Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Night Wind - One face, Two Hearts

The walk home was slow and jagged. She kept having to dodge people and half-seen obstacles in her path. She would have been thoroughly annoyed if not for the fact that is was all her own fault. She'd kept turning around to see if a tall shock of gleaming black hair was following her home.

Her ego was dented by the fact that he had not spoken to her. Nor did he linger in the corridors and walkways out of the Chinese master's house. It was rather annoying.

She knew his eyes had dwelled upon her face like the dewy drops of the morning rain. She fretted that he had not made any appeal for her attention. She analysed the reasons why.

Was he married? He did not look married. He certainly did not carry the air of self-satisfaction and bucolic complacency she had always seen in the married men in her family.

Was he shy? He was rather quiet during the class. Perhaps that was it. He was too dazzled by her beauty to speak.

Mildly mollified by this self rationalisation, she went home to be warned that her father had been asking about her whereabouts. Slightly alarmed, she changed into her customary court dress and set about winding her father around her little finger. If she was to pursue her new interest, keeping him happy and unsuspecting was of the utmost importance.

Throughout dinner, Night Cloud cast her disapproving looks of rebuke. She blithely ignored them and kept up an animated chatter about her class that day with the other court ladies. She wished her sister would open her heart. mind and eyes to the world beyond their gates. Surely she could see that the past was long gone and the future beckoned with an eye on the West?

Critically, she eyed Night Cloud over her bowl of lime-scented coconut soup. She had the same thick glossy locks. Her skin might even be more luminous than Night Wind's. But her face was slightly broader and the younger sister prided her facial features as a trifle more refined. They had identical eyes but the lambent light of curiosity was missing in Night Cloud's. Instead, they held a soft, gentle warmth that was kind and inviting.

Lazily, Night Wind thought her sister needed to modernise her look. But she knew deep down she was rather appeased by the idea that she was the lambent flame to Night Wind's quiet embers.

A sudden flash of jealousy seared across her consciousness for a fleeting second as she wondered if he would have preferred her twin's soft femininity to her bold beauty. Quickly, she dismissed the silly notion. No one has ever preferred the quieter twin. She had seen his eyes linger on her. She just needed to know what made him tick.

As she prepared for bed, she let the hypnotic massaging and brushing of her hair lull her into a dreamlike state. She mused over the man's eyes. They looked blue yet sometimes grey. They were so clear as he looked at her yet the intensity belied their soft colour. She shivered deliciously as she recollected the heat from their strong gaze. 

Unconsciously she stroked her cheek as she imagined his eyes tarrying along the soft curve and dewy skin. Her maid's eyes followed the movement of her hand in confusion and turned back to exchange puzzled looks with Night Cloud.

Who was eyeing her sister intensely. The unease in her heart growing. She had sensed a troubling agitation in her twin today. All day she had chattered more maniacally than normal. You could hardly make out her sentences the way they ran into each other like the new trains that the English seemed to be trying to build.

She was worried. Something told her an evil spirit now inhabited her sister's shadow. These classes she kept leaving the palace for were obviously not a good thing. She wondered how she could stop Night Wind's forays outside without betraying her to their father. Something had to be done. She could not allow the evil spirit to grow and fester in her sister's shadow.

She made a silent note to consult the spirit woman the next day to cast out the evil from her sister's tainted spirit. She knew she would not sleep that night. She had to keep an eye on the ghostly shade of evil to ensure it did not overwhelm her flighty twin.

As they laid their heads upon the beds, one twin dreamt of the ensemble she would don the next day to catch more than the eyes of a blue-grey eyed idol and the other prayed to their family idols to protect their home from the encroaching menace of the outside world.

Same faces. Two hearts. Different dreams.

Copyright reserved by Raised Eyebrow.  Please do not copy or republish without permission.