Chiyoko Kurosawa, Moonlit River Okiya
Chiyoko sat on the floor mat, sipping her evening tea. She rubbed her fingers around the brim of the porcelain cup between sips, and looked thoughtfully around her room. On the second floor of the Okiya, it was exquisitely decorated with anything of high value that she had collected over the years. Truthfully, all the hand-written scrolls, flowers, framed kimono, vases, and china made her room appear cluttered- though to her, they all showed off her status and economic stability. Next to the oil painting of no one other than herself, on the South wall of her room, was the only thing giving clue to the fact that an actual person lived here, and not just a passing empress. It was a small, Polaroid photograph tacked to the wall with a sewing needle. The edges frayed and browned from a fire no one remembered, it showed Chiyoko and her Older Sister, a teacher Geisha, standing shoulder to shoulder in front of the very Okiya which she now ran. They are both smiling broadly, and the picture is the only thing remaining from Chiyoko's older life, other than gossip and talk which she never indulges in.
She sets the cup down and, with a cracking of the old knees, stands up and shuffles toward the window. It is dusk, and pulling aside the wooden curtain, she knows that soon the city will awaken. Soon, one by one, servants will venture out of the teahouses, okiya, and shops along the pebbled road to light their colorful lanterns and open their services. Men and women, like waves of water, will spill into the streets and life in Gion will begin once more. It is a sight that, after all these years, still stops her heart for a second. However, tonight, the older woman has other things on her mind.
"Wheeeere is he?" She clucks in annoyance to herself. As always, the man who was to fetch the little girl for her is late. She has been waiting a few days now for him to bring her a new Maiko, and she's starting to sicken of it. And what if this girl isn't suitable, anyways? What if, like the other ones, Chiyoko will just have to deal with the burden of handing her off to some other, lower, Okiya? Oh, it is only a loss. In her younger years, she had the energy to travel herself to the parents of her Maiko, to meet them and see the girls before agreeing to take them. Alas, she is too old now, and must put her trust in petty, annoying messengers who are never punctual, and only look at the outer beauty of a girl before bringing her to the Okiya. Most of the time, it is a miss and an argument erupts before the man has to, angrily, take the girl back to her little seaside village or wherever she is from. Tonight, Chiyoko simply does not have the energy nor patients to bother herself with such a situation- when the man and her new Maiko arrive, everything better be perfect.