There was only one witness, and he was not a good one — the busboy at a new restaurant in the nearby arts colony walking back from the bank. He heard a sudden shout and wheeled just in time to see a large black car accelerate around the corner – “kind of a big SUV, but not as big as a Hummer, maybe a Lincoln” was what he told the patrol cop who first responded to his 9-1-1 call. “It hit the old man right in the center of the front end and sent him flying.”
The old man, Roy Castor, had not been thrown far and with luck he might have survived if he’d been thrown the same direction as his hat, which flew left onto the grassy median. But the impact tossed him to the right like a broken stuffed toy and his head hit the curb with a sickening hollow thud.
“Man, I dropped a melon on the kitchen floor last week and it sounded just like that,” Arturo said, adding his view that the old man was dead when he hit the curb. In fact Roy didn’t draw his final breath for another hour, in the cold and remarkably empty emergency room of Sarasota Memorial Hospital.
“The dude went by real slow and looked at me, ” Arturo told the detective who arrived later. “I don’t think he saw me until after he hit the old man, then he just floored it and screamed around the corner to the right and he was gone. That’s when I ran down to the old man and called you guys.”
Thom Anderson, the Sarasota police detective who had drawn the case, thought it a straightforward hit-and-run. An overpaid and overeducated punk kid, Thom figured, with a job selling insurance or houses or stocks, had run over an old man crossing in the middle of the block, panicked, and fled. He would probably turn himself in the next morning, ashamed and completely lawyered up, maybe with his equally overpaid father beside him.
His moment of panic would cost him a fine and a few months of probation and might cost him the fancy job. Thom had seen it more and more often as Sarasota had gentrified, and he didn’t like it any better this time than the last.
Chapter One – What do we know about the face?
When we look at a face, what do we see?
We see the shape of the face and its features – eyes, ears, nose and mouth – and maybe an expression appearing glad, sad or mad. Maybe they are excited to be there with you!
But what if there is much more you could be reading in that face? This book will help you interpret a person’s character and emotional history – and life potential – simply by looking carefully at the shape, features and expressions of their face. That’s the promise behind
Siang Mien (translates to face reading), a Chinese Ming Dynasty system of interpreting faces.I have created this easy-to-use guide with a modern, Western audience in mind. Read on and learn what your face is saying about you….
How did the Siang Mien masters do that?
That is a very interesting question. The elaborate Siang Mien system was created over many centuries of observations
and practice. The masters were certain the human face records every emotional reaction you’ve ever had, from birth. Emotional responses to situations – for example, think of a smile or a frown – create muscle memories that over time create deeper facial lines. The stronger and more pronounced the line, the more often that emotional reaction has occurred in that person. The masters also taught that certain birth characteristics indicated karmic (previous life) patterns. So each person’s face reveals a combination of pre destined and acquired character and potential. Siang Mien masters isolated the facial features and contours into categories inspired by the four elements of Air, Fire, Water and Earth. After many centuries of observations, they could attribute a meaning or pattern to each facial characteristic.
Maybe it wasn’t true. “Come on, Junebug, it’s all right, don’t be afraid.” Grandma took my hand. Inside the house, a late afternoon shadow stretched like a long rectangular arm across the living room carpet. The Coke bottle Daddy used for an ashtray was stuffed with cigarette butts, and sat on the coffee table. Momma’s rocking chair waited for her; I pushed on the painted wooden arm to hear it squeak.
Two applejacks left over from Friday sat in a plate on the kitchen stove; this time of day the house should smell like fresh made sweet tea and supper cooking. I looked on the back porch, but nobody was there either. In the bathroom, I touched the last pencil line where Momma marked my height every year on my birthday. In their bedroom, I lay on the pillow to smell her. My head knew they were gone, but my eight-year-old heart didn’t yet.
Grandma sat beside me, tears rolling down her face; she’d cried a lot in the last two days. “Let’s go find what you want to carry home.”
In my room, I got the cigar box from my closet while Grandma packed clothes in paper bags. When her arms were loaded, she stood at the door. “Ready to go?”
“In a minute.” I went back to Momma and Daddy’s room, looked in her jewelry box and found the silver gum wrapper necklace I’d made for her in school. “Okay.” I stopped at the bottom of our steps and picked one of the red roses Momma had planted in the spring.
“All of the preparations are complete,” the sorcerer said after boldly striding into the cramped room. “Derran is securely established in the village and is waiting for your arrival. As we discussed, he’ll remain with you until we have stabilized our borders and it’s once again safe for both of you to return to Mystandia. He’s an extremely competent swordsman as well as a Master Sorcerer. There’s no other whom I’d entrust with your safety. You may rest assured you are in good hands. I’ll contact you as often as I’m able and will keep you updated on our situation here in Mystandia.”
An uncomfortable silence engulfed the room as the sorcerer’s deep voice rumbled to a close. He studied the young woman huddled forlornly by the fireplace. She was dressed in a tattered brown traveling dress and a dark-green overcoat that had been patched more times than could be counted. Her shoulder length golden hair glistened in the firelight as she stared into the crackling flames. Giving no sign to acknowledge the sorcerer’s words, she absently turned a small purple and silver glass orb in her left hand.
“It is time, Haeleena,” the sorcerer murmured softly. He’d put the journey off as long as he dared. She couldn’t linger any longer.
Haeleena looked up at him as a tear glided down her heavily freckled cheek. The war had destroyed both her home and her family, and it was now forcing her to flee from the only world she’d ever known.
Richter looked up at the opening in the earth sixty feet above him. As his muscles ached, Sion shouted down at him to hold on, and he heard another sprite voice shout in the distance, “Your lord! I must speak to your lord! He has to know!”
The chaos seed hung there, battered and bruised. A stack of prompts flashed in the corner of his vision, waiting to be read, including one that had the clear, pulsing border of an absorbed memory. None of this interested him at the moment, though.
Despite everything that had just happened, despite all of the things that were waiting to be done, and even despite the mystery of what he had ‘to know,’ there was only one thing on Richter’s mind. He sighed heavily in frustration and pain, then shouted up to his people looking down at him, “Would you hurry the fuck up! I’m literally hanging off a cliff down here!
All that kept him from falling to his death was one hand clutching the hilt of his short sword. The weapon was jammed into the wall of the pit he hung over. As he had fallen, Richter had managed to desperately plunge the clear green blade into the stone as he fell. To be honest, he hadn’t actually expected it to work, but luckily the fey metal had been up to the task.
As he swayed slightly in the air, he swung his other hand up with a pained grunt. His muscles felt like they had been stretched and seared, and his free hand was shaking slightly as he came down from the battle high. Despite this, he was able to grab a small shelf of stone. Now somewhat more secure, he breathed out slightly in relief. That feeling didn’t last.
An internal voice told him, no screamed at him, not to, but Richter just couldn’t resist looking down. Both arms extended above his head, he twisted his neck back and to the right. Beneath him, a sea of black satin Dark magic undulated and hinted of hidden monsters.
Gazing at the pool of pitch-black magic beneath him, fear began to worm its way through his heart. That internal voice sat back, smug, and said, ‘See, dumbass? You shouldn’t have looked.’ The voice wasn’t getting any argument from Richter anymore. He kept staring for a few seconds, afraid that a creature of the Dark would rise up and attack him, but thankfully the level of roiling liquid began to drop.
Whether it was because the spell duration had elapsed or whether it was because the Witch Doctor had been killed, Richter didn’t know. Even if he did, though, it would be safe to say that he gave absolutely zero fucks.
Doctor Yumi Daikokuya kneels in the tidal shallows, in the shelter of the shima—the coastal rocks of the Kuzaki peninsula where she was born.
Her head lies half in the water, as though straining for a whisper. As her tears dissolve in the sea, it occurs to her that the sea, in its turn, dissolves in them, each drop absorbing all the majestic sadness of the Pacific.
“Umi wa gyōsan no Ama no namida ga fukuma rete oru.” The last words she heard her mother say, so long ago.
“The sea holds a multitude of Amas’ tears.”
That rustic Mie-ken dialect she struggled to shed like a snake skin after her departure. Suffering its itch all through university, then Osaka Medical College. So awkward she thought she sounded to her professors, the big city students. The handsome residents who invited her for coffee and ice cream. So much the daughter of a sea woman.
She lets the salt water fill her nose.
So much an Ama.
As hard as she once pushed her mother from her mind, she labors now to remember her. Dirty complexion, lined by the sun and salt. Hands mottled with the scars of sea rocks and shellfish spines. Graceful as a minnow in the freezing water. But stooped and waddling as she shouldered her catch up the beach each morning to warm her sinuses by the fire before starting back down. Already old, more than twenty years ago.
The eldest dive longest, and deepest, Yumi remembers.
The few Ama that remain in Kuzaki are all old now. Hundreds once dove the coast, its treasures buying them a freedom enjoyed by no other women of Asia. Independence from convention, government, husbands. In prolonged cold water immersion, a woman’s body is her advantage, a physical inheritance that can be passed from mother to daughter. If the daughter wishes to follow in that life.