We'll kick it off this week with our first prompt, which you can see to the left. I'll update with a new prompt every Sunday Night (I'll email to notify you and goad you into submitting!) Use the prompt, ignore it, make fun of it, write a better prompt and post it, whatever you like, just write!
Here's my first, falls into the "Something Old" category, wrote it for my creative writing class in London, 4 years ago. Criticize, interpret, edit, rip it up.
The kimono clung to Hiroshi as he started to sweat. Thousands of tiny beads eked their way through his skin, along his thighs and back, soiling the lining of the pure white silk. Hiroshi strained to keep himself rigid and unmoving as the rivulets of sweat crisscrossed down his spine and shoulders, disrupting his calm. He had been waiting most of the afternoon to begin, and the sun was starting to sink lazily towards the horizon.
For hours he had kept himself still, his chin thrust proudly, his face and shoulders set, his gnarled hands shaking only slightly from the pain in his knuckles. His legs were tucked neatly under him on the square of crimson silk set in the middle of the courtyard. Before him lay his instrument and a cup of tea made of second-quality porcelain, long turned tepid. His hands were folded in his lap, his twisted, battered knuckles intertwined; try as he might, he could not keep his hands from shaking, feeling sharply the pain lingering deep in his sinews that slowed the blood and numbed his cold fingertips.
As he tried to dismiss the pain in his hands and the maddening crawl of sweat across his thighs, he felt a pang of relief; he would soon be free of the weaknesses of flesh.
Hiroshi closed his eyes and tried to ward away the nagging distractions of his environment; the sweat, the stiffness in his legs, the constant buzzing of the mosquitoes, and the suffocating presence of the crowd. They had filled the courtyard in the early afternoon, lords and ladies, peasants and servants, crowding around each other to see. Three young boys had gone so far as to vault the top of the tiled wall to get a good view, only to be shooed away by the elderly gardener, who reprimanded them about respect and honor and ceremony; then went on gawking with the rest of them. A small girl, with a silver-and-pearl comb in her hair, had dashed into the courtyard across from Hiroshi, her little brown eyes directly in line with his as he knelt. She stared with furious curiosity, and perhaps a glimpse of what Hiroshi had taken for compassion.
The afternoon dragged on, the dry heat of midday becoming the oppressive humidity of the evening. The lords and ladies flipped out their fans, the heat addling their irritations while ebbing their patience. First respectful silence, then quips of small talk, then a storm of whispering and gossiping. When did he get here? What is he trying to prove? Surely it won’t be that much longer? What is he waiting for? Long, hot hours passed, and with no immediate resolution to the disturbance Hiroshi was causing, the mumbling mosquitoes began to file out, muttering excuses or apologies, turning away in a chorus of sighs and shuffling feet. Hiroshi noticed that the girl had left behind her silver-and-pearl comb.
Hiroshi felt himself near to vomiting at the lack of respect. If not for him, at least for the ceremony; the act of seppuku is the ultimate expression of duty and honor, not some afternoon entertainment to be ogled at and giggled about! The grotesqueness of his audience, the heat of the day, so many distractions and blasphemies as he was so close to glorious oblivion! Hiroshi broke his stoic gaze and allowed himself a brief glance at the instrument before him. The blade was simple, straight, as long as his forearm, still in its lacquered black sheathe, with a simple handle of worn brown leather. Beneath these humble garments, he knew his blade was polished to perfection and razor sharp. So simple, so beautiful by being simple, Hiroshi thought.
A blade never succumbed to the corruptions and stupidities of men; if polished and sharpened and cleansed with blood, given respect, given love, a blade would last through eternity, even as the world around it sickened and decayed. Oh how he longed to feel the solid, worn grip of the blade in his hands, to thrust away the cup of tea at his feet, and to plunge the beautiful dagger into his belly, the pain tearing him from this disgusting world and purging his dishonor and ripping his soul from his ache-ridden body as his spirit flew onward! The first cut, from right to left across his gut, mimicking the line of the horizon, severing his ties to the earth, and the second, a sharp, violent thrust upward to his heart, pointing his soul towards heaven! Then his second, the man poised behind him with sword in hand, would scream his honorable cry, bringing down his blade with terrible force to remove Hiroshi’s head with a single, vicious blow, ending the ceremony, ending life, ending suffering, ending all, but beginning his glorious journey to meet his ancestors.
He tore his eyes from the knife and closed them, forcing himself to wait. He tried to shut out the thoughts that were pushing to the edges of his mind, disturbing his harmony in these final, clear moments. The letter he’d received from his Lord, the horrible duty he’d asked him to perform, the gentle urgings of his wife to tell his Lord, so sorry, the letter was lost on the way. The smile on her face as he told her he had to do his duty, still a smile, but with darkness pulling at the corners, her big brown eyes glossing so subtly with deep, penetrating sadness. The cold pounding of the rain on the Day, the screams of the young men as he slaughtered them, the look of helpless apology on his Lord’s face as he placed the blame on Hiroshi before the court. So many stupidities and emotions and evils all assaulting his harmony before his last act, threatening to ruin his salvation, the noise in his mind deafening; suddenly shattered by the sound of the murmuring behind him stopping and the steps of one man echoing through the courtyard. Hiroshi allowed himself a smile. He had come before sundown, just as he’d promised.
Hiroshi’s second took a step forward, and Hiroshi heard his hand close around his blade with the creak of soft leather. Hiroshi pulled himself to sit up straight, took a last glance at the sun, reached down to his perfect blade and began.