|Dripping Water Haiku
Author: Indygodusk PM
AU Trapped in a bad relationship, Kaoru has almost given up on anything better. Then she meets a redhead who likes to recite haiku, and her life turns around.Rated: Fiction K - English - Angst/Humor - Kaoru & Kenshin - Words: 3,335 - Reviews: 34 - Favs: 34 - Follows: 2 - Published: 05-20-05 - Status: Complete - id: 2402735
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Author Note: Hopefully the next chapter of Hakama Dake will be out next week. I stupidly didn't really plan past chapter one, so the next part is going rather slow. This is just a silly idea that popped up, so I decided to post it in the meantime. Warning, it is an AU that is rather OOC as well, whoops. But very unique and darkly humorous! I swear!
Disclaimer: Rurouni Kenshin does not belong to me.
Dripping Water Haiku
Tsuyu no yo no
tsuyu no naka nite
A world of dew,
and within every dewdrop
a world of struggle
Dreams grasp, address, and notice me. Even the bad ones, where demons bay to bloody moons and slimy fingers dribble moist trails down my fleeing back, even those are often preferable to waking. In dreams, I can forget the years spent bathing cats and great-aunts, being hissed and spit at one day and ignored the next. During those years, I sometimes wondered if I misremembered my own name, perhaps it really was 'you girl.' School rolls claimed otherwise but besides that morning reaffirmation, I never detected my name shyly peeking through the curtains of silence. Only the dreams always know my name and never act indifferent. Only they can be counted on to whisper, hiss, shout, and carol my name: Kaoru Kamiya.
Outside, icicles drip percussion beats onto the window sill, almost covering the sound of the running shower. I've overslept. Pulling my fuzzy purple sweater over my head, I notice that I must have slept in my sunglasses again because the collar refuses to slide past my eyes. Tonight I need to try and remember to take them off instead of just sliding them above my bangs, where I always forget them.
Yawning, I stretch the sweater around the wire frames. I can see my orange rug through the holes where fuzz has washed away into the lint filter of the dryer. Is this sweater dry clean only? Well, too late now. Perhaps I should change? I don't think the boyfriend will approve of such a shabby sweater, and I don't want to give him another reason to make fun of me.
Echoing my great-aunts, the boyfriend never calls me by name. He uses what I choose to call endearments, like when he yells, "Little Pocky! Another beer!" Being called "little Pocky" is a compliment I suppose, since he likes to eat several boxes of Pocky without exhaling when he watches his golf tournaments on TV.
On my last birthday, the boyfriend ate all of the chocolates he had given me for a present. I was hurt. I didn't even get to eat one. Even the pieces he only took a bite out of to check the flavor were thrown away instead of left for me. I didn't understand why he would eat my birthday present. He told me I needed to lose some of my whale blubber, so I shouldn't complain. Then he tossed me an ad for a gym downtown with a walk-in special, washed back the taste of my birthday chocolate with a glass of red wine, and settled in to watch MTV.
The next day, I followed the directions on the ad to the Hiten Gym. I was only looking; I didn't really want to sign up. When my father was still alive, we used to practice kendo together. After he died, my two great-aunts forbid me anything so unlady-like. I tried to keep up my practicing in secret, even with the caning when they caught me. Unfortunately what beating failed to do, exhaustion succeeded at. With the constant nagging and a never-ending list of chores, I had little to no free time or energy. Too often when confronted with the choice of sleep or kendo practice, I chose sleep. Over the years I forgot most of what I once cherished. Thinking of kendo now was painful, it reminded me of my defeat.
After filling out several forms at the gym, I only had to wait a few minutes for a free lesson with my very own personal trainer. Walking towards me, he moved like a greyhound pacing before the starting line of a race. Long red hair, the color of good garnets, hung to his waist in a ponytail and swayed hypnotically with his stride. He had such a strong presence that it wasn't until we'd been talking for a few minutes that I noticed his head barely topped mine. I expected a man with such sleek-muscled energy to disregard someone soft and non-svelte like me. Instead he asked if I minded if he called me by my first name. Why would I mind? Why would he care if I minded?
My name sounded different from his lips; as if somehow his teeth peeled away at the syllables until something stronger and more forceful sprang out, as if there was more to Kaoru that I had forgotten. As we went over the machines for quadriceps and biceps, he constantly dripped my name into the conversation, like adding new marshmallows to hot cocoa every few moments - just when the pleasant sweet has almost completely melted into brown.
So I signed up. Not to get fit or even because the boyfriend pushed it, though that may have been why I walked in at first, but because I wanted to hear my name spoken as a strong thing. Because I wanted to hear my name spoken. I heard my name uttered with more frequency in that first session than in the previous six months combined. I secretly began to feel like I could slowly buy back my own name and the strong girl my daddy always said I was before the accident sent him to the mausoleum and mommy to the mental hospital. So I paid Hiten gym's fee to work with my very own personal trainer three times a week. But months later, I am still weak. When I look in the mirror, I don't know how to see that girl my garnet-haired trainer calls when he says my name. Maybe I am deluding myself.
Lately I wonder if the boyfriend even likes me, not that I blame him if he doesn't since he has been so good to me. On our first date he told me he liked me. He might have been looking at my chest at the time, but oh how giddy I felt. To have someone say they liked me! The great-aunts never liked me and neither did the cats. I think the dog next door did though. When the great-aunts weren't looking, I would let him chase the cats and eat their food.
If I wear this sweater full of holes, will it give the boyfriend another reason to dislike me? What if he finally tells me he wants to leave? But breakfast is already late, I have to prioritize. Besides, I've always heard that food comes before clothing for a man.
Fastening my hair into a quick ponytail, I shuffle into the kitchen. The boyfriend would want eggs this morning and pancakes too, can't forget those. If the boyfriend leaves me today, would it be my fault because I made his breakfast late, or because I wore a shabby sweater? He already knows my cooking usually tastes bad, so I shouldn't have to worry about that being the excuse, should I?
"How long has he been THE boyfriend," my personal trainer at the gym asked after a couple of weeks, "doesn't he have a name?"
He asked, but he doesn't really care. Why would he? He asked because I pay him to focus on me for an hour. I think my body is so bland that he has to ask about my personal life to stay awake. I don't mind though. I like to pretend that when his eyes go soft and look like lilacs, it's because he cares.
So I told him. "I've never had a boyfriend before him, and once he's gone, I'll probably never have a boyfriend after him." Not to mention that names are like spells. Call me superstitious, but names invoke something in the listener. Because the boyfriend never uses my name, I don't feel comfortable using his all of the time. It seems to emphasize the lack of my own, and I prefer not to look too deeply at the flaws in our relationship. "I'm grateful for what I have."
He flared his nostrils wide at my reply, snorted, and I swear his eyes flashed gold. "That's, that's," he seemed angry and incapable of coherent speech for some reason. "That is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard. If you left him, I'd-," he choked back whatever he was going to say and took a deep breath before continuing more calmly. "You sell yourself too short."
His words made me feel warm and seemed to thaw some ice I never knew hid inside of me. Despite the fact that I could almost hear the drips as it melted, I couldn't help thinking of all the times the people closest to me told me the opposite. Those memories made me feel confused. Maybe he does care about me I thought in wonder, no longer confident in my appraisal of his motives. But that doesn't make his words true.
Reading my thoughts in my face, he suddenly declared his intention to make not just my body stronger, but my spirit as well. I doubt he will succeed with either, but if I could become stronger, if I could rediscover that girl I once was… oh, I would like that.
During each rep of lifting, he has taken to reciting haiku. I don't know how bamboo, frogs, and dripping water relate to the boyfriend and spiritual strength, but he assures me I will have an epiphany any day now.
Cracking an egg into the grease smeared frying pan with a bubbling hiss, I wonder if maybe epiphanies only come to people who eat a regular breakfast. I hope not. Breakfast is bland and I despise it. Especially the colors - all pale yellows and creams and tans that do nothing but remind me of the vibrancy and sparkle that should be in my life, but isn't. I wish I could just eat a bowl of Fruitloops, it's colorful and hard to mess up. But the boyfriend insists on pancakes and eggs on the weekends.
The thought of eating such fare every morning makes me want to ruffle my feathers. If I had feathers, that is. Perhaps a bird would help me find my epiphany. Yes, a bird to help me search for epiphany from above and soothe me with song would be delightful, and maybe a bloodhound or a sheepdog could help sniff out and round up any epiphanies crouching down low.
I fish the last pancake from its lake of sizzling butter onto the boyfriend's plate just as he walks into the room. His shoulders overflow the sides of the chair when he sits down and his wet hair hangs in strands on his cheeks. I wonder if he would let me cut it for him. I shouldn't ask though, he probably likes his hair like that. He hasn't started eating. Maybe he has finally realized how banal his breakfast coloration is. I hope it isn't him finally getting fed up with my bad cooking. He hasn't even tasted it yet.
"Did you forget my paper again?" his voice ripples out and I flinch in the angry silence swirling around the red-tiled kitchen. A chirping bird would be nice right now, something, anything to focus on instead of his displeasure.
"Can't you do anything right?"
What sort of reply can I make to that? I can do lots of things right… but I did forget the paper. My lilac-eyed trainer told me a haiku about memory and birds. I am sure it would apply here. I wonder if the boyfriend would get mad if I mentioned the haiku. The red flush of distemper swimming over the planes of his face warns me that it is probably a bad idea. Perhaps if I don't say anything he'll calm down?
"Well? Go and get it you stupid whore!" the boyfriend roars at me. I choke for a second, swallow the lump in my throat, then stiffly turn and walk over to the door, pulling on my indigo coat. I was a virgin before him; he knows I'm not a whore. Why would he say that? Maybe if I get a dog, it would bark at him for speaking to me this way.
Cramming my feet into the Godzilla boots, named by the boyfriend because my feet are so big they could crush Tokyo, I open the door to a wind full of ice particles. My face is instantly coated and I probably look like a piece of frosted wheat. The boyfriend bought a box last week, but I don't like the look or the taste.
As I slog up the walk through the two feet three and one-half inches of blue-white snow, according to the radio report this morning, I feel a headache coming on. Icicles above the porch drip into puddles of ice and crater the snow like a lunar landscape. Sunrise honey-coats half my house in liquid gold.
One of the Haiku my personal trainer recited yesterday was written by a man who lived in a place called the Golden Pavilion in Kyoto. I don't remember the haiku, but the idea of a golden pavilion caught my mind. Would it glisten like this? If I saw such gold every morning, perhaps I would start writing Haiku too. That is, as long as I didn't have to be outside and awake during a winter sunrise to see it.
A patch of darkness blights the field of gold light to my left. Squinting, I realize it's a newspaper ad for the coffee shop where the boyfriend and I met. With the newspaper found, I take small steps toward it, trying not to slip or let too much cold air waft up the hem of my coat. Do women in kimono have to mince like this when they walk?
Grasping the soggy newspaper, I think of gray oatmeal congealed in a forgotten bowl and shudder. The smell of the wet newsprint, redolent with chemicals used in the ink, does nothing to help my surge of nausea. In my haste to reach the warmth of the kitchen my foot slips, jerking my gaze up to focus on the dripping icicles as I flail my arms. Luckily the Godzilla boots manage to bite back into the ground and stabilize me. One of the haiku I remember has dripping water, but no icicles. Oh well, I can't see any epiphany coming to me out in this shivering windswept world anyways.
"Hurry up already!"
Startled I slip. The boyfriend is standing in the doorway. Time slows sharply as I notice a patch of hair on his neck where his razor missed glistening with gold highlights in the sunlight. Then my Godzilla boot swings up in a Hong Kong action film high kick, blocking him from view. I try to recover but this time I fail. My knee jams into the pavement under the snow and my wrist churns the drifting ice flakes into a buttery froth. The last thing I see is the red elastic on the newspaper heading strait for my nose before a mushroom cloud of snow and hair and foggy breath covers my face.
Stunned, all my senses shut down for a moment except for vision, though all I can see is black and white. Everything close is white – white vision, white noise, white-hot pain- as if I had merged into the particles of snow around me. Everything distant is black - black swearing from the boyfriend, black shadows under the porch, and black air traveling from far away to be sucked into the void of my lungs. Is this what an epiphany feels like? Falling and getting the breath knocked out of you?
Color comes back as I painfully flex my ankles and wrists to prove that I still can without shattering. Then I crawl slowly to my knees, wincing as I feel what can only be bruises and scrapes. The boyfriend is still in the doorway. He doesn't come over. I could have been unconscious or had broken bones. I could have been bleeding. He doesn't even come over to check on me.
But he does look concerned; his nose crinkles.
"Are you ok? That looked like it hurt. I'm sorry for startling you, but you shouldn't be so clumsy and lazy."
My nose throbs in time to his words, probably from the whack of the soggy newspaper. I don't know what to say.
He keeps talking; perhaps he doesn't expect or care if I give an answer, "Next time just get the paper before I come down."
I ignore the last part of his words as his apology pours into my mind. He is sorry? He's sorry for… yes, it was partly his fault, wasn't it? Looking at the glistening stubble on his neck, I realize that not everything is my fault. In fact, a lot of things aren't my fault. Some things are even his fault. He can be wrong too. It isn't just me. I stagger sloppily to my feet. It isn't just me. He holds out a hand to help me off the porch and into the house, but I turn my eyes away from temptation and instead focus on the sound of dripping water as I limp inside.
I have an appointment with my personal trainer this morning. Despite the pain of my fall, I'm going. I need to go. I need to look at his garnet hair and lilac eyes while he transforms my name into a strong and shining thing. Today when I hear him say, "Kaoru," as he walks towards me with that graceful greyhound stride, I think I'll feel different. Perhaps he will tell me that haiku again, the one with the dripping water, and this time I'll understand.
Furu ike ya
mizu no oto
A lonely pond in age-old stillness sleeps . . .
Apart, unstirred by sound or motion . . . till
Suddenly into it a lithe frog leaps.
Translated by Curtis Hidden Page
Translated by Cid Corman
Hiten 'correction marks' in Japanese, hee hee double allusion! Get it - Hiten gym and Hiten Mitsurugi Ryu. (Ok, so it is weak, but it amuses me.)
A really fun Haiku generator site to play with is www(dot)everypoet(dot)com(slash)haiku(slash)default(dot)htm
I think my favorite punctuation marks are the exclamation mark and the ellipses. Of course, I love using the comma too. What about you?
Anyway, thank you so much for reading, especially since I know this was weird, and please comment!