Hi hi! I'm not going to say much, cause I don't wanna right now, just like
to say the basic disclaimer stuff, don't own 'em unless I made them up and
such. Besides that I hope you enjoy what I've written so far and be assured
that it picks up after this.
Please! R&R! I know there's something in here that you like, and something
you hate, so let me know. please!! (P.S. I'm peeved that no one let me know
about the blaring grammatical errors I made. really peeved!!!) Okay, enough
begging, get reading ^_^
She stared into the musky air between the shelves scattered with strange
things that seemed to take on the atmosphere and wear its form. Ancient
artifacts and grotesque baubles stared at her as she walked slowly through
the shafted light that was thrown by the twisting bits of dust that fell
through it. Her heels clicked with an empty noise on the chilled floor.
The musk and intense strangeness melded together to form a blanket that
twisted around her. She worriedly knawed at her lip and turned towards her
friend down the isle.
"Mari, are you finished yet?" The girl behind her was crouched, and
intensely considering several shelves through a layer of wavy white hair
that had a terrible habit of falling across her face. "This place is giving
me the willies." Emily made a show of hugging herself and shivering.
No response. not that she was expecting any.
Unconsciously, she pulled out a cigarette and perched it, unlit, in the
corner of her mouth. Her uncomfortable feeling fled in the face of
inattention and she sighed heavily, letting her shoulders fall. She
impatiently pulled her mousy brown hair to one side of her shoulder, making
no effort on her part to conceal the exasperation that racked her entire
body. She hadn't wanted to come here in the first place. An normal
antique's place would have been fine, there was a quaintness about even the
mustiest of them. But here, it was different. The things that sat on these
shelves were alien to her, and mystery always made her nervous. In three
quick steps she was next to her friend, and with one hard tap she had her
attention as well.
"Listen, we've been here for half an hour, find something for that crazy
sister of yours and lets go!" She glowered at her friend and the caught a
sudden draft and looked around, hitching her bag up on one shoulder.
"Beside this place is giving me the creeps."
Mari simply smiled and patted her friend on the head with a tanned hand. In
one deft move she yanked the cigarette from her mouth and looked at her
with a motherly gaze.
"Don't say it, I know already." Mari hated it when she smoked and Emily put
up both of her hands in a sign of surrender that made her friend smile up
at her with a victorious grin.
Mari was about to console her friend with the promise of leaving soon when
something caught her eye. It was a turtle, the size of her palm, made of
jade and eyes gleaming white. It sat royally on the third shelf, his head
forever frozen in a smooth angle from his shell. Four round feet held him
up with little effort and the geometric pattern on his back and stomach was
inlayed with a fine gold leaf. Carefully, she extracted him from his place
among the relics, feeling the cool stone against her hands and the tiny
bumps of his skin that almost seemed to breath from the magic of some
Mari looked at Emily, who's dark brown eyes had gone wide looking at the
turtle. Mari smiled and reached out to grab her hand; gently unfolding
Emily's fingers. With a grace and care that Emily always wondered at, Mari
settled the small jade wonder into her palm and let her feel the weight of
it. She looked down and smiled at Mari, who was beaming at her with shining
"This is it." She said slowly, with a certain awe and a slow nod of her
head. "It's perfect. It's almost too nice for that lunatic sister of
yours." She turned over the turtle in her hands to look at the delicate
stomach. "But we love her anyway. hey, look at this." She pointed at a
series of golden curves that where unlike the rest of the shell; carved a
bit deeper and too smooth to look like a natural part of any creature.
"That's strange, I've never seen marking like this before."
"You've made a very fine selection young ladies." A touch of something
against Emily's jeans and swish of cloth made her cry out suddenly, and
turn to see a very small, very wrinkled man grinning up at her with wisdom
etched in every inch of his face. There was something else in his eyes that
told her not to like this man. "He's one of my favorites, that turtle is.
May I ask who he's for?" Emily eyed the man warily.
"It's for her sister, it's a welcome home present." Unconsciously she
tugged on the hem of her sweatshirt with her free hand, having watched one
too many anime where the grandfather figure had been a psychotic pervert
with a gleam in his eye. "How much do you want for it? Twenty dollars?" She
almost cringed at the way the old man skittered up to her palm to glance at
"Let me see your panties, and it's free" His smile grew wide and toothy as
he clenched his hands together in the sleeves of his robe.
"WHAT!?!?" Emily screamed, her face wild with rage. She was ready to bash
the turtle to the floor when she heard a sound that made her stop. It was
like a goose, crying out after being hit by a car and dying slowly. A sound
that would have been terror in anyone's ears except for Emily's, who heard
it as a sweet sound that came too little.
Mari was laughing.
"Little Bird," Mari signed to her using her favorite nickname, "even this
old man can read you thoughts." The shop keeper beamed from Mari to Emily,
and then back to Mari.
"What did your friend say?" He looked at Emily with a sly smile.
"She said that I should know better than to judge people in their presence,
'cause I'm more transparent than saran wrap," she looked at the man with a
dirty eye, "and that the turtle is only worth ten dollars." Emily sneered
down athim, but then felt a hand on her shoulder pull her back. She looked
at Mari questioningly; who only shook her head at her and carefully took
the turtle from her palm.
Crouching down to meet the man eye to eye she held out the turtle and
smiled winningly. She pointed at the jade statue in her hand and then took
a coin from her pocket and shrugged. Emily immediately recognized her way
of asking some one who didn't sign how much something cost. Mari had
developed many systems like that, and Emily almost didn't like it when she
did it with her around to translate. Sure, it was nice for her to be
independent and all, but best friends could rely on each other, that's what
they were for.
"For you, he's 45 dollars." The fold of the old mans cloak rustled as he
held up a hand, first flashing four fingers, and then five. Mari only
smiled. With her free hand she pointed to the turtle and then put up one
finger followed by five more.
"15 dollars? No, I can't let him go for that little." He held up a hand
with three fingers. "30, that's as low as I'll go." He made a slashing
motion in the air to indicate his final price.
Mari examined the man's hand and then the turtle. Her face suddenly went
dark and she sighed, shaking her head. She looked as if she were about to
cry, and stood up, carefully situating the turtle back onto the shelf.
"Dat to baad." She brayed what few words she could say. She shrugged and
looked at Emily. "I guess we'll have to look else where." She signed, and
the old man seemed to understand as he looked at her worriedly.
"Yeah, it's too bad, cause you're sister would have loved it." Emily signed
as she spoke. She turned to the old man, who looked slightly perplexed and
wasn't quite sure if he was being played the fool or not. "Sorry man, no
dice." She turned to follow Mari who was already walking away. Suddenly,
the little merchant made his move and waddled over to Mari, grabbing the
hem of her long faded sweater to get her attention.
"Twenty," he put two fingers in her face. "But you drive a hard bargain for
the quietest customer I've had in years." He beamed up at her, hoping that
this offer would be excepted. It was, and in a manner he didn't count on.
In an instant he was lifted off the floor and hugged tightly, a soft
grating noise he took as a giggle of happiness coming from his captor. She
swung him around once, and then set him down, prancing over to where the
turtle sat and swept his regal body off of the shelf where he was waiting.
"Perfect" Emily translated Mari's quick sign to the man who was ready to
laugh as he watched the scene unfold before him and Mari kissed the turtle
on his head, happily. When she turned to him and looked about ready to kiss
him too he waved a hand towards the register and motioned for them to
In a few quick seconds and with the ring of the cash machine the turtle was
hers. She looked at it lovingly as he took out a small box and a few sheets
of red tissue paper to wrap it in. As he picked up the turtle, a glint
caught her eye and she stopped him with a quick hand on his wrist. Her brow
furrowed as she pointed to the turtle's belly, and then looked to Emily to
help her out.
"I think she wants to know what the markings on the turtle's belly mean."
Emily faced her friend so that she could read what she was saying as she
signed as well. Mari shook her head in the affirmative, and looked at the
puzzled shopkeeper for a response.
"Well," a strange smile flowed across his face one again, and for some
reason Emily still couldn't help but be creeped out. "You girls have good
eyes. Those markings are ancient Chinese, along with the tortoise itself."
He made sure his head was turned toward the deaf girl and tried his best to
enunciate his words so that she could read what he was saying. Nothing in
her face gave away any difficulty with his words and she smiled happily as
he explained on. "This is Gui Xiang, that's what the markings say here," He
ran a finger over a large set of gold squiggles, "And here it says
'righteousness.'" Emily looked at the markings between thin eyes.
"How do you know ancient Chinese." she began to say but a hand on her arm
silenced her. Mari had felt her talking through the vibrations in the
counter and she smiled at her friend without looking away from the man who
she was waving to go on.
"The tortoise is a sign of longevity and guards the northern sky as one of
the four gods of the Ling. It's actually rather fascinating." He turned
over the tortoise and set it on the paper in it's righted position,
carefully wrapping it away. Mari bit her lip and quickly signed something
"My friend here says that the Chinese see the turtle as a sort of," she
paused for a moment, searching for the right word to match the sign that
Mari had used. ".fortune teller, is that true?" The tissue paper stopped
rustling for a moment and the man looked almost amazed. Emily met the man's
surprised gaze with a hard glance. No one expected the deaf girl to be the
smart one, and Emily naturally scorned anyone caught off guard by it.
"Yes," he chuckled and nodded his head. "In a way little one," he looked at
Mari and winked, pressing the package into her hand. "In a way."
Later that night Mari sat turning the turtle over in her hands,
slowly tracing the lines where the man had pointed to the gold markings and
move his mouth around the word "righteousness." Her sister really would
love the present. At least, Mari hoped with all her heart that she would.
She took a moment to think of her, her plan landing in the terminal right
now from her home in Japan. She wondered how much her sister had changed.
Sure they typed on the phone and computer now and then, but it was easy not
to be yourself when you had the keyboard to talk through. Something in her
was very nervous, and she couldn't quite pin down why, besides the thought
of seeing her sister and her sister's husband once again.
She liked him, he was a kind man with a kind face. The two worked
together on a research facility near a seismically active fault line and
had married just under two years ago, but she had only seen him once in
person. Mari sighed and petted the turtle absently.
Life for her had been good up until now. She had her share of
friends, and her best friend Emily, her parents that loved her, and her
sister. Certainly, being deaf was difficult, but no more difficult than it
could've been, and at least she had been blessed with a few years of sound
when she was a child so she could still speak in limited amounts when she
Boys liked her and she had had boyfriends, (even though she thought she was
a little short, her hips too wide and her nose too round), and gone through
normal schooling. She couldn't drive a car even though she was seventeen, a
senior in highschool, but really didn't have a desire to; there was nowhere
to go in San Francisco that you couldn't walk to, or grab a trolley. She
was smart, uncommonly so some would say. The way she saw it she had lost
part of her world to sound and she would have to gain it back through
knowledge. It made sense to her.
Yes, life had been very good.
She couldn't help looking out the window at the sun that had fallen
behind the hills and cast several shade of fire into the sky. The evening
star peeked out through the twilight and she sighed heavily.
It's all so beautiful, she thought to herself, and yet. her thoughts
trailed off as she looked at the turtle. None of it makes me happy.
Little oracle, in her mind she conversed with the turtle and it's
solemn body, I wish I wasn't so lonely. On a whim she turned the turtle
over and traced it's marked belly. There was an air of ceremony about it
that comforted her. However, as she came to the last small marks an eerie
glow settled around the turtle and she felt the world slip away from under
her feet. In a moment, she would know nothing but darkness.
How'd you like it? Take the time and tell me ^_^ Oh yeah, I know I didn't
use the same name for the tortoise god as it did in the series but be
assured that I have done my research. Oh yeah, whatever you're thinking
right now about Mari's fate, un think it! That's an order. See yah next