Key kneels in the shrine’s inner sanctum. Anyone looking at her, if they were allowed access to the small room, would see a girl with longish, dark brown hair, wearing a white kimono top and full red skirt. Were anyone to see her face, nearly impossible as her head nearly touched the floor, would have been shocked to see her eyes the color of pale purple orchids, rather than a deep, rich brown.
“Okaasan… [Mother…] It’s Key… Where are you?”
In the dark behind her eyes, Key stands outside a shrine, looking in. The shrine is ancient, but well-kept.
Key waits. She looks around her. The shrine where her mother danced. Her grandfather’s house. Lush green grass. Fitted stone pathways. Cicadas beat in the trees around them. Off in the distance, she sees the residents of Mamio Valley, waiting expectantly.
Key shivers, remembering the last time she was here. Omoide [memories and recollections]: Sobbing in the eye of a massive Grecian statue in the megadome in Tokyo. Realization of her dearest friend, Sakura, no longer with her. Her grandfather, no longer with her. Her teacher, Tsurugi, no longer with her. Alone in the world with strangers waiting to hear her song – the song she’s known all her life.
“We’ll never meet again.”
“I’ll come again.”
“Daughter! You’ve come!” Toyoko appears from the inner shrine, laughing, bathed in the bright sunlight above. She wears an outfit identical to Key’s – the outfit Key has seen all her life, and now finally wearing. “You kept your promise. Thank you.”
“It’s festival time. They want to see the dance.”
“Show them! It’s been too long for them. You have the strength. Do you feel it? Do you feel the excitement of the Valley people around you? Use their strength; it’s freely given. And I’m here, with you always.”
“Thank you, mother!”
= = =
Tokiko stands up and walks outside, eyes a shimmering dark brown, her mother’s wooden puppet in her arms. And the drums started beating.
Hanna Goodbar, 30th Apr 2004