A/N: Short interlude time.
Interlude: Mrs. Muroi
Mrs. Muroi was not a stupid woman. But she also was not a blunt one, either, or, rather, was not one anymore. And so she had not uttered a short string of words she would’ve liked to as her son had left the house.
He seemed a little more at ease with her, and for that she was happy. He’d been such a distant young man since he’d returned from college; she knew he was trying desperately to protect both herself and his father. But it had been foolish to try to block the truth from view – she was his mother. Of course she would know.
She regarded the hills as she drank her tea. There had always been something lovely about them, as dark as they were. She didn’t mind them so much. If anything, she preferred having them pressing in, enjoyed the fact that the temple itself was surrounded by the tall, tall trees that made the hills so dark. Sometimes she could close her eyes and pretend she was the only person alive in the world…
She opened her eyes again, heard the distant murmur of the temple workers. The world was not an empty place.
Seishin. When she looked at him, it was distressingly like looking at herself. Of course, there were differences. The angles in his face were sharper. But she had been a tomboy once upon a time, with stubbornly short hair, and she sometimes found her breath catching when she looked at him, an intense sense that she’d somehow fallen back in time forty years, was somehow watching her younger self.
Her hair had been a reason for consternation amongst her parents. Too short. And maybe they were right to be bothered by it. Yet it hadn’t mattered, had it? Her elder sister had died, her father, too. A terrible train crash. She was supposed to have had a marriage meeting… there had been no sons, they had needed to find a man who was reliable and devout. A man who was a Buddhist priest, or training to be one, and whom somehow wasn’t tied to a temple already.
So she went in her sister’s place. They had no head priest. They were married by the end of spring.
She grew her hair out. It wasn’t so bad. Her husband was a good man, and she had felt so happy when Seishin was born. And her own mother had smiled, then. She had touched her grandson softly on the cheek, and spoke with genuine warmth, “Ah, he looks just like a Muroi…”
And he still did. And so did she; she had taken after her father, not her mother. And her son had taken after his mother, not his father. There was a neat pattern in it.
She had found a bit of happiness along the way. She’d been a loud child, a quiet adult. And she allowed fate to take its hold of her, duty, too. But she’d managed to find herself an even sort of keel. She could close her eyes and smell only the hills and the trees.
She could see her son’s form, so distant now, as he made his way along one of the roads, steadily going toward the clinic. And she whispered it into her teacup, because there was no one around to hear.
“Beware of married men.”