~~~~((~~~((@ THE ROSE GARDEN @))~~~))~~~~
From the memoirs of Chiba Mamoru, as re-told to Pandora Diane Waldron
"Mystery glows in the rose bed, the secret is hidden in the rose." --Farid ud-din Attar, 12th Century Persian poet.
Chapter 5: The Lamp Post Acrobat
According to J.E. Cirlot's A Dictionary of Symbols, the "single rose is, in essence, a symbol of completion, of consummate achievement and perfection. Hence, accruing to it are all those ideas associated with these qualities: the mystic Centre, the heart, the garden of Eros, the paradise of Dante, the Beloved, the emblem of Venus and so on."
Now, the bridge will go here. The pond, with some koi (if Phoebe doesnt eat them first, that is), here. And this looks like a good spot to place the path to the tea house. I will, of course, have the path lead to my new rose garden. I can get some stones of the perfect size and shape from the nearby river, to help set off my bonsai plantings, and there should be some good flat stepping stones there too. Let them TRY and stop me from wading in--as if I cared about currents! But where shall I place the cherry tree? This will be the focal point of the Tsukiyama (landscape garden). This deserves some thought. I need to see the entire layout of the land before I begin. Hmmm. An aerial view would be ideal, but how....
"Welcome. Were so pleased you were able to come at such short notice, when our former director had to leave, due to ill health."
"Well, it was time,"she sighed, shoulders sinking a little. "Time to begin again."
"Begin what?" Karano, the young orphanage administrator looked puzzled.
"Oh, forgive me," she smiled weakly. "Thinking out loud."
Suddenly, she looked up, and stared. "Oh, my God! Get him down from there!"
"Get who down? Oh!" and Karano burst out laughing.
"Well, I dont think its funny!" snapped Mrs. Suzuki. "WHAT is that young man doing walking on the garden wall? He could fall and get killed!"
"Oh, you mean Chiba Mamoru. Not to worry. He does this all the time. Feet like a cat, he has. He takes care of our gardens too. You should see the roses he has produced--and his bonsai collection!"
"Well, if THIS is all the care you take of a young man like that," she sputtered, her shoulders shaking, "I can see Im needed here! You get him down from there RIGHT NOW!"
When Suzuki-san arrived, at first I found her very annoying. She actually thought she could tell ME where I could go and what I could do. But by now, I had my response down to a science. I listened, I nodded, I promised not to do any more reckless things [as if I cared whether I lived or died!], and when her back was turned...Mamorus fun began. How high could I go? How far could I leap? Always, the challenge drew me, the danger enticed me, and if I died? Well, what did I have to live for, anyway?
Mikata Suzuki looked out the window, and shook her head. "Hes at it AGAIN. And he thinks I dont know. Hes given everyone else the slip. But not me, I have had a son and I remember." And then she gripped the desk edge--hard. If you looked very closely, you could see she was struggling with some strong emotion. Her shoulders were shuddering. And then it stopped. She had mastered herself. And then she squared her shoulders. And marched out into the front yard.
"And just WHAT do you think youre doing NOW, Mamoru-kun?"
He looked up then from what he was doing, a reed-thin figure perched on top of the lamp post, his hands busily unscrewing the glass lamp cover. "Im fixing it for you," he called down, calmly.
"And I seem to remember we have discussed this, that we were going to wait for the electrician to come do this? With the proper equipment? You DO remember this discussion, Mamoru-kun?"
"Yes," he replied, with the slightest trace of impatience in his voice. And went on working.
They made a strange pair, the woman, yelling up at this very stubborn and determined young man, still way too thin to be considered full-grown, balancing now with a hand, now with a foot, thirty feet above the ground--and scarcely anything for him to hold onto.
Suddenly, she seemed to come to a decision. "All right then. But I expect you to come in and see me when you are finished. We will have tea if you like."
So then it became a ritual. Every day I would have tea with Suzuki-san. The only orphanage resident so honoured. Then again, I was by now, shall we say, the orphan with the most seniority? There was hardly anyone left on staff who remembered when I first came through the doors, still full of hostility and scared. Yes, I had outlasted them all, the psychologists, the social workers. And the wall Id built around myself and my feelings, a perfect impenetrable wall. No one, I prided myself on believing, could tell what I was REALLY thinking.
But bit by bit, that Suzuki was worming things out of me. She would make small talk, I would relax, enjoying the tea ritual, and oh-oh--that witch was probing me! And worse and worse, I started to confide in her, tell her things I thought wouldnt reveal too much. But she was too damn good at putting the pieces together. WITCH.
"So when did these nightmares start?" Suzuki, the witch, was doing her sneaky probing again.
"About a month ago. Theres something I have to find. I cant describe it for you, but its something rare, something precious, something with enormous power. Am I making any sense?" Mamoru asked.
"Sounds like something important to you, that much I see clearly." and she nodded.
"There is in my dream, someone who asks me to find this thing. But I have never met this person. So why should I feel Ive got to find this thing? For someone Ive never met?"
"And how do you know youve never met, Mamoru-kun? I understand youve never got back your early childhood memories. Perhaps theyre beginning to surface at last. Stop fighting them--and me!"
"And what makes you think I care WHAT you think?" Ocean-blue eyes suddenly blazed at Mrs. Suzuki with fierce intensity.
"Because otherwise, you wouldnt have told me--or asked for my opinion. Oh, and by the way, if you ARE asking me, I think you should go ahead and try to find this thing for her."
"And how do you know its a HER?" Mamoru glared at her suspiciously.
"Not only that its a HER," Mikata Suzuki replied quietly. "I also know you are in love with her, with this someone you have never met. She is beautiful, isnt she?"
"And how the hell do you know that?" And he was on his feet, angry, defensive.
"Simple, Mamoru-kun. I had a son, just about your age. He died last year, of leukemia. He dreamed about a special girl for him too. But it was never to be. And I, his mother, grieve for him, that he died without ever knowing love, as I knew love. My husband is also deceased, many years now, but still I remember him. But there is one thing you should know, Mamoru-kun. My son would never have spoken to me as you have just done. And please do not use that tone to me ever again. No matter how much this dream girl means to you. I feel your pain. But do not let your pain blind you to living your life as you should. And now I must leave you."
And so saying, Mikata Suzuki left the room. Leaving Mamoru shaking with a mixture of fear and rage. Fear that she had discovered this, his deepest secret, when he meant only to hint at what was troubling him. Rage that she knew about HER, His Princess, in her dress of shimmering white, that no one, that no one, must know about. He must find her, and protect her. This only, he knew, without understanding.
That night, he dreamed again. A new dream, this time. A vision of a rose of deepest scarlet like warm blood. It seemed to melt, then shattered into brittle shards like broken glass, flying everywhere. He woke, trembling, and saw the bright moonlight blazing from his window. "I am the rose," he said softly to the moon. "And it is me that is broken, shattered. And will not mend again."
At breakfast the next morning, he could hardly eat a thing. He could still see the vision of the rose in his dream, bleeding, shattering, and it frightened him. Suddenly, he felt a hand on his shoulder. He turned and met the grave brown eyes of Mikata Suzuki. "Kuroko says you havent eaten anything at all this morning. Whats wrong?" Oh, Kuroko said something, it figures, he sighed to himself, pushing his hand through the thick, dark hair in a gesture of embarrassment. Kuroko was their kitchen help, a young girl of fourteen, who helped her mother, the cook, at the orphanage during the summer. Girls! Girls! Ever since he turned fifteen, they were always trying to talk to him, with their bright empty chatter, trying to touch his arm. Why wouldnt they leave him alone? Kuroko was another one.
"If I want something to eat," he blazed, "I can cook for myself! I don't need Kuroko or anyone else to make something for me!"
"Yes, indeed you can!" and Mikata Suzuki smiled. "And clean, too. Your room is always immaculate. You give the maids nothing to do. Which annoys them. They have no excuse to hang around your room. Do you have any idea how much your presence disturbs all the young women around here? It's all I can do, just to keep them concentrating on their jobs. And not to mention, our gardens are a local showplace, thanks to you. And nothing is in need of repair, that you can't fix. I don't know how we're going to manage without you!"
"Don't be so hard on Kuroko, for telling me," Mrs. Suzuki continued, breaking in on his thoughts without even trying. "She cares about you. As I do. And one day, my selfish young man, you will be grateful for such attentions instead of resentful. When SHE starts to fuss over you, is this how you will behave?"
The deep blue eyes focused on her, indignantly. "You are not to speak of HER! If SHE were here, there is NOTHING I would not do for her, NOTHING! How can you say, how can you even THINK, I would hurt her like that?"
"O, Mamoru-kun, you are SO naive. Has no one ever told you, that you always hurt the one you love, even without meaning to? And how do you know you will know her, when you find her?"
"I would know her ANYWHERE, ANYWHERE! I would know her in a crowd of a thousand people! I can feel her, even now--her soul is tied to mine, with an invisible string." And having realized he had said far too much, Mamoru reddened suddenly, and buried his face in his hands.
"It's all right," Mikata Suzuki spoke softly. "I have not shared your secret with anyone. And I will not, ever. I am pleased you were able to tell me."
He looked up then, struck to the heart. "I am ashamed of myself. I am ashamed of the way I have treated you. I meant to tell you, but then you started talking about HER, and that set me off. I can never think straight, when I think of HER. You have always been so kind to me. And I have repaid your kindness by brushing you away. And you, you have recently lost your son. And you told no one of your sadness. Why did you tell ME?"
"Because," Mikata Suzuki's voice had dropped to a whisper, so the other staff could not overhear. "You remind me so of that son I have lost, Mamoru-kun. I have enjoyed our many discussions. You are bright, and enthusiastic. And talented."
"And I do nothing that you ask," he answered, contrite. "I take risks, I do things that even I know are dangerous. If I am like your son, I have not been a very obedient one."
"No, you haven't," and her eyes twinkled. "When I saw you walking along the wall, hanging off the top of the lamp post, my heart was in my mouth, worrying about you. And somehow, I suspect I will not be the last one to worry about you, and the chances you take. SHE will worry about you. But after a while, I realized you knew what you were doing. That's why I left you to fix the broken street lamp. Trust goes both ways, Mamoru-kun. I can't ask you to trust me, if I will not trust in you. Oh, and by the way, I have enjoyed watching you, even when I was afraid for you. You are a foolhardy, stubborn young man. But brave, very brave. And though you have taken risks, you have always done things for a good reason. There is much goodness in you. When I see the rose garden, and the traditional garden you put together, with the little bridge, and the bonsai you have tended all these years, I can see there, you have much love to give. Those plants, they cannot flourish without patient, loving care. Love that you have given them. Even that scrawny little stray cat, Phoebe, you took in. She is plump and sleek now, and trusting. You would never know she had not been always here. I am told she scratched everyone when you first took her in. Not now. You have worked wonders with her too."
She looked at him fully then, as if willing him to remember her words."SHE will be very lucky to have you, when you find her. I shall miss you this fall."
"You'll miss me?" he exclaimed. "Where am I going?"
"It has all been arranged. I have obtained for you a scholarship, to a school more worthy of your intellect. You think I don't know how bored you are here, at our local school? And it's when you are bored, Mamoru-kun, that you get into mischief!" Her eyes laughed at him again.
"I'm not going ANYWHERE." Ocean-blue eyes fixed her with a steely gaze.
"Oh yes, you are, Mamoru-kun. You have learned all you can, here in this place. It's time for you to move on, go on to the next stage in your life. You need something new to challenge you. Once you find a subject that truly interests you, I'm sure you'll spend most of your spare hours studying to improve yourself, instead of spending all your time climbing walls, and lamp posts, and roofs!" Damn witch, he thought, but this time, he was calling her "witch" affectionately. She always knows what I'm up to.
"And besides," Mikata Suzuki said, insistently. "SHE isn't here, Mamoru-kun. She is somewhere out there, waiting for you. And somehow, I think she wants to find YOU, even more desperately than you want to find HER. If that were possible!" And she laughed again.
"You WILL find her, Mamoru-kun. Once you get out into the world. Of that, I'm convinced. Oh, you'll find your Princess. But I'm overdue for a staff meeting. I must go now!"
"Wait!" Mamoru yelled. "Wait! WHAT did you just call her? My Princess?"
But Mikata Suzuki had already gone. He shook his head, and smiled ruefully. Damn witch.
SOME NOTES ON CHAPTER 5:
Character names: Pandora-sama HATES introducing new characters who proceed to take over the plot from those characters we know, and love. But I NEEDED Mrs. Suzuki to help Mamoru break free of his solitude, and in time, become that very special caring young man we know him to be. Mrs. Suzuki is named for one of my personal heroes, David Suzuki, Canadian environmentalist.
The other Japanese names are kind of in-jokes, in the tradition of Sailor Moon names, courtesy of my friend, the Evil Professor Chronos (director-sama of the fandub project).
Mrs. Suzuki's first name, Mikata,
Karano: vacuum (for a vacuous character!)
Phoebe, the cat: another name for Diana,Goddess of the Hunt, and progeny of Artemis & Luna [But our Phoebe doesn't talk. The young Mamoru hasn't developed ALL his powers yet, I figure ;-) ]
Kuroko: two meanings-"stage prop", and "trouble"--my friend Mark has a cruel sense of humour, doesn't he! Poor besotted Kuroko, the kitchen help, with unrequited love for young Mamoru--she's nothing but a stage prop, causing trouble!
JAPANESE GARDENS--A WEIRD COINCIDENCE!
I began writing this fanfic on August 2, 1997, and shipped the first chapters to the Net at 00:39 AM EDT--yes, just after Mamoru's birthday, August 3rd, had started! Didn't I give him a nice birthday present?
I was so busy writing, I never read the Sunday newspaper as I usually do. I had already made up my mind that Mamoru must be good at constructing Japanese gardens, as well as growing roses (why wouldn't he be, given what we know of his character?)
Just as I started Chapter 6, a week later, I found an article in the Sunday Toronto Star, entitled, "A Japanese Garden", about how to make your own Japanese Garden. I HAVE to tell you about this article, it's SO funny!
Some quotes:"You sit, tranquil, in the midst of a wooded glade....You feel a deep sense of peace--of beauty and serenity--a oneness with nature." [OH NO! I giggle. Not "serenity!!" This is too much! The Princess must have written this one!]
Then it goes on to say,"There are some excellent books on Japanese gardens. My favourite is "A Japanese Touch For Your Garden", distributed by Kodansha International USA through Harper & Row." [Distributed by...Kodansha??? Pandora says, not the same Kodansha who publish the Sailor Moon mangas!! Nah, it couldn't be!! But of course, it could!!]
All I can say is, Kodansha is probably pleased I wrote this fanfic...maybe people will be inspired to go out and buy their gardening book! No, this is NOT a plug--I haven't read this book [I'm afraid that I will be too disappointed if I don't see the author's name is Chiba Mamoru!].
And the weirdest coincidence? This big two-page article with photos, on Japanese gardens was published on Sunday, August 3, 1997--Happy Happy Birthday, Mamo-chan!!
PLEASE GO TO CHAPTER 6: The Next Stage