Edits:Only one as of right now, Saito's dialogue in the Prologue slightly edited to make it (hopefully) more in character of him, while still providing Tokio a chance to interpret in her own way.
Through my eyes, there is black and there is white. The black does not seem so dark to me - instead it is calm, serene, like a bottomless pool of ink waiting for a brush to gently take its fill. But when he is here, everything becomes a blinding, scalding white of confusing turmoil, like froth on the tips of waves. Perhaps that is what he sees too - for he is always away. Did I not know that wolves prefer the stealth of night?
Not that I mean to complain; never have I experienced want for these long years I have been married. Money has never been at the source of a disagreement, and I have three strong boys through him - none of which has ever ceased to bring me joy during my days of solitude.
Though he comes back quite late some nights, he does not smell of drink nor other women. Although, in all fairness, I think some of his cleanliness may be attributed to me. Nonetheless, as I scrub my hands raw trying to cleanse his uniform of dried blood on such nights, I wonder at how lucky I am.
Although it becomes harder to recollect the years of blackness when he was gone, I remember every detail of my struggle against him. His silence is not easy to understand, nor was I willing to try. Only a child, I was frightened to be away from my family, and uncertain of the duties I had to perform for this strange man I did not know. The marriage itself had been arranged by my father - how the two met I never did learn, but my curiosity waned over time. My husband did not like to answer questions, and shortly after our life began, I learned not to ask any, or the response would be an awkward silence. Under my guidance, the children soon learned this too - yet he seemed far more tolerant of them, which I envied.
Oddly enough, none of the children ever questioned his absences. He never took them fishing, never played with them, rarely even spoke when he was home. Perhaps they saw this as normal, and I dared not disrupt that perception. Although by then I was stronger than in the beginning, I do not know if I could have contained a brood full of discontentment. They grew used to his disappearances, and life went on with or without him.
Honestly, in the beginning, discontent ran like blood through my veins. When a girl dreams of the future, it is magnified and fulfilled by the presence of a warm, kind man with a smile to put all fears to rest. I was no different; joy filled my heart when my father said I was to marry a good man. He, I thought, would be just like the man in my imagination. Oh, what a blind child I was! Little did I know this was only the beginning of a continuous battle with an enigma I could not defend against.
The actual ceremony is blurry in my memory, simply because my expectations were so high I was a bundle of anxiety. I stole glances at his face continuously; the thin lines that made up his profile and the extraordinary grin he wore all night long were strangely enchanting. His body looked pointed in the flowing material, making him look like rough edges on a shard of glass, merely needing sanding and polishing. Yet with all his sharp angles and silent, grinning nods, he retained a certain grace about him, and that is what I learned to cling to.
Being alone with him proved to be more of a trial than I thought. The smile he had carried throughout the evening faded instantly when the screen door slid shut and though he was only a few years older than I, every ounce of me felt to be no more than a child. His eyes were gold, I realized, shining ferociously with an intensity I cannot describe. Nothing about him seemed the same as before as I felt the night pressing in about me. He did not look at my face, although I stared openly at his, drinking in every detail and memorizing every feature of this stranger. I could not help myself, although it was so very rude of me…
Only when I turned away at last to straighten the futon did he speak.
"Do you know what I am?" Such a simple question, and what did I have to answer? I deemed it best to wait for his. His voice, quiet and low, captivated me, although there was not a shred of emotion present.
"You have married a killer, Tokio. Or so they will say." My name sounded so very strange, coming from him, and with such serious words accompanying it. The first time he had spoken to me all night - he would not say another word.
My back remained turned to him, my head subconsciously bowed in obedience. When his hand touched my shoulder I trembled, my eyes closed, my hands tightly clasping my kimono. He tugged at my obi, as if coaxing me to cooperate with his slender fingers, but I dared not move. My heart was in my throat, my breaths coming quickly, as I felt a strange horror at being handled by this man. At last, he succeeded in dislodging the bow, and I felt the material sliding off; even then, I did not move. His hands touched my shoulders, the kimono loosely in place. I could hear his breath above the pulses in my ears, coming slowly and evenly. I had been kneeling, and he must have knelt as well, for suddenly I felt his forehead against the back of my neck…
I cried out in fear, frightened of this man I was now bound to serve. Instantly, he pulled away, and I could picture the scowl that would be on his face, that would be on any man's face in his position. Never have I experienced the shame and embarrassment that I did that night. In my humiliation, I wrapped my kimono even tighter about me, my hands shaking as I held it in place. The room was empty of sound, until I heard the scratching of a match being lit. I dared not face him to see what he was doing. But in my ragged gasps for air, I inhaled the strangest scent, which triggered a choked cough.
I held my fallen obi against my face, trying to block out the horrid smell. My eyes watered as my coughs increased and I turned halfway to see him looking at the cigarette in his hand, contemplating the glowing end that let a trail of smoke waft through the room. I half-crawled and half-stumbled to the window on the opposite side of the room, my hands clumsily flinging it open to let in the cool fresh air. Such a still night, broken only by my wretched coughs. When I had regained my composure and turned about, he was gone, like the shadows that disappear when the candle is lit. Feeling childish and useless, I slammed the window shut and threw myself down on the futon. At last, I was able to face my failure - failure to be a good wife, and failure to keep the tears from falling. I drew the sheets up about me, the crisp, fresh sheets now marred and dampened by my running makeup, providing a haven of barrenness that I burrowed into as sleep overtook me.