Chapter 1: Two Black Swans
To better understand who I am, I'll have to tell you about the two girls that sent me on the path I am on today.
Their names were Eda Haruka and Juriko and I can't forget them if I tried. No words could describe their haunting beauty and be accurate about it. We all grew up in the same neighborhood, at the very end of the road to be specific. I did not know this until it was Christmas after the War. We all had a triangular bond going on back in the day. I felt like a pet serving two masters at once. They gave me their odd version of affections at certain times. Yet, I didn't care. I was happy to have the two pretty sisters notice me in this boring, rural neighborhood. Sometimes I wonder why we did not meet sooner. I saw them around once or twice in the rundown countryside village we lived in, but I didn't pay much attention to them. I had other things on my mind at the time, but I will get to that in a moment.
Back to Haruka and Juriko. They both looked so pretty, almost as much as the goddesses themselves. Many girls felt insecure about themselves when put next to the twins. We couldn't help but admit it: Juriko and Haruka were well-gifted in our neighborhood. One could say they looked like swans in human form. This turned out to be far from the truth. Foxes were a better animal to describe them both. The only things they were missing were the ears and tails. Even when I close my eyes I can see their beauty clearly. They both had lovely long midnight blue hair like delicate harp strings down to their waists. Juriko's laughter reminded me of flowing honey on a summer day. When she talked, beautiful music floated up to the Heavens. Haruka had her own beautiful traits as well. Her sharp tongue and wit were oddly appealing to the opposite sex. Their hands reminded me of swan's feathers. They always looked good in anything that they wore. Everyone took notice of swan-fox twins everywhere they went.
Yet, their beauty masked their truly cold nature. They knew that all too well. Juriko used her beauty and graces to her advantage with all of her admirers.
All of the boys loved Juriko. Many of them would ask her to be their girlfriend. Even I had a crush on her. Juriko had this weird sense of freedom that floated around her. Almost like one of the perfumes that she wore every day. That's one of the things about her that attracted boys to her. They always gave her many gifts. I found this out when I went in her room one day and saw the shrine of many toys, dresses, perfumes, make-up, cards, money purses, you name it; they gave it to her. It was like she was the local goddess in our village. Juriko, however, took them with such indifference. She used them for whatever she wanted. For her, if she could get boys to do anything she asked, that was perfect for her. But, she found me different.
I never had money to get her anything, but Juriko didn't seem to care. She kept me around whenever she wanted.
"She's only using you, you know," her sister, Haruka, told me often. I had that feeling, but I didn't care. Despite being just as beautiful as her sister, not many people noticed Haruka. She always stood in her sister's shadow. Haruka always looked angry about something. I had a good guess to what given her situation with Juriko. However, she acted as if it didn't bother her.
"I like being alone, thank you!" she snapped at me one day. "I can take care of myself!" Yet, I could see that she only wanted someone to notice her for one in her life. But, I noticed her. I always have.
"Why are you always angry?" I asked her constantly. Haruka refused to give me an answer.
"Why do you care so much?" she snapped at me on the summer of '47. I shrugged.
"Just cause. I want to get to know you both better," I said. Haruka snorted.
"You men are all the same!" she barked. "Once you meet Juriko, you all become her dogs to try and appease her. It's pathetic!" That may have been true, but it didn't stop me from following the twins around.
Why? Why did I stay around them? I was curious about them. How could two beautiful girls be so cruel and cold to everyone dear to them? What made them different from the other girls I had encountered in my life?
They had a long family secret, one that involved my grandmother. However, I wasn't aware of it at the time until years later in my early thirties.
One thing I couldn't understand in the beginning was why so many adults in our neighborhood feared those girls. The only thing I saw at such a young age was their beauty. As it turned out, it was the girls alone that the people feared. They belonged to a powerful fox clan. I can't really get too much into that for the time being. Juriko happily bragged about her heritage to all of the boys who would listen. They seemed fixed on every single one of her stories. I didn't really think much about them. For some reason, it all sounded like one myth piled on after another. Juriko's stories made me want to dig deeper into her and sister just to sort out fact from fiction.
I encountered these girls many times before 1950 and Haruka many years later. However, to better understand our relationship and the secrets that floated around these girls, I have to tell you more about myself.