April 24th, 2013



I wrote this to aldersprig's fourth prompt, "More Nai's sister."

“Well, she was too little for our games,” said Kae. “I was twelve when she was born. We all thought we were so grown up and I remember the boys didn’t play with her because she was a girl. She used to sit in a corner telling stories to her stuffed doll-thing.”

“That’s right,” agreed Ruh. “I can remember someone telling her she was too big to play with Tsu and me. She’d just go away and play in the garden on her own with that doll.”

“Even when the cousins were over,” chimed in Chun, the eldest sister still living at home. “She didn’t put that doll away until after she started school. It was very worn by then, and I suppose she had real friends at school.”

“But who were they?” Kae tapped the paper in front of her with her pen. “If we don’t have names, we can’t invite them to this party.”

“Not that we even have a date yet,” pointed out Zhuo, the sister between Chun and Nai. “Nai’s eighteenth birthday or when she comes home, whichever is first, is a very fluid date.”

“If we do all the planning now,” Kae reminded them firmly, “then when we have the date, we can pull everything together quickly. Which reminds me, on no account do we allow father to turn this into a betrothal party.” There were murmurs of agreement from her sisters. “So names of school friends. Chun, Zhuo, Ruh? Anyone?”

“I can’t remember who she hung around with in primary school,” said Zhuo. “I remember her tagging along with two or three others and I know there was a girl with freckles but the only name I remember was some little queen bee who made her cry.”

“I can’t remember any of her friends,” added Ruh, “but I was two years behind her. She never brought anyone home, ever, so there’s no-one to remember from that.”

“Who’d want to bring people round to hang out in that room?” Chun made her point reasonably then went on, “Come to that, she didn’t really go to parties much either, did she?”

“No return hospitality,” pointed out Zhuo. “Why didn’t anyone notice?”

“Because she’s like those dutiful daughters in an old family novel written by a man,” said Ruh. “The one who shuts up when she’s told and carries on with her household duties while the men have all their dramas with each other and other women. You know,” she looked around the table, “like Tang Khu in Sixteen Nights, whose only function is to make sure that the meals and clean clothes keep coming for the protagonists. Though maybe she’s more like a young Madam Han, from before she met Ma Li and the older Tang brothers…”

“Why do you say that?” It was Kae’s question. “Nai’s nothing like that.”

“Madam Han probably wouldn’t have started out like that either,” Ruh reasoned, “and Nai did run away…”