Skip to main content


 Himari lay in bed on her side, staring at the barren wall with dry scarlet stained eyes resting her head on her small delicate hands. Her spent, and tired body was still as a statue. The royal child left her womb, and everyone followed it to the home of her masters, and he would be raised as one of them, and she would be nothing more than just another subject. This wasn't the only child Himari had given to her imperial lord, but the first boy hadn't lasted a week before dashing his father's hopes for a worthy progeny. 

When she was with child, a stupid part of her started to forget how it would inevitably end. Once the golden boy left her womb, what happened to her wouldn't matter much after.  Even after enduring the pain of childbirth, she wouldn't be given the catharsis of cradling the fruits of her labor in her arms. That had been the hardest part the first time.

Watching her baby get carried away was just the first shock, though. The little prince had clawed out of her as fast as he could because, of course, he must have known this woman was no empress, just a concubine!  Many sad mothers are forced to abandon their babies, but a mother abandoned by her own baby is a rare thing. Then there were the long quiet days for Himari to think of the baby boy she wouldn't even get to name. 

This thought returned the sting of tears to her eyes. Impotent anger and hopeless despair compounded each other and blended into a painful mixture inside her heart. Himari began to quietly sob again when she heard the door to her quarters gently slide open. 

Himari wiped her eyes, turned her head, and saw the diminutive but still imposing Dowager Empress Yui standing in the doorway. Himari tried to stand up, but Yui commanded her to be still.

Yui walked over to Himari and sat on the bed beside her. It was a strange display of informality, and Yui didn't know how to respond. What would happen if people knew she hadn't stood up to bow to the Dowager Empress?

Yui gently stroked Himari's long ebony hair. 

"How are you, my dear?" She finally asked.

Himari was startled by the question. "With respect, how I am is of no consequence. What about the prince? Is he healthy?"

Yui nodded. "Yes, the child appears healthy." 

A heavy silence hung over the room. Yui's fingers extricated themselves from Himari's hair, and she moved it down to clutch Himari's soft hand.

"Did you know," Yui suddenly stopped midsentence and the old woman's face, always still and never revealing, began to tremble. 

"My son's mother was a concubine," she suddenly blurted out the rest of the thought. 

Himari stayed silent.

"We never spoke while she was in the palace, but sometimes I would see her watching her son with longing eyes. Physically she was near, but as the subject of the future emperor and not his mother, he was remote from her. Every time I saw her, I could see the pain it caused. 

"Her duty must be her comfort," Himari said, thinking it was what the Dowager wanted to hear.

Yui's hand trembled. "I am so sorry, Yui said before she started crying. 

"It's not your fault," Himari cried. The women embraced and held each other while they cried. It was the only thing they could do. Himari cried for the son that would never know she was alive, and Yui cried for the young woman whose child she took. They found a moment of comfort in sharing their unique traumas. Emotional pains few would be able to understand. 

Relief, however, was fleeting. Soon they departed and were alone, facing something neither one could ever hope to make right. 


Popular posts from this blog

On the Eve of Extinction

The river was like a massive indigo snake coiling in the shadow of the canyons its eternal flow cut out of the very earth. Somewhere along the watery corridor, settled human life grew out of the muddy banks. The tribe sustained itself on the arterial river, steadily expanding and contracting with the rhythm of its flow like a beating heart. As far as anyone in the tribe knew no other arrangement had ever existed. The river had birthed them, molding sand and clay into flesh, and infusing the husks with its life-giving waters. Life under the desert’s smooth turquoise sky seemed safely stagnant. There was no inkling, no deciphered omens, absolutely no hunch of the approaching cataclysm lurking just out of sight obscured by the landscape’s jagged ridges. Not far from the isolated patchwork of green and brown earth settled by this tribe, the scion of ancient god well into his twilight years was on the cusp of fulfilling his divine purpose. Harmakar was sitting in the dust staring into t

In the Blink of an Eye

 Until now, the gears of history had ground at such a slow pace our perception of it was like a puzzle. The constantly shifting pieces created an eternally changing picture inhabited and shaped by generations. Progress made it possible for the change to arrive in the form of a flash just a millionth of a second long with a blinding light and the pain of flesh-searing fire that burned away the world I knew as if it were covered in lighter fluid. For us, there were no blue skies. Daytime was just when the sun was shining bright enough to penetrate through the acrid black clouds that had consumed the sky and mingled with the distant glow of the burning horizon, painting the atmosphere with blood. For an indeterminate number of hours, maybe as long as a day, it was the only thing I saw. The constant screams became white noise; as I spiraled into death, my perceptions continued to dim until there was nothing left but fear and pain. Every hour the world became dimmer, and I saw everything t

Too Little Too Late

“Ichika, Ichika wake up!” The six-year-old girl was jolted away by her father’s hands. Her mother was standing in the doorway, clenching her little brother Reo against her chest. The majority of Ichicka’s short life had been against the backdrop of total war. She dutifully kept her boots and shelter knapsack ready to go at the foot of her bed and made sure never to let go of her father’s hand in the crowded shelter. Reo was even more accustomed. The desperate stampedes to the overcrowded shelters were becoming his earliest memories. Her father grabbed her by the hand, and they rushed out into the street. Ichicka’s father was walking too fast for Ichika to keep up, and the girl stumbled. Without a word, her father picked her up and started walking faster than before. “Please hurry,” he urged his wife, who was also struggling to match his pace. Despite her father’s panic, the city seemed peaceful. The streets were virtually empty, and the sirens were silent. “Hideshi!” Aiko called to h