An old woman on a desolate beach was standing, staring toward the sea. The sea wind was blowing through her long gray hair. The time was neither night nor day, neither dusk nor dawn. The sea was calm. A blue-gray shadow of distant land was floating beyond the sea.
She came a long way. It was so long that it could not be just one lifetime. She walked through a couple of lives to finally come here to the distant sea. I am tired. I am so tired and I want to die. The wind is blowing through my hair, which once was so angry that it flamed up and burnt the sky.
Blazing visceral anger burnt my entrails like a ungutted fish in a fire. It charred me inside out. Now my heart lost the heat of burning coal, and left me with ash gray hair. Every step I made was on a pass of tiles and gravel. Every breath I took was studded with broken glass.
Where did I come from, I do not remember. It was so long time ago.
All the way here, I slashed, stubbed, and sliced, gushing blood sprayed all over me, on my face, on my neck and on my arms. It burnt my skin and turned it into rusted iron. I hid in dark places days and nights, wounded, without moving as enemies’ shadow passed by. I was always on a watch, alert all the time. And when I slept, I dreamed of blood and dismemberment, and woke up to the smell of burning flesh.
That’s the only way I knew. It was my way. In my hand, I see a sword darkened with dry blood.
And I found myself standing on this beach alone. No more dead bodies for me to make around here. Where is my fire? Where is my anger? It’s all gone, because there is no enemy left to kill.
What did I do to deserve these lives of perpetual fighting. I’ve survived, and nobody to kill anymore. And I am standing here alone. I am tired and I want to die. I want to end this for good. No more fighting, no more bloodshed, no more hiding. I want to dissolve into a total oblivion. No more memories. No more me.
Then what is holding me here on this silent beach? Waves come and go, come and go for thousands nights and days. Let me dissolve into the place where the sea and the sky are indistinguishable. That is the only way I can stop fighting. Please do not make me turn into an Oni (demon) again.
Who is it? The Oni suddenly turned back. For a moment, her hair flared up. Her muscle tightened. Her eyes opened wide, her hand grasped the sword, ready to kill.
Oni saw a little girl. The little girl slowly walked out of the woods and toward the Oni. With every stride, the girl grew up; her hair grew longer; her legs stronger; and her eyes wiser. Oni remembered the little girl. Three or four lifetimes ago, she started fighting because of the little girl, to protect the vulnerable helpless child. Eventually she forgot about the child and forgot what she was fighting for or against. Oni was fighting for fighting. That’s when she became an Oni.
And look, the child has grown up to be a woman, soft as she wants to be, supple as she needs to be, and she is smiling. Look, she does not bear even a scratch.
Oni felt her anger flare up. I was the one who fought all the way. Where were you when I lay in a ditch holding my breath at the darkest time of the night?
Oni faced the child/woman and raised her sword high. She was about to swing the sword down, when the child/woman said to Oni, “I am your way.” The sword pulverized in Oni’s hands.
And in the child/woman’s hand a sword appeared. It was clean as the first morning sunbeam fell on a heavily dewed hill. She thrust it through Oni.
Sweet breath of air in the sunbeams streaming through the leaves of trees gushed through her and Oni shed a tear. With the tear she dissolved into her and became the sea and the wind, where she is no more and dreams no dreams.
© J.U. 2004