Chapter 1: Shisho
When Shisho suddenly appeared in my apartment with a dizzying bright flash I knew that I’d made my decision. She never appeared when someone was indecisive. What I had decided was going to happen. I wasn’t sure if I liked the way that felt, but it did make me feel more confident. I wasn’t going to back down.
That was more than I could say I’d done in a very long time.
I’d been sitting at my desk, bent over a spiral notebook writing what many would call a suicide note. I’m not sure who I expected to find it. Maybe I wrote it for me.
Sometimes a girl is allowed to be selfish. Few people fault someone for the last few things they do before giving up everything they ever were to one hastily made decision. I’d spent over two weeks debating with myself and it still felt like a swift decision.
“Shisho. It’s been a long time, hasn’t it?” I smirked and raised an eyebrow. She still looked the same. Exactly the same. I was sure if I held up a picture beside her I wouldn’t be able to find a single difference. I can’t say the same for me, but people tend to stand out when you don’t change. Something I’ve prided myself on is doing anything but that.
I’ve changed far more than I wanted.
“Yes, Bridgette, it is so.”
Shisho wasn’t a very ordinary woman, but I’d seen stranger. She wore her silver-white hair in a long ponytail but didn’t bother to keep her bangs out of her face. Her eyes were black, and impossibly deep. She was tan, but only enough so she wouldn’t be pale. She wasn’t tall enough to be tall, or short enough to be short. She’d almost be able to blend in with a crowd if it wasn’t for her hair, the half-moon spectacles, or the kanji written on her left cheek.
A long time ago she’d told me what it meant in Japanese but I’d forgotten. It wasn’t particularly important and I had too much pride to ask and admit it. I got the feeling she probably knew that already. If there’s anyone that knows too much, it’s Shisho.
It is charming the way she levitates, floating with one leg folded in midair like she finds it relaxing. Floating isn’t the hardest trick but it takes more effort for me. We all have our strengths.
Or at least we all have our weaknesses.
“I’d ask you what brings you here, but we don’t need to pretend I don’t know. You’re cheating again. Most people would frown very heavily on just peeking into the future like that. That is why you’re here, isn’t it?” I stood up from my desk and only hesitated a moment before closing the notebook. Maybe I hadn’t finished writing but there was no sense in pretending I could finish it with her here.
Given that no one could be expected to read it who would care I decided there was no point in finishing it. Instead, I smoothed my black dress and smiled. It was good to see her again.
“I have always found your aptitude for bluntness very charming. Am I here because I have seen events yet to pass? It is so. Though I only can see possibilities, all of yours converge at one point. I have come to find out why.” Shisho smiled, but I had the oddest feeling she wasn’t smiling for my benefit.
It was almost like she wasn’t even in the room at all. I supposed when you know so much and have so much on your mind it can be hard to stay in the moment. I didn’t let it bother me. She was there, and that was more than I could say for anyone else.
I debated asking her for one last time together, but she’d already learned all she could about how I was in bed. She wouldn’t have been interested. Probably.
My ego didn’t want to have it confirmed.
I stepped over to my wall mounted mirror and checked my hair. Dirty blonde, just like I’d been keeping it for the past couple years. Styled, but not fancy. Long, but not too long. Pretty, but not too pretty. Just like my just barely too bird like nose, and my barely too pale skin.
Middle aged. Not what I’d call someone looking like me, or want to be called, but it was the look I was going for. Just enough age to be invisible without being noticeably invisible.
My gaze stayed locked on my own green eyes as I spoke. “There was a time a very, very long time ago now where you saying that so casually would have gotten you into deep shit.” I raised a brow at myself, flattened it, and then rose the other. “Not that I imagine that would have kept you from leaving well enough alone. So you saw what I’m planning, then. I would imagine you’d be able to put the pieces together on your own. You do know everything.”
Shisho giggled. It was an adorable giggle, one that made her sound so much younger than either of us had ever been. It made me smile, a real genuine smile. When I turned to face her, she was smiling too.
Her skin still looked smooth and young, more like a twenty something than a young girl, but that wasn’t what made her timeless. Looking past those lenses, into those dark eyes, there was still a curiosity that I hadn’t seen in my own… possibly ever. She knew more than I had ever dreamed of wanting to know, but she was still eager to learn more.
Even if she looked exactly the same twenty years ago, and on the day we met, I think she was always younger than me. Realizing that again made me tempted to ask her for at least a kiss. I considered working up the courage, before shaking my head.
Better she remember me and sex the way it used to be for me when we were together.
“That I could guess your rationale from the evidence you have left for me to see it is so. However, that hardly begins to explore the depths of your decision when it is one so dramatic a departure. It has been a very long time since you have hidden yourself away in plain sight.” Shisho adjusted her glasses. Her tongue wetted her lips. Oh how tempted I was to move closer, wait for her to do that again, and wet her tongue with mine. “Why now? Why as such?”
“You almost sound like you’re here to try convincing me that what I have in mind is foolish, wrong, or some other word with bad connotations.” I stepped closer to her, but stopped before she was within reach.
I didn’t trust myself to not let my nail trace along the shape at her cheek over and over as if to memorize it. Of course then my lips would want to memorize her lower lip. My eyes would want to memorize the almost thoughtless way those black eyes of hers would flutter and the moan that would come from her lips as they would part just so.
Shisho was not the most attractive woman that I had ever met. She wasn’t even the most attractive woman that I had slept with, but there was another reason that seeing her made a part of me burn.
“Bridgette. You are very well aware that I do not interfere. I observe. I watch. With no paper I record all that I can. I forget nothing that I see, nothing that I hear. You are so very well aware of this, it is so.” She smiled, one of her detached, impersonal smiles. Again she was off somewhere else. Maybe she actually was. If anyone would learn bilocation it would be Shisho. “I would not interfere with your decision. I only seek to understand it.”
I shrugged, and moved past her as I moved into my small kitchen. There was no wall blocking my view of her, and she quickly pivoted in the air to follow me with her eyes as I moved. “Still, rather close to interfering, asking me outright, isn’t it? Can I get you a drink?”
She shook her head. I waited for her to say something about not needing to drink and how “it is so” but she didn’t say it.
Her gaze said she heard me say it for her.
All I could think to say was “Damn you, Shisho. You’ve got me saying it now. If I’d made that bet, I’d still owe you nothing because picking up on old bets would be a sort of interference. Well played, Shisho. Well played.”
She didn’t react to that either, but I didn’t honestly expect her to.
I filled a glass with water kept in a filtered pitcher stored away in my fridge. She watched, and said nothing. This, I imagined, was the only side that most people ever saw of her. A beautiful, silent observer. An angel of time. She watched, and she smiled, but it almost felt like she didn’t even do that. Her black eyes were as much the passage of entropy as they were the organs a living breathing woman used to see.
I wondered how much she knew that she wished she could forget. Then I wondered if she could want to forget anything. It wasn’t easy to tell. Not with a woman like Shisho.
After a long slow sip I broke the silence again. “I couldn’t tell you enough of a reason to make you showing up here worth it. I’m sick of ‘hiding in plain sight’ as you put it. I’m sick of being that face you can never be sure you remembered quite right in the crowd. I’m sick of knowing that she’s there, not even looking anymore. She does think I’m dead by now, doesn’t she?”
Shisho gave the most noncommittal shrug that I’d seen in my whole life. “That she once sought you out desperately and with the tenacity of the rising sun, it is so. That she believes you dead?” She grinned, another genuine show of emotion, and shrugged. “That would be interfering.”
“My mistake. I should have known better than to ask.” I waved a hand with a snort before finishing the last of the glass. Bland. Tasteless.
It felt like reality was mocking me. The water tasted like I felt. The only difference was that it had been transparent, and I only had company because I wasn’t. Shisho had never exactly been a friend. We’d been lovers. Had sex. Made love. Fucked. She’d insisted on all three being very different and requiring their own time spend indulging. But we’d never been friends. When we were done with each other we had remained in contact until doing so ceased to have any purpose.
That was before my self-imposed exile. I’d seen her since. Observing. Watching. She hadn’t been anywhere to see me, but when you’re trying not to be seen you get a feel for other people much the same. Even being observed can be interfering.
At that moment I knew that Shisho had only arrived to speak with me because she knew that there was nothing she could truly do to interfere. She wasn’t that important.
I wondered if she knew how I imagined sliding my dress off of my shoulders so that she’d never be able to forget the sight of my breasts. How would she have liked me tracing that symbol from her cheek right above her mons? She’d never forget, even if I was sure that I wouldn’t remember if I got the shape right. It was only just intricate enough that I was sure if anyone would be able to tell, it was her.
“I could tell you some of my reasons. That I’ve grown tired. Weary. Maybe I’m even getting old.” I laughed, and she had the kind tact to laugh with me. I wasn’t sure how genuine it was, but it didn’t feel like it mattered. “Probably not, but it’s possible. You could say it is… maybe… so.
“Things have been stagnant for too long. I stay in this apartment, or I run my petty errands that must be done again and again. No one notices. No one cares. By design, of course. I’ve left no mark in my time living here. I’ve impressed myself greatly upon all of no one. My bills are all promptly paid, but not too promptly. I’m not rude, but I’m not polite. When I leave here today, I don’t imagine anyone will be able to say much about me besides ‘Didn’t she live around here?’ or ‘I think I know a woman like that, but I couldn’t tell you anything useful about her, sorry.’ That’s what I’ve been. For years.”
Shisho nodded. I could see the quill pen moving behind her dark, deep black eyes. How her memory worked, I never asked. It wasn’t important for me to know how she never forgot anything only that it was …so. She was a useful enigma. Solving her would not have been.
Though her taste had been enough to make sating her sexual curiosity more than worth the curious nature of it.
“Weariness. I would not have predicted you to fall prey to such a malady. Very unlike you. That is not all, is it Bridgette? There is more. Will you tell me, or will you merely allow me to watch in an attempt to ascertain? You are a most strange woman. My study of you has been one that I often recall in puzzlement.” She smiled, but I didn’t need that kindness. No one had ever paid me a deeper compliment.
I set the glass in the sink before slowly exiting the kitchen. My stocking clad feet were silent when I yearned for clicking heels. It would soon be rectified, but I had done a fair job of leaving no impression so permanent on the carpet. Even in my sanctuary, I left such a small trace of my existence.
Something about that felt oddly poetic.
“No, Shisho. No. For you, I will tell you more, because you would not use it to impede or expedite me. You would not tell a single soul, because that would be interfering. I wouldn’t call you a principled woman Shisho, but you are very stubborn to that code of yours. You might pull the wings from a fly to see how it would look, but only were it dead and its body not to be found.” I grinned. Shisho continued to smile.
Either I was very right, or she didn’t care. Perhaps interrupting me now to object would cut off her chance at knowledge she could get no other way. Was she still trying to solve me, even then? I couldn’t be sure, so I didn’t bother to try.
“For you, my delectable Shisho, I will tell you all of my reasons. I will tell you all of the many reasons I used to convince myself that this was not just a passing fancy. Then, I will invite you to watch as I leave to make the future you saw slide so sweetly into place.” I paused before stepping up to her. I rested my hands on her hips and squeezed. She didn’t move. She hardly even reacted. “Would you like that?”
Any other woman caring so little that I’d touched her so would have been upsetting. She’d been expecting it. Maybe she’d even been waiting for it. The dark black pools of her eyes revealed nothing.
I stroked my nails around and down, digging them tenderly into the subtle curve of her ass. That, was one thing about her that I would never forget. It was such a shame that I was now certain she allowed me to touch her so only because to stop me would be to interfere with my wanton lusts. Even when it made her the victim of my lecherous inclinations, Shisho couldn’t muster up the reasons to whisper a simple no.
“It is so.”