|Plum Blossoms Image credit: hanaschwarz / 123RF Stock Photo|
Welcome back to Creative Hodgepodge! I've been hard at work on some new stories, and I hope you'll like them. Today I'm sharing the opening for a work-in-progress that follows the son of my samurai hero in The Samurai's Garden. My working title is The Plum Blossom Covenant. This is the opening scene:
Yasahiro Tanaka stood at the bow of the ship, gazing intently ahead. The salty spray from the ocean stung his face, but he kept his eyes pointed toward his goal. He was returning home, back to the land in which he had been born and raised, the land of his family, his roots.
It had been five years since he had left his parents' home, under protest, not wanting to separate from the cocoon of security his loving family had wrapped him in all his life. But his father, his wise samurai parent, had insisted. “You need to see more of the world before you settle down,” he had said. “You know of nothing but your surroundings. There is much to see, so many other lifestyles, ideas, and knowledge that is yours for the taking. Go. We will miss you, but you must do this before you can truly lead.”.
So he had gone. First, he'd gone to the mainland to visit his father’s family in Tokyo. He had been there before, but this time he'd gone alone, absorbing everything he saw and heard. He'd visited the courts where his grandfather, the great samurai warrior, had served the emperor. He'd worked out at the dojo where his father and uncles had trained.
After a few months, he had boarded a ship and gone across the ocean to the enormous country called America. He had a limited knowledge of English, having attended the Hokkaido Agricultural College in Sapporo, where the president and several instructors were American. They had told him stories about their homeland, and he wanted to see if the tales of the largeness of the land, about the freedoms to move about, and the opportunities to be had there were all true.
And now he was coming home. He had so many wonderful tales of his own to tell, to share with his family, and a few souvenirs as well.
A young boy nudged into his side, reminding Yasa he was not alone on the deck. The youngster peered through the railing, only to be pulled back by his anxious mother. Yasa cast a quick glance at the mother, his breath catching at the sight of her purple jacket, emblazoned with white plum blossoms. It was a painful reminder of another woman in a similar gown, in another place and time.
No matter how hard he worked, or how far he traveled he couldn't escape reminders of her. She had professed to return his feelings, but then abandoned him. Even now the pain of her rejection had the power to make his his temperature rise, to make his mouth taste bitter. She had worn his favorite kimono that night, white plum blossoms embroidered on purple silk. She'd fastened matching plum blossoms in her hair and he had never seen her looking so beautiful.
Growing up with flowers, he'd known the meaning of those blossoms. Westerners associated plum blossoms to beauty and longevity, but in the Asian countries the blossoms meant “pure and true”. He cringed at the irony. He had known her all his life and had believed he'd found his soulmate, but in reality he hadn't known her at all.
Thanks for stopping by! Be sure to leave a comment, and check out the excerpts offered by other authors by going to Sweet Saturday Samples. And if you want to read about Yasa's samurai father, check out The Samurai's Garden by clicking on the book cover below.