The Honor Bound Series can be bought here.
"She made no reply, there was nothing she could say that he didn't already know so she pulled him close again and flooded him with love while pushing her fears away. Suddenly a memory of their parents surfaced, their father had gone to one of the oldest Shinto shrines in the city and had gotten a omamori to give to their mother as an anniversary present. It was an amulet that the priest there had blessed, it was for protection and she had worn it as often as she could. Clara remembered admiring it and locked the image of it in her mind, she felt John tense up as he shared in the memory.
“Come with me,” Clara said and pulled up another memory. John was stunned when he saw what memory she took them to, their favorite Shinto shrine back in Japan. It was the same shrine that was painted on the wall of the condo. The shrine was small and was located up in the hills along the outskirts of the city they lived in. There wasn't a direct road to it, you had to park down the hill and walk up the rocky path to the gates of the shrine. The path curved around through the gates, around a stand of incredibly old trees to the fountain where visitors purified their hands. It was oddly shaped, water ran through hollowed out bamboo reeds that were balanced on one another. As the water ran down the reeds they shifted on their axis and clicked into each other rhythmically. John and Clara washed their hands as tradition dictated and walked up to the wall that was covered with pieces of wood that were covered in Kanji writing, they clicked and clacked together musically as the wind stirred through the narrow pathway.
“Last time we were here it was the week before Mom and Dad died,” John said.
“I remember,” Clara's voice was soft.“We came because we were worried about them. Remember how Dad had seemed more anxious than usual?”
“Yes, we left ema here on the wall. We asked the kami to keep them safe, not that it did any good in the end. Why are you bringing this up?” He started to pull his mind away from the memory.
“John don't. We spent a lot of time here, we loved the peacefulness of the place, so did Mom and Dad. You said that it wasn't about us anymore, not about Mom and Dad. I don't want us to forget our roots.” Clara brought up memories of the trips they had taken as a family to this shrine. “Look.” She went through images of them laughing, praying or resting in the grass outside the main temple. They had watched many of the rituals that the priests held as family outings, their Mother had been a very devoted follower of the Shinto path. It hurt both of them to see images of their parents again. Their Mom's face was perfect, delicate features and laughing eyes. Their Father had towered over her small form, he was Scottish to the core. Tall and muscular with flaming red hair and pale skin, they had never had a problem finding him in a crowd. John and Clara had never seen them fight, they had always made sure to be holding hands or their Dad would have his arm around their Mom. Clara felt the anger and frustration slowly leave John's mind as he became caught up in the happy memories and feelings of love that had always filled their house in Japan.
“It's been so long since I have done more than give them a passing thought,” John whispered “When Min-Ji wanted to come to the show or when Akinori told us about how the recovery houses were being used I remembered them but I haven't really cared for their spirits in months. I stopped leaving out offerings to them at the altars at the condo and the house, I stopped talking to them even before that. I've dishonored them.”
“I know,” Clara tried to comfort him “I haven't been either. I am sure they understand. I didn't bring all this up to make you feel bad.”
“I understand why you did. It helped, I don't feel so....”
“You're welcome.” The two of them sorted through their memories of their parents, renewing their spirits and reclaiming some sense of calm."
“Sarah, you don't understand, this isn't a movie or comic book! Look at what happened to you. You tried to help Deb help her boyfriend and make drugs out of thin air and you and Chad were kidnapped and beaten! Those guys weren't even mad at you, they wanted to use you. What these people are doing will bring much more danger and pain then that to anyone that associates with them. I can't let you go through that again, I can't go through that again! Please try to understand! We need you, Chad and I do.” He wrapped his arms around her and held her tight.
“I know Dad, I know it's dangerous but look at me, please.” She pulled away and stared straight into his eyes. “What else can I do? I'm not normal anymore. I have to hide what I am now from everyone else. I can't go back to school or have a regular life.” There was a vase with some flowers on the breakfast nook table next to the kitchen, she walked to the table and carried the vase back to the coffee table so everyone could see what she was going to do.
“Dad, I love you, I don't want to hurt you but I need to be here, at least until I learn control and deal with whatever flashbacks or nightmares I am going to have from what Chad and I went through. You still don't understand.” She put her hand on the flowers but kept her eyes on her Dad's face. “Watch.” She knew her eyes were spiraling, like galaxies, her white pupils were the center and the colors were the stars orbiting around them. As they watched the flowers started to wilt, the vase and the water started to vibrate and shake. As the leaves turned brown the water took on a muddier texture. Suddenly the plant, vase and water seemed to collapse into a puddle of mud on the table.
“Holy shit!” Min-Ji exclaimed.
“I'm not done,” Sarah spoke between tightly clenched teeth. As they watched the mud it bubbled and seemed to begin take on a shape, like a pile of clay on a pottery wheel. Slowly a vase rose out of the mud, water appeared and a completely different plant with blue flowers instead of red materialized. Everything shimmered briefly, the mud was gone, in its place was a perfectly made vase filled with water and blue flowers.
“Those five weeks I was making cocaine over and over I studied the structures of everything I could see. I understand so much more now than I did when I was just making jewelry as a way to make money to help us out. I will learn how to heal better, I need to. I need...,” her voice trailed off as she wobbled, almost falling over. Chad rushed over to steady her.
“I'm ok.” She took a breath and continued. “I need to. Min-Ji and Clara, they told me people died because of what I was forced to make. I almost killed you because you surprised me making me have a flashback. I attacked Jessie in my sleep when she was trying to help me. I'm the reason Chad will probably have nightmares for the rest of his life about what happened to us. I have to find a way to somehow balance that out. You always taught us that we have to accept the consequences of our choices, just like you're telling them now. Well, I made bad choices, I have to accept the consequences. If that means I can't live with you and Chad anymore because of what I am than that's what I have to do. I know it will put me in danger, but I'm willing to accept that.”
She saw her dad's fists clench, agonizing fear and frustration filled his face. “Well I'm not!” He snapped at her. “I need to take a walk.” He spun on his heel and walked to the door.