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Elephant In The Room
Cowgirl Nymph
I wrote this for the 500 word Thimbleful Thursday prompt of the same name. It would fall in the period covered by A Week in Bao Shung, Surprises At The Provincial Tournament and The Finals Of The Provincial Tournament.

“Nai wasn’t home for midsummer festival and she didn’t call for her birthday either,” said Madam Sung a touch sadly. She slid open the door of the simple wardrobe in Nai’s room, “Even if her friend’s gotten into the national championships, those are done by New Year, so she should be back for that. We just need to make sure she has something to wear.”

“Mum,” Jiang Kae, the Sung’s eldest daughter, had been visiting for completely different reasons when her mother had asked her to help with her sister Nai’s clothes, “that’s not my old festival robe is it? The one that went to Mei when I turned sixteen?”

“Well, yes,” Madam Sung replied. “What’s wrong with that? When Zhuo turned sixteen we moved it on to Nai.”

“Which makes Nai the sixth person to wear it and she’s had it for six years,” pointed out Kae, “because it certainly didn’t pass on to Ruh, did it? It must be threadbare by now.”

“Nonsense,” her mother said stoutly. “It will look very nice on Aki in a couple of years.” She pulled the robe in question on its hanger out of the wardrobe and looked at it critically. “On the other hand, it does look worn around the neck.”

“Around the neck?” Kae snorted. “Look at these sleeves and the bottom hem.” She lifted a sleeve cuff to show the frayed edge. “Did Nai really wear this for last Moon Festival? That brighter band of fabric around the bottom means she must have let it down to fit.”

“She wore a jacket over the top,” Madam Sung said absently as she turned the garment around, “because it was still cold. If she hadn’t, well, this back panel is so thin it must be almost see through. Why didn’t she say something?” She paused and added, “Or did she and I didn’t listen because someone else was being louder and more important than ‘just Nai,’ again?”

“I couldn’t say, Mum,” answered Kae. “Now, we know she needs a festival robe, but she’ll need a formal robe too – particularly if Father is still intent on commissioning a matchmaker.”

“He is,” Madam Sung sighed as she put the worn festival robe down on the bed and went on to the formal robe hanging in the wardrobe, “and he’s looking for someone who plays go and likes discussing poetry. He absolutely refuses to consider middle-aged men who fly planes or climb mountains in their spare time. If Nai is going to marry someone so much older, mightn’t she like someone with youthful dash and spark?”

“Father still thinks Nai’s husband should be like him?” Kae shook her head. “Oh dear. Now, is this formal robe in any fit state to be handed down to Aki?”

“Why wouldn’t it be?” Madam Sung looked at her quizzically.

“Because you originally got it for me, so it’s old as that festival robe,” pointed out Kae.

“I’m not having Nai’s old robe,” said nine year old Aki from the doorway. “I’m not – it’s horrible.”

“Nonsense,” answered her mother. “Plum and pine are very elegant.”

“But it’s not that anymore,” protested Aki, “and it’s all streaky.”

“She’s right,” sighed Kae. “The fabric’s faded, except for in the folds.”

“So,” asked Aki, “why doesn’t Nai have any nice things?”

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Awww Nai. *cuddles her*

She has nice things now!

Also... I really want to slap her father.

She does have nice things now!

Also, her father is being a little short sighted - guess what he thinks a respectable middle aged man is like?

Heh, yes. I mean, I assume arranged marriages are still a thing in Nai's culture?

There are go-betweens and matchmakers, the later being professionals and the former being mutual friends who are asked, "Can you introduce me to so-and-so?"

Theoretically at least, all Nai's father is trying to do is find, ideally, a pool of potentially compatible, single men.

Some parents and other onlookers are more pushy than that.

So he's just looking for men... but what will he do when/If Nai is not interested?

But he's making up for neglecting/ignoring her!

She can't...not play along...

I *SO* look forward to when Nai and her parents meet up again!!!!

Oh yes. That promises to be a quite interesting scene to be a fly on the wall for.

Fortunately, she can indeed Not Play Along. :)

Also, I am remined of a line from Master Que a while back about her parents getting used to actually thinking about her ...

*smiles happily while showing teeth.*

Poor Nai. At least her mother is starting to realize how blind she has been. :) But that's a lot of daughters to take care of, I guess they can all start to blur together that way.

Yes, that's eight girls. It would be very easy to, for instance, do a quick visual check that everyone is wearing the right clothes without checking that the individual clothes are fit to be worn...

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