“In the vanishing land which lies beyond what you can see out of the corner of your eye everything has a price”

Her voice purred softly through the tent hinting at an unspoken promise of delight. I sat entranced as she made tea. No tea bag and kettle, but a light green dust amidst delicate implements and steam. Her movements were gracefully slow and precise. She looked like an austere beauty from some long forgotten time when bustles and corsets were the norm. Her hair was arrange in an intricate web that projected simplicity in the midst of a chaotic world.

“My friend tell me you are a fortune teller, that you changed him.”
My voice almost cracked and I struggled to keep my cool. She opened her mouth to speak and I swear the scent of jasmine filled the space between us.

“I am afraid that Bernard is mistaken, I do not speak of the future, only of the stories that surround us.”
“what story did you tell him?”

She smiles softly at me and looked down slightly. An odd gesture in in this time that only made her seem more enigmatic.

“I am sorry Carl, but Bernard agreed to the price and so sadly it is his story, not yours.”

As she finished she tapped a little bamboo whisk on the rim of her bowl as if to add emphasis to her statement. She brought the tea bowl up and held it under her nose taking in the earthy green scent that now rose delicately from the bowl. I could sense her smile but not see it due to the bowl obscuring my view. It never occurred to me to ask how she knew my name

“Tea is often magical, an alchemy of simplicity, much can be learned from tea.”

She took a long slow sip and cuddled the bowl in her hands. The look of mysterious bliss on her face was enchanting, seductive and strangely frightening. She looked invulnerable, immune to charm, and anger. Empty but full.

“How much did Bernard pay?”

“Okakura sensei used to pat my head and tell me I had too much tea in me.”

She turned the bowl three times and held it out to me, with a slight nod of her head.

“I suspect he would say, you had too little tea in you .”

I took the bowl carefully , but with no idea what to do next so I took as sip. The flavor was thick and earthy with a slightly bitter feel, It reminded me of what a freshly mowed field might taste like. I must have made a face as I tried to hand back the bowl. She took a fan from the sleeve of that gown of hers and with a flick of her wrist, it snapped open with a crack as sharp as a gun shot. I froze involuntarily.

“Macha may take time to get used to, I would hate to deprive you of your fist real tea, Please finish”

I sipped from the bowl again.

“Are you Japanese?”

She tilted her head
“What an odd question, do I look like a woman from Nippon?”
‘No, its just that you mentioned having a Sensei so I took a guess’

She laughed lightly almost in a chiding manner

“My dear Carl have you never traveled, or are you truly with out tea?”

“Truth be told I am a home body, not content just anchored in place. I guess I just never had the desire to go any where.”

“My kind are well traveled, there is not a place in this world we have not been at one time or another.”

“Where are you from?” I asked, in an attempt to make small talk and hear something about her that was not made of smoke. She sat there with her fan slowly moving the scent of macha and jasmine around us.

“Would you like to hear your story Carl?”

My heart lept into my throat. I wanted to hear, I needed to hear about something from her lips. In that moment I needed to please her, to please my self and to hear about what I had missed in life. My pulse quickened as I sipped the tea. Its warmth filling my body . I managed to stammer out a question knowing that it did not matter. I would do anything to hear the story.

“How much?”

She smiled with that enigmatic look I had leaned to appreciate so quickly

“Carl you have already paid.”

*Okakura Kakuzo (1862-1913) Author of “The Book of Tea” published 1906



Syracuse, United States

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Artist's Description

A short story that begins a series of tales


fox tales

Artwork Comments

  • Larasolnishko
  • MisterRobinson
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