Sumo woke up wet. The rain had not stopped. He leaned up on his elbows and looked out his hut. It was light outside, but still raining. He stood and picked up his bowl, walked into the rain and held it out. When it was full he drank it, and then filled it up again. He stared out at the hills, watching the shower. It had been eight years since he awoke here, dazed and naked, not remembering. Through all of the searching and confusion, he was still glad to be here with his hut and his bowl and his rain. He closed his eyes, felt the downpour, felt the bowl overflow and let himself sink into this land. This land that was the closest thing he had to home.
He felt each drop hit his thick skin, felt the wind come over the hills in the east, bringing with it the smell of sea salt and flowers. It pushed him towards the place where the sun sets, where the day bows to the night and one can pass through their bodies and slip into what is beyond. It was that place he longed to be. He began to walk forward, dropping his bowl. Let it be today. Let it be now, for he was tired, so very tired.
No. Not yet.
He stopped. Everyday Sumo started this long journey, and everyday there he was, standing in his way. And everyday Sumo asked the same question. “Why?”
And everyday there was the same answer. Sumo felt the silence drown out the rain. He lowered his head and suddenly he was no longer sinking. He turned around and made his way back towards his hut.
You must prepare.
Sumo stopped. There had been much time since Tiki had said anything other than those three words that kept Sumo from leaving.
“Why? What for?” Sumo listened for the silent answer that had always been the response.
The first step, the last step. For the meeting of Life and Death and their dance. Their child is being conceived, and you must bear witness. You must travel back to the rising sun and meet old friends. You must travel to the other side of the world and make new friends.
Sumo listened. He did not want to hear of what he must do for he already knew.
You must fight.
“Fight what? Please tell me what you speak of?”
But there was nothing more. Tiki was gone. Sumo wished he would stay that way.
He bent over to pick up his bowl. It had landed up right and was overflowing again. He looked at himself in the water. His nose was big and his skin was grey. The ears on top of his bald head twitched, shaking the water off them. He drank his image till there was only the clay of the bowl. He hated to see himself.
He walked to the hut and put his bowl down on the floor. Must bare witness to the birth of Life and Death’s child? He did not want to fight, he was tired of fighting. He looked out over the hills one more time. The other side of the world. America. New friends. This was different than anything he had done before. He was afraid of what he might see, of what he might have to endure. Things are not going to end well, he thought.
But first it was training. If there was fighting to be done, then he would be ready. And when he is finished training, he will go back to Japan and meet his old friend from long ago. Sumo did not have many friends in this world, but James Judo would always be there.