfly bow.

Self-consciously, she reached up and touched her hair, only to realize that
it was neatly arranged in a bun, fixed into place by an ornately carved hairpin.
A dream, she thought. And she knew she was dreaming. She started -
The fox stood in front of her.

It looked like the fox whom she saw in the real grove. Same eyes, ears and
orange body. Sleek and strangely beautiful.

There was a sigh of breeze and the fox disappeared. In its place stood a
fair-skinned girl, about her age. Wearing a crimson yakata, with golden sakura motifs
tastefully patterned on her sleeves. Her slim hands won black lace gloves.
Her eyes were the same fox eyes, curved upwards. Her ears were pointed,
accentuated somehow by waist-length straight jet-black hair.

The two eyed each other carefully. It was the fox-girl who broke the
silence; she started to laugh merrily. It was a cheerful sound, without hint of malice or
unkindness. Placing an immaculately gloved right hand on her lips, she stopped herself
and smiled at her human counterpart.

“Please forgive me,” she said in a soft voice, tinged with humor. “I must
have startled you twice today.”

Be careful of kitsune.

“I …” was her only response, stunned by the very human-ness of the foxgirl…

The fox-girl continued talking. “When you saw me earlier in the
afternoon, I was running away from my oba-san. She was very angry with me.”

“What happened?” She blurted out and was amazed by her own reply, as if
the fox-girl was one of her friends in school.

“Oh,” regret crossed the other flawless face of the fox-girl. “I argued with
her about traditions. She can be quite strict when it comes to customs among my people.”

“Sounds like my own oba-san,” she said, making a face. The two giggled,
bonded together by a shared experience.

The fox-girl asked her a lot of questions. About her facial features. Why
she came to Honshu. About her school.

“Do you have school?” She asked the kitsune who looked at her, an oddly
sad smile on her face.

“We don’t have school here in the village,” the fox-girl explained. “But
Oba-san makes sure we learn how to read and write. My cousins in Tokyo and Kyoto,
however, attend school.”

“How do they…?”

“The blood is thin in the cities and they blend in more easily than country
kitsune. Sometimes, I envy them.” There was a wry expression on her face. “I can only
talk to you in dreams whereas my cousins can talk to you face to face, without having to
change shape.”

“You see,” she continued, sitting down gracefully on a moss-covered
stone. “My oba-san is one of those elders who frown upon us interacting with humans.
So, I have resorted to dreams, just to communicate with humans. I do know that she
would scold me if she knows I am talking to you now.”

The human girl sat down next to the fox-girl, thinking about their
respective oba-sans. There was a delicate hint of lavender coming from the fox-girl’s
body, a soothing fragrance evoking images of running through fields of lavender and wild

“You have the right to be wary of my people though,” the fox-girl went
on, seemingly glad to have found someone to talk to. “We don’t exactly have good
reputations. The same goes for my tojin cousins.”

“I …” She did not know what to say. “I am sorry.”

The fox-girl glanced at her sharply, seemingly ascertain whether the
human girl was genuine or not.

There was a high-pitched yip in the distance. It sounded distinct and

“Eiiia,” the fox-girl shook her head. “That must be her.” She frowned
briefly, before leaning over to squeeze the hand of her human counterpart. “It has been
nice meeting and talking to you.”

With a flash of crimson brocade and gold-gilt sakuras, the fox-girl leapt up
and became the fox again, darting back into the bushes.

It was then she woke up snug in her blankets and looked blearily at the
rising sun.


Her oba-san was already hard at work, embroidering sakuras on a wide
sleeve, when she walked out from her room.

“Ohayo,” she greeted her grandmother who looked up with a smile.

“There is breakfast on the table,” the old lady said, pointing at the small
table where dishes lay covered with a basket lid.

The girl bowed and was about to go to the table when an idea hit her. She
grabbed her digital camera, scrolled to a picture that she’d taken in the grove and showed
it to her oba-san.

“Can you make a yakata for me?” She asked shyly. “With this pattern?”
Her oba-san gazed wonderingly at her. “What has come over you,

“I had a dream,” she smiled and spooned thick rice porridge into a bowl.

She raised her head up, just in time to see a slight form – a fox with black ‘socks’ –
running across the vegetable field.
jolantru: (phoenix)
It was the smell of steeped leaves that got my attention.
Read more... )
jolantru: (sing to the dawn)

Updated every Tuesday.

And please do read [profile] fantasyecho's story Between Islands!
jolantru: (phoenix)
jolantru: (sing to the dawn)
My mother's gift was a cedar chest. Intricately carved, with scenery from the homeland at the sides. The craftsman had etched my name, my personal name, on the lid: Peony, in the old script. Touching it brought back memories. Memories of my mother's own cedar chest.

The chest was tucked away in a corner of her bedroom. A solid presence, with its own secrets. My mother opened it one day and I peered inside, seeing her wedding gown still cling-wrapped, her wedding shoes, old jewelery faded ivory in color and a handful of mothballs. What caught my attention was the white fur pelt. My hand trembled when I stroked it.
Read more... )
jolantru: (sing to the dawn)
Inspired by this:


She heard them even before she saw the familiar shadow - so huge! - on the fields. It was the soft rustling of large leathery wings and the whistling of fur on an aerodynamic body. She left her spinning and ran towards the Quetz now making a graceful landing, wings spread wide to provide balance.
Read more... )
jolantru: (Default)
I started writing flash fiction on Fridays (Twitter hashtag - fridayflash). It is a discipline of sorts, honing my writing.

In descending order...

Dragon Rider.


Falling Leaves.



jolantru: (Default)

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