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A Walk in the Park by Avi

Natural Yearning

“InuYasha! I’m so sorry. Have you been waiting for me?

“Kagome, you fool. What took you so long?”

Kagome fell into the arms of the Inu Hanyou, embracing him tightly with tears in her eyes. After three long years she had returned to the Feudal Era and to her true love.

She had so much to catch up on in her return. Sango and Miroku had wed and had three beautiful children. Her beloved kit was training in the Kitsune School to perfect his illusions and trickery. Rin remained in the village under Kaede’s tutelage and was taking quite well to living with humans. Kohaku was alive and well. Along with Kirara, he was traveling to exterminate Japan of evil. With Naraku finally defeated, the world felt at peace. Kagome could finally be happy, settling down with the man she loved and studying under Kaede as a miko.

Kagome woke with a start and glanced around the dark room. After three years she had begun being plagued by dreams of her friends in the Feudal Era. Dreams where she had returned to them and lived happily in Edo. Dreams where she had finally married the hanyou she had fallen in love with. But it never lasted. She always woke up to the harsh reality of her life. The well remained sealed. Kagome was trapped, still living in her own time.

No. Not living.” She thought to herself with an audible sigh. “Suffering. I’m suffering in my own time. Suffering to exist without them. Without…him.

Three years after the well closed up, the dreams began. And the dreams continued for three years after that. For six excruciating years Kagome struggled through her life, feigning a smile to the world around her. A world that seemed so foreign and distant. A world full of strangers. Her family only became more and more worried about her. If they didn’t find a way to get her out of her rut soon, she would only continue to suffer. She couldn’t continue to live her entire life in such a depressing state. She had sheltered herself, isolating her mind and her very being from the world around her. To Kagome, the world felt strange and distorted. Her own dreams baffled her. She was finding it difficult to differentiate between reality and desire. It wasn’t healthy. Her family knew it and, deep down, she knew it as well. After six years of pain, Kagome’s mother finally decided that something had to be done. If Kagome wouldn’t take the step herself, then she would just need a push.

Kagome’s mother stood at the kitchen counter watching her daughter at the table. She was oblivious to the outside world, trapped in her own thoughts as she used a fork to poke at the uneaten pancake on her plate.

“Kagome, dear. If you weren’t going to eat it then you could have give it to your brother.”

Kagome jerked her head up to look at her mother, eyes wide with shock. She hadn’t meant to startle her daughter, but she had to say something to bring Kagome back to reality.

“Sorry, mama.” Kagome placed her fork down on the plate. “I guess I was just…”

She went silent and her mother smiled at her.

“I understand. You were thinking of them.”

She approached the table and sat down across from her daughter, looking into her tired eyes. The pain was evident. Her heart and mind were trapped five hundred years in the past. Kagome slowly nodded to her mother. Today was the anniversary of her return to the modern world. Her chest tightened with pain, but no tears came to her eyes. She had cried so much after the first three years that there was nothing left. Her mother inhaled lightly, capturing Kagome’s attention.

“Kagome, I think it’s time that you tried to face the world. The longer you keep yourself locked away the more difficult life will be to face.”

Kagome looked back down at her plate. “I… I don’t know, mama…”

“Kagome. Listen to me.” Her daugher glanced up at her, lightly. “You’re an adult, now. You can’t live your life like this. It just is not going to work. I am not going to be here forever and I won’t be around to take care of you. I don’t want to see you fall apart because you have sealed your heart away. Please, try to understand, dear.”

Kagome shifted in her seat. She knew her mother was right. She always was. But all she had known, for so long, was the Feudal Era. Her life revolved around travelling and slaying youkai. Her life revolved around loving him. She wasn’t certain that she could establish herself into a normal society in the modern era.

“You need to find a job.”

“What?” Kagome’s full attention was on her mother, now.

“You need to find a job,” she repeated, giving her daughter a smile.

“Mama, I don’t know if I can. I don’t have the experience to…”

Her mother cut her off, holding a single finger up to stop her from objecting further. “Kagome, you need to do something to keep your mind preoccupied. Once you do then you will begin healing. Find something that you can enjoy. Something that you do have experience in.”

Kagome nodded lightly, silently agreeing to the statement. Sitting at home doing nothing but lamenting about her past was only going to stoke the fire. She needed to put it out carefully.

 

 

An hour later, Kagome found herself standing in front of the wellhouse, studying the elaborate structure. She would not open the door. She refused to take that road, again. She had already spent several months attempting to leap back into the depths of the well with illogical hopes of returning to the Feudal Era. Still, she couldn’t stop herself from approaching and running a hand over the door, silently, before turning her back to the well and looking out into the world around her.

“Well, this is where I live.”

It was a confirmation. An acknowledgement. Her first step to mentally and emotionally establishing herself into a world that she already existed in physically. At her mother’s suggestion, she would take a little time to herself, today. She would spend some time shopping. Maybe getting a slice of pizza and catching a movie. After some relaxation and a calm spirit, she could then pursue a job. Fidgeting with the hem of her sunny, yellow sweater, Kagome made her way to the steps and slowly stepped out of the shrine and into the foreign world, beyond.

 

 

Thus far she was doing quite well. She had done a bit of window shopping before getting some lunch. She had not eaten her breakfast, this morning, and found herself rather hungry. At least if her stomach’s loud and startling protests had any say in the matter. She was quite embarrassed at the sounds it was making, keeping her head down to avoid the stares she was receiving as she dashed into the pizzaria. Not long after eating, she found herself in the bookstore looking over the fictional adventure books. Finding a few to her interest, she decided to buy them to keep her mind occupied while at home. Her next destination would be to the theater to catch a movie. On the way, however, she found herself distracted by something far more interesting to her sheltered heart. The beautiful local park. It was a popular destination and she had been there many times, herself. Although she loved visiting the park, she never found anything particularly spectacular about it. It was absurd, but, in the moment, she felt herself inexplicably being drawn to it. Ignoring the knowledge that her movie would be starting in fifteen minutes, she diverted her course and crossed through the gates of the park.

She couldn’t say why, but her breath caught as she focused her attention on the untouched nature. Tall trees that she was certain had been standing for decades, perhaps centuries, were blooming with brilliant, green leaves and swaying gracefully in the light wind. A large pond stood at the center of the park, sparkling blue water reflecting little rays of sunlight. The landscape was dotted with flowers that bloomed bright shades of reds, yellows, and purples. There was a natural beauty, here. A serenity that was difficult to describe. It seemed quiet and peaceful despite the abundance of visitors. There were children on a nearby hillside playing and tossing a football around. Couples and families were picnicking beneath the aged trees that sheltered them from the sun with the shade of their leaves. And suddenly, Kagome found herself being brought to a time when nature was untouched by the modern age of man. It may not be the immense area of wilderness that Japan once was, but it was still a large portion of nature that was a safe-haven from the modern world. All at once, Kagome realized what she wanted to do.

 

 

It wasn’t long before Kagome found herself meeting with the groundskeeper of the park in hopes that she could, at the very least, volunteer. Perhaps she wasn’t able to continue keeping Japan safe by fighting off vicious youkai, but here she could help to maintain the integrity and beauty of an unmolested portion of nature. A part of Japan that remained as she remembered it five-hundred years ago.

“You really do seem passionate about this, Higurashi-san.” Kiyoshi, the groundskeeper, smiled at Kagome. There was truly a fire in her eyes about this. “I’m certain that Nishimura-sama will be pleased to learn that someone so young is interested in helping to maintain his park. He does take pride in it.”

Kagome beamed. Kiyoshi had told her about Nishimura Shou. The park, as she had learned, was his passion. In fact, it was not his only park. He had used his fundings to maintain several parks throughout Japan, making certain they were pristine and untouched. Some were large parks meant to preserve centuries worth of natural landscape not unlike a National Park. Others were small local and city parks simply for the convenience and enjoyment of others. While he regularly visited all his parks to ensure they were being properly managed, this particular park was his favorite to frequent. He lived nearby and enjoyed visiting the park simply for leisure. As such, Kiyoshi had insisted that she meet with him personally. He had been contacted and asked to come meet the young lady who wished to assist in the maintenance of his park. Kagome had been sitting with Kiyoshi in an open pavilion, anxiously awaiting the benefactor when she caught sight of something, or rather someone, that caused her heart to skip a beat.

Approaching the pavilion was a tall, slender man with waist-length, black hair tied into a low ponytail, and deep chocolate eyes. He was dressed formally, wearing a white suite with a black, button-up dress shirt and black dress shoes. He was handsome and regal-looking. Although a stranger, Kagome felt a sense of familiarity about him. Familiarity, respect, and a touch of fear. She found herself feeling even more anxious, fidgeting restlessly with the hem of her sweater. Her anxiety only burst when Kiyoshi stood up and shook the man’s hand.

“Nishimura-sama,” Kiyoshi greeted the man with a smile.

Kagome’s jaw dropped as the two men turned to her. This was the Nishimura Shou that Kiyoshi had been talking about? She feared she was going to humiliate herself, but she was almost certain of what she saw. Although his appearance did not match the image that her memory provided, his features, his stoic expression, the eyes that gave no hint at emotion left little room for doubts. If she didn’t know any better, she could have sworn that this man was…

Sesshoumaru…

The whisper was nearly inaudible. Quiet enough that Kiyoshi most certainly did not catch the strange name that left her lips. But her suspicions were confirmed when Shou’s attention became fixed on her, his eyes widening a fraction. His superior senses had heard her vocal observation, and he appeared just as speechless as she.

 

 

 

Author’s Note: Firstly, I’m using prompt generators to assist me in my writing. The prompts were: pancake, startle, elaborate, pizza, pursue, absurd, wind, humiliate and the sentence “Well, this is where I live.” Second, I see people use the surname Taisho so often for Sesshomaru. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I chose to base his surname on how surnames were truly created based on location, appearance, or occupation. Nishimura, if my research is correct, means western village/town. I don’t know a great deal about Japan, so feel free to politely assist if I do something wrong.

 

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