byLauren Hynde©

Pale moonlight creeps, obscures the fallen mask over the embroidered straw mats. And the bamboos in the wind, and the chrysanthemums in the garden, and the herons in the weir, they all moan with him, foretelling his doom. Around him, all the gaudy idols and winged dragons fall. And the geisha, transparent porcelain like the eggshell of a hummingbird, entangles herself within a labyrinth like dragons did on sorrowful days. Her slit eyes, oriental pearls dissolved in water, mingle in scintillation with the glitter of the stars.

He brings closure, silences her lips under his fingertip, and she withers as he says, "Crying will do nothing. All I ask of you is not to betray me before my body lies cold beneath". And letting his head fall down onto the straw mat, he stays. She, in a heron's cry, raises her arms up above and implores Heaven for him.

In the morning the neighbours come on tiptoes to steal a look between the bamboos, and they all see the geisha, squatted by the dead man, waving him with an ivory fan.

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