The Story Finder

Voices in Fairy Tales

by Michelle Tocher

Story finder - Curly

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Lily on the Other Side

I stood in a vessel of water in front of a rounded lattice window when Takewaki and his lady love came into the room. They sat together on the white mats.

An ancient woman came with saké in a silver flagon. She brought silver drinking-cups and provided everything that Tatewaki and the lady needed. They drank the “Three Times Three” together. Then the lady said, “Love, let us go out into the shine of the moon. See, the night is as green as an emerald….”

They left the house and passed through the garden. As soon as they had shut the wicket-gate behind them, the house and the garden all faded away, dissolving in a faint mist. Not a sign was left of them, for they had no more need of the house, only for lilies, and we multiplied and grew in a ring around them.

All night long they stood together on the wild moor, ringed in our fragrance. All night they stood and looked into each other’s knowing eyes.  At dawn, the lady sighed and unclasped her belt. It was made in the form of a golden scaled dragon with translucent eyes. She wound the belt nine times around the arm of her true love, and she said, “O love, we must part: these are the years until we meet again.”

Tatewaki cried aloud, “O love, who are you? Tell me your name….”

She would only say that she was going to her people on the plains and that he must not seek her there, but wait for her to come again. Then she faded slowly until she had become as ethereal as a mist. And we lilies faded too.

Lily on the Other Side, Karma, Japanese Fairy Tales. Illustration by Warwick Goble.