The Yuki-Onna's Trick

Covered by an unwelcomed reminder of winter, Akira was waiting for death to finally release him from his icy tomb. He was uncertain about how long he had been lying there since his accidental fall from the cliff. What he did know was that his mind was going to fail him soon because it was becoming hard to focus. As his initial fear evaporated from within him, Akira began to humbly allow his body to collapse. At the same time, he took pleasure at the sight of the snow falling down from the sky, a sight which he likened to pure teardrops from the heavens.

From the corner of his vision appeared a woman of unimaginable beauty; pale in complexion, her hair was long and was as dark as the night sky, and her eyes, while perfectly rich and deep, were as harsh and unforgiving as ice. Without further explanation, Akira knew in his heart that he was looking at the infamous Snow Woman, the creature which his mountain village feared the most. According to the stories that were embedded into him from his youth, all those unfortunate enough to encounter her would be subject to her vengeance. Know that his eternal rest was finally upon him, Akira received his executioner with a faint smile.

Puzzled by his expression, the Snow Woman stared straight into the soul of her doomed victim and asked, “Does the sight of death amuse you, child?”

Akira could not answer her at first for the cold had robbed him of his strength. Summoning up what he could, he finally whispered, “No…I’m just glad it’s over.”

Without the slightest shift in her gaze, she asked, “What? Your life, or your suffering?”

Even weaker than his first response, Akira answered, “My suffering.”

“Indeed,” was the Snow Woman’s sole reply. Slowly lowering down to his level, Akira’s mind finally caved in on itself just as the apparition was going to steal away what remained of him.

To his surprise, however, he woke up inside of a simple hut that was warmed by a single wood-burning stove. Covered in soft, pure-white linen, he rose up from his bed to explore what was gathered in the house. Refraining from the various sealed objects, he discovered cast-iron pots and pans, wooden bowls, and dried herbs in the kitchen area. Back towards the living quarters were two beds, including his own, extra blankets neatly folded and set to the side, a small shrine, and one dazzling blue, silk kimono spread out on the wall. Taking a closer look, Akira noted white sakura patterns that graced the majority of the robe and of the silver thread used to hem it.

After he was done admiring the craftsmanship of the kimono, Akira began to grow curious about his current location. Aiming to peak through the shutters on the windows to obtain a better idea concerning his surroundings, he was stopped quite suddenly when the front door burst open. The cause of the shock turned out to be the Snow Woman that Akira had seen earlier. Unfazed by the cold that quickly invaded into the room she casually shut the door behind her and dispelled the snow that had managed to stray into the house. Taking a glance at Akira, she said in the same reserved voice from before, “I didn’t expect you to be up so soon. Tell me, are you feeling any better?”

At first, Akira was unsure of how to respond. “I feel fine. Why shouldn’t I be?” he asked curiously.