charybdis: (fic)
[personal profile] charybdis
Title: Swordmaker
Characters: Mako Mori, Masao & Sumako Mori
Summary: You are ten when Trespasser makes land in San Francisco.
450 words, G.

When you are eight years old, a documentary film crew comes all the way out to your home to interview your father about the art of traditional sword crafting.

Your father introduces the whole family, beaming with pride. He puts his hand on your shoulder, like he does when he’s showing you something important in the forge.

The interviewer asks your father if he is sorry not to have a son, and he looks surprised, answers, “Mako will carry on my legacy,” in his rough country accent. “It is the twenty-first century, isn’t it?”


Before they go, the interviewer asks you what you want to be when you grow up.

"Princess," you say, because well, who wouldn’t.

"What about a swordmaker?" the interviewer asks.

"Princess Swordmaker," you agree, not sure why he thought you would want to be princess of anything else in the whole world.


Your father sat you down when you were five and made sure that you understood that you would be taking over the workshop, one day. That you’d better pay attention to Mama tending the forges, because understanding the heat, the difference between dull-red and cherry-red and orange, that was the first thing a good smith had to know.

"You’re going to stunt her growth," Mama used to chide Papa, every time she found him teaching you to swing a hammer.

"She has to be strong," Papa replied, not knowing then how right he was.


You are ten, and your hands already know how to swing a hammer. How a sword is supposed to feel when it’s properly balanced.

Yesterday, your aunty in Tokyo phoned. You know it was her, because Papa listened to the caller in silence for five minutes, and then hung up.

It’s the twenty-first century, and say what you like about country bumpkins, but traditions evolve. Often, those who are most distant from the living, breathing work of it are the ones most opposed to change, afraid of losing roots that belong to them only in name.


You are ten when Trespasser makes land in San Francisco.

You hear it on the radio, the live report that keeps interrupting the old-fashioned music that Mama always listens to. In the thick August humidity, the voice on the radio seems so distant, or maybe it’s just your thoughts, turning dreamlike in the summer heat.

San Francisco is thousands of miles away, far less immediate than even your aunty in Tokyo, where you have never been. Still, you think about the monster coming out of the sea, foul smell and endless rows of sharp teeth, and you think that, if you were a grown-up, you’d make a sword big enough to stop it.


(In a decade, you will do exactly that.)

NOTES: Written for Jaegercon 2013 K-Day prompts. I'm sure that at least parts of Tanegashima qualify as countryside, and my headcanon will always be that Mako grew up far from the city.


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July 2015

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