The Stillness of Death, from “A Seasoning of Lust”


Lady Nyo knelt on a cushion, the tea before her.  She did not move.

Lord Nyo was drunk again.  When in his cups the household scattered for hiding places.  Beneath  the kitchen was a crawl space. Three servants were hiding  there and a fourth was wearing an iron pot on his head.

Lord Nyo was known for three things: archery, temper and his drunkenness.

Tonight he strung the seven foot bow and donned his quiver high on his back. He looked at the pale face of his wife, his eyes blurry, and remembered the first time he bedded her. She was fifteen.  Her body had been powdered silk, bones like butter with the blush of ready passion coursing through her like a tinted stream.  She was still beautiful, but too fragile for his tastes.  Better a plump courtesan, not all delicate and saddened beauty.

In quick succession he drew back the bow and let five arrows fly through the shoji screen.  Each grazed his wives’ ear.

Lady Nyo knew her life hung on her stillness.  She willed herself dead.  Death  after all these years would have been welcome.

Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2010

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