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His phone rang. He turned off the water and jumped out of the shower, quickly grabbing a towel. Running into his bedroom, he pressed the green talk button.
“Uncle Hiro?” Warmth spread throughout his chest. Hisae.
“Ah, you’re speaking English!” She giggled.
“Mama is teaching me. Does it sound good?” She had a very strong Japanese accent and he loved it.
“Mm. Very good!” She laughed.
“Are you taking care of yourself?” Her innocent question made his heart flutter. He smiled softly.
“Mm. Uncle Hiro is doing well.”
“Are you sure?”
“Mmhm. Is my hime worried?”
“I haven’t heard from you in a long time! Mama says you are working very hard in America. But, sometimes I think working can make you miserable.” He chuckled.
“Ah, you’re very wise hime.”
“I just wanted to let you know that I am praying hard for you Uncle Hiro! I pray that you can make things good with the people in your life and can return to mama and me happy.” He grew still. Make things right with the people in his life? How very uncanny for her to say that…He cleared his throat.
“Thank you hime. I will come home soon.” She giggled.
“Yay!! I miss you! Can I come to America again?”
“Mm. Hana and I will talk about it first okay?”
“Speaking of Mom, where is she?”
“Ah, she’s making breakfast.”
“Ahh. Are you ready for school?”
“Mm. I have to go actually.”
“Okay sweetheart. Go ahead! Study hard and pay attention in class today hm?”
“Give the phone to Hana.”
“Mm.” He put the phone on speaker and quickly dried off.
“Hello?” He smiled as he put on some sweatpants.
“Well, look at you Hana. Fancy with the English nowadays hm?” She laughed.
“Why should you be the only cool one?” He laughed in return.
“Hey, what are you doing? Why haven’t you brought Rae back with you?” He sheepishly ruffled his hair.
“Well, I think perhaps I moved a bit too soon in my haste. She wants nothing to do with me right now.” Hana clucked her tongue.
“Ah, look at you already messing up. It’s been a year!”
“I know. It’s taken longer than I expected but… that’s a good thing.”
“To be honest, neither Rae or I are ready to jump back into being together. Having been gone ten years, I’m sure you can understand the distance. On top of everything that has happened between us… and everything that happened while we were apart… all of that needs to be sorted through first.”
“Ahhh I see. Makes sense. I’m glad you are well. Hisae had a dream last night about you and since she woke up all she’s been talking about is ‘Uncle Hiro, Uncle Hiro’. She really misses you Hiro-kun.” He smiled.
“I miss her and you so much. But I’m finally doing what’s best for me.”
“It’s about time..”
“You’ve grown so much Hiro-kun. I’m proud of you.”
“Thank you Hana.”
“Well let me get Hisae’s bento packed! Call me next week hm?”
“I mean it.” He chuckled.
“Okay, I will. Kiss Hisae for me.”
“See you later…” They hung up. He sighed and placed the phone down on the bed. He dried his hair and enclosed himself into his comforter, sleep soon finding him.
I’m proud of you. You’ve decided to finally conquer your fears. You’ve been through a lot of hell. You’ve experienced a lot of things. But, I’m proud of the fact that you are not letting it define you any longer. It’s been quite a life hasn’t it? I’m sure not many people can say they’ve lived their lives as difficult as yours. But, tell me something. Aren’t you glad you stayed around? Aren’t you glad you survived those nights of wanting to drink yourself away or pop pills? Yeah, me too. You made it. I remember when you were a kid, in high school… Do you remember? How lifeless you were. You didn’t see any point in living. It grew boring. It wasn’t fun. Your truths caught up with you. But, then all of that changed. You began to see meaning in the blue skies of the morning. The wind began to taste sweet. You pushed through. And you can do it again. Look how far you have come. You have lived another year. You lost your voice once. But now, you have let it out again. You’ve let it free. Don’t let anyone take it away from you again. Even if it hurts… always keep it. Your voice will set you free. It will keep you sane. It will make you strong.
Remember that dreams you used to have? Those dreams of yesteryear? Remember the invaluable memories you shared with those the most precious to you? Old hands as they held yours. Carefully molding wet clay. A strong but loving voice. “Careful. Don’t let it get out of shape. This will be yours.” Do you remember? Going out right before the snow fell to the ground and spending hours in the late autumn sun? Sweating. Body tired. Your hand steady and strong as you chopped wood? Preparing for the winter on the horizon.
I remember the nights you would lay your head on your grandmother’s lap while she sang old traditional songs and sewed. Do you? If you ever wonder what your purpose is or what your legacy will be Hiroto, remember these things. Despite the horrible fate you suffered… you received something that no one can take away. You knew true love. That love I believe has kept you and saved you time and time again.
When times get dark and you start to regret…when you start to think perhaps you aren’t worthy… remember those who have come to love you. Remember your family. Hana. Hisae. Tobu. Remember the nice people you’ve met in this past year. They too are cheering for you. It’s time. I think it’s time to finally let that little boy go. Let him die. The one who carried all the bruises of yesterday. What do you think? I think you can do it. If you truly try, you can. Keep living. Keep smiling. Keep loving. You’re a survivor. A warrior. Never forget that.
Signed, The One Who Overcame
“Is this really our last session?” He smiled as he sighed.
“Mm. Time flew didn’t it?” Dr. Satou smiled in return.
“I am proud of you Hiroto. You’ve come so far in just two months.” He felt his cheeks grow warm.
“There is one more thing I want to talk about today. I haven’t shared anything about my parents.”
“Ah, yes. I wondered when we would converse about them. Surely, the mystery of your life will come full circle now.”
“I believe in this way… finally I am coming to be the freest I’ve ever been…”
“You said you’d never hurt me.” The heartbroken voice of a young child sobbed in the dark silence. He hugged himself tightly and rocked, the tears falling down his cheeks icy.
“You said you loved me.” But was the love he was promised shown in the dirt, sweat and strong smell of sex that clogged up his nostrils? Was it in the hands that touched him in places he didn’t want to be touched? Or were the various objects used to torture him kissed by love? Love…a word he truly knew nothing of. A word he had always equated to pain, suffering, bloody nail scratches in his back. Still, the wounds of his past, the lashes inflicted by he that he called father, the prying fingers of many female strangers…. all of it still open and growing rotten in the sun, left out far too long….
“Hiroto! Your father would like to see you.” Yet again, another moment of pain. The ripple of it spreading through his flesh as the rod struck his back.
“You carry the blood of samurai in your veins. Do you think they were as weak as you are now?” The familiar scent of tears down small cheeks.
“Assume the correct stance. Hold your bokken correctly.” He felt flashes of wetness and knew he bled. Lifting shaky arms, he spread his feet apart and crouched. Under the intent gaze of his father, he began to strike the wooden pole.
He grimaced in pain as he sat in between his grandmother’s legs. She gently pressed a clean white cloth soaked in herbal water against his back. She tsked.
“Why does Shou have to be so hard on you I wonder…you are just a boy.” He tightened his fists.
“I am his only heir Grandmother. There is a lot that falls on me.” She pressed a bit more firmly, making him bite his lip.
“Hush. You are but a boy. What do you know?” He remained quiet. Soon, the cloth was removed and a cool thick herbal paste was applied, soothing the painful burning.
“It is a miracle you don’t have scars…” Indeed.
“Would you like to come to Nara?” He blinked as she softly worked the paste into his wounds.
“Where I live.”
“But Grandmother…I thought you would stay here with us…like you always have.” She was quiet for a while until,
“I had to go. This is not my style. I am more old fashioned you see.”
“Well…come visit me.” He thought about it for only a second.
“Okay. I shall visit you Grandmother.”
He smiled as tears slowly welled up in his eyes.
“I loved her so much…” He bit his lip and hung his head as he began to cry. Gripping his pants, he let the cries in his chest come forth. Still, so many years later… he still grieved.
“She was the best thing that ever happened to me. She raised me with all of her strength and might. It wasn’t right… she should not have died the way she did…”
“How…how did she pass?” Satou asked softly.
“She died alone. Old and weak. Without anyone to help her…I wish I could have been there… if I had gotten there a little earlier maybe I could have saved her…” He felt years of pain rush forth from his chest and cried from the depths of his soul. Deep anguished agony. Satou just gently pat his back.
“You can’t blame yourself Hiroto…”
“When I got there… the door to the house was open. Unusual for her. Everything smelt wrong. It didn’t smell warm. I couldn’t place my finger on it but it was thick and heavy…sour. I called out to her. Nothing. There was food that was in the process of being canned and fruit to be made into preserves on the counter. But, flies had started to invest the room, and all around you heard the buzzing. Now, it began to become clear. Was this the smell of death itself? I followed it until I stood outside of her room. Sliding the shoji back…I…I found her…” He squeezed his eyes shut as the memory rushed forth with vivid clarity.
There she laid, crumpled on the floor. Her white rice powder container on the floor beside her, the contents having spilt on the tatami. Her eyes were open, a lifeless glassy stare.
“Grandmother…” The smell made him want to vomit. But still… he stepped inside. His backpack fell out of his hands and he felt his eyes start to water.
“G-Grandmother?” Her bedsheets were roused as if she had just slept. Her window open, letting in air. Her outer shoji opened to let in the scenes of nature from her garden. Turning back, he laid eyes on her. Her face was stiff. Cold. But calm. Almost peaceful. There was no trace of pain or suffering. He reached for her hand and upon touching hard cold flesh he recoiled back.
“No….NO……No…….Don’t do this…. don’t…” But his stomach had enough and he began to vomit, tears flowing from his eyes.
He stared at a leaf outside, a small red ladybug crawling nearby.
“I took it upon myself…My parents abandoned her. They wanted nothing to do with her. They let that woman die. Perhaps they knew she was ill. But to let her die in such an inhumane way…that is inexcusable.” He swallowed and sniffed, looking down at his hands.
“As far as I’m concerned… it was them that murdered her.” He took a heavy faltering breath.
“If you peel back the layers some more, you’ll see just what kind of people my mother and father were.”
“No… I don’t want to do this.” He sat in the back of a dark car, his father and mother seated across from him.
“You have to.”
“No… I don’t want to do it. You told me it would not hurt. That lady hurt me. I don’t want to.” His mother reached across and slapped him, making him silent.
“You will do what we say. It is something you must do.” He felt tears prickle the corners of his eyes.
“You are my son. You are Iwase Hiroto. We’ve gone over this. Centuries of warriors runs through your blood. Superiority in every way. Precision. Skill. We must be perfect. To uphold the family bloodline. Only the strong survive. The weak die.” His father spoke up with a stern voice, his face neutral.
“We must make sure that you can provide for your future spouse. We have to train you.” His mother spoke up, calmly clutching her hands.
“You must be able to cater to her every need. Be they material or sexual. This is why we are doing this. You must gain experience Hiroto. The female body is like art. You must become a master painter.” He bit his bottom lip and kept silent. His body tightened up at the thought of another encounter. He had taken so long to heal…physically. And now he felt as if he didn’t own his body… like it was for hire. At such a young age, already he felt like this.
“I-If I do this… will you be pleased? If…If I do it again…will you bring Grandmother back?” His mother was silent for a while until,
“We will let her come back. If you be a good boy and listen to us. You can see her again.” The warmth in his chest, he closed his eyes.
“Please don’t let it be that lady again…” His parents sat back.
“We’ll make sure it won’t be. We’ll make an arrangement you can be comfortable with.”
“They used me as monetary collateral. Their own son. I was given to the highest bidder. Sold for sex. To countless number of women…to promote and encourage growth in my father’s business exchanges globally. China…Korea…United States….as if we were representatives in the affairs of the night. Who was the best? Who would win?” Sighing deeply, he closed his eyes and sat back in his chair.
“Now you see who my parents were…who they remain to be.” Satou swallowed and tightened his jaw.
“I cannot comprehend the things you have experienced…and at the hands of the people who were put in place to love and guide you properly. Because of this, I now have understanding of where your deep rooted issues stem from. Poor child…to have to suffer so much trauma and for seemingly no other reason than for greed.”
“Precisely. My parents’ selfishness and greed for power and control turned me into a monster…a monster I’m still trying to destroy.”
“Do you enjoy this? You’re sick. You might as well be doing this yourself…”
“We’re doing this for you! Why do you not understand that?”
“You’ve made me into a whore!”
“Don’t raise your voice to your mother Hiroto.” He turned angry eyes on his father.
“Will you try to beat me with the rod again? Perhaps this time you might even get a little blood.”
“You’ve lost your mind! Can you not see what that woman did to you? You were our precious little boy and now you’ve grown rebellious and disobedient! This is why she was no good for you!”
“That woman was your mother! She gave birth to you and raised you. Look how you have disgraced her…pitiful.” He inhaled sharply and spit near her foot.
“Surely her spirit weeps.” He got up and slid on his shoes.
“Hiroto where are you going-” He slammed the door before either one of them could utter anything else.
He lifted the cigarette to his lips and slowly inhaled the nicotine. He leaned his head back against the cold concrete. He closed his eyes and exhaled through his nose. All of it was bullshit. All of it… He wished he could just dive into the abyss and never resurface. He lifted shaky fingers to press the cigarette to his lips. He knew what was coming next. Licking his dry lips, he dropped the cigarette to the ground and snuffed it with his shoe.
Putting hands in his pockets, he walked alone in the dark until he came to a small door aside a building in an alleyway. If they wanted him to be a machine… the best there was… he could do that. Inhaling sharply, he felt the anger flow through him. He’d try to fuck as many as he could tonight. If they wanted Iwase to be permanently tattooed on their tongue, he’d make sure it was put in just the right place. He’d make them swallow it until it reached their gut. Until it became a part of them.
“Welcome back kiddo.” He turned to find a patron outside, a grin on her face.
“Shall we go in?” He asked, his voice low.
“After you. Afterall, you’re the star of the show here.” She grinned. They slowly began to enter the building and the door behind him shut, leaving a bright red light blazing in its wake.
“I have one question for you Hiroto.” He looked into Satou’s eyes, his own shiny with tears.
“You’ve come to a crossroads. You’ve achieved so much. What will your future be?” He licked his lips.
“My future…” Satou gently nodded.
“You should keep going forward… don’t let who you once were suffocate you. I imagine you want a life with Rae.” He felt his cheeks grow warm and smiled softly.
“That’s the plan.” Satou laughed.
“In all you do Hiroto…Remember your grandmother…do things that would make her proud.” He nodded and lifted a hand to press against the tears on his cheek.
“It has been an honor to get to know you Hiroto. The vulnerability you’ve shown is so very hard for a lot of people to grasp.”
“Thank you for being such a patient listener Dr. Satou.”
“I hope that in the two months you have felt freedom. You deserve more than I can say without being entirely too personal. I wish you the utmost best in your life.”
“Before we conclude… I’d like to share one more memory.”
“Hiroto… come here.” Sighing, he smiled as he slowly came into the living room. There sat his grandmother at a pottery spool.
“Yes Grandmother?” She smiled at him and beckoned him with her hand, covered in clay.
“Come. Make something with me.” He scrunched up his nose.
“It looks like dirt.” He said with a small pout. His grandmother laughed.
“It is! Come, come!” He huffed out air and slowly sat down and propped his elbows on his grandmother’s knees.
“What are we making?”
“Cups. One for you. One for me. One for your future wife.” He blushed.
“Hush. It isn’t proper to not give your bride something.” He scrunched up his nose again.
“But a cup? Why a cup of all things?”
“It will be a practical gift that will show her your handmanship.”
“You want to show her that you are good with your hands. Think, one day these hands will build, protect and guide.” He smiled at the thought.
“Ah, I see. Well, I must do my best then.” They began to mold the clay and soon, three cups were made.
“Do you still have it?” He bit his lip and smiled.
“Yes. It’s always been with me.”
“Waiting for the right one hm?” His smile grew deeper.
“I think that it will be a wonderful gift for her…”
“I think so too.”
For the longest time, I tried to make you happy. For the longest time, I would have sold my soul to ensure that you out of everyone was pleased. You did nothing but lie, manipulate and abuse me. How someone can birth another and seek to destroy them is outside of my grasp. You of all people… you didn’t have to do this to me. Your choices now have been cemented in stone and they are unchangeable. I wished you would die. I wished I could have strangled the very life from you. I wanted to do all I could to hurt you. And now, though I still feel overwhelming anger…I am tired. I have grown tired of revenge. It has served me no purpose. It has been the cause of a decision that enabled me to hurt the woman I love.
You have talked to me all my life about the strength of Iwase. But, you, mother were the weakest of them all. Not truly an Iwase but a peasant who lucked out in marriage to my father. What entitlement did you feel you had to disrupt centuries of my family’s legacy? Sure, you can say that I have followed in my father’s footsteps in mate selection. Sure, you can say that I am doing the exact same thing. I however beg to differ. The woman I have chosen is nothing and never will be anything like you. She is worthy to carry the name Iwase behind her. She is worthy of my family and the many women who came before her. You are a fraud.
Now, it is time to be brought down to your true level. Continue to get well. You have a wedding to attend and grandchildren to see. I must admit, it will be justifying to see the woman you hated so much take your place. She shall rise into the royalty that awaits her. And you, you shall be where you belong. That will be the best revenge due to you. Until we meet again,
Though, it will take me time to forgive you… I must ask: Are you well? Are you taking care of yourself..Father? I am sure you can understand that the years of memories I have of you are ones of destruction, greed, and perversion. In the depths of my heart…I wanted to continue to hate you. But somehow…I cannot. The moment we shared last… it did something to me. I believe you realized that in your old age, the possibility of never having a relationship with your only son was more of a reality than you’d like to admit.
Was it truly guilt? Or was it simply nature? This I have asked myself plenty of times since I’ve left Japan. In some ways, I still find you disappointing. You allowed your wife authority over you and your family. Authority that should only be for the Head. You grew comfortable in your leisure, letting your wife speak for you while you worked behind the scenes; while you did what you wanted in secrecy.
How sad and despicable I thought. But then, I wondered: were you a victim of the system as I was? Surely, your father used the rod against you too. Surely, you too had to endure many sleepless nights, dwelling on your many painful encounters with the opposite sex as well. Having this understanding has made me more receptive I think in forgiveness. You a victim. Acting in that victim mentality, you pass it on to your son. Father, I say that it shall not continue. No more of our sons will endure what we and our ancestors have. It shall die with me. It shall die with you.
I wonder… as I am now…are you finally happy? Are you finally proud to call me your son? Father, perhaps my heart is too big…but…is it inconceivable to want to try to set you free too? The woman you condemned and damned to die saw it within me. She saw it, loved it, embraced and encouraged it. I know that you have your own demons that you are still fighting. As am I. But, if I can have courage to stand up to them, in true Iwase fashion… then so can you. In your quest for freedom, I hope that you will learn to forgive yourself as I am learning to forgive myself. In your search of meaning and life, I hope that you will be here to witness it being brought into the world.
Of the two, you have been the only one who has been fond of Rae. May I ask why? Is it because she reminds you of Mother? Are they comparable in any way other than their status? When I return to Japan, I would like to sit down and talk to you more about this. You once said that she was worthy of the name Iwase, that she was more than able to be by my side. Truly, this brings me joy. For I too think so. I hope that our children will bring you joy in your last days. However you choose to seek atonement, I will stand by you. Give me a little while yet. I am not completely there… but…I send well wishes and many blessings to you. Take care of yourself Father.
Having drafted his letters, he fell asleep, tears streaming down his cheeks, a small soft smile on his lips. His heart felt full and he for the first time since being a small child felt light as air and as free as the birds that flew in the sky. It was time for a new genesis, a new beginning.
A/N: Man. This chapter was so emotional for me. Like I literally almost cried lol. Hiroto's journey has been so hard and cruel. I can't even imagine... and he has finally after ten years come to a place where he not only is considering/open to forgiving his father but for stepping in his rightful path. My precious Hiroto. *sheds tear* wow. I think next chapter will really be the tear jerker lol. It won't be bad I promise. <3 But for real. I might cry lol. He's so precious man. lol. This whole entire process has been. It truly has been a blessing to write this vision that I had given to me in a dream. I have been blessed by it as well. I cannot express thanks enough y'all! <3 For showin love, reviewing and sharing your thoughts! :D They crack me up, give me things to think about, make me smile and inspire me to keep going! <3 <3 Can you believe that soon he will be together again with Rae? I cannot wait for that chapter! I think we are all ready for them to get back together and start to live happily. <3 Till next time, God bless! Love you all! May God grant you peace, favor and wisdom in this upcoming week!
Be set free by the renewing of your mind!
Shine into the sky, bright and yellow!