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One Last Dance

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By TestPublished 6 months ago Updated 6 months ago 4 min read
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Hisacho walked slowly along the cobbled path with a deliberate grace, an elegance practised and honed since childhood. Dressed in her usual Kimono, a masterpiece in silk, embroidered subtly with the delicacy of the human hand. it had outlived its creator. The vibrant crimson and gold of her youth had given way to more fragile pastels, befitting her age, she believed.

Her routine had become one of simplicity. Each morning, she would rise with the Kyoto sun. A luxury she had never been afforded in her youth. Working late nights in the tea houses and sleeping until noon had slanted her younger years in the silhohettes of darkness. She relished this new time. The peace of early morning. The beauty of the awakening sun. It had become sacred.

Seated next to her window, she would sit sipping her green tea quietly, watching the seasons and light shift synchronously. She liked the soft lull of autumn light most of all. But the summer shifts reminded her of the twinkling chords of the samisen. A memory to cherish.

After her tea ritual, Hisako would tend to her small garden. Speaking softly to the plants that grew under her care; azaleas, chrysanthemums, and her favourite, a solitary cherry blossom tree.

As the city rose into its steady hum, Hisako would prepare for her few remaining clients. She had become a niche in a rapidly changing world. A living monument of all that had gone before. Her appearance at odds with the jeans and sneakers of youth.

Her make up routine had become an act of defiance. Clients or none, she would seat herself at her dresser, each stroke of white painted carefully with a determination not to yield. She had come to dress for herself not for hope of a Mizuage. It had given her a freedom she had never previously known. Her performances now were simple tea ceremonies, unlike the ostentatious affairs of her youth, they were discreet - more intimate gatherings. In darker moments, she missed the applause. The adoration, but the muted reverence of her oldest patron’s suited her better now.

In the evenings, Hisako would often walk by the Kamo River, a wry smile painted on her lips as she watched the city lights ripple across the dark waters. She remembered a time when there were not so many and the glow of night had pooled in points of interest - the lovers taking advantage of the shadows, stealing a kiss before continuing their walk, hand in hand. Now it was so different. The younger generation passed by her, their lives an effervescent blur of motion and sound. She liked to watch them. The bustling. The animated chatter. But still, she often wondered what they yearned for when the streetlights dimmed.

Next to the river of her childhood, memories would come to her like falling autumn blossom – floating downwards, before resting on her cheeks so she could touch them in her hands. Cup them in between her fingers.

She remembered her days as a young, naive Maiko. The relentless pursuit of perfection not just in appearance but in the mastery of the arts. The elocution lessons. The dancing. Miharu, her mentor –the beauty with the critical eye. They had remained steadfast friends until her passing many years ago. She missed her in the evenings most of all. The time when they would have been laughing at the follies of men as they prepared for a performance backstage. It was under her tutelage that she had blossomed into a celebrated Geisha, known for her elegance and artistry. People had come to Kyoto just to see her. Them.

One evening, as the sun slowly filtered into the neon light of the river, Hisako decided to take a different path for her walk, venturing deeper into the heart of the city than she had in many years. As she walked along the cobbles of Higashiyama, she was met with an unexpected sound. The longing of the bachi as it stuck the elongated chords of the shamisen. She had not heard it played by another in many years.

Intrigued, she followed the melancholic beauty of the music until she found herself in front of Tsūen, the old tea house she had frequented so often in the past. Hesitantly, she slid through the door.

Inside, a group of young people were mesmerised by a young woman performing a traditional dance. Her movements were graceful and deliberate, but not those of a Maiko. That barely registered to Hisako though, she was not captivated by the dance but the audience. Their eyes fixated on the solitary figure, watching intently with a profound appreciation for the art they were witnessing.

Overwhelmed with emotion and surprise, Hisako retreated into a quiet corner and watched. Her heart clenching as the realisation that she would not die with the craft took hold. The legacy and the spirit of the Geisha would live on despite her.

The performance came to an end, and in the small room between the applause, their eyes met. The dancer stared unflinchingly into her eyes. Come. She walked towards her, the silk of her scarlet kimono clinging to her slight thighs.

"Excuse me," she whispered, her voice caught in a dream "I cannot help but notice your grace. You have the aura of someone who truly understands the art we cherish. Please would you honour us by your presence?"

Hisako stared at the girl. Caught between memories of youth and the reality of change. She nodded. She would. One last dance.

The room was silent as she stepped across the stage.

With a practiced nod to the musician, she began her way home to the timbre of the shamisen.

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