She cannot return to peace. Her heart is looking for something or someone.
She had a name before she died. It didn’t matter to her at the time. Her world revolved around him. He only paid attention to her. They met around the Edo period during a long winter. She remembered that day because she had gotten lost in a snow storm trying to find food for her ailing mother. The snow was so thick that she couldn’t see where she was going. She shouldn’t have been out there. But her mother needed food and medicine.
“You don’t have to go out there,” her mother said in between coughs.
“But you are ill,” the daughter said. “I don’t want you to die.” She rose to her feet. “I will be back, I promise.”
“Be careful,” her mother said. Her daughter wrapped up in cloak and walked out the door.
To go into the village, she would have to cross through the woods. The snow had gotten so heavy that she couldn’t see where she was going. Maybe her mother was right. The storm had gotten worse than she first believed. Upon seeing the heavy flakes flying around, she made up her mind to go home. But when she tried to turn around, snow was all over the place. She couldn’t even see her footprints anymore. The snow seemed to close in around her. The tops of the trees blocked out the sky. She held her hand to her chest.
She closed her eyes and wished for someone to rescue her.
Suddenly, she felt a hand atop her head. She looked up and saw a pair of deep blue eyes looking back at her. She tried to fight off sleep.
“You…” she mumbled. The last thing she could remember was a pair of strong arms closing around her as everything went black.
The smell of home cooking tickled her nose. She awoke to find that she was home. When she looked around, she became more confused. How did I end up here? She pinched herself in the cheek. Everything looked the same. Her fingertips ran along her dry sheets. On the other side of the room, her mother was fast asleep. She looked more peaceful than she had all year.
“Oh good, you’re awake,” someone said. She turned her head forward. Those same blue eyes that she saw outside eyed her. This time, she a better look at their owner. The fire’s light couldn’t rival the glow of his short blonde hair. His brown and black robes hugged his lean figure. Something about his round face put her at ease.
“W-W-What happened to me?” she asked.
“I got lost in the snow myself,” he said. “I was trying to find my way back to the road when I spotted you wandering around as well. I grabbed onto you just before you collapsed. I held you close to keep you warm.” Her cheeks suddenly felt warm.
“Oh,” she said. “Uh… thanks, I guess.” He walked over to her bed and placed her hand on her forehead.
“Are you okay?” he asked.
“Yes!” she was quick to say. “How is my mother?” She tried to get up, but he gently pushed her back into her bed.
“Shhh, shhh,” he said. “It’s okay. It’s okay.”
“What about my mother…”
“She’s fine. I gave her a little medicine and she’s sleeping right now.” His smooth olive oil voice put her pounding heart at ease. She still stared him down.
“I don’t understand,” she said. He raised his eyebrow.
“Understand what?” he asked. She slowly shook her head.
“Why are you doing all of this for me?” she asked. He smiled as he pushed her hair behind her ear.
“Because,” he said. “You’re letting me.” His words were enough to pierce her in the heart.
They would only reunite when it snowed. Her mother was rather delighted to see him around. He wasn’t rich or royalty, but he talked like a gentleman and took care of the women on the worst of snow days. Even when her mother died, he still showed up when it was snowing. In the years that he arrived, she realized that her life became motivated by him.
“Marry me,” she said in bed one snowy day in the Meji Era. He took her by the cheeks and kissed her on the lips.
“I will, my love,” he said. She rested her head against his chest.
But then, he disappeared. For years, she waited for him to return. Her heart raced when the snow started to fall. She couldn’t forget him if she tried. She didn’t even know his name, but that didn’t matter to her. She never married or looked at another man again. Many suitors came to her in vain. Upon her deathbed, she swore that she would find her beloved again and reunite with him.
It would take years of waiting and searching in the afterlife. Many humans heard about her story and built a shrine where her house used to be in her honor. They laid flowers, sake, and little rice cakes at the altar. In a way, it made her feel loved. Maybe the more others heard her story, the greater her chances of finding him again.
One snowy day in December 2017, she floated down by her shrine to see what was left for her this time.
But, she wasn’t alone this time.
A man with bright blonde hair and brown and grey robes dropped a dried red rose at the shrine. The sight of him made her heart race. She just had to know for certain.
Meanwhile, he had just finished his prayer when he froze. He smiled as he turned around. She stood there with wide eyes and mouth covered.
“It’s you,” she said.
“Yes,” he said.
“Why did you leave me?”
“I was dying.”
She shook her head with a strange look on her face. “Why didn’t you come back for me?” He walked up and pulled her into his arms.
“You still had living to do, my love,” he said. He lifted her chin and saw tears in her eyes. He brushed them away with his thumb.
“Please don’t cry anymore,” he said. They shared a deep kiss as the faded away in the heavy snow.
This is My Winter Song to You
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