Ghost Letters. Oriya. Post-series. Yaoi.
Where you sleep with voodoo dolls
And you won't give up the search
For the ghosts in the halls
You're so beautiful with an edge and charm
And so careful when I'm in your arms
You used to write me letters. Once a month, without fail, unless you were here. Somehow, despite the post marks-- Hong Kong, Nagasaki, Berlin-- they would arrive on my desk with the morning mail on the first. Always. The paper and envelopes were always coordinated for the seasons: trembling pale sakura pink for April, blood red chrysanthemums on gold flecked washi for October. They were never personal, those letters. You spoke of where you were, the weather, museums you had seen, the way light struck the water in the afternoon. An antique doll shop you found in a shop overlooking the Seine, seventeen perfect syllables on the ruins of the coliseum. I never asked you to write, or offered a response. I would open them, and read them, and put them away. I kept them, of course, in a carved boxwood chest in my room, with my mother's best kimono and my grandfather's photograph, among such mementos of this life I deem fit to keep.
The first one was a year after we graduated school, when you went on to Tokyo and I stayed here, to look after mother and the business. There are exactly six from your time abroad. One from Rome, one from London, two from Paris, two from Berlin. I don't know where you found Japanese writing paper in Europe, perhaps you took it with you. It's the sort of thing that you would do. One sheet, pre-planned, neat columns of writing front and back. Naturally, you never made mistakes. In all those years of letters there is not one mark out of place, no smudge.
Until tonight, I had read them only once. I felt that reading them out of time would be a disservice to their careful decorum, like lilies blooming in January. I'm not even sure why I kept them. Except that now, with them spilled on the tatami like torn away calendar pages, I am grateful.
I arrange them into piles by year, the graduating shades of color like a twelve-layer courtesan's robe, to match the season. There is nothing to say that the swirl of letters is more than treasured correspondence between old friends, a woodcut portrait of a man of discretion and taste and education and sensitivity.
Nowhere here is even an echo of you as I knew you. There is nothing so uncivilized as the first time you came to my garden, blood on your clothes and murder in your eyes, and forced me down like I was a common /mise-joro/, as if I wore my obi tied in front. I remember that I did not care, not even when your hands left bloody prints on my thighs, and my sandal clattered off the porch into the pond, scattering night-mating dragonflies. I was younger then, and more foolish. I had seen too many plays, and thought, even in your violence, that I saw a pattern, a ritual. I let myself pretend to understand.
You made that delusion easy, with your letters and your smile, both of which I kept like mementos of a man long dead. When you were gone I could pretend that there was nothing more to you than the precision of your profession, the eloquence of your letters. I could love you then as love went in the stories, mournful and sweet, aching like a drawn out note on a koto, the final beat of a drum. I could imagine your fatal flaw and my own doomed affection, could write the lines out in soft black ink under the waning moon.
I knew better, of course. But you never seemed to mind that I looked the other way. It was a long time before I realized that an artful double suicide was a better end than slow irreversible awareness of your true nature, and by then it was far too late, and we were both far too old. I do not doubt that I am foolish enough; I knew when you turned to leave for what we both understood would be the last time. No doubt it embarrassed you, my inability to let you go with any grace. It was the sort of crude emotion that you had often dismissed with disdain. Both of you, the man I knew and the man I wished you were, turned and walked away, and neither one of you looked back.
It has been a year, since the last letter. The last one mentions that you were thinking of coming to visit, in fall, perhaps. So long as your staying here would be no inconvenience, and I would of course let you know when the maple trees would be at peak?
The last letter is the only one still open, in my hand. I have put the rest away. If I was still young I might pretend there had been an accident, not a plan, that made this the last letter. But I know well enough why, on the first of January, there was no new-year's paper in the sleeve of my kimono, no fresh ink from your hand. I knew then, as I know now, that there would be no more. And yet I cannot help but hold my breath, the first of every month. I cannot think you dead.
This, in my hand, is the last letter from my childhood friend, the man I loved, before he died.
If you are to return, I know how it will be. Blood on your hands, and murder in your eyes.
Yet when the moon turns red, I wait for you all the same.