Chapter two: Stubborn man
The sun is too bright.
It stabs at my eyes through the sheer cotton curtains that must be there more for show than anything else.
Say what you will about the badao but at least it was dark underground.
Himowa doesn’t seem to mind, a ray of sun strokes her cheek as she sleeps, without her even noticing it.
I don’t want to wake her so I very, very carefully get out the bed and sneak my way to the kitchen.
The kitchen is by the end of the hallway and once there, I feel like normality has restored itself.
I pull the lid off the fire and start heating up a pan.
Then look around for a chopping board.
Find a knife that’s not completely blunt and start chopping up some vegetables.
I wonder if rich people don’t need sharp knives, or if they expect the cook to bring their own.
My own knife is in my room for now. Stuffed in the bottom of my bag. It’s not forgotten it’s just…
There are too many memories haunting that knife for now.
Memories of Yobu, memories of Hashiro.
It’ll take some time before I want to see it again.
I toss some oil in the pan, stir-fry the vegetables, and then divide some rice into four bowls.
I spoon the vegetables on top of that, then sprinkle toasted sesame seeds and pepper flakes to finish the dish. Even Elizabeth seems to like them, tho I do add a little less to her bowl. After eating ‘bland boring Cygnian food’ (her words not mine) her whole life there’s some catching up to do before she can eat the good stuff.
I take the bowls to the parlour and set them around the empty table. Himowa is probably getting dressed and ready, Elizabeth is flying the ship and Dana has flown through the night and went back to bed a couple of hours ago.
She and Elizabeth take turns flying the ship so we don’t have to land at night and can make a greater distance in less time.
We land when we can though.
Try to eat together.
I walk to the cockpit and knock on the door.
“Come on in,” Elizabeth announces on the other side.
I open the door and watch in awe as beneath us a great sprawling green sea stretches out before us, glittering in the morning light.
I also spot a book propped up above the console, I guess at least to Elizabeth this isn’t the most exciting route to fly.
I try to read the words but it’s written in odd characters again.
“You’re up early,” she remarks.
“Can you make breakfast with the rest of us or do you want to eat your food here?”
“The map says there are sand banks up ahead. I can probably land on one of those. I should be with you in about twenty minutes is that all right?”
“That’s fine. Thanks.” I turn to leave.
“You do know you don’t have to do everything around here right?”
I shrug “I like the work, keeps my mind off things.”
Her face softens “I see, well in that case thank you for taking such good care of us.”
I nod, then head to the parlour to set the table for four.
I pull a platter of teacups from the cupboard and start setting them around.
They are made of pale porcelain and decorated with silver trimmings and painted flowers.
If we had teacups like this back at the restaurant I’d be so paranoid about breaking them the washing-up would never get finished.
I’m not sure what would happen if I broke one now.
Would Elizabeth be angry at me, would I have to pay her for the damage?
From what money-?
My train of thought comes to a screeching halt as Himowa glides into the room.
“Morning Himowa, did you sleep well?”
“I did. How about you?”
She gives me a kiss “Anything I can do to help?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Oh.” She sounds a bit dejected but recovers herself swiftly “What did you make?”
“Oh, I love suhu.” She picks up the teapot and starts pouring the tea for everyone before sitting down.
Dana comes in with a “good morning” and sits down as well. She looks tired. It makes sense she only had an hour or two of sleep and will go to bed again after breakfast.
And then it’s just, waiting for Elizabeth.
“Did you sleep well?” Dana asks and Himowa nods, I nod as well even though that’s technically a lie.
I don’t feel like talking about it.
I can feel the ship descending, it’s an awkward feeling that lives in the pit of my stomach as we drop.
It’s something to get used to for sure.
The ship touches down with a thump.
Then there’s the sound of footsteps rushing to the door.
“My apologies the sandbanks were further off than anticipated.”
She quickly sits down and picks up her chopsticks. “Looks wonderful…What is it?” Elizabeth asks.
“Just rice with fried vegetables.”
She takes a curious bite “It’s nice.”
It’s silent for a bit as people eat.
But Himowa, used to the restaurant life finishes her bowl in minutes flat and asks “So how far along are we?”
“Venusia is still seventeen days away and we’ll have to make a bit of a pit stop once we’re over Charalia. We’ll need more fuel and supplies.” Elizabeth explains.
“And considering your wanted status you might also want to look for a new wardrobe and different names to call one another outside the ship,” Dana adds.
“Different names?” Himowa asks “Do you really think the kashuya will follow us that far?”
“We don’t know but-”
“Better safe than sorry,” I tell her.
“Right…” she casts her eyes down to the table and sips her tea.
“When will we arrive at Charalia?” I ask.
“Two days, maybe three. So there’s plenty of time to think something up. I recommend picking something close enough to your own name that you can talk your way out of if you mess up.”
“Like Lizzy?” Elizabeth asks.
“Maybe not that close. But Beth or Bethany would work.”
“I see. How about Alice?”
If you start saying Elizabeth but stop halfway through it sounds like Alice.”
“Huh, you’re right.”
“And it sounds a whole lot better than Bethany.”
Dana turns to me and Himowa. “How about the two of you?”
What right now? I have to think up a whole new identity over breakfast “Can I have more time to think something up.”
“Yeah me too,” Himowa adds.
“Of course, just be sure to share your new name with the others and practice once you got it.
“That means I’m Alice from now on?” Elizabeth asks.
Dana nods “If that’s what you’re going with.”
“I think it is.”
Dana smiles, then sets her empty bowl down and says “Thank you for the food Hui, it was delicious.”
“Thanks, going back to bed.”
“Yeah, good night Dana.” Elizabeth quickly adds.
Dana leaves the room.
“Guess I’m going back to flying then.” Eliz- Alice, says as she gets up.
I nod and start collecting the dishes.
“Need a hand with those?” Himowa offers.
“Nah it’s fine, I got it,” I assure her.
I heat some water, add the soap flakes and start washing up.
A new name.
It makes sense, we’re starting over after all.
The Go family name is one I despise, one I wish I never had but now that I’m asked to think up something else it dawns on me how much of my identity is locked up in that one symbol. ‘Go’, it’s a strict symbol, orderly as harsh. Used to demand instead of ask. Used to take instead of give.
The symbol of drug lords and childhood bullies alike.
But where does that leave me?
I like to think I’m a decent sort but I’m not nice for the sake of being nice. I don’t waste smiles on those that don’t deserve them and I haven’t made any sacrifices that are noteworthy in any way.
I don’t think I’m a bad person, but I’m not a saint.
I shot a man between the eyes.
A bad man, but a man nonetheless.
A man with a family that loved him, at least some of them did.
Maybe I deserve ‘Go’ more than I like to admit.
Does a name shape the person or does the person shape the name?
Maybe instead of picking something I deserve, I pick a symbol of who I want to be.
Like a goal or a promise.
Question is then;
Who do I want to be?