Amanda was inspired by the piece, so listen whilst you read.
Ikuno always had a strange fascination with death and dark magic, but I promised her I would visit her after her husband’s death. Before I walked into my cousin Ikuno’s home I thought I shouldn’t have come, because I felt like someone was watching me. Her house stood alone, and it was styled to a traditional Japanese home. From the outside it looked normal, with grass and a single dead cherry blossom tree standing alone. I walked up the path to her house, and a harsh wind blew against my face. I thought I heard a harsh hissing sound behind me, but I brushed it off thinking it was Ikuno’s little friends. When we were children Ikuno once told me that there are invisible guards who she calls her little friends that protect her home. I always wondered what the house needed protection from, maybe from all the dark magic Ikuno does. I brush off the feeling of being watched, and I tighten my crimson scarf against my neck.
I noticed that the front door was left wide open, and I thought Ikuno must have accidently left it open.
“Ikuno, I’m here!” I called out waiting for a response, but I didn’t hear anything and before I stepped in I heard a sharp scream. I rush in the house and follow where I heard the scream. I found Ikuno on the kitchen floor clutching her bleeding left hand.
“Ikuno, what happened? Didn’t you hear me when I called out to you?” I said while I grabbed a first add kit.
“Oh, Arisa thank goodness you are here. I’m sorry, I was trying to make us tea but I dropped the cups.” Ikuno said in a soft voice, and she flinched while I cleaned and wrapped her hand.
“You have to be careful, and don’t worry I’ll make the tea. The door was wide open and I was worried.”
Ikuno stands up gracefully, and she pulls her long thin black hair in a silver clip. She looks at me and give me a closed lip smile, “Was it? You know weird things are always happening here.”
“I know but you have to be—“
“Yes, yes I understand be careful. Do not worry, I’ll wait for you outside in the garden.” And with that Ikuno turned around swiftly and her sheer white gown looked like an upside down lily flower.
I shook my head, and I watched Ikuno light small candles. I cleaned up the mess she made, and I made mint tea. I walked outside and set the tea set in middle of the table.
“Thank you.” She said, and she pulled her eyes away from the freshly planted red ponies.
“How are you feeling you look a little pale?”
“Oh, just fine. Mmm the tea is good. You’ve always done better than me.” Ikuno set her head to one side and closed her eyes. As if someone was whispering in her ear quietly in her ear. I felt like she was avoiding the main reason why I came here in the first place. I took a sip of my tea, and I noticed that there is black dust on her fingers.
“Ikuno, do you want to talk about–?” Ikuno snapped her head up, and looked at me with wide eyes.
“Don’t. Don’t say his name. You know you don’t say a dead sprits name the place where they deceased.”
“I know but,” I stopped. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to, I just thought you would want to talk about it.”
She didn’t say anything for a long time, and she stared into the candle flame. All I could hear was my breathing and the soft wind blowing. I was afraid that I crossed a line, and she was going to lock herself in her room and practice her magic. She finally looked up at me with glassy eyes, and I looked down in shame. I felt my hand being squeezed by a cold grip, and I looked up at her.
“Please, understand,” I nodded my head “I don’t want to end our night on a sour note. It’s been so long since I’ve seen you last.” Ikuno said.
We did not talk about her deceased husband again, and we talked about our childhood instead.
At night fall, I put on my light blue night gown and when I was about to climb into bed there was a knock on my door. I opened it to find my cousin holding a candle against her face, and she had this child look in her eyes.
“Arisa, will you come with me?” she whispered
“What?,” she put her one finger against her lips, and I whispered. “It’s eleven at night, where do you want to go?”
She just gives me a brown coat, and she walks down the hallway. I bite my lip, and follow her to the garden. The single candle flame was playing tricks against my eyes, and I thought I was seeing shadow figures. She gave me the candle to hold, and I took it gratefully. The clouds covered the moon, and I held out the candle father.
“It’s almost time.” Ikuno said under her breath.
I love my cousin, but sometimes she sacred me. She held my left hand that wasn’t holding the candle, and all of a sudden I felt like we were children again. The clouds moved past the moon and the entire garden lit up by the moonlight.
“He’s here.” She said.
I looked around wondering who she could be talking about, and then I saw who she was looking for. A ghastly figure stood in the center, and I realized it was Ryan. Ikuno’s husband. I couldn’t move out of fear.
“Please, don’t tell me you see what I see.” I said, and I dropped the candle.
“Do not worry, he will not come close. Now you understand why I can never leave.” Ikuno said, and when I looked down there was a bony hand holding mind. My eyes slowly traveled up, and it was not Ikuno’s face anymore but a more deathly looking one. I screamed, but she put her hand against my mouth. I stared into huge black sockets, and she whispered.
“Always welcome death, Arisa.” And she disappeared, and just as quickly as the candle light did.
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