Rain drummed against Nao’s umbrella like bullets. No, the 9mm needed to be forgotten. The weapon was nothing more than a memento he kept for when the midnight sojourns down Kyoto’s Philosopher’s Path no longer calmed his thoughts.
He clutched the handle of his umbrella and let out a steady breath, dispelling the bloodied memories. Pouring tea for the customers that wandered into his shop had become his only responsibility. He couldn’t feed the viciousness within.
Lightning flashed, illuminating Nao’s tree-lined path along the narrow stone canal. Each step he took kicked rain onto his yukata robe, deepening the color from indigo to black. Blood used to stain his suits the same way and would kiss his skin like a welcomed lover. His muscles tensed with the conjured image. He gulped, trying to push down the memories.
Ahead, a footbridge stretched across the canal, and a cluster of cherry trees grew along the muddy slope. Their roots peeled up the moss-covered stones like a scab, and a cluster of fallen branches caused a wake in the river. The debris clumped together in a murky shadow that made Nao’s finger twitch. The large pooling was too much to have been caused by fallen debris in an early summer storm. Someone must’ve dumped something there, but it was Kyoto, and he couldn’t fathom anyone littering in the old capital.
The residents respected the city as much as he did. Since he left his violent past, Kyoto possessed Nao’s heart and left no room for anything else. Even traveling close to the city’s borders, a familiar tightening enclosed his throat. He didn’t have any reason to leave the city anyway. The Aoi Festival always brought a smile to his face, and that was only a few weeks away. In July there was the monthlong Gion celebration. He’d be too exhausted from work to think of the spilt blood. If nothing else, the walk down the Philosopher’s Path would always drive away the memories ricocheting inside his skull.
As he stepped onto the footbridge, the debris in the canal became a solid mass about the size of a sack of tea leaves plucked from the field. He squinted, trying to make out the object by the dim streetlights, but it remained unrecognizable until a bolt of lightning streaked the sky.
It was no collection of branches, but a human body slumped against the tree roots.
“Are you all right?” Nao yelled over the cracking thunder.
No answer came.
Continue reading the full chapter one:
Reblogged from kaityler.com