Firebirds Soaring

Firebirds Soaring by Sharyn November Read Free Book Online

Book: Firebirds Soaring by Sharyn November Read Free Book Online
Authors: Sharyn November
silver ball.
    Days later, she visited the shrine to tidy it up. She couldn’t stand the idea of what had happened, and wanted in some way to let the kitsune know that she was loyal to it. She could not speak of her feelings to my father for fear of being thought disloyal, or to others for fear of being thought crazy, so while she arranged offerings on the steps and chattered to the spirit locked in the house about how she couldn’t help it even if she wanted because he had the key, she noticed a silver ball sitting on the forest floor, just beneath the platform the house stood upon. She knelt down and picked it up, and that is when I told her how she could help me.
    She would bring me into this world as her child, so that I could eventually free myself. Do not worry, I told her through the ball. I will be the source of my own liberation.
    I did not see my human father as my enemy, as some may think would be my natural feelings toward the man. Instead I thought him very clever to trap my spirit. Not clever enough to remember a kitsune has tricks up her sleeve even in the worst of conditions, but clever nonetheless. I also felt indebted to him, for it’s a rare opportunity for those born in the spirit realm to receive the chance to be human, and it’s through human suffering that one can enter nirvana most easily. I decided to welcome this entrapment as a step on the path to eternity. The Buddha himself is said to be like a lotus flower, growing upward from the mud at the bottom of a pond, for the time he spent in the world allowed his bright wisdom to flow forth. Instead of despising my conditions, I would learn from others, I thought. Now that I knew my position in the world, I could carry on with life, with fate, more easily. I would grow into a young woman and try my best to please my teachers and parents.
    Later, when I returned from the woods, I told my mother not to worry. That all would be well. I told her I would apologize to sensei and make everything right at school again, that Father would never have to know what had happened. She stroked my cheek and said, “Now that’s my good girl, Midori. That’s my good girl.”
    When I went back to school the next day, sensei didn’t say anything to me. She pretended as if nothing strange at all had happened. I could have allowed her to remain in fear of me forever, but I decided that, as I was a human for the moment, I would go to her and apologize for my behavior, as humans do.
    “ Sensei ,” I said, “about yesterday, please excuse me. I’m so sorry. I myself don’t even know why I acted in such a way. I am truly sorry.”
    “Midori chan, I was so surprised!” she said. “But it’s all right. This sort of thing happens sometimes. Especially in the fall, when the wind from the mountains is bearing down on us.” She looked out the classroom window then and said, “Winter is coming.”
    We did not speak of this matter again, and I appreciated her easy forgiveness and the way she turned the discussion away from the matter of my guilt to the change of the season. I decided I would not give her so much trouble in the future. I would do my best to be a model student.
    The chime for class to begin sounded and all of us took our seats. I listened intently and volunteered to help in any way possible that day. After lunch, it was time for all of the students to clean the school. I was on hallway duty with a girl named Kazuko. She was from a good family in town. Out of all the children in my class, she was the only one who never made fun of me or my mother. But she was so quiet I wasn’t even sure how her voice would sound if she said something. Usually we wiped our section of the hall floor facing each other on hands and knees, her feet braced against the wall behind her, mine braced against the wall behind me, saying nothing. We had never spoken before, but on that day, while we wiped the dust and dirt away, Kazuko stopped working and looked up at me. I looked

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