Day ten of the writing challenge over at WordBohemia.co.uk…
All out of the corner of her eye. That’s how Mariko spots them, moving. Not by feet, or inches, certainly. Probably not even by milimetres. But moving, definitely. There’s a little shift of shadow, a extra dust mote floating in the blue museum light, every time she turns around.
She knows their movements, the geisha girls. Maybe the ancient silks imbue them with the power of her ancestors. Maybe it’s all true, all of it, despite the iPhones and the bullet trains and the sense that this place is the future, that everywhere else struggles to keep up.
She coughs. There’s a tightness in her chest she always gets when she cleans. And now it’s erupted into a violent fit, the vibrations of which have dislodged one of the geisha mannequins. She wobbles, and falls, directly upon her sister. The domino effect has begun, and the cleaner is powerless to stop it. Mannequin after mannequin tumble, until they are all on the floor, their wonderful clothes and faceless heads.
Mariko is stunned for a minute, listening to silence. She is only supposed to be here for an hour, but she can hardly leave the exhibit like this, can she?
Then a stirring.
The one that started it all, the one that fell first. She’s moving. She stands up, gingerly hoisting herself vertically, slowly rising up without bending her body; she has no limbs. She levitates.
And they all follow her, all the geishas. And the last thing Mariko knows is that she must become one of them.