Weeks passed and the leaves began to change. Soon it was time for her grandfather to make another journey to Kyoto. When the cart was loaded with paintings to be sold at the markets, it was time to say goodbye.
“Be good for your mother and father and take care—.”
“I know, Ojiisan,” she interrupted, laughing. “I’ll take good care of Obaachan for you. I promise.”
Jitsuko stood in the road with her mother, father and grandmother and waved as her grandfather drove the little horse into the road. She held Obaachan’s hand and watched until the cart disappeared from sight.
Not long after her grandfather's departure, Jitsuko’s grandmother became very sick. Jitsuko’s father sent a messenger to find Ojiisan in Kyoto. He had only just arrived in the great city, but he returned home immediately.
For days, Ojiisan remained at Obaachan’s side. He did not leave her room even to eat. Then, one morning, he emerged from the sickroom and slid the door closed behind him. His face was gray.
He nodded in response to the questioning eyes of Jitsuko and her mother and father, then he sat down on a cushion on the floor. He inhaled deeply and pulled Jitsuko onto his lap. She could feel his wrinkly cheek on her temple. She laced her small fingers through his and counted the blotches of ink that stained his hands.
They sat together for a long time, holding each other close. For some of that time, Jitsuko cried. But mostly, they sat very, very quietly.
That night, after everyone had gone to bed, Jitsuko lay awake. Over the sounds of the night, she heard her grandfather on the other side of the wall. He too was awake, tossing in his bed, sighing. After a while, she heard him rise and shuffle across the tatami floor. He slid his door open and stepped into the night air.
Jitsuko sat up and scooted off her futon. She crept across the cold wooden floor toward her own door that opened into the garden. Her grandfather was standing at the far end of the garden, gazing at the moon.
Jistuko stepped into the garden and walked softly, but the stones crunched beneath her feet.
“Jitsukochan?” her grandfather asked, his back toward her.
“It’s okay to cry, Ojiisan,” she told him.
Ojiisan grasped Jitsuko’s hand and nodded, and a large tear slid down his wrinkled brown cheek.
Why I Write?
I love words--their meanings, sounds and rhythms. I love they way that they, when perfectly placed, sing off the page. And I love ideas. I like to think that I have something to say--something to contribute to the world. I also love the nuances that can be communicated through writing--how, through writing, we can view a moment through a microscope and see every subtlety that we miss in real time. And good stories! And tension! All of this just by stringing words together!