Day 2 Countdown 18 days to publication of Haiku Dance:
Today an excerpt with Miyoshi and her surrogate mother, Tomiko:
Picture found on Quora
Miyoshi-no-kimi, come inside. You mustn’t be in the sun. If your skin darkens, it will be ugly and undignified. You’ll be laughed at and thought of as a peasant,” Tomiko insisted. “Come inside, now! I can see you need another lesson on aesthetics today. You’re not applying yourself.” She shook her finger. “I will no longer indulge your whims as your father does. Once again, we’ll go over the rule of taste you are so want to ignore.”
Miyoshi pouted. “Why all these silly rules? Father has given me my handmaiden, Akemi, to help me. I should have less to do, not more.”
Tomiko sat, putting her arm around Miyoshi’s slumped shoulders, and gentling her voice. “During your long silence after your mother’s death, your father grew worried he’d been too lenient with you. You’re no longer a child, Miyoshi-chan. You must learn the proper ways of beauty. The rule of taste is paramount in all things, and you must apply yourself.”
Miyoshi missed her days of running barefoot through the green fields of the mountain. Now, she had to wear shoes to keep her feet protected all the time. She had to learn proper layering of all the colors of all those silly robes which hindered her movements.
She sighed, thinking back to the carefree days when she and Shino ran down the hillside, stopping just short of the reeds to avoid running into the water, all the while laughing and joking together. She even got dirty. But she’d been happy.
“I hate sitting inside all day. I can learn refined handwriting and proper dress just as well outside,” she muttered so softly she’d felt confident Tomiko couldn’t hear.
“I heard you, Miyoshi. You will not disobey me.” Tomiko’s gentle voice was gone, replaced by a stern one. “But I will not oppose a compromise. I’ll allow you to arrange flowers this afternoon if you come and practice proper layering of the six robes. Yesterday, your silks were matched incorrectly—” She tsked and shook her head. “—too pale in color and tone. You’ll not shame your father when you appear at the empress’s daidari next month. Your knowledge of proper sleeve placement and color must be perfect, for you’ll have fourteen layers of robes at court. You must practice every day until you get it right.”
Miyoshi’s fingers curled into a fist inside her sleeve. “All right! I will apply myself with utmost dedication today—if you include painting after flower arrangement.”
“You test my patience, Miyoshi.”
Miyoshi smiled sweetly and kissed her on the cheek. “You’re not as mean as you pretend. And I’ll even paint a picture just for you.” While happy for the compromise, she still yearned to run barefoot and feel that freedom she’d had on the mountain.