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The Pearl
Long ago in the quiet village of Niyoko on Sakishima Island, there lived a maiden Shizu.

Shizu awoke to the sound of grass crickets as the warm sweet memories of a dream slowly began to fade.   As the fog began to lift, the sound of splashing fish mingled with the color of the rising dawn.

Walking to her doorway,  she met the waning moon and the mist . . . a pearl, a pearl had been in her dream, and a Prince, and a healing.

Shizu quickly gathered her clothes and ran down to the bay.  Disrobing, she prayed at the water's edge.  Then holding a knife between her lips, she dove deep into the ocean's embrace.  Swimming deeper and deeper, she was warmed by the memories of her dream.

She had almost filled the bag with oysters when she suddenly turned.  Behind her a barracuda silently approached.  Whirling with her knife now thrust deep into the barracuda's side, she wrestled free of it's thrashing death.  She burst to the surface pulling herself ashore collapsing on the glistening sand.

After a moment of rest, she knelt in prayer.  Turning to the bag of oysters she was drawn to one oyster which she picked up and pried opened.

It was the pearl, the pearl that had been in her dream.  A glow surrounded it, and her love for the Prince began to surface.

Wrapping the pearl in a scrap of cloth, she secured it in the folds of her garments.  Then turning to her dressing and grooming, she rinsed her hair in the sparkling water of a nearby spring.

As she hurried towards the castle she knew that the Prince would soon be expecting his breakfast.  When she quietly began to serve the meal, the Prince began to talk to her and tease her.  Emboldened by the conversation, she drew forth the pearl and placed it in his hand.

He looked not to where the pearl rolled smoothly in his palm but instead let it fall carelessly to the ground.   Recovering the pearl, Shizu bowed and excused herself and quietly retreated to the kitchen.














The Healing
The following morning, Shizu and her friend were giggling and tossing a cleaning rag back and forth.  Their laughter suddenly stopped as a servant entered the kitchen and announced that the Prince was very ill and dying.

Not thinking of the impertinence of her actions, Shizu quickly gathered her medicinal herbs and slipped past the guards to where the Prince lay unconscious, racked with fever.

Working ceaselessly, she applied healing herbs to his fevered body until she heard the sounds of the approaching guards.  As she rose to flee, the Prince called her back with a feeble gesture.  She worked all night applying the herbs, then collapsed into a deep sleep.

As she slept, invisible stings pulled Shizu erect from her slumber and dressed her in the robe of a Samurai.  Secured at her waist was a sword which she drew to battle the demon infecting the Prince's body.

She fought unceasingly but the demon never tired.   Fatigue begin to weigh her down as she struggled to survive.  As she weakened into surrender, she felt a force envelop her sending a calming power through her legs, back, arms, and neck.

The Prince steped behind her and they both held the sword which now cut through the air as the eagle slices the wind.  A precise thrust of the blade and the demon was gone.

When she awakens the Prince is sleeping calmlyThe fever had been broken.  Taking care not to awaken him, she took the pearl from her robe and placed it at his side.  Hearing a guard, she rans from the room.

The Gift
After m
any months pass, Shizu sits mended her nets in the waning light.

he hears a knock and slides open her door to see the Prince.  As leaves rustle and stir, she bows.  She looks up and notices a small wooden box in his hand.  As he hands her the box, the touch of their hands seals them for an instant from the world.  Opening the box, she finds a golden pin set with a beautiful pearl, the very one she drew from the ocean so many moons ago.

Outside of her hut, the Prince's entourage stirs.  She raises her gaze to see the Prince framed in her doorway, slowly descending from her house to the bridge.

In the distance, the castle, hunched immobile in the evening light, awaits their arrival.

Shizu lingered a moment, then returned to her work mending the nets.

Down - Dominique Hyldreth 
2022 Damon Hyldreth