Chapter one: Today
Author's note/ Disclaimer: I don't own Escaflowne, its characters or the book I mapped this fanfic after. I enjoyed a novel called the "Hand maiden's tale" and I wanted to extend it into the Escaflowne world. It's written in first person from Hitomi's point of view. As you read you will see some familiar characters pop in and out but the main focus is on Van and Hitomi. LOL bizarre but its short so I hope everyone will enjoy it. Please be kind when reviewing; this is my first first person story.
I watch as I see someone in the garden below me. I watch as she trims the flowers and the bushes, not that there is much foliage this time of year. It's cold and snowing; winter has come. How long have I been here now? I tried to remember. I walked over to my bed and lie down. It will be hours until I am allowed to leave even for a short while.
I arrived at the beginning of summer; myself and several other girls. Why had they taken us I wonder? This was not home, it wasn't even Earth. At night I stare out the window and look up at it; that is how I know. I stare up at my ceiling now, it's a boring white color with a faded image painted on it. I cannot tell what it is or what it use to be. If I squint just enough I can pretend I see different shapes and things, like that maybe use to be a mirror. I remember back home some people liked that sort of thing, mirrors above there bed and all. I didn't.
I remember the way the ceiling of my bedroom looked that day, and days before. I remember the last time I looked at it before they came. I was lying in bed; I could feel Amano's warm breath on my neck as he slept. He always could sleep through a thunder storm. Only we didn't know it wasn't a real thunder storm. It was them; the invaders. I stop staring at the ceiling now, I don't feel like remembering Amano or her right now. I can't even say her name, not out loud and not I my mind. My daughters name; I try to remember how she looked. I can see her there scared at the edge of my bed; not this bed the one back on Earth. She is crying; she doesn't like the thunder. I let her crawl in with us. Now she will know she is loved and safe. I pull the blankets up and she falls asleep, no fuss. I didn't know that I was so happy then, anything is better than this place.
There is a knock at my door. I open it. I am instructed to go to the hall. The messenger leaves and I close the door. I am already dressed, neck to ankle in a blue dress, long sleeves and flat blue shoes. I put on my elaborate head dress. I can see out of it, but I wonder if anyone can really see in. I wonder if anyone can ever see me. I am a ghost, a prize; I am a concubine. I am an alien here wherever here is and therefore I am taboo, not to be touched or acknowledged unless it is necessary. I open the door and head down the hall. It is the only hall I am allowed to walk or use, it has blue carpet so I know that. There are no signs, no art, and no images at all of what I would think of a palace. Yes I am in a palace and I cannot look around, explore or wander, I go to the hall. I never encounter anyone on my way, only if it is one of the maids and they are not allowed to talk to me either.
The hall is big, there is art in here, elaborate floors, chandeliers, and people laughing and drinking merrily; freely. I take my place on the floor sitting on my knees beside the wives. I am not allowed to talk to them, and they do not talk to me. I sit in a spot designated for me by a blue square of fabric. Sometimes I wonder why blue? But I suppose it doesn't matte why that was the color they wanted. Although I wonder at times if it is the emperor's favorite color or if there was a surplus and there was no other use for it. I wait; I always wait, I will be last. I watch discretely as people come and go seeking advice from the withered old man in the chair. I guess it was actually a throne and sometimes when I first arrived I would distract myself by looking at the gold and the jewels encrusted in it.
After a long time; and I don't know the time because there are no clocks, the other wives leave. I am not married to the emperor but my body belongs to him. He wishes to speak with me. All others clear out. He is not strong or well I think. His body is withered; his skin bares the scars of a long life and many hardships in health. When I look into his eyes which I am not allowed to do I see a man longing for death, hanging on for who knew what reason. He manages a smile.
"Are you well?" He inquires. Yes I say. He nods efficiently. Then I am dismissed, that is all. He had me sit for hours to inquire about my health. What I really think he means is are you pregnant yet and I am saying no in my own way. At least he was nice to me. I head back to my room back out the invisible door and through the empty blue hall way. I enter and take off my head dress. I take off my shoes and stockings. I go to the washroom; all I have is a toilet and a sink, nothing else. I push up my sleeves and moisten a small square of fabric. I use it first on my forehead and then on my feet. I rinse it and leave it. I go back to the window. I look down again hoping to see the lady in the garden snipping away at the branches and twigs. She is not there. I lay back again; I remember a winter during college.
"Get up we're going skating." Yukari said. I shook my head.
"I'm terrible at skating; I want it to be spring so we can go running again." I am on the track team, women's division. I like winter; we're always broke so we eat a lot of soup. On the cold nights Yukari and I pack all of our blankets onto one bed and sleep together. It's like a slumber party; that was before I married Amano. I knew him then though.
"Come on, Amano will be at the rink." She winks. "I can guarantee it." She says. I give her a playful slug.
"Yukari you didn't." I'm embarrassed. I run and get ready checking my reflection in the mirror several times. I've made sure to wear mascara and lip gloss, I fluff my hair, I wore it short and sporty.
I don't have a mirror here. We are not allowed to have glass, even the windows are made of plastic. It doesn't matter I am not allowed to wear make up, or style my hair; it's getting long now, I don't really need a mirror. I can't wait for bath day; it's one of the only things I have to look forward to.
I climb into bed tonight it's been a day like yesterday, I try to close my eyes. I hear Amano's voice.
"Did you lock the door?" He asks me. I feel him lift the covers and climb in beside me; his body in warm and toned. He pulls me into his embrace even after he asks this.
Yes I say, I couldn't remember if I had or not. It was before the baby. We fall asleep to each other's heart beat.
I am back in my room, its night; it's silent and I am alone. I try to sleep, not to dream just to sleep.
"Get up sleepy head." I hear Yukari. I open my eyes; no one is there. I get out of bed if I am not ready by breakfast then I will be beaten. I dress in blue; I pull on my stockings and shoes. I sit on my bed and wait. Eventually a tray of food will be brought up to me. I look around the room. I dreamt about him again last night; Amano.
My room is empty; I have a bed, a closet and a chair. My windows have curtains and I have a rug on the floor. I am not allowed to read or write and this saddens me.
"Will you take a look at this for me when you get the chance babe?" Amano asked. He passed a manuscript my way, he was so clever. He was writing for a new network. I lifted it from the table.
"Can you take Aki to school for me?" I ask him. He kisses my neck one cup of coffee in his other hand. I smile. I smiled a lot back then. He nods.
"No problem." I hear Aki singing in the bathroom. She's only five and she sings in the bathroom. "She's just like her mommy." He laughs. I look over the cover page of the manuscript.
"Are you going to give me a heads up?" I ask. He shakes his head.
"It's a surprise." He laughs and walks toward the bathroom. Aki comes running out and hugs him around the legs, that's as high as she can reach. She's getting bigger every day; she's growing up. I flipped open to the first page of dialogue. It says Enter a man on a park bench I sigh "great another script on the philosophies of life." I tell him.
"Hey my demographic is older married and retired women. What else am I going to write about?" I know he is joking.
There is a knock and I go to the door. I find my tray sitting outside. I bring it in and set it on my bed. I sit down and set it on my lap. I have a cup of fruit juice and an egg like substance. There is bread; it must be a universal food. I eat it slowly. This will have been one of the few things to do, I savor the activity; the food tastes bland. At home I never ate breakfast, or very rarely. I was busy, a mother a wife and a nutritional consultant for Olympic and other athletes.
After the food is gone I set the tray outside. I wash the cup in the sink in my bathroom. I don't have to do this, but I chose to because it is a choice I can make. I feel like I have control over something I feel powerful. The maid comes and takes it away; she never says anything. I wish sometimes she would look up and give me a nice smile and greet me; just once. I go back to waiting. An hour or two passes and a knock is at my door again. I put my shoes on, this time I am sent out for a walk. I put on my head dress, its heavy. There is no one in the hall but I know it means I must meet with my walking partner and get in the only exercise I am permitted. Down through the depths of the structure I emerge from an old door way and out into the cold afternoon air. Today my walking partner is a woman with blue eyes. I have walked with her before; she is kind. Sometimes she talks to me but only if no one is around.
"Cold morning." She says as I wave. She nods and we walk on. I do not think she is like me, she does not wear blue and does not have to live in seclusion but she must be covered up while she is with me. When does summer come on this world? I pray it is not eternally icy.
"Yes." I agree. There is no one around as we exit into the small village. The village is made up of the families of the palace workers. These people have small gardens and trees and animals like chickens. There are no children anywhere. I remember that is why I am here, that is why many of us are here; though I have not seen any others in a long time. Children; that's why we were taken; they cannot have children. The emperor had many wives but no children. The way they went about it was all wrong I thought. Yes fertilization could produce offspring but copulating with a shriveled old man for twenty minutes each month was hardly going to do the trick. I remembered it was almost that day; the one when he would spend the night with me. At least I get a bath I thought for comfort.
We walk along for a while down to a gated canal. Then we turn back. We may take one or two of the three paths mapped out for my exercise. "Do you serve the emperor?" I ask. The woman nodded.
We all serve the emperor; I am not in his personal ring of associates I am of a different social ring. I am married, but I have no children." She says, I could have guessed at the last part. "If I fulfill a number of hours serving in this way then the emperor will grant my husband and I a body to have a child." She smiles at this. That's all we were; a borrowed uterus. I am a little disgusted at this new knowledge; I hope she does not come again tomorrow. We are back and I hurry off to my room. I arrive and my lunch is waiting.
I sit and eat and stare out the window. There is always a man; I see him many days he is tanned and has dark hair; he is a runner. At least I call him a runner because he was always running everywhere. I would like to meet him someday. It takes me longer to eat lunch because it is boring. I want to leave it for the maid to take but I will be in trouble; they want my body healthy. I could flush it down the toilet…I thought. I didn't though. Eventually I finished it and left the tray as usual.
In the evening I am summoned by the first wife. She is attractive, not old; none of the emperor's wives are old looking. She is exotic with pitch black hair piled on her head with ringlets hanging down. Her eyes are almond shaped with dark lashes and a honey color. She talks to me sometimes, because I cannot refuse and she likes to insult me. I don't listen when she does. Instead I slip away. I'm back at the ice rink with Yukari, we see Amano. He waves us over for cocoa at the small concession stand.
"I had them give you extra marshmallows'" he says. I want to kiss him. I do kiss him; he blushes. I missed kissing, I missed being touched. Maybe Amano is back on Earth thinking about me right now. I sigh in my head because I cannot where I am. Maybe he is waiting for me.