Before the Moon Cries

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction FEVER' started by Calligraphy, Jul 15, 2017.

  1. Calligraphy

    Calligraphy sarNie Adult

    [​IMG]
    "Before the Moon Cries"


    Synopsis:
    After the death of her mother, Bai Yun was forced into a ghost marriage initiated by her father. From there, she met the compassionate eldest son of the Cao's, Qiu Ru, who was the brother of her dead husband, Tian Wei.


    I'm aware that I have like two other stories on here that I didn't even come close to finishing since I lost interest in them.....lol. Currently, I am focusing on this one. Hope you guys don't mind. :)
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2017
  2. Calligraphy

    Calligraphy sarNie Adult

    Chapter One
    The pipa’s string echoed through the secluded chamber. Dark, wooden, and homely furniture decorated the room, and the only contrast was the painting of a lotus flower that was hung across the entrance door. A warm fire pit sat in the center of the room as it steamed the chamber with its natural energy like it always did during the white mornings. A cord plucked from my pipa, and the flame changed direction. Another string played, and the flame differed in hue. My fingers teased the strings on the instrument, and so it produced the score that my birth mother taught me before she ascended to the next realm. Her last words to me were: “I’ve become the object of scorn, and so only my child has come and bid me farewell. I’ve done nothing in your favor since your birth as I am nothing but a mere concubine. Now I can only wish for you to vow with your loved one, Bai Yun.” Her hands glided down from mine. She died from an incurable illness two weeks ago.

    Meixiu was my mother’s maiden name. She once was nothing but a mere performer of the pipa at a Peking theatre. Rumors about her talent and beauty unfurled through the city, and that was how she met my father; he visited the theatre to confirm the accuracy of the rumor like what most curious men did. Upon their meeting, she described him to be an attractive man with vulgarities. Not long after he saw my mother for the first time, my father enforced his authority as a noble, and coerced my mother into marriage. On the night of a crescent moon, she became his concubine reluctantly. One year later, my mother gave birth to me, the second Miss in the household, subsequent to my older half-sister, Qiao Lian. She informed me that my father never congratulated her about my existence; he was actually gloomier than before. When I was around the age of mischievousness, I questioned his intentions towards my mother since it wasn’t impossible to recall the times he visited us with haste to depart from our unornamented living quarter. He usually came, then left after a brief dialogue with my mother about our well being. Words were never exchanged between us. I had only seen him from a range of 10 paces or more.

    The melody came to an end, so I rested my pipa on the table beside me gently; the way how my mother had always instructed me. Then I stood up, and walked myself to the fire, hoping to receive more heat from the flames that began to cease in power during the song. Although there was no snow outside, my chamber was stricken with coldness. It casted an eerie feeling for I had never experienced such extreme temperature in an early autumn day. My hands rubbed against each other for warmth, but its friction halted when my chamber door opened. Inert, I had become.

    My father came towards me with a stern face after closing the door to the chamber, both of his hands were behind his back, a position for scholars in contemplation. He wore a silk black changshan underneath his pomegranate colored traditional mandarin collar long sleeve shirt. Some strands of his grey hair were visible due to the light that trespassed the rice paper door. Steps that he took were steadily composed, contradicting every traits of his vulgarities during youth. He came close enough to me, where if I had only taken four paces ahead, I would feel his breathing. Our eyes met for a period of time.

    “Today is a cold morning,” said my father as he maintained the same position.

    I quickly readjusted my position so that I was facing him in a formal manner: straightened back, head held up gracefully, and hands cupped together at the front. I performed a traditional greeting bow to my father. He unfolded his hands from the back and gestured his right palm to the ceiling. “Rise,” he said in a staccato voice. It was inevitable for me to disregard the command. The sound of the crackling wood in the fire became the new symphony that stocked the chamber.

    “What is your reason for coming here today, father?” I asked in a quiet frightened voice.

    “Do I always need to have a reason to come see my own daughter?” replied my father with vigor as he threw both of his palms in the air.

    I paused, wondering if I had asked an inappropriate question. “No, of course you don’t. I spoke incorrectly.” A nervous smile approached my face automatically. I assumed that it was because of my father’s presence, the presence that I so long yearned for since childhood beside my mother’s.

    His aged finger directed towards me. “You have your mother’s smile.” He invited himself to the wooden chair which sat before the fireplace. That chair was dedicated to him, as it was the only chair that he sat on whenever he visited. I followed his footsteps.

    “Bai with the characters of white. Yun with the marks of a cloud. Born in the year of the tiger. A white cloud that guards the tiger in the heavenly mountains. It’s well, indeed,” said father analytically. He continued to observe me with a blank eye. He paused at the sight of my hands and pointed to them. “You inherited your smile and your hands from your mother. The melody of your pipa is just like your mother’s,” he said with closed eyes, a sign of reminiscing.

    I stepped forward calmly. “Father, allow me to be straightforward.” He opened his eyes, then closed it after a nod; I began to pace myself back and forth before him. “I was born in the year of the tiger, enabling me for marriage from now on. Father had not visited mother and I much as seasons passed. Although my mother was dressed in plain burial clothes, I’ve never sensed your presence; I wasn’t surprised. Today on a cold autumn day, father approached me unexpectedly, and everything that father had said was related to the traits that father loved in mother.” A moment of silence occurred as I stopped pacing myself back and forth. I turned to face father that held an authority demeanor. “Who is it that I am betrothed to?” I asked. My blurred vision viewed the diffused man sitting in the chair sedately.

    “You have your logics from me,¨ said father after a hysteric laugh. Pushing himself up from the chair with the guidance of the end table, I could see a pair of snowed eyes. The sound of his steps echoed closer by each decreasing distance; he stopped in front of me. “The Cao household will become your in-laws. Cao Tian Wei is your husband.” He paused for a moment as he inhaled deeply, then continued, “You and him will be performing a wedding ceremony. A wedding ceremony that consists the rituals of a ghost marriage.” My body exhibited a shiver involuntarily; my eyelids flickered open.

    “What?” I mumbled a few sighs meanwhile my head shook violently. “Because I am a concubine’s child, father have decided to bestow me a marriage of isolation. It has not even passed one month of mother’s death anniversary,” I said resentfully. A sharp pain erupted from my throat, and a warm sting began behind my eyes.

    "I’ve already made my decision. Next week they will come and get you,” said father emotionless.

    I stared at him with hatred and said, “I will not marry. Kill me if you wish to since it’s just as similar as marrying to a dead husband. I will not live a life like mother who married, but never received any affection from her hus—” my voice met the palm of my father’s. It was a loud and aggressive collision between the cheek of mine and his hand. He slowly retreated his hand that slapped me to the side, and I stared at him bitterly. The feelings of loathing, disgust, and melancholy reflected through my tears-filled twinkling eyes. Holding it back became ineluctable. My father pointed at my mother’s spirit tablet that stood above the chair that he had just sat on. The spirit tablet allowed me to feel my mother’s presence; it was my only efficient place of worship to my mother.

    “That spirit tablet is in my manor. I can do anything to it if I want to. If you disregard this marriage and continue to be an unfilial daughter, I will personally damage that spirit tablet right in front of your eyes. Not only will I do that, but I will go to your mother’s very own gravesite, and order my men to dig her body up. Then, I will cremate her corpse right before you so that you can see what will happen to a daughter who have become unfilial to her father,” he said to me headstrong. Streams of tears came out uncontrollably; my throat indulged itself in a heightened pain.

    “No!” I exclaimed. My knees quickly met the hard cold floor as I begged my father for forgiveness. “I’m wrong, and unfilial. I will proceed with this marriage. Please, I beg you, father. Please don’t tear down my mother’s spirit tablet and burn her body. I want her to have an afterlife filled with tranquility, and I don’t want to be the one that ruins it her.” I grabbed onto the bottom of my father’s changshan, and gently pulled on it, waiting for his response. He stared down at me, then lifted my upper body off the ground.

    “I will prepare your dowries. You should spend some time preparing yourself too,” he said in a consoling voice meanwhile patting my shoulders lightly. I conducted a faint bow in response, and while I did so, I spotted a tear stain on the concrete floor. It was a fresh one; the dome was still protruding. The concrete had not yet absorbed it.

    ~~~​

    “Master Rui allowed his daughter to marry my older brother? How is that even possible? Who will allow their daughter to go through a ghost marriage, and let them marry a dead person?” asked Xiao Ping, who was fueled with curiosity. He paced himself from pillar to post across the room, unconsciously flashing his newly tailored western suit from an established shop.

    “Although she is marrying our dead son, we will not mistreat her. Perhaps, we may even treat her better than you, Xiao Ping,” said my mother facetiously as she pointed at Xiao Ping, who had stopped moving like a child in distress, and gave off a warm smile. All of her smiles were always a motherly one, I couldn’t deny that. She had provided my brothers and I with love accompanied with the art of discipline since youth for she was a traditional person. Her hair was made into a bun at the back, and her aged silky black hair reflected off the beams of the sun. It was all too well for her; there wasn’t a strand of grey hair.

    “Eh, ma! How can you say that to me? I am Cao Xiao Ping, the third son in the noble household of the Cao’s. No one can replace such a valuable person like me,” proclaimed Xiao Ping in a haughty tone. He then walked to the chair next to mine and sat down quietly.

    I crossed my legs in a relaxed position. A foreigner’s posture in a changshan wasn’t my intention, but it was comfortable. “Mother, what is the name of Master Rui’s daughter. I believe it is only proper for us to know her name.” I uncrossed my legs, and positioned myself up forth, facing my mother who was sitting in the intricately carved wooden chair at the center of the room. A table decorated with exquisite porcelain vases stood between my mother’s left side, and after that, another intricately carved wooden chair left vacant; it was the chair reserved for my father.

    “Bai Yun is her name, Rui Bai Yun. She is born in the year of the tiger,” answered mother.

    “Bai written in five ; Yun written in four . She is born in the year of the tiger; a white cloud that guides the tiger,” I said with a smile. Based off from the information, I imagined her to be a modern woman filled strength and independency. It enabled me to question her manners even further.

    “She is the child of Master Rui’s concubine. Ye—”

    “That’s why Master Rui agreed to giver her up! A concubine’s child can never be taken so seriously,” interrupted Xiao Ping. He clashed his hands together creating deafening sound to my ears. Mother looked at him in disappointment with a shaking head.

    “Master Rui refused to give us Bai Yun. He said that even though she has a low birth, she is still his youngest daughter, and he is unable to force her into a ghost marriage. Your father was only able to force him to accept the marriage by bringing up a debt that Master Rui owe us, ” said mother, disproving Xiao Ping’s logic.

    My doubt about this agreement between Master Rui and my parents was correct. When father informed me that he had selected a bride for second brother, I was dumbfounded just as much as Xiao Ping was, although I composed myself better than Xiao Ping. It was unbelievable for any father to lend his daughter to a dead husband that would accomplish nothing. Worst of all, no father would be able to endure seeing their daughter living in a loveless marriage. The ghost’s bride would have to live a chaste life, disapproving any affections from other men, which could only result in the shed of tears. If my son, Cao Guowei, happened to die, I would not seek a bride for him. Indirectly imprisoning my daughter-in-law wasn’t a virtue I believed in. Because of this, I could only find fault in this ghost marriage happening before me. “Mother, if Master Rui refused to lend us his daughter, we should just understand, and let him go. It is of wrong conduct to corner Master Rui in order to reap our own benefit,” I said as I stood up to face mother.

    “Qiu Ru, what are you implying?” asked mother from her seat.

    I slightly bowed down to mother and said, “Before second brother died, he informed me that he didn’t believe in ghost marriages, so there is no valid reason to pursue a bride. Please respect his decision, and withdraw from this marriage.”

    An arm unexpectedly hooked onto my shoulders. I jolted up and saw that it was Xiao Ping’s. “Are you crazy! Not everyone is this lucky to find a living bride for their dead sons!” He turned to face mother, then stated, “Ma, we have to go with this marriage. This is what they call finding a diamond in the desert. We can’t let this opportunity escape from our grasp.”

    “Xiao Ping is right,” said mother sternly. She shifted her head towards my direction. “Qiu Ru, you and your second brother have always understood each other since young. I believe you that your brother said those things. However, if your father and I reject this marriage, then who will pay respect to your brother if he doesn’t have his own descendants? Tian Wei died at a tender age, and this caused him not to have any children of his own. By allowing this marriage to happen, only then can his wife adopt a child, and that child will be his child. From there, he will then have his own descendants to worship his spirit tablet.”

    “If no one will pay respect to second brother’s spirit tablet, then I will. I am his older brother, I am capable of doing anything for him,” I said stubbornly. My posture transitioned to an offense.

    “Even if you are willing to worship your brother, will Guowei be willing to? Will Guowei’s future children be willing to?” responded mother with her voice raised at the very last word.

    It was the reality. Although I could worship second brother’s spirit tablet, it wasn’t guaranteed that my future lineage would walk in the same footsteps. I took rigid backward steps in the sign of defeat. “If mother and father had already decided on this wedding’s procession, then I have no right to obstruct such ambition of my parents. However, I want you and father to be aware that I will not participate in this wedding’s procession in any senses,” I said firmly as I turned around to exit the building.

    “Ma, is Qiu Ru crazy? What is he getting mad for?” asked Xiao Ping. It was the last words I heard from that room since I had already taken a dozen of paces away from their existence.



    The wedding day arrived. Red banners of congratulatory hung around the Cao’s residence, stripping the will to breathe from the walls. Servants rustled clumsily within the residence as they tried to dodge each other from any impaction yet, everything was done in swift motions which eliminated blaring noises. Some of the servants were assigned the duty of clearing up second brother’s chamber, an “immaculate room” was what mother ordered. Second brother’s chamber was located across from mine; we called it the Second Chamber. The First Chamber was mine, and the Third Chamber was Xiao Ping’s which was next my chamber. Once Bai Yun perform the marriage ceremony, she would be mandated to occupy the Second Chamber since she would then have the status of Second Miss in the Cao’s household.

    My wife, Yi Gui, was the First Miss. It was a mild night, and the stars casted bright rays; a perfect night according to one’s imagination. But such a perfect night could hold a dangerous route; Yi Gui was in labor. From an outsider’s perspective, if they were to have viewed Yi Gui, they would’ve thought of her as a blossoming flower that would not shed its petals before twilight. But the reality was that the flower’s petals had already surrendered to the fierce wind during dawn; it had fallen. After giving birth to Guowei, my wife died due to her feeble condition caused by the labor.

    A servant walked in front of as if I was non-existent. “Halt it,” I commanded. The servant looked up to me, then quickly bowed. His face was filled with apprehension. Although I had the power to tease servants and make a fool out of them by pretending to sentence them to a few flogs, I never took part of it for I despised it.

    “What is it that Young Master wants? I… if you want anything, you can order me,” said the servant. I eyed him from feet to hair with an arching eyebrow. His black ragged and dull mandarin hat rested on his head repulsively. The changshan’s vest that he wore collected smudges of unknown dirt pebbles, so without hesitation I stepped forward, and tried to wipe off the dirt from the vest with my palm. He backed away and resisted, but I persisted. Not long after, his vest was free of dirt. Yet, it had soil stains. My hands reached into my changshan where a pocket was sewn on, then pulled out a few yen and raised it up to his face.

    “Take this money, and go buy a new outfit,” I said.

    “I can’t take the money,” said the servant timidly.

    “Who says I’m going to give it to you for free?” The servant looked up at me, and I responded with a slight shrug. “Tell me where Guowei is.”

    “He’s in his chamber reading a book,” responded the servant.

    “Here, now take it.” I inched the money closer to his expression. He grabbed the money guiltily, and quickly left. I proceeded to Guowei’s chamber. We named it the Laughter Chamber.



    Guowei was indeed reading. Although he was only seven years of age, he was well versed in The Analects. I remembered when second brother and I were still young, father forced us to be knowledgeable of The Analects. We stayed up until dusk encoding the proverbs within it, and when everybody else fell into their slumber, Tian Wei and I would secretly grind colorful ink sticks onto ink stones. He would dip the goat hair brush into the hue of sky, then routinely handed it to me. I would childishly shake my head as I took the brush in my hand, and illustrate a stream of water. After the image was drawn, we would look at it, then produced sincere giggles. Tian Wei and I thought that by defying father’s order that prohibited us to use colored ink sticks, we had become independent. What an amazing fairytale that was.

    Guowei got out of his chair, and pounded his little feet against the cement floor as he ran into my arms. I picked up his featherweight figure effortlessly, and pecked his pouty cheeks with my lips, a gesture that father would’ve never done.

    “Dad, what is happening today? Are you going to marry?” asked Guowei with a slanted head.

    “Why did you say that?” I responded. Guowei scratched his head in contemplation.

    “I learned that those red banners around the house are supposed to bless newly wed couple. Am I right?”

    “Of course you are! But what does that have to do with me getting married?” I asked him with a smile as I pinched his nose aggressively.

    “Second uncle is dead, and third uncle is mean. No one will want to marry him. One time he—”

    “Enough. Guowei, that’s enough. Don’t talk like that about your third uncle. I understand,” I interrupted in a calm voice. Suddenly, the sound of the high pitched double reeded horn reached the house. The voices of people began to emerge from the outside.

    “What is happening outside dad?” asked Guowei as he peered at the rice paper door.

    “The bride has arrived.”

    ~~~​

    I stepped into the Cao’s residence that was filled with laughter and applause. Unable to see what was ahead of me due to the red veil that masked my face, I had to rely on the woman that guided me by the arms. If she pulled right, I followed. If she pulled left, I obeyed. A frown emerged under the red celebratory veil.

    “First bow to the heaven and earth!” hollered the announcer. “Second bow to the parents!” he commanded. After I performed two of the bows, he declared the proceeding bow. “Third bow to each other!” The previous woman that assisted me in walking held me by the arms, and turned me to face the left. Although I wasn’t able to see what stood before me, I knew that its characteristics fell far from a husband. It was just a doll made out of two bamboo sticks conjoined together to form a body and the arms. The sticks disguised itself as a human, dressed in a groom’s ceremonial dress, and bowed with me at the assistance of another person’s force. Then I came to a realization about my own intellectual: I was an imbecile, bounded for a lifetime with two sticks. After the bowing ceremony, I was guided into a chamber, my husband’s chamber, blindly.

    I heard the door creaked open. The woman that became a sudden guardian about my whereabouts told me to watch my steps ahead since there was a small blockade that erupted up from the ground, failing to serve safety. I took a larger leap forward, and until I felt that it was safe to proceed any further, I took miniature steps. As I paced myself to the bed along with the lady, a collision between the side of a table and my hip occurred, causing a sound of steel against concrete to emit. The vibrations of the steel echoed with vitality in the canal of my ears. The woman quickly released my arm.

    “Ah yah! Who is stupid enough to leave a knife on the table,” announced the woman. I heard the sound of steel against wood. She came back, and gripped onto my arm; it was tighter than before. We continued our journey to the bed.

    “Where did you place the knife?” I asked along the way.

    “Don’t worry, Second Miss. I placed the knife right by the basket of fruit on the table. Once you remove your veil, you won’t have to worry about it,” replied the woman with confidence.

    “Is that so?” I hinted.

    “Yes! I’m not lying to you!” assured the woman. I was uncertain about my own motive and capabilities, but my breathing pattern became steady. It was the breathing pattern of one who had found a solution to a problem.

    My wedding day took place during a crescent moon, just like my mother’s. I shed tears in the name of the moon for he had witnessed two unfortunate weddings, yet failed to produce any droplet of sorrow. The red veil continued to mask my face as I sat in the Second Chamber alone in contemplation. Because there wasn’t a groom to unveil my face in front of the audience according to the tradition, I was told by my mother-in-law that I could unveil myself after my arrival in the Second Chamber. Without removing the silk veil, I stood up from the bed and traced back the steps that I took from the table to the bed. Thump. My body touched table. The first goal was accomplished. The next one: locate the knife. I began to meander my hands across the table, then a sudden sound of steel clinged. I found it.

    My hands clutched onto the wooden handle, then raised the murderous tip to the location of my heart. “I am as useful as the dead,” I said aloud with a trembling voice. “To refrain from stigma, I will die with this veil on my head, so that my husband can unveil me in the underworld.” Slowly, with quavering hands, I forced the tip of the knife closer to the organ. And as it was getting closer, just close enough for it to exterminate me from the realm, an uninvited force smashed itself onto my hands. The knife expelled from my sweaty palms, and the audio of the steel against the concrete began their symphony again as I tried to maintain my balance after the aggressive push.

    I saw a hand crept under the veil, and then within a second of a time frame, my veil was pulled off, revealing my face to the ill-mannered guest. I quickly closed my eyes since it didn’t adapt to light correctly that day. And when I opened them, a man in a white silk changshan stood before me with a grim face. His twilight hair was slicked back, and he had eyebrows that resembled the peak of a mountain: fierce, dignified, calm, and pigmented.

    “I’ve already lost my second brother. I don’t want to lose my sister-in-law as well,” he said in a nonchalant tone.

    “Do you know what you have just done?” I asked with heavy breathings as I tried to avoid his eye contact.

    “I’ve unveiled you. It was the duty of a husband’s,” he replied in the same manner.

    “Then why did you do it if you were aware of the tradition?” I faced him in an assertive manner. He continued to stare at me although he knew I was seeking for an answer.

    “Because you’re my sister-in-law,” he replied. “It is my duty to take care of my family member for I am the eldest son of the Cao’s.”

    ~~~​

    Rui Bai Yun was more fragile than what I had imagined. From the tears that flowed out of her eyes gracefully, I learned that she was an emotionally damaged lady, waiting to be cured.

    “Go. I have unlocked the west gate.”

    She stared at me.
     
  3. 040156

    040156 sarNie Adult

    Aiyaaaaaaah!!!! it's so beautiful! the metaphors, the tone, and the tradition, everything is so magical and lyrical and wonderful! I can't wait for the next chapter, although the whole plot of it being a ghost marriage breaks my heart as it's going to be a forbidden love kind of thing! oh my! I hope you get to finish this one though! It's really very interesting.
     
  4. Calligraphy

    Calligraphy sarNie Adult

    Chapter Two A

    The scarlet wedding attire of hers attracted the carefree birds that dwell in the exterior of the chamber. There were peeps of high notes and tweets of low pitches, each one of them celebrating the bride’s grief under the crescent moon that appeared too soon. Under that night, her skin reflected those of porcelain vases, hair that invoked prime of youth, and eyes that disabled anyone to oppose the idea of truth. Glittering as well as persuading, her lips that concealed obscenity released sighs of life and emotions. Just a glance at the organ that she intended to puncture, I could sympathize the distraught feeling of her’s. Along with her subtle grace, an indescribable tension within the warm atmosphere arose after my statement of escape. Only the songs of those ignorant birds were able to ease the tension between Bai Yun and I. Without them, I would’ve been in the state of astonishment regardless of my prepared strategy.

    Red sheers from the gown pulled across the floor as Bai Yun walked over to the dark wooden stool that guarded the table, and slumped herself onto it. The bowl of fruits reflected through her eyes with insignificant intentions; it just happened to be present. My eyebrows furrowed in anticipation for her decision while the fingertips of my index finger and thumb danced with each other before my tighten stomach. If only the sound of her red drape was targeted towards my changshan’s cape, and if only her tear filled eyes were focused on me rather than the fruits from the blossomed tree, my curiosity would not have peaked. Yet, she decided to stare at the pointless stems of orange pears and red apples. Due to the awareness of the upcoming sun within hours, I urged my feet to pace toward where Bai Yun sat.

    “What do you intend to do?” I asked in an audible voice. My index finger and thumb embraced each other meanwhile I waited for her response.

    She continued to avoid my eyes, but not for long, she spoke after a soft sigh. “Where I die, that is where I’ll lie, and then my mother and I will be unified. Yet, I’ve somehow come to a conclusion that this marriage of seclusion is my final decision.” She paused, then looked up to me. “I will not escape from this place.”

    My feet stepped back, and we became distant again. Her answer wasn’t exactly what I had predicted, since I imagined her to kowtow to me repeatedly with gratitude after my sincere offer. Only then, the feeling of trepidation disappeared within me, and happiness regained its strength. Behind Bai Yun, the flames that flickered from the red wax candle advocated for itself, and I took notice of its attention seeking action. Each step that I took toward the candle, my composure became firmer, which then allowed me to become easily handled. The pigmented scent of the fire that stung my smelling sense became vibrant as I picked it off from the table, and carried it over to Bai Yun, whom seemed to have observed my procedure with curiosity. I faced her, along with the thick and rounded red candle in my left hand. After her expression indicated a settled one, I spoke in a mellow tone. “This candle is only able to stay lit because of its desire to do so. Let it be a harsh wind that causes it to cease, or turbulent water that diminishes its exhibition of a masterpiece, it is up to the candle’s will to stay lit, not the circumstances that encompass it.” I gently leaned forward, and placed the lambent candle onto the tabletop; its light beamed onto the side of her cheek, illuminating the crystallized eyes that she beheld. For a moment, she and I became immobile as she observed my manners with questionable intentions, and I viewed the sorrow that she expressed through her tensed eyebrows that were identical to the strokes of the jade character (玉). When the note of a bird cried aloud from the outside, our gazes discontinued abruptly. She flinched as I backed away towards the door that impolitely awaited my dismissal. Before I retreated to the First Chamber, my head slightly turned to face the back, and as my chin gently rested on my shoulder, I glanced at Bai Yun one last time before the rooster proclaimed its authority before dawn.
     
  5. 040156

    040156 sarNie Adult

    WOW the metaphors are so amazing. I like the almost lyrical quality to the story. Hope you could continue soon!
     
  6. Calligraphy

    Calligraphy sarNie Adult

    Chapter Two A

    I’ve returned to my quarter after the incident in Bai Yun’s room. The meeting between her and I was not normal, for I’m certain that anyone could concur with me. Her voice, her graceful movements, and the morals that she expressed to me during the conversation was one that Tian Wei would be fond of. As a matter of fact, even I found her to be interesting.

    The moon that revealed itself confidently within the contrasting dark sky stared down at me, taunting its millennial years of survival meanwhile I looked out the quarter’s window. A subtle smile was then displayed on my dimly lit face after viewing the boastful moon. Living only at night, and witnessing many atrocities throughout each century of the human realm was the only accomplishment that I could applaud the moon for. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be any part of me that was fueled with admiration for the overrated beauty like how many other Chinese works of literature had expressed. Everything has beauty, but not everyone sees it was what Konfutzi (Confucius) taught to man's dominion. Yet, we only think highly of the moon. Men had not yet understood the intellect of Kongfuzi.

    The day was drawn out because of the pitiful wedding between Tian Wei and Bai Yun. Though I didn’t participate in such celebration, there was a feeling of an external force that happened to have extracted all of my energy from within ever since Bai Yun walked through our main house gate. An assumption was that it might have been the sorrows of Bai Yun and the addition of Tian Wei’s angry soul. Both of which weighed heavily on my mind. As I walked towards the neatly made bed, the thoughts about the moon dissolved into thin air, and the ponders about the next morn was introduced.

    ~~~​

    For every way that I could have a flaw in, I was not able to identify it through the sunrise-tinted mirror. Any stream of wrinkles were not visible, nor was there any scar that would’ve marked me below average. So then I peered deeply into the dark eyes of mine and tried to see the sins I have committed, and the merits I have obtained. Only flashes of my isolated childhood appeared before me, as well as the passing of my mother, the closest kin I had besides my adopted brother. After much observation through the mirror, I’ve realized that I had never committed any sins nor have I ever obtained any merits. The only conclusion was that since everybody had shunned me from their life because my mother was an inferior concubine, there was no life experience within my memories other than isolation and entertainment through the pipa, along with some literatures. “So then why am I doomed to such fate?” I asked my reflection in the mirror silently. Slowly, I grabbed the mirror and brought it to my chest, clutching it with a delicate strength as a grieving expression intruded onto my face.

    “Second Miss, are you awake? May I come in?” hollered a premature voice behind the quarter's entrance door.

    I turned to look at the door and noticed a shadow. The responsive hands of mine quickly wiped the tear on my cheek, and a voluntarily smile graced my face. “Please do come in."

    In came a maidservant. Around the age of 20 and of humble character, she bowed before me. The black braid of hers that was behind her back was tightly bounded. I could only express a smile to such a welcomed companion. “There is no need to treat me so formally. You and I are the same. Please rise.”

    The maidservant reluctantly changed stature, then faced me. Her face spilled innocence. “Master Wei and Madame Wei instructed me to come and tell you to eat breakfast with them at the Fulfillment Quarter.”

    I knew that such event would occur today. Although I am hesitant to join the Cao family in their meals, I had to accept the fact that the marriage between me and their second son had bounded me with their family forever. The daughter-in-law status that I’ve obtained through the ghost marriage was then a status placed on a pedestal for everyone to observe. Everyone would be keeping their eyes on me, and I’m aware of that. I could only set myself up to be a dutiful daughter-in-law to the Cao household.

    “Thank you for informing me. Let’s go,” I said to the maidservant as I stood up after placing the mirror onto the table before me.

    The maidservant gestured her hand towards the door meanwhile she stepped away from my way. “I’ll follow you Second Miss,” she said in a quiet tone.

    A slight chuckle escaped as my hand tried to cover the distasteful manner that was involuntarily expressed on my face. “Today is only my second day in this house. I wouldn’t be able to direct myself to the Fulfillment Quarter.”

    The maidservant looked up at me for a moment, then quickly rustled in front of me. “I’m sorry. I forgot that you’re new. I’m so sorry.”

    “Don’t worry, it’s nothing major worth worrying about,” I replied. I gestured my right hand towards the door. “Please lead the way. I can only depend on you if I want to eat breakfast with the Caos.”

    The maidservant quickly bowed her head in an apologetic manner and then proceeded to exit the chamber. I followed closely behind her as if a lost child companying her mother in public. Along the way, I observed the manor. Everything was extravagant, yet there was a sense of a traditional Chinese home. After the fall of Qing Dynasty, the world in China was changing day by day as foreigners came in and out of China freely. The nobles abandoned their own culture as they adapt to westerner’s lifestyle as a way to exhibit their wealthy and noble reputation. Thankfully, the Cao household was able to resist the temptation of converting their lifestyle into a western one. A tall plum blossom tree came into view, and I was in awe. The petals flourished into the hue of red beautifully, and the branches along with the trunk were dignified in the color of earth’s ground. Even my father’s manor didn’t have such an outstanding tree.

    “The Fulfillment Quarter is this one. Please go right ahead Second Miss,” informed the maidservant as she indicated the destination with her hand.

    I stepped forward in anticipation and with timid. The sound of the organ that I almost murdered yesterday became lively. The flesh of my heart danced to the rhythm of anxiousness like how I danced to the rhythm of my mother’s pipa. “Thank you,” I said to the maidservant in an almost quivering voice.

    In similarity with a tortoise, I walked towards the entrance door of the Fulfillment Quarter. Each step was in harmony with the beating organ. Each breath reaching the union with the subtle wind. When the door was one small pace away from me, I quietly inhaled the air of anxiety, and then released it with an exhale. Then, I opened the door.

    The first person that I noticed was Qiu Ru, for he was the first person to stare directly at me. Then it was Master Cao to Madame Cao. In trepidation, I walked calmly towards the family who was sitting down at the black round table with enormous portions of food before them. “Rui Bai Yun greets Master Cao, Madame Cao, First Young Master, Second Young Master, and Third Young Master,” I said in a solemn tone with my head bowed down. There was a long silence. One that felt as if one had committed a mistake. Nevertheless, such silence would be resolved by the voice of another.

    “Rise,” said Master Cao.

    “Thank you, Master Cao,” I responded as I repositioned my stature.

    “You shouldn’t be so polite. After all, you’re now part of our family. You can call me Father—”

    “And you can call me Xiao Ping!” Interrupted the Second Young Master. “When talking with me, you don’t have to say brother-in-law or Third— I mean Second Young Master. Just call me by my name. How is that?”

    “I thank you Master Cao and Second Young Master for your kind consideration. However, I would feel more comfortable if I call you guys in a more formal manner,” I replied meanwhile trying to ignore all eye contacts.

    “How do you know that I’m the Second Young Master?” asked Xiao Ping as he jerked his head at an angle.

    Fool. I was such a fool. I’ve only then realized that I placed Qiu Ru and me in a difficult situation. Since Qiu Ru introduced himself to me yesterday night when I was going to harm myself, I knew then that Xiao Ping was the new Second Young Master. However, if I inform them about my meeting with Qiu Ru yesterday night, it would be an abomination, for no one knew that Qiu Ru was with me on the night of my wedding. For an unknown reason, my first reaction was to look towards Qiu Ru’s direction after the posed question. He and I made eye contact for a second, and then he quickly stood up, perhaps for my defense.

    “Sister-in-law, forgive us for being rude. We forgot to invite you to eat with us. Please seat yourself amongst us, and join us,” said Qiu Ru abruptly causing Xiao Ping to dismiss his question.

    “Right! How stupid of us! We told the servant to come get you to eat breakfast with us, yet when you reach us, we didn’t even invite you,” exclaimed Xiao Ping. He aggressively walked over to me and snatched onto my wrist. “Come on.”

    Quickly, I resisted his grasp with little force and was able to escape from it. He released my wrist and stared straight at me. His glare was an eerie one. The childish Xiao Ping from earlier transitioned into a mature one within a blink of an eye. Even I was surprised at the outcome.

    “Third Brother, reserve yourself,” said Qiu Ru to Xiao Ping in a demanding voice.

    Xiao Ping changed his glaring direction from me to Qiu Ru, and then back to me. Suddenly, an atrocious laugh erupted from his mouth as he looked up to the ceiling. “My mistake Bai Yun. I never knew that you would be so pure and traditional. I forgot for a second that you are indeed my sister-in-law. I guess we can take this as a test if you’ll reserve yourself well, and be a dutiful daughter-in-law. Am I right?”

    “Xiao Ping, sit down,” instructed Master Cao, in which he obliged “Bai Yun, ignore my son’s lack of intellect. He is usually like this. Please, suit yourself.”

    I slightly nodded my head with a delicate smile. The stool that was between Madame Cao and a child, perhaps around the age of 7 or 9 and the Third Young Master, was the stool that I directed myself towards. After situating myself down, I’ve noticed that there was already a bowl and chopsticks in front me ready to be utilized. Everybody began to pick their food out of the serving bowls steadily and calmly. I gently picked up the bowl and chopstick, then reached into the bowl of vegetables. As I brought a green celtuce up towards my mouth, my eyes met with Qiu Ru on accident due to my ignorance of his presence. My eyes quickly backed down as I unconsciously chewed on the celtuce. Time passed, and the only pair of chopsticks that was summoned to the bowl of vegetables were mine. Though it was expected, there was an assumption that the elders would at least consume some of the bitter greens along with me.

    “There are flowers, yet you decided to pick at vines. Sister-in-law, I’ve noticed that you’ve only eaten out of the vegetable bowl. Perhaps, are the other dishes repugnant to you?” questioned Qiu Ru.

    I transitioned my focus from the celtuce in my bowl to him. There, our eyes met again. “I’m still in mourning period because of the death of my mother. Therefore, I am on a vegetarian diet. Please don’t mind my manners,’ I replied in a quiet voice. Unexpectedly, Master Cao let out a hysterical laugh.

    “Wife, we went out looking for a jade for our son. We came back with a Goddess!” exclaimed Master Cao to Madame Cao.

    “Right! I’ve never expected we’d find such a daughter-in-law,” replied Madame Cao.

    “Please don’t praise me so highly Master Cao and Madame Cao. I’m not worthy of such status,” I objected as I performed a slight bow.

    “Don’t lower yourself, Bai Yun. Kids in this generation don't even know what filial piety means. I’m surprised that a daughter like you would understand the concept so well. Also, I never apply sugar on a bitter almond. Do you understand?” said Master Cao.

    “Yes, I understand.”





    The plum blossom tree that I noticed earlier was visible through my chamber’s window. I studied its structure and beauty as I sat in an intricate carved wooden chair. My head rested the palm of my hand, which was a similar position that my mother used to perform when she had a headache. Each time there was a wind present, the branches of the tree would shiver slightly, casting a personality of passiveness. If only the plum blossom tree could withstand the external wind, it would live with no worries about being demolished. But regardless of the situation, I felt honored to be before such dignified tree.

    “At least there is still something to admire,” I said with a smile after separating my cheek from my palm that was adorned with thermal energy. As I was about to walk towards the window for a closer view, my chamber door busted open and a child came running in. It was the child from earlier during breakfast. His small steps pounded against the cement floor, for audible noises were created from the collision. The black silk mandarin hat that rested upon his head swayed clumsily, then it settled down after he stopped his proceeding steps in front of me.

    “Who exactly are you?” he asked blinking his eyes meanwhile twitching his gentle brush stroke eyebrows.

    I’m aware of the curiosity of children. When they ask a question, they expect a response whether the response is subjective or objective. The child before me projected a voice, not of those that belonged to a noble family, yet peasant manners. Instead, his voice certainly belonged to a noble family. The protruding cheeks of his were the dominant features.

    “Why don’t you tell me who you are first so that I can answer your question accordingly?” I responded after I kneeled down in front of for the purpose of eye leveling.

    “I am Cao Guowei. My father’s son,” he answered enthusiastically.

    “Who’s your father?” I asked with a genuine smile.

    “Cao Qiu Ru. My father is Cao Qiu Ru.”

    “So……. he’s married after all,” I mumbled quietly with a ceasing smile.

    “What?”

    “Oh, nothing. If that’s the situation then I’m your—”

    “Guowei,” said Qiu Ru as he walked into my chamber, then towards me and Guowei. He rested his hands on top of Guowei’s shoulder and then spoke to me in a soothing voice. “Guowei and I are going to the marketplace. I’ve come here to ask you if you want anything from the there.”

    The chair that I previously sat on was used in assisting me to stand up so that I would face Qiu Ru correctly. “There is nothing on my mind at the moment. Whenever I am in need of anything, I would inform you.”

    “Do you have a habit of embroidery?” he asked.

    “Sometimes, but I am still an amateur.”

    “I’ll get you some supplies for embroidery then.” He turned around, and then said, “Guowei, let’s go.”

    “Pardon me, but you don’t have to get me anything. I already have my pipa to accompany me,” I quickly interrupted before he paced himself any further.

    “Humans can survive drinking only water for half a month, yet we have decided to eat three meals a day.” Qiu Ru turned to look at me, and then extended his arms out to Guowei. “Let’s go, it’s inconsiderate to keep bothering your aunt.” Guowei smiled at him, then out they went hands in hands.

    ~~~​

    Guowei and I approached a store dedicated for embroidery. I walked in, and Guowei followed me without complaints. The interior of the store was well decorated, actually, over decorated. Paintings of all kinds of flowers and portraits hung on the walls meanwhile vases of blue and white porcelain rudely interrupted the pathways of customers. I was questioning whether such place was actually meant for threads and needles although some bolts of fabrics were accessible. Guowei and I inched our way towards the woman that was behind a counter, supposedly the cashier. Her neck was tainted with a tan birthmark, enabling discoloration to her skin tone.

    “I’m here to get some embroidery equipment for a woman. Can you assist me in doing so?” I asked.

    “Of course, I can Sir. What would you like?” she responded.

    “Can you gather a bundle of thread, needles, and cloth? I’m not sure exactly how to select the products, for I am not into such hobby.”

    “I can do that for you. However, is the sewer a beginner or is she an advance person?”

    “She’s an advance person,” I responded with hesitation.

    “Okay, that’ll do. I would gather advance materials for her. Some of these materials, such as the silk threads and cloth could only be handled by experienced person. If the person is a beginner, then knots would definitely form since silk threads are fragile and can easily separate themselves.”

    “That’s fine. Also, thank you for the information,” I replied. She smiled, and then employer walked off to gather the ordered materials. After she disappeared from the scene, Guowei tapped me on the leg energetically. I looked down.

    “Aunt said that she is just a beginner, but why did you tell the person that aunt is an advance?” Guowei asked.

    I crouched down to his level expressing a smile. “So, you actually caught on to what father is doing. I’m testing your aunt. Let’s just wait and see.”

    ~~~​

    Because the sun ceased in power, the plum blossom tree that I so admired wasn’t able to come into my view. The moon itself was unable to showcase the other natural beauties within this world, for he only wanted everyone to focus on his attractive features. I despised him dearly for his greed, yet I felt sympathetic towards him since he had no companion along with him meanwhile the sun had everyone. In this dark and silent world, I found it to be the appropriate time to kowtow to my mother’s spirit. If only I was still at my Father’s house, in my humble quarter, and on my mother’s deathbed, I would be entertaining my mother with the sound of the pipa. But since I am now located in a different environment, I was afraid to play the pipa. Afraid that others might not appreciate the melodies produced by the pipa. Therefore, I’ve decided to halt my performance on the instrument due to the reason of preventing bashful comments. I opened the door of my chamber and walked into the wild night. Then, I performed my ten kowtows in the presence of the moon. The tenth one marked completion. However, I remained kneeling down as I stared towards the moon with my hands in a praying posture. “May mother’s spirit achieves happiness, and only happiness since during her living period, she was only able to witness monstrosity.” After the wishful statement, I performed another kowtow, making the eleventh one the absolute mark of completion.

    “May I admire the moon with you too, Sister-in-law? I’ve yet to identify its overly praised beauty,” said a voice that supposedly came behind me.

    I stood up, and turned around to see the person; it was Qiu Ru. He was holding a basket filled with embroidering materials in one of his hand.
     

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