So Long, Fare Thee Well
My grandmother left in shades
of salt and pepper,
the shadows of crevices, deep
memories of bygones.
My friend waved on walls painted
with blood and matter,
hints of desperation, seeped
and gleaming no more.
My first love offered a gradient
of lethargic adieus,
pigmentation of false promises
and a glow that fades.
My swan song has not been cast
light is yet reflecting
values and undertones in complexion,
dyeing in degrees.
The crowd hushed when I entered. I drew up, as if on a string, straightening my back to show them my spine was not as weak as the circumstances that led me here might have them believe. The soft line of my jaw jutted out, a dare against their skepticism as the purity of my spotless white robes swirled around my ankles, defying them to speak.
To the right, my mother wept silent tears, her defeated shoulders begging my father for comfort. The refusal was evident in the hard set of his countenance, irises narrowed to pinpricks, waiting to see if I would fail at this too.
Before me lay a white mat. I almost laughed at how pristine it looked.
I parted the robe wide, wider than was necessary, as I kneeled, feeling audacious and unconcerned at the mob in front of me. Some, the men and few women ogled with appreciation and perhaps a bit of regret they would never have this opportunity again. The rest looked away, flushing with the awkwardness of their own impure thoughts or anger at my boldness.
The tantō that had been my grandmother’s lay in front of the mat. I picked it up with my right hand, testing its weight and balance. It would do.
From the folds of my robe, I produced a small scroll and set it down where the tantō had been. I kept my eyes on the blade, ignoring the hard cadence in my chest beating out a longing to seek my mother’s face, but I knew it would undo me.
I must be quick.
The blade pierced my left side. The sake I had consumed prior only grazed the pain, but I could not stop now. I had requested no kaishakunin be present—none would have volunteered to be my second anyway—so I must complete the ritual alone.
Forging my grip from the rock of ice in my soul, I forced the tantō through skin and muscle across my abdomen until viscera spilled, polluting the chaste white around me. I slumped, agony bleeding from my midsection, pouring out my misery for all to see. As if from a great distance, I heard my mother scream and my father’s hand silence her.
It would take some time, yet I did not wish for a quick end. I wanted them all to see what their ignorance and stupid societal rules had wrought. With more strength of will than of body, I twisted to the floor, my broken stomach open for all to see. I lay, eyes open, waiting.
Later, someone opened the scroll and posted it on the town’s main gate.
Death comes to us all
Disease, sword or accident
Mine came by my hand
Know that when your end is near
The shove at your back is mine
Laura Thiessen endeavors to be a vegetarian, but misses seafood and will occasionally cheat. After an extended recess, she has returned to school to obtain a degree in English. In anticipation of your next question, no, she has no desire whatsoever to teach. In her free time she enjoys video games, although school often preempts the killing of internet dragons. While she enjoys an excellent margarita on occasion, she wishes she could drink like Jessica Jones. More of Laura’s work can be found on her blog at pomegranatepithos.wordpress.com