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The Water Dog by Miss Elinor

Chapter 1

As a general rule, a gardeners favorite color is usually green. Green is the color of life and the color of health. Everything new and good tends to be one shade of green or another. If you’d like to know exactly what shade of green is a particular gardeners favorite, just look at their thumbs. The more talented the gardener, the greener those thumbs are going to be.

Kagome Higurashi followed many rules of thumb in her garden, all of them good, most of them green, but she wasn’t so sure that her thumbs were any shade of green after all.

She used to be quite set on a nice, warm shade of brown. This is because to her logic, for things to be green, they first need to be brown. Without brown, no green is able to grow or live or be. At the very least, she was always covered in it. She loved all the shades she saw in the wet dirt smudged on her face and smeared across the seat of her red hakama, or caked in her hair and underneath her fingernails…

There was always dirt under her fingernails.

Brown was definitely rich and familiar, a fine color for a gardeners thumbs (and fingernails) to be, but now? Now she was pondering the value of blue. Specifically, the unfathomably pure blue that danced behind her eyes and through her soul ever since that night she happened to be in the right place at the most perfect time.

There wasn’t a doubt in her mind that what she saw had been magic. As a priestess in a shrine, she was no stranger to the push and pull of energies between the gifted Mikos but this was a different thing entirely. It was big, bright, beautiful and the loveliest shade of blue she had ever seen- still saw every time she closed her eyes, dancing on the water as only magic can.

Somehow Kagome knew she had to keep it secret, so she had been guarding it closely for two weeks now. The memory was her greatest treasure and it drew her farther and farther away from the garden and closer to the edge of the water than she ever cared to go before. It was a very good thing for her that there was not much distance between the two.

Her unusual home was nothing short of legendary. The Itsukushima Shrine was an ancient, enchanting (and endless) maze of sunlit halls, wooden decks and paper doors all rising from the sand at the edge of the coast, balanced on thick, wooden posts taken from the mountain forest behind them hundreds of years ago. It was a place that was hard to find and even harder to leave.

Besides its incredibly convenient location between forest and ocean, what made it so unusual was the picture it made at high tide. It hung effortlessly over the water, looking for all the world like it was floating on the glassy surface of the sea, an illusion that was especially beautiful on nights when the moon shone its brightest. It was a night just like this, two weeks ago, when Kagome and her dirt covered-self looked out toward the horizon, basked in the light of its magic and quite accidentally met the eyes of its source.

On this night Kagome was up late, as usual, sitting in her favorite spot on the edge of the western walkway, splashing her feet in the reflection of the waning crescent moon. It shined contentedly among the dappled stars. Directly beneath its light, the great torii arch stood tall and proud in the shallows, a stoic guardian against the unknown beyond the horizon. It was her favorite view in the whole world and seeing it was always worth the browbeating she got in the morning when she slept through the first prayers.

The sound of lapping water against the posts and the surf crashing against the sand filled her with peace. Kagome smiled as she soaked up the moonlight on her skin, finally letting drowsiness creep across her spent muscles and tired eyes.

Just as she stretched her arms above her head and opened her mouth wide for a satisfying yawn, a low hum reached her ears. Before she even registered anything unusual about it, it was quickly followed by a blast of sea air that hit her right in the face. A second one pulsed across the water and sprayed her with saltwater. She squeezed her eyes shut against the blast as it scattered her bangs and moistened her skin and she smacked her lips together curiously. It held traces of something else, something more ancient than even the shrine and immeasurably powerful.

Anyone else would have taken that cue to find a place to hide. Anyone else would have listened to the bells ringing in the back of their mind, warning them of danger, that something was about to happen. Something big. Something huge. Kagome was not equipped with any such instinct.

The water beneath her feet was glowing. Her amazement only widened into a smile of pure joy lit by that beautiful, perfect blue.

She could see everything beneath the surface as it all came alive in ways she’d never dreamed...

The hum in the air was vibrating across her skin, giving her new energy. Slowly, it climbed to a higher pitch before finally stretching into a long, lonely howl. The melancholy sound pierced her heart and pulled her eyes to the direction it had come from.

She was just quick enough to catch a fleeting glimpse of something she was sure no one had ever seen before. A dog as white as snow and as big as a bull was looking at her with jarring intensity, sending a chill down her spine all the way to her toes.
It stood on top of the moonlit torii arch as bright as the moonbeams already shining there, like it had been there for centuries.

Kagome’s disbelieving and curious stare was locked in its gaze, unable to look away even if she had wanted to. Above its lurid, red eyes she could see a glowing mark on its brow, a crescent moon and a perfect match for the real thing shining directly overhead. It somehow added a regal air to the demonic animal and spoke of the foreboding power she’d felt before.

It blinked those bright, shocking eyes.

Kagome blinked once and then everything was gone. The magic, the light, and the dog. The water was dark and still, just as it was before. She was alone.

She blinked again and finally closed her open mouth. She must have been gaping like a fish the entire time.

Kagome Higurashi, the keeper of the garden, lover of brown and green and all things new, did not sleep a wink that night, or for many nights after. The all-too-brief moment of enchantment had tipped her backward, head over heels for the ocean and the precious mystery she’d glimpsed. When she finally did close her eyes she only saw that which she had seen- the glow of moonlight on glossy, white fur, dazzling red eyes and that perfect blue. Always blue.

Every morning since then, it took a heroic effort to convince herself that it was real and not just a dream that had seemed so.

An uphill battle, to be sure.

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This idea has been poking me for months and I'm so happy to finally post the first installment.

I was initially inspired by my first viewing of the enchanting "The Shape of Water". It has since come to life and taken a mind of its own, as most things do.

I hope you enjoyed this new beginning and will return to see it continued.

As always, thanks for reading.

 

INUYASHA © Rumiko Takahashi/Shogakukan • Yomiuri TV • Sunrise 2000
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