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Onegaishimasu (Please)

1. 

The knock shattered the silence. It was actually quite a soft knock, but somehow defiant in its sharpness. Isamu sighed and struggled to pull herself out of her chair. Tottering slightly, she glanced out the window. The surface of the lake was flat and clear. The shadow of wide wings slid over the water and the image of Mei’s arm, torn and bloody as the talon reached forward again, flashed in her mind. She turned toward the door, taking small steps. If she wasn’t careful, she would slip on the acorns that fell through the holes in the roof. Kaoru had loved to pick them up, one by one like a meditation, gathering them into the small basket that Riko wove out of lake reeds before she had gone. They had all gone.  She shuffled over the dark wood floor turned black by the soot from the fire that always burned in the pit. It was cold living on the water. She pulled her shawl tighter around her. Akemi had knit it so very long ago, from the wool that Hana spun and dyed, before the forest and the onryo. They had gone to help the spirit in the dark trees, with her long black hair and weeping eyes, but their training was not sufficient and her rage too much. Isamu shook her head wearily and the herbs that hung from the ceiling brushed the top of her hair; liquorice root, honeysuckle stems, foxglove. All could be mixed with the lotus seed, ground beetle, or tiger lily bulb that sat, waiting, in their little paper envelopes, but none could bring her girls back. She reached the door and opened it slowly. There was a small girl, black hair in neat braids, looking up at her with wary eyes. Their eyes had been the same. “Please, they said you could teach me to be a mahou-tsukai.”

 “I no longer take students,” she answered, and shut the door.

2. 

You walk steadily through the trees.

Your small feet barely make a sound.

 Each step takes you farther from your home.

With each step you want to turn back.

They say Isamu only takes students older than ten.

If you go back you will hear the crying.

You are only seven; barely seven.

The crying won’t stop, it echoes through the house.  

They say she fights oni barehanded.

You cringe under your blanket each night in the dark.

They say she is as fierce as a yokai herself.

You see your mother staring at the crib.

They say all her students die.

You see her rocking, rocking, rocking, she can’t stop.

They say she makes them drink poisons.

You hear her begging the baby to stay.

They say two of them went into the forest and never returned.

The crib is empty but the air is heavy.

You’re afraid to wrestle with spirits.

You cannot bear the weight.

They say her magic is fearsome.

They say her magic exorcises ghosts.

You reach the bridge to her house on the lake.

No one knows you are here.

You can still turn back.

You will let her decide.

Step.

Step.

Step.

You cross the bridge.

Your breath is shallow as you knock.

You are only seven; barely seven.

The door opens.

“Please, they said you could teach me to be a mahou-tsukai.”        

 “I no longer take students,” she answers, and shuts the door.

3. For the tweet length story I'm vacillating between two ideas: 

Death came dressed as a little girl, but Isamu was not deceived again.

The girl came to Isamu for hope, but you cannot teach what you do not know. 

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