Once Upon a Time

Night fell over Earth again, with darkness spreading over the thick forest of trees in the distance and eventually coming to rest upon a small house, tucked quietly away near Mt. Paozu. It had long since been abandoned by its owners; a victim of love lost and the end of a happy family. Kept clean for its entire existence, it wasn't used to being dusty and unwashed by its owner, who was a fussy woman. She spent nearly all of her time constantly cleaning after everyone or filling the rooms with the scent delicious food, taking care of her family. Now though, the house was empty and cold. The once crystal clear windows were clouded over with film, and the aroma of food had been replaced by the stale, musty odor of dust.

Once upon a time, the house had been the place everyone came to for parties, for dinners, and reunions of the most valued people on Earth. For others, the house was a memory of what they could've had, and a soul that had been lost during the blind shuffle of a death. It would never be the same again; far too much pain had been experienced, and it was still harbored inside of its strong walls. Too many lives had been extinguished with the last breath of a man that was more of a god, a lasting, living, breathing memory that still existed in the hearts of those who had known him.

The woman had returned again, for the first time in many years. She stared at the house from a distance, standing hesitantly in the woods behind it. It held so many memories for her. Her head was thick with voices and the touch of a man that she thought she would be with until the end of time. He was gone now and in a way, so was she. Son Gokuu had been the love of her life, whether she cared to admit it or not. In her very soul, she knew he had loved her too, but he was gone now and there would be no second chances. She liked to think that he watched over her and protected her. She envisioned him as an angel, with long, snow white wings that complemented the glowing halo above his head, gifted with the magic of healing and love. He would swoop down to Earth, a breeze that blew the laundry hanging on her clothesline on a windless day; the footsteps never too far behind her, always fading when she turned to see his face; the soft breath on her neck at night, when she knew she was alone in her bed.

She stepped up to the old house and peered in through the dusty windows. A layer of dirt and dust and had glazed over the smooth glass, hiding the inside of the house from her view. So many things were hidden from her now; happiness had found some impossible hiding place, along with love and laughter. As much as she searched for these things, she would never find them. Happiness stemmed from only two things in her life, and it hadn't taken her too long to realize that without her husband and her son, she was nothing; an empty, cold, lifeless being, stumbling through her daily routine, blindly completing her daily tasks. To be happy again --- to be free from the pain, she had to retrieve the two beings that fulfilled her. And though she was still filled with hope, in her heart she felt that this would never happen. It was something that she had grown to accept along the way of her journey. She had traveled far, not physically, but mentally. Her life no longer revolved around the simple criticisms of others, or even the study habits of her son. She had no son now, but only memories of the pain she felt at his death; a loss that only sharpened her sorrow and her anger over the death Gokuu.

The jinzouningen appeared in her mind, their taunting, ice blue eyes full of malice and laughter as they tortured her son, killing him with pleasure. They were in the background of everything in her life, like a horrible disease that just wouldn't disappear from sight, that couldn't be cured with medicine or chicken soup. They were dead now, long since defeated and killed, but they still plagued her dreams and her thoughts. As long as the world turned, the jinzouningen would always be there, would always remind her of what she had lost; what she could have still had today.

With a clenched fist, she smashed the window in anger. The shattered glass went sailing up into the air and onto the floor of the house, which seemed to have come alive again with her touch. Memories flooded out of the house like a wave, voices and feelings of the past crashing against her, forcing her to near tears. Not wanting to relive the part of her life that she had lost, she turned, closing her eyes tightly to block out the memories. They left abruptly, sensing her displeasure at the sight of them, leaving only a trail of sadness lingering in the dark night.

After a minute of silence, she opened her watery black eyes and looked up at the sky, scattered lightly with a dusting of stars, and once more --- wished for the life that she had once upon a time.