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Chapter 3 Sleep Companion 1-3

Chapter 1 Sleep Companion 1-3 It was Springtime, and the cherry blossom trees were blooming in every color, pink, white, rose... the scenery was spectacular. She had seen cherry blossoms in Guangdong but never knew there were so many varieties. In the middle of being enchanted by the flowers, she remembered something from the earthquake.  “Cherry blossom trees... On the day of the earthquake, I had just taken the dragon horn rock. Wasn’t there a big cherry tree outside the mysterious cave?” She had an epiphany. Taking out the dragon horn rock, she ran to the biggest cherry blossom tree in the yard and tried to remember what she said during the earthquake. It was a good thing her memory was good; she quickly remembered the words, so she closed her eyes and started talking.  “Sakura, why does it seem weird?”  “What do you mean?”  “You can’t tell? The ground is...moving!”  “Oh no! Yunmei, let’s get out of here!” She played both herself and her good friend Yunmei when she reenacted the conversation. After she said the words over and over, wind picked up, but soon stopped. When she opened her eyes, the cherry blossom garden was still the same, and she was still at the Takeda family.  “Stupid rock, I’m done with you!” She spit on the rock before tossing it aside.  “Hey!” A man yelled from somewhere. Sakura was shocked and looked up. The man was about medium height and build. He had a square face, thick eyebrows and single-lidded eyes. He wasn’t handsome but had the typical look of a Japanese man. She wasn’t a fan of the way Japanese men styled their hair during this time, as this man also sported a top knot on his head. Wearing a blue samurai outfit with a white diamond pattern, each diamond bigger than her hand, his style was very flashy. Even more comedic, he grasped the dragon horn rock in his hand, and wore a big bump on his forehead. If he was a cartoon character, he would be shooting spirals from his eyes.   “Oh, I’m sorry. Are you okay?” Sakura tried not to laugh as she went over to apologize and bow at him.  “Hypocrite... you pretend to be sorry while you want to laugh at my plight.” The man turned away with a cold chuckle, seemingly not wanting to see her at all. He tucked the rock inside his clothes and started to leave. With those words, Sakura’s guilt disappeared. She didn’t get mad at men usually, but he made her angry. How dare he accuse her of being a hypocrite like that?  “Don’t leave, stop!” She rolled up her sleeves as she blocked his way.  “Hey, don’t you know the rules?”  “Rules? Oh, you mean men get to walk in front of women with their heads lowered? Please, why should I follow those rules? And the rock is mine! Give it back!” The man moved his face closer to hers, his expression flippant. It took a while for him to draw back. “This pathetic rock is yours? Didn’t you say it was stupid?”  “Um, I’ll take back what I said. Give me back my rock. A wise man said that you can’t take what belongs to others. Even if you haven’t read much, you’d have to know this saying.” Sakura’s face was stiff as she said this. This was not her house, after all, she was just a maid, she can’t hit people.  “If you want this rock back, you’d have to promise me one thing.”  “You’re bargaining with me?”  “Well, someone threw a rock at me. I have injuries, and the evidence...”  “Fine, tell me your condition.”  “Make yourself pretty and wait for someone to get you from your room tonight. The young lord is in a bad moon lately, so you could be his sleep companion. If you do a good job, I’ll return your rock.” Sleep companion? Sakura was so angry her face felt crunched. This was the fate of maids in ancient Japan? Just because she worked at some big family, her body belonged to the lord? Stupid men! Stupid world! She was cursing her situation when she realized the man had left. Wait a minute, the young lord he mentioned was Takeda Shingen! He  was a big deal in ancient Japan. This was a good opportunity. Why was she so busy being angry and forgot this fact? She could complain about this guy to Shingen, and he would have hell to pay. Sakura, shouldn’t you fight back? Your grandfather was a renowned martial arts master, and you learned kung fu as a kid too. Do you really believe Chinese martial arts can’t beat Japanese sumo wrestling? Sakura, are you crazy? Now is not the time for force. The big wig was right in front of you, even if he took advantage of you, as long as you controlled him, you’d have plenty of opportunities.  “If you dared to touch me, I’d hurt you!” She argued with herself for a long time, before finally declaring her position.  “Fine, you aggressive woman. I have no patience with you.” Harunobu sighed before laying on the tatami mat. He looked ready to sleep with half-closed eyes. Who was this man? He said she didn’t interest him, then why did he lay down here? Isn’t he still in bed with her? She tried to move his body.  “Stop bothering me.”  “You seem upset.” He didn’t move at all. His eyes weren’t even open now. Sakura tightened her lips and stopped asking. She felt listless. She knew this period in history; Harunobu must have been upset about the Battle of Ida. Maybe his misery could only be revealed to a maid, someone who didn’t matter. Even if he did anything with her, it’d have been just stress relief. She shook her head in resignation and lay down next to him. She felt as if this man wasn’t as annoying as she thought.

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