Emerald Grace

Emerald Grace
(aka The Ice Maid’s Change)
by Miles Rost

As night fell, Amy looked into the small bonfire that her friends had set up for the night. She was alone, sitting by herself in awe of the fire. Sayaka and Chieri were off gathering up wood, while Yumi and Michiko were off getting marshmallows and chocolate from a nearby roadside shop.

I don’t understand. Everything I know about life and existence is in my head, but why is my heart feeling empty? She asked herself.

Second by second passed, and as Amy’s clothes absorbed the smoke of the bonfire, Amy pulled out speakers and her iPod from her backpack. After setting her speakers up, she moved her iPod to a song…a medium-paced celtic song that Michiko gave to her called “Emerald Grace.”

She sat for a few seconds, as the first vocal strains of the song started to play, and a thought immediately came to her mind.

Dance.

She looked around for a few seconds more, and the thought came back to her.

Dance.

Only 20 seconds passed before Amy stood up. She looked at the circle around the fire, a ring that was able to hold two people side by side, and looked upward. As the second refrain started, the accompanying sound of cymbals and triangles joined in, and Amy started to sway. She closed her eyes and just let herself go in thought as she swayed to the music.

What good is knowledge without a root to be grounded in? She asked herself, calling up her memories, I used to be grounded in family, and in life. She looked at herself in her memory, and remembered a time a few years ago when she used to dance.

Amy, make sure to let yourself move with the music, her dance instructor told her You have God’s grace, just let the music be your worship.

Amy looked on this memory and smiled.

She was right. I had been fighting against God for so long, I didn’t understand what He was giving me, she thought.

After a few seconds, a flute joined in, and Amy started to move around the fire in a counter-clockwise circle. She moved her hands upward, her arms following, in a smooth motion. Her hands, upon reaching the apex, moved downwards toward her chest, and outward in a T. She twirled and smiled as she danced to the flute and the triangle, getting into the movement and remembering the fun she used to have dancing.

The vocal strains came back for a third time, and as the voices sang, Amy lifted her hands up and continued dancing. As the voices died out, and the drums introduced what Amy called the “Base Plain” of the song, Amy started her prayer in dance.

Father, I understand now what you have been telling me, she thought, The knowledge that I have is a gift, and it needs to be used for you. You have given me a view of my life that I never would have seen with my own devices.

Amy knew that she had a choice to make. To continue the dance of life that she was dancing, or to walk from it. This would be the point of no return for her, and as the drumbeat descended, Amy made her choice.

Iesu, our Father sent you to give me life, a free gift. I have fought you before, but I will no longer fight against you. I love you, Lord, and I ask of you to enter my heart and enter my life. My life is yours, so I ask for you guidance.

The drums ended, and the haunting vocals came back for a fourth and final time. Amy moved her arms to the voices, while her legs stood still. As soon as the drums started, she went back to movement, praying along with.

I am The Ice Maid. I am Amy Kuruyama. And I am your child, Father. Lay your hands on me now as I pray this in Christ’s holy name.

As the final notes of the song played, she went down to her knees and the finals word of her prayer escaped her lips.

“Amen”.

At that moment, the bonfire roared and Amy jumped backwards, falling backwards over a log. She fell with a thud, but as she sat up, she felt alright. And she was laughing.

“I bet you anything, Amy,” a voice cried out from the other side of the fire, “that you would not noticed me while you were dancing.”

Amy quickly stood up, nervous and embarrased and looked across the fire. She eased as she saw that it was Sayaka.

“You dance well. Very well. Apparently, there are still some things that we do not know about you…”

Amy just blushed as she quickly sat down, turning off her iPod.

“You don’t have to hide it, Amy. We are friends, and fighters.”

Amy looked up with a smile, when she opened her mouth.

“And now, we’re sisters.”

Sayaka immediately shot her head up from the ground and looked straight into Amy’s eyes.

“You mean…that…”

“Was a dance of prayer. He found me, and I said yes.”

Sayaka squealed in happiness, and gave Amy a big hug.

“This is so unbelievable. It’s like God is putting everything into place.”

 

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I Wish It Would Rain Down

by Miles Rost

The Rainbow Bridge glowed at this time of night, the reds, whites, and greens eminating from each of the towers like christmas lights on a tree. The beauty of the bridge shadowed the pain and hurt that was present on its platform.

Yumi sat on the sidewalk of the center span, looking out over the tossing waters of Tokyo Bay. The rain just started as she sat down, and the drops pelted her slowly. It seemed as though even the sky was giving her grief.

She was alone, again.

So this is what Saya felt all those nights ago, she thought, staring at a freighter passing below her, Again, I am alone. When my parents died, I was alone. When I was rude to my sempai, I was alone.

She sniffled, as the rain started to pour down upon her. The storm in her heart was raging, the emotions filling up her heart like a rain barrel. Her body ached, her left index finger most of all. She knew these signs, of what was to happen, and that there was no controlling it.

Why am I always alone?! Why do I do this to my friends? Why do I always hurt like this? I don’t want this! I don’t want this burden!

Her mind panicked, her heart raced, as the sobs she knew were to come finally announced themselves in a groan and a cry of pain. She wrapped her arms around herself as she shifted her body, giving her more room to grieve. The war inside her heart was fierce and intense, and the emotions continued to overflow.

In her mind, a flash of memory shot out from nowhere.

Yumi-chan, you’ve buried your emotions,” Sayaka said, as Yumi remembered the conversation from the previous day, “You show bravery on the outside, but you haven’t reconciled yourself inside. The only person who can change you is Iesu. He’s tough on the heart, but he also shows you that you’re never alone, and that change comes from trusting.”

She looked at Tokyo Bay yet again, and continued sobbing. The pain of her heart joined the pain in her head, feeding her tears. At the same time, another thought pierced her.

Turn to me and be gracious to me, for I am lonely and afflicted. The troubles of my heart are enlarged; Bring me out of my distresses. Look upon my affliction and my trouble, and forgive all my sins.

Sayaka’s voice cut through the anguish of her thoughts, with passages she had read to her earlier in the day.

“These words were from the great King David. He seemed to be like you, in a lot of ways, Yumi-chan. He was stoic, and very ardent in battle. But he had his problems too. And his petition there, that was his confession to God.”

Yumi looked at her now soaked uniform, and the drops of water off the leather tote-bag she carried. Her sobs continued, as she looked at the towers to her sides.

“Kami-sama,” she cried out through her sobs, “I have failed.”

The rain suddenly started pouring heavier, the sounds of thunder in the background calling a chant, seemingly echoing her cries.

“My life has been filled with pain, Father. My parents, my sempai, all those who left me, they gave me nothing but pain. And you, you gave Saya hope. You gave her something that I did not have before, something that I don’t have right now.”

Yumi breathed in a heavy breath, as hail started to fall on the bridge. She stood up, and bent her knee to the concrete. The pain that shot through her knee was temporary, and caused another flood of sobs to come through, even after the pain subsided.

“I don’t want this! I don’t want this burden, this load that I am carrying. Iesu, I want you to carry this with me. I want what you gave Saya those weeks ago. I ask of you to come into my heart, and take the pain, the anger, the strain, and transform them into something that can be used.”

Yumi clutched her fingers until they were white, as her prayers rang out like a tolling bell. The hail continued to fall, as the rain cascaded down like a waterfall.

“Lord…savior…You have the power to make me whole again. Take my life and make it whole, make me the warrior that I was before all these events. In your holy and saving name, Iesu, I pray this…”

A peal of thunder in the background shook the bridge as she held steady. Her cries were done, and she held her ground against the thunder’s call. Her face turned serious, as she uttered the final words.

“Amen.”

As the word rolled off her tongue, a bright bolt of lightning split the sky from north to south. After a minute, the hail stopped as the rain kept falling.

She breathed in the air, the damp rainy air, and looked around at the bridge. As she stood up, the rain slowed down from a waterfall to a steady but barely soaking shower. Yumi was soaked fully, her ponytail hanging low from the weight of the water. Her seifuku was fully drenched, and as she walked back towards Minato-ku, she felt the squish of water in her shoes. Her mind was on other things, though.

She needed to see Sayaka, and she needed to see her right away.

*************

Sayaka sat at her table, working on homework. The scrapes of her mechanical pencil as it drew across the paper filled the room with a sound that was previously filled with the sounds of the rain on her roof.

I hope Yumi-chan is okay, she thought, I don’t know why, but it seemed like the only thing that could be done was to let her go off on her own.

She put down her pencil, and reclined back a slight bit, remembering the events that unfolded earlier in the day. She remembered the pain and bewilderment on Yumi’s face, the similar pain and bewilderment she felt weeks before.

“Yu-chan, I hope you haven’t done something crazy…”

At that moment, Sayaka folded her hands and closed her eyes. She felt the need to pray, and the moment for it was then. As she sat there, a picture of peace and patience, she was silent and focused.

Suddenly, a conspicuous knocking at her door caught her attention. With a quick ‘amen’, she stood up, bowed, and walked into the main hosting room to check and see who it was. As she opened up the screen, she was greeted by a soaking wet, crying, and broken Yumi.

“Yumi-chan!”

“Sayaka,” she sniffled, “I didn’t know where to go, but you’re the first person who would understand. So here I am.”

“Come in, come in. You’re soaking wet! Did you walk all the way over from your apartment?”

“I want to tell you everything, but I need something to drink first.”

“Don’t worry. I’ll get you something to drink, and a dry kimono to slip into. Head into my bedroom and wait there.”

Sayaka quickened her steps into the kitchen area, where she started boiling water for tea. As she quickly walked towards her room, she heard sobbing and rushed to see Yumi on the floor, head in hands, letting her tears fall. Sakaya immediately rushed to her closet, grabbed the nearest kimono, and rushed to the fallen girl’s side, giving her a tight hug.

“I’m here, Yumi. I’m here. Just let yourself go, and I’ll take care of you,” she whispered, with concern and warmth. For a short while, she sat with her friend, someone who she never thought would ever look broken, and just let her sob into her shoulder. As the sobs died, Sayaka slowly moved away and looked at Yumi.

“I will be right back. But, when I get back, I need you to tell me everything. In the meantime, put on the kimono.”

Sayaka walked to the kitchen and came back a minute later with the white tea that she always brewed.

“Yumi-chan, tell me everything.”

She sat in front of the small reading table, the dry, greenish-colored kimono wrapped around her cold frame. Her hair was still wet from the rain, but seemed to be starting to dry.

“I…I…” she stammered, as she tried to recollect her thoughts, “After the confrontation, I just started running. I ran…so far away. I was alone, as I usually am. I was so wrapped up with anger and guilt, the memory of my parents and my sempai came back to me. I ended up on the Rainbow Bridge. I actually wanted to jump. I wanted to end it.”

Sayaka’s eyes opened wide, and she gasped slightly.

Yumi told her the full story about what happened on the bridge, not leaving a single crumb of detail behind. In between descriptions, she would cry for a moment, then start speaking again.

“As I left the bridge, I was in shock. My heart was flooded with emotion, but I couldn’t cry. I had nowhere I could really go, nowhere that I could have a safe haven with. So I walked from the bridge to here. The only thing I could think about was talking to you about what happened.”

Sayaka gave her a giant hug, and looked her square in the eye.

“Yu-chan, I’ve been hoping for this for a while. I thought you’d be the most resistant to His message, but now I see you here. You don’t even know how happy I am that you were able to come here and trust me with this.”

“Really?”

“Really. It’s been a few weeks since I’ve had anyone that I can trust come visit. But, it’s not just that. You came here after something that you know very few have gone through. This is going to be new for you, and I think that it might be good to have you stay here for the night.”

Yumi looked around, and sighed.

“I think I can do that,” she replied, “I don’t have to be at school early.”

Sayaka smiled, as she sipped her tea.

“At least now I have someone around who doesn’t think I’m crazy.”

Yumi looked at her, and smiled slightly. Then the sneeze hit.

“Oh no. You’re not getting sick!” Sayaka chuckled, as she walked to the bath and started some running water.

While she ran the water and got towels ready, Yumi looked at the Bible that was open above Sayaka’s homework.