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[x] I snuck in.
I held the rice bowl in one hand and the carnation in the other as I stared at the plain oak door. A different wood from the rest of the basement. They must have installed it after the temple’s construction. Or transformation.
Byakuren’s chanting continued. We had only recently gone out to eat. Did she forget to tell them? Did they forget she said anything? I pushed the rim of the bowl with my thumb, rotating it through my hand. Was there another purpose to this bowl? A token of concern?
Well, I wasn’t one to fret over small details, so I patted the wall, found a crack only a hair’s breadth wide, and squeezed in. From within the infinite space between spaces, I found…
No outlets. None where I wanted, anyway. I stepped back out. I stroked my chin, considering the oddity that this presented. I wished to make myself known, but also to do so inconspicuously. I ran a hand down where the door met its frame. The same principles that allowed me to travel through cracks did work on other gaps, but things could get strange when I used those.
Down here the doors had hinges and levers, which did not help me. But I was not about to wait any longer, so I slid the lever down and nudged the door inward. Metal slid against metal and wood against wood, but it did so in small, slow increments.
I got it open just far enough to squeeze through, then slipped to the other side and guided it closed. With a quiet snap, the latch caught, and I turned around.
Byakuren sat, legs crossed with each foot resting on the opposite thigh. Her hands laid, palms up, over her knees as her chant continued. I considered my own body quite well-honed, and yet I couldn’t help but wince at witnessing her contorted legs.
I sat down across from her, merely crossing my legs as I rested my back against the door. The turmoil in her heart had eased, but barely. Though the relative calm, I made out one thing. Her desire for transcendence had overcome the rest, but that a yearning for something still gnawed at her. What that was, I couldn’t tell.
Her chanting drifted off.
She gave me a tired sigh. “What do you want?”
I set the rice bowl in her lap. She opened her eyes and picked it up.
“Your followers are quite attentive.” It was the one thing they had over mine, after all. Except Futo. No one beat her in raw enthusiasm. I preferred the quiet of my own side, of course.
“They’re good people.” Byakuren ran a finger along the bowl’s rim. “But it seems they forgot to include a utensil.”
Sure enough, no chopsticks adorned the bowl’s rim.
She set it on the floor beside her. “I suppose it’s the thought that counts.”
I cleared my throat, lifting the flower from my lap. “I have a gift for you. My love.” I extended it toward her.
Byakuren looked down on it, frowning in consideration. Gingerly, she reached out and took it. “Thank you.” She held it before her eyes, thinking.
I reached out and slid a hand down her arm. “Need some company?”
She blinked, cheeks flushed. “Company? I don’t… no. I’m fine.”
“Perhaps some entertainment? A song, perhaps?”
She set the carnation in her lap and stared down at it.
I clicked my tongue. “This is the problem.”
She looked back up, blinking.
“We have an act to perform, but we’re both crap at our roles.”
“No one’s watching us, Miko.”
“They will be.”
She sighed. “I know, I know. It’s just so confusing. You…” She looked to me, then bit her tongue. She leaned down again. “It’s different. It feels strange. And it’s not an act.”
I studied her eyes.
She faced me back. “We’re married, Miko. We have duties to each other now, and we’re going to fulfill them until they end.”
I listened to the temple. A couple desires to know our conversation emerged, but none approached the basement yet.
[ ] I argued with her.
[ ] I listened to her concerns.
[ ] I invited her to an outdoor stroll.
[ ] I insisted on some practice.
[ ] Write-in.
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Timer ended at: 2018/12/11(Tue)19:00