Flowers in the Rising Sun

Submitted into Contest #99 in response to: Begin your story with somebody watching the sunrise, or sunset.... view prompt

1 comment

East Asian Fiction Contemporary

I came out of my reverie when a faint voice met me on the wind. I enjoy riding the sea breeze in the land of the rising sun, and although it says nothing to me, I have the impression that the wind here is glad to have a visitor. 

   I opened my eyes and looked down at the rocky shore to find the source of the song. It was still dark, but my eyes are keen and I was able to make out the figure of a boy far below. He sat poised on a rock, leaning his elbows on his knees. When the sea tried to extend up to him, it only succeeded in licking the tips of his toes, and he paid it no mind. 

   When I was new, I made the mistake that many Oni make when they are young, and flocked to the cities. Tokyo is full of temptation, vices, and it is ripe with the scent of fear. Humans stare at their own feet as they walk with their hands in their pockets, and they try to sink into the background. They are all looking for something, although their eyes are downcast. The humans are frantic creatures in the city, a buffet of souls ready to flee into the first maw that opens in front of them. 

   In the same way that a buffet lacks in quality, so does the plethora of terrified city creatures fail to satisfy me. The scent of so many lonely people mixes together like the cut flowers in a florist’s stand. There is a sweeter sadness to the country, and like the scent of fresh chrysanthemums it wafted up from the boy to touch my flame-filled nostrils. 

   I smiled. 

   My claws pierced the breeze as I descended, and soon I touched down on the rocky shoal next to the boy. 

   “What is wrong?” I settled on my haunches. 

   He had finished his song by the time I made my way to him, and now was scraping the end of a long stick through the moss on a stone. The moss peeled away in tufts and occasionally tumbled away to be swept up in the dark water. “I couldn’t sleep,” he said, without bothering to turn to me. 

   The ocean paid us no mind, continuing its own rhythmic song. 

   “Why not?” I asked the lone child. 

   The boy heaved his shoulders up until they were almost touching his ears, then let them fall again with a sigh. “I don’t know, sometimes I can’t sleep.” He paused, casting his gaze out across the dark water. “Sometimes I have nightmares.” 

   I have never dreamed during my torpor, and I often wonder why humans dislike it so. They are dissatisfied with reality, but when offered a break, complain that it is even worse in another realm. But I digress. 

   “Perhaps I can be of assistance,” I offered as I slid closer to the boy. 

   For the first time his brown eyes flicked toward me. “I’ve heard of your kind,” he stated, turning back to the sea. He held the stick loosely in one hand. 

   I suppressed a snarl. “Have you now?” 

   He nodded. “I read about you in a book, so there’s no point in trying to trick me.” 

   “I am not trying to trick you, only to enjoy your company,” I said. 

   Books are my newest enemy. I hate them with every fiber of my being. Humans are destructive by nature, so I thought for certain that those flimsy bits of parchment would be a short-lived obsession for the species. Yet, over time they have only become more prevalent. Within them are both truth and lies, but most often a mixture of the two. Stories of Oni are often fabricated altogether, and while the humans seem to understand this, they have begun to fear us all the same. 

   I do not claim to be a benevolent creature. But at the same time, I am only trying to survive when I feed on the humans, just as they feed on each other. 

   “The sun is coming up,” the dark circles on the boy’s eyes became more pronounced as he squinted out. I followed his outstretched hand when he pointed, and caught sight of the first line of rust-orange that indicated the rising sun. 

   “So it is,” I growled through sharp teeth. 

   The breeze tried to brush away the incoming daylight with a sudden chill, and the boy pulled his jacket a little closer around himself. I twisted around to turn my eyes inland, and saw in the distance the bright snow atop the peak of Mount Iwaki. The mountain, much like the wind, never says anything, no matter what it sees. Soon it would be alight with purple for a moment or two before daylight broke.

   My powers are worthless in the light of day, but I sat with the boy and watched the sun begin to dazzle the sea. I have always found this twilight phase fascinating. If night and day are opposites, sunset and sunrise do not seem so to me. They both cast purple shadows on Mount Iwaki, and they both cause the delicate sea wind to dance. Flowers close, and the ocean sparkles. 

   The sun poured her golden oil into the ocean, and I watched it spread. My face was warmed when the glow hit me, and I closed my eyes to bask in the sleepy warmth. When I heard sandals scuff against the rock, I realized that the boy had stood and turned my head to look up at him. 

   “You’ll get swept away in the tide,” the boy said. Indeed it had begun to lap at my talons, nearly enveloping our stone precipice. He hopped from our stone to the next one, stick in hand, before he turned back to me once again. “Be careful out there.” 

   I watched the small human make his way across the rocks until he was walking on wet grass, leaving muddy prints behind and using his branch as a walking stick. When I turned my head back toward the sun, I found myself content despite the lost quarry, like a maiden who set out to collect violets, but settled for basking in their scent when she had no way to carry them home. 

June 18, 2021 21:14

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1 comment

Colleen True
11:54 Jul 02, 2021

What a beautifully written story! It's evident how much thought you put into it. The words seem very intentional yet flow easily. I was immersed in the setting and curious of the characters. Thank you for sharing this!


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